What do youse guys think of MythBusters? The television show and the science involved, only.
They used to be pretty lacking in the engineering, confuse things like psig with psia, and otherwise ruin the validity of their experiments. Still loved the show back then.
Recently they have been stepping it up a notch, and I'm impressed.
I love the show. It has everything. Cool gadgets. Science. And stuff that blows up.
But I really like the fact that a show promoting science and the scientific method is so popular.
Scientifically and logically, I would say about 60 to 70 percent of their conclusions are flawed. It's a TV show. It's successful because it's ENTERTAINING. They blow-up/break/smash stuff all the time, that's why people watch it. Still, I think it is kind of cool to see a show at least illustrate and attempt to use the scientific method, even when it tends to be incorrectly carried out.
Can you give some examples?
They pretty much follow every step of the scientific method. They start with a hypothesis, then design a clever experiment with a control, run experiment with alot of explosion scenes and then draw conclusion.
Who would have thought that a shape of a car molded with groves like that of a golf ball increases its mileage due to less aerodynamic drag.
I was surprised with the results of their flatbed truck mileage experiment. No cap, gate down, with mesh gate.
I don't quite recall that episode, but it sounds familiar.
I like the show and am in favor of making science more popular. Like everyone else, I also like seeing things blow up.
But their experiments often don't quite hold together. One example that comes to mind is a test they ran to see if a ship could be pulled under by a whirlpool. The experiment they ran was scaled down to 3 foot backyard pool size. Now, you CAN get some valid results in scaled experiments, but not by just making the boat model smaller. Nearly wrote them a letter about Reynolds number on that one.
I watch it just for Kari.
The main thing that's not scientific about what they do is they don't have any replicates. They pretty much run a test once, destroy their set-up, and that's it. You can't really draw a strong conclusion from something like that, especially when trying to DISprove something. Now, for a lot of the myths, just getting one example that it CAN happen is sufficient to say it's "plausible," it's just the other way around of calling a myth busted on one try that's a problem.
There are limitations to some of the tests they do, especially the ones with the crash test dummy, Buster. Since they just use a dummy, it's dead weight with flying limbs. I can't recall the specific myths offhand, but there have been some where I think having muscle tone and control of limbs and maintaining some balance would have altered the outcomes (generally, things like being launched in the air and how you might land).
Still, I agree with others that it's good to see entertainment that draws people into science, even if it's imperfect. If nothing else, just introducing a healthy dose of skepticism into the viewers is a good thing.
Exactly. I think they find excuses to make explosions, build stuff, smash stuff, etc. when they could use mathematics and be more accurate. It's a television show first, then a science lab.
One week is obviously not enough time to test (almost) anything.
They also don't have the budget to test each of those myths accurately. For example, look up "The Great Gas Conspiracy." To truly determine the myth's accuracy, the MythBusters should use many different models of car, many brands of gasoline in each, on many different days, and for the year of 2006, Beyond International only had $60M in revenue!
That was a poor comic to use. It fits the stereotype of the hypothetical argument found on the internet: one side completely annihilates the other, even while arguing a not-so-great point (I'm horrible with words :( ). If Randy really wants to believe that "the core of science" is that "ideas are tested by experiment," let him. Almost every religious person on earth has tested their religion by experiment, and found it true. Not all of them are right, obviously. Also, without rigor, how can you support your claims? How do you know that they're valid unless your experiment was scientifically rigorous? And, did MythBusters really teach people anything? If they taught us to experiment ourselves, they would be out of business! "Sell a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, destroy your business."-Karl Marx
Critiquing the comic, it's horrible. It has a bad joke, completely switches topic to make it, and was just Randy's way of making a point, while having some sort of a joke.
I honestly believe the MythBusters have done little to advance our scientific knowledge, knowing the demographic which are fans and quote their results as if they were a religious text. :)
P.S. Aren't Adam and Jamie both self-described sketpics?
I think I watch it for Kari and also its a great exercise in how you would've done the experiment differently. Almost in every episode I thought to myself either "well I don't think that proves it conclusively.." or "if I set it up this way it would've definitely blown up!" Other than that, great show.
Haven't watched since "Plane on a Conveyor Belt"
What were the results of that one? I've always wondered.
I watch it because they blow things up.
Just that: the best mileage was attained with the tailgate down instead of up, and a mesh net across the tailgate area.
I pretty much agrees with Moonbear's response.
I don't think they deny that. I remember Adam in one episode (a re-visit one I believe) talking about how they intentionally made the show mainly about entertainment to attract viewers, and then slipped in the science which isn't as easily appreciated, but which viewers nonetheless end up liking.
You can't. But what they do is often to be reasonable sure about it, but I wouldn't bet my life on any of their conclusions.
They aren't teaching people to be scientists, that's for sure. They're teaching people to apply critical thinking in their everyday life, and to have a healthy level of curiosity.
