?Mythbusters! Nerd porn of the highest order! Mr. Wizard for grown-ups — with explosions! For over seven years we’ve watched Adam and Jamie’s Odd Couple act, watched Grant build the awesomest of machines, watched Tory hurt himself, and watched Kari… well, just watched Kari, really.
But as much as we love the cast, there’s something much greater here that appeals directly to our nerd natures: Who among us hasn’t watched as the crew went to work on a myth so obviously absurd that we’d scoff and snicker? Filled with smug arrogance we’d sit back as what we already knew to be false is proven incontrovertibly so… and store the relevant information away for later use in cementing our superiority over lesser beings who believe such nonsense. Only it doesn’t always work that way.
Every now and then, Mythbusters will throw our snark right back in our nerdy faces, and the most outrageous of urban myths will be proven absolutely true — even a finding of “Plausible” can be an enormous shock to the system. So, not only does the show allow us to flaunt our “intellectual superiority,” it also provides the occasional dose of much needed humility. Here then are seven myths whose results blew our minds, and reminded us that maybe we’re not as incredibly brilliant as we thought we were.
7) Driving While Angry Uses More Gas
This sounds a lot like one of those bullshit things parents and teachers tell you that “seem” sensible, but later in life you learn are pure moonshine designed to discourage bad or unhealthy habits (like the one about sugar causing hyperactivity). Not in this case: The Mythbusters declared this one 100% confirmed when they compared fuel consumption between a calm driver and one put through various agitations and discomforts (this could be why oil companies seem to be so good at pissing people off).
6) You Can Actually Slap Sense Into Someone
Who hasn’t seen a groggy character in some movie get his faculties restored by a good, hard SMACK? But, since we’re all rational, intelligent people, it is our default position to disbelieve everything the world of cinema presents us, and to show disdain to anyone who falls for this crap… only it’s true! A sharp slap was shown to improve alertness and mental acuity, information we’re certain no one would think of using as an excuse to smack the bejeezus out of irritating individuals… right?
5) You Can Stick Your Hand Into Molten Lead Without Injury… Briefly
This sounds more like an immensely cruel practical joke than a myth, nevertheless, it works exactly the way it says: It’s called the Leidenfrost Effect, and it’s real nifty! The lead has to be sufficiently hot, but if it is, the water will turn to vapor and temporarily protect your hand (it’s impossible to overstress the “temporarily” part here!). Volunteers?
4) Nervousness Can Cause Cold Feet
Apparently not everyone who came up with these expressions back in the old-timey days was zonked out on opium-laced cough syrup. This old saw proved to have some honest veracity to it: They had Tory, Grant and Kari face their worst fears and monitored the temperature of their feet — Grant and Kari showed a significant decrease, but Tory’s results were inconclusive, thus the determination of “Plausible.” Gotta love the video — we’re not even particularly arachnophobic, but that creeps us the hell out!
3) Elephants Are Really Afraid of Mice
This was the very myth that inspired the creation of this list in the first place. We were nothing short of flabbergasted! To buy into an absurd cartoon stand-by like this would be akin to believing rabbits tend to cross-dress and hit on speech-impaired hunters. And yet, when presented with the meek little rodent, the formidable beasts not only took notice — but did their best to avoid the tiny creatures. True, they didn’t freak out, jump up on their hind legs and go “EEK!” But the very fact that they didn’t simply ignore the mice, as Adam and Jamie predicted, makes this quite a humbling entry.
2) An Ultrasonic Motion Sensor Can Be Thwarted by a Bedsheet
This was one of those myths where upon hearing the “logic” behind how it’s supposed to work, the viewer suspects it’s the product of a poor understanding of the device in question, but nope, this one’s totally accurate: A simple sheet draped over the head was able absorb the sound waves emitted by an ultrasonic motion sensor. It seemed to kinda cut down on visibility — but we assume one could always cut eye holes, if they don’t mind sneaking through the lair of a supervillain looking like a Peanuts cartoon ghost.
1) Cursing Aloud Helps People Tolerate Pain More than Not Cursing
This is so fucking cool (hey, we’re just increasing our pain tolerance). Makes you wonder what it is about those words? Screaming “fiddlesticks!” at the top of your lungs won’t produce the same effect, so it can’t simply be the yelling… regardless, this myth isn’t just a convenient excuse for the use of “colorful metaphors,” it’s backed up by the experimental data. And you have to admire the clever apparatus they designed so the viewers wouldn’t be scandalized by watching Kari’s lovely mouth form “naughty words”. So, we’ve so far shown the values of physical violence AND obscene language — who says this website isn’t informative!
If you enjoyed this article, you might have a passing interest in…