To bust a myth

Published 2:57 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Curiosity has killed a few cats and probably a couple of scientists as well. My destructive second-grade twins have developed a deep love of Discovery television. This means they love watching Survivor Man and Man vs. Wild eat disgusting things and expound on survival techniques that will be surely tried at my home!

Along with discovering how to eat snakes if you are left in the desert and pee into the leftover skin which can be made into a neat container so you may drink your own home made fluids, my sons also love to bust a myth from the great show “Mythbusters.” Just imagine the wonderful science experiments that are spawned from such television viewing.

Whatever happened to Elmo or Dora who explored harmlessly? And SpongeBob? I can’t believe I miss that sarcastic sponge and his crustacean friends.

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Don’t get me wrong, Discovery has cool shows. I am just never sure of what the twins may be discovering.

This has me thinking about all the myths we live with. We believe a lot of stuff that isn’t really true but we assume it is. Like the media’s nightly news!

Our lives are filled with myths, urban legends and rumors. Now with the genre of email, the expansion of myths has exploded. Anyone can send a made-up email informing us of the craziest of stories which hold a ring of truth or makes us hope it can be true. The passage from person to person is snow balled with our new technology and we all receive the dreaded forward email that promises Bill Gates money, luck and blessings or a murderer at our door.

Out of the hundreds of emails that promised me something I have yet to receive anything.

I am becoming skeptical. I look up the fairy tale email on or Google it and I then discover what is true and what is false, but not all the time.

I sometimes forget to check the validity of forwarded emails such as the case when in a recent column I quoted David Letterman. It’s bogus. It used to be attributed to Jay Leno. No one will ever discover its origin. But at least the words were nice, though false.

The truth is that I am still gullible. But what is better, cynic or naïve? Knowing that people lie or being blissfully ignorant? Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? But am I bliss? Nope. Does that make me informed?

Sometimes we know things and have accepted this knowledge all our lives but in truth, it’s wrong. Let us leave out discussing religion truths but rather those odd bits of facts now being tested by Jamie and Adam on Mythbusters or John Stossel of ABC news.

Stossel is a champion of debunking myths. He has a book out and specials on 20/20 regularly.

I learned from his book, the myths I believed such as muscle turns into fat if you don’t exercise. He states that fat is fat and muscle is muscle and they do not “turn.” I should have realized we burn fat and that means it goes away. But what would I know, I burn, exercise, and pray but the fat must be from Krypton because it doesn’t turn or burn.

He also points out that eating late at night does not make you fat. Of course, if you are eating a tub of ice cream any time of the day, you are getting fat! Doesn’t matter what time you eat the ice cream, but before bed doesn’t make it any more fattening! You eat a bag of chips morning, noon, or night, the calories still increase your beltline. I wish the myth were true, and then I would eat brownies with ice cream in the morning because it would not make me fat because of the time of day ingested.

He also points out that a full moon does not make people crazy. Really? Studies prove this. You know, if you think about it, crazy folks are just crazy and just like calories the position of the earth and moon should not amplify said craziness.

Another myth I just had to point out because I am a skeptic on this one, but Stossel backs up his myth busting with data and research so I ‘should’ trust him, is a myth that sugar hypes kids. There, I wrote it but I still can’t believe it. Kids around other kids hypes them up, caffeine in soda and chocolate hypes them up but not sugar. Hmmm. Can this be true? I have so much evidence to support my theory, just like any other mother.

Now back to Jamie and Adam and the gang at “Mythbusters,” which by the way has a Picayune native who can be seen on some of the show’s credits, Will Nail. Now that is an interesting job. Can you prove Will doesn’t work for Mythbusters?

They prove and disprove all sorts of science, television myths, and stunts, you know, like super hero feats, car chase stunts, etc. Some of their busted or confirmed myths are: Can you make a goat faint? Apparently you can.

They came to Huntsville, Ala., recently to confirm that NASA actually DID land on the moon? Apparently, there are still naysayers who think it was all a hoax. The photo evidence was proven authentic on the show plus the fact that you can bounce lasers off the items left on the moon by Neil and the gang. My suggestion is just get a big telescope and check out the moon buggy we left on the moon’s surface… or the American flag. Duh!

Have you heard the one about opening your car door via your cell phone frequency? Just make a call to whoever has your key? Nah. Busted by Mythbusters. But who has not thought about it?

Is it live or Memorex? Yep, you can break a wine glass by singing.

A rolling stone does not gather moss.

You can fire a gun underwater.

Lighters can not explode when left in your pocket and put in the dryer.

To my dismay, they proved that an old gunslinger can not, I repeat can not, save a man from hanging by shooting the rope. (unless he shoots multiple times) How could Clint Eastwood be so wrong?

We take so many things for granted. But do we really know anything?

Are you blissful?

Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at