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September 16, 2009

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Good post, as usual. But I'd like to point out that in the early episodes (and some later ones as well), the Mythbusters did have some replication and statistics. (Very minor, though.) Examples: the Helium football one and the Toast always falls with butter down one.

The MBs have made quite a few whoppers, including "negative proofs," like when they proved that you couldn't scale the inside of a heat duct because Adam couldn't. One might point out that cat burglars are in better shape than the MBs...

Overall the MBs are a positive influence (more than "TV scientists" who create the impression that science is just knowledge): they point out that curiosity, skepticism, and experimentation are important tools in looking at the world and that you shouldn't just think about the big important things but rather make thinking and reasoning a part of everyday life.

(Of course, if they could address the many many many fallacies that come from basic innumeracy in the population, that would be swell. But that might make for boring TV, unlike -- say -- a rocket propelled car collision.)

My 0.02c (minus agent commission).

Yeah, the negative "proof" get me, too. I rationalize it that "busted" means something different than "disproven", i.e. that *they* couldn't recreate the myth *this* way. (I'm sure the producers like having a definitive conclusion, too.) TO be fair, they've revisited a good number of their "busted" myths with new information or methods, which is actually a good illustration of the scientific method. There are no proofs, just hypotheses to be verified - or not - by others.

xkcd.com said it best... "'Ideas are tested by experiment.' Everything else is bookkeeping"

http://xkcd.com/397/

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