If the Moon landings were faked, then one question that naturally arises is: why would any government go to such extreme lengths to mount such an elaborate hoax?
The most obvious answer (and the one most frequently cited by skeptics) is to reclaim a sense of national pride that had been stripped away by America’s having played follow-the-leader with the Soviets for an entire decade. While this undoubtedly played a large role, there are other factors as well – factors that haven’t been as fully explored. But before we look at those, we must first deal with the question of whether it would have even been possible to pull off such an enormous hoax.
Could so many people have really been duped into believing such an outrageous lie, if that in fact was what it was? To answer that question, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about the summer of 1969 here. Those old enough to have been there will recall that they – along with the vast majority of politically active people in the country – spent that particular period of time primarily engaged in tripping on some really good acid (most likely from the lab of Mr. Owsley).
How hard then would it really have been to fool most of you? I probably could have stuck a fish bowl on my head, wrapped myself in aluminum foil, and then filmed myself high-stepping across my backyard and most of you would have believed that I was Moonwalking. Some of you couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility that everyone was walking on the Moon.
In truth, not everyone was fooled by the alleged Moon landings. Though it is rarely discussed these days, a significant number of people gave NASA’s television productions a thumbs-down. As Wired magazine has reported, “when Knight Newspapers polled 1,721 US residents one year after the first moon landing, it found that more than 30 percent of respondents were suspicious of NASA’s trips to the moon.” Given that overall trust in government was considerably higher in those pre-Watergate days, the fact that nearly a third of Americans doubted what they were ‘witnessing’ through their television sets is rather remarkable.
When Fox ran a special on the Moon landings some years back and reported that 1-in-5 Americans had doubts about the Apollo missions, various ‘debunking’ websites cried foul and claimed that the actual percentage was much lower. BadAstronomy.com, for example, claims that the actual figure is about 6%, and that roughly that many people will agree “with almost any question that is asked of them.” Hence, there are only a relative handful of kooks who don’t believe that we’ve ever been to the Moon.
All of those websites fail to mention, of course, that among the people who experienced the events as they were occurring, nearly 1-in-3 had doubts, a number considerably higher than the number that Fox used. And, needless to say, the ‘debunkers’ also failed to mention that 1-in-4 young Americans, a number also higher than the figure Fox used, have doubts about the Moon landings.
Returning then to the question of why such a ruse would be perpetrated, we must transport ourselves back to the year 1969. Richard Nixon has just been inaugurated as our brand new president, and his ascension to the throne is in part due to his promises to the American people that he will disengage from the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam. But Tricky Dick has a bit of a problem on his hands in that he has absolutely no intention of ending the war. In fact, he would really, really like to escalate the conflict as much as possible. But to do so, he needs to set up a diversion – some means of stoking the patriotic fervor of the American people so that they will blindly rally behind him.
In short, he needs to wag the dog.