Pharyngula

Phil Plait, TV Star

That Dilbert guy, I don’t envy at all. The Bad Astronomy guy, maybe a little bit. He’s got a clip of his appearance with Penn and Teller now, in which he rebuts the moon landing conspiracy theorists.

Of course, the real reason we know the moon landings were faked is that if they’d actually landed there, they would have sunk into 50 feet of soft and fluffy moon dust and never been seen again. Plait never answers that one.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    February 2, 2007

    No, no, no. The moon has no atmosphere. So vacuum cementing slowly turns fine dust into rock and gravel.
    It’s Mars, with it’s thin atmosphere, which has soft fluffy dust.
    And therefor, it’s the mars rovers that are a hoax.
    NASA wants to distract everyone from the fact that Aliens carved an ugly caricature of a human face into a hillside, in order to poke fun at Hoagland.

  2. #2 brent
    February 2, 2007

    On the moon, nerds have their pants pulled down and are spanked with moonrocks.

  3. #3 Corey Schlueter
    February 2, 2007

    What I do not understand with these people who do not believe that the moon landings happened is that one of the astronauts, James Irwin, used his experience to spread his belief in Christianity.

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 2, 2007

    You gotta love P&T’s set guy gratuitously drilling a hole in the bible.

  5. #5 Mena
    February 2, 2007

    I’d recommend Dark Side of the Moon to anyone who finds the conspiracy nuts to be amusing. It’s very subtle satire and it has some big names. The conspiracy theorists just don’t get it.
    http://www.versionist.com/conspiracies-theories/774-dark-side-moon-kubrick-involved-moon-coverup.html

  6. #6 Mena
    February 2, 2007

    Oh, and Rev. BigDumbChimp, it was a holey bible you see…

  7. #7 Steve_C
    February 2, 2007

    The mooninites give you the finger.

    They want you to stay off their planet or face more widespread panic and stupidity.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=jlwUwThSToA

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=rhBkFMKScQs

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=fJkTNJ7BM9I

  8. #8 paulh
    February 2, 2007

    I thought that what happened was that NASA looked into the possibility of faking it, but when they got the quote back from Univeral/MGM/whoever they realised it would cost less to do it for real.

  9. #9 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 2, 2007

    Oh, and Rev. BigDumbChimp, it was a holey bible you see…

    Oh I got it. I just found it hilarious they included it with a story on moon landing conspiracy.

  10. #10 Comstock
    February 2, 2007

    I find Penn and Teller’s show (um, Bulls Hit, as they say) to be a bit odd in its use of scientific data. They often cite scientific data to smack down silly arguments, but then, seemingly when the scientific data disagree with Cato Institute positions, the scientists are the ones who get called all the dirty names.

  11. #11 dave
    February 2, 2007

    They did land on the moon, and found out that the moon was just as flat as the earth. It was covered up, of course.

  12. #12 Phil Plait
    February 2, 2007

    The astronauts found squids everywhere on the Moon, and that’s the real coverup.

  13. #13 Andrew
    February 2, 2007

    I love Penn & Teller too, but really, citing Bjorn Lomborg as an authority on anything? Please.

  14. #14 Kristine
    February 2, 2007

    You guys believe in the moon?

  15. #15 PZ Myers
    February 2, 2007

    Yeah, I’m not an unquestioning fan of Penn & Teller. Sometimes they hit the mark, sometimes you can tell they’re being skeptical for the sake of being skeptical.

  16. #16 stogoe
    February 2, 2007

    I like the new numbered comments system. Tell your System Overlords to keep it.

    Also, the Cato belief tank is almost as scary as the ‘I have the right to own a nucular missile and shoot it at you for walking near my property’ libertarians.

  17. #17 PZ Myers
    February 2, 2007

    I’ll have you know the System Overlords had nothing to do with it. My daughter numbers all the comments on her site, and I noticed that people used it to refer back to previous remarks, so I dug into the templates and added it to my own.

  18. #18 George
    February 2, 2007

    I don’t like them. One of them is a nasty Libertarian. They have attacked environmentalism. They are basically assholes.

    Penn: “Science is inconclusive on global warming.”

