Astronaut Alan Bean confronts a Moon-landing denialist

Astronaut Alan Bean (born 1932), the fourth person to walk on the Moon, died yesterday at age 86. His moonwalk was in 1969, and, after participating in the Skylab program, he retired in 1975 to devote himself to painting. Here’s a photo of him on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission:

Bart Sibrel is an infamous Moon-landing denialist who has made ludicrous movies about his theory that the CIA faked all the landings; the Wikipedia article linked to his name details some of the problems with Sibrel’s ideas. He’s also confronted several of the astronauts, asking them to swear on the Bible that they went to the Moon. (Sibrel appears to be religious, as you can see in the Buzz Aldrin video at bottom, so I don’t know what he thinks when someone like Bean actually does swear on the Bible! Would he change his mind? Clearly not!).

At any rate, here’s a video posted by Bo Gardiner showing Sibrel asking Bean to swear on the Bible that he walked on the Moon (after looking at pictures of Sibrel, I think he’s wearing a wig here). The video notes:

By misrepresenting himself as a legitimate “documentary” filmmaker, Bart Sibrel (famously punched by Buzz Aldrin) invaded Alan’s home in 2004 and took advantage of the astronaut’s down-home gentility. Even as Sibrel’s nasty craziness became increasingly obnoxious, Alan generously humored him. But the easygoing gentleman had his limits, and he showed this creep the door with the most gracious of f-yous.

It’s beyond my ken why people think that all the Moon landings are fake, as that would be an expensive piece of fakery! And why would the CIA fake this? (I could look up why Sibrel thinks this, but I can’t be arsed as he’s a bull-goose looney).

Sibrel’s most famous confrontation was with Buzz Aldrin, described by Wikipedia below and shown in the video. Aldrin, who I believe was in his eighties when he was confronted, threw a heavy punch at Sibrel. I can understand why an astronaut who risked his life to perform this risky feat would be really pissed off when confronted by a jerk like Sibrel, but I can’t countenance physical violence. Still, watch the video below, which shows you the religious motivations underlying Sibrel’s endeavors (as you can hear on this and other videos, Sibrel asks “Do you think you can get to Heaven without repenting?”).

Sibrel confronted several Apollo astronauts, who did not respond positively when they realized that they were being challenged on their accredited achievement of landing and walking on the Moon.[1 The most infamous incident involved Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin. According to Aldrin, he was lured to a Beverly Hills, California, hotel on September 9, 2002, under the pretext of an interview on space for a Japanese children’s television show. As he was leaving the hotel, Sibrel was there requesting that he swear an oath on a Bible that he had walked on the Moon.

When Aldrin refused, Sibrel followed him and said “you’re the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn’t”, and then called Aldrin “a coward, and a liar, and a thief”. Aldrin, after asking Sibrel “will you get out of my way for me?”, reacted by punching Sibrel in the jaw, while being recorded by Sibrel’s camera crew. Sibrel later attempted to use the tape to convince police and prosecutors that he was the victim of an assault. However, it was decided that Aldrin had been provoked and no charges were filed. Many talk shows aired the clip, usually siding with Aldrin’s response. Sibrel said later that he wrote a letter of apology to Aldrin for speaking to him harshly.

Before this incident, Sibrel had interviewed Aldrin in a hotel room, as shown in Sibrel’s film Astronauts Gone Wild. During the interview, after Sibrel confronted Aldrin with a videotape containing, according to Sibrel, newly discovered footage from the Apollo 11 mission, Aldrin replied: “Well, you’re talking to the wrong guy! Why don’t you talk to the administrator at NASA? We were passengers, we’re guys going on a flight.”

52 Comments

  1. Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Who would have thought back in the 1970s that we’ll soon return to a time when no living human has walked on the moon?

    • Posted June 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Priorities! I fear we are dangerously close to lose all control over our own heavenly body…

    • Posted June 1, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I have read somewhere a humorous piece claiming, with “arguments” of the type typical for conspiracy theorists, that Bean never punched Sibrel and the latter’s claim was a hoax. Something like:

      “Astronauts, including Bean, are selected to be below average in height and weight, for economy reasons. Plus, Bean is an old man now. He wouldn’t dare to start a fight with a younger, larger, stronger man. Sibrel has a video recording? If you wish, believe a guy who wins his bread by producing video recordings…”

  2. ploubere
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I disapprove of violence, but I must confess to a feeling of satisfaction when that delusional creep got clocked.

