|Someone is wrong on|
Thunderf00t (real name Phil Mason) is a YouTube vlogger, well-known for his Why Do People Laugh At Creationists? series and his various exchanges with other vloggers. He has also made many purely scientific videos on topics such as potassium exploding in water as well as his biochemistry series called "Some Amazing Facts About Life."
Since 2012, Mason has received significant negative press due to his outspoken attitude towards Islam and Muslims (joining the ranks of those who oppose Park51), his public falling out with Freethought Blogs over his behaviour there (see below for the gory details), and his newfound fondness for inept criticisms of feminism.
 On the Youtubez
 "Why Do People Laugh At Creationists?"
Mason's longest running series of 39 videos have, between them, garnered several million views. Each episode usually takes one creationist talking point and refutes it. These videos are released "copyright free for educational purposes."
A vlogger named VenomFangX, has a long-running feud with Mason. VenomFangX appeared several times in the Why Do People Laugh At Creationists? series. One of his videos proclaims that a global flood could have caused the Grand Canyon to form "in about five minutes"; Mason refuted this, demonstrating that the granite around the area would have to be more soluble than caster (superfine) sugar, and pointed out that the water would have to travel at five times the speed of sound in order to travel the length of the Grand Canyon in five minutes.
Mason has also repeatedly called out VenomFangX regarding his misuse of donations.
The feud had two major peaks after VenomFangX made false DMCA claims against videos by his detractors, causing them to be removed by YouTube. Because the allegations against the videos and their creators were false, the videos were quickly mirrored and replaced, leaving VenomFangX open to prosecution. The first incident happened in October 2008 when VenomFangX was forced to apologise for the false claims made against Mason. In late 2009, similar claims were made against a YouTube user named dprjones, who, given VenomFangX's previous record, would not accept a simple apology. The incident climaxed with dprjones, Mason, and a few others intervening with VenomFangX and his parents to get him psychological help. A line was drawn under the incident in January 2010, and VenomFangX was not heard from again until December 2010, when he announced his return to YouTube. He has since been uploading new videos in rapid succession.
Mason's spat with a vlogger named HowTheWorldWorks is his second most prominent YouTube-based argument. It was mostly a boring affair, but it did result in Mason calling out HowTheWorldWorks for being deceitful about the identity and number of his subscribers, most of whom appeared to be sock puppets.
 Ray Comfort
Mason branched out from bashing creationism to discussing religion, atheism, philosophy and politics. In early 2009, he challenged creationist and evangelist Ray Comfort to a discussion. The invitation was prompted by Comfort's stated desire to challenge prominent atheists, begging the question of Mason's "prominence" (though his webpage has more subscribers than Comfort's Way of the Master channel).Mason invited Comfort privately via email asking for a civil discourse on their views; after the e-mail bounced back, he then extended an invitation on Comfort's blog. Comfort declined, but eventually accepted, on the condition that Mason pay $100,000 to Richard Dawkins. HThis condition was eventually dropped, and the
fight discussion was on.
Most viewers thought they'd see a debate where Comfort was systematically destroyed, but were disappointed as Mason remained calm and reasoned. He did unsettle Comfort by asking him to defend his argument that morality is rooted in the Bible against the hypothetical possibility that the Bible could have advocated pedophilia.
In July 2011, he came back for seconds. Mason did better in this debate, arguing against Comfort's willingness to leap to eternal moral conclusions. 
 Richard Dawkins
Towards the end of 2009, Mason managed to get an interview/discussion with Richard Dawkins. Their conversation included a discussion of evolutionary and memetic explanations for the origin of religion. Towards the end of the series, discussed his rationale for criticizing creationism. 
 Westboro Baptist Church
On July 10, 2011, Mason posted an interview with two members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, "Megan" and "Margie." While Mason tried patiently to talk and reason with the WBC members, they talked over him and often insulted him, calling him "silly," "donkey's ass," "little girl," "little boy," "pervert," and other name). The interview began with a discussion of the Iraq War and the WBC's best-known claim, that God kills American and British soldiers because of the "sinful" policies of both countries.
