Conspiracy Theory Spectrum and Demarcation Line

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Conspiracy theories — like flat Earth — exists on a spectrum, from the fringe to the mainstream.  Each of us has a different demarcation line where we divide the spectrum into the reasonable and the ridiculous.

Flat Earth lies on the extreme end of the spectrum. Anybody who believes in a flat Earth also has its demarcation line on the far extreme, too, and as a result, tends to believe all sorts of other conspiracy theories. However, less extreme conspiracy theorists might find flat Earth ridiculous. By learning how people can believe in a flat Earth, we can avoid believing other, baseless conspiracy theories.

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Wikileaks Video Hoax

Someone created a fake video showing the “fabrication” of the Apollo moon landings. It claims to be from Wikileaks, complete with its logo, a photo of Julian Assange, and various video effects for a semblance of authenticity. In reality, the video was taken from behind the scenes clips of the movie Capricorn One.

Wikileaks’ official website does not have the video, and the video is only available from dubious sources. It is not difficult to know the video is a blatant fake. However, flat-Earthers failed to recognize it is a fake, and the fake video spread in their communities as a hoax.

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Weightlessness, Free Fall, and Microgravity

In orbit, objects are weightless because both the objects and the spacecraft have the same speed and direction, and both are affected by the same gravitational influence. We use the spacecraft as the frame of reference. Because the objects are not in motion relative to the spacecraft, they appear to float.

In Earth orbit, the objects are still affected by Earth’s gravity, but yet they float. Flat-Earthers use it to disprove spaceflight. In reality, the objects float because we are using the spacecraft as the frame of reference, which is also moving by the same amount and is affected by the same gravity as the objects themselves.

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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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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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The Moon and Stars in a Single Picture

Stars are not visible in photos of the Moon –including those taken from the lunar surface— because the Moon is sunlit. The exposure needed to take a photograph of the Moon is not that much different from that used to take a photo in daylight on Earth’s surface.

To demonstrate this, we can try taking a picture of the Moon with stars visible, on the conditions: 1. The lunar features, like the craters, are correctly exposed, not overexposed. 2. Taken in a single exposure, not HDR, and not the result of editing. Even if we are using the best camera available today, the stars can’t show up in large enough quantity.

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Buzz Aldrin’s Interview & the Quote-Mining by Flat Earthers

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In September 2015, Buzz Aldrin gave an interview at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Flat-Earthers misrepresented and quoted it out of context as if Buzz was admitting that the Apollo Moon landings never happened.

The original interview was 17 minutes long, and there were other occasions Buzz clearly said the Moon landings happened, without any possibility of misinterpretation.

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Photographic Evidence

A photograph alone is not sufficient to prove that the things or event in the photo is real. The reality of the things or event needs to be determined using inductive reasoning, where multiple information is considered and evaluated together.

Flat-Earthers often claim that we regard certain things or events as real only from photographic evidence. In reality, there is information other than the photographs themselves that was considered and led us to accept the things or events are real beyond any reasonable doubt.

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Chang’e 4 and the Confusion About the Dark Side vs Far Side of the Moon

China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft has successfully landed on the Moon. It is the first ever spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon.

Unfortunately, some news outlets used the term “dark side of the Moon” which is inaccurate. The side of the Moon where Chang’e 4 landed is not always dark, but instead always facing away from the Earth. That part of the Moon has the same day and night cycle like the side that is facing us and is not always dark.

Flat-Earthers were confused that the spacecraft use solar panels. If the side of the Moon is always dark, then it should be pointless to use solar panels. They took these facts as “proof” of some sort of misconduct. They were simply confused about the term some news outlets were using. The correct term is “far side of the Moon.”

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The Mockumentary ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

The film ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is a mockumentary. It is fictional but presented as if it is a real documentary. The film features guests like Donald Rumsfield, Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Vernon Walters, Buzz Aldrin, and Stanley Kubrick’s wife. In the film, they all pretend that the Moon landings were faked, and created in a studio by Stanley Kubrick.

There are many doctored versions of the film circulated on the Internet. Usually, the ‘giveaways’ are cut to make the film more believable. Then, the film is presented as ‘evidence’ that the Moon landings did not happen. Unfortunately, many believe these edited versions of the film and don’t realize the events in the movie are entirely fictional.

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