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Old October 29 2012, 02:18 AM   #184
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Re: Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

So nobody's posting thoughts on the new episodes? This week was the Halloween special, and it was a mixed bag. The first myth, testing whether infrasound could induce anxiety and the perception of a place being haunted, was really badly handled. Adam even admitted a source of bias in their experimental design -- that maybe their volunteers were picking the first of the four cabins as the creepiest because of the novelty of the experience -- but they just shrugged it off rather than trying to fix the problem. They should've done more to balance out other differences and sources of bias -- put the infrasound on a different cabin each time, had the volunteers go through the cabins in different orders, had identical chairs in each, etc. But they didn't even bother. Really, really sloppy experimental design. The science has really gone downhill on this show.

I didn't much care for the Fear Factor quality of the "smell of fear" experiment, but since it served a purpose, it didn't feel as gratuitous. Interesting that there was a difference detectable to an expert, but I wish they'd explained what caused fear sweat to smell different from exertion sweat, what the biochemical or hormonal difference was. Another way the science is slipping: they don't put as much effort into explaining the causes and mechanisms behind things.

I liked the animated Scooby-Doo pastiche they did, with Tory as Shaggy, Grant as Fred, Kari as Daphne, and Buster as a ghost. But why was Grant wearing a shirt and tie instead of a sweater and ascot?

The body-moving test gave surprising results. For years I've been watching the Mythbusters struggle to move and carry Buster around, so I would've thought they'd have similar difficulty with this SynDaver(TM). Maybe the SynDaver being lighter, only 150 pounds, made it easier. Or maybe it was because it was more flexible than Buster or a ballistics-gel dummy, making it easier to maneuver.

Anyway, the SynDaver is a pretty cool human analog, and I expect we'll see more of them on the show in the future. I wonder if there's a version that comes with skin.

One thing I question is the premise of the myth. Is it really true that movies tend to show body-moving as an easy thing to do? I'm sure I've seen a number of instances of characters struggling with the dead weight.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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