Not MyTube

UtubeYesterday, I posted about how much I enjoy listening to live music on YouTube and how well their algorithms seem to find similar music and similar artists that I enjoy.   I concluded by saying that, at least when it comes to music, YouTube is MyTube.   On topics other than music, however, the YouTube algorithms seem to miss their mark as to what I’d like to see.

For one, I seem to get a lot of videos by scientists and philosophers trying to convince me that I should be an atheist.   It has always struck me that most of these guys (they are almost all men) sound just like televangelists, so absolutely certain that their views on the God Question are correct.   My own Inner Scientist can provide me all the evidence against God I need, thank you,science but I do wonder what it is about my viewing habits that leads YouTube to send so many atheist videos my way.  It may be because I watch a fair number of science videos and the YouTube algorithms can’t deal with scientists who believe in God.  Or it may be because I sometimes watch videos making fun of evangelists who deify Donald Trump, as if the choice is between Trump is God and Being an Atheist.   Or it may be because religion is on the decline among younger people and that is the audience that drives YouTube algorithms.  Or maybe all algorithms are atheists.

While YouTube seems to be happy to give me a one-sided view on the God Question, it seems to be determined to give me all sides of the story on US politics.   I get the anti-Trump crowd like The Lincoln Project and the Big Lie purveyors like Fox News and rightward … plus all the mainstream media in between.   I’d like to think that YouTube is making the case for critical thinking by presenting all sides but I suspect that when it comes to politics, it is the views fueled by controversy that they want.  Of course, you can’t blame YouTube’s algorithms for the fact that much of our so-called news is sensationalized and biased, if not outright lies.  And at least they include the names of the media sources with the videos so I can easily filter out the purveyors of misinformation (Can you say Fox News?)..

Speaking of science, I seem to get an overdose of science for the layman videos, things like Understand Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in Ten Minutes or What is a Mu-Meson and Why You Should Care.  Yes, I know.  Einstein supposedly said, If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself but he was exaggerating, folks.  Most of these videos are worthless except for making people suffering from the Dunn-Kruger Effect think they are smarter than they really are.  I frequently watch videos on space exploration and images from the Hubble telescope, an interest that YouTube’s algorithms think means I want to watch videos about alien abduction or interpretation of NASA images by people who are looking for evidence of little green men.   And looking for views with such titles as What Horrifying Object Did Pathfinder Find on Mars (it turned out to be a oddly shaped rock).

Then there are animal videos.  As a cat-lover, it started out with me watching funny cat videos (which often don’t look like they are funny to the cat.  Would you like to fall into the bathtub head first or be scared half to death by a cucumber?)  And there are videos with titles like 10 Things That People Do That Cats Hate (only 10?) and How to Know If Your Cat Really Loves You.  I admit, I’ve watched a few out of curiosity and I’ve seen nothing my cats haven’t taught me.   I suppose if you are new to being owned by a cat they might be helpful.  And now, I’m inundated with videos of abandoned … and often sick or injured …. cats and dogs that are rescued and nursed back to health.   Yes, they end happily but really, do I need to see so much misery?   I donate monthly to the ASPCA and Humane Society and I volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Society where I witness these stories in a place I can help.   I think I earned the right to skip over YouTube’s animal rescue videos.

At the end of the day, I come to YouTube to be entertained, not educated which is a good thing, given most of their content.  For music, I love it, even if it tries to slip me some rap or hip-hop every now and then.  But for most other topics it’s hit and (often) miss.   But, hey, I can always sign out of my account and get the same mix of stuff other people do.  It’s nice sometimes to search without felling those algorithms trying to outthink me.

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