 Of Muslims and South Park
Following the censorship of South Park for depicting the prophet Muhammad, Mason made several videos critical of Islam. His initial video, since widely mirrored, was pulled down by a DMCA claim by Viacom, for its brief use of a South Park image to demonstrate the point.
 Dawah's Doc-Drop
After a vlogger named DawahFilms, a rival of Mason's, revealed Mason's identity and that of a member of his family, Mason made a video (featuring HealthyAddict and PZ Myers) publicly revealing his name and lambasting DawahFilms for making their feud cross over into real life. (although the Bay Area Skeptics had actually let his name slip in July).
 Eric Hovind OFFICIALLY accepts that atheism is true and accurate
 At Freethought Blogs
When Mason joined FtB, a month-long controversy about sexual harassment, harassment policies, and other feminist issues had been raging in the skepticism/atheism blogosphere. The issue seemed to be dying down... until Mason decided to jump in. His posts, together with the comment threads, have been preserved by the Wayback Machine:
- Who the hell is thunderf00t? (introduction post), 21 June
- MISOGYNIST!!!, 25 June
- FFS PZ Myers, enough with the strawmen!, 26 June
- FFS PZ MYERS, PLEASE – LEARN – TO – READ, 27 June
- Is it ‘Freethoughtblogs’ or ‘Group-think-blogs’?, 29 June
- SkepchickCON and the Harassment LOL-icy, 1 July
After the obligatory introductory post, his first substantial post was a bombastic comment about sexual harassment at atheist and skeptic conferences (the MYSOGYNIST!!! post). Mason's point seemed to be that the problem was overstated, and that harassment policies at conferences prevented "consensual fun". Several commenters pointed out factual errors in the entry, none of which were acknowledged. PZ Myers disagreed with him publicly and at length.
Mason responded to Myers with a video in which he urged the skeptical community to concentrate their efforts into important issues, and to avoid trivialities such as sexual harassment at conferences. He spent the rest of the video and the rest of his FtB career discussing this "trivial" topic; all of his posts on FTB except for his introductory video were focused on the idea that sexual harassment wasn't such a big deal.
After the first exchange of posts, Mason went into CAPSLOCK MODE in order to prove how correct he was. He polled his vlog's subscribers as to whether he was right or not was a good way to do that; perhaps unsurprisingly, they agreed with him. Several other FtB bloggers expressed skepticism at his methodology and his views on sexual harassment policies. This is certainly evidence of the evil "hive mind."
Finally, he decided to actually read a real harassment policy, written by real conference organizers. Coming so late in the day, this was an implicit admission that he didn't know what he was talking about in the earlier posts. Extensive criticism in the comments - including by people who had actually written the policy - indicated that he didn't care about the issues involved.
By this time, his blog had attracted a number of MRA and/or anti-FTB commenters, who had trolled everybody else at FTB. Mason did nothing to address this. Although such a commitment to "free speech" is admirable, most people regard YouTube comments as being one of the lower points of human achievement, and not as a template to be reused anywhere else at all. Mason's interaction in his own comments was limited to one reply per post, at maximum, with no further engagement.
 Thrown out...
Ed Brayton, curator of FtB, defused the toxic atmosphere by kicking Mason off the network with this explanation: "This is not a matter of a disagreement or difference of opinion, but of behavior that we cannot condone or support." From then on, things began to get increasingly he-said-she-said as the exchanges metastasized across the blogosphere. At his removal from Freethought Blogs, the link to Mason's blog was removed from the front page, but the blog remained accessible (though "frozen") at its previous URL, leading to the accusation that FtB was profiting from Mason's blog traffic. Possibly because of this, some time later the blog was removed and attempts to access it now result in an error message.
PZ Myers released a YouTube video outlining the decision to boot Mason, arguing that Mason appeared to have only joined FTB to troll it. Mason also made a video on the affair in short order and started discussing the issue on his Wordpress blog.
