The truth is out there! No, really, it is. We all have access to the truth. And that’s the truth. Happily there’s now a mathematical formula to show just how long a genuine conspiracy can be kept secret. And it’s not good news for chemtrail kooks, 9/11 nutters and NWO/Bildeberg believers.
Last night I watched the first episode of the new X Files. It’s pretty good and it got me thinking. The show naturally had some catching up to do and had to cram references to the previous series along side machine gun fast name dropping of the conspiracies that have flooded the interwebs since the original X Files finished in 2002.
There’s some doozies of course, but the big daddy is still 9/11. 15 years on, there’s still no evidence found that contradicts the facts of that crime. But it doesn’t stop people believing that there must be more to it than a simple and brutally executed plan carried out by people not afraid to die. Personally, I’ve always thought there was more than a hint of racism at the heart of the 9/11 truth rejection movement; how could a bunch of Arabs pull this off? But they did and that’s an end to it.
But why do people believe conspiracy theories? TS readers have probably encountered the concept of confirmation bias. That’s when we interpret information based on what we hope to find. We ‘see’ only stuff that confirms what we already believe. But there’s also a couple of other related tricks of the mind that lead us to confuse fiction for fact.
The intentionality bias is the sense that any event, no matter how random, is planned. There are no accidents, no serendipity allowed. If something happens I don’t like, it was deliberate, dammit!
My favourite misconception is the proportionality bias, in which we are fooled into thinking that big, bad outcomes must have big, bad causes. This is the illogic that drives the 9/11 truth deniers. That was such a stunning, unforgeable event that a small proportion of people cannot accept that it only took a couple of dozen religious ideologues to carry it out.
So, where does maths fit in?
Dr David Grimes of Oxford University has come up with a formula that shows the likelihood of success for different conspiracies. Grimes’ method adds in the total number of conspirators, the length of time, potential leaks and the effects of conspirators dying over time.
Grimes calculated that hoax moon landings (410,000 conspirators) would have been revealed in three years eight months. Climate change fraud (405,000 in the know), the supposed cover up of unsafe vaccinations (22,000 medical staff) and a suppressed cancer cure (714,000 people) would all fall apart in just over three years.
“My results suggest that any conspiracy with over a few hundred people rapidly collapses, and big science conspiracies would not be sustainable,” Grimes said in an interview in the Guardian.
Grimes also reverse engineered conspiracies. He has looked at the maximum number of people who could take part in a conspiracy with the expectation that it would stay secret. For a conspiracy to last five years, the maximum number of baddies is 2,521. To last ten years, fewer than 1,000 people can be in on the scam. To last a century, a plot needs fewer than 125 collaborators.
Grimes also points out the downside to the delusions, saying
“While daft notions on moon landings may be harmless, with climate change it can mean we sleepwalk into damaging inertia.”
Exactly. Instead of working for positive change, we can get sucked into the way easier world of fantasy.
The simple truth is that humans are rubbish at keeping secrets. There are whistleblowers everywhere, and disgruntled ex-employees only too happy to shop the boss and even ex partners with a point to prove. The US government, often the focus of modern conspiracy theories, is completely hopeless at stopping employees and contractors from releasing their secrets.
Mind you, it’s odd that with all the data at their disposal, Snowden, Manning and the dozens of others who have turned over Government info haven’t turned up anything incriminating about 9/11. Or perhaps they’re in on it?
So what’s the point of this post? Well, in a sense, it’s a plea for tolerance. It’s understandable that people get confused about the complexities of our increasingly globalised world. And the speed and depth of the internet allows any old tosh to propagate rapidly. It’s literally minutes after a news report of a bomb going off before the first mad claims about false flags hit the net. That’s sad for the believers and disrespectful to the victims, but that’s the world we live in now.
At least now you know the truth. That’ll help. And keep reading the Standard; we’ll never lie to you.
And one more thing: the red pill and the blue pill are exactly the same. Fact!