Increasingly, however, I find myself captivated the most by what might be called “skeptic” YouTube. In an age of political polarization begetting political extremism — which many online commentators, with their propensity for audience pandering and purity spiraling, have certainly helped exacerbate — it may be the consistently skeptical who now perform the most useful service.
These skeptical vloggers, unburdened by partisan tribalism, expose the postmodern paradoxes of the “Social Justice Warrior” Left one moment, then deconstruct the discredited Victorian eugenics of the alt-right the next. They reveal the dishonesty underlying hustles such as the anti-vaccination movement and bogus medical cures that bilk believers of all ideologies. They make it their business to pour cold water on conspiracy theorists and snuff out historical revisionism. Such commitment to contesting the groupthink of a broad range of self-satisfied subcultures is refreshing, and something we could use a lot more of.
Skepticism, in the formal sense, is a proud American intellectual tradition that has been associated with everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Harry Houdini to Issac Asimov. Broadly speaking, it is simply a disposition of caution towards the overconfident, an attitude of instinctive suspicion of those who truck in simple, sweeping explanations and solutions.