 ...and burned his bridges
“”Yes, we want to make Thunderf00t/Phil Mason a pariah in the atheist movement, and for good reason: he’s a dishonest scumbag. The nice thing for us is that he’s making it easy.
|—PZ Myers, following revelations that Thunderf00t had been abusing Freethought Blog's private email list.|
It eventually came to light that after being removed from the network, Mason had re-subscribed to the backchannel mailing list and released e-mails posted after his firing. Jason Thibeault explained how TF did it, which is either hacking or just exploiting a ridiculous loophole, depending on who you ask.
 Ongoing crusade against feminism
Rather than move on gracefully, Mason has continued to make ill-informed comments on feminism within the skeptic community, to air his grudges, and to display the same immature attitude to criticism, churning out of a series of bitter and increasingly unhinged videos attacking feminists within the atheist community, typically full of strawman stereotypes and anally literal misinterpretations of their comments.
At the end of 2012, he posted a video entitled "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism." This was followed a few days later by a follow-up video, which responded to one vlogger's reply.  In both videos, Mason attacked feminists (namely Rebecca Watson, Amy Roth, PZ Myers, and the unnamed vlogger he was responding to) who had raised issues over conduct at skeptic conventions and had instigated or supported anti-harassment policies. The videos are heavy on strawmen; they misrepresent feminists' arguments to an extent that is either grossly naive or wilfully disingenuous, and propagate stereotypes of feminists as frigid, joyless "professional victims". To underline this point, the second video contrasts footage of Watson and others talking seriously about their concerns, with a montage of party photos showing Mason and his pals larking around in silly costumes, drinking and hugging. Victory!
In March 2013, he released a video creatively entitled "Feminism versus FACTS", focusing on Anita Sarkeesian's "Women vs Tropes in Video Games" series. This was followed by a second and third "Feminism versus FACTS" video, and then by a third "'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism" video. Then, as if perhaps he thought his audience hadn't got the message yet, he put out a video is November 2013 entitled "Why 'feminism' poisons EVERYTHING", yet another cranky tirade against the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and Rebecca Watson.
 Criticism of Anita Sarkeesian
Below is an anlysis of Mason's first "Feminism vs. FACTS" video, which challenged Anita Sarkeesian's first "Women vs. Tropes in Video Games" video, exploring the damsel in distress trope in video games from its history to its modern use:
|Mason's points||How they hold up to scrutiny|
|Women aren't portrayed as weak that often.||Thankfully, due to a higher focus on gender equality, we are indeed seeing stronger women characters appear more frequently in some media. In video games, though, there is still a severe lack of strong female characters. They are also still portrayed as the weak character often enough that Sarkeesian's point holds. Just because you have Samus gunning down Space Pirates doesn't mean that there aren't systematic issues.|
|Games are made to cash in on their target audience and please the consumer, not equally represent men and women to please society at large. Since the majority of the audience is male, it stands to reason the plots should center around males.||This is a rather narrow-minded understanding of the video gaming market, which counts a healthy number of women. And really should any medium be exempt from major societal issues? (This is the equivalent of saying "most gamers are white, so we shouldn't address racism.")|
|Games are often shallow to the point where a simple plot like the "damsel in distress" is the easiest and therefore best option from an economic standpoint.||In Thunderf00t's eyes, stupidity makes money, so that's a good thing. The use of simple tropes like saving a "damsel in distress" might also arguably be less problematic in genres which, by design, generally emphasize fun and challenge over complex stories and nuanced characterizations. But, in general, the modern gaming industry is capable of producing games with depth and originality. Over-reliance on the "damsel in distress" smacks of laziness and creative stagnation, which can be detrimental in an industry that often thrives on innovation.|
|In the "damsel in distress" trope, the man loves her, so that's why he goes through self-sacrifice, not because she is an objective reward.||While some sophisticated games do emphasize love as a motive, the shallower ones have the woman blatantly portrayed as barely more than a passive, inanimate object; as a player it is hard to care for a figure with no real characterization. It's become such a problem with films using the trope that Hollywood nearly faints every time the damsel has an actual personality.|
