Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Hoax Clocks and Redshirts Mini-Spoilercast – 9/22/2015

Adam, Will, and Norm discuss materials science and camping gear, Ahmed Mohamad’s hoax clock and close the show with a mini-spoilercast about John Scalzi’s excellent book, Redshirts. Enjoy!

Comments (82)

82 thoughts on “Hoax Clocks and Redshirts Mini-Spoilercast – 9/22/2015

  1. Hello Everyone at Tested.com. have not watched this through yet but i still have to sa these videos are amazing keep up the good work!!! Have a great week!

  2. This is Texas schools today. Any and all perceived threats, even threats reported by people with bias have to be investigated by school administration and the school police. Even the most stupidest situations have to be reported.

    My 14 year old son received a 3 day suspension, the same as Ahemd, for making a joke about the Valentine Day Massacre in class. The teacher was lecturing about the massacre in class that day but because his joke offended a parent and she “thought it was a threat to her son’s safety” the school admin had to investigate it and had to some sort of public conscience like a suspension. The teacher, principal and classmates all knew it was a joke and yet the school had do something about it because reported by a parent.

    My son went through the rest of the school year afraid to open his mouth. My son is a strawberry blonde skinny kid with a traditional western European name.

  3. I agree that it’s quite the conspiracy that it was a political ploy, but looking at the clock it does look a little fishy.

    If it was a clock kit, I understand how it would have those redundancies (with the battery and all) but if it was truly made by Ahmed, I have a hard time believing he would install those aspects of the clock.

  4. Okay – I can’t say I’m surprised that Adam and Will had to jump into this “controversy”; however, the bone-headed commentary reached rare heights this time around.

    First, let’s be rational about this and not ideological. Does anyone here actually know Ahmed? Is he a cute kid or a jerk? What’s his reputation at the school? His relationship with his teachers? His actual response/words to the police officers? No? So, you have no facts, no context, no actual knowledge but you feel completely justified in spouting of your judgments that the police are bone-heads, everyone is a racist, everyone is acting like a moron . . .etc.? Just because the kid was wearing a NASA shirt you know he’s a 14 year old kid that’s doing everything right? Because surely no jerk has ever worn a NASA shirt?

    On the other side, you have to try to play up the race angle because why not? White kids have been suspended from school for eating pop tarts into the shape of a gun, writing a story about killing a dinosaur with a gun, and pointing a finger at another child and saying, “bang.” To pretend that only “brown” kids get in trouble with school security is simply not true. The irrational security measures are affecting everyone (see ccadenhead’s comment).

    The “It obviously doesn’t look like a bomb” line is absurd. If Ahmed (or anyone, for that matter) tried to take that clock into the White House on a tour, what do you think the Secret Service would do? If he tried to take that clock on an airplane, how do you think the TSA would handle it? Would those responses be justified? If so, they why isn’t the security response at a school justified? Also, does a pressure cooker “look” like a bomb? Is the average person familiar with what actual (not movie prop) bombs look like? My guess is “No.”

    And while it’s easy to use your 20/20 hindsight vision to mock the people responsible for the security of children, I tend to want to give them the benefit of the doubt. We live in an age where people go into schools and shoot children. This is not a joke or a movie or a video game. It has happened. Many times. We live in an age where people bomb public venues. For you to sit upon your throne and lob tomatoes at the people who have to make very hard decisions about safety in a world gone nuts is disgusting. Do you think the school board woke up that morning and said, “Hey, let’s go pick on a non-white kid today”? Do you think the school board is trained on how to identify bombs? This is a hard job done by people who have the BEST of intentions (i.e. KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE), and you feel justified in rubbing their faces in the dirt because they erred on the side of safety and made a bad call? I can’t say I can comfortably share in your self-righteous indignation.

    At any rate, I can’t find it in my cynical heart to weep for poor Ahmed. He’s already getting lawyered up (thanks CAIR!), and for his several hours of discomfort is going to receive a trip to the White House, a job at FaceBook, a bevy of celebrities slobbering all over him eager to prove how not-racist they are including a personal tour of Adam’s cave, and a fat cash settlement. Not bad for a day’s work. I wish I could run into some of that kind of misfortune.

  5. What a disheartening lack of skepticism shown on the podcast today . Enjoy your ride on the bandwagon, you look like fools.

    Truly hoping that you’ll get together to do An interim podcast to correct all the errors in the show. And please don’t just make things worse by saying a 14-year-old would obviously call an unencased clock and invention.

    The only hope I have left is the Skeptics Guide to the Universe doing an honest assessment instead of all my favorite ‘casters following the party line.

    Woz was charged with hoaxing, try strapping road flares to your chest, holding a wired trigger, walking into a mall, then say, “hey, it’s not a bomb.” The hoax itself is the crime.

  6. All I can say is should the school have been skeptical?……..sure. Should he and the clock been detained until the school/authorities could make sure that it was not dangerous?…..for safety sake yes. Should the school have apologized to the boy and admitted their mistake when it was discovered that it was just a clock?….most definitely. I would bet money that if the school issued a statement saying this is what happened, these are the steps we took and this is what thou outcome was and issued a statement saying “we have apologized to Ahmed and reminded him what our school policy is as well as provided him with a couple of hours of detention for breaking school policy” this story would not be as big a deal as it is and most people would have understood.

    For the school system to take the stance they took as well as suspend the kid is insane. The steps that were taken to ensure the kids safety were probably correct, the manor in which it was handled after they realized there was no threat was nothing short of ridiculous.

