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The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions 580

Posted by Zonk
from the poetry-in-motion dept.
Almost exactly a month ago we asked you for questions to put to the Mythbusters, hosts of the Discovery show that explores urban myth and legend. The response was huge, with dozens of worthwhile questions posted to the story. Today, we have answers back from Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. They've obviously taken some time to answer your questions, and discuss everything from their shot at the moon to Creative Commons. Read on for their answers, and many thanks to both gentlemen for their thoughtful and interesting responses.
Idea behind MythBusters? by hal2814
Did you guys come up with the idea for the show or was it presented to you? How did the two of you end up as the shows hosts? How did the 'Build Team' get involved?

ADAM SAVAGE -- MythBusters was created by Peter Rees. Peter produced the show "Beyond 2000" out of Australia, and had interviewed Jamie and I about a robot we had in the original "Robot Wars" (before Battlebots - remember?) back in the mid-90s. Apparently a good producer never throws away a telephone number, because in the spring of 2002, he called up Jamie and asked him if he had an interest in hosting this show he was trying to cast for (MythBusters). Jamie called me, we sent in a demo reel, and apparently they loved it. "These were just the geeks we were looking for" was what we heard back.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It was the idea of our producer, Peter Rees. He had interviewed me some years ago during "Robot Wars" when I had a notorious robot 'Blendo' which was instantly killing all the other robots. I was therefore somewhat notorious, so Peter spent a little time with me and when he had the idea to do the show he contacted me. I thought I could do the show but not carry it by myself, as I am not all that animated. I called Adam, who was an ex employee of mine and who was the liveliest FX guy I knew. We did a demo tape and the rest is history. The build team came as a result of the fact that the demand for the show is high, but as we do everything ourselves and don't just show up and talk, there is not enough time in a season for us to do all the shows they need - they wanted more builders. All three of the build team are people that Adam and I know well, and have worked with us in the past.

From the Front vs. From Behind? by unipus
Hey guys, great show! Just wondering, what's are the best and worst aspects of moving from behind the scenes to in front of the lens?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It's nice to be able to put your skills out there and be appreciated - if a tree falls down in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound? And then also the show allows us to do things we would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise, so it has been a wonderful education about the world at large. But personally I find the camera obtrusive and it gets in the way of my normal process. When I am at my best it is a situation where the rest of the world goes away and I am completely absorbed in designing something. Time stops. Nothing else Exists but the task in front of me. Now try to do that in front of a camera with a bunch of people around, having to repeat things so the camera can get it from different angles, and then stop and talk about it, and often have to truncate what you say so that you make a nice concise and clear statement about it..... and remember, I am a guy that does not normally talk much. Very disconcerting!

ADAM SAVAGE -- For me the best thing is that people are inspired by what we're doing. That was a result we never saw coming. There are times when I'm with my kids and people come up and don't know what to say, but really, we should all have such problems that folks are constantly wanting to tell you that they like your work. The hardest part is waiting for the camera. Jamie and I have to do things on the show super fast, and we do, but man, if we weren't shooting a show, it would go so much faster I swear. The rule is: if it doesn't happen on camera, it didn't happen. Sometimes when we're in the crunch, that can be very stifling. But again, we should all have such problems right?

Favorites? by MikesOnFire
What is your favorite Busted Myth and your favorite Confirmed one?

ADAM SAVAGE -- I've always been partial to the Penny Drop myth, i.e. will a penny dropped from the Empire State Building kill you when it hits the ground? To me, that was one of the most elegant and simple applications of science to a question that we've done. Until last week. We just worked on a myth called "bullets fired up" -- i.e., will a bullet fired directly vertically kill you when it comes back down. We did tons of research on it, and in the end, added significantly to the body of knowledge that's out there on the subject. I won't give away the ending, but we nailed this one.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There are no favorites! The myths are so varied in what they involve that it is comparing apples and oranges. Compare putting rockets on a full sized automobile that has been radio controlled and driven from a helicopter, to training goldfish. They are all interesting and fun - maybe some are more dangerous or exciting than others (like the rocket car), but then goldfish memory or failing a drug test by eating a poppyseed bagel is more relevant to real life.

