Apollo Investigation

Did faking the Apollo missions really start as a joke?

by C.D.F, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A detailed response to an article by Darryn King

Bill KaysingFig 1. William (Bill) Kaysing

I recently came across The Moon Landing Hoax Theory Started as a Joke1 written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch by Darryn King. I soon realized that the entire article was an attempt to discredit Bill Kaysing and tarnish his reputation by portraying him as a complete lunatic; a wandering paranoid tax dodger who has spent a lifetime propagating nonsense, and moving from place to place without ever getting ahead financially in life (as if the fact that Bill Kaysing was a poor man is a logical refutation of his ideas).

This dishonest, skewed attack on Bill Kaysing as an individual was clearly specifically designed to serve the central message of the article: Bill Kaysing was a completely crazy individual who doesn't deserve any credibility, and therefore we can all breathe a sigh of relief regarding the story of the landing of men on the Moon. Mr. King’s entire text is so vitiated and permeated with fallacies that even two years after its publication it deserves highlighting here. These attacks even begin in the article’s subtitle:

How a freelance writer sowed doubts about the Apollo mission [sic] – now 50 years old – laying the groundwork for 9/11 Truthers, Birtherism, Pizzagate, and QAnon.

Mr. King gets off to a very bad start in his article by opting to lie. That subtitle itself is fake news! We know that historically it was not Bill Kaysing who paved the way for the conspiracy theories cited. Anyone with the slightest historical knowledge of the subject knows that so-called modern political conspiracy theories date back to the 18th century, with the publication of books by John Robison and Augustin Barruel.2 These authors would later inspire an entire generation of famous conspiracy theorists like Nesta Webster, William Guy Carr, General Spiridovich, and the like.

It is the academic consensus that these in turn contributed to, and in some cases initiated, modern conspiracy theories concerning matters such as the deep state (the idea of a government in the shadows), the military industrial complex, the committee of three hundred (according to which a group of only three hundred powerful people acting secretly behind the scenes, would command the entire world); the influence of secret societies on the fate of nations; the infiltration and destruction of (specifically) Christian societies through internal enemies; Illuminati theory as it is understood today; big government plots and cover-ups, and so on.

Evidently it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss whether the ideas of John Robison, Augustin Barruel, and all the authors who were later inspired by them are true, we simply aim to establish for Mr. King, the elementary historical facts about the genesis of modern political conspiracy theories.

But then we see clearly that Mr. King uses the fallacy called “guilt by association”, which consists of trying to associate a group of people and their ideas with another group that is socially condemned, or with some very negative stereotype. It's the same tactic as used, for example, when attempting to associate nationalist citizens with fascism, or when trying to associate critics of the ideological stupidity known as “gender theory” with the stereotype of the reactionary.

Here the author of the article tries to associate Kaysing's name with the crazy ideas of the QAnon group. Having already established that this premise is completely absurd and without historical basis, we can add that if some QAnon theorists insist on citing Kaysing as a reference when it comes to their opinions on space travel and lunar fraud, their misguided actions do not undermine the credibility of Kaysing’s viewpoint. Anyone's thinking can be appropriated and exploited by opportunistic political groups, and along with QAnon, Mr. King could also be said to be appropriating Kaysing’s views for his own political ends.

There is a second fallacy that should be noted. The author of the article does not realize that there are discrepancies in the comparisons he makes: the QAnon offer as their only "evidence" anonymous posts on an internet forum. These posts could be placed by anyone with an interest in maintaining the status quo of the Apollo record. Apollo critics provide tangible evidence, of which the more well-known photographic studies demonstrating anomalies that would not exist had the photographs been taken on the actual lunar surface, are but one of many.

Effectively if Kaysing is the target in the sights of Mr. King, it is not only because having departed this life he is an easy target, since he cannot answer back, it is also because focusing uniquely on the Kaysing personality and lifestyle turns the public’s attention away from the wealth of technical evidence supplied by others, which further underscores Kaysing’s claim that the Apollo record is a fake.

