In the new series of The X-Files, there is talk of a conspiracy by a shadowy government group to utilize alien technology and take over the country. This is all well and good for a TV show, but if there was a real-life conspiracy on that scale, how easy would it be to keep secret? According researcher Dr. David Robert Grimes, the more people involved in a conspiracy, the quicker secrets are divulged. Dr Grimes used mathematics to measure “the probability of a conspiracy being either deliberately uncovered by a whistle-blower or inadvertently revealed by a bungler,” reports Oxford University. “This factors in the number of conspirators, the length of time, and even the effects of conspirators dying, whether of old age or more nefarious means, for those conspiracies that do not require active maintenance.”
Grimes examined four famous conspiracies — the Moon Landing Was a Fake, Climate Change Is a Fraud, Vaccines Are Unsafe, and Big Pharma Is Hiding the Cure for Cancer — and estimated the number of people involved in each. “Using the equation, Dr. Grimes calculated that hoax moon landings would have been revealed in 3 years 8 months, a climate change fraud in 3 years 9 months, a vaccination conspiracy in 3 years 2 months, and a suppressed cancer cure in 3 years 3 months. In simple terms, any one of the four conspiracies would have been exposed long before now. He then looked at the maximum number of people who could take part in an intrigue in order to maintain it. For a plot to last five years, the maximum was 2521 people. To keep a scheme operating undetected for more than a decade, fewer than 1000 people can be involved.” Of course, it’s possible this is all cunning misinformation. I mean, Grimes seems like a perfectly nice fellow, but who is he really working for? Them, probably.