Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mensa's 10 smartest TV shows of all time

A few weeks ago, i ran across an article that listed ten television shows that Mensa claims are the smartest of all time. I was surprised not only by how poorly the article was written, but also with some of the shows they chose.

Apparently putting a lot of science in a show makes it smart by default, regardless of how accurate or correct it might be (or how good the show is otherwise). I spent a summer in Waco, Texas with 3 seasons of CSI on my computer. Waco can be a dull place, and boredom can be great motivation to watch bad television, but i couldn't bring myself to continue watching past the episode where the lead investigator calculates the time it took a man to fall from a construction site based on the fact that his terminal velocity was 9.8 meters per second squared.

I've only seen about five of the shows on Mensa's list and disagree with about four of them. It's ok to like bad TV, but don't try to justify it to everybody else by writing an article claiming that your ten favorite shows are the smartest "of all time".

On a related note, the Freakonomics blog had a post back in January about the smart and dumb books in which they discussed the findings of a Cal Tech student who correlated popular books (from facebook) with S.A.T scores (from the averages at a particular school). The top 5 include Lolita, 100 Years of Solitude, Crime and Punishment, Atlas Shrugged, and Freakonomics (surprised?). The two things I like most about this list are 1)it's objectiveness and 2)Fahrenheit 451 is among the dumbest books. I think it'd be interesting to do something similar with television.

10 comments:

Ben said...

My favorite thing about CSI is that they often do DNA testing without a hairnet. Just imagine what the results should be: "Oh shit! I killed him too!" Ridiculous really.

Flavin said...

I wouldn't say Mensa says these are the smartest shows, more like "Jim Werdell, Chairman of MENSA International... 63-year-old retired Northern California government official" says these are the smartest shows. Because that's what the original article says.

Akusai said...

I just want to say that MENSA, most people in MENSA, and everything MENSA stands for piss me the hell off.

Flavin said...

It is a strange beast, is it not?

adam said...

i guess i should have said that yahoo said that mensa said...

Akusai said...

It's a strange, pretentious, cantankerous, unreasonably-assured-of-itself-based-on-a-questionably-useful-intellectual-measurement beast.

And Michael Shermer once gave a talk at MENSA, then heard them afterwards musing about whether their "Psi-Qs" were also higher than average because they were so smart.

And Vox Day is a member of MENSA.

Anonymous said...

Where was NOVA?

Flavin said...

Or Bill Nye?

Blake Stacey said...

No Connections? No Mr. Wizard's World? No Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex?

Hell, it's just one guy's list of his favorite TV shows, given a glossy coat of varnish because he can be tagged as "smart" in a socially-recognized way.

Ben said...

Currently on TV, I think Mythbusters, Bullshit, and South Park win. If not the smartest, they are definitely the most skeptical.