note: would prefer having the videos linked directly in the page body itself rather than as references at the bottom of the page - keeps the reference list from being all clogged up. am interested in hearing what others have to say, though. Scuter (talk) 03:16, 24 January 2021 (UTC)
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“”Prager University is not an accredited academic institution and does not offer certifications or diplomas.
| —Their own website[note 1]
PragerU (or Prager University) is a non-profit organization and Youtube channel, founded by radio talk show host and professional wingnut Dennis Prager with his business partner Allen Estrin in 2009. The organization is an "education" outlet meant to be a "growing alternative to the moral and intellectual wasteland known as the Western university", which instead promotes a hard-right worldview usually within the bounds of neoconservatism and social conservatism. PragerU is mostly known for its 5 minute videos, which each feature a popular conservative speaker, journalist, author, and so on. Their videos host a wide range of conservative people, from former Canadian PM Stephen Harper to conspiratorial wingnut Owen Benjamin.[note 2]
PragerU has gotten a large amount of funding from fracking billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks,[note 3] alongside a host of other conservative advocacy groups. DeSmog Blog has covered this funding in-depth.
The organization was originally created by Dennis Prager and Allen Estrin in 2009. Its aim was to promote the Neocon belief to the American people, through its website and Youtube.
It was created in response to what Dennis Prager described as a Left-wing bias in schools where Left-wing rhetoric would get promoted. This is an old boogeyman, and yet, it managed to enable the non-profit to strive.
Views and videos
PragerU's content tends to align with the personal beliefs of Dennis Prager, which includes among other things:
- The left is on a quest to abolish religion in the west and convert these societies to secular places.
- The left is trying to promote
degeneracy feminism, the radical gay agenda, and transgenderism, which will destroy society as we know it.
- Free-market capitalism is the best economic system ever and socialism will basically destroy society.
- Global warming is basically a myth. And even if it isn't a myth, it's not as bad as people say it is. But if that's not true, the environmentalist movement is too powerful anyway. And even if they aren't too powerful, they have bad solutions anyway. And regardless of any of that, conservatives are the REAL pro-environment people, because they push for fossil fuel usage. They basically just inhabit multiple steps of the denialist staircase at the same time.
- Black people have it great in America and face basically no racial discrimination nowadays - and anyone who says otherwise is actually perpetuating racism and hurting black people.
God and morality
|PragerU Video||RationalWiki response|
|In the video Why God Is a He, Dennis Prager argues that God is depicted as masculine because most of the world's violence and wars are committed by men, and that a male role model is necessary to help civilize men and reduce male-driven crime.||Ironically, the most masculine depictions of God frequently come around in more oppressive, traditionalist, and violent societies. The image of a masculine God has historically been used to divide people and to justify violence against enemies. In the Bible, God also killed and ordered the killings of many people (mostly in the Old Testament). This is covered in better depth in this response video.|
|In The Best Book to Read to Your Kids, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders Johnnie Moore talks about the book that “conveys [to the children] the values of love, compassion, hard work, justice, and virtue, and has the added benefit of endurance throughout history” and is a “longtime bestseller.” If you didn’t already spot it from a mile away, it’s the Bible! He says that for every morally good thing, there's a Bible story about it. He then says that we should push Biblical literacy back into society (with special emphasis on kids) to the point at which everyone knows from memory some of the Bible's text.||The bible is too boring for most kids.[citation NOT needed] Additionally, there's not only violence in the bible which is inappropriate for kids, but there is also lessons in the bible that should not be learned (Biblical sexism, an example of great lessons taught by the bible). Ironically, despite the fact that the bible should be inappropriate since Christians are very preachy about violence on television, according to Dennis Prager it is fine for kids to read, including the violence and the bigotry that came straight from an ancient civilization. RationalWiki recommends reading science books for kids|
