Videos about how to build a palace in the forest or a pool with crocodiles with your bare hands are gaining millions of views on YouTube. But only this is a hoax – architects and excavators remain behind the scenes


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There is an incredibly popular genre of video on YouTube – videos about “primitive construction”. In them, people build huts, pools and water slides from sand and clay with their bare hands or with the help of simple tools. These videos are gaining millionsand sometimes even tens of millions views. The founder of this genre is Australian blogger John Plant, who really knows how to build small objects without using any technique. After Plant’s channel became super popular, he has gained a huge following around the world – and some of them are outright deceiving their viewers. We talk about how primitive construction turned into an industry and why not all of these videos should be trusted.

John Plant is an Australian blogger and founder of the Primitive Technology channel. The essence of his videos is simple: Plant shows how to use improvised tools to make tools, such as an ax, and then make a fire, make a stove, cut down a tree and build a hut from logs, bamboo leaves, dirt and stones.

The description of the channel says that the essence of “primitive technologies” is to “see how far you can go” with minimal means. Under each video, Plant describes in detail his actions: how much time he spent on construction and what materials he used.

Plant created a YouTube channel in 2015. Since then, videos with the silent Australian have gone viral on various platforms, including on Tiktok. Now more than 10 million people have subscribed to the blogger’s YouTube channel. “I just like to study how people in ancient times built and made things,” Plant wrote. on the reddit forum. – It’s a good hobby that keeps you in shape. And he doesn’t need anything but time and effort.”

The blogger became the ancestor of a whole genre – after a couple of years, Plant had followers. In 2017, the Primitive Technology Idea channel sprang up on YouTube, whose heroes, two other silent builders from Singapore, also build mind-blowing structures without any technology. If Plant built primitive huts that would fit only to survive a cold night in the jungle, then the authors of the Primitive Technology Idea have water parks, impressive fortresses and crocodile pools.

But is it really possible to build such impressive structures with sticks and dirt? Of course not.

July 7, 2022 on the channel SunnyV2 An investigation came out: its authors claim that most of the channels that follow Plant publish staged videos.

In one of them, a pair of “primitive builders” caught a live crocodile and built a water maze for it. Two men with the help of sticks were allegedly able to dig a trench several meters deep (although it is not so easy to dig even a meter hole). The authors of the investigation note that in reality it would be almost impossible to make such a trench: at such a depth in the soil, stones and tree roots are often found that cannot be reached with bare hands. Moreover, an attentive viewer can notice traces from the caterpillars of construction equipment, which flicker in the frame from time to time.

The authors of the investigation found the contacts of an operator filming a video for one of these channels from Southeast Asia. According to him, a large team is behind the creation of such videos – at least 12 people work on each video. In addition, the team has a director who explains to the builders how to behave in the frame, as well as an architect who makes sure that the structure does not eventually collapse.

The authors of these videos in the description claim that it takes them an average of one hundred days to complete each job, but in fact, according to the operator, everything is built much faster – from three to 10 days. 70% of the project is usually done using construction equipment.

The footage where the “builders” extract cement directly from the river also makes the authenticity of the video doubtful. As the authors of the investigation note, each channel following Plant has its own “unique method of creating” this building material: someone simply mixes dirt with water (in reality, such a composition is unlikely to hold something together), someone makes cement from nests termites, someone from stones and sand. In reality, the manufacture of cement, of course, is much more complex process.

The operator also said that the footage in which the “builders” allegedly fill their pools and water parks with water from rivers and small waterfalls (in the video they build a “water pipeline” from wooden gutters directly from the river to the pool) is staged. Water is brought to the location in tanks, and the sources themselves at the same time can be located tens of kilometers from the filming location.

The next evidence provided by the authors of the investigation is a video from the PhotoXpression channel. These shots show that after filming, the objects simply remain to rot and collapse in the jungle, and mountains of construction debris, including bags of cement, are forgotten around the set. Filming itself is said to take place on private property in the United States.

John Plant continues to run his YouTube channel. In the last video, he tells how to mine ore using improvised means, smelt it into metal and make a knife out of it. In addition, he wrote the book John Plant: Primitive Technologies. A Guide from the Wilderness Survival Specialist. This work by Plant became a bestseller; in 2022 it was published in Russian by the AST publishing house.

John Plant himself comments works of their imitators like this: “There are many channels that fake content, sometimes it even looks convincing. However, their authors are driven only by money and status, and not by a true interest in primitive technologies. I’d like to stay away from the internet controversy and leave it up to the viewer to decide what’s true and what’s not. My advice to people who want to know if this is a hoax is to try it yourself and see if you can achieve the same result.

What is happening in the world of non-primitive construction

Alexey Slavin

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