On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver examined coronavirus conspiracy theories in depth, diving in to “why they’re so appealing, how to spot them, and what you might be able to do about it.”
Oliver first explained that over half of Americans consistently endorse at least one conspiracy theory, admitting that he is “not immune” to believing them either.
“Embarrassingly, there is a part of me that thinks the Royal Family had Princess Diana killed,” Oliver said. “I know that they didn’t because there’s absolutely no evidence that they did. But the idea still lingers. Because it felt too big an event to be accidental – there had to be some intent there. And experts will say that that is actually a huge draw of conspiracy theories. They help explain a chaotic uncertain world and appeal to the human impulse called proportionality bias, which is the tendency to assume that big events must have big causes.”
Added Oliver: “These theories have always been appealing, and have actually been particularly seductive during global health crises. … All of this would be dangerous enough before you take into account that one of the most prominent spreaders of conspiracies on Earth is the current president of the United States. … And I cannot believe I’m saying this, but the person with the clearest sense of just how deeply cynical Trump’s use of conspiracy theories is, is [Rush Limbaugh].”
Limbaugh, Oliver showed in a clip, observed that Trump never says he believes in the conspiracy theories but just sends them out into the universe where they blow up among his supporters.
Oliver, as he often does, provided a solution to at least some of the problem. He urged viewers to be critical and ask themselves, ” Is there a rational, non-conspiracy explanation? … Has this been held up to scrutiny by experts? … And how plausible is this conspiracy, as a practical matter?”
He also gave his solution a celebrity twist.
“What experts say is that the most effective way to approach someone is not by shaming them for believing something, or overwhelming them with counterevidence, but to try and be empathetic, meet them where they are, and nudge them to think a bit more critically,” he said, before introducing a series of videos starring John Cena, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Porter, Paul Rudd, and Alex Trebek.
Oliver collected the videos on a special website called The True True Truth. He encouraged you to share them with your dipshit uncles and other conspiracy theorists at home.
Check out clips