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Christ, what an asshole.
July 18, 2012 12:23 AM   Subscribe


 
No, what a bunch of stupid bratty kids. He's more patient than I would've been...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


No confidence in the science at all.
posted by condor at 1:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don Herbert's success, and the reason that kids liked him, was due, in part, to the fact that he didn't treat kids like idiots, he treated them like peers. He didn't talk down to them, he expected them to be smart, and he expected them to be able to roll with a joke or a friendly jab or two.

I grew up watching Mr. Wizard, I suspect that much of my love of science came from watching that show.
posted by HuronBob at 3:32 AM on July 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


"You ever see a sliced banana before?"

I'm not sure why the inclusion of this line into the edit has me clutching my sides.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 3:37 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's brevity, not dickishness. If you want to see someone being a dick in the name of Science, there's always Johnny LaRue on SCTV [1:06 in].
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Yeah, it's called a brain."
posted by O Blitiri at 4:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the deal with the one where a girl is sitting on a chair, and he's holding a finger against her forehead and imploring her to get up? Then she says she can't get up.

Can people not stand up from a chair if someone presses a finger against their forehead? And if so, WHY HAVE I NEVER BEFORE BEEN TAUGHT THIS?!
posted by Flunkie at 4:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Has to do with how you get out of a chair - you shift your weight forwards. If you can't move your head forwards, you can't get up.
posted by Peach at 4:46 AM on July 18, 2012


It just goes to show that when you take stuff out of context, you can make a saint into a demon.
posted by crunchland at 4:46 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can people not stand up from a chair if someone presses a finger against their forehead? And if so, WHY HAVE I NEVER BEFORE BEEN TAUGHT THIS?!

It was in all the "learn this tricks to amaze and mystify your friends (if you had any)" books I loved as a kid.

The reason is that you have to get your center of mass above your feet. Holding the finger against the head prevents that.
posted by DU at 4:49 AM on July 18, 2012


I saw this linked to elsewhere, and I watched it with fond amazement at how very kind he is, and how very honest and direct. He's conveying to the kids that science works and that they can handle a lot. He's the kind of teacher kids love.
posted by Peach at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Before anyone else gets all pedantic in their defense of Mr. Wizard here, you're missing the point. It wouldn't be funny if Mr. Wizard really was an asshole to the kids.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the explanation, Mr. Wizard.
posted by crunchland at 4:53 AM on July 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


And I'm not really sure I buy all the Mr Wizard defense here. Yes, he was doing valuable education. And yes the segments were short so he didn't have a lot of time for discussion. But did he have to set them up to get corrected like idiots? I sure would have been as mortified as hell to be on camera for the first time ever and have some dumb thing come out of my mouth just to get shot down by Mr Wizard.

There are many formats in which you can do TV. "Live, while asking hard questions to nervous kids" is about the worst.
posted by DU at 5:09 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe Mr. Wizard isn't the dick. Maybe YOU'RE a dick, Mr. uh.... Mr. Tryfailure.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:15 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember watching him as a kid and not liking his lack of warmth and kindness.
posted by discopolo at 5:41 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like his sweaters.
posted by mullacc at 5:52 AM on July 18, 2012


I always thought the kids weren't particularly bright, and that I could do better. Of course, it doesn't really help if the kids know the relevant science, it ruins the exposition.

They were looking for dumb kids, is what I'm saying.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:56 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was awesome. Great wallpaper, too. My favorite was the kid with the dry ice - that one did me in.
posted by amcm at 6:01 AM on July 18, 2012


"We're going to need another Timmy!"

The message I got from these shows is how much Canadian content I watched as a child on Nickelodeon.
posted by inturnaround at 6:12 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]




Perfect Tommy: "Dr. Lizardo...wasn't he on TV once?"

Buckaroo: "You're thinking of Mr. Wizard."

Reno: "This guy's a top scientist, dummkopf."

Perfect Tommy: "So's Mr. Wizard."
posted by adamdschneider at 6:24 AM on July 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sweater Wars: Mr. Wizard vs. Mr. Rogers





The winner of this deathmatch faces Bill Cosby!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:44 AM on July 18, 2012


Also, I first read the this post as "Mr. Wizard's Dick," and thought "Why would I want to click that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:46 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Worth it for the sweet heathkit robot halfway through.
posted by drezdn at 7:01 AM on July 18, 2012


C'mon, Eugene.

(Love this!)
posted by XhaustedProphet at 7:05 AM on July 18, 2012


He is the model for all of my interactions with children.
posted by exogenous at 7:13 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But did he have to set them up to get corrected like idiots?

