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Sitdown Sunday: Why do so many people think the moon landings were faked?

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Buzz Aldrin on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin on the moon.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Duped and shipped to a brothel

Yoskeili Zurita thought she was making an escape from Venezuela – instead, she was shipped to a brothel. But then the boat sank.

(New York Times, approx 13 mins reading time)

Screams pealed across the water. Women cried out the names of children they had left behind. In the darkness, someone prayed. “My cousin didn’t know how to swim. She looked at me and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” recalled Yoskeili, who spent two days clinging to the overturned hull in the strait between Trinidad and Venezuela before fishermen found her. She never saw her cousin again.

2. The beautiful canyon

Everyone wants to Instagram inside this beautiful canyon – but should they? 

(Vox, approx 26 mins reading time)

Though there are a great many slot canyons made of equally remarkable sandstone within a few-mile radius of Page, Antelope Canyon is the famous one, and telling people not to come here because it’s too crowded is like telling someone they shouldn’t go to the top of the Empire State Building because the view from any other skyscraper is just as good. However true it may be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the fact that this one is imbued with an unreplicable aura of specialness. Which means that the more people come here and share photos of it on social media, the more other people will want to do the same.

3. Why do so many people think the moon landings were faked?

Did humans reach the moon… or is it all a big ruse?

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

Despite the extraordinary volume of evidence (including 382kg of moon rock collected across six missions; corroboration from Russia, Japan and China; and images from the Nasa Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the tracks made by the astronauts in the moondust), belief in the moon-hoax conspiracy has blossomed since 1969. Among 9/11 truthers, anti-vaxxers, chemtrailers, flat-Earthers, Holocaust deniers and Sandy Hook conspiracists, the idea that the moon landings were faked isn’t even a source of anger any more – it is just a given fact.

4. Generalise, don’t specialise

David Epstein argues that specialising might not actually be a great idea – so through that 10,000 hours commitment out the window and start to get real. 

(The Guardian, approx 15 mins reading time)

Tiger has come to symbolise the idea that the quantity of deliberate practice determines success – and its corollary, that the practice must start as early as possible. But the push to focus early and narrowly extends well beyond sports. We are often taught that the more competitive and complicated the world gets, the more specialised we all must become (and the earlier we must start). Our best-known icons of success, such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, are lauded for their precocity and their headstarts. Across different fields, it has become more and more common to exalt increasingly narrow focus. 

5. My unsexual revolution

A refreshing and honest piece written by a woman who has vaginismus.

(Longreads, approx 23 mins reading time)

It didn’t make sense. I’d had sex once, why couldn’t I do it again? We broke up after five years and the answer seemed obvious then: Deep down, I always knew we weren’t right for each other, so my body had stopped us from getting too close. That was plausible. But if I’d been honest with myself, I would have admitted that it wasn’t about him, that my having sex in the first place was the aberration, not the fact that I hadn’t had it since.

6. Wimbledon and gender disparity

Women and men still aren’t treated equally at Wimbledon.

(Longreads, approx 18 mins reading time)

But perhaps most telling of Wimbledon’s archaism is that this year, for the first time, the Championships will pay the same total amount of prize money to men and women. Yes, this year, 2019; yes, for the first time. In past years there had been 32 more spots for men to enter Wimbledon’s qualifying event (128) than there were for women (96). This asymmetry may feel minor, but the discrepancy in job opportunities left a noticeable pay gap lingering; in 2018 it was £230,000 (about U.S. $300,000). A similar gap was also closed this year by the Australian Open, but still lingers at the French Open.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

This 2015 article was a chilling read then – and is even more pertinent now, following recent earthquakes in the US.

(The New Yorker, approx 25 mins reading time)

For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday

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