With so many of us working remotely, the June issue of BarTalk is a digital-only issue. Watch for our next print issue in October. 

Can You Fix Stupid?

The truth is not “Out There.” It’s here.

Can You Fix Stupid?

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, I found a website where you can listen to all the recorded communications between Mission Control and Apollo 11 in “real time.” You can also listen to all communications between the scores of other spacecraft engineers who manned the terminals and who had responsibility over discreet technical aspects of the flight. The “Desks” had acronyms like “Flight,” “Fido,” “Guido,” “Retro,” “Eecom” and a dozen others, and if you wanted to, you could just listen to what all those flight engineers and other specialists were saying to each other on their channels during Apollo 11’s 198-hour flight to the moon and back. It’s available at apolloinrealtime.org/11, and it’s worth a few minutes of your time; particularly the landing sequence at around 102 hours 40 minutes into the flight, where, despite alarms going off in the LEM, and despite overshooting the original landing spot by four miles, Armstrong and Aldrin were still able to land the spacecraft in a safe spot with 16 seconds of fuel remaining.

I mention all this because there are still those who believe the moon landing was faked, and that Armstrong and Aldrin actually walked on a soundstage directed by Stanley Kubrick. Indeed, in a 2019 Ipsos survey of Americans on behalf of C-Span, 6% of respondents thought the moon landing was staged, and 15% didn’t know if it was real or faked.

But if you spend any time listening to those “real time” communications at Mission Control, or you watch the thousands of NASA engineers who appear in Todd Douglas’s amazing documentary on Apollo 11, you’ll realize that faking the moon landing, and keeping it secret for 50 years would have been harder and more expensive than the landing itself. (How do you write technical dialogue filled with rocket science acronyms for 25,000 actors, anyway? Where did they rehearse? Why didn’t any of these “actors” confess to the National Inquirer?)

Yet some still believe the moon landing was faked. Buzz Aldrin has my undying admiration, not only for his prowess at piloting a lunar spacecraft, but for his boxing skills too. In 2002, he was confronted by a moon-landing denier who accused Aldrin of being a liar, coward and thief. Buzz decked him.

Whether it’s moon-landing deniers, Kennedy’s assassination, aliens in Area 51, or anti-vaxxers claiming that vaccines cause autism, conspiracy theories are normally propagated by dim-witted and gullible people trying to convince other dim-witted and gullible people how smart they are. Social media helps to spread the disinformation.

Sometimes, as in the case of the so-called pedophile ring being run by the Clintons from a pizza restaurant, or climate change deniers in the fossil fuel industry trying to prevent a transition to other fuels, the conspiracy theories are “created” by very smart and calculating people who know it’s a boldface lie they’re spreading, but who propagate the lie for economic or political reasons; expecting their dim-witted and gullible tinhat followers will take the bait. As Hitler said, people are more likely to believe a big lie than a small one.

As for the believers of conspiracy theories, facts and reason won’t necessarily change their minds. The tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them may well be evolutionary. In articles in the New Yorker and the Atlantic recently, studies show cooperating with your peers and having social support from your tribe 10,000 years ago may have been more important to your survival than knowing the truth.

Fast forward to the 21st century, I suppose from an evolutionary perspective, if you don’t believe Hillary Clinton operated a pedophile ring, or you don’t believe Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, or you don’t believe vaccines cause autism, you could lose the support of your “tribe” of co-believing tinhats on Facebook.

Anyway, just watch all the conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork on the Jeffery Epstein jailhouse suicide. I hear Trump is already implicating the Clintons.

Related Articles