17 votes

Kurzgesagt's "Trust" video may have been a preemptive move to avoid criticism.

34 comments

  1. [5]
    Neverland Link
    Here is an AMA in response to this, by the founder of Kurzgesagt.

    Here is an AMA in response to this, by the founder of Kurzgesagt.

    17 votes
    1. 45930 Link Parent
      This seems to mostly exonerate kurz of anything unforgivable. I think coffee break will regret not handling this privately before releasing the video. It does seem pretty clear that kurz stalled...

      This seems to mostly exonerate kurz of anything unforgivable. I think coffee break will regret not handling this privately before releasing the video.

      It does seem pretty clear that kurz stalled coffee. The void from feb 8 to feb 21 while he was traveling and recovering is telling. He released a video, so obviously he was working during that time. He offered the first chance at an interview days before his own video dropped. Coffee messed up by not responding sooner and not confronting him privately about all of these issues. I don't think he'll be gaining fans from this really, though it sucks for him that basiya whole video idea was trashed.

      15 votes
    2. [3]
      Akir Link Parent
      Given it's in their subreddit, it's probably not the best source for unbiased opinion.

      Given it's in their subreddit, it's probably not the best source for unbiased opinion.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        45930 Link Parent
        Forget the commentary, but there's primary source information coming straight from kurz. Can't really discard that.

        Forget the commentary, but there's primary source information coming straight from kurz. Can't really discard that.

        14 votes
        1. Akir Link Parent
          Well certainly. I just thought that the context would be helpful for others looking at the link. Then again, most people from Tildes were already on Reddit, so I'm not entirely sure who I am helping.

          Well certainly. I just thought that the context would be helpful for others looking at the link.

          Then again, most people from Tildes were already on Reddit, so I'm not entirely sure who I am helping.

          3 votes
  2. deknalis Link
    here's the emails between Coffee Break and Kurzgesagt for those curious. Evidently, Coffee Break never actually responded to Kurzgesagt's email about when he could do an interview, and the...

    here's the emails between Coffee Break and Kurzgesagt for those curious. Evidently, Coffee Break never actually responded to Kurzgesagt's email about when he could do an interview, and the statement that he called the video "good enough" is not only a paraphrase, which Coffee Break admits, but seems to be a somewhat misrepresentive one.

    14 votes
  3. [25]
    Staross Link
    Kurzgesagt is pretty bad science vulgarization, unless you are 12 yo. Personally I recommend the Numberphile's related channels (Sixty Symbols, Computerphile , ...). The PBS ones are good to (PBS...

    Kurzgesagt is pretty bad science vulgarization, unless you are 12 yo. Personally I recommend the Numberphile's related channels (Sixty Symbols, Computerphile , ...). The PBS ones are good to (PBS Space Time). I don't know if there's good equivalents for biology and social sciences.

    12 votes
    1. [11]
      hungariantoast (edited ) Link Parent
      Woah woah woah, if you're going to use terms like "science vulgarization" you're gonna have to explain to us twelve year olds what you mean. I thought it was a well known fact that Kurzgesagt's...

      Woah woah woah, if you're going to use terms like "science vulgarization" you're gonna have to explain to us twelve year olds what you mean.

      I thought it was a well known fact that Kurzgesagt's videos are a brief overview of a subject, considering their videos are almost always less than thirty, twenty, or even fifteen minutes in length.

      So what are you saying? They're bad because they're short? Or are you saying that they're bad examples of what short videos can be?

      I'd also like to point out that Kurzgesagt is actually Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, so that should tell you all you need to know about the content they put out. (Sidenote: Wikipedia Deletionism is at it again)

      23 votes
      1. [3]
        Staross Link Parent
        They are bad because they are bad. Take for example their video on Big Bang, "The Beginning of Everything -- The Big Bang". The title and the first sentences are already plain wrong and...

        They are bad because they are bad. Take for example their video on Big Bang, "The Beginning of Everything -- The Big Bang". The title and the first sentences are already plain wrong and misleading. Which they would have known if they read the wikipedia page about the big bang. It's specially bad because that's a Christian apologetic's talking point, so in addition to being bad at science they are also bad at politics.

        A good 5 minutes video on the subject could for example explain the Hubble measurements. It's not complicated, fascinating and at the end people would have learned something.

        The subjects are also bad, they focus on sensational, sci-fi related, or very speculative subjects (e.g. Wormholes) instead of important things. The problem with that is that people miss the actually captivating science we have.

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          hungariantoast Link Parent
          So you're upset with them for existing because they aren't making videos on subjects you deem more important? I agree that their Big Bang video repeats some of the misconceptions mentioned in the...

          The subjects are also bad, they focus on sensational, sci-fi related, or very speculative subjects (e.g. Wormholes) instead of important things. The problem with that is that people miss the actually captivating science we have.

          So you're upset with them for existing because they aren't making videos on subjects you deem more important?

          I agree that their Big Bang video repeats some of the misconceptions mentioned in the Wikipedia article you linked, but the entire video, which mentions the history of the concept and some of the physical interactions involved, seems relatively solid to me. The video was also published in 2014, so I think how much it reflects on the channel as a whole is minimal.