Indeed, even if Mr. King’s claim that Kaysing’s first criticism of the Apollo project started as a joke were true, such an "argument" is just cheap rhetoric, it does not change the fact that not only did Kaysing soon change his tune, but that subsequently, most of the serious critics of the Apollo missions turn out to be professionals with scientific training in the most diverse fields. Some of those professionals started out intending to demonstrate the validity of the Apollo record while debunking the likes of Kaysing. Others were looking at Apollo relative to their own disciplines, in an honest search for the truth about this major historical event. Whatever had been their initial impulses for examining the Apollo data all these scientists shared a willingness to go where the evidence led. And many of them were obliged to change their minds, just like Kaysing.

As a result of their enquiries, over and above the evidence of a permanently compromised visual record, there is now a plethora of solid, analytical data concerning the Apollo program. For example there are studies concerning the lack of appropriate radiation shielding on the various spacecraft (necessary to protect the crew against dangerous solar and cosmic radiation while travelling and whilst on the lunar surface). In many respects the Apollo spacesuits were demonstrably not fit for purpose; Leonid Konovalov’s analysis of images produced with models and miniatures of hardware such as the lunar module speaks for itself, as does the the well-known documentary by Bart Sibrel which includes the video sequence of the astonishing hoax of the Earth image supposedly shot in an Apollo module on its way to the Moon. In reality this was produced with very simple light and shadow tricks that resulted in an impactful and convincing final image of the “blue marble” suspended over nothingness.

The list of scientifically verified claims against Apollo goes on and on.3 Ignoring all of this and associating the serious researches of Apollo critics with groups like QAnon is a clear act of intellectual dishonesty.4

At the very beginning of his article, Mr. King cites the case Julian Scheer, for whom it would be unthinkable and absurd to think that man had not set foot on the Moon (as if a single opinion could be representative of the entire North American population or even the 650 million people worldwide said to have watched the Apollo 11 mission!)

We should note however, that these derogatory remarks were uttered by NASA’s public affairs chief officer and that puts them into a different category. NASA, via Scheer’s publicized comments of December 17, 1969, obviously felt obliged to address the issue of fakery a mere five months after the Apollo 11 mission. Scheer can be said to have deliberately established the tone of the debate. Especially since the very first paragraph of the New York Times report on his remarks is yet another example of the classic ploy of controlling criticism through linking the ultra-absurd (Scheer chooses the Flat Earthers) to the entirely plausible (the hypothesis of opportunistic Apollo fakery).5

However, later in his article Mr. King contradicts himself when he cites a 1970 survey which recognizes that even back then, many US citizens were suspicious of the Apollo missions, so mission falsification was not as unthinkable as either he or Scheer would like. But here a serious problem arises, because if the distrust already existed since at least 1970 then Mr. King makes a false assertion when he writes that the criticism of the Apollo missions began with Kaysing’s 1976 book We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle. It might have got worse, but it had already started as Mr. King also knows, for he then tries to avoid this obvious difficulty in citing the 1970 opinion poll, by simply dismissing it as unscientific. He writes:

Such doubts were not uncommon. In a widely reported, though far from scientific, 1970 survey, 1,721 U.S. citizens were asked, “Do you really, completely believe that the United States has actually landed men on the moon and returned them to earth again?” In one community in Washington, D.C., as many as 54% of respondents did not “really, completely believe.” As yet, though, there was no one making the case, in a sustained way, that the moon landing hadn’t occurred.

As an aside, if he only gives credence to scientific observations, writing this article in 2019, he should surely have taken note of those scientists who are criticising Apollo.

Mr. King offers us the following additional gems:

Long before anyone worried about deepfakes or A.I. video manipulation, Kaysing warned his readers that they couldn’t trust the televised evidence they’d seen with their own eyes.

Is this serious? Does Mr. King really want us all to be Moon landing advocates just because it was “seen on television”? King then tries this:

The likelihood of a successful lunar mission, Kaysing reports, had been calculated at 0.017%. By whom and when and how, he never says. And yet he would repeat the figure without context for the rest of his life. Elsewhere in the book, with the same casual authority, he compares the various operations of Apollo 11 to “rolling nine sevens in a row” and claiming that, according to “statisticians,” a successful lunar descent was “beyond probability.”

