Brow Beat

John Oliver Visits the Seductive, Dangerous World of Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

Last Week Tonight and John Oliver returned on Sunday to wade into the concerning, confusing proliferation of coronavirus conspiracy theories. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in several parts of the country, it’s as important as ever that Americans take seriously public health guidance like wearing masks and social distancing—which makes conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, like those touted in the viral “Plandemic” video, even more dangerous.

Oliver notes how seductive conspiracy theories can be in uncertain times like these, when guidelines are constantly changing and what was true at the beginning of the pandemic no longer is. He also draws lines between the current theories and those that sprung up around the bubonic plague and 1918 flu pandemic. “The only difference now is that our current pandemic is coming in the age of the internet, when it’s not only easier for people to do bad research and spread their results, but it’s also possible for them to make material look startlingly authoritative,” said Oliver.

The propagation of conspiracy theories can partially be combated by strong messaging from trusted sources. That’s why America is so lucky to have a head of state that doesn’t frequently spread these life-threatening falsehoods under the guise of “just asking questions” or one that has regularly been referred to as our conspiracy-theorist-in-chief … oh.

Fortunately, we can share the task of fighting coronavirus conspiracy theories with a cadre of celebrities that Oliver assembled in the absence of presidential wisdom. If you find yourself struggling to explain to your grandma why, no, 5G and the coronavirus are not connected, have no fear. Alex Trebek, Paul Rudd, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Porter, and John Cena are here to help at