One of my favorite teachers picked the most interesting student essay each week, and dissected it in front of the class. I can still hear her, as she jabbed at and shook my paper: "No! You're wrong! This is why you're wrong...." She had no patience for the feel-good, everyone's right, esteem building teaching style that greeted incorrect answers with "yes, but...." She insisted on intellectual rigor. She respected her students enough to treat them as ignorant savages, but savages who could choose to end their own ignorance.

Some people watch this video and marvel at how Mr. Wizard really was a dick. He wasn't. He was a teacher.

(And get off my lawn)
posted by paulg at 7:17 AM on July 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I forget that people don't regularly work with kids. He's not talking down to them. He's not insulting them. He's challenging them but in a way that respects their strength. Kids can handle being wrong, and being told they are wrong. They really like being told there are things that are true and are worth learning. Yeah, we all remember being called out unfairly by teachers in front of our friends, but those teachers were the ones who made it personal when they insulted or who didn't know what they were talking about.

That said, I always found the show a little boring and static, and the snippets in the video make it seem more interesting than it was.
posted by Peach at 7:18 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember the faces of every single one of those kids -- so well it's like they were classmates who hadn't crossed my mind in two and a half decades. Such an unbelievable nostalgia rush.

Also, Mr. Wizard was not a dick.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:20 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to watch Mr. Wizard early in the morning on Nickelodeon and wanted to be on the show more than anything. I didn't understand the concept of a rerun. I knew I was smarter than the dummies that got on his show and I loved his smart-ass uncle demeanor.
posted by floam at 7:22 AM on July 18, 2012


Yeah, I forget that people don't regularly work with kids. He's not talking down to them. He's not insulting them.

Have kids of my own and teach them many things, regularly. Did not say he was talking down to them or insulting them.

She had no patience for the feel-good, everyone's right, esteem building teaching style that greeted incorrect answers with "yes, but...." She insisted on intellectual rigor.

Strawman.
posted by DU at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love Mr. Wizard.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:33 AM on July 18, 2012


As a very young child, I perceived Mr. Wizard as a cantankerous, but magical figure. He occupied the same conceptual space as Gargamel. He was mean to children, but he also could make cool stuff happen. Here's to you, you frightening, explosive old man.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's not talking down to them. He's not insulting them. He's challenging them but in a way that respects their strength.

A lot of those examples were just him being irritated and criticizing the kids though. Like his sarcastic "Let's see if you can hit it instead of the table this time" comment or the way he reacted when the girl started naming the letters she was typing into the computer. To me his persona on the show was of someone who really didn't want these stupid kids screwing up his science demonstrations rather than of someone who actually liked engaging with and teaching children.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


WHAT?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2012


I loved the hell out of some Mr. Wizard when I was a little kid. I never thought he was mean. He was one of the first people who inspired me to take the path I am on today.
posted by Scientist at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Must have been some soft, safe childhoods up in here if Mr. Wizard's level of sarcasm gets to you this much.
posted by SharkParty at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2012


Sweater Wars: Mr. Wizard vs. Mr. Rogers

i... i would read that slash fiction
posted by FatherDagon at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2012


Strawman.
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on July 18 [+] [!]


A pretty accurate one, if the clips in the FPP can in any way be considered in the same realm as "dickishness."
posted by Navelgazer at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2012


Even taken completely out of context, there's nothing dickish or cold or unloving about these interactions. To me, his affection for the kids shines through even as he corrects and contradicts them.
posted by Pistache at 9:11 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I loved the hell out of some Mr. Wizard when I was a little kid. I never thought he was mean. He was one of the first people who inspired me to take the path I am on today.
posted by Scientist at 11:17 AM on July 18

eponyautobiographical?
posted by dhens at 9:31 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just to remind people: not knowing something, or coming up with the wrong answer, does not make a person stupid/dumb/not bright.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Don, he was such a kidder.

Zen master raised his bamboo over his shoulder. 'Say that again,' he intoned.
posted by Twang at 9:55 AM on July 18, 2012


I remember watching this show early (I want to say 6 am) on Saturdays, but honestly, as great as Mr. Wizard was, I actually associate the name more with the first "online" community I really felt I was a part of: a family-friendly BBS in the St. Louis area called "Mr. Wizard's Castle". And similar to Mr. Wizard, the adults of the community never talked down to me, a 12-13 year-old kid who liked computers and science and TMNT (my handle was "TURTLE"). They treated me like one of them, which I was. So while I wouldn't say I remember Don Herbert himself having any effect on me directly, at some point a guy in St. Louis was inspired enough to take his namesake as a SysOp of his own board and create a nice friendly environment for kids of all ages.