The origin of the famous 0.017% figure has always been known: Bill Kaysing became aware of this probability when he discovered a technical report while writing and editing publications at Rocketdyne, North American Aviation’s rocket engine design and manufacturing division in Canoga Park, Los Angeles. He had first-hand access to many internal company technical reports relating to the engineering of parts of the Apollo project, and was an eyewitness to many important developments in this field. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that these reports passed through Kaysing's hands. The fact that Mr. King puts the word “statisticians” in quotation marks is also something strange, because in high level engineering firms, project feasibility studies are actually based on statistical and probabilistic methods, simulations and the like. Mr. King continues his attack thus:

More darkly, though Kaysing lacks anything resembling evidence to suggest it, he proposes that the accidental death of an Apollo safety inspector, Thomas Baron, in a car-train crash was a NASA hit job. In later interviews, he would add the crew of Apollo 1 to the list of potential whistleblowers that the space agency had allegedly murdered. These were grave and attention-grabbing accusations – offered up without a shred of real evidence.

Evidently Mr. King does not know the difference between an accusation and a suspicion. Nor does he accurately represent Kaysing, who wrote:

Thomas R. Baron, an employee of North American Aviation, Apollo’s prime contractor, submitted a 500 page report on the inadequacies of the program following the fatal fire on Pad 34. Shortly thereafter, Baron was killed when his car apparently stalled in front of a locomotive.

Of course, one also had to entertain the possibility of suicide, or an accident, however, the circumstances of his death were suspicious, as was the aftermath. In Florida, by law, such an accident would have required autopsies of the deceased – none were performed. Analysing these events and commenting on the published circumstances of Baron’s life and death is not the same as making an accusation.

Mr. Baron had become a very uncomfortable figure for the Apollo project. In his professional capacity for North American Aviation (NAA) on Pad 34, Baron was interviewed by the US government’s investigative committee into the Apollo 204 fire which had killed astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffey on pad 34 on January 27, 1967, only a month before their scheduled launch date. For his part, Grissom, who was highly skilled in engineering, was also a relentless critic of the Apollo project and quite skeptical of the very mission of which he was a part. He also displayed an unusual sincerity, and was well liked by the public, so that scathing criticisms coming from such an important member of the mission were a constant aggravation for NASA, as they generated huge repercussions and negative publicity for the Apollo project.

Grisson's own family has always made a lot of noise about the case, never failing to publicly disclose their suspicions about a possible murder. Later one of Grisson's sons, while analyzing the capsule stored in a hangar, discovered that the initial forensic report had serious technical flaws and omissions. So let's not be naive or blind, as suspicions as to the circumstances around this accident are also unavoidable.

Returning to Thomas Baron, prior to the Inquiry into the Pad 34 incident, Baron had filed a summarizing report of 55 pages In April 1967 on the failures within the Apollo production program he was associated with. He had also submitted a much fuller 500-page report containing detailed first hand information about spacecraft design flaws supplied by from key personnel under contract to NASA for Apollo engineering. That report has disappeared.

However, two years earlier, the Apollo Program Director overseeing the NASA program, one Samuel C. Phillips, Major General USAF, had written a 372-page report addressed to NAA’s president, J. L. Atwood. Dated December 19, 1965 it expresses serious reservations about the ability of NASA and its main contractor to achieve their goals. By 1965 and again in 1967, a month before the Grissom crew’s launch, the Apollo missions were nowhere near ‘good to go’.

Comparing these reports from two people at the very top and near to the bottom of the Apollo food chain reveals a remarkable consistency of opinion between Baron and Phillips, and Interestingly, appended to the Congress report on the Inquiry into the Pad 34 disaster is Senator Walter F. Mondale’s commentary which specifically focused on the Phillip’s report.6 In particular, Senator Mondale Dales writes:

“When asked about the Phillips report, NAA President Atwood replied: The Phillips report to whom? I have heard it mentioned, but General Phillips has not given us a copy of any report.” [Which can only be true in that it was not a copy but the original document. And not literally given to NAA by the very hand of Phillips.]

