There is an excellent video blog at www.bonjour-america.com by the estimable Cyrille de Lasteyrie. He has a great sense of humour, and is no mean actor. In episode #13 of his video blog, he asks a bunch of people in what looks like the interior of a bar or club questions about America. They turn out to be mainly well-informed about US politics, and in fact about America in general. The absolute head turner though is the question about the US moon landings. All but two people said that they had been faked.
So here we have a group of above-average intelligence, well informed youngish people most of whom refuse to believe that America's space endeavors were actual, and were faked by the film industry (their words not mine). Capricorn 1 was an American movie made in 1978 that shows a desparate NASA faking a Mars shot so as to preserve its funding and its reputation. From this source, the conspiracy theories derive. Most conspiracy theories are virtually impossible to refute, as they are based on missing evidence rather than observable facts. The moon landings however are not susceptible of conspiracy theory. Anybody with a large enough telescope can show you the remains of the Apollo missions still sitting on the moon where the astronauts left them.
So why would these young French people not believe the Americans capable of these feats of engineering and human derring-do? As the French nation has diminished, so has its generosity of spirit and its belief in achieving great deeds. Had the French landed men on the moon, it would probably be a constant topic of their boasting, along with the military deeds of Napoleon and the great French empire. Sadly, mixed into the French psyche is a very strong denial of that which is painful, humiliating or hard to stomach. And American success is all of those things. So is the fact that the French economy is incapable of producing new jobs. There is a direct link between the denial of reality which says that no American ever set foot on the moon, and the denial of reality that if you are guarunteed a job from age 18 by whichever company takes you on then that company is highly unlikely to take you on in the first place.
Many criticisms can be made of the Anglo psyche, but one that can't is a refusal to face uncomfortable facts. The French better swallow their pride and start facing facts before the facts bite them on the arras.