Pregnancy myths busted by pregnant Mythbuster

By Phil Plait | May 15, 2009 11:07 am
Kari Byron from Pregnancy 360

Kari Byron, who is on the Build Team on Mythbusters, is pregnant. What better opportunity for her to debunk some pregnancy myths? She was interviewed by Pregnancy 360 about some common myths — salt cravings, determining the child’s sex, and others — and did a great job debunking them.

I’m not surprised. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her twice: once at TAM, and once in Alberta when I moderated a panel discussion with the Build Team. She’s even smarter, sassier, and funnier in person than on the show, and I’m glad this article got published. Spread the word, and let’s help stamp out some of these ridiculous myths about pregnancy!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff, Skepticism

Comments (52)

  1. It would have been nice to know how she busted those myths. Where’d she get the info from? Why is Drano+urine a bad combination (besides being gross)? Some of the myths are just dumb and obvious, but for some of them, how did she test them?

    And by the way, so jealous that you got to meet her.

  2. Someone needs to bust the myth that babies don’t come from a stork flying them in by eggspress delivery. I’ve heard some pretty wild tales from people claiming to know what “really” goes on. I mean, seriously! You put that where?!!

  3. QUASAR

    Some dumb myths those were!

  4. Aw damn, she’s taken. Too bad, she’s super hot. The skepticism just compounds it.

  5. Some pregnancy myths can be pretty risky for a pregnant woman to try debunking. She should farm those out to her male coworkers (let them work out the gross details).

  6. Urine can contain ammonia, especially if it’s sat around for a bit, and combining ammonia with drano can release some pretty nasty dangerous gases. That’s some pretty basic chemistry.

    The ring thing is of course a form of divination and divining has been busted plenty of times.

    The rest are mostly things that could be learned by talking to a good obstetrician.

  7. Sticks

    I never realised she was married, who is her husband?

  8. I just wish that they would quit hiding it on the show. We all know she’s pregnant, why hide her in big coats and bulky shirts?

    Oh, but seriously, does anyone know from where she gets her parasols? I need one!

  9. Sticks

    I just found on wikipedia that her husband is Paul Urich, and I was wondering if she were dating would it have been Grant or Tori

    Well you learn something new every day

  10. Chris A.

    Yeah, but…

    A magnet to affect the trajectory of a wedding ring?! Only if your spouse bought you a wedding ring made of ferrous metal.

  11. Steve Jeffers

    They’ve explained why they’re hiding it on the Mythbusters board – they film things out of sequence, often months apart, particularly the linking material, so if they weren’t hiding it, she’d be heavily pregnant one scene, not pregnant in the next, a bit bumpy in the next.

    So they’re not concealing that she’s pregnant, just trying to avoid distraction.

  12. mk

    Holy crap! Somebody just complimented a woman’s photo on Bad Astronomy again! Hell to pay! Hell to pay, I tell ya!

  13. Ah, Kari is married. No wonder my wife siad I had her permission to leave her should I ever have a chance with Kari. It was a safe bet I’d never have a chance! :P

    In all seriousness though, wishing nothing but the best for Kari and her family! I know she’s an inspiration to my duaghter.

  14. A magnet to affect the trajectory of a wedding ring?! Only if your spouse bought you a wedding ring made of ferrous metal.

    Incorrect.

    Any conductor moving through a magnetic field will have induced in it electric current. Electric current produces magnetic field. The magnetic field induced in the conductor will be affected by the magnetic field of the magnet.

    This is the basic principle on which metal detectors work.

    Obviously a magnetic material (Fe, Ni, Co, and alloys) will be much more strongly affected, but any conductor will be affected to some degree.

    Try this yourself:

    Get two copper tubes, 1m long and about 1 cm in diameter. Stand them upright.

    Get a brass (or other non-ferrous and thus non-magnetic) slug that will fit down the tube. Get a similar sized neodymium magnet that will fit down the tube.

    Drop both slugs down the tubes (1 down each tube) at the same time. The magnet should always hit last, seemingly in defiance of gravity which would say that they should fall together. The reason is that the moving magnet induces a magnetic field in the conductive tube that will oppose its fall, literally resisting gravity.

  15. I guess that is why she isn’t coming to Dragon*Con this year… BABY!

  16. >Get two copper tubes

    So what you’re saying is that I can use *copper* wire for the windings of a motor? Who’da thunk it?!

  17. BJN

    Ahem. Pregnancy = married? Not a safe assumption and fact-checking is in order…

    Wikipedia says she’s married. To a guy. The Wiki entry doesn’t mention alien abduction.

    Congrats!

  18. In the article linked from BA, Kari mentions that she has a husband. Read carefully ;)

  19. TS

    Get two copper tubes, 1m long and about 1 cm in diameter. Stand them upright.

    Get a brass (or other non-ferrous and thus non-magnetic) slug that will fit down the tube. Get a similar sized neodymium magnet that will fit down the tube.

    Drop both slugs down the tubes (1 down each tube) at the same time. The magnet should always hit last, seemingly in defiance of gravity which would say that they should fall together. The reason is that the moving magnet induces a magnetic field in the conductive tube that will oppose its fall, literally resisting gravity.