|In Are Humans More Valuable Than Animals?, Dennis Prager ponders the question about relativism and whether humans are more important than animals and plants. He says that humans are infinitely valuable under the Judeo-Christian belief since they were made in the image of god, but not so much under the Atheist belief since humans are made of Carbon.||Firstly, the video misconstrues secularism and that is not worth answering, besides pointing out the fact that yes Atheists do value people even if people are made of Carbon. Prager forgets homosapiens can be vile, so there is nothing particularly sacred about humans, besides our expanding knowledge that no other lifeform on earth is blessed by which make us extremely valuable. With that said, most of the information in the video is very misguided, trees are only valuable because without trees we would all die and animals are important, so we have food. Additionally, Judeo-Christianism put god on a high pedestal while humanists put mankind on a pedestal, so not only Dennis Prager has an erroneous view of Secularism, but Atheists value humans meanwhile religious people value their god.|
|In The Ten Commandments: What You Should Know, this video covers the importance of the ten commandments in the bible.||To put it simply, people are responsible enough to understand what is morally reprehensible and what is not. Moreover, the ten commandments are missing several morally reprehensible actions and concepts such as slavery, lying, cheating (In the setting of a game, not adultery), scamming, and other concepts mentioned in the bible that never make it into the actual list of commandments such as having sex before marriage. Therefore, the list of the ten commandments is incomplete and that makes it not nearly as important as Prager is claiming it to be, especially since Atheists have for a long time figured everything else that is morally wrong.|
|sample text||sample response|
|PragerU video||RationalWiki response|
|In Does God Exist? 4 New Arguments, baseball player and radio host Frank Pastore talks about how he used to be atheist until he started learning about theist arguments and became a born-again Christian. He goes on to present 4 big bangs which he says atheists haven't accounted for that can be best explained by a Creator (God). These big bangs are:
- Cosmological, or how the universe came into existence in the first place. Fortunately, Pastore doesn't talk about the unmoved mover and instead basically accepts the big bang as the best explanation for the universe's creation.
- Biological, or how life began to exist. Regarding this, he basically says that scientists still have basically no clue for how life would have began to exist. He says that "the closer we look, the wider the chasm" regarding our certainty on life's origin.
- Anthropological, or how such a broad variety of life came into existence. He says that we still don't have an explanation for why bacteria, dogs, and humans all exist at the same time, how a single starting point for life can lead to so many different life forms. He acknowledges that evolution is a possibility, but says that Charles Darwin wasn't able to answer the central question of how evolution began.
- Psychological, or how a mechanical brain can develop into an introspective mind, have free will, appreciate art and beauty, etc.
|Aside from the fact that each argument is basically just the "God of the gaps" argument 4 times over, there's more to talk about.
Potholer54 made a short response in video format which gives the Psychological point more attention. Youtuber TMM also made a response video, though shorter and snarkier.
- Cosmological. It seems like Pastore accepts the big bang theory for the beginning of the universe, but in case you're personally not convinced, there's a decent body of evidence supporting the fact that the big bang happened.
- Biological. Scientists do have several explanations for how life began, some of which have evidence backing them. There have even been major advances into artificially creating life forms, something which will inform us a lot about how abiogenesis may have happened. Of course, scientific knowledge and explanations for abiogenesis will improve and change with time as more evidence is brought to the table, but this is no excuse to dismiss all of that work in favor of the simplistic goddidit worldview.
- Anthropological. Evolution clearly and thoroughly explains the broad variety of life that exists today. Evolution is not meant to explain how the process of evolution began, but rather it is meant to explain the biodiversity that exists today. This argument is basically akin to saying that chemistry is false because it doesn't explain why atoms exist. Regardless, we can assume that evolution will happen as long as we have life reproducing over a long timespan during which mutations occur.
