Did the Simpsons predict Stephen Hawking’s involvement in the Epstein scandal?

By January 11, 2024 Crime, Culture, Society

We came across the following claim in a Singapore-based channel on the social messaging app Telegram, as well as on the social media network X/Twitter.

The claim states that the popular animated comedy television series The Simpsons ‘predicted the Stephen Hawking underage orgy in Jeffrey Epstein Island years ago’.

Stephen Hawking was an acclaimed English theoretical physicist who died in 2018. Jeffrey Epstein was an American financier who had been charged with sex trafficking in 2019. He died by suicide in his jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for the sex trafficking charges.

Epstein had been separately convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008, but received a shortened jail term as part of a non-prosecution deal.

‘Jeffrey Epstein Island’ is likely a reference to Little St. James, one of two islands that are part of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and were privately owned by Epstein, who also had several homes and villas on the islands.

In court documents in the sex trafficking case against Epstein, several accusers, associates and employees testified that Epstein exploited underage girls for sex with him and other guests at his homes on Little St. James over many years.

The claim includes a short clip of a section from a Simpsons episode, where Hawking makes a guest appearance as one of the characters.

The clip depicts Hawking’s motorised wheelchair turning into an airborne vehicle with a propeller and jets. It also has a motorised retractable arm that Hawking uses to grab Lisa Simpson, a young girl, which the claim suggests is against her will. The two then fly away together.

Hawking’s Simpsons Appearance

We found that the claim about the Simpsons prediction referred to an episode from the show that aired in 1999 titled ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’. He was a recurring guest on the show, appearing six times in total.

Following Hawking’s passing in 2018, the Simpsons’ executive producer tweeted a cartoon in reference to the scene in ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’, with the caption ‘In loving memory of Stephen Hawking’. Some versions of the claim used an edited version of this image instead of the clip as proof of The Simpsons predicting Hawking’s involvement with underage girls through Epstein.

In truth, the episode makes no such reference. The scene in ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’ actually shows a group of intelligent residents arguing over what laws should be passed for the benefit of the town, after they had been appointed to make beneficial decisions.

Failure to reach a consensus results in chaos and riots, putting Lisa, who is one of the group despite her young age, in danger. Hawking, a surprise visitor to the town, witnesses the chaos and rescues Lisa from the chaos. There is no suggestion of illegal behaviour on the part of Hawking.

Hawking’s Links to Epstein

Stephen Hawking’s name was one among many that were included in court documents filed as part of Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit case against Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Epstein who had also separately been accused by Giuffre. These documents were unsealed on 3 January in accordance with a court order.

Along with Hawking, a number of high-profile names were mentioned in the documents including the British Royal Prince Andrew, the former US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, the Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, Michael Jackson and the magician David Copperfield.

While some of these individuals had at some point been accused by witnesses of having been involved with the girls and women trafficked by Epstein, this is not the case for all the individuals. Being named in the suit does not mean that the person concerned had been accused of wrongdoing in relation to Epstein.

Hawking was mentioned only once in the documents. In an email, Epstein had directed Maxwell to ‘issue a reward’ to any friends, family or acquaintances of Giuffre if they were able to disprove Giuffre’s allegations. Among the allegations Epstein hoped to disprove was one that Hawking participated in an ‘underage orgy’.

There are no further references to Hawking, and the court documents do not include any such allegations by Giuffre against Hawking.

Photographic Evidence?

The claims about Hawking appears to have been supercharged by past suggestions that there were photos of Hawking on an island owned by Epstein.

This is a genuine picture that was taken of Hawking on one of Epstein’s islands. It was taken in March 2006, prior to Epstein being charged for the first time for sex offences.

Hawking was present as one member of the scientific community who had been invited to the islands to attend a scientific conference sponsored by Epstein with the theme, ‘Confronting Gravity: A workshop to explore fundamental questions in physics and cosmology’.

There is no indication that Hawking or the other scientists were aware of or implicit in any of Epstein’s illicit activities.

Meme Culture and Conspiracy Theories

We have on two occasions previously debunked false claims that the Simpsons series has displayed clairvoyance in predicting future events. One such claim involved the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank and the other involved the loss of the Titan submersible.

A popular claim that The Simpsons predicted Donald Trump’s announcement of his presidential candidacy has also been debunked.

Nonetheless, it appears that the show remains a popular and recurring focus of many conspiracy theories, exposing Hawking to these theories due to his role as a guest character on the show.

While unlike in previous cases, Hawking’s appearance in an early Simpsons episode is genuine, the clip of the episode included with the claims are not accurately described by the captions in the claims.

Exacerbating the disinformation appears to be the role of meme culture, which often relies on exaggeration, caricaturisation or knowing misrepresentation of events and people for comedic effect. Comedic effect is often the goal of the memes, rather than the accuracy of the information.

Creators and viewers of memes often share the knowledge that these techniques are used. However, when disseminated among a wider audience, the content in the memes may come to be viewed as reality by those without contextual knowledge. In Hawking’s case, we found memes on X/Twitter that showed people who were seemingly disabled suddenly getting off their wheelchairs.

These memes jokingly suggested that this was similar to Hawking’s actions when arriving on Epstein’s islands, with the insinuation that Hawking was eager to visit due to his involvement in the illicit activity. Meme culture may similarly have contributed to the creation of content misrepresenting the event depicted in the Simpsons episode.

Whether as misinterpreted memes or deliberate disinformation, we found no evidence that Hawking was involved in any wrongdoing as part of the Epstein case, though he had been mentioned in the unsealed court documents and had previously visited Epstein’s private island.

It is also false that the Simpsons predicted Hawking’s involvement with Epstein in his illicit activities.

This claim was also investigated and found to be false by Misbar.

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