20% of Americans believe the moon landing was faked.
It’s hard to believe so many people reach this conclusion when we have the discernible truth that the moon landing happened. What causes so many people to question what is reality for the rest of us?
For Peter Jarvio, MBA, a retired mechanical engineer, his questioning led him to the full belief that NASA and the government are lying to us about living on a globe and covering up the truth: that we live on a flat earth.
Jarvio has traveled to 15 college campuses in the past year and has spoken to over 3,500 students. Standing outside of Baker Center the past two days, he has reached over 200 Bobcats to share his theories on how the moon landing was fake. While discussing the moon landing’s validity is how the conversation starts, Jarvio quickly shifts directions to something that is a bit harder to get people to discuss: flat earth.
“One video got me started,” Jarvio said. “It was called something along the lines of ‘Best Flat Earth Video Ever.’ I thought it was a joke. Everyone thinks that’s a joke, right?”
From here, Jarvio’s beliefs had changed. It took him a couple days for his “worldview” to transform from round to flat. He has only been a flat-earther for around a year.
“Five minutes into the video and it made sense,” Jarvio said. “For two weeks, I binge-watched more flat earth videos, but all it took was two days, and I was thoroughly convinced.”
Peter Jarvio feels so compelled by his relatively new belief in flat earth that he now spends his time in retirement traveling to try to spread this belief to others.
Most of the students who chatted with Jarvio listened to his talk and seemed interested in the fake moon landing theory, but he often lost people at the flat earth part.
“As soon as you say those two words, ‘flat earth,’ the fingers go in the ears, and the conversation is over,” Jarvio said. “So, I start with the moon landing.”
It’s hard to understand how a person with such a high education level can become a flat-earther, but when you consider that 76% of Americans have at least a slight distrust in our government and a government agency are the people confirming that the moon landing happened and the earth is in fact a globe, it becomes plausible.
Conspiracies like flat earth are unfortunately believed by a large number of people. Truly all it takes for a person to fall into the clutches of this misinformation is a healthy distrust in our government and one too many trips down a Youtube rabbit hole.
Flat earth isn’t the only baseless conspiracy that plagues Americans. QAnon, vaccine hoaxes, Deep State and endless other theories are believed by average people. The people who believe these things aren’t crazy. People are misled and want something to believe in and a group they can rally around. A big draw to these conspiracies is a group of people who agree with them. People can find solace in thinking they have discovered the truth when a lot of the world doesn’t make sense.
Take for instance the “Birds Aren’t Real” movement. It was created jokingly to make a mockery of conspiracies like flat earth but, in time, a lot of people got behind the movement and started to actually believe that the government got rid of all the “real” birds decades ago and replaced them with fake drones to spy on us.
A healthy amount of skepticism is just that: healthy. It’s hard for some people to discern what is real and what is fake, though, when so many conspiracies that seem absolutely ridiculous are proven, like MK- Ultra, COINTELPRO or the NSA Surveillance conspiracy.
The biggest takeaway from the “fake moon landing guy” should be this: having discussions about possible conspiracy can be fun and entertaining, but we must remember the discernible truths. It’s a lot more fun to believe the moon landing was fake and the government is keeping some big secret from us but, at the end of the day, we need to ground ourselves in reality.
Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.