    • Robert
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      ++

    • George
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      The Aldrin-Sibrel incident took place in 2002. Sibrel was demanded that Aldrin be arrested and charged. The Santa Monica DA said he was looking into it. I imagine the meeting went something like this:

      “Bart Sibrel, 38 years old, 6-2, 250 pounds told national hero Buzz Aldrin, 72 years old, 5-10, 160 pounds, that he was ‘a coward, and a liar, and a thief’ Whereupon, Aldrin punched him. What should we charge Sibrel with?”

      I met Jim Lovell about 15 years ago at his restaurant in Lake Forest, north of Chicago. He co-owned it with his son. Unfortunately, it closed in 2015.
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-forest/news/ct-lfr-lovells-closing-tl-0409-20150407-story.html

      He was often at the restaurant. A beautiful and kind man. He came to our table. I have no idea what he said to us. I think I mumbled a few words to him. I was starstruck. I think I did thank him for saving 1968 – something a lot of people do (see Apollo 8). Also something about the Earthrise photo. I think he had heard those comments thousands if not millions of times but smiled and was incredibly gracious.

      I imagine I would act similarly in the presence of Buzz Aldrin.

      To read as soon as I get it – Rocket Men by Robert Kurson about the Apollo 8 mission.

      Check out this report about an event at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry with the three Apollo 8 astronaut (Anders, Borman, Lovell) all of whom are still alive.
      https://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2018/04/09/apollo-8-astronauts-recount-historic-mission-rocket-men-book-launch

  3. KS
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The obligatory Mitchell & Webb video:

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Never heard of this clown. Was he working for Trump? If not, I’m sure that Trump would hire him in a minute. He could back up Giuliani any time.

  5. Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The US had most excellent reasons to fake it. They were behind in the highly symbolic race to the stars with Soviet Russia, who had set one record after another.

    They didn’t fake it, of course, because they pulled it off, thanks to Nazi Engineering and a few decades of extra research in rocket technology lifted from Operation Paperclip, and the “Great Patent Heist” which infused the US with German patents.

    • Martin X
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      The risks behind faking it would have been far, far greater than any potential reward.

  6. Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Why would it have cost $135B (or whatever the stupid shit said) to the US taxpayers if they faked it? I suppose he would say that NASA, the astronauts, and whoever pocketed the money in order to maintain the charade. He should get together with that flat earther who recently launched himself in his own rocket to get a better view.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’d never heard of this idiot, but then Moon Landing Fakery is not a topic I follow.

    It must be hard in the US to be confronted with someone wanting you to swear on the Bible. I couldn’t do it because it would be dishonest. If you’re in the UK, northern Europe etc. you just say you’re an atheist, but in the US that’s problematic if you’re a public figure. Admitting such a Terrible Thing would make headlines and prompt a hate campaign.

    Punching the fu€kwit was wrong.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I think swearing at a bible would be okay but swearing on it, no.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Ha! Good point.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 28, 2018 at 1:36 am | Permalink

      I agree with everything but your last word. 😉

      cr

    • Posted May 28, 2018 at 2:16 am | Permalink

      I’d just tell him that it’d be like telling me to swear by Peppa Pig.

  8. Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Violence is wrong in regards to social civility. But being hominids…

  9. freiner
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m not so sure. After all, we all know that Kubrick faked the lunar scenes in 2001. Rather than shooting them at a studio in England, they were really filmed on the moon.

    • Posted May 27, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      2001 was clearly faked. Too many anomalies.

      /@

    • Christopher
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Next you’re gonna tell me that the English documentary “Austin Powers” didn’t happen either! We know that a dangerous Belgian mastermind had a secret lair and a moonbase and his associate humped the frickin’ laser, I’ve seen the footage!

  10. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s beyond my ken why people think that all the Moon landings are fake, as that would be an expensive piece of fakery! And why would the CIA fake this?

    And research has found out by modeling that it is unlikely that a conspiracy the size of NASA would last more than 5 or so years, IIRC.

    But that does not matter, since other research on conspiracy theory seems to say that they will be with us forthwith [ http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/research-confirms-echo-chambers-on-twitter-exist/article/521413 ]. But fortunately not at a high frequency, < 10% deluded at any given time [ http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180416-the-myth-of-the-online-echo-chamber ].

    I believe I have also seen research that claims those who associate are mostly dynamically attaching and detaching, meaning the meme is the persistent phenomena.But I cannot find it now.

  11. Neil Wolfe
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    My main objection to Aldrin’s punch is that it wasn’t followed by an uppercut.

    • freiner
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      But he did show he’s a natural lefty — he led with his right.