Blown Away? by bobertfishbone
Have you ever been completely blown away by what you've found? Has there been an experiment where you two just sit back and say "Huh...who woulda thought?" Most of the myths are pretty easy to debunk, but I'm just curious as to whether or not there was actually one that you guys did that totally shocked you in being true.

ADAM SAVAGE -- We're constantly surprised by the results of what we're doing. Every day. There are countless times when we have what we think is a solid idea of what the outcome of one of our experiments will be, and the result is totally the opposite. That's probably one of the best parts of the job: being confounded by one result and coming up with a way to understand it, and to make it understandable within the confines of the show. The most surprising result? That would have to be "Liferaft Skydive." I wouldn't have bet in a million years that a raft would remain stable all the way down (from 3,000 feet!) and to see that raft, with Buster the crash-test dummy inside, float safely to the ground like a leaf. Amazing.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- A total shock? I don't really think so -- I'm kind of philosophic about it. We are always learning new things as we shoot the show. For example, I did not know earlier that a hand gun bullet that is going relatively slowly will travel further through water than a bullet from a high powered rifle, because the rifle bullet is going so fast it just explodes from the impact and is stopped in a couple of feet. But that is just one factoid out of a thousand that we have run across in the course of doing our job. Pigs still generally don't fly.

Houston, we have a myth? by richdun
Assuming an unlimited budget, what myth would you most like to test? How about using 1960s technology to try and land on the moon?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- You read our minds! On a side note; I once asked Adam if he was given a rocket ship and told he would be able to travel anywhere in the universe, but he would never be able to return, would he do it? Well, both of us would (but not together).

ADAM SAVAGE -- That's exactly what we want to do! Remember Salvage 1? The TV show with Andy Griffith about the guys who go to the moon with a ship they built in their garage? Jamie and I have done the research, and figured that the only way to end the debate about the "myth" of the Apollo moon landing is to go there, and bring back something that was left there during one of the Apollo moon landings.

Myths that didn't make it? by skywalker107
What Myths have you tested that have never made it on the show? What about them made you and the producers decide they didn't qualify to go on the air?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There are certain things that are not appropriate -- for example, myths with a highly sexual content. This is one side effect of the fact that the show seems to be popular with all ages and demographics, and that Discovery is a family oriented network.

Myths you cannot do? by jessejay356
Have there been any myths that were either too expensive or dangerous that you just couldn't get done?

ADAM SAVAGE -- We're relatively undaunted. We've found ways to do myths we thought impossible to do only months before. Besides going to the moon that is.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- We usually figure out a way around that. This is where our particular skills come into play; a lot of what we do on the show can be done by the average Joe, but for the most part the average Joe would not be able to do it as fast, safe or inexpensively.

Bittorrent? by boatboy
Your show is available on bittorrent networks to download and watch when/where it's more convenient. Some users, however, could download the show without paying for it via cable service. How do you personally feel about this? (Cheated\Angry\Flattered\What's A Bittorrent?)

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- There will likely always be a certain amount of this kind of opportunism, and I suppose it will be self regulating to some degree. If there is too much, then quality programming will be reduced, and there will be nothing to steal. Other similar ways of avoiding commercials are also having this effect, and companies like mine are going to go out of business because the advertising revenues are being cut. Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.

ADAM SAVAGE -- Personally, I cannot condone the downloading of copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. That being said, I look forward to a future where such a thing will be possible, and encouraged, and conducted in such a way that properly takes care of the needs of the artists, the distributors, AND the end users. We're not there yet, but Creative Commons is a step in the right direction to be sure.

working at M5? by kin_korn_karn
How do you recruit talent for M5? What qualifies someone to work there?

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- I pull people from the local talent pool on an as needed basis. Often by referrals from co workers or from ILM which is the only other significant shop in the Bay Area for our kind of work. I look for experience with a range of mediums, but otherwise I'm big on basic intelligence and work ethic. Putting together a crew is kind of like making soup: it's the combination of things that makes it work.

Injuries? by jacksonai
What is the worst injury anyone sustained while trying to bust a myth?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Besides a couple of stitch-worthy cuts that I've sustained, I'd say the greatest injury has been to my dignity when receiving a rectal thermometer during the "Goldfinger Revisit" myth.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- So far we have only had minor cuts and scrapes. The worst of these was a broken finger sustained, ironically, by one of the crew when handling safety equipment; specifically the bullet resistant Lexguard panels we use which are quite heavy. We are becoming increasingly aggressive about maintaining safety on the show as over time -- as we are often replicating circumstances in which someone got hurt or killed, let's just say we have reason to be cautious.

