Sunday 12 May 2024

Milo Rossi: You Tube Pseudoscience Commentator "Miniminuteman" [UPDATED]

The popular You Tube personality "Miniminuteman" (Boston, Massachusetts-based Milo Rossi) came to my attention through the recent discussion on Graham Hancock's controversial (in more ways than one) Netflix series "Ancient Apolcalypse". In point of fact, he came to my attention from Hancock's ungraceful reaction to having his theories discussed in this way (see the post below). Rossi has produced 181 You Tube videos (totalling 465,772,185 views), has 1.85M subscribers and seems to be doing very well for himself. He describes himself as "Archaeologist, Environmental Scientist, Author, Conspiracy Debunker". He started his activities on TikTok, where he has six million followers. 

 He does a lot of stuff, most of it concentrates on debunking pseudoscience and misinformation. What interests us here is the series of "Awful archaeology" videos that he's been doing since 21 Dec 2021. Mr Hancock and his acolytes may have been annoyed by the three videos "I Watched Ancient Apocalypse So You Don't Have To" (Part 1), (part 2), and (part 3) which have some 4mln+ views despite their length. I've watched them and think they are very good examples of the genre and show what we, archaeologists, should be providing more of. 
 For the record, in my opinion, Milo Rossi does an excellent job presenting the difference between reasoned, evidence-based, argument and pseudoscience. To be totally honest, as somebody from a somewhat different generation and background, at the beginning I was rather put off by his long hair, the biker image, the swearing, and loud in-your-face American brashness [rather too reminiscent to me of a North American guy I once had the misfortunee to share a flat with], but... as I watched the videos and was drawn into the narrative (and his online 'persona'), these prejudices of mine became easier to overlook. 

Rossi is articulate, has some good arguments, does not suffer fools and grifters lightly, but above all he is genuinely funny and entertaining. Rossi can also sometimes surprise with a totally fresh and sober take on some of the tired old tropes marshalled as their "proof" by pseudoscientists. He provides links to where the viewer can check what he said or find further information. His videos are presented to look very low-key and 'home-made' and personal, done on a shoestring, and sometimes look like chaos ... but he actually seems to spend a very long time preparing for them, they are carefully scripted, and overall strike a really good balance between providing information/ asking pertinent questions and sheer entertainment. They are IMO eminently watchable. He can produce a two-hour video on some abstruse points and get an audience to settle down and watch it and not get bored. That is a gift. Oh, and he has a big ginger cat who sometimes makes an appearance.

Take a look and decide for yourself. This one somebody sent me a link to is a good sampler of the presentation style (though less visually attractive than others, and cat not present).*  Maybe not to everyone's taste, but he obviously is reaching a wide audience who do want the information presented in this way and benefitting from what he presents. 

Nota bene, there are a lot of producers of similar content of various quality, but it is worth drawing attention to the fact that this kind of popular-science debunking of pseudo/para-science is largely a US genre, British archaeologists, for example, don't do this nearly so often. To be honest, I cannot imagine a single Polish archaeologist I know (and I know quite a lot of them) who would even attempt something like this - or be able to carry it off.  There are not a lot of them in social media in general. 

* one segment of this makes reference to the way that pseudoarchaeology is used to attract readers to Russian misinformation dissemination sites showing that this kind of clickbait has a more sinistewr role than just confusing people about the past. 

UPDATE 13.05.2024
THIS I think is well worth a watch right through to the end: Pseudoarchaeology and the Pseudoscience Pipeline - Milo Rossi LIVE at Virginia Tech


Wes Copas said...

I am either a very young "boomer," or a very old "gen x'er;" being born in 1964, I am a transitional generation (I guess...) My point, though, is that I am of a decidedly older generation than Milo Rossi, and I teach college level introductory archaeology courses.

One of the themes I keep coming back to - probably too much for some of my students - is pseudo- (it isn't just pseudo archaeology; there's -science, -history, and -whoknowswhatelse involved too, so I just call it all "pseudo.") Pseudo has been weaponized once again and is being actively used to subvert trust in science, history, and literature in Western-based societies all around the world. It is vitally important that a critically thinking public be able to detect, resist, and debunk - for themselves and for their friends and family - the dreck that we are bombarded with.

Milo, and people like him, show these young students of mine that it is, or at least it can be, *cool* to do that. I introduce my students to his work, and encourage them to go down the rabbit hole, and let me know what they think... Not one of my students who has gotten back to me has been turned off, or even bored by his videos. The *like him*.... THAT is what Milo brings to the table: smart, evidence-based, clever presentation of information in terms that today's young audiences can relate to. These new generation YouTube presenters are our best counter to Hancock and the Troll-hair Dude.

Alejandro Goldschmidt said...

Beautifully written and accuratuvely described.

You will be glad to know that there is a fourth episode on the "I Watched Ancient Apocalypse So You Don't Have To" series ( )

Alejandro Goldschmidt said...

*accurately, sorry.

Synonymous Pseudonym said...

Hello. Just wanted to add a personal anecdote as to the potential impact that his work can have. I went down a rabbit hole the beginning of which I don't even honestly remember that led me here and I'm very glad it did. I've watched quite a bit of his work, especially recently. I only first stumbled across it first of the year, but have borderline binged more than I'd care to admit. I would be what marketing research would call a geriatric millennial probably depending on what it is they're selling and studied archeology and physical anthropology in college, did not finish due to what was supposed to be a sort break when I became a parent 16 years ago, so that probably makes me more inclined towards this sort of thing but people with little interest previously that I've mentioned or shown it to have almost all enjoyed it more than I would have expected. I really think that this post nails it as far as the potential potential it has as an avenue to combat misinformation.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.