I'm sorry, but just as the show is about entertainment, so is xkcd. Also this describes every xkcd comic, they make Randy's point while having some sort of a joke.
I don't think the mythbusters do much to further scientific study, but they do help increase intellectual curiosity. I don't think they could have made it much more scientific without losing the mainstream appeal.
I don't think viewers would mind if the science were replaced with explosions, or almost anything else. ;) The common American hates science and the scientific method.
Their experiments are somewhat well conducted, and they can be somewhat sure of their results, but not absolutely sure. I would like to test the one about a car and a fruit stand. Fruit stands are well constructed, but I think most cars at 30mph (or more) could plow through one.
Most of the people I know who watch MythBusters don't critically think when they hear this stuff. They still spread it, as if the show never existed. This is not Hyneman and Savage's fault; instead, it is the public school system's fault, who refuse to teach critical thinking, and diminish its importance in the minds of young children. Instead, they teach facts for a standardized test.
I don't like most xkcd comics. He usually integrates the joke horribly.
They probably do increase intellectual curiosity, to a very small degree. If it's any larger, it's only while the program is airing, and for a short time afterwards. See earlier mini-rant on the public school system, but replace 'critical thinking' with 'intellectual curiosity.'
I'm not on a crusade against the MythBusters; I was just seeking your opinions. I've noticed the more scientific the people I ask are, the less people who like the MythBusters.
I actually watch the show, for the building of gadgets. :)
Mythbusters is actually one of my favorite shows - mostly for the entertainment value, but they do a lot of interesting tests that might never happen if it were left up to the "real" scientists. Sure, I wouldn't really call what they do "experiments" in the technical sense; they're more like demonstrations of concept (like a proof of concept but less rigorous :tongue2:). It's often interesting to see what happens when they try something even if it's not scientifically rigorous, and it does sometimes give some idea of how a real experiment might pan out. The problem lies when you start equating, say, "busted" with "impossible." Just like anything else, it's important to know the limits of the information you get, and I wouldn't blame the Mythbusters if some of their viewers aren't capable of doing that.
By the way, in case it wasn't obvious, I completely agree with Zombie Feynman. The core of science, as far as I'm concerned, is that ideas are tested by experiment - how else can you define truth? (Now that I think about it, Mythbusters may have been responsible for making me consider switching my career goal from string theory to phenomenology :rofl:)
If you're saying that people take what the MythBusters say as if it were absolutely true when it may (or may not) be, I'm agreeing. I do think that you can use it with a idiomatic grain of salt (which is what I think you said).
Read the rest of the discussion. :)
By the way, I feel that he took Feynman's name in vain.
I agree to a point. The only thing I disagree with is that they only do the tests once. I've seen them do quite a few shows where they revisit a myth that they previously tested. Only one I can think of at the moment is whether you get more wet walking or running in the rain. If people send in responses challenging their outcome of the experiments, they'll redo them and see if they come up with another answer. I think they've even done a couple 3 times.
I love the show though, and I agree that it's entertainment. But they make an effort to slip in science and math in a fashion that the layman can still enjoy without getting bogged down with it. Most people aren't going to want to watch a show they don't understand, so they try to slip it in there, and I think they do a pretty good job. Granted, like what's already been stated, it's not flawless. But I think it does a hellofalot better of a job than shows like "The Universe".
Which is why you have to sneak it in. It's like hiding the broccoli in the mac and cheese so the kid gets it without noticing, and eventually realizes they actually like broccoli.
They rarely repeat the exact same trial. And, that's not what I'm talking about. Only a few times have I seen them take a single set-up and repeat the exact same thing 3 or 4 or a dozen times (even if they just cut out some of the middle from the aired footage and summarize the results) and then the same with whatever they compare it to in order to see the spread of results and determine if they are really different. In other words, there's no statistical validity.
Still, that's not really their goal, I recognize that. It's just not truly science either. I agree with whoever earlier in the thread also commented that it would just be too expensive for them to rigorously test every myth with replicates, especially when they are often destroying expensive items. The show would just go broke if they did that. Again, that's okay. It's more of a teaser, sort of like a teacher doing a demonstration of some scientific principle for their 6th grade class...no replicates or anything, just the "wow" factor to get them excited to keep learning more or questioning things.
I think youse guys are giving MythBusters' fans too much credit. We're geeks/nerds, we enjoy the science and math. But how many fans actually dislike the science and math on the show, and how many only watch it for explosions/destruction/construction/etc.?
Or the kid realizes what was happening, and hates broccoli and his parents for the rest of his life. :) I seriously doubt very many people even see the non-blatant science. Television force feeds Americans (which is why the USSR won the Cold War).
If every program people watched interested them in the subject matter, and got them to questioning, the world would be a much weirder place. ;)
Thank you. Can I print your response and read it to my less-scientific friends when they quote the MythBusters as if they were great scientists? This is what I have been looking for, but didn't know it. :)
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