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The lecturer teaching a course on The Simpsons explains why it appears to predict the future

President Trump? You heard it on The Simpsons first.

WHEN DONALD TRUMP was elected president in November, people all over the world became fascinated with the fact that The Simpsons predicted it 16 years before it happened.

Now, the University of Glasgow’s Philosophy Department has gained worldwide notoriety after one of its lecturers announced he’s teaching a class on the show.

The one-day class called “D’oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy,” will take place in January, exploring a range of philosophical topics from ethics to political theory, using the animated TV show as a guide.

Source: H.J. Simpson/YouTube

Dr John Donaldson, a graduate tutor at the University, told Business Insider why the show is a perfect tool for teaching philosophy, and how it has managed to predict the future so often throughout its 27-year history.

“It’s a show about life,” Donaldson told Business Insider.

It deals with situations close to our own hearts and touches on themes we see in our day-to-day lives, so it’s unsurprising that some of the things they touch on can become a reality.

As well as Trump’s presidency, The Simpsons has accurately predicted the future in lots of different ways — from the discovery of the Higgs Boson to faulty voting machines in the 2008 US election.

The inadvertent predictions have happened so often, they’ve been labelled as “eerie,” and “spooky,” by several media outlets, and more predictions continue to come out of the woodwork.

Despite the strange knack the writers have for clairvoyance, Donaldson said these predictions are purely coincidence.


“Coincidences happen,” he said.

The Simpsons set out to make a joke about Donald Trump because it seemed so ridiculous, and it just so happened that political circumstances changed to the point that someone like Trump could become president.

He added that the show — which first aired in 1989 — has been going for so long that parallels between the show and real life are “par for the course”.

Instead of The Simpsons predicting the future, fans of the show understand the world around them by linking current events to fiction.

“Life imitates art,” said Donaldson. “And this certainly isn’t the first example of life imitating art.”

The University of Glasgow lecturer pointed out that genres such as science fiction are famous for this. As well as predicting “more obvious technical advances like mobile phones,” dystopian themes in some works can become a reality.

“Many people draw parallels to George Orwell’s ’1984′ in terms of the heavy surveillance we are under in modern society,” Donaldson said.

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He also compared The Simpsons’ predicting powers to Aldous Huxleys’ novel Brave New World, considering the US sitcom to be “very philosophical in nature”.

Donaldson’s course looks at movements like Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, political theory and the nature of existence itself, applying them to different Simpsons episodes on the way.

“In one part, we look at Virtue Ethics and use Homer Simpson as a case study,” he said.

Virtue Ethics focuses on how “virtuous” a person is based on their actions. Donaldson applies Aristotle’s theory to different situations the Simpsons patriarch finds himself in, culminating in a class debate on whether or not Homer is a virtuous character.

“Matt Groening started The Simpsons as a satire on the world we live in, and it would be impossible to write a satire without touching on philosophy,” he said.

- Edith Hancock for Business Insider 

Read: 92% of Irish people believe that cannabis should be legalised when recommended by a doctor >

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Business Insider
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