Mondale continues:

“Even when the facts of the Phillips review became known, NASA and NAA officials attempted to mislead members of the committee by engaging in a "semantic waltz" as to whether there was in fact a "report" or merely some informal "notes" made by the general and his associates.

Mondale’s further observation was that,

“Unfortunately, there has been no indication to my knowledge that NASA intends to review or change the policies and practices brought to light by the Phillips report incident. Instead, there have been indications from the highest level of NASA management that such policies and practices will continue.” [emphasis added]

That should tell you all you need to know, but of course when attacking Bill Kaysing, Mr. King prefers to omit all these important details. Indeed, he stops analysing We Never went to the Moon and goes foraging in a much later work in order to support his portrayal of Kaysing as the stubborn religious anti-establishment fanatic King would like him to be:

In the author’s dedication of his 1988 book, Bill Kaysing’s Freedom Encyclopedia, Kaysing notes that his wife, Ruth, thinks “that I have a messiah complex, that I want to save the world … and, as usual, she’s right. That’s really all I intended to do in the first and last place.”

In doing so, he rather ignores the fact that although Kaysing might have had his Apollo book reprinted several times over the years, he was only too aware of the enormous consequences and gravity of his Apollo allegations. In my view, it's okay to assume the responsibility of making them public and it is in this sense that the term “messiah complex” was used. Furthermore, he only answered questions about Apollo when asked, and otherwise got on with living his life and using his writing to help other people live more fruitful lives, as his bibliography and Mr. King himself demonstrates by quoting from a book written 14 years after We Never Went to the Moon.

The inference of a Messiah complex can equally be levelled at the many pseudo skeptics who appear in the media defending the official government mantra, and clearly pride themselves on denouncing "science deniers" and "spreaders of disinformation and conspiracies." Many see this as a life’s mission, posing as the great defenders of reason and science. Kaysing was also aware of his life mission, simply defending a worldview diametrically opposed to these self-proclaimed skeptics.

Some argue that Kaysing achieved the exact opposite, causing serious and lasting detriment to science, reason, and education.

“He was a monumental anti scientist, responsible in many ways for one of the most colossal wastes of time and effort in my memory,” the astronomer and writer Phil Plait wrote for Discover. “How much energy,” Plait challenged, “how much brain power, how much simple time has been wasted on this ridiculous claim?” 7

If humankind's flights to, and landings on, the Moon really did happen then Phil Plait is inevitably right. The entire effort of the so-called “conspiracy theorists” was absolutely futile and harmful, Phil Plait being someone who always fought for the good of reason and science. If however, man's going to the Moon really was faked and a misrepresentation of the facts, then the logic is completely reversed. It is men like Phil Plait who have wasted time and great energy defending a completely false idea and causing great damage to science, reason and education. The same can be said of Mr. King.

But the central point made by Mr. King has still not been addressed: Did the Apollo mission critics really get started as a joke?

In the historical context of the 1970s, conspiracy stories were common and as for the Kaysing commissioning editor's intentions, it is more accurate to say that what he had in mind was a sensationalist fictional story of government contestation, which was in vogue at the time, and not necessarily a joke. Fictional stories are an excellent way to denounce governments, and have been used many times throughout history. George Orwell's novel 1984 and his contestation of brutal socialist governments is just one example. More recently, this was the idea of films like Capricorn One, whose aim was precisely to lead the audience to a reflection on how people can be deceived by government propaganda through a good fictional story.

In fact, we could here question Mr. King: if he insists on the idea of the joke, then why would the conspiracy on the Moon story necessarily start with Kaysing rather than with the script for the movie Capricorn One, it having been decided in a court case that such a script predated Kaysing's work?8

Mr. King could perhaps answer this by saying that "conspiracy theorists" cite Kaysing and not the movie Capricorn One. However, they cite Kaysing precisely because he did not pursue the idea of a fictional story, publishing instead a book with real first hand evidence, probing questions, and suspicions. Had Kaysing published a fictional story, it might not even be remembered, or it would be remembered differently. When Mr. King decides to base his thesis on something that could have happened but didn't, he's actually building a castle on sand.

