The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – How does any conspiracy withstand the test of time? Secrecy is of utmost importance. So are the conspirators, the timespan of the conspiracy and the eliminating the probability of a leak.
A bullet-proof conspiracy is a bundle of hard work and complicated calculations. According to physicist and cancer researcher David Grimes, there is in fact a mathematical formula factoring in all these aspects.
The British researcher undertook perhaps one of the most difficult (albeit entertaining) research of his career. Debunking the arguments of conspiracy theorists with a mathematical formula is also not an easy job. While many probably won’t be convinced by scientific calculations, the less invested proponents of conspiracy theories should find helpful hints in David Grimes’ arguments.
Thus, how does any conspiracy withstand the test of time? Doctor Grimes started his research based on a few conspiracy theories which were debunked as true in a fairly short period of time.
Infamous Edward Snowden confirmed through the leaks that the NSA and other agencies are severely breaching citizens’ privacy. The government was unleashed and conspiracy theorists drew attention to the matter. It wasn’t until an inside worker, Edward Snowden, became a fugitive whistleblower that the world finally heard what the ‘nut jobs’ had been saying all along.
Here are a few other examples where leaks and the large numbers of those involved made for failed conspiracies. The notorious Watergate scandal made it to the list of debunked conspiracies. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment is yet another instance to prove the point.
Using these debunked conspiracies as the starting point of his research, Doctor Grimes wished not to dismiss conspiracy theories proponents, but to really understand how does any conspiracy withstand the test of time.
The result of the research was a mathematical formula that can prove how much of a bogus a conspiracy theory can be or how plausible it is for it to be true. Among the key findings is that the larger the number of those involved in a mischevious plan or cover up, the higher the possibility of it blowing over.
The human factor is always key and remains boggling. Even under the best case scenario, what could stop any one person involved in a conspiracy from revealing the secret? Secrecy is paramount for a successful conspiracy. Here are some hard numbers from David Grimes’ research.
Plotting a conspiracy to last for about one decade should involve no more than 1,000 conspirators. For a conspiracy to be successful on the long term – a century or so – nor more than 125 people should be involved. A well-kept secret for five years implies no more than 2,501 conspirators should know the truth.
To drive his point home, the researcher looked at the top conspiracy theorists’ choices to debunk. The likelihood that these topics are conspiracies is very small indeed. Among the favorite conspiracy theories circulating the Internet is that the U.S. moon landings were a hoax. For this presumed conspiracy to keep the secret safe over such a long period of time, 411,000 people would have worked relentlessly.
What of climate change? If climate change were indeed a hoax, then 405,000 people are doing a great job at hiding the truth. Another interesting point brought forth by the David Grimes is that considering the number of those involved, the U.S. moon landings would have been debunked in three years and eight months. Climate change would have crumbled in three years and nine months.
The research appears in the journal PLOS ONE.
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