A catch-up item from last week: this NYT article on the show Mythbusters as science-teaching tool. To me, the value of the show is that it shows the thought process that one must go through to set up and then evaluate an experiment that’s designed to test a hypothesis. It’s all about “How do we know we’re testing what we want to test?” and “What do the results we got (or didn’t get) tell us about what we wanted to test?”, two questions which I think everyone could spend more time thinking about. I like the fact that they address questions from viewers about the validity of previous experiments and try them again with those concerns in mind to see if they really did get it right the first time.
Real scientists will have legitimate quibbles about their methods, as they express in Chad Orzel‘s comments. It’s still television, after all, so the need for an earth-shattering kaboom will win out over more mundane things every time. The clincher for me is that Olivia likes the show, which gives Tiffany and me the chance to say things like “Science is cool!” to her on a regular basis. And hey, I like a good earth-shattering kaboom as much as the next guy. Nothing wrong with that, right?