题图:哈里森·施密特的阿波罗17号任务,1972年12月。

In September 2002, the astronaut Buzz Aldrin – the second man to walk on the Moon – was confronted in Beverly Hills by a camera crew led by Bart Sibrel. Sibrel, the creator of several documentaries alleging that the Moon landings never happened, shoved a Bible at Aldrin and demanded he swear on it that he wasn’t lying about walking on the Moon, before calling him “a coward and a liar”.

2002年9月,第二个登上月球的宇航员巴兹-奥尔德林在比佛利山庄遭遇了由巴特-西布雷尔率领的摄制组。西布雷尔是几部声称登月从未发生过的纪录片的制作人,他把一本《圣经》塞给奥尔德林,要求他对着圣经发誓自己在月球上行走的事没有撒谎,还骂他是“懦夫和骗子”。

In response Aldrin, then 72, punched Sibrel in the face. Aldrin’s angry reaction didn’t reassure anyone, though, and just fuelled a new wave of conspiracy theories. The central claim: the Apollo landings were a gigantic scam, perpetrated on the whole world by the American government.

作为回应,时年72岁的奥尔德林一拳打在了西布雷尔的脸上。奥尔德林愤怒的反应并没有让任何人放心,反而助长了新一轮的阴谋论。其核心主张是:阿波罗登月是美国政府对全世界实施的一场巨大骗局。

Humans first landed on the Moon on July 20 1969. More than half a billion people watched on tele­vision as Neil Armstrong and Aldrin took their first steps on the arid surface. They left behind an American flag, a patch honouring the fallen crew of Apollo 1, and a plaque that read: “We came in peace for all mankind.” The sixth Apollo mission to land humans on the Moon concluded three years later. The Moon has not been visited by astronauts since December 1972.

1969年7月20日,人类首次登陆月球。5亿多人通过电视观看了尼尔-阿姆斯特朗和奥尔德林在干旱的月球表面迈出的第一步。他们留下了一面美国国旗、一块阿波罗1号牺牲队员的纪念牌,以及一块写着“我们为全人类的和平而来”的牌匾。三年后,阿波罗计划的第六次登月任务结束。自1972年12月以来,宇航员再也没有访问过月球。

By 1976, doubts were already creeping in. That year, Bill Kaysing, a former US Navy officer who had worked for one of Nasa’s rocket manufacturers, self-­published a pamphlet titled We Never Went to the Moon: America’s 30 Billion Dollar Swindle. In it, ­Kaysing pointed to unexplained optical anomalies – the absence of dust clouds or blast craters around the lunar module, and the lack of stars in surface photographs – to suggest that the footage was ­created in a studio.

到了1976年,人们已经开始怀疑。这一年,曾在美国国家航空航天局的一家火箭制造商工作过的前美国海军军官比尔-凯辛自费出版了一本名为《我们从未登上月球:美国300亿美元骗局》的小册子。在这本小册子中,凯辛指出了一些无法解释的光学异常现象--登月舱周围没有尘埃云或爆炸坑,月表照片中也没有星星--从而暗示这些镜头是在摄影棚里拍摄的。

Such hypotheses have proliferated into a body of literature that shades into hallucinatory weirdness: theories on the demonic nature of UFOs, astral projection, ancient aliens genetically engineering the human race, and other oddities.

这些假说已经泛滥成灾,形成了一套幻觉怪异的文学作品:关于UFO的恶魔本质、星体投射、远古外星人对人类进行基因改造以及其他怪异事物的理论。

The hoax is of such a vintage that it’s become a staple of popular culture. Already in 1971, James Bond was depicted stumbling upon a Nasa film set made to look like the lunar surface, before giving chase in a Moon buggy, in Diamonds Are Forever. In this month’s Fly Me to the Moon, Scarlett Johansson plays a marketing genius hired by Nasa to film a fake landing in case the Apollo 11 mission fails.

这些骗局年代久远,已成为大众文化的主要内容。早在1971年,詹姆斯-邦德就在《钻石恒久远》中被描绘成偶然发现了美国国家航空航天局制作的酷似月球表面的电影场景,然后乘坐月球车进行追逐。在本月的电影《飞月情海》中,斯嘉丽-约翰逊饰演一位受雇于美国国家航空航天局的营销天才,拍摄了一部假的登月影片,以防阿波罗11号任务失败。
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插图:斯嘉丽和查宁塔图姆在《飞月情海》中拍摄了一场假登月。

With that kind of pedigree, the Moon-landing hoax can’t just be explained away as a form of modern-day “fake news” that blooms and fades on social media. Scepticism about the Apollo space programme was swirling long before the advent of the internet, beginning almost immediately after the landings themselves.

