This last three months I’ve spent blogging, I’ve learned my away around the atheist internet and been delighted by how many wonderful resources there are, between websites, blogs, videos, discussion forums, etc. And not only the videos but some of the video channels run by extraordinarily creative or at least patiently argumentative creators of original YouTube material have been just astoundingly impressive and genuinely exciting for me. The rich variety of distinct voices, perspectives, and approaches, each one strong and engaging in its own way, makes the whole process of discovering this alternate universe to mainstream TV discussion a whole lot of fun. And last night seeing Derren Brown’s preaching bogus mathematics to millions of people as falsely accounting for how he pulled off his live lottery “predictions” several nights ago inspired me to put together this resource of good, actually educational and entertaining videos as a resource for those looking for videos that improve their understanding, rather than seek to confuse it.
Since, I’m late in finding many of these videos, I usually feel a little silly posting stuff that is a couple years old even though it’s still new to me (and likely to most of you). This post will be a convenient place to once and for all express my enthusiasm for all this wonderful pre-existing YouTube material defending a rationalist approach to knowledge, morality, religion, politics, and life in general. A good number of these videos I have already highlighted before in posts of their own but maybe you missed them then, want to see them again, or will just be able to skip ahead to others you’ve not yet seen. From each of these unique video channels I have carefully selected a representative video which I take to be one of the channel’s best offerings and then provided links to 8 of the channels’ other videos which I consider personal favorites. The list is in no particular order:
The Atheist Experience is a regularly produced call-in show that lets everyday believers have their run their defenses of their beliefs by informed atheists, including a former ministry aspirant.
Edward Current provides sharp-edged, almost nastily sarcastically toned satire of shallow Christian thinking. Many of his videos sarcastically present himself as a Christian and within that pretended perspective he exposes the crude implications of popular Christian attitudes, theology, and apologetics.
Gogreen18 is Laci Green’s high energy, sassy, brash, and usually dramatically over the top You Tube channel on which she talks about popular topics, rails against religion, and tries to offer rudimentary education presumably for other young people about various culture war issues, sexual education, and, most of al,l the bankruptcy of religious arguments about all such topics. Her videos burst with personality, enthusiasm and unabashed creativity even as some of her more ambitious conceits fall flat and some of her arguments come out a little sloppily written and some of her videos cloy. When her ambition pays off, and even sometimes when it doesn’t, her videos become winningly charming.
ZJemptv is one of my most favorite new discoveries. ZJ delivers her often meticulously logical, elegantly concise, helpfully clear, and authoritatively toned pre-written takedowns of faith-based thinking and homophobia with an almost impossible combination of roboticism, passion, anger, and humorous incredulity:
Thunderf00t is one of YouTube’s most thorough atheist debaters committed to rebutting creationism, often through engaging other people YouTube videos:
Other Thunderf00t videos not to miss: Just work your way through the 30 part series on creationism begun above.
Non Stamp Collector digs in deep into the absurdities of religious beliefs in his brilliant and original cartoons. While the meat and potato religious absurdities, biblical atrocities, and religious pseudoscience are his topics, his videos are narratively enjoyable in their own right since they don’t just present arguments but illustrate them through fun stories and his insights probe deep into familiar themes in a way that reveals a mind so irritated by palpable absurdities that he is driven to pick through each and every twist of ridiculous implication in them. And his moral outrage at some of the immoral absurdities of Christian teaching and Old Testament practices comes through daringly vividly in some of his videos. Next to Christopher Hitchens and Pat Condell, there are few in the atheist community who I know who combine humor and deep moral anger in their criticisms of religious absurdity like Non Stamp Collector:
Pat Condell is internet atheism’s mad prophet. Virulently and angrily insistent on tolerance of everything but religious intolerance, Pat’s polemical wit, passion for freedom and reason, and willingness to offend rather than treat irrationalism and authoritarianism with even the appearance of the slightest bit of undue respect makes him a necessary spokesman for the position of uncompromising, politically active, morally urgent atheism.
ON EDIT (February 13, 2011): It is with regret that I must qualify my enthusiastic endorsement for Pat Condell. In the subsequent months since this post went up, Pat’s opposition to Islam has crossed the line repeatedly into the realm of legitimate Islamophobia and out of the realm of legitimate, targeted critique of Islam. It’s a fine line to walk. Pat is completely indifferent to even trying to walk it. It’s a shame. I still support much within his earlier videos but wish he was not so susceptible to irrational, counter-productive bigotry.
Mr. Deity is that rare marvel of a satire that manages to always be funny and never fall into the trap of leadening preachiness. While not a talk show, it is atheism’s closest approximation to a Daily Show in that the comedians behind this show know how to let the comedy come out of the absurdity of the subject matter such that it plays first and foremost like comedy and only secondarily (though still unambiguously) as a critique of its targets. Mr. Deity’s lighthearted feel and humor makes it accessible and non-threatening even to some religious people while not sacrificing its focus on exposing the absurdities (both light and dark) inherent in popular Christian theology and apologetics.
Richard Dawkins.Net is just chock full of fascinating interviews. Dawkins discusses evolution not just with scientists like biologist PZ Myers but with cognitive philosopher Daniel Dennett, psychologist Stephen Pinker, activist creationist Wendy Wright, Jesuit astronomer and utterly convinced evolutionist Father George Coyne, and ethicist Peter Singer among others. Dawkins brings a rare level of depth and debate to these interviews, challenging his interlocutors to develop their best arguments without ever stealing the show from them.
Other Richard Dawkins videos not to miss: Father George Coyne Interview, Peter Singer—The Genius of Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins interviews creationist Wendy Wright, Daniel Dennett—The Genius of Charles Darwin, Dawkins’ Root of all Evil: Ted Haggard, Steven Pinker—The Genius of Charles Darwin
Qualia Soup, finally, is a remarkably well written and imaginatively animated series of elegantly presented run-downs of the basics of probability, chance, evolution, faith, scientific process, and other related topics which make for first-rate, accessible, visually engaging, easy to follow, and detail and example rich educational videos. They’re delivered with a pleasant passion in the most mellifluous and aristocratic accent. Who in the world would want to ignorantly disagree with such a thorough teacher or his authoritative voice with its shaming disdain for the ignorance and superficial argumentation around him?
Other Qualia Soup videos not to miss: Open-mindedness, Evolution, The problem with anecdotes, The faith cake, Flawed thinking by numbers, Skewed views of science, In the beginning, God created injustice
Your Thoughts? Your Own Suggestions?