    It may not be fair to say that this was race oriented. However, you can not tell me that if this happened to a white kid in Texas and he was treated the exact same way that his parents would just sit there and say that it was handled properly, and it was Johnnie’s fault and move on. There should be outrage and there would be outrage if this happened to any kid of any color and handled the exact same way. The school board should have done a better job handling it.

    To say that you don’t feel sorry for Ahmed is asinine. Everyone should feel sorry for the kid because he is just a kid that made a mistake and there is not one person who would be up in arms if it happened to their child.

  7. Again, I refrain from passing judgment on the school board and police without knowing exactly what transpired. I do not know what was said, how people behaved, and what the context was – why should I assume it was the school board that was entirely in the wrong? Perhaps they were, perhaps not – the fact is I DO NOT KNOW and therefore I CANNOT MAKE A REASONABLE JUDGMENT. It may seem like they’re behaving like jerks, and for all I know they are jerks, but without any sort of actual knowledge of the affair my speculation would be of absolutely no value.

    Sure, folks would be upset if this happened to their kid and he was white. However, I am willing to bet you a thousand dollars that this hypothetical white kid would not get a tweet and invite from the President, would not get job offers from FaceBook or Twitter, would not receive a scholarship to NASA’s space camp, would not get a personal invite to see Adam’s Cave, and would not have the Organization for White People gathering money to hire lawyers on his behalf. Certainly all the white kids who have been suspended from school for stupider reasons than having a clock that looks like a bomb received none of these things.

    Saying I don’t feel sorry for Ahmed is not asinine – it’s true. I feel no need to pretend to have empathy for someone I don’t know having to be inconvenienced for several hours (and no, Adam, he is not being charged with a fucking felony). He wasn’t beaten. He wasn’t charged with a crime. He wasn’t shot, stabbed, or, from what I can tell, even called a mean name. Tell me what, exactly, am I supposed to even feel sorry about? So far as I can tell, this kid hit the jackpot.

  8. From the Dallas news:

    They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

    Also, how the fuck is it legal to interrogate a 14-year old child for over an hour without guardians or a lawyer present?

  9. “Also, how the fuck is it legal to interrogate a 14-year old child for over an hour without guardians or a lawyer present?”

    This could be argued left and right in court. Typically, parents/guardians would be present during an interview… yeah, interview… not interrogation… that is a buzz word used by the media… if the police/school saw this as a threat to life safety, they would not hesitate to question a juvenile before their parents/guardians arrived…

    my 2 cents…

    I don’t think the school, Ahmed, or the police are at fault… Ahmed, obviously, didn’t intend to build anything that looked suspicious. The school should take any “suspicious item” seriously. The police, ignorant comments aside, were just following through with a suspicious package call. Not excusing any of the blatant racism surrounding this story….. but we live in a society where its not farfetched for someone to build a bomb and bring it to a school. I don’t think we should be sending our teachers to EOD training either. If they, or the students, see something suspicious… they should report it. I feel bad for Ahmed for having to live in a society surrounded by racism and bigotry. But I also feel bad for the teachers/school/security who have to live in a world where someone could bring a box with wires and batteries and other household materials and blow everyone up…

    The nut jobs who would actually do something heinous are the ones to blame…

  10. I live in Las Colinas which is a neighborhood in Irving, Texas. I run a music and STEM education tutoring service. All of my clients are first generation immigrants from India, Pakistan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, etc….These families consider arts and sciences a very important part of their children’s education and work as doctors, engineers and other highly educated professionals. The media has gone crazy here locally and although my particular crowd of friends are sympathetic to Ahmed and his family being thrust into the global spotlight, the backlash has been alarming just like Ahmed’s clock. “Making clocks with Ahmed” is a great idea

  11. I thought by “Hoax Clock” You guys were going to cover the articles claiming it was a Hoax to gain attention or something, due in part to his father being a politician.

    So it’s a bit too tin foil hat for my tastes to go that route.


    Same, I thought by the title that they were going to address how the clock itself might be (and probably is) a hoax.

  12. I understand the school taking the precautions that they did. There have been school shooting in Texas, right? Did things get blown out of per-portion sure maybe. The cop coming in and saying “O that is who I thought it was” we don’t know the context of that comment. Since Ahmed dad is a politician and his name was given to the school of who this clock belonged to, it doesn’t mean that “I thought it would be the brown kid”. That could all just be hear say anyway.

    Based off the laws in Texas I don’t think they did anything wrong according to the law, and don’t think the kid needed to be taken to jail to be questioned. That could of been done in the school office.

    Also I congratulate Ahmed for making the clock, I think kids should make stuff. I have made a clock myself, and a few sparkler bombs in my day, but never carried those things to school. If Ahmed would of listened to the first teacher and didn’t get it out again everything would of been ok. He is being celebrated for disobedience. The teacher giving him warning that this looks like a bomb, was watching out for his well being.

    I hope he comes out of this ok and not scared of authority.

    Also I would like a tour of the cave 🙂

  13. I like Stargate Universe 🙁 The back half of S2 was practically perfect (especially when compared to S1).


  14. All maker are deeply offended by the displayed ignorance and malicious intent in this case. Doubtful that anyone got seriously scared here. Likely it was more the desire to report something suspicious to show compliance with prevailing attitude at the school. Initiate procedure, don’t think about the consequences for the child’s well being. Instead of asking the science teacher to help explain what the parts are, the principle calls the police and creates international news. Very poor leadership for sure. The police immediately sees that it is not a bomb but tries to intimidate the poor guy into incriminating himself which is easily done with minors in the presence of 4-5 policemen. Thus the police appeared as trying to create a hoax bomb charge for which there was no reason. The police seemed to be unwilling to accept that someone can build something for fun and education. In any case denying a 14 year old access to the parents, not informing him of his miranda rights when arresting him and putting him in handcuffs is likely illegal also in Texas. But who knows? Good on Ahmed to stick to his guns (which in Texas can be carried by students in college now).