    So that’s how you would simulate the wedding ring experiment?

  20. The out-of-sequence filming never seemed to be a big deal when Ms. Byron’s hair wildly changes colour or length from scene to scene. Speaking of which, why didn’t she address hair-dye toxicity in the article?

  21. Now that I think of it, that one probably wouldn’t be busted, would it? Fun stuff to know anyway, and I’m glad she continues to hold her own in the MythBuster male-fest.

  22. Damon

    It’s about time someone went after women who think they know their own bodies.

  23. @Noadi

    Thanks for the Drano explanation. I figured it had something to do with toxic vapors.

  24. Daniel

    “I just found on wikipedia that her husband is Paul Urich, and I was wondering if she were dating would it have been Grant or Tori

    Well you learn something new every day”

    yeah weird isn’t it? I had no idea she was married, let alone pregnant. I guess the show kept it on the DL since she was a marketable nerd chick.

  25. So that’s how you would simulate the wedding ring experiment?

    No, that’s how you can show that magnets can affect non-ferrous metals in a way that’s easy to measure.

    You could suspend rings made of various materials on threads and then move magnets around them, but it would be difficult to measure and air currents would probably have a major impact.

  26. So that’s how you would simulate the wedding ring experiment?

    No, that’s how you can show that magnets can affect non-ferrous metals in a way that’s easy to measure.

    You could suspend rings made of various materials on threads and then move magnets around them, but it would be difficult to measure and air currents would probably have a major impact.

  27. Davidlpf

    Maybe we can talk Kari into being a spokeperson for vaccination.

  28. # Dennis Says:

    >Get two copper tubes

    So what you’re saying is that I can use *copper* wire for the windings of a motor? Who’da thunk it?!

    Wow! That explains all the copper wire that my (late) father had laying around at work! ;)

    J/P=?

  29. Kris

    “yeah weird isn’t it? I had no idea she was married, let alone pregnant. I guess the show kept it on the DL since she was a marketable nerd chick.”

    I’ve only heard Adam refer to his wife once, when he burned his feet and went to the hospital, and never his kids. And I don’t think Jamie’s ever mentioned his wife. It’s not on the DL, it’s just not something that comes up. (And people wouldn’t normally wear rings while working with all those machines)

  30. Don

    Why is it that when a woman is a fan of some guy, she can scream that she wants to have his baby, but when a man is a fan of some girl and screams something similar, I immediately get.. I mean, they get a restraining order? It’s not fair!

  31. TS

    You could suspend rings made of various materials on threads and then move magnets around them, but it would be difficult to measure and air currents would probably have a major impact.

    To eliminate the air currents affecting the experiment, you could stand some long glass tubes on end and let the strings with the rings hang from the top. The diameter of the tubes should be large enough for the rings to move slightly but not too large, you still want to be able to move the magnets close to the rings.
    The longer the tube, the easier it will be to detect any movement.

  32. Anonymous

    Mythbusters jumped the shark a few seasons ago. Now, instead of going after actual myths, they go after YouTube videos & movie stunts. Wow. How the mighty have fallen.

  33. MadScientist

    Yay! Go Kari!

    @Anonymous: Myth Busters has been on for years now – can you think of enough myths worth looking at? Besides, the YouTube videos are often fun to look at; many people have trouble believing some are real (like the dust explosion – I envy them for making a monstrous dust explosion when I couldn’t even convince colleagues 10 years ago to build a jig for creating small dust explosions to help explain the hazards and the science to kids). Movie stunts are Hollywood myths, but a lot of people believe what they see in the movies is what they can expect in real life; so in that case the Myth Busters are showing that those things just aren’t realistic.

  34. MadScientist

    @Kris: Yes, TV people have private lives too. I don’t find it surprising at all that they don’t talk about their private lives on TV. However, if you check out Adam’s web site you’ll see he can’t stop talking (writing) about his kids. Really it’s no one’s business but their own. I think Kari’s pretty amazing doing the pregnant myths thing.

  35. Keith

    Who better to bust pregnancy myths than a certified MythBuster?

  36. Autumn

    I liked the bit about her craving beef stew despite being a vegetarian. My wife is a dedicated carnivore; if I’m tending the grill with steaks warming up on the kitchen counter I have to assign a child to keep mommy from eating the raw meat, but when she was pregnant she actually forbid me from having bacon in the house because it made her nauseated. I wasn’t even allowed to cook it while she was at work, because the wonderful bacon smell lingered enough to make her sick.

  37. StevoRaine

    Kari is awesome! 8)

    My congrats to Kari on being preggas & still mythbusting – hope it all goes well for her.

    Best wishes to you Kari, love your work!

    (Hope you get to read this! ;-) )

  38. Egaeus

    What I want to know is how did Phil manage to read that entire “article?” That’s quite possibly the worst website ever. Well, maybe it’s second to timecube.com, but it’s still quite horrendous. Seriously, while great web design may be hard, but making a site/article flow coherently is easy enough.

