4

A recent breakfast TV slot on the UK's ITV pitted a cosmologist against a believer that the Apollo moon landings were faked.

I don't think the cosmologist did a good job of showing what sorts of evidence we have today that this is nonsense (to be fair it can be hard to oppose madcap conspiracy theories). For actual evidence this site has a good summary.

The programme conducted a live poll that showed the majority of viewers bothering to respond agreed with the conspiracy theorist. This is clearly one of those useless polls subject to ridiculous levels of response bias and, as such, worthless.

But the show also claimed that proper polls showed similar results:

But despite the live view of this remarkable human achievement, many non believers do exist: a survey found that a staggering 52% of Brits think the Moon landings from 1969-72 were faked, with an astonishing 73% of 25-34 year olds thinking it was all a hoax.

No references are given. Was this a quality poll done by a respected polling firm with a sensible question and properly randomised methods? Do other high quality polls exist showing that Apollo deniers are now in a majority? Are we doomed to suffer a new age of unreason?

  • 1
    What is the notable claim that is being examined/challenged here? Notice that a notable claim — per the rules — is a claim that a significant number of people, or a celebrity, believe is true. To me is appears that the claim in question is "Many believe the moon landings are faked". So the question then becomes "Do a significant number of people believe that a significant number of people believe that the Moon landings are faked?". But the only reference you have for that is a claim by a TV show saying "Oh but there were surveys... mm hm!". Does that count as a notable claim then? – MichaelK Aug 3 '18 at 11:40
  • 1
    @MichaelK don’t over complicate. The claim is the title. The source repeated that claim, establishing notability. – matt_black Aug 3 '18 at 11:48
  • 1
    @matt_black does the source say "majority of people" or "majority of British people"? – DavePhD Aug 3 '18 at 11:58
  • @DavePhD the source appears to be talking about the UK but I left the title open as it would be better if claims from other countries didn't generate a new question. if, for example, US surveys said something similar, that claims could be added here. – matt_black Aug 3 '18 at 12:31
  • 3
    Neither here nor there, but isn't it odd that they chose a cosmologist (who studies large-scale astronomical questions) and not any remotely in the field of space flight or planetary science? – rougon Aug 3 '18 at 13:17
5

Some polls in the US show that moon-landing-deniers were 6% in 1995 (Time/CNN poll), still 6% in 1999 (a well-documented Gallup poll, detailed here is also resumed here together with the previous one) and 7% in 2013 (the poll is reviewed here without technical details).

This proportion seeming steady along the years (even after internet increased the audience for conspiracy theories) and UK and US sharing simliar media cultures make me doubt the methodology of the poll from Atomik that reported the figure of 52% of moon-landing-deniers in UK in 2016.

However, in 2009, a study by "Engineering & Technology" (once again, I found no technical details) in UK found much higher levels of credulity than in the US, with one quarter of respondant doubting the moon landings.

  • The vague recollection of the polls by Gallup and others was part of my skepticism over the Atomik one. It is really hard to evaluate without knowing the method and question they used. If they didn't use a random sample, then conspiracists will be far more likely to answer, for example, which is what the live poll on the TV broadcast will have found (but neglected to mention). – matt_black Aug 3 '18 at 16:33
2

No references are given.

The reference should be this 19 July 2016 Mirror article:

Despite being televised live in 1969, over half (52%) of adults believe that the Apollo 11 moon landing was a hoax.

The survey quizzed more than 1003 UK adults aged 18+ in partnership with Atomik Research.

Those aged 25-34 are the most sceptical, with 73% believing we didn’t land on the moon, compared to 38% of those aged 55+, who were actually alive for the event.

The article does not disclose any further details about methodology.

There was a May 2018 Russian survey that details more methodology. 2000 Russians age 18 and over were surveyed by random telephoning of land and mobile lines.

24% agreed with the statement "Американские астронавты в прошлом веке совершили высадку на Луну" [American astronauts in the last century made a landing on the moon.]

57% agreed with "Никакой высадки людей на Луну не было. В 1969 году Правительство США фальсифицировало документальные материалы экспедиции на Луну" [No people landed on the moon. In 1969, the US Government falsified the documentary materials of the expedition to the moon.]

and 19% said "Затрудняюсь ответить" [difficult to answer]

The Russia poll seems to divide the population into levels of truthfulness, with only 46% of the truthful people thinking no people landed on the moon, but it would be better if someone fluent in Russian explained this.

  • 12
    it might be worth noting that, unlike some of the more mainstream polling organisations whose goals are to get reliable results, Atomik makes a big pitch that their work "ensures your results hit the headlines" which is not quite the same thing. – matt_black Aug 3 '18 at 12:35
  • 2
    @matt_black In context, "ensures your results hit the headlines" refers to conducting a survey very quickly so the results are relevant to the current headlines. (not that I have any reason to think the UK survey was scientific). – DavePhD Aug 3 '18 at 13:39
  • Could you provide a translation of the Russian. Even a bad one would save us a trip to googe translate to find out what the conclusion is. – BobTheAverage Aug 3 '18 at 14:51
  • 1
    @BobTheAverage ok, I did, but if somebody who knows Russian could look at the survey it would be helpful – DavePhD Aug 3 '18 at 15:09
  • Another poll, in France: thelocal.fr/20180108/… . – David Hammen Aug 3 '18 at 17:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .