Is Jeffrey Epstein really dead? Did the Royal family engineer the death of Princess Diana? Can 5G cellphone towers spread the coronavirus?
With conspiracy theories swirling around almost every major news story, it’s no wonder HBO’s John Oliver, acerbic host of Last Week Tonight, wanted to take a closer look.
In his 20-minute episode Coronavirus: Conspiracy Theories, Oliver showed a clip from the digital series Pulling the Thread, streaming now on WGBH’s WORLD Channel. Oliver’s critically acclaimed political/comedy/news show has drawn as many as 85 million views per episode.
Oliver’s show touched on many of the topics explored in Pulling the Thread — the emotional, cognitive and social forces that lead rational people to believe irrational things. The series from filmmakers Kristin Pichaske and Danny Alpert pushes viewers to think about how they think, why conspiracy theories are so alluring and how they undermine trust and civil-society — and what we can do about it.
Pulling the Thread is just one of WGBH’s new resources for Combating Disinformation, including a set of education and media literacy resources on critical thinking, analysis of sources and access to reliable information. The collection includes contributions from WGBH News, FRONTLINE, NOVA, and Forum Network, as well as resources from WGBH Education.
“With less than four months before a pivotal presidential election, the stakes of keeping the public accurately informed have never been higher,” said Jon Abbott, WGBH president and CEO. “WGBH is committed to our responsibility as a media organization to deliver honest news and support all individuals in being well-informed citizens.”
Watch the full episode of Last Week Tonight, featuring Pulling the Thread starting at 4:55, below, as well as the full episode featured in the clip, "The Five Triggers of Conspiracy Thinking," here.