A physicist at the University of Oxford has claimed to have developed a mathematical equation to scientifically disprove conspiracy theories.
David Robert Grimes focused on four well-known conspiracies for his formula: the mood landing was faked, vaccinations are unsafe, climate change is a lie propagated by scientists, and the cure for cancer is being withheld by big pharma, according a research published in PLOS ONE.
The formula is said to have a potential to measure the success rate of these conspiracies, i.e. how long such a massive cover-up could last before someone blew the lid.
The number of people involved in the conspiracy, the amount of time passed since the event took place and the intrinsic probability of a conspiracy failing have been factored in the formula.
Grimes also tested his formula on conspiracies that ended up being real, including the US government keeping an eye on its own citizen and the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which the cure for syphilis —penicillin— was purposefully withheld from African-Americans by public health officials.
The study concludes it is quite difficult for a conspiracy to remain under wraps for too long as according to Grimes calculations, the moon-landing hoax, which would have involved an estimated 405,000 people, would have unravelled after three years and eight months.
The physicist also estimated the maximum number of people who could be involved in a generic conspiracy before it unravelled. For a conspiracy to last five years, Grimes reckons no more than 2,521 people can take part in it.
This article originally appeared on Quartz.