As many of you know, I am the owner of a very unusual collection of pseudoscientific trinkets that I proudly have on display in my room. My collection contains everything from the harmless enough, like the chakra kitty healing crystals (which failed to impress my mother’s cat), to the flat-out deadly, like my copy of Christine Maggiores’ book, What If Everything You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong. Most of my friends and family members believe that I am throwing my money away and can’t see why I would be interested in such nonsense, which is an opinion shared by many of my followers online. Some have gone as far as to tell me that I should not be purchasing any of the strange things in my collection because I am then directly funding the bullshit peddlers – some of which will no doubt have blood on their hands. I understand these peoples’ concourse and, as hard as it is to admit to myself, I am directly helping to fund AIDS denialists, anti-vaxers, and the anti-GMO crowd to name a few. This was something I thought a lot about before I bought my first bit of pseudoscientific junk, which happened to be the homeopathic first aid kit, yet it did not stop me.
The reason it did not stop me, and the reason I am still ok with buying this kind of crap and am amassing a rather impressive collection, is that I have cost the companies/people/ideologies a lot more from the videos/blog posts/podcasts exposing their manipulation of facts and figures, their perversion of the scientific method, and their flat-out lies than monetary values I have sent their way. Even the trinkets that don’t make it into my videos, like the many things you would have seen on my bookshelf, have helped me better understand the subject I am covering and not do as so many other YouTubers and other self-described ‘skeptics’ do, and simply scratch the surface – most often ending up straw-manning their opponent. My books, on the other hand, open a window in to a world where very few have ventured. They also help better explain where certain conspiracies and beliefs come from, which helps me better design my content to target the people most in need of help. That is not to say that, in the past, I have not simply made videos for entertainment purposes – making fun of those who do strange (and for the most part harmless) things to their bodies. For example, I made two videos on urine therapy, which is not really taken seriously and is, for the most part, harmless. However, other videos like my series investigating AIDS Denialism have benefited from some of the books I have purchased, helping me to get a better understanding of the people I am talking about and assisted with my attempts to discover why they believe what they believe.
As well as directly funding bullshit peddlers, many have pointed out that I am also being supported by them in the way of ads that appear next to my content online. For example, my videos investigating the industrial bleach marketed as a panacea have adverts for the precursors for the potentially deadly compounds, as well as a book promoting the quackery. Like before, I am ok with this. This is because I know that these ads do not break the terms of services, and there is nothing I can do about them. I cannot write to Google request they should be removed, nor can I contact Amazon telling them that some of the content they are selling has the potential to kill. What I can do is act as a black-hole, sucking in these ads away from videos promoting this type of crap and placing them on my content, where those who might be interested in it are exposed to an alternative viewpoint.
The last thing I would like to talk about is ads here on my website. Many of you might not know this, but I have no control over them and don’t make a penny from them. They are WordPress ads, and it would actually cost me a small fortune to remove them. In the past, this has been a bit of an embarrassment for me – for example, in my blog post critical of The Young Turks’ video on Monsanto and GMOs, I ended by joking that I was, as they accused in their video, a Monsanto shill. This blog had an advert for Monsanto directly below it.
At the end of the day, I am happy with my current monetising set up, and with my collection of pseudoscience crap. Yes, I know it’s not perfect, but overall I think I cost those who peddle bullshit a lot more than I give!