Myth Busters Defend Logic

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman—famous for blowing things up and testing popular myths on their show “MythBusters”—were honored for their work in propagating humanist values Friday evening by the Harvard Secular Society and the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy.

The Secular Society’s president Lewis M. Ward ’11 said at the awards ceremony to a packed audience in Memorial Church that the MythBusters duo won the group’s fourth Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism for teaching people not to blindly accept myths on their “incredibly entertaining show.”

After receiving a trophy inscribed with the duo’s well-known quote—“failure is always an option”—Savage opened his acceptance speech with a reference to the prevalence of new technology.

“I am going to read my speech from my iPad,” Savage said. “I’m not only a humanist, I am an early adapter.”

Savage ultimately concluded from his efforts to understand the purposes of prayer and organized religion that man does not “need religion in order to appreciate [one’s] existence” and instead should rely on his own observations and logic.

Following Savage and Hyneman’s speeches, audience members peppered the duo with questions ranging from future projects to the show’s production.

The pair gave a sneak preview of potential upcoming episodes in responding to a question about the show’s future plans.

“It seems weird to promote a television show in a church, but we have a unified dream of [creating] a human-powered helicopter,” Savage said.

“Square wheels,” Hyneman countered.

With puns and characteristic deadpan humor, the MythBusters kept the presentation lively and entertaining.

“So much of what we see on TV is deliberately designed to deceive, or exaggerate, or promote someone’s agenda, and the MythBusters is the complete opposite,” said audience member John S. Dwyer, who added that he found Savage and Hyneman “extremely funny.”

Past recipients of the cultural humanism award have included creator of the shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” Joss Whedon, Greg Graffin of the punk rock band Bad Religion, and novelist Sir Salman Rushdie.

—Staff writer Helen X. Yang can be reached at hxyang@fas.harvard.edu.

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