Podcast of Interest: Lab Out Loud, Episode 43. “Mythbuster Adam Savage”

Podcast of Interest: Lab Out Loud, Episode 43. “Mythbuster Adam Savage”

June 7, 2010

In this fifth post in my ‘Podcasts of Interest’ series, where I comment on podcasts with provocative or important science or mathematics content, I bring you another Lab Out Loud episode. Episode 43 features Adam Savage, one of the hosts of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters program. Adam is an advocate for learning with your hands, learning from experience and recovering from failure.

In this podcast, Adam and the hosts talk about a wide range of topics. Those that piques my interest (and will do the same to you) are described after the jump.

Some topics that the hosts talk with Adam about include:

  • How his science teachers made a huge difference for him, growing up. “There was something really important in the fact that I had questions that interested them, and that made me feel like my brain was something worth using to ask questions with. And that is one of the important distinctions. I have twin eleven year old boys, and I notice that with one of them just him getting up the courage to say I don’t know and not worry about being wrong about something is very difficult. Getting somebody to that moment where they bypass their fear of being wrong to ask interesting questions, because quite often they have an insight that they didn’t realize, is where real teaching happens.” (9:27-10:07)
  • The importance of failure and making mistakes. “I view it [making mistakes] as one hundred percent essential to the work, not just ancillary and not a byproduct. … I’ve learned enough about everything I do to know what a craftsman can see in a lot of [unintelligible], and a craftsman is not by any stretch someone who never makes a mistake. They can just see a mistake coming from a lot farther off than we can. You can’t learn to spot mistakes unless you’ve actually made them. You have to make them.” (12:24-13:19)
  • The scientific method; it’s portrayal in textbooks versus the way it really works. “I think the most surprising thing that I’ve learned, and I’ve learned this while doing the show, the most surprising thing about the scientific method is the fact that it is in fact a deeply creative process. Where the failure comes up is not in the fact that you weren’t able to properly test your hypothesis, but the creativity is in how many hypotheses can you come up with? The more you come up with the more you start to be able to come up with. You can do five test to find out that you were asking the wrong question. That type of failure is totally key!” (14:16-15:28)


Find the Episode’s home here and take a listen. Length: 21:57.

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