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Educational Value of Mythbusters

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I revisited an article in Popular Mechanics about the popular Discovery Channel show, “Mythbusters”. On occasion I do watch the show and was thinking maybe this show will get people more interested in science. After reading the PM article, it appears that is the case, the show has a huge following with nearly 2 million viewers per episode. The show has been running on cable television for six years but I have only had cable television for a little over a year now, so just started watching this year.

 

Many people point to the positive aspect that the show gets people, particularly kids interested in science, some people counter and say it is mainly about explosions and over glorifies what scientists really do. The main characters of the show; Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage point out that the show was not created with science education in mind, their backgrounds are in special-effects. Some teachers use video from Mythbusters' episodes in their science lessons. When the President was speaking at the recent launch of Educate To Innovate program, Adam and Jamie were invited along with prominent scientists.

 

A quote I really liked from the PM article was:

“We’ve shown that it’s a lot easier to get hands-on experience than people think,” Jamie says. “You can memorize how to do something, but unless you internalize the information, it’s just a pile of data sitting on a table. Hands-on experience is what allows you to make it part of your brain; it brings that data to life.”

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from a scientific ideal point of view, its crap. it doesn't show you that you need to repeat stuff a LOT to get good data. or how to analyse the data properly.

 

from the point of view of the rest of the 'science' shows. pretty darn amazing.

 

its much better than the rest of the crap out there. and its enjoyable. go mythbusters.

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The show is very entertaining, but I find that there is almost gratuitous experimentation. Most of the myths that come in could be disproved with some back-of-the-envelope calculation, but their answer is always to reproduce the myth physically. This isn't exactly the best idea because their experiments aren't exactly the best-controlled so in the end not much science is being done. Regardless, I agree with i_a, it is the best of the science shows out there in both aspects of scientific content and entertainment.

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Agreed - the most educational science show aimed at the masses, with Nova Science Now a close second. I worry though what will fill the void when they leave? So far spinoffs like Smashlab and such have been garbage.

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Its a brilliant entertaiment show yes. But they rarely have anything that even remotely resemebles what science is really like. And I have to agree with Kyrisch, most of the myths they do can either be disproved with some basic maths or just thinking it through!

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Its a brilliant entertaiment show yes. But they rarely have anything that even remotely resemebles what science is really like. And I have to agree with Kyrisch, most of the myths they do can either be disproved with some basic maths or just thinking it through!

 

seeing as it is aimed at people not interested in maths and may not have the prerequisite knowledge/skills to think it through then they are actually going about it the right way.

 

and even if it is possible to prove/disprove something its a good exercise in experimental design.

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Nobody here likes Naked Science on NatGeo? :-(. I love that show.

 

Mythbusters never interested me, strangely.

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Say what you want about "Mythbusters" but it got my teenage son interested in actually doing something with his hands other than twisting the screws on a video game. Yes we had to call the fire department once and the police showed up a couple of times but I think the show helped him realize that the real world is every bit as interesting as fantasy. Now he's on his way to a degree in mechanical engineering. If there's a god may he bless Jamie and Adam and the whole crew.

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Not saying I don't watch Mythbusters because I do but I will have to say it makes me so frustrated if I watch it with my "scientific mind" but if I'm watching it with my "Im lazy and dont wanna think mind" it is pretty good =)

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Its the most sciencey non-science show out there. You can see some rudimentary elements of the scientific method (i.e. they always have a hypothesis to test, a method to test them with standardized controls, results and a conclusion) however a lot of the true scientific content seems to be lost to the gods of TV ratings. Lets be honest, most of America doesn't want to see an experiment done 20+ times to prove the conclusion without a doubt nor a lot of the method-building hickups that always seem to happen during experimentation and research. The show strikes the best entertainment and science mix out there, so much so that it might be this generations Bill Nye.

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... most of the myths they do can either be disproved with some basic maths or just thinking it through!

 

Ever been to their forum? It's amazing how many people believe that stuff might be possible. IMO, it's not so much a science show as it is a show about the basics of reality.

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