Ventilation Science & Masks – a comparison of 2 videos

The ‘masks exposed’ video was sent to us on our social media feed recently and we thought rather than a debunk, it would be more enlightening to compare it to a video that has been fully fact checked and referenced.

So here are the 2 videos, its clear Physics Girl looks at evidence and consults with experts in a fact and reference based conversation. I cannot say the same of the other video.

Below, Physics Girl – 38 People on this Flight Got Sick. Why? – The Science of Ventilation. This video is a researched and referenced film explaining how ventilation works on an aeroplane and how ventilation has spread a virus on a plane before. Physics Girl is a YouTube channel created in 2011 with (in Aug 2020) 1.67M subscribers and 150+ videos showing and explaining physics.

Physics Girl

Below, Stand Up Michigan – Masks Exposed and the Health Risks Involved with Tammy Clark and Kristen Meghan. This is a video discussing ventilation amongst other things, while gradually making increasingly hostile references to a democratic senator [who was to speak the next day]. Our ‘friend’ sent us the full uncut 2hr video, but they have since released a shortened version. Stand Up Michigan is a YouTube channel created in April 2020 with 22k subscribers with 90+ videos. They self describe as ‘a relational grassroots movement, our vision is to reclaim and defend the rights and liberties of We The People of Michigan. Our Mission is to equip and empower We The People to stand up for sacred values, citizen rights and constitutional freedoms.‘ So not exactly a group of unbiased science experts.

Stand Up Michigan

The first video made by Physics Girl is fully referenced and explains how ventilation works on a plane. The second video is not in the same league for evidence. And here is why…

  1. Credentials as an ‘appeal to authority‘ – Physics Girl doesn’t need to list her credentials, she is presenting science either as an experiment you can do yourself or as part of a theory that she will discuss and that you can look up in a textbook (yes, we are older parents who read books), or research for yourself using her references. Her approach is ‘here is this awesome thing and here is how physics explains it, and you can test it yourself or read more about it’. In contrast, Stand Up Michigan present Tammy and Kristian as ‘experts in the field’ who will tell you their opinion, just follow their words.
  2. Referenced Evidence – Physics Girl presents facts and then shows where she got those facts. If we click ‘show more’ beneath her video in YouTube she credits other people who helped make the film, lists resources and then provides a full list of references for her film, that we can read and evaluate for ourselves. In contrast, Tammy & Kristen do not provide this information.

YouTube and Wikipedia are fantastic resources for information where we can confirm for ourselves in multiple other ways that what is being said is true. I can read books, find more pages corroborating the evidence, I can evaluate the papers referred to myself. When we see people pronouncing long lists of credentials on YouTube, we always ask what is the purpose of it? And if that is followed by ‘I am an expert, I have no evidence but you must just believe me‘, then we recognise the ‘appeal to authority’ and attempt to verify that authority. If you are interested, search for other videos mentioning the speakers, and examine the quality of those conspiracy theories.

The internet is a free-for-all, while some regulations exist, the content is largely moderated by the platform, YouTube in this case. It’s often not in their interest to restrict information that is blatantly political and biased, purporting to be science. YouTube is funded by the adverts you and others watch on the platform, so the more stuff you watch, independent of quality and accuracy, the more money they make.

So that’s where you and I have to step in and check the speaker’s reputation and by going to fact checking sites to discover their bias and reliability based on their fact checked history. We can use the telltale signs like appeal to authority and a lack of supporting evidence to let us know that the video might not be quite what it seems.

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