Repeatable Experiments? by Aggrazel
I'm a father of a 7 year old who absolutely loves your show. We have it on our tivo and I'm constantly pausing the show to ask him what he thinks will happen in your experiments. You start every show with "Don't try this at home" but sometimes there are experiments that you do which you could probably try (safely) at home. Have you ever considered having a show where you say, "DO Try this at home?" Its fun to see my child get such a love of science in such a fun way.

ADAM SAVAGE -- That's a great idea! There's a book coming out next year called "MythBusters: Don't Try This at Home," that's actually about myths we did, and we offer ways that YOU can illustrate and test some of the concepts at home, safely.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- The fact that young people are becoming interested in science as a result of the show is by far the biggest bonus for us, and one that took us by surprise as we had no intent that the show do this. However one of the reasons it has worked is that very fact that we are not really trying to be educational. We blow stuff up, we screw around. Adam puts things up his nose. Sometimes we do stuff just because we are curious. We are interesting to young people perhaps because we are a little bit out of control. Putting this into a context that you can do at home is a little difficult, and I would suggest that this be the realm of the parent, who in doing so will also learn and be all the more involved with the child, all in all a good thing. As long as the parent doesn't blow up or otherwise harm the child, which would, of course, be counterproductive.

Source Material? by DigitalSorceress
I've been a fan since your first season, and in that time, you've covered quite a few of the big, classic myths and legends. Are you ever concerned that you'll "use up" all the best source material, sort of running out of steam as it were? Or is the internet such a fertile ground for kooks and bad jokes that you figure you can go on indefinitely?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Every time I think we may be reaching the end of large scale, popular myths -- every time I can't imagine how we'll mine any more things to test out of the popular consciousness -- every time I think that we'll end up doing esoteric, historical myths at the end of the series' run (not that that's a bad thing), we come across something amazing, that nobody can believe we hadn't thought of before.

Fact vs Fun? by elrick_the_brave
When I watch your show, it's obvious that there is a lot of fun going on. Who wouldn't like blowing up, breaking down, stinking up, falling down, and all-around destroying everything? For those of us not of TV-land.. how long does it take for you guys to produce an average episode.. how much of it is fun vs time spent working on getting it right? What is the most tedious part of busting myths?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Normally, it takes us about a week to film a single myth. That's an average. We've done them in as little as a day, and taken as much as 3 weeks or more to complete the big ones (can anyone say "JetPack?"). It's not a contiguous week though. We'll work on one myth in the morning, a second after lunch, a third the next morning, and shoot blueprints for 4 or 5 myths in the afternoon. Since much of what we do requires elaborate research, not to mention extensive permits, safety forms, and insurance clearance, at any one time we might be working on 4 myths or more.

As for the fun/tedious quotient: it IS a lot of fun, no doubt, but it can also be very exacting work. One of the most frustrating things about doing the show happens to be the thing that's most fun about it: what we do rarely conforms to our expectations. We thought testing formulas for skunk removal would be simple. Get sprayed, clean it off. Turned out that just finding a skunk with full juice sacks during mating season was nearly impossible. Who would have thought that? And that's generally the rule: NOTHING is ever as simple as we think it's going to be. Really though, that's the most satisfying part too. When we beat our heads against the wall for a while, trying several different tacks towards a question, and then we achieve an elegant experiment and a bonafide result, those are the good days. And they far outnumber the bad days.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- It takes about 3 weeks on average to do a show. While we do have fun from time to time, the bulk of my experience is worrying about keeping to the schedule, worrying about getting results, trying to keep people from getting hurt, cleaning up messes. We are in general cut up, bruised, achy from lifting, and stressed out. That being said I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, and Adam in particular is excited because he has an unlimited quantity of stories to tell at dinner parties.

Computer myths? by Short Circuit
Have you ever considered taking on some computer myths? Like whether or not it was ever possible for a virus to destroy old monitors?

ADAM SAVAGE -- The biggest problem with these for us is that they're not that visual. That being said, we've wanted for years to test different techniques for eliminating spam. Set up 2 brand new computers, hook them up to the internet, surf a little, and see what kind of spam they get. Then test to see what the actual real-world results of spam fighting techniques are (should you really click on those links that say they'll stop if you do?).

