Educating TV programs like Mythbusters are game-changers. Such programs equip viewers with knowledge about things they may never have known, making people more aware of their environment.
When Discovery Channel started Mythbusters on January 23, 2003, people loved it and spoke highly of it. The program was so educating, captivating, and entertaining that many wouldn’t have thought that it would end one day.
Despite Mythbusters’ success and fan-base, Discovery Channel decided to pull the plug. And it’s surprising, given how impactful the show had become.
Now, let’s dig deeper to understand the reason why Mythbusters stopped airing.
So, why Mythbusters cancelled?
The main reason Mythbusters was cancelled was because of a massive drop in the show’s rating. At the start of the program, it was recording millions of views per episode. Over time, the numbers started reducing while the production costs remained high.
The drop in views was a result of some changes the producers experienced during the show. In 2014, they fired almost half of the team members. They then brought in Tori Belleci, Grant Imahara, and Kari Byron. And this caused a significant change in the show. So, in a nutshell, money was the primary issue.
Every TV program has a lifespan, so no one expected Mythbusters to continue forever. Discovery Channel notified the public of their intentions to stop the show. So, viewers were aware that the last season would be aired in 2016.
Keep reading for more on this topic.
What Is Mythbusters?
Mythbusters is a pop-science show that aired from 2003 to 2016 on Discovery Channel. The hosts were Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Additionally, the build team included Tori Belleci, Grant Imahara, and Kari Byron.
In the show, the host and build team members test the validity of popular myths using scientific methods. The myths include folk tales, urban legends, viral internet videos, historical events, movie effects, and common idioms.
However, there are some myths that Mythbusters didn’t address. They include paranormal concepts (like ghosts) which cannot undergo scientific tests. The show also avoided carrying out experiments on myths that can’t undergo tests safely.
Mythbusters aired 14 seasons in total and ended in 2016. It also consists of 900 explosions, 1050 myths, 2950 experiments, and 282 episodes.
Australia’s Beyond Television Productions produced the show, and Peter Rees developed it. It aired not only on the Discovery Channel in America but also on 7mate, SBS Australia, and Discovery Channels worldwide.
After Discovery cancelled Mythbusters, Science Channel started the show in 2017, but with new hosts. The hosts were part of the “Mythbusters: The Search” series, which aimed towards selecting new hosts.
After that, Brian Louden and Jon Lung won the contest (8 episodes) and became the new hosts. They started the show in 2017, and it ended in 2018.
Why Was Mythbusters So Impactful?
Mythbusters made non-science and science students, including non-students, embrace and enjoy science. It made science-related topics so easy to understand.
Let’s find out why the game had such a massive impact from its onset.
It made science easy for everyone:
One benefit the show had, was that it made science easy and doable for everyone. Science felt like a thing for everybody, not only scientists. It proved that everyone could be a scientist.
Excitingly, Mythbusters’ team members were not even scientists. Grant Imahara is the only member with a technical degree. No other member of the team has a science degree.
Additionally, Adam Savage and Jaime Hyneman have past knowledge of special effects movies, so they were great builders.
The more time you spend watching the show, the more you feel like you don’t need a science degree to become a scientist.
It clarified many myths and claims:
Many urban myths that we never thought of before got explained on the show. For instance, what happens after you fire bullets into the air? Mythbusters did a lot of these tests, even with some injuries as a result.
Typical of science, you never know what will happen until you do it. So a lot of urban myths got clarified on the show.
The experiments put to the test tons of longstanding myths and claims. And the results depend on the conclusion of several repeated tests. The tests are also liable as they follow the scientific methods and the guidelines of science experiments, such as objectivity.
How Mythbusters Teaches Science
Mythbusters can build models and compare them to real life. They usually use extensive construction expertise and engineering to create devices that they use to perform the experiments. They also carry out tests to prove if the myths are real or not.