|Mason poses this question in reference to the plot of the 1987 beat-'em-up game Double Dragon: "Which of the following options defines the healthier relationship: that he immediately sets out, risking his own safety, to try to protect his loved ones, or that he decides, 'She's a grown adult and can look after herself,' and then goes home to polish his car?"||This is a false dichotomy. Mason's argument here hinges on the assumption that the only possible responses to such a situation are to be a vigilante or an apathetic jerk who does absolutely nothing as thugs kidnap a loved one. In reality, the "healthy" response would be to call the police, who have the resources and training (and moreover the legal authority) to deal with violent criminals. But of course video games are fiction. Video games allow players to enjoy doing things they can't in reality, like pounding the crap out of bad guys.|
|"By your feminist reasoning here, hospitals — you know, the places where patients come to be acted on — are actually objectification centers where people are turned into merely objects to be acted on […]"||Mason's argument is an example of reductio ad absurdum. Sarkeesian's video criticizes the use of the damsel in distress trope in fiction. At no point does she suggest there's anything wrong with acting to save women (or anyone, for that matter) in distress in real life.|
|Sometimes the men in the trope are turned into characterless objects too, so there's no apparent gender inequality.||While a game being shallow to the point of characters having no depth is fine, (gameplay often takes priority), the nature of the trope creates an imbalance in active roles where women tend to be more passive (replaceable by glowy objects like lamps). As for the argument that both women and men face the same problem of unreachable body ideals presented in video games... When you've got women with big, bouncing boobs and men with chiseled abs and hard pecs, you've got to ask yourself: Which one is more flattering and empowering? Who are they trying to appeal to, mainly?|
|Men are statistically physically stronger than women, thus it is only natural to have this trope.||Yes, there are certain realities of present-day sex differences in humans. One should note, however, that as in the real world, physical strength in video games is but one factor in one's stature in society and combat (you still have other stats like cunning, agility, intelligence, etc.) and no factor at all when it comes to guns. More importantly, none of that even matters, because unlike the real world, video games are an artful medium, mostly free from the physical restrictions of reality. Mason is also engaging in equivocation here, since in her video Sarkeesian doesn't question the existence of physical strength differences, but rather takes issue with the portrayal of women as "frail, fragile, and vulnerable creatures."|
|Sarkeesian has disabled comments on her videos. This is something done by people who "peddle bullshit that can't stand up to public scrutiny."||Sarkeesian was subjected to death threats, rape threats, and vicious misogynistic and anti-Semitic insults because of her video. This is not a legitimate form of "public scrutiny" or criticism that someone should be willing to take for expressing an opinion.|
 Further criticism
Mason is often criticised for overstepping boundaries. Some comments below his videos suggest he should stay out of politics - he ventured into a lot of Sarah Palin bashing during the 2008 US election - and stick with criticizing creationism. Sometimes the Thunderf00t channel gets a bit... "preachy" ... with respect to the beauty and wonder of the universe and how technology is fan-fucking-tastic-at-everything. Although there's nothing wrong with this exactly, it can get a bit much.
His videos in May 2010 that criticized Islam alluded to a "sleeping giant" - clearly a reference to Isoroku Yamamoto. Some have interpreted this as condoning genocide of Muslims, particularly Dawahfilms, who was responsible for making alleged "death threat" against Mason. Dawahfilms later apologized for letting his temper get the better of him, and also asked that Mason make a clarification video condemning genocide, and later challenged Mason to another debate. Mason responded to it by saying Dawahfilms needs therapy.
Mason did a six-hour stint on BlogTV answering critics following the Dawah episode, with what was claimed to be 1000 people in attendance - including "shredderisalive" and "Coughlan616," both critics of Mason's. The attackes on Coughlan616 that followed this reached levels of hot-headed, tl;dw drama that even Encyclopaedia Dramatica might have had trouble keeping up with.
