Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Christopher, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We'll have to disagree about that. I was more interested in the go kart... but more from a Boy Building Dangerous Things perspective.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    A curious turn of phrase. I'm more interested in watching the girl (Kari) building dangerous things. Or wrecking them. :devil:
     
  3. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, the girl helps. I'm envious that they have a shop to build something that could explode. I haven't had something like that since I lived at home. Sigh.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Men vs. women: I'm not sure they were doing enough to debunk the myth of gender difference here, because there were a number of underlying myths they fell prey to themselves, like failing to distinguish between intrinsic and culturally influenced differences and talking about differences between the averages of male and female performance as if they were differences between all men and all women.

    It particularly puzzles me that they treated the difference in the driving ability test (about 7 points out of 78) as significant enough to say the men came out ahead, but treated the difference in the grilling ability test (about 4 points out of 40-something) to be close enough to declare it a tie. Those are both about the same degree of variation, the women's score about 90 percent or more of the men's score, so if it's a tie in one case, it should be a tie in both cases.

    I guess what's interesting about the grilling test is that it seemed there'd be a culturally learned advantage for the men, but the results were actually too close to call. On the whole, all the results were either too close to call or a very narrow margin of "victory." I wish they'd shown the total statistics sets for the tests instead of just giving us the averages, but they showed us enough of the individual variations within the men and within the women that I think we can safely say that the alleged differences between the sexes are totally swamped by the variations within either sex.

    Specific comments:

    On the driving test, I wonder how much the heavy suits and goggles and gloves and such impaired performance. Probably the impairment was equal for both sexes and cancelled out, but it would've been nice if they'd done a control test -- drivers of both sexes with the concealment gear and without it -- to confirm that.

    I wonder if the website will let us take the emotion-reading test ourselves. I'd like to try that. I got the first couple right away, even though they said the men tended to need more time to decide. (Although when I saw Kari's "angry" eyes, my initial reaction was to read it as a seductive, come-hither look. Wishful thinking, I guess.)

    I wonder if Jamie was really sincere about having no emotional expression. I suspect that he and the other hosts have a tendency to play up the personas the fans expect of them, so that as Mythbusters they're kind of caricatures of who they are in real life. Then again, have we ever seen Jamie really show emotion before? We've seen him get irritated at Adam, but without much change in expression or tone.

    It figures that the test subjects would find map reading harder in this day and age when most people just use GPS. I wonder if that cliche has become too irrelevant to be worth testing, although I suppose there's value in testing myths from the past (some of their best myths have been the historical inventions and such). Anyway, they did have a couple of rather nice-looking female test subjects for this one. Maybe the editors chose to focus more on them than on others.

    In the car-packing test, I wonder how clear Adam made it to the test subjects that the doll in the child seat should be treated as if it were a live baby rather than an inanimate object. Not that it had any effect on the results, but I'd like to know to what extent that demonstrated a problem with following/comprehending instructions, as opposed to Adam just failing to spell it out clearly.


    On the whole, it was nice to see a topic that involved the two teams of Mythbusters working together, mixing and matching. We see that too rarely these days; usually it's more like there are two completely independent Mythbusters shows, one starring Adam and Jamie and one starring Kari, Grant, and Tory, that are being intercut. I'm not crazy about their approach to these tests, but I wouldn't mind seeing more battle-of-the-sexes episodes if it means more full-cast teamups like this.
     
  5. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I don't want to touch the stuff in this episode with a 10-foot pole. Just want to say it was interesting and I wasn't surprised it ended in a "tie." Though, like Christopher, I too noticed that Jamie and Adam called a slim difference between the sexes as a "win" for the men when the other similar differences were seen as ties. I too wondered if it was made clear to the subjects that the doll in the car-seat was to be treated as a real child. (Maybe it would've been more clear if they had used a child-sized crash dummy or a more realistically sized/appearing doll instead of the Raggedy-Anne looking doll they had here.

    Jamie clearly seems pretty lowly-expressive when it comes to his face, it even seemed that way in the early days of the show before they got typed into their "characters." There's been times on th e show where Jamie has shown expression of emotion but it's came from real, genuine, moments (like the look of "glee" he had when their first test of the rocket-car launched (in the pilot episode IIRC) and he simply can't just "look happy" on cue.