      • lkr
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Rightie: Unless you’re a trained pugilist, you go to the dominant hand first. And I don’t think Aldrin intended a brawl, just a wake-up statement that the conversation was at an end.

        • freiner
          Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          I meant he’s a natural lefty fighter. You can’t see it, but he’s wearing trunks under those pants.

        • XCellKen
          Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          Really? Last time I got in a fight (2008, I was 47 years old) my right handed self led with a straight left, which missed, and a roundhouse right, which connected.

          To give you an idea, the bluetooth the idiot was wearing cut my right ring finger in three spots. I guess my aim was a little high. I also had to stand on my tippy toes to connect, so I guess I didn’t get my full weight into the punch.My hand didn’t really hurt, but I was told that if I hit him hard enough to cut my finger on his bluetooth, that he did indeed feel the punch. I guess that’s why he walked away ???

          Guess I did that sequence incorrectly ???

          • Richard
            Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:11 am | Permalink

            If you really do have to fight someone, don’t waste your time aiming at the jaw or elsewhere on the head (unless you can hit the nose). The head is very hard, and you are more likely to hurt your own hand than your opponent. It’s much better to hit the solar plexus (just below the sternum), or – if you can get behind them – a kidney. And don’t forget the effectiveness of a swift kick to the groin or a knee-cap, or even just stamping hard on their toes.

            In reality, of course, it is FAR better to avoid a real fight: smile, back away (don’t turn your back in case your opponent tries the kidney punch!), apologise if necessary, etc. Even a single punch can accidentally kill, and it is MUCH better to walk away than to risk injury or death to yourself or your opponent, regardless of how angry you may be feeling. Keep in mind that most people do not know how to punch effectively, but it’s always possible that your opponent may be one of those who does know. And there are always the potential legal consequences…

            (By “you” I mean people in general, not XCellKen specifically)

            • XCellKen
              Posted May 28, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

              I was always taught to punch the temple, which is what I was aiming for with the second punch. I was aiming for the nose with the first punch, but I missed.

              But I understand about the broken hand thing. Most people don’t realize you can only throw so many punches in a fight before you break your hand. I have never had a broken hand, but I have had two broken noses.

              I guess I’m part of honor culture. In the case I mentioned, my neighbor was hitting his wife, and she came to me for protection. He called me out on a Saturday evening. My choices were to walk away, which in honor culture would make me his beeyatch forever, or do what I did. Perhaps I’m wrong about this

  12. Christopher
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Bean was far more patient than I would have been, even being the confrontation-avoiding chicken that I am. I admit it, I’d have hit the prick too.

  13. Vaal
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I think we should be able to talk through differences instead of using violence.

    But I can’t lie about how that old Buzz Aldrin video makes me feel: it was the most righteous and richly deserved punch I’ve ever seen, and if a Good God exists, he was high-fiving Jesus when they watched it on youtube!

    …”That’s one Giant Punch For Mankind”…!

    • Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      LOL for the last phrase!

    • Filippo
      Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Possibly Aldrin could have said, “I respectfully and congenially thank you for your kind, Christian comment.”

  14. Paul S
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    As I pointed out to a denier, my uncle worded on Apollo guidance systems. If it was faked he would have blabbed years ago.

  15. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    On a different web site I had a back and forth discussion with someone who had collected a bunch of old photos of the moon that showed boulders nestled in craters, and some of these large rocks had left wobbly trails as they had rolled into the craters. He was convinced, as some others apparently are, that there are all these secret bases with buildings, etc. on the moon.

    It never once occured to me to try to convince him that of course those could not be lunar bases since the entire moon landing program was faked. Dammit.

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    The moon landing conspiracy is IMO the most easily rebutted conspiracy theory in America.
    The website “http://www.clavius.org” is devoted to rebutting every single argument for it.
    Sadly, two of my favorite African American comedians, Whoopi Goldberg (who appeared on Star Trek!!!) and Dick Gregory believed it.

    There was a Sokal-like hoax (except it was humor) around it in the late 1990s. A spoof article called “Stanley Kubrick and the Moon Hoax” appread on usenet in 1995, but hoax believers swear by it, and were also influenced by a spoof mockumentary from 2002 called “Operation Lune”.

  17. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Some posters wonder why on earth NASA would have bothered to fake the moon landing. Surely they should realize that the supposed moon landing was part of the larger conspiracy to shoot both President Kennedy and his brother Senator Kennedy, in order to promote vaccination, public radio, federal control of Western land that should be for cattle grazing, and undermine Christmas and the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

  18. XCellKen
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    If moon landings were so easy to fake, why didn’t even one single, solitary other country fake their own moon landing ?