有了这样的背景,登月骗局就不能仅仅被解释为一种在社交媒体上若隐若现的现代“假新闻”。早在互联网出现之前,对阿波罗太空计划的怀疑就已经开始蔓延,几乎就在登月之后。
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In turn, a great deal of effort has been expended over the decades trying to use evidence to dispel the conspiracy ­theories. But attempting to debunk them logically is to misunderstand what such claims are communicating.

反过来,几十年来,人们花费了大量精力,试图用证据来消除阴谋论。但是,试图从逻辑上推翻这些说法,就会误解这些说法所传达的信息。

Today, one in eight Americans think the Moon landings were staged – as do one in 11 Britons. Why won’t we all just accept the facts? Perhaps because most people aren’t ­interested in or persuaded by facts alone. We need only recall how, when Covid broke out, the educated classes demanded officials discard the existing pandemic action plan to see this extends well beyond those routinely accused of ignorance and emotional reasoning. Conspiracy theories make most sense when understood not as factual claims but as emotional stories – allegories – that exist in oblique relation to empirical reality. They convey diffuse, and sometimes prophetic, intuitions about the world.

如今,每八个美国人中就有一个认为登月是伪造的,每十一个英国人中也有一个这样认为。为什么我们不能接受事实呢?也许是因为大多数人都对事实不感兴趣,也不会仅凭事实来说服自己。我们只需回想一下,当新冠病毒爆发时,受过教育的阶层是如何要求官员放弃现有的疫情行动计划的,就会发现这远远超出了那些经常被指责为无知和情绪化推理的人的范围。阴谋论最有意义的地方在于,它不是事实主张,而是情感故事--寓言--与经验现实存在间接关系。它们传达了对世界分散的、有时是预言性的直觉。

The pandemic illustrates this again. Among the many conspiracies that circulated concerning the Covid vaccination programme, one common claim was that vaccines were really a covert programme to inject each of us with a microchip that would allow Bill Gates to track our whereabouts or even control our minds.

疫情再次说明了这一点。在有关新冠疫苗接种计划的众多阴谋论中,有一种常见的说法是,疫苗实际上是一项秘密计划,目的是给我们每个人注射一个微型芯片,让比尔-盖茨能够追踪我们的行踪,甚至控制我们的思想。

This is, we can safely say, not true. Conversely, though, the vaccination programme really was acc­om­panied by the international rollout of digital “vaccine passports”, which lix vaccination ­status to other biomedical data, as well as official state iden­tifiers. And while it’s no longer in active use, this architecture now enables states potentially to track individuals’ move­ments, and to index freedoms previously taken for granted – such as travel or access to public spaces – to co-operation with who-knows-what future mandatory medical interventions.

我们可以肯定地说,这不是真的。相反,疫苗接种计划确实伴随着数字“疫苗护照”的国际推广,该护照将疫苗接种情况与其他生物医学数据以及国家官方标识符联系在一起。虽然现在已经不再使用,但这种架构使国家有可能追踪个人的行动,并将以前理所当然的自由--如旅行或进入公共场所--与未来不知道会发生什么的强制性医疗干预合作联系起来。

However, this probably isn’t a ­sin­i­ster plot, whatever the conspiracists may say. It does nevertheless prompt us to read the conspiracy differently – poetically – ­interpreting “Bill Gates” as ­personifying a fusion of tech and governance interests, and the “microchip injection” as symbolic shorthand for the discomfiting sense that unknown technologies wielded by this figurative “Bill Gates” increasingly intrude into our physical, embodied lives. It’s fancifully expressed, but is it really so far from the truth?

不过,不管阴谋论者怎么说,这可能并不是一个险恶的阴谋。不过,它确实促使我们以不同的方式--诗意地--解读这一阴谋,将“比尔-盖茨”理解为技术与管理利益的融合,将“注射芯片”理解为象征性的简写,让我们感觉到这个形象化的“比尔-盖茨”所掌握的未知技术正日益侵入我们的肉体生活。这种表达方式很奇特,但它真的与事实相去甚远吗?

The Moon-hoax conspiracy also makes sense as allegory, when we consider what the Moon landings symbolised in mid-century American culture and international politics. The “space race” between America and Russia stood, symbolically, for the competition between capitalist West and com...st East: that is, between two ways of organising a mass industrial civilisation. Which social frxwork was better at delivering rapid, ambitious advances in real-world engineering and technological progress? The race to reach the Moon served as a proxy for this competition, by virtue of the sheer immensity of the goal, as well as its technical demands. For a living human being to leave the Earth’s protective envelope for the emptiness of space and walk on the surface of a celestial body took extraordinary financial, organisational and technical resources, not to mention tremendous courage and ambition.