    And, yeah, I saw Kari's "angry" look as more come hither/sensual than angry too. Maybe that's a guy thing? We're driven by desires and emotions and make us mis-judge things. That or there's a link between "angry" and "sensual."
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, they only did that in one case. They gave the women the clear "win" in the emotion-reading test, although there I think the difference was big enough to be statistically significant, though just barely.


    Oh yeah, I do remember him being happy on occasion.


    Well, there is the saying "You're beautiful when you're angry." I think that what the eyes do when you're angry at someone -- focusing intently on them, narrowing to shut out distractions -- is similar to what they'd do when you're looking at someone with intense desire.

    And just the general tension and strength of emotion can be similar. It's like the way riding a roller coaster or seeing a scary movie can help intensify attraction between two people on a date, because the adrenaline surge caused by fear is much the same as that caused by desire. By the same token, if someone's angry or yelling threateningly at you, that can get your adrenaline going in much the same way as if a sexy person is coming on to you. So if it's a sexy person angry at you, the arousal response may be similar.
     
  7. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    WE didn't get a really close look as his face, but when it involved walking across the duct tape rope bridge, Jamie probably exhibited the most fear he's ever displayed on the series. He stated he wasn't overly fond of heights before walking across it and as he was doing so, one could hear the "concern" in his voice. Now, comapred to someone else, yeah, he may have still appeared rather stoic, but for Jamie, the guy was in a near panic.

    But, like I stated, no cameras were trained closely upon his face to record his actual expression.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  8. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We saw a rare example of Jaime's happy face in this very episode with him shaking the TV in the "don't try this at home" bit. Although he's never been good at acting for the camera on command, so I can see why he would have trouble doing it here.

    Anyway, I thought it was a fun episode. One can question their methodology (especially the very limited sampling sizes they used), but generally speaking I think the truth is probably the way they showed it-- there might be slight advantages here or there, but not enough to say that one gender is massively better at certain things than the other.

    I do have to wonder how much people's nerves played in these tests though. No matter how adept you might be at driving normally, if you're at a police training center with a police instructor grading every move you make (not to mention all the cameras watching you or the ridiculous outfit you're wearing) you're GOING to drive a bit differently.

    If it was me I'd probably be shaking like a leaf. Lol

    And putting a severe time limit on the car-packing test seemed kind of odd to me as well. Some people might require more time to pack a car properly, but that doesn't mean they don't know HOW to do it.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And again, these are just differences in the average performance, and it's always unwise to forget the wide variation within each gender. For instance, there were those studies a while back (which I think have since been debunked anyway) showing that boys did "better" at math than girls; but really it was just that the average for the boys was slightly better, and if you plotted the boys' and girls' bell curves on top of each other, they'd overlap almost completely. So there'd be a lot of girls who did better at math than many or most of the boys.

    It's always dangerous to take averages too literally. Averages are statistical artifacts that we invent to simplify things, but they can be misleading. The average position of a car on a circular racetrack (if it moves at constant velocity) is the center of the circle -- a point it never actually occupies.


    But those would only be significant here if men and women responded differently to the stress. Otherwise the effect cancels out and both sexes' performance is equally impaired, so it doesn't hurt the results.
     
  10. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, both sexes responded about the same. I just think it made the volunteers look a lot sillier and more incompetent than they would otherwise be.

    It kinda made the tests more about "how well do you perform these tasks under pressure" than how both sexes actually perform them in the real world.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^But again, even if that's so, the only thing that mattered was whether the results differed by gender. As long as it was made equally harder for both men and women, then it's irrelevant to the specific thing they were testing.

    Unless you're implying the possibility that men and women respond to pressure differently, thereby contaminating the results. But that in itself is a claim they'd have to test separately.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Driving in heels/other bad shoes: A surprising result, since I would've figured those awkward types of shoes would indeed cause problems with the pedals. But apparently once you get acclimated to them, it still works. If Jamie and Adam had done badly with the women's shoes, I would've complained that they should've brought in Kari to try it, on the theory that a woman would be more used to wearing heels and might do better. But since even a couple of guys had no trouble at all driving in spike heels, I guess it's unnecessary.

    Driving with a full bladder: Kind of a mixed result, since it didn't fit the mythical claim of being as bad as driving drunk, but was still a sufficient impairment to be dangerous. Overall, though, not a subject I want to dwell on.

