Brains, animals, and whizzing on an electric fence. We asked the MythBusters for some help with your favorite myths.
Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have been co-hosts of MythBusters for 13 seasons.
They’ve filmed more than 200 episodes and tested 960 myths (with about just as many explosions), so we asked them to suss out fact from fiction — and whether they could remember their earliest episodes.
Adam: Yeah, that’s totally a myth.
2. You lose most of your body heat through your head. (Myth.)
Adam: That is actually one of the ones we wanted to test on the show. I think that’s a myth. What part of your body is exposed in the cold? It’s usually your head, so we wanted to test it.
It’s something we haven’t yet tested — cold-weather myths where specifically we expose (gestures around head) exactly this amount of square footage of your body, watch it on a thermal camera and see, because I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think there’s anything special about the blood vessels here that you’d lose more heat through other body parts.
Allegedly it was based on an Army manual from the 1970s where only people’s heads were exposed.
Adam: Yeah, there’s no control in that test. So it’s like you lose most of your body heat through the part of you that’s in the cold.
3. If you swallow chewing gum, it takes seven years for it to work its way through you. (Myth.)
Adam: Pbbt, total myth.
4. The Sahara is the largest desert in the world. (Myth.)
Adam: (turns to Jamie) Do you have any idea about that?
Jamie: Not sure.
Adam: We’re going to leave them like this. I have no idea.
That’s actually a myth. The Antarctic is the largest.
Adam: Ah! Rainfall. Right.
5. If you fell into lava, you’d sink into it. (Myth.)
Jamie: I’d say that’d be a myth.
Adam: Lava is denser than we are. And also you’d be crispy fried.
6. A coin dropped from a skyscraper would kill someone. (Myth.)
Adam: Yeah, we did that. No. The best part about testing that is when you go to the Empire State Building and you go to levels below the observation deck, they’re all littered with change. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Jamie: Murderous people.
Adam: They collect the change and they donate it to charity.
Jamie: I’d say that’s a myth.
Adam: Yeah, I’m going to guess that’s a myth.
Yeah, it looks like they do, but they’re just kind of hunkering down.
Adam: Ostriches are such dicks.
8. You’re more likely to be killed by lightning than a shark. (True.)
Adam: That’s absolutely true. You’re more likely to be killed by a steak than a shark.
Adam: Well, they’re shaped like a penis and have two penises.
Jamie: Something rings true to me for that, I think.
Adam: All right, you’ve had snakes.
That’s true, yeah. Some do. Fun fact!
Adam: That’s too weird to make up.
Adam: That is totally a myth. We’ve done it on the show.
Adam: That is a myth.
12. Urinating on an electric fence can cause electrocution. (True.)
Adam: I have done it, and it hurts.
Adam: It’s something we’ve always wanted to test on the show. I think that’s a myth, but it’s devilishly hard to test. It’s 90% cellulose, which we can’t digest anyway.
Jamie: It’s definitely a myth. There’s a particular sugar that is in that — I want to say it’s the same as a milk sugar. There’s a bunch of different sugars, and it contains a type of sugar that’s specific to celery and a few other things.
“Snake” has been corrected to “steak” in No. 8. We misheard Adam, sorry about that! And we hope our reptilian friends can also forgive us.