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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

To the moon, all of you conspiracy theorists

Despite overwhelming evidence, some still claim planet landing was an elaborate hoax.

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. Photo Credit: NASA

One small step for man. One giant leap for nutjobs.

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of one of America’s greatest achievements — the first humans to land on the moon.

Or did we?

When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took those first lunar steps on July 21, 1969, Armstrong famously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That “small step” marked the culmination of centuries of scientific progress, and Americans stood proud.

Well, most Americans. Despite overwhelming evidence, including the collection of moon rocks and NASA images, the conspiracy nuts were soon out in force, claiming the moon landing was an elaborate hoax.

In 1976, writer Bill Kaysing published a conspiracy pamphlet titled “We Never Went to the Moon,” claiming the moonwalk footage was a fake, staged in a studio. In 2001, Fox News gave fresh blood to the lunar “truther” movement, airing a “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” special and interviewing a parade of Apollo 11 skeptics, including Kaysing and conspiracy filmmaker Bart Sibrel.

A year later, Sibrel assaulted Aldrin in a Beverly Hills hotel, screaming insults and poking him with a Bible. After one poke too many, Aldrin responded by socking Sibrel in the jaw, who then ran away. One small step for the good guys?

The number of conspiracy nuts mushroomed with the advent of social media, from lunar “truthers” to 9/11 “truthers” to anti-vaxxers to Holocaust deniers. Among their vilest smears is that the gunning down of children at Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 never happened and was a hoax, further compounding the grief of the parents.

Today, any cretin with a computer living in his or her parents’ basement can post a new “theory” that might go viral and bring instant notoriety in growing circles of similarly stunted intellects. Look Mom, I’m famous!

One might wonder how the human race has gotten this far. At that point, it’s good to remember that if we were able to get to the moon, there’s not much we can’t do.

So let’s keep the faith, and celebrate the Apollo 11 astronauts’ achievement with pride!

Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.

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