    Superglue/upside-down room: I'm a bit surprised they pulled it off, though I have a couple of quibbles. One, if they really wanted to match the myth of the rock stars and the hotel room, they should've waited to test whether everything stayed stuck to the ceiling for a few hours, since it might've taken a while before the cleaning staff got to the room and discovered what had been done to it. Given that the glue only held the car for a few moments, I think staying power was something they should've tested too.

    Superglue as "seatbelt": Not surprising that this didn't work, and the reason for the failure makes sense. Even if the bond formed by the glue is superstrong, the materials that are glued together are not, and can give way under too much force. This myth is based on the same oversight that leads to superhero scenes like Superman lifting an ocean liner without it breaking under its own weight, or Steve Austin lifting a car by its bumper without the bumper just ripping off (or without his non-bionic spine breaking). It's a failure to consider the structural limits of the objects themselves.

    And the big question they didn't address is, if you superglued yourself to your car seat, how would you get out? You'd have to abandon that set of clothing, and might need to be cut out of it.

    So they're up to Buster 4.0 now. I can see why they needed him -- Buster 3.0 is a wreck. (And that steel-plate superglue trick may have kept him in the seat, but without a headrest he got horrible whiplash.) Buster 4.0 looks pretty clean and pristine -- that won't last long.
     
  13. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Well, in theory, Superman can extend his "super-aura" that gives him his powers through the sun around or onto whatever object he's touching or near. So, ... ;)

    The driving in heels thing, yeah I'm surprised that they didn't become too much of a encumbrance to Jamie and Adam's driving especially considering their inexperience with those types of shoes. But I sort of wished they hadn't just focused on women's shoes and maybe tried some more encumbering men's shoes. Heavy work boots and the like.

    I've driven with a full bladder plenty of times (hell I do it once a week) and it's "difficult" and makes you antsy but I don't think it really "impairs" you, at least not the same way alcohol does.

    The super-glue myths were a bit surprising, I really wasn't even aware the stuff had so much "staying power", I'd like to see some aspects sort of "over done." Like if they had put a lot more glue (like a whole bottle) between the car and the lift would the car have stayed there longer or mostly permanently?

    (It also looked like on top of the super-glue they were using that stuff you can add to it that makes the glue bond within minutes instead of hours.)
     
  14. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You mean like big winter boots?
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, they tested a wide range of different types of awkward footwear ranging from high heels to work boots. It wasn't just women's footwear; it's just that two of the three shoes that gave the worst reaction times were women's shoes (the third being heavy snow boots).
     
  16. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah to me the coolest thing about the super glue myth was just that first test, and seeing how much weight one drop could actually hold up. That was just mindblowing.

    And as far as the shoe thing, I can still see how less experienced drivers (who don't have hours and hours of stunt driving behind them) could have trouble making split-second maneuvers while wearing tiny high heels that could easily slip off a brake pedal. Although I guess that could be down more to the driver than the shoe...
     
  17. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I kind of wonder if there couldn't be a lot more to the shoes while driving myth. Okay, it had no impact on the obstacle course but what about in other situations like, say driving with your cruise control on? One of the things I was taught that while using your cruise control you still cover your brake in case there's an emergency. Well, to cover your brake you rest your foot on its heel and hover your foot over the pedal this can be tiring in regular shoes, I suspect it'd be really painful if not impossible in heels.
     
  18. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Vice Admiral Admiral

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    God. I never do that. What's the point of cruise control then? I might as well have my foot on the accelerator if I'm going to work that hard.

    I just leave my foot on the floor under the break pedal.
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Cruise Control better keeps the car at a constant speed and can save on gas as the car is better at maintaining that speed at a low throttle position.

    Not covering your brake while on cruise is stupid. Think of how far your car travels inside of one second while it's on cruise (for most cars this is over 35 miles an hour but in most situations is likely to be highway speeds) and the think of how long it'd take you to see you need to quickly apply your brake, lift your foot, place it on the pedal, and then press it.

    For me? All I'd have to do is react by putting my foot down. It may be small fractions of a second but considering a car at 55 miles an hour travels 80 feet inside one second the difference between a quarter second and half a second reaction time is 20 feet. Could mean the difference between life and death.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They explained in the aftershow that, since they are very experienced drivers, they deliberately designed the test course to challenge them to the limit of their abilities. So that should've pretty much cancelled out their advantage.

    Besides, the point was to compare their performance in the awkward shoes to their performance in normal shoes in the control run. That cancels out other variables like the drivers' skill level, because it's the same driver running the same course and only the shoes are different.