    My kids immediately turned to the label maker and printed ” Not a Bomb” onto all their projects. If things with cables are hoax bombs than we are in trouble as makers. We also established clear procedures in the case they ever get into a situation like that including a lawyers telephone number.

    The clock incidence is a very unfortunate example of ignorance and laziness gone wild. Could have happen to anyone independent of heritage. Now it is a political case beyond a small town charade from which credit can be had and some of the post around the web show that lobbying firms have been dispatched to counter the outrage and create doubt and confusion on very clearly documented incidence. Ahmed is the hero here who displayed some brilliancy dealing with all of this.

  15. From the Dallas news:

    They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

    Also, how the fuck is it legal to interrogate a 14-year old child for over an hour without guardians or a lawyer present?

    They clearly arrested him and moved him in handcuffs. In that moment they will have to inform him of his miranda rights and at that point he can refuse to say anything until his parents or lawyers arrive. End of story.

    The supreme court has dealt with this and obviously minors are easily coerced by experienced officers into incriminating themselves. Laws vary by state for 16 and older, but 14 is pretty clear cut minor.

  16. I thought, since I hang out with generally nerd friends, that it was pretty clear that the school handled this situation poorly… but I heard a co-worker say that Ahmed was entirely at fault for the extent of the situation. I thought I’d outline why that is not the case.

    Sure, it may have been race oriented which is shitty, but regardless of who the kid was it is still the schools, and the police job to quell the situation. HOW they did this is what is unacceptable, and the reason this situation came to be such a problem is also important. Yes Ahmed should have been aware that you have to be careful with this sort of thing, but we can almost dismiss this because he is still very young and excited about learning… It was an honest mistake from someone that SHOULD be allowed to make mistakes. What cant be excused is the down right phobic nature from the school and the police. Should they have been concerned? Yes, one of their faculty expressed concern (I’m not defending whether or not that person was right in expressing concern) and the school had to respond in a formal manor. The school did act, but neither in a formal nature, nor did the police even follow the law.

    The information coming out of this is just crazy:

    • Cops seemingly lying about knowing this kid was guilty. Even if we can excuse this ‘fact’ as hear-say, there is plenty more going on.
    • An informal questioning by the police that is nearly off the record.
    • His parents where not told until he was already process and in the process of being detained.
    • They suspended him over potentially intending to harm the school. When did we start preemptively sentencing people?
    • They are STILL thinking of charging a 9th grader on grounds of hoax bombing while there are tons of students and teachers who heard him deliberately say that it is a clock. Why would he actively tell people it was a clock if he wanted to kill people, or scare people?
    • They wanted him to elaborate the meaning of a clock? What?
    • These are adults, they should really think instead of acting irrationally. There are dozens of Adults involved here…. And one kid. These adults need to get a grip instead of blindly fight for what is ‘right’.

    tl;dr – It was good that the school responded, it was bad how the responded.

  17. Great Video SKTFM. But the fact that he didn’t use a breadbord and basically moved factory printed circuitry and the guts from an old alarm clock into a briefcase doesn’t makes him a terrorist either. He was more than treated unfairly. Sure it was a shitty clock build but he’s got to start somewhere.

  18. I wasn’t shocked that this happened, people are easily scared and it is their job to be on their toes.

    But it should quickly have been obvious that the device was not a bomb, or a hoax bomb, after all it had immediately upon being brought to the school been presented as a clock to a member of staff, who saw a potential issue due to its unfinished appearance and made a reasonable suggestion that it might be best to avoid confusion by keeping the clock hidden.

    I would have expected the school to respond with an apology to Ahmed for the experience, but explaining that members of staff are trained to take threats seriously and report them to relevant authorities and that they then trust that police officers responding to the perceived threat will act according to procedure. That would have been fine from the school’s end, though the officers’ behavior is still absurdly hostile, dumb, and probably illegal given that the person being questioned is a minor.

    They could then have done themselves a lot of good by saying they encourage curiosity and experimentation by their students and acknowledging those activities as important to learning and development.

    If I was the principal, I’d try to save my school’s reputation by finding someone willing and able to organize a one-day maker-faire event at or near the school, focused especially on the sharing of knowledge and skills. Obviously, that event would include thorough demonstrations of safety procedures for attending students. Both for safe tool use when making projects at home or in the classroom, but also how to make sure your projects are safe for others to use and interact with.

  19. I want you to think about it this way. They never thought it was a bomb. No evacuation happened. No bomb squad was called. They kept the “bomb” in the same room as Ahmed when they were questioning him. They took it to the station with no special care. They never thought it was a bomb.

  20. Wow, I would like to say I see where you are coming from but I can’t. Just because Ahmed is coming out of this all right it doesn’t mean that he did not go through a traumatic experience. He is not an adult, he is a 14 year old boy who was accused of something he didn’t do, handcuffed, taken to jail, interrogated without representation and after a while let go. With nothing even resembling a “sorry for the inconvenience”. I know he is not the first kid this happened to and I know he will not be the last but at the moment he is the one we know about it.