Fan science? by SilentChris
How often do fans question your results? Have you had any diehard science/physics freaks tell you you're wrong? Are there more "myth revisits" planned because of this feedback? How does it feel to have your decisions nitpicked?

ADAM SAVAGE -- Fans question our work all the time. Constantly. Fully 10% of the email I get is people telling me we got it wrong. I appreciate all the comments/criticism, etc., and much of the time, the criticism leads to a revisit, or a rethinking of our methodology. We don't claim to be infallible, and we're always totally willing to revisit our results. I like to think that places us in good company. The only criticisms I dislike are the ones that dispense with common courtesy. Sometimes I'll get just a sentence telling me that I'm an idiot, with no greeting and no signature. Jamie and I both read every email we get, we just don't have time to respond to them all.

JAMIE HYNEMAN -- We get grief from fans all the time. As far as I'm concerned, 'myths' are just an excuse for us to play around with things, and we have no corner on truth or science or anything like that. I am aware that good science doesn't work on a shoot schedule, no matter what. What I do like is the fact that the show is thought-provoking -- and if someone disagrees about a result, then great! It means people are thinking.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:43PM (#14310880)
    JAMIE HYNEMAN -- Other similar ways of avoiding commercials are also having this effect, and companies like mine are going to go out of business because the advertising revenues are being cut. Somebody has to pay for good programming, and if you cut out all the ads, and cut out the cable revenues, then you will end up with nothing but the kind of programming that is on public access stations, which is fine if that is what you happen to like, but limiting and a bit of a waste for a medium that is as powerful as TV.

    Or, like they have been doing more and more, they are going to move to blatant advertising inside programs via product placement, discussions by characters about products and then linking outside-show ads to that, or making TV shows "commercial free" and "sponsored by Foo" (i.e. 24's season premeire a couple years ago -- which is one of the reasons I stopped watching the show).

    The shows that have been doing this (Survivor, The Apprentice, etc) have done nothing but piss me off more than their existence already does. The fact that my wife watches them and I like to be w/her forces me to watch these programs. The blatant in-show advertising is actually starting to piss HER off. Want to alienate your viewership? Piss off those that actually wanted to watch your shows.

    ADAM SAVAGE -- Personally, I cannot condone the downloading of copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder. That being said, I look forward to a future where such a thing will be possible, and encouraged, and conducted in such a way that properly takes care of the needs of the artists, the distributors, AND the end users. We're not there yet, but Creative Commons is a step in the right direction to be sure.

    Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.
  • Good Responses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nos. (179609) <andrew@NoSpam.thekerrs.ca> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:44PM (#14310890) Homepage
    It was nice seeing both of them answer most of the questions. I think most of us would agree that its not pure science, but aside from some notable exceptions, they more or less accomplish what they set out to do. Its entertainment and it obviously makes people think critically about what they are seeing on TV... all in all a good thing. Keep up the good work guys.
  • by sl3xd (111641) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:45PM (#14310897) Journal
    Jamie and I have done the research, and figured that the only way to end the debate about the "myth" of the Apollo moon landing is to go there, and bring back something that was left there during one of the Apollo moon landings.

    Except that then the conspiracy theorists would then claim that the artifacts left on the moon were placed there by a separate unmanned mission. They could also argue that the artifacts really didn't come from the moon-- the new visit to the moon was also faked, because it's impossible to get past the Van Allen Belts, and the artifacts never left Earth.

    The people who are so insistent that the moon landings were a hoax simply re-interpret and filter what facts will fit their cospiracy theory; anything that disagrees with their conclusions are simply ignored or swept under the rug.
  • Re:Kari? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trybywrench (584843) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:47PM (#14310919)
    Wait, all this...and not a single Kari question?
    i think you mean "Scottie question". I mean come on, Scottie can weld! how fricken cool is that? i wonder if she likes perl poems..

    oh yeah the interview, nice job guys. Thanks for the thorough answers!
  • Re:Kari? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jtorkbob (885054) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:47PM (#14310923) Homepage
    Oh, there's more to it than that. She's just as useful as anyone in the build team. In fact, her mechanical abilities are just as drool-provoking as her physical appeal, IMO.

