‘When you point at the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.’ That’s not Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969, while stepping on to the moon’s surface; it’s Confucius somewhere in downtown 5th century imperial China. Forty years since Nasa astronauts Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin laddered down out of their ‘Eagle’ lunar module during the Apollo 11 mission, proverbial finger-watchers still exist — that is, people who think that all the moon missions were an elaborate hoax.
Moon landings were more part of an epic Cold War setting than about the nobility of exploring extra-terrestrial real estate and discoveries to be made for science. One must also remember that these were the Vietnam-Watergate years when being fashionably anti-establishment meant doubting everything that Uncle Sam was saying — including American moon-landings. Bill Kaysing’s 1974 book, We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, puts all conspiracy theories under one roof.
‘Believers’ of the hoax point to many signs, the primary one being that the American flag was seen ‘fluttering’ in the atmosphere-less vacuum of the moon — which must point to the whole scene being conducted in a rather windy terrestrial spot. Try explaining that the pendulum-like waving of the flag resulted from the air released from the astronauts’ air bags. That won’t satisfy the nay-sayers. The absence of stars in the photos was another ‘dead giveaway’ that it was a hoax. (The sun blotted out the stars in the cameras loaded with daylight exposure film.) So 40 years after the first moon-landing, there are all those who believe Neil Armstrong was fudging when he said, “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” But hope is not lost. There’s the Chandrayaan mission. And Elvis lives.