    I can tell you that no matter what ethnic background someone comes from my opinion on the matter would stay the same. I would hope that any child that has something similar happen to them will get the same exposure from now on but only time will tell.

  21. And far, far away in a walled garden surrounded by 72 fat gamers that used to live in moms basement (contractual oversight, tho technically virgins) osama smiles to himself in the knowledge that whatever the cost… he won.

    well done murica 🙁

    poking the bear further… “One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns.” -John Oliver
    at least we can understand what everyone was afraid of i guess

  22. I’m surprised they failed to mention the main character pondering why he almost died several times when he wasn’t the main character. Him realizing that he could be a main character portrayed as non-main character in some other universe was probably my favorite part of the book!

  23. Again, I suggest you’re not considering any possible context to the situation. Your default position is that 14 year old boys are angelic. I know I wasn’t. I know lots of kids I grew up with weren’t. I know lots of 14 year old boys today that are, to put it mildly, mischievous. Did this kid bring the clock as part of an actual bomb hoax? Did he mean to scare people as a joke? Is he known as a prankster? Why didn’t the science teacher come to his immediate defense? Why would didn’t the principle come to his immediate defense? Do you think that bomb hoaxes shouldn’t be taken seriously? Do you think that, if you ask a 14 year old boy who has been caught doing something wrong a direct question you will get the absolute truth on the first try? Give me a break. How did Ahemed respond? What did he say, actually, and how did he say it?

    Do you think the police force went in and said, “Hey, I’ve got absolutely nothing better to do with the rest of my day than hang out here and question this kid whom I know is absolutely innocent?”

    The problem I see here is a hell of a lot of preconceived notions dictating one’s interpretation of a bare minimum of facts. Some here prefer to see absolutely everything as the result of someone being bigoted and racist – I suggest that this is often not the case. I suggest that, in the spirit of scientific inquiry which this website adulates so often, people actually consider what they know and then examine possible outcomes based on that evidence.

    In other words, y’all sound about as rational as Creationists right now.

  24. Wow, I would like to say I see where you are coming from but I can’t. Just because Ahmed is coming out of this all right it doesn’t mean that he did not go through a traumatic experience. He is not an adult, he is a 14 year old boy who was accused of something he didn’t do, handcuffed, taken to jail, interrogated without representation and after a while let go. With nothing even resembling a “sorry for the inconvenience”. I know he is not the first kid this happened to and I know he will not be the last but at the moment he is the one we know about it.

    I can tell you that no matter what ethnic background someone comes from my opinion on the matter would stay the same. I would hope that any child that has something similar happen to them will get the same exposure from now on but only time will tell.

    Shipmate – you seem to have lived a sheltered life. There are, in America today, 14 year olds being raped, shot, abused, maltreated, and sold drugs. There are, in America today, 14 year olds serving in sex slave rings. I’m not saying it was on Ahmed’s top ten list of best days ever, but this was not traumatic. Only to someone who had some serious other psychological issues would something like this be that traumatic. This is something that happens that you’re scared of at the time but which looks silly or even funny in hindsight. If Ahmed is a healthy young fellow, he’s probably already telling jokes about it to his buddies.

    And you claim that you would be in an uproar no matter the ethnic background? Did you get upset and post comments when the kid got suspended for drawing a picture of a gun? Did you try to get exposure for the case where the kid was suspended for pointing his fingers at a girl and saying “Bang”?

  25. Is this 45 minutes restriction on questioning a part of law or is this your opinion? What do you think the correct procedures would have been if it was an actual, intentional bomb hoax (i.e. someone bringing something that looked like a bomb in order to scare folks and cause a disturbance)? Even Bill Mahr, liberal lion that he is, has admitted that people thought it was a bomb because it looked like what most people think a bomb looks like. Why did the alarm go off in the middle of class (after Ahmed was told to keep his “invention” out of sight)? Perhaps it was an innocent mistake, but it’s the type of question to which, were I a police officer, I would be curious to hear the answer.

    Perhaps the answer isn’t binary. Perhaps the police procedures require them to follow specific protocol when dealing with a potential bomb regardless of whether or not the police quickly realize it’s not a real bomb. A few months ago, someone freaked out here in D.C. in building 197 (the one that got shot up 2 years ago), and even though there were no casualties, no one else reported any gunfire, and no video footage showed any shooters we had to evacuate the building and every single room was searched (and locked doors kicked in which you taxpayers paid to replace . . . again). Innocent employees were accosted in their cubicles by SWAT team members holding guns aimed at their faces and yelled at to produce ID cards. Was it painfully obvious that it was a false alarm? It sure was to me. Did that change police/SWAT team procedures? Not one bit.

    And none of us got invited to the White House. Somehow we founded it within ourselves to go on with our lives.

    If you feel there is no disturbance to public safety or good order for kids to raise fake bomb alerts, I suggest you watch someone try it at the Smithsonian museum or on the D.C. Metro and see how it goes. If you think it’s easy to get the simple truth out of a 14 year old boy, I suggest you need to expand your experience with 14 year old boys. If you think police officers have an easy job or don’t have to struggle, constantly, with what the right call is in the face of public safety, bureaucratic policy, personal safety, and public perception – I suggest you open your mind a bit.

    As an aside, I would say that the folks pointing out that this was not an actual “invention” as the press has been calling it are justified. Does it directly bear on the reactions of the police? No. But it changes the idea, that many (including y’all) have been championing, that this is some sort of boy prodigy who has been passionately inventing machines in his garage. So, contra your opinion, not complete wankery.

