"Buzz Aldrin and the US Flag on the Moon" by NASA / Neil A. Armstrong / Public Domain

50 years after Apollo, conspiracy theorists are still howling at the ‘moon hoax’

Jul 17, 2019

By Joel Achenbach

The moon is having a star turn. This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and the Trump administration has ordered NASA to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024.

None of this, however, will probably change the minds of people who live in a parallel belief universe where NASA faked the Apollo moon landings.

The moon hoax is a classic conspiracy theory — elaborate, oddly durable, requiring the existence of malevolent actors with a secret agenda. The moon-fakers are allegedly so competent they can fool the whole world (but not so competent that they can actually put humans on the moon).

Researchers suggest conspiracy theories are spreading more easily in today’s information universe, with the Internet functioning as a superconductor. A growing science of conspiracism seeks to understand who these people are, why they embrace such ideas, and whether there is anything that can dislodge a really magnetic conspiracy theory from the mind of a true believer.

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