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'The Simpsons' writer reveals how they are able to accurately predict real-life events

Fans think that the show's writers are fortune-tellers who have predicted everything, from Trump's presidency to the 9/11 attack and more.

'The Simpsons' writer reveals how they are able to accurately predict real-life events
Cover Image Source: The Simpsons entertain the crowd at the Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park, on Saturday. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

After releasing the radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in August 2023, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ate local sashimi to demonstrate that the fish was safe to eat. After watching the clip, people claimed this exact image took place in a classic episode of "The Simpsons," with Mr Burns in place of the politician. But for most fans, this isn’t surprising, as the animated sitcom is well known for making futuristic and uncanny predictions in its episodes.

Representative Image Source: (L-R) Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson and Maggie Simpson visit The Empire State Building to celebrate the 30th anniversary of
Representative Image Source: (L-R) Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson and Maggie Simpson visit The Empire State Building to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "The Simpsons" on December 17, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

 

The seminal cartoon, created by Matt Groening, has a devoted fan following across the globe—primarily due to the writer's acting being able to predict events that happened in real life throughout it's 750+ episode run. 



 

For instance, "The Simpsons" predicted Donald Trump’s presidency in the 11th season episode “Bart to the Future”, which aired back in 2000. Plus, it has given its fans glimpses into the future by making accurate predictions about the Ebola crisis, smartwatches, the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, 9/11, and even Disney’s takeover of Fox.

Whether these predictions were foreseen or just guesses, no one can say. But the show certainly has gained the title of “modern Nostradamus,” by foretelling so many occurrences. 



 

Talking about how they make it happen, AI Jean, who has been writing for the show since 1989, told NME, “One of our writers, the guy whose episode predicted Donald Trump as president, said it best, ‘If you write 700 episodes and you don’t predict anything, then you’re pretty bad. If you throw enough darts, you’re going to get some bull’s eyes.'"

Jean did admit that some of the predictions are out of the ordinary though. "The 9/11 one is so bizarre," he said. "In the World Trade Center episode, there was a brochure reading $9 a day with an 11 styled up like the towers. That was in ’96, which was crazy, like this insane coincidence. But mostly it’s just educated guesses."



 

According to William Irwin, the author of “The Simpsons and Philosophy,” the reason for these predictions is the show is the product of brilliant minds, many of whom are Harvard-educated, per The New York Times. On the flip side, Dr. Bernard Beitman, author of “Connecting With Coincidence,” attributes these accurate hunches to the mystical possibility of “psychosphere,” which implies “group mind in action.”

Yet another possibility behind the writers predicting futuristic scenarios is "the law of truly large numbers," a concept presented by the Harvard mathematicians, Frederick Mosteller and Persi Diaconis, in their 1989 paper "Methods for Studying Coincidences." The law states, "With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is apt to happen." For the longest-running show, this could indeed turn out to be the case.



 

"If you make enough predictions then 10% will turn out to be right," Al told BBC, "We are sort of futurologists in that we write 10 months ahead, so we're trying to guess what is going to happen," adds Stephanie Gillis, AI’s wife and another writer for the show. Stephanie added that their work is like "group therapy" where they talk a lot about things that are unrelated to their work. These discussions probably account for their guesstimates.

Image Source: Original animation cels from
Representative Image Source: Original animation cels from "The Simpsons" on display at the "Get Inked With Homer" benefit at the Wonderful World Art Gallery on July 19, 2007 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

However, many people believe that these predictions are mere tomfoolery. For example, Kendall Baker of Yahoo Sports writes on X, “What if all the Simpsons predictions that keep coming true aren't predictions but actually the makers of the show going to extreme lengths to turn their episodes into reality.”



 

At the same time, this deception could result from the emergence of AI images and manipulation software. As Matt Selman, executive producer of "The Simpsons" says these predictions are now becoming meaningless. “People so desperately want to believe in the show's ‘magic powers’ that they ignore that obviously fake images of the so-called predictions cannot be traced to any actual episode, like this nonsense,” he writes while referring to the fake image of Baltimore bridge collapse shown alongside "The Simpsons" character.



 

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