    Also, I don't think there are any nerds who don't either watch because they find the experiments fascinating, or watch so that they can critique the scientific method. Unless in your eloquence that's what you meant by "find the experiments stupid".
  • Isn't science.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:49PM (#14310939)
    ..about predictative modeling? Doesn't that make MythBusters just experimentation?
  • No favourites? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:53PM (#14310967)
    There are no favorites! The myths are so varied in what they involve that it is comparing apples and oranges.

    This sounds like a myth to me, a canned answer if I ever heard. I prefer oranges to apples personally. And I would much rather do an experiment shooting something and seeing the results than finding out whether a broken clock is actually right two times a day.
  • by no_opinion (148098) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:57PM (#14310994)
    Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.

    So you are actually trying to argue that users "need" to download a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder? That is a "want" of end users, not a need, just like I want $1 million. There is no rational justification other than self interest.
  • Most shows do that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:59PM (#14311013) Homepage
    As the secondary characters get more screen time, their names appear in the main credits, even if they were not before.

    You can see it in nearly all non-sitcom TV shows (it doesn't usually happen in sitcoms cause the characters rarely shift and change).

    See the different seasons of the West Wing for example. There are people in the credits of later seasons that were not in earlier seasons, even though they were charachters in the shows. They are just more important later.
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:04PM (#14311044)
    Sadly the networks cannot condone properl taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.

    Your version of the "needs of the end users" is an endless black hole. The end user always wants faster, better, cheaper.. hell free and lots of it! Yes, sadly the networks can not afford to produce quality programming and give it away for free, without advertising or some other revenue source.

    Your cynicism is misplaced - it should not be directed at the pockets of the networks, but rather at your own inability to recognize that the problem is that the end-users who choose to pirate are an unbalancing force in the ecosystem, and if and when that ecosystem comes crashing down (as many here so often claim they wish it will, at least as music is concerned), then they better be the last in line bitching about how suddenly there are fewer shows on TV (or music CDs in the stores) or that copyrightholders increasingly resort to stricter and stricted methods to try to bring some balance back.

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:04PM (#14311045) Journal
    So, let me get this straight: you don't want commercials during the show, you don't want one advertiser to sponsor the whole thing and not have any commercials, and you don't want product placements. Do you want all television to be subscription only, then? Cause someone has to pay to make these things, they're not cheap.
  • by InvalidError (771317) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:07PM (#14311071)
    I wonder about product placement in Mythbusters... if you have ever watched the show, they use "Mythbusters-branded" (either stick a Mythbuster print over the original labels or paint over them) everything. Cola, bug spray, gasoline, etc.

    For many myths, this would work fine as long as they can get sponsorships for all the front-row stuff required by the myth. "Today, we are going to test wether or not fried chicken provided by KFC has more penetration power than thawed and frozen chicken provided by XYZ using a modified 20gal 200psi tank from MNO, 12" dia. 1/4" thick 10' long steel pipe from PQR, glass pannels from..." Sounds pretty burdensome given that they do the show primarily for fun.
  • by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:09PM (#14311081)
    Everything we do today that is outside the reach of common experience is effectively based on belief, just like a philosophy or even a religion is. Science allows us to demonstrate that things are possible, but the fact is that most people, even scientists in other disciplines, frequently have to take certain things on faith, because there is no way that you will ever be able to actually demonstrate the experiments to them.

    The moon landings will always be doubted, and doubtable, until we're heading there for vacations and doing real business there which provides materials or situations that move the moon into the common experience. Even then, the human capacity for doubt is large. Today, when we have people from Asia regularly flying halfway around the world to the US and back, there are still flat-earthers. Not many, but some.

    This is important to realize, because science is good methodology for getting good theories and proving them, but if you are not able to personally experience the results, you may as well be reading about the painstaking methodology of determining the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin, and it will have as much credence to you as anything else, if you trust the source.