  26. This comment is to Plaidwalker (for some reason the site won’t let me respond directly to the original comment).

    Okay – out of curiosity – let’s say it was (and we’re speaking hypothetically) a real terrorist with a real bomb.

    Police- What do you have there.

    Terrorist- Oh, this. . . uh, it’s just a clock I made.

    Police- Oh, well, then, nothing to see here. Have a pleasant day.

    Scenario 2. Again, hypothetically, let’s pretend Ahmed built this to look like a bomb to scare people and get attention

    Police- Did you build this clock to look like a bomb to scare people as some sort of stupid prank?

    Prankster- No.

    Police- Right, then, don’t I look silly. I guess I’ll just take your word for it. Off you go.

    Do you perhaps see why the, “Well, he said it was a clock” line is falling just a little bit short? Why we might need a little more context before we could make an accurate assessment of the situation? I mean, I’ll grant you if you knew that every 14 year old boy always told the absolute truth then your method would work perfectly. Turns out that’s not the case. At least not with the boys I know. You know, I’ve even heard that there are people in prison who say they’re completely innocent.

    Who knew? It’s a crazy world after all.

    It’s important to not just love movies like Rashomon and Wag the Dog but to learn something from them, too.

  27. C’mon the kid is a fraud! http://louderwithcrowder.com/proof-ahmed-mohameds-fake-clock-built-in-18-seconds-on-video-in-real-time/ It’s a liberal media stunt and nothing more. Adam is obviously part of the agenda with the 9-11 thermite test they did on mythbusters. nano thermite and thermite behave totally differently on a molecular level. Also they Never addressed WTC Building 7 at all. I’d love to hear Adams take on this and the 911 nist report. If he goes along with it he’s about as far as you can get from being an actual scientist.

  28. I’m here to provide some tent help. Please don’t spend $1K on a Hammock tent. I bought a Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym Classic for $160 and have been so happy with it. It’s the most comfortable tent sleeping experience I’ve ever had, and you can buy expansion packs for it if you need to winterize its three-season-ness.

    So fun, so cheap. Pretty sure you can grab one at REI (which is like Mountain Equipment Co-op, yes?).

    Check ’em out. http://hennessyhammock.com/

  29. People shouldn’t cast judgement about others, good or bad, based on what they hear from the media. It’s impossible to know what anyone was thinking during a situation as complicated as this one, and just filling in those details to fit the narrative you like is a very irrational thing to do. In this case, we don’t know if Ahmed did this as a publicity stunt for his father who is a politician and who is really taking advantage of the situation, or if he really is just an innocent kid.

    EDIT: I also think this is a classic example of the Type I and Type II error dilemma: if you commit a Type I error you get punished, and if you commit a Type II error you get punished, but of course it’s impossible to eliminate both error types at the same time, so all you really get to choose is the punishment.

  30. The picture I saw of the clock showed a large display (which took me a few minutes to identify), a power transformer and cord, an un-loaded 9v battery connector, and a circuit board, all inside an aluminum attache case.

    The problem here is that not all bombs look like a bowling ball with a fuse with the word B O M B written across it in large, bright letters!

    I remember the plane over Locherbee (sp) Scotland where the bomb was wired into a boom-box (!).

    So, questioning Ahmed about his construction was erring on the side of caution.

    Overdone, however, IMHO. But handcuffs for a (maybe) not agitated student?

    But Ahmed’s engineering teacher advised him NOT to show it to anyone else. The story I read said he had the case with him in English class and the alarm went off. And the teacher wanted to see what it was…

    –Paul E Musselman

  31. Guys,

    Great podcast – so glad that you talked about Ahmed as a 14 yrs kid who is proud for what he did. It is amazing that adults are so scared. It is so hard to be a kid now.

    There has been this major push to get more kids (particularly girls) into STEM areas. Sadly, some parents will take Ahmed’s story and discourage their kids to pursue work in these fields.

    Sally Ride created this amazing program to encourage young girls into STEM fields. https://sallyridescience.com – Tested/Mythbusters should use her model.

  32. re: RedShirt:

    “Captain! Captain! Over here! YAAAAAHHHHHGGHGHHH!”

    You always knew when a ‘specialist’ you’ve never met before is assigned to the Away Team that he/she wasn’t long for the universe! Lt. Diomotto… Geologist what’s his name…

    The only RedShirt who escaped was Scotty.

    –Paul E Musselman

  33. Once it was established it wasn’t real, the next investigation would look into a hoaxing charge. Calling in a bomb threat or building a fake bomb and bringing it to class is criminal, despite no actual danger. That’s why no evacuation but continued questioning and processing.

  34. I agree that it could of been handle in a better way, and as said the school wasn’t evacuated because they knew it wasn’t a real bomb. Now the handcuffs and room with no adult should not of happened I agree. Yet still this could of been avoided if he would of listened to the first teacher.

    By the way Ahmed dropped out of that school today, and the parents haven’t decided on were he will go next. They should do what my wife are going to do and home school. Maybe.

    Anyway great topics and vids. Keep it up

  35. From the photos of the clock there is nothing “hand built” about it (unless you count removing it from its case and stuffing in the new one). We have all built electronics and we can all tell prototyping parts from the bulk-manufactured Chinese stuff:

    See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHk_6Vh4Qeo

    I am not saying he was trying to hoax the school or anything, but he certainly was plagiarizing work (unless he has a few thousand more of those lying around somewhere). Also the unused 9V battery holder is a dead give away.

