Facebook and YouTube are full of people and pages promoting conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, bad history and fake news. Thankfully there are a few youtubers out there who specialize in debunking pseudoscience, refuting bad arguments and disproving conspiracy theories. Here are my top ten YouTube debunking channels.
1. Myles Power
Myles Power – aka powerm1985 – is one of the most popular skeptical YouTube channels in the world – and for good reason. Power, who is an organic chemist by profession, has made videos debunking pseudoscience and quacks from anti-GMO hysteria to anti-vaxxers to a myriad of different alternative medicines including chiropractic, MMS, homeopathy and ozone therapy.
He has tackled numerous conspiracy theories: HIV/AIDS denialism, chemtrails, Holocaust denial, and the conspiracies around the Sandy Hook school shooting, but he’s probably best known for his series of videos debunking 9/11 truth conspiracies. Power’s videos are well researched, engaging and even have a sense of humor.
In addition to his debunking videos, he also makes other science related content, including experiments and videos of his travels to places like the Bolivian Salt Flats and the Chernobyl exclusion zone. His production value is impressive, and he makes use of music, b-roll, still images and text effects to make the videos highly engaging. Power’s videos are an absolute must-see.
Contrapoints is a YouTube channel run by Natalie Wynn, a transgender YouTuber and former academic. Explicitly left-wing in her outlook and identifying as a pessimistic socialist, Wynn has made videos countering arguments against feminism and LGBTQ rights, debunking alt-right conspiracy theories and racist pseudoscience and climate change denial.
She has made videos on such a diverse set of ideas it’s hard to keep track. Her arguments are always presented in a nuanced way, freely acknowledging valid points made by those she argues against, while debunking the overall argument and explaining the underlying ideology behind it.
The thing that really makes her work stand out is not her arguments, but her production value. Wynn’s channel is probably best known for her use of sets, costumes and characters in her videos. They also include ironic humor and even the occasional musical number. Wynn has effectively created her own cinematic universe at this point, and it is no surprise she is one of the top 20 creators on Patreon.
While a lot of the channels on this list focus on combating pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, Debunked focuses on some of the more everyday misconceptions that many of us still believe. While not as glamorous as debunking claims from conspiracy theorists, woo peddlers and neo-Nazis, Debunked still addresses many everyday or pop cultural misconceptions about things like space and physics and does so in a way that is accessible, informative and entertaining.
Debunked is also unique for its extensive use of animation to illustrate the ideas being discussed, making their videos feel more professional and endearing. This channel is also much more family friendly than many of the other channels on this list.
Shaun – formerly Shaun and Jen – is a Youtuber who specializes in refuting arguments and conspiracy theories from the alt-right and anti-feminists, especially those relating to sociology. Shaun has made videos dissecting how a conspiracy comes to be, examining outrage news and refuting conspiracies about white genocide and the misuse of Ancient Roman history for modern political agendas. Like Contrapoints, he too explicitly leans left, describing himself as a socialist and a feminist. His videos are incredibly well researched and Shaun manages to refute some pretty absurd claims calmly, clearly and with an incredibly dry sense of humor.
5. Three Arrows
Very similar to Shaun in terms of style and sense of humor, Three Arrows focuses on debunking bad history and conspiracy theories from the alt-right, particularly arguments about Nazi Germany and World War II. His name and symbol are a reference to a symbol commonly used by left-wing and anti-fascist groups, symbolizing his left-wing leanings and his commitment to anti-fascism.
His videos address topics like gun control in Nazi Germany, confederate monuments, Holocaust denial, the Dresden bombing and the Crusades. His videos are incredibly well researched and informative and are generally enjoyable to watch, although they tend to be on the longer side. Three Arrows’ videos are absolute must-see for anyone who loves history.
6. Knowing Better
Knowing Better usually doesn’t frame his videos as rebuttals, counter arguments or even debunking, but his stated goal is to educate people about history, psychology and other social science topics so that “next time you’re in a conversation or you see a stupid meme on Facebook, you’ll know better.” Politically, he is a self-described moderate and has made videos have covered topics including Scientology, the sinking of the Titanic, privatization, sovereign citizens and mental health.
7. TREY the Explainer
This channel specializes in areas like anthropology, zoology, evolutionary biology, ancient history and especially paleontology. TREY has made videos debunking creationism and the claims of religious fundamentalists, but he’s best known for his videos on cryptozoology, debunking Cryptids like the Loch Ness Monster, Flatwoods Monster and Mothman. While his video quality often lags in comparison to some of the others on this list, there is an endearing quality to his videos that makes them stand out. He also does videos on other scientific and historical topics, including a series on different prehistoric creatures called “Paleo Profile.”
Peter Hadfield, aka Potholer54, is a British Journalist and geologist, and his channel specializes in debunking and refuting creationists and – perhaps more notably – climate change deniers. He seeks to educate people about the science of climate change and why it is a dire issue but does so without resorting to what he considers to be the exaggerated claims made by many environmentalists. He explains the science clearly without talking down to his audience. His production values are significantly lower than many of the other YouTubers on this list, but what he lacks in production values he more than makes up for in information.
9. Rebecca Watson
A controversial skeptic to say the least, Rebecca Watson is a well-known skeptic, atheist and feminist YouTuber. She has no qualms about going after controversial subjects or arguing against other people in her own camp, including other skeptics and feminists. Watson has done videos on a myriad of subjects including conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, political disinformation, bad history and clickbait.
C0nc0rdance hasn’t made as many videos in recent years, but his videos still hold up and are great resources for debunking a variety of pseudoscientific claims and views. Initially his work focused primarily on rebutting religious fundamentalism and creationism, but it later branched out to address other issues. C0nc0rdance made videos debunking a variety of different alternative medicines, HIV/AIDS denialism, scientific racism and anti-vaxxers.
Unlike some of the other YouTubers on this list, C0nc0rdance is politically more moderate and identifies as a political independent. He made a video criticizing Trump and has also criticized drug use. He is also a self-described free speech absolutist. C0nc0rdance is an atheist and has expressed support for people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. His videos tend to be lower quality in terms of production value, typically formatted as a sort of slide show, and his audio quality lags behind many of the others on this list, though it is roughly similar to potholer54. His videos are very information dense but understandable and incredibly educational.
Myles Power is not the YouTube hero he is made out to be. He produced an appalling video on “The science of circumcision” in which he got almost everything wrong or portrayed it in a misleading way. He uncritically peddled “intactivist” pseudoscience he copied off the internet and ignored reams of peer-reviewed science contradicting his assertions. Look at the comments threads following the video and text versions on his website for my debunkings of his nonsense. To date he has only corrected three of his many howlers, and in the last correction (https://mylespower.co.uk/2017/12/01/top-ten-myles-power-fk-ups/ scroll to item 9) he lied about me, misrepresented me, and name-called me. See my replies in the comments that follow. He has failed to address the numerous faults I pointed out to him, and he ignores my emails. And years have passed without any further attempt at correcting his errors. His behaviour, at least on this topic, has been dishonest, cowardly and unprofessional. Even “skeptics” can be duped by pseudoscience it seems.