  39. Flying sardines

    @ Don :

    Yeah it seems to me sometimes that us blokes just can’t win.

    At the moment here in Oz there is a huge “scandal” going on because some rugby groupie threw herself at a rugby team and, shock, horror, they accepted her offer and all engaged in consensual sexual activity.

    Now many years afterwards this anonymous groupie calioms toregret itand has aired her dirty laundry (metaphotrically!) ruining some of the careers of the players involved. It doe sseem unfair to me.

    Know its a bit off-topic .. but it does seem that the bloke always cops the blame and that feminism has gone a bit (ok, a lot) too far these days. Women should have to take some responsibiliyfor tehir actions and we should become a more equal and less a misandrist (anti-male) society than we appear to be at present. The balance has moved too far the other way. In My Humbe Opinion Naturally.

  40. Flying sardines

    That’s supposed to read ‘claims to regret it’ & NOT ‘ not “calioms toregret itand.” Sigh.

    Its actually worse with her going on a TV current affairs programme and claiming to be all traumatised and other baloney when apparently she was boasting of her deeds to people in the pub afterwards.

    Yet despite this a lot of people and feminists have condemned the rugby players involved and blamed them for everything that went on while totally ignoring the fact that this groupie was a willing participant who deliberately went out looking for sex from these players – yet they have exonerated her from taking any responsibility for her own actions.

    It does seem that to some (far too many) militant feminists in charge these days that a man can do no right – ever – and a woman no wrong. :-(

    It does seem unbalanced and unjust. Its time that changed. IMHON.

  41. Old-fashioned but right

    @ BJN :

    Ahem. Pregnancy = married? Not a safe assumption and fact-checking is in order…

    That’s sad. It should in my view be a safe assumption.

    That it is no longer a safe assumption is a pity. A real shame in fact.
    Call me old fashioned if you like but its true.

    There are sound biological and social readsons why it is desirable that children have a mother and father (man and woman) who are committed and married. The traditional way really does have a lot going for it & really is, usually, 9 times out of 10, best for everyone.

    Feminism has indeed damaged our society and does need to be wound-back some so that sanity prevails and our society as a whole benefits.

    I”ll no doubt be pilloried for non-PC-ness but, come on, we all know its common sense and true.

  42. Anna Gram

    Cravings for weird foods can be very real though. My mum chewed tea leaves through every one of her pregnancies. I “HAD” to have seedless grapes and felt like puking every time I smelled chicken. Cicken is normally one of my favourite foods. My roomie suddenly started eating raw, unpealed potatoes during her pregnancy.
    I have no idea why those cravings occur, but hey, they are deffinately real.

  43. Anonymous

    @MadScientist:

    Movie stunts AREN’T MYTHS! AT ALL!!!! Not even close! They are… Movie stunts! Hence the name “movie stunts” – They are stunts for movies. If they were myths, they’d be called something like “Movie Myths,” but they aren’t. Instead, they are called “Movie stunts” because that is what they are – Movie stunts.

    What? Is Mythbusters going to dedicate an entire episode towards debunking wire-fu? I can hear the intro to that segment right now… “Can ninjas really hang in the air for ten minutes straight? Can they hop from rooftop to rooftop like hyperactive grasshoppers hooked on crack?”

    Why not just go all the way & debunk anime while they’re at it? “Can people really have eyes that are half the size of their head? Can they really hold swords that are about fifteen times the size of their body?”

    And YouTube videos… I’m not even going to bother with that topic.

    I’m beginning to think that the producer who left the show a season or two back may be smarter then at first thought – He knew the series had run out of gas & left before it hit rock bottom.

  44. Mike

    Can someone explain to me how Kari looks even hotter when pregnant?

    Seriously, a nice article. If my daughter grows up to be like her, I’ll be very proud.

  45. Grammar Nazi

    @ Mike:

    She’s radiant – preganancy does give some woman an extra “glow” and vibrancy.

  46. Grammar Nazi

    Another correction:

    woman = women.

    Its getting too late or is that early here now, I’m tired.

    Kari, congratulations & best wishes for you. :-)

  47. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    I KNEW IT! the moment I saw her on the first show of the new season, I turned to my friend and said, “She’s pregnant!” He said, “I don’t know…. could be…..” How a guy can fail to notice that one of the earliest outward signs of pregnancy (aside from the frequent calls to Ralph) is that the woman’s boobs get bigger, I haven’t a clue! :-)

    Congratulations and a safe and happy pregnancy to Kari – and may she have the cutest little mythbusting rugrat EVAR!

  48. Cory Meyer

    I have always suspected Kari was married but GOSH DARN IT don’t ruin my huge crush on her.

  49. Paul A.

    I would really like someone to bust the myth that having babies pleases “god” and that somehow using birth control shows a lack of faith in the that “god”.

  50. MarkH

    Another dream crushed :(

    She’s very good looking, a redhead and likes blowing things up. What more could a guy ask for.

    Congrats Keri… Happy and healthy Pregnancy :)

  51. MarkH

    Aaaaak Kari darn it!!! :P

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