PEARL is Mason's personal re-branding of atheism. Not impressed with how "atheist" concentrates on the negative aspects, "PEARL" stands for Physical Evidence And Reasoned Logic, which are positive aspects of his personal belief. Essentially, PEARL is synonymous with strong empiricism, indicating that a PEARList doesn't believe in things that can't be observed and tested. It hasn't really caught on outside of a few Thunderf00t fan-circles and his own videos, although it does frequently get brought up on websites and forums discussing atheism or rationalism.
 See also
- Thunderf00t's YouTube channel
- Thunderf00t on Twitter
- thunderf00t.com - was a scam (and a rather cheeky one) and not associated with Thunderf00t at all. Thunderf00t originally took the site with good humour as a fansite, but after at least three attempts at the site begging for donations, he threatened the site's owner (who was stupid enough to send an email with all his relevant contact details) with action and the site disappeared quickly.
- ↑ The video where he reveals his identity
- ↑ ...Only Creationists Don't Know Why
- ↑ Invitation to Ray Comfort
- ↑ Thunderf00t - Ray Comfort Discussion, Round 2! (1 of 2)
- ↑ The Richard Dawkins/Thunderf00t discussion (part 1)
- ↑ Richard Dawkins and Thunderf00t (improved audio)
- ↑ Thunderf00t. "My Real Name is..." YouTube. 2011 October 8.
- ↑ "You are invited to Skeptics in the Pub where you will have the opportunity to chat with Phil Mason, aka Thunderf00t" — Bay Area Skepticsimg. July 2011.
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9BfsHsVGNg
- ↑ There is a handy, but incomplete, timeline.
- ↑ PZ Myers, "Misogynists can think women are tasty, while not recognizing that they are human beings", Pharyngula, June 25 2012.
- ↑ MISOGYNIST!!!, YOUTUBE!!!
- ↑ Some Perspective on Thunderf00t versus Freethoughtblogs, idebunkforme
- ↑ Gotta disagree with you here, thunderf00t, Zinnia Jones
- ↑ Greta Christina's series: So Much Wrong: thunderf00t and Sexual Harassment, parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- ↑ Unfortunately, he picked a conference that was part of a bigger conference; the example was therefore unrepresentative of sexual harassment policies in general.
- ↑ Major Changes at Freethought Blogs, Dispatches from the Culture Wars
- ↑ http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/07/10/episode-cccxlvii-the-saga-of-thunderf00t/
- ↑ PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty, Thunderf00t
- ↑ Thunderf00t.wordpress - FTB and the conspiracy to defraud/ Drawing a line under this pointless crap
- ↑ PZ Myers - Thunderf00t/Phil Mason, treacherous hack
- ↑ http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/08/10/thunderfoots-unethical-obsession/
- ↑ http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/08/10/what-thunderf00t-did-and-how
- ↑ "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism"
- ↑ "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism (Part 2)"
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Feminism versus FACTS (RE Damsel in distress)
- ↑ Feminism versus FACTS (Part 2), Feminism versus FACTS (Part 3)
- ↑ Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism (Part 3)
- ↑ Why 'feminism' poisons EVERYTHING
- ↑ Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
- ↑ Not that the games industry is making it easy for game devs...
- ↑ http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf
- ↑ See reviews for Tangled.
- ↑ The answer is: Men.
- ↑ Dawahfilms - I'm Calling You Out, Thunderf00t (Debate)
- ↑ Coughlan616 and other critics
- ↑ "Why I Am Unsubscribing": Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3.
- ↑ Tolerance and the Ground Zero Mosque: A Reply to Thunderf00t, D. Landon Cole
- ↑ Thunderf00t and Criticizing Islam, Anekantevad
- ↑ Islam vs. Science - A Response to Thunderf00t, Skeptical Engineer
- ↑ Thunderf00t - The Problem With Religion
- ↑ Thunderf00t.com IS A SCAM (IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD, EVERYONE.)