(In)visible evidence: Pictorially enhanced disbelief in the Apollo moon landings

David D. Perlmutter, Nicole Smith Dahmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


When pictures become journalistic, historical, and popular icons, there is a common belief that they also have a single, usable meaning, and media, political, and academic elites typically determine it. Yet, research on how people interpret images suggests that believing is seeing: Pre-existing prejudices and experiences affect what meanings we draw from pictures. This is especially so when the viewer seeks out information that confirms strongly held notions, what mainstream audiences might think of in some cases as conspiracy theories. This article examines reaction to one of the most famous sets of images of the past century - photos of the 1969 Apollo moon landing - by proponents of the 'moon hoax' theory, those who believe that the landings were faked by NASA. Analysis of moon hoax websites shows that the pictures' visual details are used as evidence that the mainstream interpretation is 'visibly' in error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-251
Number of pages23
JournalVisual Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Conspiracy
  • Hoax
  • Icons
  • Photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Photostyle
  • Phototruth
  • Science


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