Bad Universe: More Skepticism on TV!

Because when you are dealing with the universe, ignorance is deadly!

Sunday night was the premier of the first episode of Bad Universe, Phil Plait’s foray into television. This show is a sort of MythBusters style science show involving demonstrations (ostensibly using combustible materials) to prove or disprove claims and hypotheses.Unlike MythBusters, or the useless MythBusters spin-off called Time-Warp that had even less science and more blowing stuff up, Plait’s show is supposed to be much more science and scientist heavy. Huzzah!

In the first episode of Bad Universe, Plait uses some endearing PG-rated expletives and beautiful to-scale explosions to demonstrate and illustrate the threat of an asteroid impact on the Earth. Not sure what Phil has against Sydney, Australia, I’m thinking he really doesn’t like dousing, that or wallabies. This and the next two episodes will be relaying heavily on Plait’s last book, Death From the Skies. The premise being that the Big Bad Universe is out to get us and Plait and his army of scientists are going to demonstrate how. (TQM admitted that the details in Death From the Skies keeps him up at night, well, a picture is worth a thousand words!)

What will it take to really win me over? I want to see better attention to statistics when making conclusions about simple comparisons. The first show was very light on numbers. There is certainly a line of despair with numbers that should not be crossed in entertainment science like this, but many of the Discovery Channel shows are far from that line. I also had trouble actually locating a website specific for the show. Many of the demonstrations and experiments Plait does on the show use fancy equipment, but many of them have a low-tech high school science class alternative. This seems like the perfect opportunity to develop hands-on classroom activities that students can manipulate on their own, while watching Plait play with his expensive toys. Seems like a great educational tool that Plait and the Discovery Channel can provide.

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