Bart Sibrel

Bart Sibrel is an American conspiracy theorist who has written, produced, and directed works in support of the false belief that the Apollo moon landings between 1969 and 1972 were staged by NASA under the control of the CIA.[1] He has written, produced, and directed four independent films promoting the ideas, with the first being the 2001 film A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon. In his works, Sibrel in part films himself asking that various Apollo astronauts put their hand on the Bible and swear an oath that they walked on the moon. In the case of the Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, whom Sibrel arranged to meet on a false pretence,[2] outside the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills, the interaction resulted in Aldrin punching Sibrel, and in significant publicity but no criminal charges.

Bart Sibrel
Bart Sibrel in February 2014.jpg
Sibrel in 2014
OccupationFilmmaker, writer, conspiracy theorist
Years active1985–present

Background

Sibrel has been director of TV commercials,[3] and is sometimes identified as a maker of "documentaries" in respect of his self-released moon landing denial films,[1] though other sources point out the personal distribution, limited release, and style and content call into question placing Sibrel's work in this genre of filmmaking (e.g., with St. Petersburg Times and The New York Times placing the word documentary in quotation marks in some of their reports).[3][4] This concern relates in part to Sibrel's record of misrepresenting his identity to the subjects he attempts to interview, notably repeated attempts involving former astronauts including Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, and Edgar Mitchell (where Sibrel posed as filmmaker associated with the History Channel ).[3][1][2]

As of 2002, Sibrel, was operating a video production company in Nashville, Tennessee, and had "made a career out of perpetuating the notion that NASA's Apollo moon missions were hoaxes."[3][needs update]

Sibrel's single, most notable work is a 47-minute video work likewise calling into question the historicity of the Apollo moon missions; entitled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon, Sibrel describes the Apollo program as a "Cold War CIA and Nixon administration deception."[4] Amanda Hess, writing for The New York Times alludes to the work as a pseudo-documentary,[5] and describes the work in this way: "It mashed up moon footage with ominous shots from the Soviet Union and Vietnam, was narrated by a severe British woman and was sold on a [personal] website called MoonMovie.com."[3][4] Sibrel confronted several Apollo astronauts in the preparation of his videos,[1] all of whom responded indifferently or negatively when they realized that they were being challenged on their achievement of landing and walking on the Moon.[1]

During 2019, the Bart Sibrel YouTube channel was demonetized.[6]

Moon landing denial

In a July 2019 HBO interview,[7] Sibrel stated the following main reasons that he believed the Apollo missions were a fake:

  • Apollo's achievement with its 50 year-old technology cannot be reproduced in 2019 by any nation in the world, including the United States (only now is modern technology capable of faking the moon landings).[8]
  • The shadows appearing in one of the Apollo 11 photographs are not parallel, and therefore must have been taken in a studio with multiple light sources (in fact this is consistent with reflection from the lunar surface and inconsistent with the existence of only one shadow per object).[9]
  • The Van Allen radiation belt that exists around the Earth does not allow humans to pass through it due to its extreme radiation (the Apollo 11 crew were within the belts for under two hours so would have been exposed to an estimated 18 rads - well within safe limits).[10][11]

All the common moon landing denial theories, including Sibrel's and others, have been repeatedly debunked.[1]

Aldrin incident

One confrontational incident involved Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin. Earlier, Sibrel had interviewed Aldrin in a hotel room for his film, Astronauts Gone Wild. In that interview, Sibrel confronted Aldrin with purported newly discovered footage from the Apollo 11 mission, to which 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."[12][13] Sibrel refers, in post hoc interviews, to two confrontations with Aldrin prior to the one that resulted in his being punched.[3]

Regarding the subsequent interaction, occurring on September 9, 2002,[3] witnesses came forward to the police with jurisdiction, the Beverly Hills Police Department, stating that "Mr Sibrel... lured Mr Aldrin to the hotel under false pretences in order to interview him."[2] By Aldrin's account, he went to the Beverly Hills hotel on that date under the pretext of an interview on space for a Japanese children's television show.[3] At the time, Aldrin was aged 72 and Sibrel was aged 37.[3]

