Read More: Skeptoid
Two weeks ago, we talked about the life and times of the conspiracy theory, its genesis and its evolution; and last week we covered some of the basic claims made by conspiracy theorists who analyze the Apollo photos and videos and conclude that it must have taken place on a sound stage. But this week, as a finale, we're going to go into the most interesting and educational part of the story: how we know for a fact that human beings from the Earth actually traveled to the moon, and walked around, and made it back safely. Let's begin with a tidbit that's been among the most exciting in recent years: Photographic Proof of the Apollo Landing Sites For a long time, one of the most significant (and convincing) arguments that we never went to the moon was that there are no photos of the landing sites. If there really are six lunar landers sitting up there, oughtn't we be able to point any old telescope at the moon and see them? Scientists always said no, our telescopes aren't strong enough. But that seemed ridiculously hard to believe. Imagine our giant telescopes on top of Mauna Kea — or even the Hubble space telescope that photographs the most distant objects in the universe — or even the numerous spy satellites in orbit that are said to be able to read license plates. Even I will readily admit that it sounded absurd that telescopes like these couldn't easily resolve landing sites on something as close as the moon. That lack of proof, which seems like it should have been so easy for NASA to provide, was pretty worrisome for some who were on the fence about whether we actually ever went there. But as we all now know, in 2009 when we launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to orbit the moon and photograph it close-up, we got the first pictures of the landing sites. They show all the hardware left behind, and even rover tire tracks and astronaut footprint tracks. In 2011 the LRO sent back much sharper pictures, and we now finally have great images of the sites. Two interesting things happened. The first interesting thing is that the 6-7% of Americans who doubted that we went to the moon before these images appeared continued to doubt that we went to the moon. Predictably, in this age of computer generated imagery, the pictures changed nobody's mind at all.