          I don't know, the channel serves a clear, introductory purpose in my mind, as it's much easier to get my twelve year old cousin to watch a Kurzgesagt video than one from Numberphile.

          24 votes
          1. asoftbird Link Parent
            I think it's similar to how things like physics and chemistry are taught in high schools: not always technically correct but simplified a bit, so it's a little easier to understand. When you do...

            I think it's similar to how things like physics and chemistry are taught in high schools: not always technically correct but simplified a bit, so it's a little easier to understand. When you do get to actually studying those fields you'll learn it the correct way. What Kurz does is mostly just making people interested in sciences with easy-to-digest and fun videos. I think raising interest for science is a pretty important thing.

            5 votes
      2. [7]
        Akir Link Parent
        I can't speak for @Staross, but from the few Kurzgesagt videos I've seen have been off in a way I can't quite describe. I find it difficult to get meaningful information from their videos. It's...

        I can't speak for @Staross, but from the few Kurzgesagt videos I've seen have been off in a way I can't quite describe. I find it difficult to get meaningful information from their videos. It's largely because the animation is distracting and the even tone the narrator speaks in makes it difficult to tell which words are important.

        I have also noticed that they sometimes use scientific findings to support their narrative, but are actually part of a much more complicated argument. Their video on meat is a perfect example. One of the more specific arguments they use is how livestock requires much more water than plants. But that isn't an argument to stop eating meat - it's an argument to stop producing meat in areas with local freshwater shortages. Water used by livestock doesn't just disappear, it gets recycled. They later state the world could feed billions more people if we stopped producing meat, but that's not even a real argument. We already produce more than enough food to feed the world - the problem is that we aren't 100% good at ensuring everyone has access to it.

        6 votes
        1. [6]
          hungariantoast (edited ) Link Parent
          You make some fair points, but I feel like the issue you have with the animation and the tone of the narrator are subjective. Personally, these aren't things that bother me, and I think they're...

          You make some fair points, but I feel like the issue you have with the animation and the tone of the narrator are subjective. Personally, these aren't things that bother me, and I think they're actually part of the appeal the channel has to a lot of folks.

          As far as the meat video, isn't this one of the videos that was removed or that they admitted could have been better? (Which doesn't discredit your point, but does make it clear that the channel is willing to hold itself accountable.)

          The meat video isn't one of the videos they admitted could be better, I misremembered.

          4 votes
          1. [5]
            Akir Link Parent
            I just re-watched their "trust" video and it looks like they actually doubled-down on the meat video. The ones they removed were the ones on refugees and addiction. It's actually funny; they say...

            I just re-watched their "trust" video and it looks like they actually doubled-down on the meat video. The ones they removed were the ones on refugees and addiction.

            It's actually funny; they say one of the reasons why their refugee video was bad was because it was "divisive and emotional", but that applies just as well with their meat video!

            1. [4]
              hungariantoast Link Parent
              I definitely wouldn't say they doubled down on the video, they just mentioned it in passing, and how some viewers had additional questions after watching it. It was divisive because it was...

              I definitely wouldn't say they doubled down on the video, they just mentioned it in passing, and how some viewers had additional questions after watching it.

              they say one of the reasons why their refugee video was bad was because it was "divisive and emotional"

              It was divisive because it was emotional and "toxic" due to a lack of proper process during its quick creation. The meat video (after a second viewing of both videos in question) seems to have gone through that process and been properly sourced and edited up to their standards, so it has been controversial for other, different reasons than the refugee video.

              So they didn't remove the refugee video because it was controversial, they removed it because it wasn't up to their standards and that had a hand in the controversy it generated.

              6 votes
              1. [3]
                Akir Link Parent
                Perhaps doubling down was too strong a phrase, but they (very quickly, as part of a list) did say that they are sticking behind it's conclusion. It's funny you mention sources, because after...

                Perhaps doubling down was too strong a phrase, but they (very quickly, as part of a list) did say that they are sticking behind it's conclusion.

                It's funny you mention sources, because after re-watching this video I checked the sources for the meat video. About a quarter of the sources (not including the extra reading section) were from animal rights organizations. I would consider those sources to be biased. The section of the video using these sources loses any sense of impartiality because they begin to argue for a specific moral viewpoint. And that's a shame, because when combined with the misleading information it really undermines the legitimate reasons why one should limit their meat consumption!

                I will stand behind my view that the meat video doesn't meet the standards they are claiming in their trust video. Here's the reason why, in a quote from said video:

                In both of [the videos we took down], we didn't try to present a balanced perspective, but instead chose a take and ran with it.

                And in regards to their Addiction video specifically:

                Addiction is far from solved, and our videos should have reflected that, instead of taking one side. We simplified an idea so much, that it made a great story, but became distorting.

                (Forgive the comma splices; they were in the subtitles).

                4 votes
                1. [2]
                  hungariantoast Link Parent
                  My only argument would be that even if a source was biased (and I don't necessarily agree that those you mentioned automatically are) they could still provide accurate, factual information to...

