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Not every YouTube channel will rot your mind away with videos of wipe-outs and dancing cats. There is actually a part of YouTube that people go to learn.
Not only is the site filled with DIY guides and sharp commentary on current affairs, but there are actually channels that will teach you about science, history, the world — and many other topics you might have never considered.
We’ve scoured past the cat videos (no regrets) to find these gems — eight YouTube channels that will make you smarter.
1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
Kurzgesagt is one of the best educational channels on YouTube – with simple, quality narration and amazing animation used to explain complicated concepts relating to science, astronomy, and technology.
Some of the channel’s best videos include a summary of the Fermi Paradox in terms of alien life, an explanation of the European refugee crisis and an explanation of addiction.
While the channel’s name is anything but easy to pronounce, its videos take very complex topics and present them in an easily understandable and accessible way.
They prefer quality over quantity – so while their videos take a little longer between publishing dates, you can be sure you’re going to get great detail and accurate information.
Most people are familiar with TED Talks – presentations made by innovative experts on a specific topic. These talks can be found online – but TED has a variety of channels, including one named TED-Ed.
TED-Ed departs from the usual TED Talk and presentation format. Rather than watching an individual present a topic on-stage, TED-Ed used animated videos with narration from experts.
Many of the videos pose a question which is then answered, but there are also videos that explore concepts and history.
TED-Ed has some of the best variety out of the educational channels, with frequent videos (around three a week).
Videos range from “The Evolution of Animal Genitalia” and “How the popsicle was invented”, to the origin of superstitions and the science behind imagination.
The channel doesn’t limit itself much in terms of topics, choosing to discuss anything noteworthy or curious. Some frequent topics though are history, psychology, art, philosophy, science and biology.
CrashCourse is advertised as a channel to educate teens and young people, but it has value for adults too.
The channel has a quirky, down-to-earth tone – with a mix of animation, video clips and the channel’s friendly presenters. Each topic is presented in a very approachable way, with hosts mixing in a joke or two every now and then.
Most of the videos relate to technology, science and history. Where it departs from many other channels is in its coverage of mythology, where it explores different ancient religious figures and tales.
It also has videos with practical information for our daily lives, explaining social concepts, theories and morality.
These instalments are also organised into playlists that act as courses, meaning you can choose to ‘study’ a specific topic by selecting a playlist that interests you.
4. How to Adult
Many of us lament the lack of practical lessons in school that would prove useful once we reached dreaded adulthood.
Luckily there’s now a YouTube channel for that – How To Adult. You’ll recognise Hank Green (also from CrashCourse) as one of the co-hosts of the show. Rachel Calderon Navarro makes up the other half of the host team.
On the channel you’ll learn everything from self-care, how to make proper coffee, what you need to do your taxes and how to change a flat tyre.
The channel took a hiatus ten months ago, but returned earlier this year with new videos and the new set of hosts.
While Vox covers a variety of topics, its common thread seems to be current affairs. This includes politics, with the channel posting occasional thought pieces on the US government.
However it also focuses on topics like nuclear power, the environment and history.
It’s the kind of channel that will give you a grasp on what’s currently happening around the world, as well as the occasional humorous or simple information piece.
Since the channel leans toward the left on the political spectrum, it might not win the approval of Trump supporters. However it offers plenty facts and insight on a variety of issues.
6. Mental Floss
If you’re not looking to explore a specific topic, but rather bolster up your trivia and general knowledge – Mental Floss is the channel to visit.
The show is hosted by John Green, who bears a striking resemblance to his brother and How To Adult host Hank Green.
It’s difficult to pin down recurring topics on the show, because its focus seems to be to teach you all the facts you could ever want to know.
If you’re a person who likes to baffle friends with little-known facts, you’re likely to enjoy this channel.
This channel not only looks at general topics around science and space, but also covers some of the more unusual stories in these fields (such as scientists trying to create bionic sperm).
Rather than just looking at established questions and mysteries in the world, it seeks to answer questions that arise from new discoveries.
It also covers quite a bit of health and psychology – but with focus on established science rather than fad health trends.
So if you want to hear about why head transplants are a bad idea and the requirements to become a NASA astronaut, you should subscribe to this channel.
8. SciShow (and it’s various versions)
SciShow doesn’t focus so much on the really ‘out there’ science that Seeker covers, but rather looks to answer science questions that the average Joe doesn’t know the answer to.
This doesn’t mean their videos cover the kind of science you learn in school, like how babies are made. Rather, it answers those questions we sometimes wonder about but never seem to know the answer to.
Some recent videos include “Why Can’t My Cat Roar?”, “6 of the Coolest New Species Discovered in the Last Year”, and “What Happens If A Plane Gets Struck By Lightning?”.
SciShow has also branched out into other channels which focus on more specific spheres within science. Some of the variations include SciShow Space, SciShow Psych and even SciShow Kids.