Sibrel attempted to coerce and film Aldrin swearing an oath on a Bible that he had been on the Moon.[3] Witnesses came forward to the police indicating that "Sibrel had aggressively poked Mr Aldrin with the Bible".[2] When Aldrin refused Sibrel's on-camera request, Sibrel followed him, saying "you're the one who said you walked on the moon when you didn't".[12] The BBC reported that "Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Ratinoff told Reuters... [the] videotape shot by a cameraman hired by Mr Sibrel had shown the film-maker follow Mr Aldrin, calling him a 'thief, liar and coward'."[2] Still being recorded by Sibrel's camera crew, Aldrin responded with, "will you get away from me?", and then punched Sibrel in the jaw.[2][3] On the day following the altercation, a statement from a lawyer for Aldrin described the "6-foot-2, 250-pound Sibrel forc[ing] Aldrin up against a wall and refus[ing] to let him leave", thus making the case for self-defense.[3] Aldrin made the case to police that he had been attempting to defend "himself and his stepdaughter, who was with him at the time".[2]

Sibrel gave the tape to the police,[2] apparently alleging assault. The incident received significant publicity, with many television talk shows airing the clip, usually supporting Aldrin's action. Shortly after the altercation, Sibrel told the St. Petersburg Times, "[Aldrin] has a good punch. It was quick, too. I didn't see it coming."[3]

As described by Eric Spitznagel for Popular Mechanics, since "witnesses testified that Sibrel had provoked [Aldrin], assault charges against the former astronaut were dropped."[1] Police either did not file, or dropped charges, based on Aldrin's lack of a prior criminal record, witness accounts of Sibrel's having drawn Aldrin to the hotel under false pretence and his aggressiveness before the punch, and Sibrel having declined to seek medical attention and having sustained "no visible injury".[2][1]

Conviction for vandalism in parking dispute

In July 2009, Sibrel, who at the time was working as a Nashville taxicab driver, was charged with vandalism when he jumped up and down on the hood of a car owned by a woman with whom he was having a parking dispute. Court documents show he was arrested after the driver refused to pull out of a parking space he wanted. The arresting officer wrote, "A few moments later the parking space in front of the victim opened up and Sibrel drove into it and parked." Sibrel "then walked up to the victim's car and jumped onto the hood, and then jumped up and down several times." The report says he caused US$1,431.33 worth of damage, after which Sibrel pleaded guilty to vandalism and was placed on probation.[14]

Filmography

Regarding the Apollo program

Year Film Director Producer Writer Run time (minutes)
2001 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon Yes Yes Yes 47
2004 Astronauts Gone Wild: An Investigation Into the Authenticity of the Moon Landings Yes Yes 53
Apollo 11 Monkey Business: False Photography Unedited Yes 108
Apollo 11 Post-Flight Press Conference Yes 83

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Spitznagel, Eric (July 19, 2019). "Don't Stop Denying". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ex-astronaut Escapes Assault Charge". BBC News Online. 21 September 2002. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bancroft, Colette (September 29, 2002). "Lunar lunacy". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on September 17, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Hess, Amanda (July 1, 2019). "They Kinda Want to Believe Apollo 11 Was Maybe a Hoax". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  5. ^ For instance, she places the word documentary in quotation marks, and does the same with reference to the "evidence" that Sibrel presents in the work, and refers to Sibrel's preparative work as a "quasi-investigation".
  6. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/moon-landing-conspiracy-theories-explained-861205/ Rolling Stone article, 19 July 2019
  7. ^ https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9kxpxd/buzz-aldrin-punched-this-guy-in-the-face-for-saying-the-moon-landing-was-fake Vice article, July 20, 2019.
  8. ^ Whipple, Tom (2019-07-15). "Was the moon landing faked? Conspiracy theories debunked". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2019-12-03. Pulling off the hoax would be harder than pulling off the reality. Footage from the moon shows astronauts bounding in low gravity, and dust kicked up then moving as if in a vacuum. On Apollo 15 an astronaut memorably dropped a feather and hammer together. They hit the ground at the same time, as Galileo predicted they would without atmosphere. They also moved slower than they would have in Earth’s gravity. If the landings really were hoaxed, they were a technological achievement more impressive than going to the Moon. Ironically, only today do we have the CGI technology to make such a convincing spoof.
  9. ^ "In Pictures: Top 10 Apollo hoax claims". The Guardian. 2009-07-02. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  10. ^ "Moon landing conspiracy theories aren't true - here's how we know - CBBC Newsround". Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  11. ^ "How Do We Know The Moon Landing Really Happened?". The National Space Centre. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  12. ^ a b Sibrel, Bart Winfield (Director, Producer) (2004). Astronauts Gone Wild: An Investigation Into the Authenticity of the Moon Landings (DVD). AFTH, LLC. OCLC 70182896.
  13. ^ Shown at the 8:30 mark in the video.
  14. ^ Williams, Phil (July 7, 2009). "Inside Story: Apollo Conspiracy Theorist Arrested After Tirade". NewsChannel 5. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2019.

Further reading and viewing

External links