    Gillette: “no one in the scientific community agrees on global warming, the science is inconclusive and no one knows if global warming is a natural fluctuation or not.”

  19. #19 George
    February 2, 2007

    Whoops. Penn = Gillette in the quotes above.

  20. #20 PZ Myers
    February 2, 2007

    One of them is a nasty Libertarian…They are basically assholes.

    That’s redundant.

    (OK, now there’s something that will turn many of the commenters against me.)

  21. #21 George
    February 2, 2007

    They also defend smokers’ rights. Ugh!

  22. #22 stogoe
    February 2, 2007

    Does anyone know how well his game show Identity did? Seemed like there was a whole glut there for a second, and then now I don’t know if they’re still around [except for the really annoying screaming one that's right before Heroes].

    Kinda sad, because I like Bob Saget.

  23. #23 Anton Mates
    February 2, 2007

    You guys believe in the moon?

    Ali G doesn’t.

  24. #24 Rich
    February 2, 2007

    Of course Americans didn’t land on the Moon because America is an elaborate hoax! Columbus’ voyages? Faked on a sound-stage in the south of France. All those people who claim to be Americans or to have visited the mythical land? Actors. Anyone who believes all that “New World” stuff is too gullible for words.

  25. #25 Nix
    February 2, 2007

    Ah, an opportunity to quote from one of my favourite books, _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_, set in a universe in which Faerie unequivocally exists (and in which the North of England was ruled by a changeling for many centuries):

    “[...] A hundred years ago the magio-historian Valentine Munday denied that the Other Lands existed. He thought that the men who claimed to have been there were all liars. In this he was quite wrong, but his position remains one with which I have a great deal of sympathy and I wish we could make it more generally believed. Of course,” said Mr Norrell thoughtfully, “Munday went on to deny that America existed, and then France and so on. I believe that by the time he died he had long since given up Scotland and was beginning to entertain serious doubts of Carlisle…”

  26. #26 Daephex
    February 2, 2007

    I’m not real big on Penn & Teller either, and its certainly not that they offended my delicate sensitivities or anything. I just think their arguments are weak. Case in point: PETA is full of ridiculous, ineffective hypocrites… therefore, vegetarianism is wrong.

    BULLSHIT!

  27. #27 Blake Stacey
    February 2, 2007

    I’d just like to sound my agreement with the general sentiment here. The first episodes I saw of Penn & Teller’s Contrarian Half-Hour were “The Bible”, “The War on Drugs” and “Creationism”. Those three were pretty darn good, though they missed at least one fact worth saying in the “Bible” episode (the passage in Josephus about Jesus is generally believed to be a later inclusion by a Christian copyist). I started getting underwhelmed when I saw the “Numbers” episode; they tried to fit too many kinds of innumeracy into one program and ended up not covering any of them particularly well.

    And as for the infamous “Recycling” show. . . It reminded me of what my old Environmental Politics and Policy professor said: a cost-benefit analysis will always skew towards industry and against the environmentalists, because nobody can put a dollar value on the environment (or certainly not in a consistent way). The cost of an environmental protective measure will always be inflated, and the benefits always underestimated. Why do you suppose the Reagan administration advocated cost-benefit analysis so strongly?

    Money is, after all, a human invention, but we can’t invent ourselves a new planet when we’ve used this one up.

  28. #28 Blake Stacey
    February 2, 2007

    Oh, and in the “Conspiracy Theories” episode, there’s a guy who quotes a Bill Hicks sketch about JFK almost verbatim, without attribution. (The original is track 29 of Rant in e-Minor, I believe.) It’s much less convincing than when Bill Hicks says the same stuff, partly because the guy in the whackjob bar can’t control his lower lip. . . .

  29. #29 Blake Stacey
    February 2, 2007

    Per Neil Gaiman’s request. . . Penn Jillette.

  30. #30 Torbjörn Larsson
    February 2, 2007

    The moon landing fake was a cover up to protect the big cheese.

    My daughter numbers all the comments on her site, and I noticed that people used it to refer back to previous remarks, so I dug into the templates and added it to my own.

