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13 YouTube Channels That Will Make You Instantly Smarter

I think it’s safe to assume that YouTube is here to stay as a major player in the world of new-media. They are already giving the major cable TV networks a run for their money when it comes to advertising revenue. And over the next few years, they will continue to disrupt a market that for so long has been the sole domain of big money production studios.

With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and the growing ease by which anyone can produce high quality video, it’s hard to think that the current TV model will survive for much longer. Many people (myself included) are moving away from the traditional TV experience (at least in the concept of scheduled television). And in my humble opinion, TV as we know it is going to evolve dramatically over the next 5-10 years.

That being said, YouTube is still new to most people (at least as a TV surrogate) and with so many still writing it off as simply “a place for stupid videos” I wanted to show you how I get value out of it as an educational resource. I wanted to share some of the YouTube channels that have helped shape and influence the way I see the world. And share with you some of the places where I spend hours of my life, learning, watching and otherwise being entertained.

Enjoy.

#1 – Vsauce

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I found Michael more than a year ago, and he has been blowing my mind ever since. Whether he’s explaining how much a shadow weighs or explaining once and for all, why the chicken actually crossed the road, he has a way of boiling science, history and current events down to their core components and presenting them inside of one beautifully succinct question.

He asks questions such as What if everyone jumped at once and What if the earth stopped spinning? He explains The science of the friend zone as well as why we have two nostrils, while keeping the viewer in a weird, scientific trance of awesomeness that will surely leave you coming back for more.

#2 – Veritasium

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Veritasium is similar in style to Vsauce but has a little heavier emphasis on the hard science of the concepts they explain. Most of these videos also start with an interesting question, like What is not random and Will this go faster than light? I like this channel because they dive deep into the world of theoretical physics while also explaining some real life concepts about how the world actually works.

#3 – ASAP Science

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Starting to see a trend here? I love science and I love to explore how the world works. I love learning about science as much as I love to learn about social issues, politics or anything else. The problem is that I have a short attention span so the science has to be interesting and easily digestible.

Ding. Enter ASAP Science. As the name states, these short science videos get right to the point but do not skimp on information. Take their recent video on the science of depression or this one where they ask how much sleep any of us actually needs. Rarely longer than 4 minutes these videos are all done using simple whiteboard animations and voice overs. They also have a great sense of humor, and answer questions like does size really matter and should you hover or cover the toilet seat? Before you know it, you will have spent hours watching these short, interesting videos about all aspects of science and life.

#4 – MinutePhysics

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If you thought ASAP Science was hard hitting then brace for impact because MinutePhysics is going to speed things up a bit. As the name implies, most of these videos are around a minute or two long and they typically focus in – like a laser beam – on one one basic physics concept.

Want to debate evolution vs creationism in two minutes and forty nine seconds? Click here. Want to know how the modern light bulb works, or why the solar system is flat? No problem. Want to know why the moon looks better in the winter, or maybe you want to understand how microwaves work in less than ten seconds. They got that too. Seriously, it’s all there. Just keep an eye on the clock because for now, time travel is not possible. Or is it?

#5 – How Stuff Works

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I just found this channel recently and I was instantly wrapped up in their “Stuff they don’t want you to know series.” Seeing as how I spent 2 hours watching their 4-6 minute long videos, I had to include it on the list.

I learned about China’s infiltration of Africa, the war on drugs, historical revision and the Vatican archives. And that was just to get started. Then I went on to learn about giants, Washington D.C., and finally, an interesting video about Facebook and their data gathering practices.

I wanted more about most of their topics, and like most of these videos, they just skim the surface of the issue but to me that’s part of the fun. It’s part of my quest to explore everything. A journey that often takes me across the battlefield of ideas and pushes me to question my understanding of everything.

#6 – Smarter Every Day

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Destin is a lovable guy with southern charm that will definitely help you get smarter every time you watch one of his videos. He will show you what it looks like to shoot an AK-47 underwater, – in slow motion – explains how Houdini probably died, and will even show you what it looks like to get tattooed in slow motion. He often includes his kids in his video and you can tell he brings a lot of passion to what he does. Throw that in with some serious knowledge and you will be an instant fan.

#7 – vlogBrothers

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Hank and John are the vlogBrothers and they bring some fast paced back and forth, as they video blog their discussions on real world issues to one another. Want to know what is going on in Hong Kong with a young and relevant flare? Click here. Care to know more about the net neutrality argument? Click here. Looking for something a little less heady? Then check out this video that runs through 53 of the most terrible jokes you’ve ever heard.  With a great mix of substance and style, it is easy to get wrapped up in their playful banter and like the rest of these channels, you run the risk of losing lots of hours watching these videos.

#8 – zefrank1

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As the executive vice president of video at BuzzFeed and vlogging pioneer, Zefrank drives home his point with substance and style. His video on why trust is worth it will move you emotionally and this video about being inside of a shell might inspire you to step out of your comfort zone, but he also drops real world facts about things like the octopus, the armadillo, and my personal favorite, the CuttleFish. Because that is how Zefrank do!

#9 – Andrei Oprinca

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I no longer watch many of his videos but I had to include his channel on this list. His videos brought me back up to speed with Photoshop and taught me to become the plastic surgeon of pixels that I am today. Seriously, if you want to learn how to get better at anything Photoshop then click here.

#10 – Casey Neistat

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This is a guilty pleasure channel for me. Sure he has done videos for Nike about making it count and has traveled all over the world. But more than anything I have learned to love the simplicity of his videos and the style in which he edits his work. His studio is wildly functional and the guy literally snowboarded the streets of NYC. Neistat has a way of stringing images, video and sounds into these beautiful compositions that will inspire every part of your creative desires. If you are looking for creative inspiration and how to tackle big projects with small budgets then this is the channel for you.

#11 – CGP Grey

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If you only watch one of his videos, the above one should be it. This is my favorite CGP Grey video so far and it explains some of the problems we face as a society due to the proliferation of technology and how that is affecting the job market.

This channel also does a great job explaining complex issues in a concise way. Topics you didn’t even know were up for debate get put into perspective like how many countries are there, what is a continent and discussing whether or not Texas can secede from the union? What about the difference between England and Great Britain? Want to know about the European Union or more about Vatican City no problem? No topic too big or two small for them to simplify. This is seriously one of the smartest channels on YouTube.

#12 – The Journey of Purpose

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I have to be in the right kind of mood to tune into this channel for too long but if you are looking for some deep thinking, heavy philosophy or other inspirational videos then this is a good place to start. Alan Watts is a regular voice over and you can get lost in the ideas themselves so make sure you bring your thinking cap when you flip these guys on.

#13 – Of course, yours truly

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I couldn’t publish a list about YouTube channels and not mention my own. Although young and lacking in the depth of some of these other channels, we have had some early success with videos about racism and trying to explain the debt limit. I also dabble in poetry and inspirational videos and video is definitely in the plan for our overall web strategy.If you are a regular reader of the Raymmar.com blog, then you should just click subscribe and help a brother out.


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  1. […] was watching some Vsauce videos and decided that I could do something similar and produce videos about politics and […]

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