  36. I apologize if this was already stated, but the campsite perimeter alarm systems are commonly used in bear country to either warn campers about approaching bears, or to deter bears. They also make portable electric fences for campsites to discourage Grizzlies and Polar Bears. The campsite perimeters are also used in other parts of the world, like Africa, where campers may have to deter large predators.

  37. I’m going to stay away from “Clock-Gate”, but as for “Redshirts” I really feel that Mel Brooks would be the only director that could do that movie justice (ah the memories of seeing Blazing Saddles for the first, second, and well really when ever its on)

  38. Ok, first offensive post from me here on this board, but i really have to say it.

    this is coming from me (and i feel a lot more non American’s):

    “Dear american’s, you are idiots for being afraid from everything”

    there you go. that’s all i can say about the situation.

  39. #1 I did not hear about those two events, I’m from Canada and word of a kid getting suspended from school does not make it up here.

    #2, You my friend are comparing apples and oranges, getting suspended is a far cry from getting arrested, questioned and intimidated by police with your right to representation not being granted.

    The above two examples that you stated are ridiculous and stupid and some penalty should go towards the person that issued the punishment but it is not the same thing.

    You also said “There are, in America today, 14 year olds being raped, shot, abused, maltreated, and sold drugs. There are, in America today, 14 year olds serving in sex slave rings.” Which is 100% correct and anyone who is caught doing that to children ends up in jail. They don’t get to stay free and issue a statement to all the other children’s parents basically stating they did what they did for the other kids safety. Their bosses don’t issue a press statement saying that how things were handled will not be looked in to when clearly if someone isn’t allowed legal council their rights have been violated. Even though it is someone’s job to keep everyone safe there are still rules follow and rights to be upheld.

    I could be wrong but it sounds like you are basically saying that the authorities can do whatever they deem necessary however they deem necessary if it is in the name of the greater good. That’s a scary premise.

  40. I may be wrong but I think the only reason the second teacher saw the clock was because the alarm started going off in class otherwise it would have stayed hidden. Why he had it plugged in I have no idea. Once it went off he would have had no choice but to show it to the teacher.

  41. The child, and his family were well aware of the schools Zero Tolerance Policy (Whether you agree with the policy or not is irrelevant)

    Which of them thought that violating that policy with this “clock” was ever a good idea?

    I am more inclined to feel sorry for the kid because it appears to me that he is being used as a provocative tool by his activist father.

    Redshirts was an awesome book! I’m rereading the first few Wild Cards books but then I’m going to read more Scalzi, for sure!

    Cheers all

  42. The clock display was on the inside of a pencil case. Can I ask everyone to honestly answer what the point is of a clock on the INSIDE of a pencil case? Hollywood has indoctrinated us to to think this is what a bomb looks like because every villain has bomb built in into a briefcase with a display, just as Ahmed has built, or at least the detonator is built into a briefcase. As a kid who grew up in America, I’m willing to bet he has seen his fair share of those movies and TV shows.

    Ahmeds clock was 1 math book wrapped in brown paper short of making a lot of poo come shooting out of everyone at that school.

    I agree with that after the police saw that it wasn’t a bomb, it was important to ascertain whether or not it was meant to be a hoax bomb which is also a crime. To anyone that doesn’t know what a real bomb looks like, Ahmeds clock looks like a real bomb. Schools are not evacuated for hoax bombs, and his teachers probably realized that it wasn’t a bomb. His age (14) does not make him innocent. When I was 14, I knew kids actually making things that were dangerous. Making a hoax bomb is nothing, but it’s also a serious crime.

  43. A few podcasts ago Will made mention of “willful ignorance and the rise of modern conservatism” and now we see them (self described liberals) taking the bait and becoming willful participants in this shallow scam. Sad irony.

  44. I’m also hoping there will be comments in the next podcast about this issue.

    I’m with WVC on this. At first I was thinking “what a bunch of assholes” but in the meantime as more nuggets of info have come out, I have come to the position of “I don’t know enough.”

    1. The kid reused the guts of a mass-produced clock. He didn’t invent anything. Also appears he didn’t really assemble anything either. Now, the kid is 14 and, remembering when I was the same age, I’m not sure he understands what “invent” really means.

    2. Statement about “the bomb squad wasn’t called” is interesting … it would appear they didn’t think it was a real bomb, but until we hear from the police why that wasn’t done, we can only speculate.

    3. School’s job is to protect the kids after violence/mass murder at other schools. Of course they reacted with utmost caution.

    4. Everyone who says “it didn’t look like a bomb” needs to stop. What does a bomb – a real one, not a movie version – look like? So the teachers are now going to be trained educators AND bomb and electronics experts? Finally, just because *you* and *I* can tell that it looks like a clock, doesn’t mean *everyone* knows what that looks like. Just stop already.

  45. Hi Adam, Norm, Will,

    I love the podcasts but I’m so disappointed that you chaps missed the whole point of the Ahmed story.

    Of course a kid (of any nationality or race) shouldn’t be subjected to interrogation without his parents.

    However, in regards to the clock it was obviously a digital clock taken out of it’s case. Praising him for bringing in an old clock minus the case doesn’t make any sense.

    I can understand people being hyper sensitive about muslims in the USA but praising a kid for inventing is nonsense. It doesn’t inspire true makers.


    Yours sincerely,

    English Bob x

  46. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily comparing apples to oranges. Some of the children suspended were much younger than Ahmed, and you could earnestly infer that suspending a younger child could have a bigger impact on the child than the arrest and questioning of a much older child (and I speak as one who has sat in the back of a State Trooper’s car). Also, you can consider that the gravity of bringing a potential hoax bomb to school, contrary to the school’s very well known policy, is of greater gravity than biting a pop tart into the shape of a gun or writing a story about shooting a dinosaur.

