UPDATED 19:11, 26 JAN 2016
BY MARK WAGHORN
Popular conspiracy theories such as the Moon landings have been 'exposed' using a mathematical formula created by a British scientist.
Dr David Grimes claims his formula shows four 'plots' would have collapsed by now because of the sheer number of people that would have had to be involved had they actually been true.
He believes if the the Moon landings were faked they would have been rumbled in three years and eight months; climate change in three years and nine months; a vaccination conspiracy in three years and two months; a suppressed cancer cure in three years and three months.
cancer researcher and science writer and broadcaster, came up with his
equation by factoring in three conspiracies that actually happened,
including one involving infamous fugitive Edward Snowden.
He claims that to keep a scheme operating undetected for more than a decade, fewer than 1,000 people must know about it.
For example, more than 400,000 people would have had to be in on the plot to fake Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon 47 years ago making a hoax "eye wateringly unlikely".
Even keeping a secret for five years means that no more than 2,521 people can know the truth, he claims.
A century-long conspiracy should have fewer than 125 people involved and even a straightforward cover-up of one event, requiring no complex mechanisms, would be doomed to fail with more than 650 accomplices.
Grimes, of Oxford University, was inspired to investigate after
receiving many letters from conspiracy theorists over the years.
He said: "A number of conspiracy theories revolve around science. While believing the moon landings were faked may not be harmful, believing misinformation about vaccines can be fatal.
"However, not every belief in a conspiracy is necessarily wrong - for example, the Snowden revelations confirmed some theories about the activities of the US National Security Agency.
"It is common to dismiss conspiracy theories and their proponents out of hand, but I wanted to take the opposite approach - to see how these conspiracies might be possible.
"To do that, I looked at the vital requirement for a viable conspiracy - secrecy."
The formula published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests large groups of people sharing in a
conspiracy will very quickly give themselves away.
It expresses the probability of a conspiracy being either deliberately uncovered by a whistle-blower or inadvertantly revealed by a bungler.
In each of the genuine conspiracies the number of people involved and the time before they were revealed were over-estimated to ensure the odds of a leak happening were a 'best case scenario'.
That's around a four in one million chance of deliberate or accidental exposure, the scientist claims.
Dr Grimes then looked at the four alleged plots, estimating the maximum number of people required to be in on the conspiracy, in order to see how viable these conspiracies could be.
These include the US moon landings being a hoax (411,000 people); that Climate Change is a fraud (405,000 people); that unsafe vaccinations are being covered up (22,000 people) and the cure for cancer is being suppressed by the world's leading pharmaceutical firms (714,000 people).
In all my years in the movement, the moon landing being faked seems to be a recurring theme.
I don't believe for a minute it was faked. The photography was lousy because they didn't have the technology we have today. There was no digital photography. It was all film. Computers could enhance, but not nearly as well as today. That accounts for some of it looking fake.
As Grimes said, too many people would have to be involved for too many years and surely someone would spill the beans.