Baltimore, here’s why the Simpsons didn’t predict the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge

As often happens following an important event, content is released aimed at making people believe that The Simpsons had foreseen everything. This time it’s the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore after a collision with a merchant ship. An image is circulating depicting Homer Simpson watching a freighter sink after hitting and destroying a bridge, as is a video circulating where one of the characters activates explosive charges on the bridge, fueling the conspiracy theories that have circulated through a video. They are both hoaxes and we will explain why.

For those in a hurry

  • The image released online cannot be linked to any episode.
  • The image never circulated before the Baltimore bridge collapse.
  • The characters are drawn incorrectly.
  • There are several typical elements of Artificial Intelligence.
  • The remote explosion scene is on a bridge in New York, not Baltimore.

Analyses

Let’s start with the image of Homer, accompanied by the following sentence: «Simpsons was right again».

The image fuels conspiracy theories, such as those reported in this post:

probably the deep state has played another card… the first declarations were in fact that it was a cyber attack and a terrorist attack, then suddenly they said it was an accident. The fact remains, that bridge now blocks the largest port in the American east coast, and blocks ships in the harbor that cannot leave…! The insurance companies are on the alert, it could trigger not only a disaster in the supply chain, but also a slaughterhouse on Wall Street given the foreseeable millionaire losses that many financial companies will have to suffer, and the transport of explosive military materials etc will have to follow other routes, it could only have passed on the bridge and not in the tunnel under it..!It is an act of war to create chaos within the USA…

Here, however, is the video that fuels the conspiracy theories where a character activates an explosive remotely:

This is why the image of Homer and the bridge in Baltimore is false

The image never existed before the Baltimore bridge collapse. Following a reverse search, including using keywords, no such image or scene was found published prior to the disaster.

Mistakes about Lisa Simpson

The quality of the image and the drawing would suggest a recent episode, but it contains several errors in the creation of the characters. For example, Lisa Simpson is drawn from behind with 10 spikes in her hair compared to the character’s classic 8. Furthermore, she sprouts a strange ear in one of the tips, so strange that it recalls a classic error of images generated through Artificial Intelligence.

The mistakes about Homer Simpson

Homer is drawn with three hairs on the top of his head. The original is drawn with only two hairs. Furthermore, in the image distributed online they are drawn in an irregular manner intersecting with each other, while in reality they are distant. The ear in the image attributed to Baltimore is different from how it is drawn in the series.

The errors of Artificial Intelligence

Lisa Simpson’s strange ear isn’t the only clue to the use of AI for image generation. In some cases, the scene seems too detailed for the type of drawing broadcast during the episodes of the series. We can make a simple comparison with episode 9 of series 35, the most recent, set on a ship. The railing and floor in the original cartoon is simpler and more uniform in color than the image released online after the Baltimore disaster.

The child on the bottom left has completely white eyes, Lisa’s shoes are poorly drawn and different from each other, while the ship’s anchor is incomprehensible.

More fake images

Other images are circulating online, such as the following:

Even in this case there are typical AI errors. We always start from Lisa, drawn with too many spikes on her head and with badly drawn eyes (there is also the black dot that protrudes into the water). Lisa and Bart’s hands are drawn one above the other in an anomalous way. Finally, smoke comes out not from the ship’s towers, but from the bridge’s tower.

The explosion scene and the wrong bridge

The scene where one of the characters triggers a remote explosion does not concern the Baltimore bridge, but the New York one. The protagonist is Hank Scorpio, owner of the Globex Corporation, and in the episode he threatens the members of the UN.

During the scene, one of the UN members observes the explosion activated by Scorpio, identifying the destroyed object: the bridge on 59th Street, i.e. the Queensboro Bridge in New York.

Conclusions

Two images generated by Artificial Intelligence are circulating to make people believe that the Simpsons predicted the collapse of the bridge in Baltimore. Also, it is claimed that in one episode the bridge was destroyed by a remotely triggered explosion, but in that episode they were referring to a bridge in New York.

This article contributes to a Facebook project to combat fake news and misinformation on its social platforms. Laws here for more information on our partnership with Facebook.

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