It's, I suppose, inevitable that this site will attract Apollo conspiracy theorists (ACT). My experience with these people in real life has taught me that attempting to convince them of reality with facts and figures is a waste of time. They are mentally ill and need help from professionals, not random people on the internet.

There may be a small subset of genuinely confused people who read something on the internet and come here for clarification. I would not want to shut these people out. Yet I feel too much of this amazing community's intellectual capital is being spent fruitlessly on attempting to refute conspiracy theorists.

Can there be a strategy, consistent with Stack Exchange philosophy, to relentlessly shut down time wasting ACT questions? Have a master question Q: "Were the moon landings fake?" A:"No". and immediately close ACT questions as a duplicate of this one? A special tag? Anything?

  • $\begingroup$ are "questions" like space.stackexchange.com/questions/27743/saturn-ivb-accelerated what you're talking about? $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ That, and a flurry of questions today as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ so is this a recent thing, does it only happen in the warmer months, or have I been lucky to have not seen them until this week? $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ Not really a recent thing. space.stackexchange.com/questions/17761/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't mind a "Smells Like Troll" option on the Vote To Close. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ Is there something lacking in the previous discussion on this topic, in your opinion? space.meta.stackexchange.com/q/624/58 It might help guide this discussion rather than cover a lot of the same territory. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ I read the older question. Was anything done in response to it? I couldn't tell. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 23:10
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Do we want to touch the "moon hoax"? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 0:56
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I don't think anyone ever made the canonical "moon landings" question. If I remember, after this Q&A there was some discussion in chat and we were all certain that any such Q&A would need to be carefully crafted. I think that's where the effort left off. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ My concern here was that efforts to bring in new users from anywhere on the internet might have unexpected consequences. Since discussion was abruptly blocked there, I'll mention it here. Promoting the site from within SE is an excellent idea. Telling the internet "ask your space questions here!" will bring the internet, in all its glory. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ Note: Your link about mental illness, as far as I can understand it, appears to argue that delusions proper, while somewhat challenging for medicine to define, are a very different story from a merely overvalued belief, and "Apollo was a fake, because [XYZ unimportant and dubious reasons], and [ABC important and plausible reasons to suppose it was real] don't matter" would certainly seem to fit the description of overvalued beliefs. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ I've left this alone until now, but reading over all this, there is a lot of energy in our community on this issue and as noted above, we never did anything about earlier musings that perhaps we could create a 'One Question to Rule Them All' solution to this. I'd like to talk about it in chat, as personally, i have always been skittish about posting such a thing. I'd want to have guidance in drafting something up. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


A specific question like "why can't you see stars in the photos on the moon" seems fine to me. It can be answered, and the answer is illuminating to more than just the asker.

Questions that are either overbroad or include incorrect assumptions should be called out as such and closed. "Questions" that have turned into debates between the asker and answerer should also be dealt with somehow IMO--the attention those attract seems like it gets additional promotion from StackExchange's algorithm and suddenly there's 20,000+ views about a topic that's nonsense.



Considering the educational and PR role of the site in the space exploration, I would discourage the quick close & delete handling of such questions, what they would deserve.

Simply closing and deleting a post is typically not a very convincing argument, not only for the OP, but also for the future visitors. I would suggest the attitude of the Skeptics SE to follow.

We could answer such posts once. This post could be made also to a community wiki post. After that, all the posts could be closed as the dupe of this original one.

Most of such posts show different "problems". It would be nicer to have different questions for all these nice "ideas". To generate the answers, we could use the related post on the Skeptics SE.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the approach I support. In addition to your points, I'd add that the questions aren't off-topic here, and that down-voting them out of existence prevents us from reaching the minority of such OPs who are genuinely questioning from receiving the guidance that might have turned them around. I am thinking about writing up a suitable question, but wouldn't want to do so without community guidance. I am going to try to have it talked over in chat. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @kimholder Thanks! According this, the downvoted posts closed as dupe will be deleted automatically after 30 days, if they don't have an answer. Most of such questions will be surely downvoted, the few which won't be, will serve as useful sign post. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 22:28

My suggestion would be to offer them for migration to the Skeptics SE. They are specialized for such "problems".

Migration also requires to have at least a tag in the question which exists on both sites. These are the following:

animals, astronomy, atmosphere, battery, biology, chemistry, china, christmas, cleaning, death, earth, economics, education, electronics, energy, engineering, environment, explosives, food, geology, government, history, hygiene, ice, internet, iran, japan, language, law, lightning, mars, materials, mathematics, medical, medicine, mercury, meteorology, military, moon, nasa, north-korea, nutrition, performance, photography, physics, planetology, plants, psychology, radiation, radio, research, robotics, rocket-science, russia, safety, science, security, sleep, software, sound, soviet-union, statistics, sun, sustainability, technology, time, travel, water, weather

So, the protocol would be:

  1. Asking the Skeptics SE on the chat, that this question would be on-topic by them.
  2. In positive answer, we should re-tag it to have at least one the tags above. (In the unlikely case that we can't, the question can't be migrated.)
  3. Flagging the post for mod-migration, refering the chat.
  4. Mod migrates.
  5. Skeptics SE probably closes the question as dupe (in the likely case that they have already such a question, they will probably close as dupe).
  • $\begingroup$ Don't bother with skeptics.se. It is broken by design and would have debunked heliocentric theory in the 1600s. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Joshua Surprise info: there was not enough proof behind the heliocentric theory in the early 1600s (to make it acceptable on the rigorosity of the modern science). Another funny site: hsm.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ But there never was any evidence to debunk it at all. The whole site is one big Argument from Authority fallacy. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua First is right (Galilei were in fact sued because he trolled a lot of local powerful people in his books, anyways the view of the Church wasn't pro-geocentric, rather they said not enough proof). Second part... nothing obligates anybody to believe what they write and vote to the top. Doing this would the exact opposite of the goal of the site. Also I am unsatisfied with them in many things, particularly in the U.S. politics is their single-sidedness very visible. But you can read their arguments as a possible version of the truth, what you may believe or not. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua Furthermore, we have enough proof behind the Apollo program. -> The Skeptics would do this time what they should. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua Btw, another funny info: the distance of the Sun were first calculated by Herschel. An essential part of his calculation was that the Venus has nearly the same size as the Earth. This information wasn't know at the time, he used non-scientific methods, kabbala and other occultism to estimate that, and he got only on this way the correct result :-) But also Newton could have been burned on the stake on more vehement eras/regions of the medievals for wizardry, and these hadn't been false accusations... $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:57

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