考虑到登月在本世纪中叶的美国文化和国际政治中的象征意义,登月骗局阴谋作为一种寓言也是合情合理的。美国和俄罗斯之间的“太空竞赛”象征着西方资本主义和东方共产主义之间的竞争:即两种组织大规模工业文明的方式之间的竞争。哪种社会框架更能在现实世界的工程和技术进步中实现快速、雄心勃勃的进步?登月竞赛是这场竞争的一个代表,因为它的目标和技术要求都非常艰巨。要让一个活生生的人离开地球的保护圈,前往虚无的太空,在天体表面行走,需要非同寻常的财政、组织和技术资源,更不用说巨大的勇气和雄心了。
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Winning the space race, then, served as proof positive that the Land of the Free was a more fertile home for this kind of ambition and innovation than any command-and-control socialist regime. Putting the first man on the Moon wasn’t just a “giant leap for mankind”, as Neil Armstrong famously said. It was also a watershed moment in the Cold War.

因此,赢得太空竞赛可以证明,自由之国比任何指挥控制型的社会主义政权更能孕育这种雄心和创新。送人类去到月球的不只是尼尔-阿姆斯特朗所说的“人类的一大步”。它也是冷战的分水岭。

What, then, to make of the sceptics who appeared in the midst of that mid-century American triumphalism to cast aspersions on its veracity? It perhaps reflects an early intuition that America’s long, slow drift away from the material and sociocultural conditions that enabled the space race had already begun at the moment it was won.

那么,如何看待那些在20世纪中叶美国的胜利主义中出现的怀疑论者对其真实性提出质疑呢?这或许反映了一种早期的直觉,即美国在赢得太空竞赛的那一刻,就已经开始长期、缓慢地偏离促成太空竞赛的物质和社会文化条件。

To build the lunar landers, the Apollo programme drew on American engineering talent and heavy industry that has since been shredded by globalisation, outsourcing and changing educational priorities. By the last Apollo flight, this process was well under way: US manufacturing was already declining from its 1957 peak of more than a quarter of American GDP – and today it languishes at about 11 per cent.

为了建造月球仓,阿波罗计划利用了美国的工程人才和重工业,但这些人才和重工业后来都被全球化、外包和不断变化的教育重点所摧毁。到最后一次阿波罗飞行时,这一过程已经开始:美国制造业占美国国内生产总值的比例已从1957年高峰期的四分之一下降到今天的11%左右。

Meanwhile, the sense of common American purpose that drove the project has also fractured. In a 2001 interview, Armstrong praised the mission’s low rate of engineering failure, which he attributed to a sense of common endeavour and striving towards excellence spread across the “hundreds of thousands” of engineers, makers and fitters involved in the mission. Among this number, he said, “every guy in the project, every guy at the bench building something, every assembler, every inspector, every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault, because my part is going to be better than I have to make it.’”

与此同时,推动这个项目的美国共同目标意识也出现了裂痕。在2001年的一次采访中,阿姆斯特朗称赞这次任务的工程失败率很低,并将其归功于参与任务的“数十万”工程师、制造者和装配者的共同努力和精益求精的精神。他说,在这些人中,“项目中的每一个人、在工作台前制造东西的每一个人、每一个装配工、每一个检查员、每一个设置测试、摇动扭矩扳手的人等等,无论男女,都在说,‘如果这里出了任何问题,都不会是我的错,因为我负责的部分只会做得比要求我制造的质量更高’”。

Since the Moon landings, though, the sense of civic unity that enabled this degree of co-ordinated striving towards excellence has become increasingly contested. No longer taken for granted as core American attributes, instead national pride and cultural homogeneity have come increasingly to be seen as actively inimical to American values. And this has occurred, the historian Christopher Caldwell argues in The Age of Entitle­ment (2020), as a consequence of the many state-mandated measures to impose equality by fiat, which have mushroomed since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though he does not endorse the segregation the act sought to dismantle, in Caldwell’s view its ratification in effect created a “rival Constitution”, which implicitly treats civic unity and patriotism not as necessary preconditions for high civilisation, but as obstacles to radical equality.