Many things in the world could have happened and didn't, but if they did, they would certainly have different consequences. In short, how can Mr. King pursue the idea of the joke if the fictional book Kaysing had in mind was never published?

Trying to demoralize Kaysing and keep the tone of rebuttal throughout his article just because Kaysing first thought of a work of fiction was not a good tactic, although Mr. King on reading an interview of Kaysing in the Los Angeles Free Press, seems to think that with this he could build a perfect case against Kaysing. Mr. King quotes this excerpt from that interview:

“Playing the devil’s advocate, I began to question every step of the various moon flights,” he told the newspaper. “I found myself wondering,” he also explained, “whether I was working on a hoax or whether I was actually becoming a technical detective. Little by little, the evidence seemed to build in the favor of the Apollo Project itself being a gigantic hoax.”

Mr. King then goes on to note that, "By the time he completed the book, Kaysing’s original satirical intent had given way to a conviction that the moon landing was indeed a lie." And therein lies the rub.

Kaysing's book was commissioned and written in 1974, the original publishers expecting a satire, rejected the 200-page manuscript. Given that it contained 74 pages on the Apollo pad congress inquiry, the two Baron reports and the Phillips report, one can understand perhaps why they went to the extent of specifically disavowing it. Kaysing set it aside and went on to other writings. However, news of its existence reached the US public in 1975 via radio shows, according to one Randy Reid, and it was finally published as Kaysing wrote it, in June 1976. By that time, there was already a natural distrust of the Apollo missions that hung in the air across America and the world, so the book simply functioned as an icebreaker opening the way for many potential critics, encouraging them with the presentation of evidence and suspicions. Mr. King himself admitted this very fact:

But, by the time We Never Went to the Moon was published in 1976, no one needed to read it – Kaysing’s ideas were out there.

This atmosphere of mistrust explains why it was inevitable that over the years the book would have enormous success and influence.

Trying to keep the tone of rebuttal throughout the article just because Kaysing first thought of a work of satirical fiction is then reinforced by Mr. King’s inability to study the facts as set out across the various editions of We Never Went to the Moon. But then to do so would not serve his purpose. And here is where it gets complicated. The original 200-pages of his very first published edition, contained those 74 pages of damning evidence from Phillips and Baron was authored by Kaysing alone. But importantly, the edition that Mr.King is criticizing is authored by Bill Kaysing and Randy Reid. This co-authored version only contains 87 pages, those damning 74 pages have been reduced to three while the section in which Kaysing suggests a location possibly used for the Apollo Simulation Project near to Las Vegas has been considerably expanded, acquiring new pictures accompanied by dubious captions of Las Vegas casinos, swimming pools, and a bikini clad lovely.

By referencing this particular section on Las Vegas and the location of the simulation, Mr. King reveals that he does not know what the word ‘cavort’ means, and that he is looking at the 87-page edition of Kaysing’s work credited to Kaysing and Reid. And if its centerpiece as Mr. King claims is the hypothesis as to how NASA could have pulled off the hoax, that is not the case in Kaysing's original version where it's those 74 pages concerning NASA and NAA failures hold the center.

The difference between these two editions is telling, although whether this cut from 200 pages to 87 pages was an act of sabotage or whether Kaysing was persuaded that embellishing the rather dry tone of the original simulation hypothesis with such frippery would appeal more to the public than the technical and legal accounts of NASA and North American Aviation’s industrial practices is not known.

Whatever the reasons for these changes, when someone like Mr. King sets out to take down the author, he should surely make a point of cross referencing all the source material before starting out. Had he done so, of course it would have spoiled his Las Vegas argument entirely. Kaysing lived his life as a truthful man, and he tells interviewers that on being commissioned to write the book, he had gone to Vegas to consult the NASA archives which were stored there. Mr. King uses these additional Vegas photos to support his assertion that Kaysing was enthusing overly about the town’s amenities because he actually wrote the whole book there.

