Oxford researcher David Robert Grimes used his formula to crunch the numbers on well-known conspiracy theories to see how many people it would take to pull off the scam and how long that many people could keep the plot secret. These are the answers he got.

Moon landings

The alleged scheme: The six missions to the moon were faked by the astronauts.

People required: 411,000.

Maximum time to imminent failure: Three years, 248 days.


Scheme: Vaccinations can lead to autism or other serious health issues.

People: 770,000.

Time: Three years, 55 days.

Climate change

Scheme: Environmentalists lied about global warming to get research funds.

People: 440,000.

Time: Three years, 255 days.

Suppressed cancer cure

Scheme: Pharmaceutical companies are hiding the discovery of a cure in order to sell more drugs.

People: 714,000.

Time: Three years, 62 days.