Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bad moon rising

A frequent reader and contributor to Skeptophilia sent me a link to a site that I had to look at really closely before I could figure out whether it was a parody or not.

Called The Mad Revisionist, the site offers up an argument that the Moon does not exist.  Yes, you read that right; this site is not claiming that the Moon landing was fake, it's claiming that the whole Moon is.

It opens with the following paragraphs:
In 1995, the American Historical Association, in an attempt to stifle revisionist scholarship, marked the 50th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism with a resolution calling on scholars to "initiate plans now to study the significance of the Holocaust." This, however, was not enough of a blow to free academic discourse for the enemies of truth. The president of the AHA, William Leuchtenburg, was asked why the resolution did not go so far as to explicitly recognize the Holocaust as a fact of history. He answered that for a group of historians to say that there had been a Holocaust was tantamount to "an organization of astronomers saying there is a moon."

While, on the surface, this appears as nothing more than a shameless attempt to trivialize and thereby discredit the work of revisionists, it nonetheless got me to thinking: why did this historian single out the moon? Why would a scholar, so familiar with academic standards of evidence, use such language to imply that the existence of the moon, unlike any other issue, was a given and not subject to proof? What, in other words, was he trying to hide?

It was then that I embarked on my research, which has led me to this day when I can confidently make the following assertion: The Moon does not exist.
At this point, I was caught in that uncomfortable region of, "No... um, really?  You're joking, right?"  So I kept reading.  The whole thing is quote-worthy, but I'll leave you to explore the site on your own, which is well worth doing, and only give you a few highlights.

To the objection that we can see the Moon in the sky:  it could be a hologram, or a model, placed there by one of the following: (1) the Illuminati; (2) the CIA;  (3) NASA; or (4) the Rosicrucians.  I think we can all agree that all of the aforementioned would have their own insidious reasons for fooling us into thinking we're looking at the Moon.

To the objection that all of the scientists agree that the Moon exists: we should automatically be suspicious of 100% consensus and scientific orthodoxy.  It means that they're hiding something, and that the Scientific Establishment is determined to squash the views of Brave Mavericks Who Have Discovered The Truth.

To the objection that astronauts have landed there:  Oh, please.  Haven't we debunked that one before?

To the objection that scientists have seen, and analyzed, lunar rocks:  Come on.  How do you know they're from the Moon?  Because the scientists told you they were, and they're in on the conspiracy.  In what may be the best line from the whole site, the author writes, "... if NASA permitted unbiased researchers access to these objects, the fraud would be exposed immediately."

To the objection that the Moon creates tides:  Clouds are closer to the alleged Moon than the oceans are; if the Moon could exert that kind of force on something as massive as the oceans, something as comparatively light as a cloud would go flying off into space.  Ergo: the tides are caused by something else, which "scientists are still researching."

Then follows a "proof" using Newton's Law of Gravitation that if the alleged Moon's path wasn't perfectly circular, the force between the Earth and Moon would fluctuate to the extent that the Moon would crash into the Earth.  As this hasn't happened, the Moon doesn't exist.

There are also several responses to Moon Believers who have written in, and a challenge put out there to anyone who can give unequivocal proof of the Moon's existence.  The first one with acceptable proof will, the site says, receive a $100,000 cash prize.

So, what do you think?  Parody or serious?  I'll give you the answer: it's a thorough, intricate, and brilliantly-constructed parody.  Look down at the bottom of the home page, and in tiny letters, you'll find the following:
DISCLAIMER: All editorial content on this website is strictly not the writer’s/author’s opinion. THE MAD REVISIONIST, located on the moon, is owned and operated by accident. The content of this page is the copyrighted property of THE MAD REVISIONIST. Any illegal copying or circulating of this page, in whole or in part, without the expressed permission of THE MAD REVISIONIST will be taken as a compliment. And no, we're not really offering $100,000. What are you, crazy?
Myself, I think the whole thing is pure genius, and points up in a spectacular fashion how completely impossible it is to argue with conspiracy theorists.  Because once you think that (1) there's a massive disinformation campaign, (2) the people who are the most knowledgeable on the subject are lying to you, and (3) such general rules of thumb as Ockham's Razor and the ECREE Principle do not apply, you can be convinced of anything (or, more likely, can't be unconvinced of whatever crazy idea you happen to be wedded to -- be it Holocaust denial, UFO coverups, New World Order nonsense, the NASA/Nibiru thing, or whatever).

In any case, whoever the Mad Revisionist is, (s)he has a bow and a sincere doff of the hat from me.  Just how long it took me to figure out if it was serious earned some major props -- after all, Woo-Woo Detection is what I do, so the fact that I was fooled for a while is pretty awesome.  And I hope that this shout-out gives you some well-deserved site traffic -- and opens a few people's eyes to how absurd the majority of conspiracy theories actually are.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. Catch "conspiracy nuts" with a well spun yarn, then brace for the "gotcha!" moment.

    "I was joking! Hook, line, and sinker! You guys'll believe anything!"

    Same bunch of jokers who went and saw "The Matrix" and came out of theatres thinking to themselves "There really is no spoon."
    We need spoons to exist. They help you put food in your face.