    Science is not popular and effective today simply because it produces good theories, it is effective today because a) it produces results we work with and b) we have an educational system that provides non-scientists the ability to replicate some experiments on their own. Without the personal experience, you can say that computers run on electricity all you want, and publish scientific papers up the wazoo about the theories, and people will still be capable of listening to the guy who insists that computers actually run on aether or Brazilian power crystals and that the Moon cannot be landed on because the Radiation belts will kill you instantly (or turn you into the Fantastic Four).
  • by evil_tandem (767932) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:10PM (#14311092)
    I want to download the content. That I am given no legal way to do that means now i need to steel it to get it in my preferred medium. :)

    that was meant as a joke, but seriously, is offering me a free download with commercials and a non-free commercial free version really that much to ask? There are people out there than can do this without too much hassle for FREE. Try giving me nice, easy-to-find, legal links. As long as you don't try to take advantage of customers (hint: pricing) there is plenty of money to be made.

  • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:18PM (#14311163)
    Sadly the networks cannot condone properly taking care of the needs of the end users. That wouldn't be fiscally responsible to their pockets.
    Not only wouldn't it be fiscally responsible to their pockets, it wouldn't be possible. It costs money to pay employees, to purchase equipment, to advertise a show. All that takes resources. You either bring in more resources than you pay out, or you do not have the resources to make the show. There is no magical fairy that is going to give us everything we want without cost. There is no way to escape the laws of reality. Even the government is a profit making corporation (the difference between a private corporation and the government is the government is a monopoly and can use violence... but both private corporations and government corporations are for-profit).

    Some alternatives to this are:

    1) Have shows produced completly by hobbiests. The hobbiests of course still need to make a profit, but they do that with their day job. In which case, expensive shows like Myth Busters will be very few and far between.

    2) Have shows produced by some sort of government monopoly. Welcome to the world of Dubya TV! The police handle ensuring the profit model... this works, so long as you are in the same social group as the ruling class. If you want some programing that the government doesn't approve of, you are out of luck.

    So far, commercial programing happens to be the best model we have for producing good television.
  • by ring-eldest (866342) <ring_eldest@hotm a i l . c om> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:19PM (#14311166)
    A frequent criticism I have of their work in terms of scientific methodology is that they often only have a single (or very few) subjects per condition, even when it would be a simple matter to add more and achieve a greater degree of generalization. One that comes to mind is the testing of motion sickness remedies; the bias present in this bust precludes generalizability mostly because they only used a few subjects, all of them on the research team.

    Conducting good research of publishable quality would probably take far too much time to fit into their shooting schedule, but I don't see that as a big loss. If anything I think their show is a perfect example of the division between research and entertainment. I think that if their show encourages a single child to pursue a career in science, it has had more of an impact than a dozen published papers a year, regardless of their quality. Science in America is already far to maligned by politicians and misunderstood by the general public.
  • by Councilor Hart (673770) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:26PM (#14311219)
    Either you pay for it by higher product prices (commercials are also not free) or you pay for the TV show yourself.
    In the last case at least your money is going to shows you want to watch.
    And no matter how much you try to resist commercials, they'll get you in the end. And if you don't buy anything anymore for which you saw an add, then what are you going to do? Live of sunlight?
    So yes, bring on paid for shows. It saves me time (not having to watch ads), it saves me annoyance (not having to watch stupid ads or stupid shows while socialising with the family) and only shows I endorse get money. So that would be more sci-fi and no bloody reality.
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:39PM (#14311324)
    You should really read what I post, it then allows you to understand what's going on. Ooooh, but then you couldn't troll, right?

    The fact that my wife watches them and I like to be w/her forces me to watch these programs.
  • BBC! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by why-is-it (318134) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:47PM (#14311385) Homepage Journal
    So far, commercial programing happens to be the best model we have for producing good television.

    Oh really? What about the BBC [bbc.co.uk]? The compulsary license model seems to produce a lot more quality programming than the commercial model.

  • by Gonarat (177568) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:50PM (#14311417)

    It depends on the show and how the advertising is done. CSI:Miami is a good example of the okay and the bad. Okay: the CSIs drive Hummer H2s in the show. The vehicle for the most part is just there -- the actors don't make a big deal about it. The bad: a few weeks ago they were advertising some cellphone music service. The in show advertising was so blatant that it disrupted the flow of the show (reminded me of the in-show advertising spoof in the move The Truman Show.

    In show advertising doesn't bother me in games shows such as Survivor (sorry folks, they call it a "reality show" but it is in reality a game show where the top prize is a million bucks). Game shows have had in show advertisers forever, so if someone wins Mountain Dew or a new Pontiac Whatever-it-was, that doesn't bother me that much.

