Thursday, March 22, 2018

Of Liars and Thieves: The Official Style and Deception

Nearly 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon which serves as mankind’s crowning achievement in science, exploration and ingenuity. Yet, even before the launch of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, there were those who questioned the mission’s authenticity. This initial doubt has grown to become one the most popular conspiracy amongst skeptic and conspiracy theorists. In fact, a recent poll by Livescienceapproximately 7% of American’s believe that the Moon landings were faked.  

It’s easy to disregard these theories as the ramblings of madmen in tinfoil hats and online trolls, but we’re not talking about a small group of individuals. We’re talking about over 18 million people who believe in a theory despite the overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary. The question then becomes, why? Certainly, these people can’t all be mad or take pleasure in aggravating others, there must be something else at play that is convincing them of these falsehoods. A large of part of this deception is the malicious use of the official style. 

The official style is a style of writing that is meant to convey credibility and is popular among writers is academia, law and even business. The style incorporates various sentence strategies such as appositives, relative clauses and nominalization to give the impression of expertise about a subject. Much of the information you will find on the Moon Landing Hoax is found on obscure blogs as articles or YouTube in the form of homemade documentaries and exposés. However, there is an increasing amount of literature and information that is written in the official style which gives the work the false sense of credibility. 

A prime example of this is the 1982 novel MoongateSuppressed Findings of the U.S. Space Program - The NASA-Military Coverup by William L. Brian. In Brian’s book, he presents “evidence” that the Moon is much denser than people think; That it has an atmosphere thick enough to sustain life and that NASA is covering up the existence of extraterrestrial interference on the Moon. Yet, many point to this book as the source of truth in the Moon Landing debate and see his use of the official style as evidence of its authenticity. 

Throughout the novel, Brian frequently cites his sources, as is customary not only in the official style but also in academia. The assumption is that while reading the text, you also read the referenced sources yet most readers don’t take the time to do so. If they did, they would find that he references the works of George Adamski and Howard Mender, two “contactees” (persons who claim to have been contacted or abducted by aliens) that have long been exposed as frauds and con artists. He also cites studies by researchers Immanuel Velikovsky, Baron Karl von Reichenbach and Wilhelm Reich. 

Upon closer examination, you’ll find that Velikovsky was psychiatrist who tried to explain stories from the Old Testament with astronomy, making claims such as “the Deluge (Noah's Flood) had been caused by proto-Saturn's entering a nova state, and ejecting much of its mass into space.Von Reichenbach was a chemist who was ridiculed for his research of the presence of a “life force energy” which he coined as the “Odinic Force.” and Reich was also a psychiatrist who was imprisoned for fraud after claiming to have discovered scientific evidence of a biological energy called “orgone” which he tried to sell as the “essence of God.” 

Then there is his language, his most dangerous weapon. The official style relies upon the use of jargon, nominalization and long, complex sentences. The intent is to be precise and to remove oneself from the subject matter to ensure objectivity through the passive voice. Brian on the other hand, uses these strategies to manipulate and distract. 

One claim that Brian tries to prove in Moongate is that the Moon has a much higher gravity that NASA lets us believe. 
A detailed analysis of flight times provides additional confirmation of the Moon's high gravity. If the Moon had one-sixth of the Earth's surface gravity, the Apollo 8 spacecraft would have continued to lose velocity until it reached the 24,000-mile mark. At that point, it would have begun to accelerate, reaching a final velocity of about 5,54miles per hour at the Moon. If it were traveling 2,200 miles per hour 38,900 miles from the Moon, its time of flight would have been 16 hours 44 minutes with the assumption of one-sixth gravity. This presents a discrepancy of over three hours from the NASA-reported time of 13 hours 18 minutes. The only way to account for the shorter flight time claimed by NASA is to assign a higher average velocity and final velocity to the spacecraft.”. 
We see complex sentences rife with coordination and subordination, scientific jargon such as “detailed analysis”, “final velocity” “discrepancy” and “assumption”. All of these are strategies of the official style yet they are used to fool the reader into thinking it’s legitimate. The science here is flawed, even the calculations he provided in the back of the book are incomplete and filled with errors. The point is, to present the reader with too much to verify and to simply accept all of it as fact. 

Moongate is not the only publication of this kind either. There are novels, journal articles, documentaries and other media all presenting evidence of a Moon Landing Hoax in the official style. Whether use of the official style was a deliberate technique or not, it’s association with credibility is giving these works a legitimacy that they don’t deserve. It blurs the lines of what’s real and what’s fake. Now almost 50 years after the Moon Landing, the official style is preserving a lie that is still believed by millions of people. A lie that some are profiting off of (you can still purchase Brian’s book online for the low price of $44.42).  
The official style has its uses, and unfortunately one of those is to deceive and to manipulate. Men like William L. Brian are not men of science. They are not whistle blowers, they are not the voices of reason and they are not these persecuted, enlightened individuals being gagged by the status quo. Men like William L. Brian are con artists; Con artists who use the official style as a uniform to earn the trust of their readers and to earn a place in their pocket book.  

- Noah Finco

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