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Oxford Scientist Devises Method to Test Conspiracy Theories' Validity


A scientist at Oxford University has devised a mathematical equation to test the validity of a conspiracy theory based on how well those allegedly involved keep quiet.

According to BBC News, David Grimes' method boils down to various high-profile conspiracies simply facing an inherent risk of being leaked, whether on purpose or by accident. Grimes' concluded that if such a leak did not occur within a given amount of time, the conspiracy theory is probably not valid.

Grimes used the moon landing as one example, as some people believe NASA staged it on Earth in order to win the "space race" with the Soviet Union. His equation suggested the moon landing hoax would have been revealed within 3.7 years of it being brought up.

"The charge that there is a scientific conspiracy afoot is a common one, and almost inevitably those making these charges will descend into accusing one of shilling or being an agent of some malignant entity," Grimes told Live Science. "I think true believers will never change their views; in the words of Leon Festinger, 'A man with a conviction is a hard man to change.'

"While these people are ideologically deeply invested in a given narrative, I would hope that this paper might help the more rational people who have maybe heard some claims and want to ascertain if they're probable or not."

Grimes published a study on his findings in the journal PLOS One. For his equation, he involved factors like the amount of people with knowledge of the alleged conspiracy, the time that has passed, and how likely the theory is to hold up.

The moon landing, for example, could have involved hundreds of NASA employees, though quite few who were most integral to the mission.

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