QSTORM filmmaker's NOVA "Can We Make Life? pops up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

July 3, 2018

by Carol Lynn Alpert

The July 1 edition of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver included a surprisingly detailed (and funny) segment about the ethics of gene editing.  Oliver's team used clips from several interviews and documentaries, including Can We Make Life?, the NOVA Wonders special made by our QSTORM filmmaker Larry Klein (see May 19 blog post).  Among some belly-laughs (science is "math disguised as outer space and dinosaurs to try and seem interesting") and excoriations of mail-order biohacker enthusiasts, Oliver applauded scientists like MIT's Kevin Esvelt (profiled in the NOVA), who is proceeding with great caution and in constant consultation with community members about a plan to reduce Lyme disease in Nantucket through staged introductions of mice rendered genetically incapable of hosting the Lyme virus and passing it along to ticks.  Slate posted the Oliver segment, giving it top x-axis (informative/factual) honors for late night TV and a greater than average y-axis (funny) rating.