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While Thunderf00t's channel remains one of the most popular atheism channels on YouTube, he has become an increasingly polarizing figure due to his short tenure and public falling out with Freethought Blogs, as well as his fondness for criticizing feminism and feminists. He
canceled declared himself 'out' of the skeptic community after receiving much backlash, in a series of videos firmly opposing Brexit and Donald Trump.
As of January 2021, Thunderf00t's YouTube channel had about 973 thousand subscribers and 284 million views.
- 1 Anti-creationism
- 2 On Islam and Muslims
- 3 Return to skepticism?
- 4 Politics
- 5 Freethought Blogs saga
- 6 Scientist
- 7 Views on RationalWiki
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
"Why Do People Laugh At Creationists?"
WDPLAC is Thunderf00t's longest running series. It consists of 46 videos (and one additional "Did Hitler worship God or Evolution?"). The series has collectively garnered several million views. Each episode usually takes one creationist talking point and thoroughly refutes it. These videos are released "copyright free for educational purposes." Here's the first in the series:
A vlogger named VenomFangX has a long-running feud with Thunderf00t. 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"; Thunderf00t refuted this, demonstrating that, for such a scenario to be possible, the granite around the area would have to be more soluble than caster (superfine) sugar, and pointing 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.
Thunderf00t 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 Thunderf00t. 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, Thunderf00t, 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.
Thunderf00t 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, avoiding the question of Thunderf00t's "prominence" (though his webpage has more subscribers than Comfort's Way of the Master channel). Thunderf00t 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 at first, but eventually accepted, on the condition that Thunderf00t pay $100,000 to Richard Dawkins. This 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 Thunderf00t 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. Thunderf00t did better in this debate, arguing against Comfort's willingness to leap to eternal moral conclusions.
Towards the end of 2009, Thunderf00t 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, Mason discussed his rationale for criticizing creationism.
Westboro Baptist Church
On July 10, 2011, Thunderf00t posted an interview with two members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, "Megan" and "Margie." While Thunderf00t 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 names. 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. About a year following the interview, Megan left the church, explaining that she'd realized that dogmatic hate precludes constructive dialogue.
Eric Hovind OFFICIALLY accepts that atheism is true and accurate
PEARL is Thunderf00t'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.
On Islam and Muslims
Following the censorship of South Park for depicting the prophet Muhammad, Thunderf00t was prompted to make videos critical of Islam more often. However, his initial video (which can still be found in quite a few mirrors), was pulled down by a DMCA claim by Viacom due its brief use of a copyrighted South Park image without their permission to demonstrate the point.
"Sleeping giant" and misinterpretations
His videos in May 2010 that criticized Islam alluded to a "sleeping giant"—clearly a reference to Isoroku Yamamoto. Some nutjobs have interpreted this as condoning genocide of Muslims, particularly Dawahfilms, who was responsible for making an alleged "death threat" against Thunderf00t, as claimed by the latter. Dawahfilms insisted that no death threat was ever made and that it was a statement of self-defense. However, Thunderf00t saw fit to characterize his statement as an "attack on free speech". Dawahfilms later apologized for letting his temper get the better of him after being pressured by the YouTube community, and also asked that Thunderf00t make a clarification video condemning genocide, later challenging Thunderf00t to another debate. Thunderf00t responded to it by saying Dawahfilms needs therapy and continued to make videos against Dawahfilms.
Thunderf00t made a video (featuring HealthyAddict and PZ Myers) publicly revealing his name and lambasting DawahFilms for making their feud cross over into real life after accusing the latter of 'doc dropping' him. No such doc drop was ever proven to have occurred however; all that was proven was that DawahFilms had called Thunderf00t's employers to inform them about Thunderf00t's "bigotry and constant harassment" (in fact, the Bay Area Skeptics had actually doc dropped Thunderf00t in July several months before- albeit by accident.). Before all of this, Thunderf00t had claimed that his employers already knew about his videos, and that he was in no way under any threat of being reprimanded for his behavior.
Ground Zero Mosque
Return to skepticism?
Fortunately, it appears that Thunderf00t's focus has shifted back to debunking nonsense. He started with nuclear energy (specifically items related to the Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown. A few other topics include the acceptable risks of background radiation, as well as the thorium-powered car. He has also dismantled the "solar roadways" proposal that went viral in 2014 by claiming the costs in manufacturing would be insane, power consumption would be through the roof, and the whole system just wouldn't work. Hyperloop also got a good thrashing.
