In 2009, Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin was confronted in public by a man making a “documentary” movie about how the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was faked by the U.S. government.
This is, of course, a stupid conspiracy theory that just never goes away.
Aldrin graduated third in his class at West Point and flew 66 combat missions in Korea. He was pilot of Gemini 12 before becoming the second man to walk on the moon. He’s a genuine American hero.
In the video, an elderly Aldrin is challenged by filmmaker Bart Sibrel. “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t,” Sibrel shouts in Aldrin’s face.
“You’re a liar, a coward, a thief,” Sibrel exclaims.
At which point Aldrin punches Sibrel in the face, a good solid shot, venting the frustration felt by millions of rational people.
While it’s impolite to say it, there are a small number of idiots in the world who are determined to disbelieve even obvious truth.
That’s why we applaud President Barack Obama for not releasing the photos of the dead Osama bin Laden.
Some have argued that showing the photos would have proven to the world’s doubters that the U.S. really did kill the mastermind of 9/11.
But it would have made no difference at all to people determined to believe the man is still alive. They would go on believing that even if the U.S. had paraded his body down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
The president was right. No one needs to see ghastly photos like that. Releasing them would have inflamed the passions of bin Laden’s supporters and perhaps even offend those who despised the man.
The week before, Obama took the extraordinary step of asking Hawaiian officials to release his own long-form birth certificate, just to quiet conspiracy theorists.
Reporters and others had seen the form. Photos have been available on the Web. Announcements even appeared in Hawaiian newspapers after his birth.
What’s more, there is not a shred of evidence he was born anywhere else. His mother never even visited Kenya, where the theorists say he was born.
Yet, many people continue to believe he was born overseas and that he is constitutionally ineligible to be president.
They will believe that forever.
Just as people continue to think Elvis has never really left the building. Princess Diana’s fatal car crash was arranged by the royal family. The U.S. government planned the 9/11 attack to make Arabs look bad. And, Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot president John F. Kennedy.
The list is endless, and the people who believe these things never will be satisfied by evidence, no matter how compelling.
That’s because nothing can ever be proven to everyone’s satisfaction, and we should stop trying.
People who operate in the fact-based world are most often satisfied by a preponderance of evidence. They believe in the old saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
A small group of people, however, will always prefer some more dramatic and sinister explanation over simple truth.
These people should be confronted with the facts and then ignored. Continuing to acknowledge them only encourages the silliness.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.