    Ah, daughteral thinking! Yes, it tends to make some useful connections.

  31. #31 Torbjörn Larsson
    February 2, 2007

    The moon landing fake was a cover up to protect the big cheese.

    My daughter numbers all the comments on her site, and I noticed that people used it to refer back to previous remarks, so I dug into the templates and added it to my own.

    Ah, daughteral thinking! Yes, it tends to make some useful connections.

  32. #32 llewelly
    February 2, 2007

    I love Penn & Teller too, but really, citing Bjorn Lomborg as an authority on anything? Please.

    The lesson is that skepticism is hard, even for well-trained minds. And one’s political philosophy (in this case, libertarianism, but it’s not limited to that) can make one credulous when one thinks one is being skeptical.

    Their acceptance of Bjorn’s widely debunked claims reminds us that universal application of scientific skepticism is an ideal; much can be gained by advancing toward it, but it is a mistake to assume it can be implemented perfectly.

  33. #33 llewelly
    February 2, 2007

    Of course Americans didn’t land on the Moon because America is an elaborate hoax! Columbus’ voyages? Faked on a sound-stage in the south of France. All those people who claim to be Americans or to have visited the mythical land? Actors. Anyone who believes all that “New World” stuff is too gullible for words.

    Thank you Rich. I had always wondered why there were no video tapes of Columbus’ voyages. Now I know.

  34. #34 John M. Burt
    February 3, 2007

    My favorite Moon conspiracy theory is that the Apollo landings were genuine — it’s just that the government is concealing the Artemis landings (1965-8), which tested all the equipment and ensured that there would be no embarrassing disasters.

    All the disasters took place during Artemis flights, and the astronauts lost were all listed as killed in “training exercises”.

    It’s nothing to be ashamed of. After all, none of the Soviet Moon expeditions (1965-1974) made it back alive.

    I’ve been posting about Project Artemis for years now. I’m still waiting for an actual conspiratologist to pick it up and run with it.

  35. #35 llewelly
    February 3, 2007

    All the disasters took place during Artemis flights, and the astronauts lost were all listed as killed in “training exercises”.
    It’s nothing to be ashamed of. After all, none of the Soviet Moon expeditions (1965-1974) made it back alive.

    Wait. You claim to to have a Conspiracy Theory, yet you fail to connect these two facts? How, fool, did you think the Artemis Project was funded and concealed? The US made the Soviets do it!
    (And don’t give me that guff about ‘the cold war’. That was a hoax.)

  36. #36 Blake Stacey
    February 3, 2007

    My favorite conspiracy theory (well, besides the one about Marlowe writing the works of Shakespeare) is the anti-string-theory conspiracy.

    You really think it’s an accident that men can publish polemical books whose “arguments” break down into repeating problems all physicists knew about already, misrepresenting or ignoring active areas of research, making grandiose and debatable claims about the way science should be done, and firing volleys of character assassination? Can you call all that accident? Misunderstanding? Coincidence? No, someone is at work here. Someone with an agenda. The stakes in this game were nothing less than understanding the fundamental natural laws of the Cosmos, and someone wanted to play the game beyond the public eye.

    What would you do if you figured out string theory and discovered that the elegant construction of orbifolds and Dirichlet branes required to make it work led to new modalities of physical ability? We’re talking antigravity, wormholes, quantum singularities made on the lab bench. . . . What would you do if you had a chance at that kind of power?

    I think someone figured it out. They’re at work right now, turning it into a technology which will change the course of human history, but they covet secrecy. How can you hide a scientific discovery which you probably made by accident and which any grad student might repeat? You have to deflect interest: convince the funding agencies that it’s all hot air, trick other scientists into believing that the whole theory is worthless, and most of all, lead string theorists down the wrong paths. Make them work harder in the directions you know are pointless in a vain attempt to defuse your critique!

    A little while ago, Barton Zwiebach of MIT gave a series of introductory string theory lectures at CERN. You’ll notice the video cuts out before he can explain what’s wrong with loop quantum gravity. . . Clearly, he made a point which we aren’t supposed to know. The truth is being kept from us.

    Oh yes, it all sounds so easy. . . .

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