- Waterseer -BUSTED!( )
- Waterseer -why did Berkeley disclaim it?( )
- Waterseer, now featured in Time Magazine!!( )
- First AMAZING Solar Roadway UNVEILED!( )
- SpaceX explosion -- Thanks, UFOs.
- SpaceX UFO Explosion EXPOSED!!!( )
- Detailed analysis of Spacex Rocket Explosion( )
- Why did the Falcon 9 Explode?( )
Unfortunately he has gotten in some hot water regarding not paying (or even crediting) a rocket photographer for the use of his copyrighted Starship clips in his videos under the pretense of "fair use", subsequently doubled down, and has now started a mini drama series around it. 
Thunderf00t's spat with the libertarian vlogger HowTheWorldWorks. It was mostly a boring affair, but it did result in Thunderf00t calling out HowTheWorldWorks for being deceitful about the identity and number of his subscribers, most of whom appeared to be sock puppets.
At the end of 2012, Thunderf00t 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, Thunderf00t criticized 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 willfully 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 Thunderf00t and his pals larking around in silly costumes, drinking and hugging. Victory! Capitalizing on this victory is 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 in November 2013 entitled "Why 'feminism' poisons EVERYTHING", yet another cranky tirade against the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and Rebecca Watson.
While he has released another video in the series, the videos are somewhat scattershot. He tends to go off on a tangent, repeat points previously made in other videos about other people and quote mine them, taking things out of context. The primary point he keeps going back to is that of sexual dimorphism causing most phenomena we see today about what is different between the sexes. He means to say that if we try to break out of traditional roles for men and women, then all we are doing is going against our own physiological trends. A second point implied by that is supposedly that different trends in physiological suitedness have naturally resulted in men and women being treated differently and thus we shouldn't call that sexism. Aside from committing appeal to nature, Thunderf00t is generalizing too much here, implying that appropriate distribution of work in terms of the military comes down to the same principles as the distribution of, say, corporate management positions.
Thunderf00t's pursuit of feminists has also led him to forsake basic scientific principles and commit exactly the same kind of fallacies that he often warns against. Case in point, in October 2015, the social scientist Kristi Winters released a video on her YouTube channel where she stated her case, with cited sources in the description for her video, for the existence of the patriarchy in society. Rather than actually engage with the calm and measured arguments that Dr. Winters provided, Thunderf00t instead decided to misrepresent her arguments, invoking a strawman appeal to biology of intra-sex competition for medals at the Olympics (which has nothing to do with men wielding power, especially since Dr. Winters was clearly talking about the patriarchy in social economics and politics); engaging in science denialism by dismissing the entire field of social science; accusing Dr. Winters of ignoring sexual dimorphism when she never actually denied that such a thing exists; and engaging in a variety of personal insults, as well as of course directing his followers to mass-downvote the video and bombard the comments section with abuse.
Dr. Winters effectively won the exchange with Thunderf00t when she issued him a very simple challenge for a scientist like himself that he instead completely failed to answer:
“”If your assertion is "differences in gender representations – are – clearly to do with biology" then please explain the biological causal mechanism that impacts on political representation by sex (and I mean sex, not gender) and present your evidence. I look forward to evaluating your theory, hypotheses, and data for myself. Obviously you’ll need inferential statistics to demonstrate causality so please include the relevant coefficients and their standard errors and your N.
|—Kristi Winters showing what real scientific discourse is.|
Anita Sarkeesian anti-fanboy
As part of this tiring pursuit, 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. Since then his videos have been focused almost exclusively on Sarkeesian even when the subject isn't even about her, such as the trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie, (where he seriously tries to argue that because Sarkeesian never followed up on her hypothetical game idea, this somehow means that the new Ghostbusters movie will be terrible... yeah, we don't get it either).
On October 16th, 2014 Thunderf00t posted a video which purported to show that Sarkeesian's latest threat was actually perpetrated by either Sarkeesian herself or one of her army of minions to discredit GamerGate. His reasons include an unsourced audio clip from a university spokesperson (who had terrible communication skills), the fact that she joked about an army of supporters and the fact that somebody from the same university has done the same sort of threat against herself. In addition, Thunderf00t goes into plenty of victim blaming and nonsense claims about slut shaming. So much for logic or "seeing through delusion", then. He also thinks that attacking her based on her choice of appearance is perfectly acceptable. Because that's not creepy.
Suspension from Twitter
Sometime during the week of September 7th 2014, the @thunderf00t Twitter account was suspended. For some reason, Thunderf00t decided it was due to fraudulent complaints from Anita Sarkeesian, while others suggest it was related to the barrage of tweets against her.
