Hoaxes & Rumors

Did a 1997 episode of “The Simpsons” Predict Ebola?

Did a 1997 episode of “The Simpsons” Predict Ebola?

Some conspiracy theorists have claimed that the recent Ebola flare-up was intentionally predicted in an episode of “The Simpsons” which aired in 1997.

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“Curious George and the Ebola Virus”

In early October of 2014, online conspiracy rumors began to circulate which claimed that an episode of “The Simpsons”, which aired in 1997, deliberately predicted future outbreaks of Ebola. Although the exact origin of the conspiratorial claim is unknown, the spreading of this viral meme was partially attributable to a 15-minute video posted on October 3rd by thecontroversy7, a Youtube channel which covers conspiracy theories and matters of fundamentalist religion. So far, the video has amassed nearly 500,000 hits.

“The Simpsons” episode in question aired on October 19th, 1997, and was entitled “Lisa’s Sax”. During the episode, Marge Simpson asks Bart if he would like to read a book. The book she shows him is called “Curious George and the Ebola Virus”, and the cover of the book depicts Curious George laying in bed, presumably sick with the Ebola virus. Bart declines the book and Marge then asks him if he would like to make a color drawing. Bart responds that he has already made a drawing, and the animated shot is panned to a morbidly apocalyptic illustration which portrays Bart’s corpse laying on the ground surrounded by several other bodies.

Simpsons Ebola Graphic

Screenshot of circulating Simpson’s graphic.

Within days of the October 3rd video posting, sharing of the meme became so popular that the topic was covered by news outlets such as The Independent and The Daily Mail.

Conspiracy Theories

The general idea of this conspiracy theory is that certain elements of the entertainment business are managed and controlled by elite secret societies which use “predictive programming” to covertly reveal their future plans to the masses. Allegedly, this is accomplished by surreptitiously placing cryptic cues into television shows, movies, books, and/or music.

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The 15-minute Youtube video from thecontroversy7 also mentions the Illuminati: New World Order card game from the Steve Jackson Game Company (released in 1995) as an example of “predictive programming” which foreshadows the events of 9/11.

Some conspiracy theorists claim that the ultimate motive of these revelations may be a sadistic form of mockery and/or a mind-control tactic to generate subconscious acceptance of elite domination and control. More specifically, the conspiratorial Youtube video seems to be implying that Ebola may be a genetically engineered virus that has been unleashed as a form of population control. Another implication in the video is that pharmaceutical corporations are reaping profits by selling medication to an ailing population.

Another Simpsons Conspiracy Theory

The “Curious George and the Ebola Virus” meme is not the first conspiracy theory to arise from “The Simpsons”. For years, rumors have swirled that “The Simpsons” foresaw the events of September 11th, 2001 in a 1997 episode called “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”. The episode aired on September 21st of 1997, and featured a shot of Lisa Simpson holding a magazine which supposedly references the future destruction of the World Trade Center.

Screenshot from Simpsons 911

Bill Oakley, who was a writer and Executive Producer for “The Simpsons” in 1997, offered the following explanation to the New York Observer in 2010:

$9 was picked as a comically cheap fare. Frankly, it’s funnier than 10 bucks or 11 or 8 for some reason, perhaps the sound of the word nine and its single syllable? To make an ad for it, the artist logically chose to include a silhouette of NYC. I signed off on the design. It’s pretty self explanatory. And I will grant that it’s eerie given that it’s on the only episode of any series ever that had an entire act of World Trade Center jokes.

Debunkers Respond

Debunkers have responded to “The Simpson” conspiracy theories by calling the references coincidences. The Daily Mail points out that Ebola was identified in 1976, and there were outbreaks of the virus in Africa through the early and mid 1990s. The Independent points out that there was a flare-up of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995 which killed 254 people. This is two years before the Simpsons episode which supposedly foretold of a future Ebola outbreak.

Bottom Line

Some conspiracy theorists claim that episodes of “The Simpsons” created in 1997 purposely reference future events such as the recent eruption of Ebola and the attacks of September 11. Critics of these theories contend that the allusions are coincidental, and further point out that Ebola was an established and active virus prior to the airing of the 1997 episode in question.

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