The Moon hoax conspiracy is a theory that the US Government faked the 1969 Moon landing, because faking a major historical event and then covering it up for all time is somehow supposed to be easier and cheaper than just going to the damn Moon.
The idea was first proposed in a book by a man named Bill Kaysing. He liked to talk about his theory by yelling loudly about it at anyone who would listen. When someone insulted his theory he took the calm and rational approach of suing them for libel.
My idea is THIS stupid!
It's believed that the 1978 movie Capricorn One helped popularise the theory. Capricorn One was about evil NASA scientists faking a manned mission to Mars because the spacecraft that looked suspiciously like the Apollo spacecraft would have killed all the astronauts. They then destory the ship and tell the public the astronauts died anyway, so their plan is even sillier than the Moon theory. Also, OJ Simpson played one of the astronauts, so this is one more thing you can blame on him.
OJ Simpson pictured faking the moon landing while stealing sports memorabilia.
Ever since the 70s the idea has been promoted now and then by a variety of conspiracy nuts, initially through low budget videos that used tricky editing methods and ominous music to make their points. More recently the Internet has become the medium of choice for conspiracy theorists, in part because it allows them to reach a larger audience but mostly because they can just provide YouTube links to the aforementioned videos and hope people as dumb as them will buy into the theory without the need to do any actual work.
Polls have suggested that about six percent of Americans have doubts about the Moon landing, which means their numbers are too few to be taken seriously but the group is still much larger than the believers of most other conspiracies. Skeptic magazine suggests that this problem can be solved by slapping anyone you meet who believes in the theory.
Conspiracy theorists generally make a few key points about the hoax. Like all good conspiracies, they tend to be based on pseudoscience and conveniently ignore those troublesome things we know as "facts". These include claims that the United States was technologically incapable of going to the moon, that numerous photos and films have been doctored, that a trip to the Moon would have resulted in radiation killing the astronauts and that numerous key members of the Apollo program died under suspicious circumstances. There are also questions as to veracity of rock samples brought back from the Moon and to the existence of the lunar landing sites.
Most of these questions can easily be addressed by anyone who paid attention during high school science class. For those of you who went to bad schools and/or slept through your education, five minutes on Wikipedia should clear things up.
Some argue that it was only the Apollo 11 landing that was faked, while the others were real. However, most conspiracy theorists believe all six landings were phoney, because why go through the trouble to fake something that elaborate just once when you could show-off and fool people six times?
"Man, this shit never gets old!"
The biggest flaw in the theory is the fact that the moon landing missions involved hundreds of thousands of people, from scientists, engineers and skilled labourers, right down to NASA's coffee fetching interns. This means that the US Government has somehow managed to threaten, blackmail or buy the silence of these thousands of people, any one of whom could become rich and famous instantly by revealing the secrets of the hoax. To accomplish this massive task the Government would have to set up an entire organisation dedicated to keeping people quiet. The people in this organisation would in turn have to be kept quiet, and the cycle would continue until every person in the country was busy keeping each other from telling other people a secret everyone was already in on. Note that this logic can be applied to a variety of different conspiracy theories. For an example, see Was 9/11 an Inside Job?
"We know nothing!"
The alternative would be that the Moon landing was faked with as few people as possible, which would mean that everyone who was supposedly working on the Apollo project was just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, and would no doubt have been very surprised to hear they had been successful despite not doing any productive work.
"So uh, hey guys, it looks like we managed to land on the Moon over our lunch break .That's pretty cool."
There's also the fact that there was this little thing called the Cold War that was going down at the time, and the Soviet Union would have loved the chance to call bullshit on the whole Apollo project. They were strangely silent though, but that's OK because there were a few guys in tin foil hats who were more than happy to pick up their slack.