- Psychological. There's a lot that scientists have yet to learn about the brain, the human mind, and other things related to the human experience. However, just because we don't know a lot right now, that doesn't mean that we won't know in the future due to new findings. Again, not a great excuse for the goddidit explanation.
|In God vs. Atheism: Which is More Rational?, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft basically presents Thomas Aquinas's unmoved mover argument (basically that something needs to have caused the universe, and that cause would be God). He responds to a number of critiques:
- On the critique about radioactive decay not having a discernable cause, he says that there likely is a cause but scientists just haven't discovered it yet - and that even if a cause is discovered, that cause would then in turn have to be caused by something else, and so on.
- On the argument that the universe is infinitely old, Kreeft responds by pointing out that the Big Bang happened.
- On the argument that the beginning of the universe was caused by another universe, Kreeft says that because of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, all time is relative to matter so time must have began when matter began (so that before the big bang, there would be no time to exist for another universe). He then again says that even if a previous universe is the cause, that in turn would need a cause, and so on.
Other religious junk
|PragerU video||Rationalwiki response|
|In Just Say Merry Christmas, Prager lays out the case for the War on Christmas. He claim that secularists are trying really hard to replace mentions of "Christmas" and "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" and other more 'inclusive' phrases. He says that despite secularists downplaying or outright denying that this is happening, these people secretly want to thoroughly secularize American society and they see the word "Christmas"[note 4] as a reminder of America's religious nature. He takes on the "inclusiveness argument" for saying "Happy Holidays" (basically the idea that saying "Merry Christmas" will exclude non-Christians), by pointing out that many Christmas songs were written by Jews, which is true for once - his specific example being the song White Christmas by Irving Berlin, a Jew.||Secularists trying to replace "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" either don't exist or are incredibly stupid because Christmas is already quite detached from its religious origins - Christmas nowadays is associated more with a commercialized Santa Claus (not a religious figure) than it is with Jesus, and Santa Claus has been a common Christmas figure for centuries (not a good look for our religious holiday). The phrase "Happy Holidays" has similarly been used for decades... including by that Jew mentioned earlier, Irving Berling, in the title of his 1942 song Happy Holiday. It's also worth noting that part of why the inclusiveness argument fails is because of how divorced from religion the holiday has become with time, to the point at which it's not a clearly religious holiday and thus doesn't exclude people of non-Christian religious beliefs.[note 5]|
|In Is There Life After This Life?, Prager starts out by clearly stating that "If there is a God, there is an Afterlife." Within the next minute, Prager changes his requirements so that the God must also good and just, and humans must also have souls. Once all of this is laid out, Prager explains that a good and just God would have to compensate for the immeasurable level of injustice and suffering which people experience on Earth, and that the afterlife would be able to serve as that place of compensation. He then goes on a bit of a tangent about how being remembered by other people is not the same thing as being in the afterlife. He ends the video by talking about how his belief in an afterlife keeps himself sane, and how he doesn't know what happens in the afterlife.||The most blatant problem here is that Prager assumes premises which not everyone will agree on - that God exists, that God is good, and that humans have souls. Prager would have to convince someone that all three of these premises are true before he could sell them on his explanation for the afterlife.
There's another fatal flaw with Prager's logic in the video - throughout it he assumes that the afterlife would be used to compensate for life's injustice and suffering, but at the end of the video he says that he doesn't know what happens in the afterlife. This means that even he doesn't really know that people in the afterlife would be compensated for life's suffering, as he doesn't know what even happens there in the first place. This basically reduces Prager's ideas of compensation in the afterlife down to mere speculation, to a "this might happen in the afterlife but I don't know" situation.
Aside from that, the fact that believing in the afterlife keeps himself sane is itself a concern because a belief that closely held will end up overriding any logical reasoning Prager has about the belief - his belief in the afterlife is probably driven more by emotion than reason in this respect. This isn't even mentioning the problems with a good God letting unnecessary, let alone an immeasurable amount of, evil exist in the first place.