    A show having a sponsor -- that's the way most shows were originally funded. The daytime soaps are called soaps because they were originally sponsored by soap companies back in the days of radio and early television. If Acme wants to sponsor a "commercial free" hour of 24, then thats okay by me. If they want a character that drinks Mountain Dew in a show, that's okay as long as they don't do it to the point where the flow of the show is interrupted. On the other hand, if it gets carried away to the point of where it starts looking like NASCAR or the advertising scene in CSI: Miami then it is too much.

    Just my $0.02.

    BTW, kudos to the gang at Mythbusters for some great answers. Keep up the good work!

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:55PM (#14311475)
    HBO works that way. It's $11/month on top of what we pay for cable and for that there's about 10 feeds, 1 high def. The programs and movies run uncut and without commercial interruption. Now clearly it's a workable business model since they've been doing it for years, and show no signs of stopping.

    Personally, I could really go for that for all TV. You pay like $10-20 month (currently a fair bit of your bill is the cost the cable companies pays the channels to carry them) or whatever for transport. That goes to the cable company for their part in getting you the programming. That comes with only free things like public acess and PBS. Then you get whatever packages you want. Maybe some channels are $20/month/channel and some are $5/month for a 10-pack. They decide what kind of money they need to support their programming.

    I would much rather pay the same amount for less channels if they were ad free. When you get down ot it, of the about 200 channels I have on my current feed I watch maybe 30 of them. I don't need the massive bundle of crap channels that you have to pay for to get some of the ones you want. For example I like all the discovery channels, there are 5 of them including the main discovery channel. The thing is, you have to pay for quite a bit extra to get them. You don't get any of them on basic cable which is like $15/month and gets you like 15 channels. To get discovery, you need to buy expanded basic which is more like $35/month which is about 60-80. However that only gets you the main feed. If you want discovery science, life, military, etc, you need digital cable. That's like $45/month, and you need to rent a digital reciver so $50/month total and is 100 or so channels.

    Now I'd much rather just pay $10/month or so to discovery, and get their channel pack. Now of course it would add up with all the channels I'd want, but I bet not to more than I pay now, and I'd be much happier with no commercials.

    It IS a feasable method of doing business, espically with digital cable where channel access control is easy for the cable company. The current "ad supported" model isn't necessary and, perhaps with more DVRs, it will go away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:02PM (#14311541)
    You want to pay for shows directly so that there will be more Sci-Fi & less reality? How many SF viewers are out there vs. how many reality show junkies? I hate most of the reality crap, but my guess is that it's on the air b/c people watch it.

    Now, which shows do you think will be cheaper to subscribe to:
    1) Sci-Fi with lots of $$$ special effects and few viewers
    2) Reality TV, with a billion viewers watching 12 volunteer idiots compete at things like "Who can hold on to a pole the longest" for a few bucks
  • Re:Another Queston (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:04PM (#14311562)
    Well, in this case you have to be a friggin idiot to think it was a myth. I'm pretty open minded on a lot of things, but the Apollo Hoax Believers are the biggest pack of prats walking the Earth. And if you disagree with that, tough.
  • Re:BBC! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:17PM (#14311691)
    There's a lot of crap on the beeb too. North Americans think british TV is cool because we've been filtered - they only bother exporting the best stuff.
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:17PM (#14311692) Homepage
    They don't know the difference between spam and viruses (virii?)...

    >> ADAM SAVAGE -- we've wanted for years to test different techniques for eliminating spam. Set up 2 brand new computers, hook them up to the internet, surf a little, and see what kind of spam they get. Then test to see what the actual real-world results of spam fighting techniques are (should you really click on those links that say they'll stop if you do?).

    Oh well, the rest is cool.

    MadCow
  • Re:How long? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pbemfun (265334) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:26PM (#14311756)
    Not really - the show usually has about 3 myths in it. 3 myths at 1 week per myth = 3 weeks.
  • Re:How long? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AutopsyReport (856852) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:50PM (#14311953)
    No. One week to film, three weeks to edit, prepare and release the show.
  • Re:What if...... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Iamthewalrus (688963) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @06:45PM (#14312873) Homepage
    This is a badly defined question. Since the plane generates thrust by pushing against the air, the only way the conveyor belt will move "at the same speed as the plane" would be if it moved fast enough that the rolling resistance of the wheels was equal to the thrust provided by the jet engines.