不过,自登月以来,这种协调努力、追求卓越的公民团结意识越来越受到质疑。民族自豪感和文化同质性不再被视为理所当然的美国核心特质,反而越来越多地被视为与美国价值观背道而驰。历史学家克里斯托弗-考德威尔在《权利的时代》(2020)一书中指出,之所以出现这种情况,是因为自1964年《民权法案》颁布以来,许多由国家强制推行的强制平等措施如雨后春笋般涌现。尽管他并不赞同该法案试图废除的种族隔离制度,但在考德威尔看来,该法案的批准实际上创造了一部“对立宪法”,它暗含的意思是,公民团结和爱国主义不是高度文明的必要前提,而是激进平等的障碍。

Other distractions have displaced the 20th-century drive for industrial innovation: though there are exceptions, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, there has been a notable shift away from trying to reach outer space towards a preoccupation with virtual worlds. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor, argues that this has been enabled by the digital revolution, whose advances serve, in his view, as a distraction from the stagnation and decline of ­real-world technological progress. In his notorious formulation: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

其他干扰因素取代了20世纪的工业创新动力:虽然也有例外,比如埃隆-马斯克的SpaceX公司,但人们已经从试图探索外太空转向了对虚拟世界的关注。硅谷投资人彼得-蒂尔认为,这得益于数字革命,在他看来,数字革命的进步分散了人们对现实世界技术进步停滞和衰退的注意力。用他臭名昭著的说法就是“我们想要飞行汽车,却只得到了140个字符”。

Understood against this backdrop, the eruption of scepticism about the Moon landings can be read as an early intuition that even at America’s crowning civilisational moment, the enabling conditions for that moment were already under threat. Deindustrialisation had already begun; the germinal form of “diversity, equity and inclusion” was already written into American law; the precursors of the internet were spreading.

在这一背景下,对登月的怀疑情绪的爆发可以被理解为一种早期的直觉,也就是即使是在美国最辉煌的文明时刻,这一时刻的有利条件也已经受到威胁。去工业化已经开始;“多样性、公平和包容”(DEI原则)的雏形已经写入美国法律;互联网的前身正在传播。

Earlier this year, Bart Sibrel himself appeared on the wildly popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast. It’s not difficult to see how modern America might struggle to believe that their forebears were capable of the kind of engineering inventiveness, courage and large-scale co-operation required to make the Apollo missions a reality.

今年早些时候,巴特-西布雷尔本人也出现在了大受欢迎的“乔-罗根体验”播客节目中。不难看出,现代美国人可能很难相信,他们的先辈能够拥有完成阿波罗任务所需的工程发明、勇气和大规模合作能力。
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At its peak, Apollo involved some 400,000 people, across thousands of institutions. Even the rockets were built across multiple locations. It was an extraordinary feat of co-ordination, achieved in an age before modern computer-design programmes or tools for instantaneous communication. By contrast, when in the 2000s California invited bids for construction of a high-speed rail line through the state, the French rail firm SNCF tendered a proposal – only to withdraw it in 2011 to work on a similar project in Morocco, whose government, the SNCF engineers declared, was less politically dysfunctional than California’s. Morocco’s high-speed railway began operating in 2018. California’s is still not completed.

在高峰时期,阿波罗计划涉及数千个机构约40万人。就连火箭也是在多个地点制造的。这是一个非凡的协调壮举,是在没有现代计算机设计程序或即时通信工具的时代实现的。与此形成鲜明对比的是,2000年代,当加利福尼亚州邀请投标建造一条穿越该州的高速铁路时,法国铁路公司SNCF提交了一份投标书,但在2011年撤回了投标,转而参与摩洛哥的一个类似项目。摩洛哥的高铁于2018年开始运营。而加州的高铁尚未完工。

It is unlikely that the America of today could muster the degree of co-ordination and industrial resources that put Armstrong and Aldrin on the Moon in 1969. Were I an American raised on the conviction that progress moves only in one direction, I too might conclude that, logically, these feats could not have been achievable half a century ago.

今天的美国不太可能像1969年阿姆斯特朗和奥尔德林登上月球时那样,拥有那么丰富的协调能力和工业资源。如果我是一个美国人,从小就坚信进步只能单向发展,那么我也会得出这样的结论:从逻辑上讲,这些壮举在半个世纪前是不可能实现的。

The most comforting conclusion, in other words, might be that the Moon landings were a hoax. The alternative is far bleaker: that the achievements of mid-20th-century America were the achievements of a different civilisation, one now as distant and mysterious as the Moon.

换句话说,最令人欣慰的结论可能是登月是一场骗局。而另一种结论则更加黯然:20世纪中期的美国成就属于另一个文明,这个文明如今和月球一样遥远而神秘。