From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Dynamic Duo.
This might be
Icon skepticism.svg
But we're not sure
Who's asking?

MythBusters, a television show (2003-2016, with a couple reboots since) hosted by special-effects experts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, promoted skepticism about urban legends and attempted to prove or disprove them by experiment. Produced by the Discovery Channel in Australia (filmed in the United States), it aired around the world. The combination of skepticism, "blowing !@#$%^&* up real good", Adam and Jamie's natural chemistry, and (second season to the 13th) build-team member Kari Byron made it one of the most popular science shows in the world.[citation needed] It is probably coincidence that "build team" can be abbreviated as "B-team."[note 1]

Methods and criticism[edit]

Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.
—Adam Savage[1]

While it is indisputable[citation NOT needed] that the show often places more weight upon impressive experiments than on truly scientific experiments,[2][3] it has done much for promoting the scientific method by encouraging viewers to exercise skepticism and to subject their beliefs to the rigors of - if not totally scientific, then at least some - testing.[4] This skepticism extends to the show itself, which encourages viewers to question the experiments portrayed. MythBusters was one of the only shows of its kind that would actually redo a test it had already done - if fans found fault with the original tests, discovered different variations of the myth, or disputed the broadcast interpretations. These revisits are often just as fun to watch, or even more so, than the original myths, and being open with shortcomings lent more credibility to the published results. Thus, there is no need to feel guilty while enjoying watching some guys "blowing !@#$%^&* up real good!" (which is itself a valid reason for watching). The program also had a standing rejection of trying any more New Age, or as Adam put it, "oogie-boogie" myths after they attempted to put pyramid power myths to the test.

Thought experiments[edit]

MythBusters also, at times, tested standard thought experiments in physics, such as:

  • "two bullets, one fired from a gun, the other simultaneously dropped, will strike the ground at the same time" (only if the bullet is fired exactly horizontally parallel to the ground in a vacuum. Obviously, if you fire the bullet straight down, it hits the ground first, as it has a higher initial velocity)
  • "it is impossible to blow your own sail with a fan on the boat, because the reaction force of the fan will exactly cancel the thrust of the sail" (busted, surprisingly, for a sufficiently strong fan)

Pwning moon landing denialism[edit]

MythBusters pwned a few moon-landing hoax myths, such as:

  • shadows from multiple angles imply multiple sources of light (busted)
  • the myth that the flag could not have flapped in a vacuum (busted)
  • the myth that the astronauts could not have left distinct footprints in the dry Moon dust (also busted)

The episode ended with MythBusters visiting an observatory that uses a laser to determine the distance of the Moon from the Earth, which would be impossible had not the Apollo 11, 14, and 15 astronauts placed special reflectors on the lunar surface. The staff at the observatory stated that no moon hoaxers had ever come to question them or to investigate the observatory, probably because moon hoaxers don't seem to be aware of the other Apollo missions besides Apollo 11.

Related shows[edit]

  • Brainiac: Science Abuse - How to fail miserably at doing a show about experimental science.
  • Mythbusters (2017-2018) - The reboot that didn't have the spectacular charisma of the original cast.
  • Mythbusters Jr.Wikipedia (2019) - The second reboot that felt more like reality TV with kids and guest starring Adam Savage. To be fair, the kids are brilliant in their own right.

External links[edit]


  1. Which is literally the case from season three or so onwards -- although Kari Byron, Tori Belleci, and Grant Imahara aren't as well-known as Adam and Jamie, they did quite impressive work in their own right, while Adam and Jamie were involved in other projects. They also have their own show, White Rabbit Project,Wikipedia on Netflix