So yeah, Mr. Wizard's all right by me.
posted by mysterpigg at 10:37 AM on July 18, 2012


Man, I have a great uncle like this - absolutely no sufferance for fools of any age or relation. He's a light-plane/navigational enthusiast, and I remember recently showing him Google Earth on an iPad. He was, at first, fascinated by the display and zoom capabilities, but was very quick to grasp onto the one aspect of the medium for which he had superior knowledge. It went, in two minutes, from me showing him how to use the different layers to him being like:
"No, that road doesn't go to that town. The air strip is much further from Tuscon than that. Keep going, you went the wrong way. Zoom out again. Blahblah"
It was like all of the sudden we were on this cross-country road trip in a battered old station wagon in the blazing Arizona heat. The dude is so stubborn and holds these impossibly high standards of what "common knowledge" should be, and drills people with it until they just don't want to talk to/learn anything from him.

Oh, and by the way - condescending minds must think alike; Mr. Wizard drives the same car as Dr. House!
posted by obscurator at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mr. Wizard's a jerk? Why, that's like saying Santa is a jerk.



oh.
posted by peagood at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2012


...a dick. I meant to say "a dick."
posted by peagood at 12:19 PM on July 18, 2012


If you're going to make a youtube super-cut mocking a powerful, dickish Wizard, it is wise to wait at least several years after he has died. So... well played.
posted by dgaicun at 1:16 PM on July 18, 2012


Bah. I teach, and this is precisely the style of correction I made a conscious effort to purge myself of right at the same time my instruction really started to cook. You can't get away with this stuff when you've got to nurture relationships with students over the long term.

It's not about coddling kids or sacrificing intellectual rigor, it's about recognizing the fact that nothing kills the spirit of inquiry faster than the fear that a kid might give a wrong answer and have it be insinuated to the rest of the class that the kid is stupid. Doubly so when the teacher fails to provide a key piece of info that would have helped the kid avoid the error (like how Mr. Wizard could have instructed the child on how to hold the candle BEFORE she burned herself with the wax). Comfort with risk-taking is a precondition for intellectual growth, not something that stands in the way of it.
posted by alphanerd at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow, I totally miss old mock-cranky teachers like that!

I don't miss having those hairstyles though. How many bunser burner hair-product injuries were there on that show?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2012




"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." - Cardinal Richelieu
posted by klarck at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Veritasium videos, hosted by Derek Muller, cover some interesting science topics, but the random citizens interviewed can look really ignorant. Kind of like this Mr Wizard clip, but done on purpose.

Youtube examples:

How long does it take for the earth to go around the sun? Gaaa!

How far away is the moon? How far away if the earth is the size of a basketball? I got it wrong, too.

Why does the Earth spin? Demonstrated with an 2.5 ton granite sphere floating on a film of water!

But other videos don't have the ignorant interviewees. I think those work better:

What happens to a slinky held by the top and let go? Part 1, Part 2.
posted by jjj606 at 4:47 PM on July 18, 2012


The YouTube poster came up with a clever bit of wordplay for the description: "Man of science. Scourge of nescience."
posted by WCityMike at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2012


"Even taken completely out of context, there's nothing dickish or cold or unloving about these interactions. To me, his affection for the kids shines through even as he corrects and contradicts them."

Gandalf: All I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the door.

Frodo: Whatever you did, you've been officially labeled a disturber of the peace.

Mr. Wizard was a disturber of the peace.
posted by SPrintF at 8:15 PM on July 18, 2012


I like Bill Nye's bowtie.
posted by discopolo at 12:32 AM on July 19, 2012


Oh man, this is funny. Mr. Wizard was my favorite show as a kid. I wonder if I would have ended up as interested in science and medicine if he'd not been around.
posted by robstercraw at 5:35 AM on July 19, 2012


Watching that opened up parts of my brain that I thought were long gone. I remembered every single one of those clips, even though I haven't seen any of them in god knows how many decades. Scary!

But yeah, I always got the impression that he was a lovable grandpa figure, and taking these bits out of context kind of makes him unduly look like a sour crotchety geezer.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:37 PM on July 19, 2012


"You ever see a sliced banana before?"
I'm not sure why the inclusion of this line into the edit has me clutching my sides.


Actually, the line was "Didn't ya ever see a sliced banana before?" Whoa, I just channeled Dickish Mr Wizard.

Looking at the clip, it seems like he's playfully acting the part of the mean, irritable, cold, terse superior ("Whaddaya mean you can't do it?"), and the kids pick up on that. At other times he's playing the naive onlooker who thinks he knows better ("What, you can't do that? It looks so easy!")

I agree with the comment about those kids feeling like old classmates. There were some you saw regularly, and for me anyway, the more infrequent kids would be met with a dismissive "Who's that?" And I have to admit the only experiment I remember here is the disembodied head.

Question: Why aren't those numbers random? Is it because none of them repeat consecutively? And does anyone look at that and think of sudoku?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:01 AM on July 22, 2012


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