Conspiracy theories: Testing the formula designed to debunk the world's weirdest claims

David Grimes was this week credited with devising a formula to debunk nonsense theories - Adam Lusher tests his mettle

Adam Lusher
Friday 29 January 2016 23:17 GMT
The 1969 Moon landing and the 9/11 attacks are favourite topics of conspiracy theorists
The 1969 Moon landing and the 9/11 attacks are favourite topics of conspiracy theorists

The mainstream media published a story this week. They wanted you to believe that an academic had devised a mathematical model showing that if conspiracy theories such as faked Moon landings to dodgy vaccines were really true, someone would have blabbed about them way before now.

Like you were the sheeple, not the people.

Well, I’ve been investigating this thing, looking at websites that would BLOW YOUR MIND. So let me tell you the REAL story.

Are you sitting comfortably? Have you swept the room for CIA/MI5/UFO surveillance devices? Then we shall begin.

This all started when someone who says he is Oxford University physicist Dr David Robert Grimes published a paper, “On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs”, in the peer-reviewed online journal PloS ONE.

He examined the time it took to expose proven cover-ups, and calculated – based on his estimates of how many people would have known about the plot – how long some conspiracies could have endured before the truth leaked out.

Dr Grimes said he had shown “how eyewateringly unlikely some alleged conspiracies are”. He reckoned a vaccination conspiracy involving Big Pharma would be blown in just 3.15 years, a plot to suppress the discovery of a cancer cure within 3.17 years.

And that’s when it all started getting a little spooky. Because I phoned someone – someone heavily involved in investigating this stuff – to ask how they could believe the Apollo Moon landings were faked.

Dr Grimes reckoned that with Nasa employing up to 411,000 people at the time, someone would have spilled the beans within 3.68 years. So how come no one had blown the whistle in the 47 years since the first Apollo landing in 1969?

The answer, when the source thought about it, was so obvious. “Someone did blow the whistle!”

You just had to take a close look at those so-called photographs of the so-called Moon landings: anomalous footprints everywhere. Whistle-blowing stagehands had left a whole trail of clues, if only we hadn’t been too stupid to see them. “This is bigger than just going to the Moon,” insisted the source. “Check out Corona satellites … Apollo was a cover for installing a spy satellite ring. This was top secret stuff…”

What about Dr Grimes?

“You’ve got a brain. Look at the bigger picture. Our Nasa friends are facing challenges – financially, politically. If you are an academic taking so much trouble to publish this, I would suggest you are firefighting.”

It got spookier. According to Ian Henshall, the author of 9/11 Revealed: The New Evidence I should have been asking who the real conspiracy theorists were.

Could I really believe official accounts of a bunch of guys destroying the Twin Towers from a cave in Afghanistan?

“I would say the official 9/11 conspiracy has been exposed as false,” said Mr Henshall, 64, a coffee shop owner. “But most people think I’m the conspiracy theorist for saying so.

“And George Bush: was he really the idiotic dupe?”

George W Bush? Intelligent? It sounded crazy, but unlike the Moon landings, this stuff was real.

Because here was the post-turquoise phase granddaddy of them all, David Icke, telling an American TV talk show host: “The ground is being prepared for this global Orwellian state … able to stay under the radar, manipulate in the shadows…”

Icke tweeted his response to Dr Grimes’s study: “How about if compartmentalisation means most don’t have the big secrets and those who do are scared to reveal them?

“What are the ‘maths’ on that mate?”

Ah, compartmentalisation: working on a need to know basis, thousands of people employed on the Apollo project, but only a senior handful knowing where Neil Armstrong was really taking his giant leap for mankind.

Helpfully, Icke’s website included a link to a news story about Dr Grimes’s report. And it had been archived under “Illuminati criminals” and “mind control”!!!

What was it Icke had said? “Where do the mainstream media go to get a fix on reality (if they bother to question it all)? They go the System’s scientists…”

Well I was going to Dr Grimes, to ask him some real questions. Such as: “What are the maths on that mate?” And “How long have you been an Illuminati criminal in the pay of Nasa?” Oh, he was good.

“I’ve never been called an Illuminati criminal before,” he said, all Irish charm and, as he put it on his twitter feed, “foppish hair”. “It’s definitely a step up from doctor.”

He was not an Illuminati criminal, he said, just someone concerned about how belief in conspiracies can corrode belief in science, producing situations where otherwise sensible people refuse to vaccinate their children or choose “alternative” cancer therapies over lifesaving mainstream treatments. As for compartmentalisation, given how universal vaccination was, his numbers for those involved in any conspiracy there were probably “a massive underestimate”.

“Scientists thrive on testing each other’s data,” he added. “You’d have to get every researcher in the field in on the secret.” And about those Moon landings: “How many rockets did Nasa have? How many test fields, where people would wonder why nothing had been tested successfully? The fakery would have had to have existed throughout the organisation.

“That’s before you consider the Russians, who would have been monitoring everything … And the stuff left on the Moon that you can shine lasers back off …”

“The conspiratorial fringe,” he sighed, “Will always believe. It’s fascinating psychology – ideological reasoning: what’s most important is that the construct exists, and you shape all evidence to fit it.”

I was almost convinced. Until I asked about Nasa.

“If I ever get a cheque from Nasa,” he “joked”, “I’ll buy you a beer.”

What? Was he trying to buy my silence, about his own academic conspiracy? “Oh no,” he laughed, “No.”

But he would say that, wouldn’t he?

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