Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Neil Armstrong is (maybe) a liar, sorry to break it to you. Jordan C

In my lifetime I have encountered many, many, many arguments. It happens when everyone in your life is opinionated and loud. And of these arguments, a lot of them have revolved around various conspiracy theories which include, but are not limited to, the moon landing.

The moon landing is said to have taken place on July 20th, 1969 after launching the Apollo 11 spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16th. It was apparently streamed live to televisions across North America and there have been numerous photographs of the supposed landing site, surrounding area and astronauts. The problem? Many people believe that the moon landing was faked. This is mostly based off of the photographic proof having flaws such as the flag seeming to wave in one photo.

Photo cred: National Geographic

There are other problems with various photos from the moon “landing” but I like this flag example because it is easy to break down into a simple argument. So, basically I am going to break down two arguments from moon landing theorists.

Argument A – The moon landing was faked.

Premise 1 – All accessible record of the moon landing comes from photographs, video, and vocal accounts.

Premise 2 – Photographs and video can be faked.

Premise 3 – Vocal accounts can be false.

Conclusion – All accessible record of the moon landing was faked.

Obviously, this argument has some flaws in its form.

  • Premise 1 can be accepted as true, there have been interviews with the astronauts who say they went to the moon, as well as the ground team at NASA. There is video of these astronauts supposedly taken on the moon, and I have included a photo in this post. Other than that, there is no record of the moon landing, no technical readouts from the ship.
  • Premise 2 is true. While photoshop may not have existed at the time of the supposed moon landing, since the beginning of film cameras there have been fake photographs.
  • Premise 3 can also be accepted as true. Just listen to Donald “I think I am a nice person” Trump talk for a short while and it becomes obvious that people can lie vocally.

While this argument is factually correct, it is not valid. I’ve made a handy little diagram to demonstrate how you could visually represent these premises. As you can see, from the premises we are given it is impossible to concretely place the heading of “Moon landing proof” in the diagram, we just do not have the information needed to prove that these accounts of the moon landing are faked. Therefore, this argument is not sound. However, a dedicated person could dissect the “the moon landing was faked because of X” argument further into its parts, such as problems with certain photographs. Certain photographs such as the one from earlier in this post of the american flag. The argument that that photo is faked can be broken into simple premises and a conclusion much like the original argument, but to a different form and scale of validity, truthfulness, and soundness.

Argument B – The photo of the american flag on the moon is faked.

Premise 1 – The flag is waving in this photo.

Premise 2 – Wind causes flags to wave.

Premise 3 – There is no wind on the moon.

Conclusion – This photo was not taken on the moon.

This argument can be assessed differently from the first one.

  • Premise 1 is true, looking at the flag certifies that it is, in fact, waving.
  • Premise 2 can also be accepted. Wind causes flags to wave.
  • Premise 3 is easily proved. The moon has no atmosphere to speak of and a celestial body needs an atmosphere to have wind.

So yes, this argument is factual, all the premises are true. And as the conclusion is supported by the premises and is the only conclusion that could be drawn from the premises the argument is valid. Therefore, as the argument is both factual and valid, it is sound. You could have arguments about other ways with which flags can be waved, such as movement of the post but from the wording of the argument which only presents wind as a flag-waving method yes, this argument is sound.

These arguments have many origins, cynicism, distrust of the government, and yes, logical observations. For me at least, I’ve been raised in a family that believes many conspiracy theories and I’ve spent plenty of time looking into other conspiracies much like this one. At their core though, these arguments are mostly created by people with too much time on their hands, that have chosen to spend their lives analyzing pictures taken 47 years ago.

 

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