MythBusters is an American pop science television program on the Discovery Channel. It stars special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who use their expertise to test the validity of various rumors and urban legends.
Hyneman and Savage often use their extensive engineering and construction expertise to construct complex devices with which to perform experiments. The tests are usually a two-step process. First, an attempt is made to recreate the myth to determine if the circumstances, as described, achieve the alleged outcome. If that fails, they attempt to expand the parameters as much as necessary – often to absurd lengths – until the desired results are duplicated. There are some myths and urban legends the MythBusters refuse to test. Paranormal concepts, such as aliens or ghosts, are not addressed because they cannot be tested by scientific methods. The program also avoids experiments that cannot be tested safely, such as whether a wet poodle could be dried in a microwave oven.
By the end of each episode, each myth is rated “Busted”, “Plausible”, or “Confirmed”.
confirmed: The MythBusters are able to recreate the myth’s purported outcome with the described circumstances. A myth can also be confirmed with documented evidence that it actually occurred.
plausible: The myth’s results can only be produced by expanding the parameters within a reasonable margin (that is, if the circumstances needed to make the myth work are impractical, but still possible), or by the practical necessity of setting additional parameters that may or may not have been part of the myth described. This judgment is used if a myth is possible but unlikely, or if documented accounts of the myth exist that the MythBusters were unable to duplicate (for safety or cost reasons).
busted: The myth’s results cannot be replicated via either the described parameters nor reasonably exaggerated ones. The myth’s results could not be reproduced or could only be reproduced with parameters so unusual that the validity of the myth is unlikely.