Monday, October 3, 2011

The Best of YouTube

Now that I've looked at some of the worst that YouTube has to offer, it's time to look at some of the best: religion and skepticism videos that I find highly useful, entertaining or informative. I'll share three of them today, which are aided by great production values and well-edited content. Let's start with a video debunking irreducible complexity:

QualiaSoup produces some of the most clear and information-rich videos on YouTube, and this one is no exception. In under eleven minutes, he summarizes creationist quote mining, explains the evolution of three systems (eyes, beetle spray and flagella) that may seem too complex to have evolved, outlines the problems with design arguments that use man-made objects as metaphors, lists the mechanisms by which irreducibly complex systems can evolve, and explains why intelligent design has no place in our school system. People who go into this video thinking that irreducible complexity is valid would have to be seriously biased to continue in that belief at the end.

Tim Minchin's 9.5-minute rant on pseudoscience and skepticism really is a blast. He skewers all sorts of weird clich├ęs offered up by the credulous, all in the guise of a clever, funny, free-flowing beat poem. My favorite part comes at 7:30, when the intensity of his rant suddenly clears and he asks, "Isn't this enough?", accompanied by a gorgeous depiction of our solar system and other galaxies. It really is sad that people can be so focused on what almost certainly isn't there that they fail to appreciate what is.

And finally, there's this simple yet effective video from The Thinking Atheist:

The topic of this video is quite straightforward: it covers the basics of Christianity, from the perspective of a mother explaining them to her newborn child. Yet somehow this novel viewpoint clarifies and focuses our understanding. It makes even more evident the absurdity of calling a baby inherently evil and corrupt due to circumstances beyond their control. Those saucer eyes watching closely as the mother explains that God will never directly reveal himself, as she explains the imperative to make other believe as they do, and to praise God until the end of time. It would be funny if it weren't happening in millions of families all over the world. And then there's the second "welcome to this world" at the end of the video at the end to bring it full circle. Gives me goosebumps every time.

So as we've seen, YouTube has plenty of horrendous stuff, but like any medium it can be used to impart good ideas as well as bad ones.

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