How the Gates Foundation and Kurzgesagt Provide Propaganda for a Curious Internet
As unfortunate as it is, people around the world, no matter the nation, are becoming skeptical of every news outlet they come across. It’s common knowledge that news stations, journal outlets, and even individual journalists can be influenced to pick apart matters or turn a blind eye.
While sometimes the motives can be political or for personal satisfaction, most of the time the corruption can be traced through a money trail. It’s a fact that has been proven time and time again: some reporters are paid to obfuscate the truth, and it’s up to us to figure out who to believe (or at least who is the most trustworthy). What we don’t expect, however, is to have to turn a critical eye to even the most innocent-looking media outlets; one that claims to only want to inform the world of interesting and little-known facts and events around the world. That brings us to Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.
For those who don’t know, Kurzgesagt is a German-based Youtube channel that produces short (usually ten minutes) informative videos about various topics, but mainly focusing on technology, science, history, and psychology. The channel gets its appeal from its concise, informative nature and its iconic cartoon animations used in each video. They’re undeniably charming, proven by their following of 20 million subscribers and counting. Even their channel description is quite cute.
“We’re a team of illustrators, animators, number crunchers and one dog who aim to spark curiosity about science and the world we live in. To us nothing is boring if you tell a good story.”
Despite this rather innocent depiction of a small team working hard to inform the masses, it’s one of the first examples of the channel’s manipulative specialties: lying by omission. In other words, they’re telling the truth, but leaving out vital details that change the circumstances of the statement entirely.
Yes, they are a team that works to inform the world, but what they don’t tell you is that they’re backed by billionaires such as Bill Gates and George Soros, as well as large organizations, to change a narrative, push an agenda, or rally for a financial cause. Sounds deceptive? That’s the point. Here we’ll show you what happens when the wealthy with agendas get a hold of a popular channel meant to educate on niche subjects.
Deception and Funding
To start off with a good example, Kurzgesagt published a video in 2016 on “the most gruesome parasites”, where devastating diseases that plagued humanity were snuffed out by big pharmaceutical companies, who produced the necessary drugs for free. It’s one of those stories that makes you smile and brings out hope for humanity, but it’s ultimately a big exaggeration.
One quick search will show you that these diseases were ignored by Big Pharma because they weren’t profitable enough to make cures for. It wasn’t until the World Health Organization stepped in and convinced world governments to help the cause. In return, these pharmaceutical companies paid for nothing and raked in over $8 trillion in profit. And who sponsored the video? None other than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant, despite the fact that Bill is heavily invested in some of the largest pharmaceutical companies out there. In fact, it’s his involvement in taking attention away from these more common diseases to focus on the big-name ones like malaria (a more profitable disease) is one of the main causes why the diseases were so rampant. This added context shows just how biased Kurzgesagt is in the video, but there’s more to it, as the $570,000 grant they were given contracts the channel to make videos for 49 months.
Kurzgesagt is also proud to show that they have various resources and consult experts. Most of these resources, however, come from only one publication: Our World in Data, which is partnered with the channel and provides numbers for scripts. Nearly every video sources them to where even a ten minute video will reference the publication a dozen times. Many of these scientific articles have the number heavily skewed, taking even the most speculative data and blowing it up to support the “achievements” of companies to source more investors. For example, one video greatly downplays the total carbon emissions from the U.S. (claimed 25% when it’s around 40%) to lead into a praise of carbon capture technology, something Bill Gates himself has invested millions into despite the technology not being commercially viable and being less practical than other carbon-fighting methods like planting more trees. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s all to gain more investors.
Not to mention, Our World in Data, where all the information is gathered, is also supported by grants from the Gates Foundation.
There are many, many videos from Kurzgesagt that follow this trend: a video sponsored to take misconstrued information from a (also sponsored) source to portray the sponsor in a positive light for future financial gain.
Kurzgesagt does disclose that they were funded by the Gates Foundation, but only in fleeting moments like the last seconds of a video or a quick mention in the description, which should not ever be acceptable to those who want trustworthy, unbiased sources.
While we’ve mainly focused on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the channel has also done videos funded by people like John Templeton, Dustin Moskowitz, and George Soros, all of whom are known to push their agendas through financial leverage. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a video not sponsored by a biased organization.
In The End
One of the representatives of Kurzgesagt once admitted that with the size the channel is at now, they can now keep it running purely through viewers support. Despite this, their content continues to be funded by billionaires, effectively turning them into stylistically animated advertisements. They have no excuse.
Even if Kurzgesagt is just a Youtube channel, the fact that these videos have the potential to reach millions is a powerful tool for the wealthy. It does not matter how you feel about Bill Gates or the projects he supports; when vital information is heavily skewed and the audience is purposefully deceived, that is how journalistic integrity dies.
If you want to know why people don’t trust news outlets, Kurzgesagt is a great example of a literal propaganda machine.
Since the publication of the video, there were a couple a follow up responses from both sides, you can find those here:
Kurzgesagt’s official response:
The Hated One response to Kurzgesagt: