Living in the 21st Century, you most certainly know of The Simpsons, and if so, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered some of the instances where they have predicted the future.
For 34 years and 34 seasons, The Simpsons has burlesqued society, western culture and the human condition on a grand scale. Undeniably it has been one of the most influential television shows of the 21st Century, and personally, it ranks as one of my all-time favourite series.
“The Simpsons Predicting the Future,” is a conspiracy theory that has been around for a while, and received extensive attention. Perhaps you’ve spotted it on social media, read about it in major newspapers like The New York Times or The Guardian, witnessed it firsthand in one of the episodes, or, like me, delved deep into the rabbit hole.
To take a better look, let’s go back to a 1998 episode, in which they showed Fox Studios with a sign saying that the company is now a “division of Walt Disney Co.” About 20 years later, in December 2017, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox. A 1997 episode showed Marge offering to read Bart a book titled Curious George and the Ebola Virus. This would later be seen as a prediction of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
The Simpsons Movie (2007) is said to have predicted the NSA spying scandal of 2013. In the year 2000, an episode foresaw Donald Trump’s presidency and the show even forecasted Germany’s victory over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.
(Photo Courtesy – insider.com)
From Donald Trump’s presidency to Kamala Harris’s purple suit and pearl necklace, The Simpsons has made countless predictions, and the conspiracy theories keep getting deeper. These include the idea of a new world order, the creators of the show being time travellers or futurologists, and The Simpsons being a vessel of the likes of the illuminati or freemasons.
An eerie example is the show’s prediction of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. In a 1997 episode, the family buys a New York City guidebook while they are visiting, and the cover has a price of nine dollars next to a picture of the Twin Towers.
(Photo Courtesy – uproxx.com
In 2012, scientists at CERN discovered the missing God particle, a previously unknown building block of our universe, today known as the Higgs Boson. It fundamentally changed our understanding of the universe, making it a massive discovery for quantum physics. Fifteen years earlier, Homer Simpson wrote the near exact equation on the blackboard.
To viewers in 1998, it meant nothing more than complex mathematical jargon. Nobody knew the mass of the Higgs Boson or if it even existed, but the close accuracy of Homer’s equation changed our understanding of physics. This scene is by far the most specific prediction The Simpsons has made.
(Photo Courtesy – abcnews.go.com)
The theories are endless, but the question remains: How is The Simpsons predicting the future? Is it just a series of coincidences, or is it something more tangible? In my opinion, some of these predictions are clearly surface level, a matter of pure chance, whereas others are alarmingly sophisticated and their accuracy has created a frenzy for the past three decades.
However, looking closely at the very nature and precision of these predictions, I refuse to attribute them to chance, nor am I convinced enough that the creators are time-travellers, amateur futurologists or anything even remotely close to that.
If you trust math over conspiracy theories, consider Matt Zaremsky’s take. He says ,“The Simpsons got lucky with so many jokes and predictions — it’s just statistics.” However, the numbers game theory or even luck is only half the explanation.
For me, the answer lies in The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, a 2013 book by author, journalist, and physicist Simon Singh. The book not only compiles and analyses all mathematical references used by The Simpsons until 2013 but also gives us a glimpse of some writers of the show:
- Al Jean: BS Physics, Harvard University
- J Stewart Burns: BS Mathematics, Harvard University; MS Mathematics, Harvard University
- David S Cohen: BS Physics, Harvard University; MS Computer Science, UC Berkeley
- Ken Keeler: BS Applied Mathematics, Harvard University; PhD Applied Mathematics, Harvard University
- Jeff Westbrook: BS Physics, Harvard University; PhD Computer Science, Princeton University
(Photo Courtesy – nytimes.com)
These few names are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous writers of the show who are marvellous at math and science, as well as global politics and popular culture.
The writers’ academic aptitude, cynicism, and humour explain many of the predictions. Having over 150 writers from diverse backgrounds, The Simpsons covers a wide range of topics, which explains the array of predictions and their precision.
You might not be convinced yet, and the truth is, neither am I. However, this is the closest I’ve come to an explanation for the show’s bizarre predictions, but before we jump the gun, let’s sit back and enjoy the upcoming episodes of The Simpsons (who knows what else they might predict).