My favorite thing about the Internet is that you get to go into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them.
One of the promises of the Internet (once it became clear that a few computer scientists had actually struck a gold mine here) was to level the playing field. People all over the world can contribute to discussions, share their views and — more importantly — their arguments and evidence. Sure, to do so takes lots and lots of work, but no matter whether you are male or female, or white or black or something else, or young or old or something in between, or your position of the political spectra, you can do it. If you invest the time and effort. And if you do something that is worth other people’s time (which you have no claim to, nobody owes you anything, esp. not online).
Personally, I have stumbled over a few channels and podcasts I consider worth watching/listening to. People who have invested the time and have something worthwhile to day.
But before we begin, a few generally applicable tips when it comes to watching/listening to YouTube channels and podcasts.
- Download and convert to mp3
You can download videos from YouTube, e.g., via “Download YouTube Videos as MP4” or “Video DownloadHelper” (both plugins for Firefox). This allows you to view them again without wasting bandwidth. Plus, more importantly, you can use an app like “Audio-Converter” (Mac) to quickly transfer them into mp3 files. Let’s face it, many videos can be understood without the images, and with audio files you can listen to them while doing sports or walking to/from work. One of the reasons I love my iPod nano. Strapped to the wrist you can easily listen to the podcasts while walking 30-40 minutes to/from work (and waiting at the cashier when shopping doesn’t suck as much as it used to). Also, things might change in the future (currently YouTube is cracking down on channels by removing ads and thereby money). So it’s always a good idea to store locally on your hardware what you want to keep (and do backups!).
- Use RSS to stay up to date
You can use RSS feeds to get informed about updates. On YouTube and on most blogs (which post Podcasts). The link for YouTube is: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?user=CHANNELNAME (the one you see in the URL field of your browser, e.g., for https://www.youtube.com/user/gryffixchannel it’s https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?user=gryffixchannel ). Sure, most YouTuber probably like it more if you subscribe to them (they see it directly and having lots of subscribers is nice feedback), but, hey, whatever works for you. Personally I use DEVONthink to get updates on Blogs, Journals, and YouTube channels I am interested in.
- Listen to what you (at least partly) disagree with
It pays to listen to channels you at least partly disagree with (if you can stomach it, confirmation bias is strong). The second I completely agree with a Podcast/Channel I usually lose interest, save for entertainment purposes. After all, you learn by listening and thinking about it. However, with most of the channels/podcasts below, I usually agree with them for the most part. Save, of course, when it comes to my area of expertise, e.g., whether or not you can actually measure certain latent variables (you can, but that’s something for another posting).
So, here are YouTubers and Podcasters which might be worth the time. If you want to get a quick impression, on YouTube the channel video is usually the best place to go. For podcasts, listen to a few — quality might vary.
- Thunderf00t (RSS)
Scientist, atheist, skeptic — “the one who checks” — great channel if you are interested in applied reason to different issues. Also covers third-wave feminism and people who want donations for inventions which will not work. Very funny, highly educating, and always stimulating.
- Sargon of Akkad (RSS)
YouTuber from England, but covers issues around the world. Does a weekly “This week in stupid”, but seems to strive for improvement, not just having fun at watching the world burn. If you want a no-nonsense view on out-of-control victimhood culture and some interesting and smart reasoning on social events, he’s the one to go to.
- Julie Borowski (RSS)
If you are cursed with a ditzy voice, don’t despair, you can still do a very successful channel — just use it to your advantage. Julie Borowski is very smart, deeply libertarian, and uses her personal style to inform about issues from a libertarian perspective. It might take a few moments to get used to her, but then you realize: Yep, she’s a brain.
- Aaron Clarey (RSS)
Unfortunately, there are some wanna-be cult leaders online, which might be hard to spot when they give advice, but Aaron Clarey is not one of them. He’s open about his style (“Asshole Consulting”) and the limits of his advice. If you associate “giving advice” with a soft-washed understanding social work type of person, he’s a welcome change. And, yeah, he often has a point you should at least consider.
- Rubin Report (RSS)
Might well be one of the best examples of what alternative media should be. Dave Rubin interviews people all over the political landscape and tries to see their perspective. So far fair and unbiased and well worth watching for different points of view.
- Gryffix (RSS)
Recently stumbled upon this channel — interesting take on social and political issues. As she said herself: “the opinions of a twenty-year old woman with the voice of a forty-year old man …” And yeah, it fits.
- Intelligence Squared (RSS)
Great channel hosting debates — usually well worth the time. Rare disappointments (like with “smart drugs” or prostitution), but always with an extremely capable moderator.
- No Agenda (RSS)
Political show with a somewhat conspiratorial slant — but usually very interesting take of what is not shown by the mainstream media.
- Honey Badger Radio (RSS)
Given they got their name from the “honey badger don’t give a shit” — yeah, that’s pretty much what you can expect. No political correctness, but a well-needed alternative perspective on issues, mostly related to the relations between men and women. If it’s hard to get into the podcast, I recommend the older videos of Karen Straughan on YouTube (seriously, start with the oldest ones).
So, despite the rather disparaging quotation on top of the posting, the Internet allows you to listen to people describing and interpreting the world from their points of view. And the people mentioned above — who I usually like — are well worth listening to.
Have fun and be smartly entertained.