John Oliver Mocks NBC's 'Today' for "Dangerous" Citing of Scientific Studies

"Science is, by its nature, imperfect, but it is hugely important, and it deserves better than to be twisted out of proportion and turned into morning show gossip."
HBO/Screenshot
'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver'

John Oliver isn't a fan of the "scientific studies" often cited on morning talk shows.

The Last Week Tonight host dedicated Sunday's episode to debunking the "data" that gets lost in translations and quickly circulates as a shocking news headline, despite its actual validity.

"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 miscarriage," he explained. "Coffee today is like God in the Old Testament. It will either save you or kill you depending on how much you believe in its magic powers."

Oliver outlined how scientists in academia are pressured to publish research papers to secure funding and tenure, and these findings are not often checked. "There is no Nobel Prize for fact checking," said Oliver. "Incidentally, 'There is no Nobel Prize for fact checking' is a motivational poster in Brian Williams' MSNBC dressing room."

Then, the research gets miscommunicated through summarized press releases and surprising titles, and ends up on NBC's Today, which "lives for scientific studies," said Oliver. He introduced a clip in which co-hosts Natalie Morales and Tamron Hall cited studies discussing the health-related pros and cons of whole milk. Al Roker then added: "You find the study that sounds best to you. And go with that."

"This is really dangerous," said Oliver."If you start thinking that science is a la carte and if you don’t like it, another study will be along soon, that is what leads people to believe manmade climate change isn’t real, or that vaccines cause autism — both of which the scientific consensus is pretty clear on.

"Science is, by its nature, imperfect, but it is hugely important, and it deserves better than to be twisted out of proportion and turned into morning show gossip," he continued before introducing a Ted Talk spoof for unfounded studies. "If [morning shows] are going to keep saying, 'A study says,' they should have to provide sourcing and context, or not mention it at all."

Watch the video below.

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