While we don't deny that Kaysing made some mistakes – with hindsight there are arguments in his book and some statements in his interviews concerning Apollo that are speculation. Nevertheless, many of his questions and insightful opening remarks still remain entirely valid. Which is more than one can say for Mr. King's final effort regarding Kaysing’s work. Having completed his analysis of Kaysing & Reid’s 87-page edition he writes,

“To Kaysing’s surprise, the publisher rejected the manuscript.” “I am afraid we disavow it,” the rejection letter reads…

But that is a total misrepresentation of the facts: Mr. King’s article implies that the 87-page version he has been discussing is the one rejected, when in fact this rejection letter refers to the original manuscript submitted to the commissioning publisher in 1974.

In summary, Kaysing had a degree in English literature and after all it was natural that he should have thought of writing his book against the government as a literary and satirical work; if he had done this as originally commissioned, there would be no problem, as criticisms of governments made through works of fiction are valid,9 but having decided to write a work based on reality, this turned out to be less welcome.

Especially on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch date July 2019. Mr. King’s hatchet job was only one of a series of articles across the media that week which chose to focus on Kaysing.10 While other writers had a more rounded view than King, albeit somewhat sketchy on the actual science, all of them were transparent in their desire to silence the Apollo critics once and for all by linking Kaysing to the Flat Earthers, QAnon and the whole conspiracy fest.

If Kaysing was truly the tax-evading wild man of the woods with a grudge against society portrayed by King and his confreres, the writings of Kaysing would not be seen as a threat. More especially, if NASA had truly managed the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969, neither the alteration of Kaysing’s original work nor any of these articles would have been necessary. Yet here they are. Because over time, Kaysing’s influence seems to have been much greater. The importance of Kaysing's successors has been precisely to perfect his work and continue his legacy in the tireless search for the truth.

C.D.F, an independent Brazilian researcher into the Apollo Project

Aulis Online, September 2021


1. The Darryn King article titled The Moon Landing Hoax Theory Started as a Joke
2. 18th century authors go together 2, 3, 4:
[2] Proofs of a conspiracy against all the religions and governments of Europe : carried on in the secret meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati, and reading societies
[3] Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism - Barruel
[4] Proof of the Illuminati – Seth Payson
3. Aulis Online, Jarrah White, Phil Kouts, Leonid Konovalov, etc.
4. Rio writes: There's no point in putting Apollo critics and the collective ravings and idiotic unproven speculations of the QAnon groupies on the same level. for an example of such unproven rants: the claim that Hillary Clinton's alleged henchmen would keep kidnapped children across America in cages in New York's sewers in order to draw their blood in search of an "immortality serum," is an absolute insanity that cannot be compared to the technical researches of serious critics of the Apollo record.
5. Subscribers to the New York Times can read the whole article in its Times machine digital archive. For the rest, the first paragraph reads: “KITTY HAWK, N.C., Dec. 17 any event worth a line in the history books invites skepticism. The Flat Earth Society of London still has its doubts about Columbus. A few stool-warmers in Chicago bars are on record as suggesting that the Apollo 11 Moon walk last July was actually staged by Hollywood on a Nevada desert.”
6. NASA – Apollo 204 Accident, Jan, 1968.
7. The electronic pic up on underlined words ‘wrote for’ is the Phil Plait article data.
8. 'Capricorn One' – The Movie That Helped Shape a Conspiracy posted July 17, 2019, updated July 18, 2019. Kaysing references to the movie Capricorn One.
9. Fiction often inspires reality; the very idea that man could someday reach the Moon became popular in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the novels of Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe (the latter describing the trip to the Moon in a balloon), and later in films such as Georges Méliès' Le voyage dans la lune, Frau in Mond, directed by Fritz Lang, Destination Moon (based on the work of Robert Heinlein), 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, etc.
10. Media article July 2019 The Guardian, etc.

creative commons
This article is licensed under
a Creative Commons License

NEXT Article next page
AULIS Online – Different Thinking