Thanks to the strange and bewildering world of mindless morning shows, some questionable attempts at science have been given global audiences. "Is science bullshit?" John Oliver asked on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, voicing the inner dialogue of anyone who's endured even a single minute of these dramatically reported attempts at science. "No, but there is a lot of bullshit currently masquerading as science."
To get to the bottom of this anti-science phenomenon, Oliver took a stand for one of these contradictory studies' most frequent victims: coffee. "There are so many studies being thrown around, they can seem to contradict one another," Oliver said. "In just the last few months, we've seen studies about coffee that claim it may reverse the effects of liver damage, help prevent colon cancer, decrease the risk of endometrial cancer, and increase the risk of a miscarriage."
To really drive this point home, Oliver had to get a little biblical. "Coffee today is like God in the Old Testament," Oliver said. "It will either save you or kill you depending on how much you believe in its magic powers." Coffee, however, is not the only targeted victim of this blasphemy. The problem, Oliver argues, is that many would-be scientists are concerned with getting published for some disappointingly silly reasons. "Scientists know nobody is publishing a study called 'Nothing Is Up With Acai Berries,'" Oliver laughed.
But publicity-hungry scientists aren't the only ones to blame. "Some of this is on us, the viewing audience," Oliver admitted. "We like fun, poppy science that we can share like gossip. TV news producers know it." After proving this with a cringeworthy clip from KTVU News and an equally problematic Ted Talk from someone purporting to be a "Dr. Love," Oliver unleashed the rest of his frustrations by showing a can't-believe-it’s-actually-real clip from the Today show.
The clip captures an argument about the alleged health benefits of consuming whole milk, during which Al Roker chimes in with this delightful little theory: "You find the study that sounds best to you and go with that." Wait. What? That can't be right. Turns out, it's definitely not.
"If you start thinking science is à la carte and if you don't like it, another study will be along soon," Oliver said. "That is what leads people to believe man-made climate change isn't real or that vaccines cause autism, both of which the scientific consensus is clear on." Amen.