Truth’s Protective Layers

This essay examines a speech given by Neil Armstrong at the Apollo 11 25th Anniversary in 1994. Certain things he said have caused a lot of speculation in the ufo conspiracy theory circles. I came across this speech while doing some research on the conspiracy theory culture. (For ViCCA, 29 April 2016)

The Speech

Video footage of the speech can be found on under the title ”Apollo 11 25th Anniversary” (see above).1  Besides Armstrong, the other speakers are president Bill Clinton and vice president Al Gore. I focus here on Armstrong, whose speech begins at around 2’05”.

First he addresses the people present, cracks a joke about parrots being the only bird that can talk but cannot fly very well (somewhat flawed but manages to make the excuse that Armstrong the astronaut can fly but not talk very well) and briefly reminisces the times of the Apollo 11 project. Things get interesting from 4’55” on when Armstrong addresses the students in attendance. I quote the whole passage:

“Today we have with us a group of students, among America’s best. To you we say we have only completed a beginning. We leave you much that is undone. There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of the truth’s protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief. Those challenges are yours–in many fields, not the least of which is space, because there lies human destiny.”

One of the truth’s protective layers?

This can easily be interpreted as Armstrong admitting that some things are concealed from public knowledge. Ever since he and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969, there have been speculations on whether it actually happened at all, or if it happened the public is not informed on the true nature of the mission. It was even suggested that Stanley Kubrick was hired to make the moon landing videos we ”know” to be real, in the studio! Furthermore, Kubrick’s classic horror film Shining has been interpreted as being a kind of ”openly secret” confession to faking the moon landing footage… This, among other interesting/amusing interpretations are featured in the 2012 documentary film Room 237 by Rodney Ascher.2

Back to the speech. Right after saying ”truth’s protective layers” Armstrong seems to look over his shoulders, as if checking out what president Clinton, vice president Gore and some members of the Congress present thought about his words. This is speculation, though, since the video zooms in on Armstrong, the others remaining outside of the view. Another speculative remark I made is Armstrong seems slightly hesitant, or emotional, at that moment, compared to his generally positive and relaxed presence.

Looking at the video’s comments on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, Armstrong’s body language can be interpreted in many ways. Naturally the online comments are not to be taken as expert views on body language or anything, but they do tell something about how Armstrong’s speech and performance can be interpreted.3

President Bill Clinton’s speech follows. Clinton doesn’t refer or react to Armstrong’s words but gives a pre-planned smooth celebratory speech, as expected.

The person

In his speech, Armstrong reminds us that the moon landing project involved a great number of people, according to him about one of two of every thousand Americans. Even though Armstrong happened to be the first man to set his foot on the surface of the Moon, it was a collaborative project involving thousands of people. He doesn’t seem comfortable about taking credit for the whole spectacle.

According to biographies, Armstrong was a humble, shy and private person. Since the Apollo 11 mission, he appeared reclusive, rarely giving interviews or doing publicity, despite his unique, celebrated status as ”the first man on the moon”.

Withdrawal from public can naturally be accounted for his personality, and drawing any other conclusions may be misleading. Still, his presence in the video and especially the words chosen inspire the curious to wonder, what exactly is the truth these protective layers conceal?

Is it too much to take these few words out of context of the whole speech?

Did they land on the moon at all?

Did they land on the moon but something – a technical issue, human error, alien spacecrafts or whatever – made the film unshowable and a fake footage (by Kubrick or someone else?) was made anyway?

We must remember this was deep in the Cold War era. Failure in such a crucial mission, or the mere failure in documenting the mission properly, would have been disastrous. It was all part of the space race, after all, the Soviet Union had made great advances in space flights and related technology. For America and ”the West”, the first person to set their boot on the moon would have to be American, otherwise the shame of being on the losing end would have been too much to bear…

Speculation on the scene

What to make of all this? We just have this video clip, several official sources stating their facts and then, endless amount of speculation on the Internet about various conspiracies, aliens, alternative truths and so on.

A curious observation needs to be mentioned. I’ve read and watched numerous books and documentaries about the ufo/alien conspiracy lore, and most of them sport this funny / frustrating mix of actual documented cases of assorted weird shit that makes one wonder, as well as stuff that is so obviously hoaxed that no one could take it seriously. The end results are almost always a mess among which even the credible bits appear ridiculous. Is this one of those protective layers?

The alien conspiracy scene is flooded with disinformation. There’s even evidence of the US government having been heavily involved in the creation of this whole ”culture”. A document called Mirage Men, directed by John Lundberg and written by Mark Pilkington (who also wrote a book with the same name) digs into the subject. They suggest that the whole thing was created as a smokescreen for advanced technology developed by the Air Force.4

It is very hard if not altogether impossible to make sense of what is actually true and what isn’t. The deeper you dig into the subject, the more confused and paranoid you get. Whether deliberate or not, the subject matter is so stained that if you even consider taking any of it seriously you are considered a loonie. Ufos, aliens etc. can only be addressed by way of fiction and entertainment. And so it has…

Alone or not

The entertainment scene is so thoroughly saturated with ufos and aliens that we’ve grown used to them. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big thing anymore if we finally discovered some undeniable facts about advanced, sentient life elsewhere in space.

Some say we have no way of meeting alien life until we accept the possibility of such an event occuring. There is that.

There’s also the question, have we actually, seriously considered the possibility of being alone? That our very planet Earth would be the only rock supporting life in the entire universe? Once we as a species truly realize such a possibility, we must face the consequences and act accordingly. Would we finally start nourishing all life on the planet and glorifying its intense diversity, instead of being busy destroying it for quick profit? Could we end the cycle of fear and greed that currently control our thoughts and actions?

As Armstrong concludes his speech, human destiny lies in space. But for now, with our paranoia over territory, possessions and power, we are nowhere near that level of evolution. Let’s admit it’s time to overcome these obstacles within us. Let’s grow up!


2 Noel Murray, ”Room 237” – review of the film,

3 For example, comments on the article ”Did Armstrong & Aldrin receive death threats to keep moon secrets?” written by Michael Salla,,

4 Virginie Sélavy, ”Mirage Men”, article published on Electric Sheep Magazine,