Ebola: Evidence For Predictive Programming In Science Fiction?
From H.G Wells to the Simpsons, the indicators of our curren
News that Ebola has reached the United States and Europe has led many conspiracy theorists to believe that an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Lisa's Sax" first broadcast in 1997, predicted the arrival of Ebola in the United States.
While this is obviously a case of paranoia running wild, there are better examples of what is called "predictive programming"; the belief that TV and films are seeded by government agencies with foreknowledge of future events, allegedly so that when the relevant change is later introduced, such as an Ebola outbreak in the West, the public has already been acclimatised to the new reality and will passively accept it.
Whatever the truth, however, global pandemics definitely seem to have been a regular stable of science fiction going right back to when the genre was first conceived.
Deadly viruses were also a major plot device of another British science fiction writer, Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks and the cult series Blake's 7. Several of Nation's scripts for television centred around the idea of a deadly new virus suddenly appearing and bringing civilization to its knees. The script writer first used this scenario in his 1964 Doctor Who serial "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".
In this six part adventure a mysterious space plague brought to Earth by meteorites, paves the way for the Daleks' conquest of Earth in the year 2164. In 1975, Nation reused this super pandemic idea for his popular series Survivors. As the title implies, the cult classic followed the struggles of a small band of survivors in the wake of a mysterious pandemic that almost annihilates all of the world's population. Survivors was remade by the BBC in 2008.
New viruses and global pandemics have also been a major theme in several Hollywood films in last decade. Will Smith's 2007 film I Am Legend featured a genetically re-engineered measles virus, originally created as a cure for cancer, that mutated into a lethal strain which rapidly infected humans and some species of animals. There was also V For Vendetta in which a fascist regime takes control of Britain to combat "St. Mary's Virus" which was deliberately released in a false flag terrorist attack. In the film this pandemic is used as a pretext to set-up a fascist police state in Britain. Such a scenario might sound impossible in the real world; however, the following historical events might make you think twice.
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the US Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the US Government. Six hundred men were enrolled in the study; 399 had syphilis, 201 who did not have the disease. They were never told they had syphilis and were never given treatment for the disease.
Other hazardous experiments on humans have included ordering US pilots to fly through radioactive mushroom clouds in the early Cold War and even deliberately contaminating New York City’s subway system with dangerous anthrax simulant in 1966. Whether or not "predictive programming" in public media is real or imagined then, it seems that reality is often as bad as anything we see in the films and on TV.