Why conspiracy theories don’t hold up

The Herald reports:

Major conspiracy theories such as a faked Moon landing cannot be true or they would have been exposed within a few years a scientist has concluded.

Dr David Grimes, an Oxford University physicist, worked out a mathematical formula to calculate the chances of a plot being leaked by a whistle-blower or accidentally uncovered.

He was able to show that the more people involved in a conspiracy, the shorter its lifespan is likely to be.

For a plot to last five years, the maximum number of plotters turned out to be 2,521. To keep a scheme undetected for more than a decade, fewer than 1,000 people could be involved, while a century-long deception had to include fewer than 125 collaborators.

Since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon in 1969, conspiracy theorists have proposed that the landing was faked. They point to photographs showing the American flag blowing in the breeze, despite there being no atmosphere and the fact the astronauts’ shadows do not match the lunar module light source.

But applying Dr Grimes’ formula to the Moon landings, which would have involved an estimated 411,000 people who worked at Nasa, any hoax would have been found out in three years and eight months.

My personal rule of thumb is that any conspiracy theory that involves more than 100 people is barking mad, and more that a dozen people is improbable.

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