Monday, July 20, 2009

Fuel To The Fire

Really, NASA? Really!?

I'm talking about the revelation this week that all four of the listening stations who received the original copies of the video from the moon had long-ago degaussed the tapes. Documentation of what is arguably one of mankind's greatest achievements and you've not only lost it, but actively destroyed it? REALLY!?

I can just see the backlash from the skeptics out there: "If we really had gone to the moon that would have been important enough that SOMEBODY would have made sure we kept the tapes!" I work with one of these types (or at least someone who claims to be one of these types) and seeing them this week in the office, on the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing will likely be a challenge. I am sure that at least once this week this question will arise.

Of course, there is the more than slight chance that it doesn’t matter to the skeptics whether these tapes had been found or not. Chances are, that if the masters had been found and NASA had, as they had planned, turned out copies of these enhanced with current-day technology skeptics would have used this as further proof that we'd faked the moon landing! "They could never have made such good transmissions from the moon using the technology of the '60s…" would undoubtedly be the line of the arguments.

On the various times that I have discussed this with my colleague who espouses the "it was all a hoax" argument I have taken the same line of logic explained by Douglas Adams in The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul.

In the book, the main character and anther are discussing some people with extraordinary talents. Once can quote the exact thing that Dustin Hoffman is about to say a few seconds before he says it. The other quotes stock market prices from the day before more-or-less tracking exactly how they would have appeared on the ticker, only twenty-four hours later. One character in the book suspects this is some sort of elaborate hoax, the other assumes that it is something miraculous. The main character speaks up and declares that the characters cannot be hoaxing.

"The impossible often has a kind of integrity to which the merely improbable lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something that works in all respects other than one, which is just that it is hopelessly impossible? Your instinct is to say, 'yes but he or she simply wouldn't do that.'"

Well, it happened to me today, in fact," replied Kate.

"Ah, Yes!" said Dirk, slapping the table and making the glasses jump "your girl in the wheelchair – a perfect example. The idea that she is somehow receiving yesterday's stock prices apparently out of thin air is merely impossible, and therefore it must be the case, because the idea that she is maintaining some immensely complex and laborious hoax of no benefit to herself is merely improbable. The first idea supposes that there is something we do not know, and God knows there are enough of those! The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human that we do know about. We should therefore be very suspicious of it and all its specious rationality."

This concept seems, by the logic of Ockham's Razor, to apply to the Apollo missions. Via the concept of Ockham's Razor: “Of several acceptable explanations for a phenomenon, the simplest is preferable, provided that it takes all circumstances into account.” We can eliminate the idea that we never went to the moon as being ridiculously improbable.

For us to have gone to the moon supposes only that we pulled to gather, invented in a very short time industries and technologies which didn’t previously exist. To suppose that the space missions were a hoax supposes that either the thousands (or perhaps millions) of people actively involved in the effort have remained true to the hoax these past forty years. Or perhaps the government somehow strong-armed them into silence by "disappearing" those few dissenters who may have "spilled the beans." An act, which if you suppose it, must also be covered-up and kept silent. Which in-turn would suppose some collusion with the media… it becomes impossibly improbable that any individual or group would be able to maintain the hoax in the short-run or the long run! And to what benefit? Who derives benefit from the idea that we went to the moon when we never did?

So, on this fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, take a moment to think about what the possibilities are. The sky is not the limit!

I hope that wherever you are today, you'll have a great day!

Don Bergquist – July 20, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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