                  My only argument would be that even if a source was biased (and I don't necessarily agree that those you mentioned automatically are) they could still provide accurate, factual information to source for the video.

                  Beyond that, I think you and I probably agree that the channel isn't much more useful than acting as an introduction to learning more about the topics they make videos on.

                  1 vote
                  1. Akir Link Parent
                    I suppose I would agree with that. Though it is more problematic knowing that most people won't go any further than watching the video. This particular video is really the only one I have major...

                    I suppose I would agree with that. Though it is more problematic knowing that most people won't go any further than watching the video. This particular video is really the only one I have major problems with.

                    1 vote
    2. [13]
      suspended Link Parent
      I've wondered about this for years. I'm hoping someone who knows will see this and recommend some.

      I don't know if there's good equivalents for biology and social sciences.

      I've wondered about this for years. I'm hoping someone who knows will see this and recommend some.

      1. [8]
        Wes Link Parent
        Possibly the Crash Course videos? https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse

        Possibly the Crash Course videos?

        https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse

        2 votes
        1. [7]
          suspended Link Parent
          That does have social science content. It will, probably, take me considerable time to evaluate it, but I'm interested. Thanks for the recommendation.

          That does have social science content. It will, probably, take me considerable time to evaluate it, but I'm interested. Thanks for the recommendation.

          1 vote
          1. [6]
            cadadr Link Parent
            I watched some of them. Requires critical listening, tends to oversimplfy. But the channel is honest with that and does not use a "tone" that implies dogmatic truth (which is why I never watched...

            I watched some of them. Requires critical listening, tends to oversimplfy. But the channel is honest with that and does not use a "tone" that implies dogmatic truth (which is why I never watched any videos from Kurzgesagt).

            I'd say the CC videos are good intros to their relative topics. Literature series could have done better if it was not mostly US and almost entirely English language works. Mythology sometimes looks at the myths with morals of today, which is a problem too.

            3 votes
            1. [4]
              mrbeehive Link Parent
              Isn't the literature section English Lit or US Lit or something like that, or am I misremembering it?

              Isn't the literature section English Lit or US Lit or something like that, or am I misremembering it?

              1. [3]
                cadadr Link Parent
                Nope, just literature. And contains non-English and Non-American stuff like Dante, Homer, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

                Nope, just literature. And contains non-English and Non-American stuff like Dante, Homer, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  mrbeehive Link Parent
                  My bad. Fair points you're making then.

                  My bad. Fair points you're making then.

                  2 votes
      2. [2]
        asoftbird Link Parent
        I've always enjoyed The Thought Emporium for biology-related content. The videos are very "how to do x" and DIY-oriented, but nonetheless very interesting. I should add it's not 100% biology but...

        I've always enjoyed The Thought Emporium for biology-related content. The videos are very "how to do x" and DIY-oriented, but nonetheless very interesting.

        I should add it's not 100% biology but also chemistry, immunolog, electrics and physics subjects.

        1. suspended Link Parent
          That looks fascinating. Thanks!

          That looks fascinating. Thanks!

  4. zaarn Link
    To me it feels like Coffee Break wanted to make a "Kurzgesagt EXPOSED" video and KG then published their own video on the issue of trust before CB was able to, likely to avoid a shitstorm in their...

    To me it feels like Coffee Break wanted to make a "Kurzgesagt EXPOSED" video and KG then published their own video on the issue of trust before CB was able to, likely to avoid a shitstorm in their direction that can't be tamed by facts. I don't really get the issues that CB raises in the video...

    Atleast the german channel is funded by public broadcast, which usually means there are strings attached and scientific content needs to be confidently accurate. That probably also covers the english-only videos since 2017, but I'm not sure on that.

    6 votes
  5. Rocket_Man (edited ) Link
    So this is a pretty interesting video by Coffee Break. Who is claiming that a video by Kurzgesagt was produced solely to preemptively address criticisms brought up by Coffee Break. This is...

    So this is a pretty interesting video by Coffee Break. Who is claiming that a video by Kurzgesagt was produced solely to preemptively address criticisms brought up by Coffee Break. This is somewhat significant because it paints Kurzgesagt as the opposite of being honest and transparent about the reason for the video. However other youtuber's such as CGP Grey have said Kurzgesagt's video was in the works for much longer. In my opinion, the truth is probably in the middle. Kurzgesagt probably wanted to address some of their videos and make them better, but they're also very sensitive to outside criticism and took an opportunity to avoid it.

    3 votes
  6. weystrom Link
    The "small youtuber's stolen idea" argument kind of falls flat for me, it's about their channel after all, although I can see how it leaves a bit of a poor taste, Phillip should have told him....

    The "small youtuber's stolen idea" argument kind of falls flat for me, it's about their channel after all, although I can see how it leaves a bit of a poor taste, Phillip should have told him.

    Anyway, if you treat pop-science Youtube videos as a single source of truth, I think you should consider holding yourself to higher research standards. It's like reading the first paragraph of a wiki page and claiming that you've grasped a complex subject. It's can be a nice introduction, sure, but always do your reading.

    1 vote