The Veritasium Youtube clickbait monster: The Big Misconception About Electricity

Veritasium is a big and successful channel on Youtube, everyone with some interest in science knows it. And recently, this channel has published this:

This is the video title image as shown in my watch history:

Below is a link on a small playlist containing the link above as well as two responses to the scenario from EEVblog and Spin Up Science with Dr Ben Miles:

There’s a lot of discussion around this video, it has attracted about 7 million (!) people at the time of this writing, which is enormous for a topic like this (at least that’s my opinion), but the question is:

Has Veritasium done anything good to the education of people around the world with respect to the understanding of electrical phenomena?

I would conclude that he has sown more confusion than anything else. And this first and foremost in order to generate clicks and views. That’s his job, okay, but does this justify the methods he uses?

No, I don’t think so! Why? I concentrate on three reasons:

1) The title suggests that there is some kind of error in the whole electricity universe, and that he has come as the savior to free us from the evil thinking.

2) In the video he talks about lies we all have been told in school or even in university. That’s really a mere bullshit, because the lie he’s talking about is nothing but a model. With the same right I could say that Bohr’s model of the atom is a lie. No, it is not, it is a simplified view on reality. All these simplified views and models are perfectly fine as long as I know about their limitations. That’s all.

3) The initial idea of the circuit with this car battery would never work, regardless of underlying assumptions like wires without resistance, there is this omission of the unit m for meter in solution D) just to misguide people, there is the missing discrimination between AC and DC, power circuits and transmission lines, to say the least.


The Veritasium video shouldn’t have been published at all! Its purpose is to generate clicks for the channel and thus an income for the team. It’s perfectly fine to make a living by producing Youtube stuff, but to pretend to deliver scientifically or at least educationally valuable ideas when in reality we are offered an undifferentiated pseudo-scientific mixture of concepts, is not what the world needs. But unfortunately, that’s the way Youtube works in general.


All this stuff about Maxwell’s equations and the Poynting vector is obviously correct if you take it apart from the rest. But the video as a whole isn’t. Watch Dave’s video for details, although it’s a bit redundant, but that’s the way Dave is. He doesn’t find the proper ending at the right point in time. If you don’t have the time, Dr Ben Miles does it the short way.


Veritasium works all the time the way I have described above. One of the latest videos on this channel was Math Has a Fatal Flaw. It is clear from the moment you read this title, that the contents of this video refers to Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem. 14 million viewers so far! But the trouble begins already with this title: the so-called flaw cannot have been fatal to math, otherwise Gödel could not have been able to create his theorem with exactly the help of mathematics. So, what’s the use or the purpose of such videos? Wasting time, I’d say.

A Website.