The tests went through several processes to arrive at their results. The techniques include recreating the myth to achieve the supposed outcome. If they fail to achieve that, they expand the parameters to a large extent until they accomplish the imagined result.
Now let’s break down Mythbusters process of achieving results into specified steps:
Step#1: Propose a hypothesis:
The hypothesis involves coming up with the experiment’s results before the major process starts. Mythbusters gave their opinion on what they think will be the outcomes before conducting experiments. And like every science experiment, their hypothesis is testable.
Even if the myth seems true, it can’t be accepted as fact, unless it goes through a test. So it’s not about how long the myth is; it is still open to scrutiny.
An example of proposing a hypothesis includes Adam and Jamie’s skeptical approach to the supposed outcome of the “Depth Charge Disaster” myth.
Step#2: Carry out experiments:
Mythbusters was careful and thorough when carrying out experiments. They used controls, which are essential in experiments. Controls make it possible to consider confounding variables when experimenting.
Examples include their use of controls in the “Red Flag to a Bull” experiment and testing the “Eye Patch” myth.
The team also avoided bias in the results by using single-blind and double-blind methods. For instance, the judges were not aware of the gender of the persons who prepared the food they tasted in the “Battle of the Sexes” experiment.
Sometimes the experiments’ results were neither true nor false and showed the possibility that it may happen.
Step#3: Logical reasoning:
Mythbusters incorporated the use of logic in their experiment. And that helped people to see the importance of logical reasoning in experiments.
An example is in the “What is Bullet Proof?” myth. The logic was that if the lard used in the dummy, which corresponds to the fat in the most obese person in the world, couldn’t stop a bullet, then fat in people couldn’t.
Step#4: Ability to be objective:
The experiments maintained objectivity, an essential feature of scientific experiments. Mythbusters showed the constraints and boundaries of science. And science can only be objective.
When Mythbusters encountered subjective myths (not measurable), they had to devise means to measure them. For example, they had to measure the grip strength of babies when testing the myth of “Taking Candy from a Baby.”
Step#5: Small-scale experiments:
Mythbusters used small-scale testing, showing its importance in scientific experiments. They constantly tested a small-scale model before a more elaborate one.
For instance, they started the “Down with the Titanic” experiment in a swimming pool using a hydrometer and aerator instead of a boat.
Starting with small-scale tests is also essential for researchers. The reason is to give them some level of assurance before investing colossal capital. It also allowed them to correct any issue before implementing the experiment in full scale.
Step#6: Result interpretations:
The team concludes results based on the supporting data. They made no unjustifiable generalizations or estimations of their results, which shows that scientific explanations may not be the final word and can be tentative.
For example, their result on the “antigravity” myth was “busted (for now).”
Step#7: Repeatable results:
Mythbusters always considered the repeatability of their results before concluding. Therefore, if an experiment is not repeatable, then it’s deemed to be busted. Mythbusters believed that if the result is repeatable, then it’s reliable.
Possible Results For Mythbusters Tests
Each episode of the Mythbusters program built models that utilized scientific experiments. The models represented the real-life setup, which had three possible results:
The result is established when there is evidence that the model agrees with real life. It also means that they recreated the supposed outcome successfully.
The experiment is conceivable if the result is not wrong but lacks enough evidence to support it.
Sometimes, parameters for the experiments get expanded mainly. It usually occurs when the myth is possible, but the Mythbusters couldn’t duplicate it due to cost or safety.
The myth is busted if the outcome is not repeatable, even through expanded parameters. It’s also busted if the parameters required to reproduce the result are unusual or exaggerated. And that makes the validity unlikely. In essence, the myth doesn’t agree with real-life situations.
Mythbusters cancelled due to a massive drop in their viewers’ ratings, while the production costs were still high. The show was the longest-running program on the Discovery Channel. That’s why the show’s cancellation was shocking.
The show was also highly educational and combined science with entertainment. Mythbusters performed experiments and achieved results after comparing repeated outcomes. The results of tested myths are confirmed, plausible, or busted.