The documentary style film ‘What Happened on the Moon?’ (released in 2000, commentated by Ronnie Stronge) provided ‘evidence’ that NASA hoaxed the world into believing in the moon landings. The documentary was based on the book ‘Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers’ by Mary D. Bennett and David S. Percy.
The documentary offers a token to objectivity by including comments from Brian Welch (employed by NASA1 – no pictorial confirmation) and Dr Ian Crawford (astronomer at Birkbeck College, University of London2). However, their position is represented by flat statements of denial of the ‘evidence’ presented without backup. A denial does not equal verifiable evidence so it is necessary to check the ‘evidence’ presented in the documentary for oneself.
The presentation style is questionable – not just because of its one-sided nature – because copious amounts of information are presented with repetition such that the viewer is unable to take everything in. This bludgeoning of the senses may be designed to overwhelm the uncritical viewer into accepting the information at face value. The presentation style may simply be the result of a lack of knowledge of psychology or it is possibly the willful misuse of psychology.
To assess the ‘evidence’, one may attempt to verify the existence and qualifications of the various people presented as experts or witnesses and one may attempt to verify the data presented. In passing, I must note that the quality of website information is difficult to judge – especially when one lacks background in the field of expertise under discussion.
The people in favour of the hoax are addressed in alphabetical order of surnames for convenience.
H.J.P. ‘Douglas’ Arnold originally started as a columnist for the Financial times. He worked for Kodak from 1966—1974 as the head of the public relations division during which time he developed an interest in space about which he wrote and he became a fellow several societies including the Royal Astronomical Society. He was acknowledged as a photographer and contributed to the British Journal of Photography which later published his obituary3.
Mary D. Bennett is the co-author of ‘Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers’4 but I was unable to find anymore information on her.
Dr David Groves was only clearly identified with reference to the documentary5. I did not find a photograph or a website that definitely concerned him.
Bill Kaysing or William Charles Kaysing had a degree in English Literature and worked for Rocketdyne from 1956 to 1963, during which time his job description was changed several times6, 7. The nearest he came to a mechanical position was the position of service engineer7. He is known as the “father of the Moon Hoax Theory”6 because he published a book titled ‘We Never Went to the Moon’ in 19746, 7. In his favour is the fact that one can learn from reading technical writing but against him is the fact that what one can learn is limited by the amount of background knowledge one possesses to aid understanding. Also against him, is that he left Rocketdyne years before the Apollo 11 mission so his personal knowledge was unlikely to be up-to-date.
Concerning Jan Lundberg, I found that I was unsure of the spelling of his name. The one used here appears to be correct. I have not found outside corroboration for his position but both sides of the debate accept that he worked for Hasselblad at the appropriate time5.
David S. Percy appears to be accepted as a photographer. He belongs to both the Royal Photographic Society of Britain and the Finchley Cinévideo Society8, 9.
‘Una Ronald’ is apparently a pseudonym5 so no verification of her existence seems possible. The book ‘Dark Moon’ was published in 199010. This would mean that Ms Ronald’s memories were about 20 years old, making their accuracy and completeness doubtful even for such a momentous event.
I was unable to find either of the two individuals known as Bill Wood. I did find a Bill Wood who worked for NASA but the picture did not match either of those in the documentary11.
The first Bill Wood in the documentary was listed as having a B.Sc. This is not a specialised degree but if he worked as a technician, his experience would have given him practical knowledge which someone with better qualifications on paper may not have.
The Clavius website5 provides a fairly comprehensive rebuttal of the information in the documentary. I will not attempt to summarise all this information.
A visit to NASA’s website12 indicates that the images and film criticised in the documentary are probably authentic though probably taken from the public domain. That said, there is no way of verifying if the role of stills film shown by David S. Percy is in fact from NASA. Even if the images and film footages were faked, this would not prove that the moon landing was a hoax.
I found the references to the Hollywood films ‘Capricorn One’ and ‘Apollo 13’ of no relevance. I have seldom (if ever) found the film version of a book to be factually true to the book. I would strongly doubt that this would be any different for historical events. Nor do I find any evidence against the moon landing in the ‘evidence’ that the appearance of rockets resembled that of the German film ‘Frau im Mond’ – the documentary does mention that the film director Fritz Lang consulted a rocket scientist who later became part of the NASA team.
Since unmanned spacecraft are capable (or if you are a doubter, said to be capable) of collecting samples, lunar material does not prove or disprove that man landed on the moon. It is also likely that fake lunar rocks exist – I would imagine quite a bit of money could be made selling lunar rocks to ignorant people.
The random story about a man who consulted a top state geologist about lunar rocks and died of cancer 98 days later is told secondhand and therefore is not evidence that would be admitted in a court of law.
The lunar landing took place at 4:18 pm EDT 20 July 196913 (Eastern Daylight Time which is 4 hours behind Universal Standard Time, UTC) according to the records. This means that it would have been about 14 hours earlier in Western Australia which would be about 2:18 am local Western Australia time. The veracity of ‘Una Ronald’s’ story is neither supported nor disproved since the choice of staying up or getting up early would depend on the individual’s sleeping habits.
I did not attempt to verify the talk about conspiracy between the USA and the USSR – I am not convinced that it is possible to verify this. The discussion about the truthfulness of the Russians in the media is not relevant to the debate about landing on the moon as the Russians have never claimed to have landed on the moon. The issue of lying to the public is a matter of ethics not science.
I was unable to find unequivocal evidence for either side of the debate on whether or not man landed on the moon – possibly because I lack expertise in the areas necessary to judge the accuracy of the information presented. I have no particular beliefs on the topic and so will wait for more data before making any final judgment.
1. Wilson, J. (ed.). National Aeronautics and Space Administration [Internet]. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Updated 2007 Apr. 17 [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html. (searched Brian Welch)
2. School of Earth Sciences. Dr Ian Crawford [Internet]. School of Earth Sciences, Birkbeck College, University of London; Updated 2006 Sept. 20 [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/es/staff/Ian_Crawford.
3. Anonymous. HJP Arnold: requiescat in pace [Internet]. The British Journal of Photography online; Updated 2006 July 12 [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=336995.
4. Wikipedia contributors. Apollo Moon Landing hoax accusations [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Apr 22, 08:58 UTC [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Apollo_Moon_Landing_hoax_accusations&oldid=124822296.
5. Clavius contributors. Moon Base Clavius [Internet]. clavius.org; Update Unknown [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://www.clavius.org/index.html.
6. Kaysing, W.L. A brief biography of Bill Kaysing [Internet]. Bill Kaysing tribute website; Update Unknown [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://www.billkaysingtribute.com/biography.php.
7. Wikipedia contributors. Bill Kaysing [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Apr 7, 01:40 UTC [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bill_Kaysing&oldid=120876355.
8. Redzero contributors. David Percy [Internet]. www.redzero.co.uk; Update Unknown [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://www.redzero.demon.co.uk/moonhoax/Percy.htm.
9. Wikipedia contributors. David Percy [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Feb 18, 06:14 UTC [cited 2007 Apr 24]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=David_Percy&oldid=109014347.
11. Wood, W. Bill Wood [Internet]. History of National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Update Unknown [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/billwood.html.
12. Smith, Y. (ed.). Apollo [Internet]. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Updated 2006 Sept. 6 [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/index.html.
13. Dismukes, K. (curator). The Apollo 11 mission [Internet]. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Updated 2005 Nov. 17 [cited 2007 Apr. 24]. Available from: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo11/index.html.