    While I would love for everyone involved in doing such heinous things to 14 year olds was caught and severely punished, sadly this is often not the case. But let’s not get caught in a side issue. The point I was trying to make was that, relative to the bad experiences out there for 14 year olds to have to undergo, being questioned by the police is pretty low on the trauma scale.

    I’ve been trying to make the case that the police could have earnestly been operating form a position other than utter and unmitigated racism or hatred of Ahmed, and, barring any real knowledge of the actual events, that such a consideration should color one’s judgment of their actions and whatever reprimands they may have to deal with.

    No, I am not in favor of unchecked authority and I hate the growing police state America is becoming. However, the fastest way to strengthen the police state is to contribute to the trend of irrational hysteria that every public event seems to invoke now-a-days. We need more discretion, reason, and dialogue in the public forums, and less demagoguery, name calling, and snarkiness. A non-thinking public that is whipped into a frenzy whenever the official and unquestioned narrative about an event is made known is the easiest to manipulate.

    I’m not saying folks need to be heartless. I am saying that folks need to think with their BRAIN first, and that includes keeping things in context. Over-exaggerating the “trauma” Ahmed had to undergo is part of putting things in proper context.

    Or one can live in an echo chamber and ignore anything one doesn’t like.

  47. So I had been reading all the Ahmed hype the last few days as it was going up on reddit and I was like wow typical southern racial profiling.

    Then I had a reality check and thing wow this kid is a real piece of shit. Hes not an inventor at all hes not even a maker not by a long shot. So all hes done is lie about being an inventor (briefly flash another fake invention probably a vcr or some shit hes taken the case off of) because I mean this is what a simple media player looks like inside. not the crazy mess of wires and shit he briefly flashed in 2 videos.

    And then I cant find any evidence of any inventions I see a jumble of e-waste recovered wires on his desk, and a $10 soldering iron, no soldering station, no sponge, no solder sucker… so on and so forth. Everything is so staged now.

    Seems like he had a cheap clock he took it apart and put it in a cheap little pencil case briefcase and was like oh wow that reminds me of like a call of duty bomb im goign to show the guys it’ll be funny cuz we’re geeks and it looks cool.

    Then at school it was immediately recognized as not a bomb (its reasonable to believe some school personnel have received modest training on identifying a hoax bomb maybe a 1 hour online seminar is enough. Then police reacted with there heavy foot and disregard for protocol that is typical these days to make this a soap box rally.

    Id be pissed that hes trying to pretend hes an inventor making young inventors look like oblivious dipshits, and accepting the good will of well intentioned mentors in the industry with a shit eating grin knowing hes a piece of shit. thats how I now feel, Basically 14 year olds are still ignorant shit disturbing liars and still the police forces operate heavy handedly outside the law both are problems that need to be addressed. not one or the other.

  48. Hoping you guys will spoilercast Aurora [Kim Stanley Robinson] !

    I’ld like to hear your take on the theory that exoplanets supporting life will very like have microbial life hostile to humans…

  49. You know, I’ve completely changed my mind on this after reading some comments about this topic in the Forums. I repeat my conversion comment here:

    Because of the awful, horrendous, unbelievable treatment poor little Ahmeddy-poo had to undergo, nothing is too good to help him not shy away from this evil society that is so oozing with bigotry and hatred for him and his people. I say NOTHING is too good for this brilliant, lovable, truthful super-student.

    Therefore, I propose that they hire Ahmed to replace Will on Tested.com. What a stirring show of embracing diversity that would be! We could see Ahmed building stuff next to Adam, interviewing and learning from other makers! Adam offers him some sort of half-hearted one-time tour of his Cave as if that’s enough to right this social justice outrage? Nay! NAY! Adam should invite Ahmed into his Cave every day! Whenever Ahmed feels overwhelmed by this horrible society, vicious and racist cops hounding his every innocent move, may he flee to his Cave of Refuge!

    Let’s make this happen! #AhmedatTested! NOTHING will be enough to assuage the centuries of brutal racial hatred Ahmed has had to bear upon his saintly back, but this will be a start. Tested should pay his relocation fees, his in-area housing, and give him a salary AT LEAST the same as Will and Joey if they want to show they’re not trying to take advantage of Ahmed because of his skin color.

    Go Ahmed! Never stop dreaming and building! Never stop believing in yourself!

  50. What, are you saying you don’t want to see Ahmed as the co-host at Tested? Why not? It’s not because he’s a non-white, is it?

    Kidding aside, I thought I would try sarcasm for a post or two. Everyone seems to think it’s funny when Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or John Oliver does it.

    I actually don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. When something interesting catches my eye, I tend to stick with it because I don’t have the bandwidth to maintain multiple conversations across multiple forums. This issue, in particular, has caught my eye because of the hysterical and unscientific way folks like Will and Adam, who claim to be such fans of sober, rational thought, approached it. I’m not holding my breath on either of them walking back from their position or, if the thing does happen to turn out to be a fraud, apologizing for their mistaken and rash statements.

    The sarcasm kicked in because I think I read one two many posts about how awful, bigoted, and racist our society is. Somehow people on the internet miles and miles away from the incident and with no first hand knowledge of the people involved can automatically read the hearts and minds of all those police officers, teachers, and school board members. I confess, that type of irrationality gets under my skin.