Thunderf00t thinks Britain should stay in the EU, noting the ease of travel (his British citizenship combined with his constant German work is an influence on this) and trade between Britain and other European countries. Thunderf00t debated Sargon of Akkad on YouTube regarding Brexit - the former rejecting Brexit, and the latter advocating it. Thunderf00t's acceptance of basic economic facts made him the less loony debater. As a response, a large amount of SOA's supporters flooded Thunderf00t's channel with dislikes and comments supporting Donald Trump. He has done almost as many videos on Brexit in a short period of time as he has done on Anita Sarkeesian in the past.
Over the years his politics are in pretty sharp contrast to other atheists in the sphere as being probably the first one to denounce Donald Trump. He understood the anti-science consequences of his presidency early, setting him up to basically go it alone in the political sphere. If his twitter is anything to go by at the least, he's still in agreement with this position.
Freethought Blogs saga
When Thunderf00t 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 Thunderf00t 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
Foot in the door
After the obligatory introductory post, his first substantial post was a bombastic comment about sexual harassment at atheist and skeptic conferences (the MYSOGYNIST!!! post). Thunderf00t's point seemed to be that the problem was overstated. Several commenters pointed out factual errors in the entry, none of which were acknowledged. PZ Myers disagreed with him publicly and at length.
Thunderf00t 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, Thunderf00t 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; 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.[note 2] 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. Thunderf00t did nothing to address this, presumably extending his YouTube commenting policy to FTB. 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. Thunderf00t's interaction in his own comments was limited to one reply per post, at maximum, with no further engagement.
Ed Brayton, curator of FtB, defused the toxic atmosphere by kicking Thunderf00t 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 Thunderf00t'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 Thunderf00t'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 Thunderf00t, arguing that Thunderf00t appeared to have only joined FTB to troll it. Thunderf00t 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 Thunderf00t 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, Thunderf00t 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.
Thunderf00t studied at the University of Birmingham, where he gained both his BSc (Upper 2nd Class Honours) and PhD in Chemistry. Between 1998 and 1999 he worked as a research associate at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield before transferring to work at the University of Bristol's Department of Physics. He has had his name attached to some 34 papers, 20 of which he is lead author. Previously, he had worked for Cornell University and now is currently working for a school in the Czech Republic and published a paper there on molecular dynamics. In January 2015, he co-authored a paper on coulombic explosions of alkali metals reacting with water, dispelling previously held beliefs about the reactions. He is still active as of 2016.
Views on RationalWiki
“”rationalwiki, about as rational as Fox news is 'fair and balanced'
- 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 legal action and the site disappeared quickly.
- Thunderf00t page on wikipedia
- ...Only Creationists Don't Know Why
- Unfortunately, he picked a conference that was part of a bigger conference; the example was therefore unrepresentative of sexual harassment policies in general.
- The video where he
pulls off the maskreveals his identity
- 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)
- Megan Phelps Roger: I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church
- Thunderf00t - The Problem With Religion
- - Death Threats and the Oh So Scary Muslim
- - Death Threats From a Moderate Muslim
- - A Letter to YouTube and Thunderf00t
- Dawahfilms - I'm Calling You Out, Thunderf00t (Debate)
- My Real Name is...
- "You are invited to Skeptics in the Pub where you will have the opportunity to chat with Phil Thunderf00t, aka Thunderf00t" — Bay Area Skepticsimg. July 2011.
- - Death Threat Dawahfilms Goes Doc Hunting
- making the accusation of 'doc dropping' even more absurd. - Doc Dropping DawahFilms
- "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
- Mahlmann v. Thunderf00t: BUSTED #FairUse, Lawful Masses with Leonard French.
- "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism"
- "Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism (Part 2)"
- Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism (Part 3)
- Why 'feminism' poisons EVERYTHING
- Evidence that patriarchy is a real thing
- Kristi Winters vs Thunderf00t
- Feminism versus FACTS (RE Damsel in distress)
- Feminism versus FACTS (Part 2), Feminism versus FACTS (Part 3)
- Video here. Ironically, he proves that the suspension is justified.
- "Trump vs Clinton: The FINAL showdown!".
- "Consequences of Trump Winning!".
- "What a Donald Trump Presidency REALLY means!".
- 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
- Major Changes at Freethought Blogs, Dispatches from the Culture Wars
- 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 Thunderf00t, treacherous hack
- Microsoft Academic
- Thunderf00t.com IS A SCAM