    Think for a moment how powerful jet engines are, and how absurdly fast the wheels would have to be moving for that to occur. You could never get a real runway up to those speeds. Assuming a magical, instantaneously accelerating runway, the plane would almost immedately tilt forward and plow directly into the ground because of the torque generated by the force of the engines (through the body of the plane) and the corresponding force of the conveyor belt against the wheels.
  • by supermank17 (923993) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:08PM (#14313031)
    Actually it looks like they do... I think they're referring to the "Click this link if you wish to be removed from the mailing list" links.
  • Re:BBC! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ford Prefect (8777) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:17PM (#14313085) Homepage
    Yes, "Doctor Who" is great in a Anglo-kitch kind of way, but for every "Doctor Who" there is a "Fat Friends" or "Space Cadets". And the BBC is absolutly monolithic in showing only the whitebread petty bougiouse government beurocrats eye view of the world. Give me commercial programing over the BBC any day.

    ... Of your two examples, neither of which were BBC productions. (Fat Friends: ITV, Space Cadets: Channel 4 - both commercial stations.) There's plenty of BBC-originated shit too, obviously.

    Oh, and the government [bbc.co.uk] bureaucrat's [bbc.co.uk] view [bbc.co.uk] of the world [bbc.co.uk]?
  • Re:BBC! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:21PM (#14313114)
    And the BBC is absolutly monolithic in showing only the whitebread petty bougiouse government beurocrats eye view of the world.

    Crap.

    And the BBC gets a good chunck of it's revenue for licencing it's content on the free market abroad (probably more than it gets from licencing frees, although I couldn't find the exact numbers published online) - so as a poster child of socialism, the BBC is a bad example. For most of the world, the BBC is just another commercial network competing on the free market, not a government agency. I certainly don't pay any compulsary licence for the several BBC channels I recieve!

    Why should I or anyone care about any of that? The BBC doesn't rely on advertising in the middle or around its programs and it doesn't rely on product placement. IT gives me what I want. If that's becuause it's succesfuly getting foreigners to pay all the bills then that's just fine.
  • by mallie_mcg (161403) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:33PM (#14313193) Homepage Journal
    Specifically the methodology used in most tests.

    Ever since the Air Conditioner test I have not been happy to sit and watch mythbusters with my friends. The issues I felt with it were that it was not scientific enough or appropriate to the myth that they were trying to bust.

    • Two seperate vehicles used, and not reverse tested - no comments relating to serviceing, mileage, economy each vehicle has - things like air filters make a big difference, and many mass produced cars will vary in economy by up to 10% (our fleet of 3.6L Commodoores do)
    • Vehicle chosen does not represent vehicle shape or aerodymanics that this "myth" relates to - referring to more common passenger sedans, not urban assult vehicles
    • The Air Conditioned Vehicle was on coldest for the duration - the point of the use your A/C not the Windows is to keep you at a comfortable temperature - not to have it on full blast - so the myth morphed into something else that they were testing


    It's things like that were the myth that is being tested is not what the myth originates about, and the scientific method (or lack thereof) that annoys me. Before that one I quite enjoyed the show, post that one, I became super critical of all tests! Other stuff that annoyed me - cans in cars exploding - which was "busted" I have personally had it happen to one of 12 sitting in a car, i think the hiding of branding gave extra strength or something to the can. Admittedly it appears that that one is more related to manufacturing flaws and faults in the container than anything else

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:41PM (#14313238)
    It kinda sucks for those of us who have no legal means of accessing the content.

    I live in Norway, but sadly there is no tv stations showing my favorite american tv series. This is why i end up downloading these series from the internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:45PM (#14314378)
    Everything we do today that is outside the reach of common experience is effectively based on belief, just like a philosophy or even a religion is. Science allows us to demonstrate that things are possible, but the fact is that most people, even scientists in other disciplines, frequently have to take certain things on faith, because there is no way that you will ever be able to actually demonstrate the experiments to them.

    Bullshit. Experiments have to be reproducable, methods published, and verified by multiple parties. That it's beyond the reach of your lab to reproduce every little concept that you're using in your own research doesn't mean you have to take these concepts on "faith." The review process and multiple verifications as well as the open nature of scientific publishing make the acceptance of a concept's usefulness a reasoned judgement, NOT faith.

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