Climate change denialism
|PragerU video||Rationalwiki response|
|In Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?, Richard Lindzen (totally not a problematic guy on this subject) lays out 3 groups of people: the IPCC scientists (specifically IPCC working group 1), skeptic scientists (who dispute the existence of human-caused global warming), and the politicians/activists/media. He tries to describe and characterize the beliefs of the scientist groups and show where they agree, as well as show how the third group have abused their position for political or ideological gain.||A number of errors are made just at the outset. Around 20 seconds in, a graph is shown from 1997 to 2016 to show that the earth hasn't gone through recent warming, but that graph can be easily dismissed simply by including more years in the timespan among other things.[note 6] Lindzen also insinuates that "global warming" has been dropped in favor of "climate change," which is blatantly false.
From there, Lindzen misrepresents the beliefs of the groups of people who he lays out. This is done a lot of times, so covering it all here would take up a lot of space - those errors are covered in detail in several response videos. The video actually generated enough ruckus to get reviewed by multiple relevant experts in the field, who all dismissed the video as heavily misleading and full of errors.
|In Why You Should Love Fossil Fuel, Alex Epstein presents fossil fuels as a great thing which helped humanity progress technologically in the past. He argues that because of these past benefits from fossil fuels (because they were able to provide energy for society to work with), we should keep using them today.||Alex Epstein ignores a key fact, which is that just because a resource was helpful in the past, that doesn't mean that we have to continue using it even when there's better alternatives (and there's plenty of alternative sources of energy). He completely ignores any problems which are related to fossil fuel usage, instead presenting it as basically something we should love and never give up on - and because he ignores the problems with it, he doesn't have to engage with alternative energy sources which largely avoid those problems, like nuclear and geothermal energy among others.
In general, he gives an obvious whitewash of the impact of fossil fuels to ignore anything negative about them. He attributes basically all modern advances in technology to fossil fuels, while ignoring the impact which other energy sources have had within the past century. Ironically, he also ignores how several of the problems he says fossil fuels solved (like smoky skies for instance) were themselves caused by extensive fossil fuel usage early on, which people then had to figure out a fix for.
Highly academic and science-driven PragerU also has a video which rejects the concept of evolution, hosted by Stephen C. Meyer of the creationist Discovery Institute. Meyer himself is credited with having changed Prager's mind on the subject to begin with,[note 7] which is probably why Meyer specifically was given the video. Needless to say, he made a number of errors throughout the video which have been thoroughly addressed in response videos.
Robert E. Lee
On November 6, 2020, PragerU posted a video called "Who Was Robert E. Lee?" The video has since been deleted, though there have been multiple re-uploads. The video argued in favor of keeping up statues of Lee for the following reasons:
- He lived near George Washington
- He knew people from George Washington's bloodline
- His house is now the location of a cemetery
- He led US Marines to crush a slave rebellion by "radical" abolitionist John Brown
- He said slavery was bad but that black people were better off as slaves in America than free in Africa
- He opposed secession but defended the secessionist Confederacy because his home state of Virginia chose to secede (great show of patriotism!)
- He surrendered in the Civil War
- He supported free blacks getting education but opposed their right to vote
- He died
You'll hear him gloat that "there are only two genders", despite scientific consensus, next!
Capitalism good and never did anything wrong, meanwhile Socialism bad, it created Nazism, Communism, Fascism and is responsible for millions of people starving in Venezuela, millions of kids having to work in factories in China and more importantly, it is the downfall of Western society as we know it.
Mr. Prager does not like immigrants.
Dennis the Menace talks about how Feminism is a deadly virus set out to destroy humanity.
"But muh freezepeach!"
The silver lining
The sheer ludicrousness of Prager's crank videos make them ripe for parody. Innumerable "YouTube Poops" or YTPs (remixes that make fun of the original source material by editing its dialogue/pictures to change them to those that are silly and/or rude) have been made of his videos.
A saddeningly based meme edit of his indoctrination "university".
Brager Prager himself, screaming into a microphone.