  51. Yup, I’ve done a 180 on this too after looking at the clock and the family in general. It’s Just too damn suspicious. The kid isn’t really a maker just a tinkerer. But his sister called in a bomb threat and with his dad being so politically active it reeks of media manipulation. I started Feeling sorry for the kid but the more I looked at it the more I became convinced I was being lied to.

  52. Tested and Adam savage will NEVER admit that this event was scripted or part of a liberal agenda. They are a part of it! Events like these are HUGE launching platforms for them to drop to their knees and worship their pro-islamofascism leader by voicing support for the agendas presented and shaping public opinion on controversial issues like this. Do you Really think that Adam would Violate his contract with discovery and talk about 9-11 / nano-thermite, building 7, or hurt his party by acknowledging that Muslims have been funding the democratic party (and vice versa) for years? No he’d loose his power if he told the truth. So Sshh. Just sit back and enjoy them talking about movies, and phones. No no, SShh Shh! You should just sit there quietly focusing on your consumerism and try not to think too hard about real issues. Just acknowledge that their hands ( Adam in particular) are tied. … Wait A Bomb threat from the same family!?!?!? WOW ok, just WOW!

  53. Yea…. ok. Tested. Just please put it on your masthead “We are a political web site and we are Liberals”, so those of us just wanting a fun take on tech, gadgets and Sci-Fi can eject if it’s going to get political. You have already whored your opinions in favor of DJI, the benefactors that give you free drones for great reviews. Please cancel my membership effective immediately. Maybe San Fran-based web sites aren’t the place to go for unbiased thought.

  54. Haha, look who it is… color me surprised.

    BTW, anyone have a real source for the claim that “his sister carried out a bomb threat”? Even the right-wing conspiracy sites are saying she was once suspended for a few days because *another girl* had *made claims about her*… no mention or record of a police report, and no actual threat made is cited in any of the “articles”.

    The only source for the claim appears to be an interview with the sister where she talks about pride in her brother for speaking up about the accusations and being glad he received support. She says had not spoken up when someone claimed she “wanted to blow up the school” and was subsequently suspended. If she had actually made a threat, you’d think there would be some, any, record of that, given “procedure” at the school.

  55. I think it’s entirely appropriate for this podcast, which is about what Adam Savage is thinking about and doing lately, to contain Adam’s opinions on current events.

    And while it doesn’t apply to me in this case, meeting people you disagree with is the best thing anyone can do for their own mental health.

  56. Adam got totally buffaloed by the hoax clock just as President Obama did. If he waited for the other side of the story to come out he would have presented a more balanced / less fan-boy report on the hoax. Engineers have analyzed the photo, legal people have examined the family’s pass, and now, even the mayor of Irving, TX has responded with some damning information on the family.

  57. I hope the authorities Do investigate the possibility of a hoax rather than be cowed by the “PC Police”. Money is flowing into the family and there are too many unanswered questions as of now.

  58. Staff Will said: “All the nonsense about whether the child invented the clock or whatever is wankery over semantics that is not germane to the real issue.”

    Response: Both Adam and President Obama felt the invention was very germane to the real issue. They were the ones who gushed over the child’s invention. If they can do it, then others can point out the error of their ways.

    Staff Will said: “The police department’s treatment of this child is bananas.”

    Response: Not if the 14-year knowingly broke the law. There is a very legitimate law forbidding anyone from building a hoax bomb.

    (Texas Penal Code Section 46.08):

    (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:

    (1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or

    (2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

    Mohamed wouldn’t be the first 14 year old to bring something to school with the intent of killing people. It’s happened before in America and it can happen again. The police actions were not “bananas”.

  59. I know this is unrelated to this video but I thought up a pretty cool game the astronauts could play if the idea holds water.

    First they need some fabric and materials that can be used to make several little trampoline-ish things. Then they take turns placing them around the room in random locations with random angles, and using a paper ball see who can get it to bounce off the most trampolines.

  60. A hoax is still a crime. The police at that point do not need to evacuate the school, which is usually up to administration who prefer lock-downs.
    I coach high school soccer and we have had many lock-downs and I have had my players detained and questioned. I have waited over an hour for a guidance counselor or staff to arrive during lock-downs they have other things to do. If they leave their classroom or were caught in a remote part of campus it takes time.
    The full story is still to be told. Assuming the worst because they are police officers is uncalled for.
    The police don’t like this new “Zero Tolerance” threat stuff at all, they are usually the most sympathetic to the kids who get caught playing pranks. But if they don’t show up when called guess what story you comment on then?

  61. It irks me that people are calling him a “Whiz kid”. Whiz Kid? He took the innards of an alarm clock and put them in a case….. How does that make him a wiz kid again? I just took Oreos from their wrapper and placed them in a ziplock bag… Does that make me a chef?

  62. My read on Hanson: He’s tied to the other narrative — the book. Dahl starts musing about being the protagonist when he talks about his near escapes and Hanson gently points him toward the end of the story. They’re people living in a universe that’s being manipulated by a TV show script that’s being manipulated by a book.

  63. One point that a friend, and author Michael Z. Williamson recently pointed out was if they really thought Ahmed’s clock was a bomb, why didn’t they evacuate the school and/or cordon off the area and call in an EOD team to investigate?

  64. The exact same mentality that caused Adam to apologize for a “Crying Game” comment to a youtube viewer is the same mentality why teachers are terrified to do anything that could possibly burn them as “not taking student safety seriously”. Yes,they were wrong, but they are under so much pressure to avoid any situations of potential legal liability. Everyone’s hypersensitive nature to not offend blah, blah blah, you get the point…

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