Apollo Astronauts and the Demand to Swear on the Bible

In the early 2000s, an unscrupulous Moon landing denialist lured Apollo astronauts into an audience with him under false pretenses. Then he insulted them as liars and pressed them to swear on the Bible that they went to the Moon.

Flat-Earthers use this incident as “evidence” that we never went to the Moon. In reality, the offender did not meet the astronauts with the best of intentions. This incident tells us more about the offender than it does about the astronauts.

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Global Conspiracy Smoke and Mirrors

Some flat-Earthers use the so-called global conspiracy as an ‘escape hatch’ to abandon a losing argument. When being cornered, some flat-Earthers will tell us that flat Earth is a work in progress; it is normal for it to be incomplete, for now. “But the most important thing is to uncover the global conspiracy and save the world from these unscrupulous few!”

In reality, the global conspiracy theory is only one of so many concepts invented to prevent flat Earth from being falsified.

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“Mouse” on a SpaceX Falcon9 Rocket Launch

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In the video of the CRS-19 mission of the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket, flat-Earthers noticed something is moving near the exhaust of the second stage rocket. Creatively, they interpreted it as a “mouse, ” and then use it to discredit spaceflight and the people involved in it.

In reality, it was merely crystallized waste from the rocket engine. To know this, we only need to see the part of the video after the one cherry-picked by flat-Earthers. The “mouse” slowly disappeared by evaporation.

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Big Lie

The big lie is the propaganda method where an outrageous lie —like flat Earth— is said and repeated as if it is true, hoping people will assume it is true for granted rather than critically questioning it.

Even though anyone can easily verify that Earth is a sphere from simple personal observations, many still fall for the notion of a flat Earth. The reason is that it is such a big lie and does not fit their model of modest deception, so they think “it must be true.”

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Psychological Projection

One reason a person can believe in conspiracy theories is the psychological projection. They attempt to deny their negative attitudes by assuming that instead, others have them, even though it is not necessarily the case.

Some people believe others are in a conspiracy against them because of their moral problem: if they were in the same positions of the people they are accusing, they would do the same thing they are accusing others of doing.

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Apollo 11 Post-Flight Press Conference

Flat-Earthers claim that the Apollo 11 astronauts were gloomy and uneasy at their press conference. They allege this was due to their guilt of faking the Moon landing. In reality, the press conference was full of jokes and laughter.

Unscrupulous conspiracy theorists cherry-picked a single photo from the press conference video in which the astronauts were serious. They abuse the picture to ignite our emotions and lead us to believe the hoax they created that the Moon landings did not occur.

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Slander & Extreme Prejudice are Necessary to Believe a Flat Earth

To believe a flat Earth, it is necessary to accuse impossibly large amount of people from all over the world, spanning more than 20 centuries, to conspire together to deceive the rest of the human population.

On the other hand, to understand that the Earth is a sphere only requires simple observations that anyone can do themselves. In accepting that the Earth is a sphere, there is no need to throw a single baseless accusation to another person.

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Tim Peake’s Scientific Demonstration on the ISS and the Green Screen Conspiracy Theory

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In 2006, astronaut Tim Peake from the UK was tasked to perform some physics demonstration on the ISS for the National Space Academy. Tim performed the demonstrations in front of a gridded background specifically made for the purpose.

One of Tim’s video appeared during the former US president George H.W. Bush’s visit to NASA’s Mission Control Center. Flat-Earthers discovered the footage and quickly claim that it used a green screen background for CGI purposes. Such allegation was only from their ignorance and the eagerness to accuse others of lying. Tim’s videos are published in the National Science Academy’s web site as is, proving the background in the videos was merely an ordinary background, not a green screen for CGI.

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High-Altitude Nuclear Explosions (HANE)

High-altitude nuclear explosions (HANE) are the results of atomic weapons testing, conducted by the United States and the Soviet Union between 1958 and 1963. In these tests, nuclear warheads were launched and deliberately detonated at a high altitude, between 23 km and 540 km.

Flat-Earthers claim that HANEs were produced by attempts to penetrate the mythical dome enclosing the supposed flat Earth using nuclear weapons. They are wrong. The warheads were deliberately detonated at a high altitude, and the mythical dome does not exist in reality, only in their imaginations.

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Nikola Tesla was not a Flat Earther

Nikola Tesla was a genuine physicist, engineer, and inventor. He knew very well that the Earth is a rotating sphere, gravity exists, stars are very far, planets are not stars, etc.

Flat-Earthers often claim Nikola Tesla as their own, as if he believed in a flat Earth. These claims are quickly proven wrong by merely reading some of Tesla’s writings. It is obvious from his writings that he was not a flat-Earther.

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James Van Allen and the Van Allen Radiation Belts

In 1958, James Van Allen discovered the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts. Conspiracy theorists, including flat-Earthers, use it to “prove” the Apollo Moon landings were faked and never happened. To dispel the hoax, James Van Allen himself wrote letters clarifying the false allegation.

“The recent Fox TV show, which I saw, is an ingenious & entertaining assemblage of nonsense. The claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts is only one example of such nonsense.”

