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Creator / Tom Scott

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And that is something you might not have known!

Tom Scott is an English YouTuber known for the Citation Needed series created with The Technical Difficulties. While at uni, he formed the TechDefs originally as a radio group consisting of Tom's friends Chris Joel, Gary Brannan, and Matt Gray. Most of their material are panel games, where they can show off their one-of-a-kind sense of collective humor. Tom has a degree in linguistics, but also regularly makes videos about computers, engineering, history, and many other topics. He and fellow youtuber Matt Gray have a series called Park Bench, on their shared YouTube channel Matt and Tom, where they talk about experiences and what happened behind the scenes on their videos, on a park bench.

Tom also maintains his own YouTube channel, Tom Scott, with his own musings on society and technology as well as a variety of video series (with and without The Technical Difficulties):

  • The Technical Difficulties (2010), a three-show pilot of a potential live-action adaptation of their university radio show. Unusually for the TechDifs, this show was more of a talk/sketch show.
  • Reverse Trivia Podcast (2012-2014), where Tom takes a deck of classic trivia cards, reads out an answer and the gang tries to guess the question.
  • Citation Needed (2014-2018), where Tom pulls up a Wikipedia article and challenges the rest to guess who or what the article is about. Easily their most successful series so far.
  • Two of These People Are Lying (2019-), where Chris, Gary and Matt all give three different definitions of a given subject, and Tom has to pick which one is the true definition.
  • Things You Might Not Know, where Tom discusses cool factoids and information.
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  • Amazing Places, where Tom visits and discusses interesting attractions or geographical oddities in the world, mostly in Europe, Canada, and the US.
  • Built for Science, where Tom visits facilities designed to help understand and better the world around us.
  • The Basics, computer science issues and challenges explained by Tom.
  • , videos from any of several possible futures where technological advancement has surpassed social growth.
  • How to be Popular on the Internet, Tom discussing his personal experience with his occasional flirts with virality on the internet, and his more general online popularity.
  • Tom's Language Files, a series where Tom discusses quirks in human language. Originally posted from 2013-2015, it was revived in 2019 in conjunction with a new book by Gretchen McCulloch titled Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of the Language.
  • Game On, Lateral, and The Game Garage, other, smaller game shows hosted by Tom.
  • Money, a Nebula original game show with elements of The Genius.
  • Disconnected, in a social distancing world, Tom brings three video chats to the Broadcast Tower for a quiz show with an elimination twist...

And these are some tropes you might not have known:

  • Asbestos-Free Cereal: Discussed in "The Hidden Rules of Conversation", including a link to the trope-naming xkcd comic.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Though Tom himself only knows English fluently, his series on linguistics have some fun things written in other languages for those who know them. For example, in "Ghoti and the Ministry of Helth" he shows a series of three cards written in Quikscript (a new alphabet script created to replace the Latin alphabet for English in the 1920's), English, and Hindi while talking about how learning how to use different sets of squiggles is time-consuming for adults. The English card reads "Deciphering the non-Latin 'sets of squiggles' is left as an exercise to the reader"; should the viewer take the time to translate, the Quikscript card is revealed to have the first three lines of the chorus from "Never Gonna Give You Up" while the Hindi card reads "You know Hindi! That's awesome! Unfortunately I don't, I used an automatic translator."
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In a video on virtual private networks, he concludes that the people who most have a genuine need of one are (a) people who need to learn about things their oppressive society discourages, (b) people circumventing region-based content restrictions, and (c) people doing crimes — or, as he summarizes, "gay people, pirates, assassins, and gay pirate assassins".
  • Broken Record: The Gävle (Pronounced Yev-lay) Goat video has Tom say the phrase "the goat burned down" or variations thereof 18 times.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Not so much in his earlier videos but starting around 2014 his hair started going from brown to blond. In bright lighting it appears the same colour as his eyes, which are greenish-grey.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: So You've Learned to Teleport. A video that could be the Trope Codifier for this entire trope, as he explains how someone with the power of teleportation could literally become a billionaire overnight... instead of taking the tired old route of becoming a superhero and fighting crime.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The premises for Things You Might Not Know, Amazing Places, and Built for Science are rather self-explanatory.
    • From a meta perspective, one of Tom's videos discusses entropy, automation, Twitter bots, and other related topics. As an example of the phenomena he discusses, he titled the video "This Video Has [X] Views" and wrote a script to update the title to reflect the current view count.
  • Gilligan Cut: "Is The Most Northern Part Of Iceland Still There?" is about the island of Kolbeinsey, the northernmost point in Iceland for several centuries but has been subject to rapid erosion due to being a basalt formation from a volcanic eruption as well as sea erosion; its article on That Other Wiki mentioned that it was expected to disappear completely by 2020 when the video was filmed (short answer: the island's still there; the Wikipedia article has since been updated to mention Tom's escapade showing it's still there as of August 2020). While he's taking a walk near the Icelandic town of Akureyri, he mentions there's no way for a tourist to take a boat out to Kolbeinsey (about 100 miles/160 kilometers north of where he's walking) and the only way to see if it's still there is to charter a plane.
    (Video cuts to him walking towards a plane)
    Tom: So I chartered a plane!
  • Grammar Nazi: Defied for the most part. In his series of videos about linguistics, he describes himself as a descriptivist which means he explains the grammar rules of a language but doesn't insist that they should be followed; he focuses on whether someone could be understood. However, he makes an exception for the gender-neutral pronoun "they", and takes exception to languages like German and Spanish that use different genders for a wide array of subjects. He is run over by a bus sent by the Descriptivist Mafia at the end of that video.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • Is seen mainly wearing red T-Shirts or gray hoodies in his videos.
    • He's also had one he's since retired: his "Nordic" hoodie. In 2013 he retired it, in front of a live audience at Thinking Digital by telling the hoodie's life story, and then lighting it on fire.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In his talk titled "Single Point of Failure: The (Fictional) Day Google Forgot To Check Passwords", the one who causes the eponymous Point of Failure causes such in order for news the elite would rather stay buried to come to lightnote . The last time Tom talks of her, he mentions she went to catch a flight out of the country, presumably to avoid the consequences of this action. Until the very end of the talk, where he reveals she was arrested at the airport; her flight was delayed as the airport systems, like a lot of modern infastructure, ran the very same Google programs her actions forced offline.
  • LOL, 69: A completely accidental example when he ran a poll that tried to rank things to figure out what is the best thing based on online user participation (from a curated list of things that left off items like groups of people because that would have been major Flame Bait) and then randomly comparing one to another in a series to see which item does the best overall. Out of a total of 7,188 things, the highest-rated sex-related thing was "orgasm" which got...69th place. Tom swears he didn't make that up.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In "Why This British Crossroads Is So Dangerous", five vehicles in the background ignore the crossroad's stop signs as Tom explains how deadly that junction's blind spot is.
  • Nu Speling: Tom discusses how spelling has diverged in different parts of the English-speaking world over different times in "Ghoti and the Ministry of Helth", such as "today" being spelled "to-day" in the past.
  • The Oner: Probably the most recognisable aspect of his style. He will often cut to B-roll footage of whatever he's talking about, but if a video consists of just him talking at a camera, he will more often than not deliver his script in a single, unbroken take. A notable example of that, the whole Will YouTube Ever Run Out Of Video IDs? video is over five minutes long and was completed in one take, as Tom enthusiastically celebrates at its end. He does it again in "Why You Can't Buy Dasani Water in Britain", though it is sadly undermined by people honking their horns at him while driving by.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted. Colour-wise (see Iconic Outfit) Tom wears red and Matt wears blue. However, as seen on Matt and Tom and Citation Needed, Tom is usually the calmer one while Matt is the one that gets stuck in 2-minute giggle loops.
  • Shout-Out: Tom's video about the Ilulissat Icefjord, "The Front Falls Off", is named for the Clarke and Dawe sketch "The Front Fell Off." Consequently, the comment section is loaded with references to it.
  • Something Completely Different: Tom sends garlic bread to the edge of space in a video, then eats some.
  • Special Guest:
  • Springtime for Hitler: How he got elected as Student President at the University of York, in the personification as a pirate. He got connected with the American founders of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and created the persona "Mad Cap'n Tom". Eventually got into radio interviews and children's tv programs and even going to Alton Towers Theme Park. While he was in another country, a friend of his filled an application in for him as candidate. He went through with it, including joke proposals and wanted to lose by one vote, just to mess with everyone. He won, and aggravated the other serious candidates.
    • Failure Gambit: After losing a bet of who would win the 2010 Super Bowl, he ran for Parliament. He ran for London and Westminster as the same character, and knew that he wouldn't affect the elections in any way. He lost.
  • Take That!: He does this a few times in his videos, but in his lecture on "There is No Algorithm for Truth", Tom points out before the presentation that Google indirectly pays his rent via the ads he runs on the videos, specifically the money comes from Google Ireland. For those that don't follow, the "Google Ireland" part is a jab at Google using Irish banks as a Tax Haven.
  • Trolling Creator: In his video Will YouTube Ever Run Out Of Video IDs?, he shows the URL "" as an example YouTube URL. You have to deliberately type that URL into the address bar, but if you do, you'll have been tricked by one of the sneakiest Rickrolls on YouTube.

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