College Professor Caught on Video Teaching Moon Landing Was Fake, Irish Were First American Slaves

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The flag of the United States stands alone, waving, on the surface of the moon as the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission is celebrated on July 20, 1999. A sociology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey was captured on video promoting conspiracy theories and teaching that the moon landing was fake. NASA/Newsmakers

A sociology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey was captured on video promoting conspiracy theories and teaching that the moon landing was fake. The university told Newsweek it is currently reviewing the matter.

Professor Clyde Magarelli spoke of controversial and unproven matters in his Social Problems course at William Paterson University, Benny Koval, an 18-year-old student of Magarelli's, told NorthJersey.com. In addition to controversial comments such as deflating the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust and suggesting that the Irish were the first slaves in America, Magarelli also denies the moon landings, The New York Post reported.

His evidence is that photos of the American flag on the moon appear to show it waving. "There's no atmosphere, how can that happen?" said Magarelli in a recorded clip that Koval posted to her Twitter. "We never landed on it, you didn't know that."

06_14_moon
The flag of the United States stands alone, waving, on the surface of the moon as the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission is celebrated on July 20, 1999. A sociology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey was captured on video promoting conspiracy theories and teaching that the moon landing was fake. NASA/Newsmakers

Mary Beth Zeman, the university's director of public relations, told Newsweek that the school is currently reviewing the matter to determine what action may be warranted.

"Our commitment to academic excellence is addressed in one of the University's five core values," wrote Zeman. "As individuals and as an institution, we seek to model and to impart to our students the highest standards of knowledge, inquiry, preparation, academic freedom and integrity, as well as an expanded sense of what an individual can accomplish."

The university did not say if Magarelli was personally under review and whether he is still teaching there.

Magarelli is referring to one of the most popular conspiracy theories regarding the moon landings, which posits that because the American flag appears upright and waving in images taken on the moon that the images are fake. Since the moon has no atmosphere, conspiracy theorists believe these images have been forged. However, according to SpaceCentre, the flag was held upright with a horizontal rod and is not flapping but merely bent downward because of the lack of strong gravity on the moon.

Man first landed on the moon in the Apollo 11 space mission, which touched down on July 20, 1969. Astronauts would journey to the moon several more times, with the last moon trip taking place on December 11 1972, Gizmodo reported. Astronauts have not revisited the moon since then but NASA plans to send astronauts back to the moon in 2020 with the Constellation project, Space.com reported.

A recent study on conspiracy theories suggested that believing in these often goes hand-in-hand with thinking you know more about politics than you really do. The research also found a link between feeling disenfranchised and believing in conspiracy theories.

"Existing studies suggest that feeling disenfranchised politically and having one's political party lose power are both associated with increased conspiracy thinking and belief," the researchers wrote, Psy Post reported. "When people feel threatened or as though they lack control over important events, conspiracy theories become more attractive."