Both the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and the statement that the radiation belts do not prevent space travel came from James Van Allen. Conspiracy theorists cannot merely quote one when it appears to support their belief and conveniently reject the other if it is against them. Continue reading “James Van Allen and the Van Allen Radiation Belts”

Priming: How Flat-Earthers Lead Their Victims to Believe Things That are not There

Priming is a manner in which exposure to early information influences the behavior of an individual later on, without them being aware of it. Flat Earth personalities employ this technique to instill specific biases and opinions in the mind of their targets, and for example, to lead them to believe all footage taken in space were faked.

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Remedy Drive’s “Commodity” Album Cover Image Confusion

In 2014, the Christian rock band Remedy Drive released the album “Commodity”. Its cover image is a small hole from NASA’s Solar Max Satellite that was caused by space debris. NASA first published the original photos in 2006.

In 2018, astronaut Chris Hadfield showed the picture to illustrate how space debris can do to a spacecraft. Flat-Earthers were happy to accuse Hadfield of stealing the cover image from the “Commodity” album. They were simply looking for any reason do discredit space flight and did not realize NASA published the image first before anyone else, including Remedy Drive.

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The ‘Destroyed Technology’ to go to the Moon

In an interview, Donald Pettit —a NASA astronaut— mentioned that he’d go the moon, but they no longer have the technology to do that. All the technology from the Apollo mission has been destroyed, and it is a painful process to build it back again.

Flat-Earthers interpreted the statement rather too freely and took that as “proof” we never had the technology in the first place. In reality, the word “technology” is polyseme. It has two different related meanings. Flat-Earthers misinterpreted Don’s statement as one meaning, while Don’s intention was another.

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The Antarctic Treaty Conspiracy Theory

According to flat-Earthers, the shape of Earth is a flat circle. In the center is the north pole in the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica is not a continent, but instead an ice perimeter surrounding the ‘flat Earth.’

The problem is that there are people who visited Antarctica, and their information about Antarctica does not fit the flat Earth narration. To ‘deal with the problem,’ they invented conspiracy theory and assumed every person who claimed to have visited Antarctica is a part of the grand conspiracy; and they spread the information to deceive us. This way, flat-Earthers’ narration about Antarctica is no longer falsifiable. If something stands against them, their ‘solution’ is merely to add more people to the list of persons that are part of the grand conspiracy.

The existence of the Antarctic Treaty System is convenient. Flat-Earthers use it to support their narration.

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NASA and Other Space Agencies

There are many space agencies from multiple countries. Some are from countries that are rivals or even enemies at some point in history. Even so, practically all their findings corroborate each other. Any made up claims or fabrications would have been noticeable and found very quickly.

Flat-Earthers accuse NASA of being part of the so-called globe Earth conspiracy, with the purpose of spreading “globe Earth propaganda” to the world population. However, there other space agencies, which are independent and employ thousands of staffs. And every one of them practically confirms NASA’s findings.

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White Alice and the Troposcatter Propagation

Troposcatter is a signal propagation method using the scattering phenomenon in the upper troposphere. As the signal pass through the upper troposphere, some of the energy is scattered back toward Earth, allowing the receiver station at the correct location to pick up the signal.

White Alice is a decommissioned troposcatter network in North America. Some flat-Earthers invented the “explanation” that the various satellite-based services we enjoy today are using White Alice. They are wrong. White Alice and other troposcatter networks cannot possibly replace all the services provided by satellites.

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Composite Photos of the Earth

NASA has published several pictures of the Earth that are composites. It means the pictures were the result of combining many images into a single picture. In most cases, the source pictures were taken from low-orbiting satellites to obtain higher resolution pictures of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers discovered the photos are composites and claimed to have exposed “yet another evidence” of wrongdoing. They would publish this “findings” everywhere to turn us emotional. They are wrong. Nobody is covering the fact the pictures are composites, and there is no intention to deceive. Information that the photos are composites can be readily found in NASA’s website, far before the claimed “discovery” by flat-Earthers.

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The Gleason Map

The “Gleason Map” is a map with the azimuthal equidistant projection, centered on the north pole. The Gleason Map is not a scaled-down figure of the Earth, but it is merely a projection of the actual, spherical shape of the Earth, like every other map.

Alexander Gleason —the creator of the map— claimed that the map depicts the shape of the ‘flat Earth’. The majority of the flat-Earth communities adopt this map as ‘the flat-Earth map.’ They are wrong. The map is merely a projection of the spherical shape of the Earth, just like every other map types.

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The Earth is Really Spherical, Not Because “NASA Told Us So”

The fact that the Earth is spherical was known since at least 3rd century BC, or about 24 centuries ago, far before we can send anything to space. We knew the fact from countless observations, and not merely from photos and videos taken from space, or that “NASA told us so.”

On the other hand, flat-Earthers often mention NASA or other space agencies because they don’t have a choice. If they insist on the wrong notion that the Earth is flat, then they would need to invent various excuses why there are photos and videos taken from space.

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