    • ploubere
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Good point. And why then haven’t we faked a Mars landing, and what the hell, every other planet and Alpha Centauri too?

    • Posted May 28, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      More the point: why did the Soviet Union not call out the US on it? (The answer I read from one denier years ago is that they feared nuclear retaliation, but …)

  19. Posted May 27, 2018 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Due to the increase in the probability of someone blabbing with each additional participant in a conspiracy, the number involved in a successful one should be odd, preferably less than 3. I call that the Guy Fawkes rule.

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I’d swear on the Bible that my name is William Shakespear, I have a pet Loch Ness Monster in my fish tank, and the date is April 31st, 1066.

    So much for the Bible.

    If you asked me to give my word, however, you’d get the truth.

    cr
    P.S. Massive credit to Bean for telling that loony to fuck off.

  21. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    “And why would the CIA fake this?”

    Short answer is, there’s no reason for the CIA to fake it. One could imagine a very strong motive for NASA to fake it, however.

    (Not that I believe for a moment that they did, or that they could have got away with it).

    There was a fairly good action movie based on exactly that premise, Capricorn One (about a Mars landing). The plot was considerably more credible than the moon-hoax theories, however, in that (in the movie) the Mars program is genuine, but a last-minute fatal fault had been discovered in the life-support system. For financial-political reasons the launch had to go ahead, but the astronauts were secretly flown to a desert base where they had to fake the landing footage, and they would be flown back and placed in the capsule on its return. However, the capsule did the big firework on re-entry (this was pre-Challenger as it happens) and the astronauts realised they were now officially dead. Big escape/desert chase ensues.

    cr

    • Richard
      Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      I remember that one. The film ends with one of the “dead” astronauts showing up at his own funeral.

    • Posted May 28, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Yes, that would be a more plausible rationale for faking a landing. Still would be impossibly difficult to pull off though. Someone would undoubtedly talk.

  22. Mike
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The Guy deserved everything he got inc the punch

  23. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    How do we know that photo is of Bean? It could be an alien behind that mirror faceshield. 🙂

  24. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I suspect most sane people in the world applauded Aldrin when he punched that insulting moron.

  25. Filippo
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I am somewhat melancholic upon hearing of Bean’s passing. The Mercury gang has all passed away; the Gemini and Apollo gangs are falling by the wayside.

    The NY Times obit is irksome in including a Times critic’s bloviating opinion about Bean’s artwork. (Apparently it has to be about the Times also, not solely about the obit’s subject.)

    So here we are, transitioning (transiting?) from a (an?) Heroic Golden Space Age(funded by the taxpayer and socializing the risks) to a Mercenary Entrepreneurial Age (privatizing the benefits and profits).

    In a 5/25/18 bloviating NY Times op-ed, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated these pearls:

    “There are more than 800 operational American satellites in orbit, and by 2024 that number could exceed 15,000.”

    [As if such an increase is an unconditional positive outcome.]

    “Thanks to public-private partnerships, for the first time in seven years American rockets will soon carry NASA astronauts into space. Long dormant, Cape Canaveral is now bustling with activity. America is leading in space once again.”

    [NO! Amuricuh is not “leading”! For the last seven years we’ve been mainly relying on the Russians to hitchhike to the ISS. Once American rockets again carry NASA astronauts into space, if we’re lucky we’ll be where we were seven years ago.]

    In an April 17 video interview with CNBC at the Space Symposium referenced in his May 25 NYT op-ed, Mr. Ross states, “We need to have it [business, regulation] on an international basis because we’re talking about an intergalactic environment.”

    What is this “intergalactic environment” piffle? Pray tell, Mr. Ross, do you know what the speed of light is? Do you know the meaning of “intergalactic,” as compared to “interstellar” and “interplanetary”?

    [Do you anticipate an asteroidal mineral equivalent of the oil depletion allowance federal tax credit, as well as contractual waivers of legal responsibility for space tourist-related catastrophes, arbitration, etc.?]

    It takes a photon of light approximately 4.5 years to reach Alpha Centauri. It has taken the Voyager probes approx. 40 years to get clear of our sun’s influence. Does Mr. Ross know of some new revolutionary spacecraft propulsion technology which will soon allow us to accomplish intergalactic travel in a timely manner?

    And Mr. Ross is a Harvard graduate. Whoo-Hoo!

    • Posted May 28, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Definitely not from the Harvard physics department!


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