Penn and Teller: Bullshit!

Over my spring break a few weeks back, a friend of mine happened to turn on the TV and catch an episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit! airing. He immediately ordered the first two seasons on DVD, and I’ve begun watching them. Penn claims that they’re working off the legacy of Harry Houdini, who in his later years would go around and debunk popular supersitions. Well, Penn and Teller’s spends 30 minutes for an episode working over current popular superstitions or misconceptions. The ones I’ve seen so far have been on the Bible (naturally), profanity, recycling, environmentalism, new age-ism (herbal remedies, tantric sex, etc.), and a few other things I can’t recall at the moment. Now, Penn makes a good case for how stupid the subject of the show is each time, but he and Teller do it with the same elements of entertainment and comedy that every Penn and Teller show possesses. As something of a modern Skeptic, I’m absolutely in love with this show at the moment, and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, as even if you go into it absolutely believing in the subject their covering, you’ll firstly be entertained and secondly come out of it a smarter person.

Oh I love this show. I never know when it’s on - in fact, I didn’t even know it was still on at all. I didn’t know they had a second season!

I’ll have to hit up On Demand.

Sounds like Mythbusters.

I absolutely love this show. Got the first season box set for christmas last year. :slight_smile:

It’s not even close to Mythbusters. It’s not like they debunk things as much as they make fun of them.

It’s all right. It is pretty funny and some of the stuff that they do is pretty cool. However, some of it is just bullshit. The Bible one, the sex one, the alien one, and the baby one were pretty cool, but a lot of others are pretty whack (like the recycling and second hand smoke were really out there). Funny enough I was thinking about making this exact topic.

Bullshit is probably the single best reason to get premium cable. Yes, even more than late-night softcore porn.

Some of us watched a mini-marathon of 4 or 5 episodes on the last RPGCali meet. Appropriately, we drank during the Alcoholics Anonymous episode. :stuck_out_tongue:

I own the DVD’s. Nuff said…

I personally thought the one on recycling was very good, even though I’d been a hazy-reasoned supporter of recycling beforehand. To summarize for those who haven’t seen it, Penn and Teller concluded that most forms of recycling don’t serve any real purpose other than to make people feel good about themselves, which wouldn’t be the case if they actually knew much about recycling. Turns out that the recycling of aluminum is the only efficient effort, since it’s cheaper to collect and reuse cans than it is to extract new stuff from the earth. Recycling paper doesn’t save trees; in the US, at least, logging is run not as a wasteful one-shot business, but companies run tree farms, where they plant trees so they can later harvest them. (after the episode, discussing that point with some friends, the point was offered that the loss of forests in developing countries is due to slash-and-burn farming, not logging)

It’s a funny show, but you can’t take it seriously. A lot of the “experts” they talk to on the show are actually just activists against one thing or another. As mentioned, the recycling and second-hand smoke episodes were riddled with blatant non-facts. I won’t call them lies, cause I think the people who said them actually believe them. However, SCIENCE will tell you otherwise. Damn that nasty science.

Anyway, you can watch the whole series via Winamp TV, if you can’t afford the DVDs or have cable.

Their argument about paper I thought was weak. For one they ignored how long it takes to grow trees. Also, the trucks that pick-up the stuff pick it all up. If recycling one thing is very efficient might as well do it all since the trucks are already there. They also act like making paper, cuttting down the trees, etc. happen for free. It still takes trucks and tools to cut down the trees and turn it into paper, which they seem to ignore. I thought that the recycling one was one of the worst ones and I had a hard time watching it. it’s also like Sat said, he sums it up well.

Also, their use of editing puts a lot of question into what they say. Such as the one about New Age Medicine was particularly alarming. They only showed the people that went with their bogus stuff, but didn’t shwo the ones that called it bullshit. It was almost liek a disclaimer at the bottom of a legal document.

And there were many that rejected our bullshit medicine, but we’ll only show you the few that went along with it.

And, info, you have no idea how happy I am to see someone else who is willing to accept that everything on that show isn’t the God’s honest truth. My room mate is obsessed with the show, and straight-out calls me a liar whenever I try to show her evidence that the things they say aren’t 100% accurate. She starts saying “that information is decades out of date” even if it was collected days before, or “that’s just what the government wants you to think.”

Yes, the government wants to waste millions of tax dollars on something that helps no one just so that they can make you believe that recycling works…


Its a fact though, alot of what we are supposed to be recycling, just ends up in India…What the average American thinks about recycling, and what it entails, isn’t really happening at all. I think that was the greater point.

As it stands right now, recycling plastic and paper is more expensive then making it new, so of course that cuts into corporate profits, which entails them not doing it nearly as much as the propaganda says they do.

And that my friends, is the “Bullshit”

Oi, oi. I’m not saying “live your life by Bullshit!” or that Penn and Teller are completely objective. They’re roughly libertarians, they have their own opinions/agenda. But think: How much does any given person who does their civic duty (or must, by law, such in my town) and recycles know about the whole of the process and the reasoning behind the process?

And Sat, the government of course doesn’t “purposefully” waste money at any time. However, it does things plenty of people believe waste money that someone with decision-making power thought had purpose.

Now the question is whether recycling as it is done has the effects it is commonly thought to have, or whether those effects even matter. I wouldn’t be able to recall all the reasons listed on the show, though I think it numbered up around seven or eight. One was the “saves trees” part. On that one, no, they probably didn’t cover everything they could of. They made the point that recycling paper itself does require energy and does produce waste, which are two things that typically don’t get addressed when the topic of recycling comes up.

All recycling creates waste. That’s part of the recycling process. Almost nothing is 100% recyclable. And, no, it doesn’t really save many trees. But it does give us something more productive to do with trash than what we were going to do with it. And they may talk about the energy neccessary to create recycled paper, and the waste it makes, but the same could be said about making any paper, so that’s really a moot point, and they shouldn’t have brought it up.

And I understand that you’re not saying to live your life by the show, but so many other people do, which is what pisses me off about it. I wish that Showtime would put a disclaimer before the show saying to not believe everything you hear, including what you hear in that show.

I just wish someone would make a anti-Bullshit show, one that would debunk any ideas they give on their show. Obviously that wouldn’t work for all of their arguments, because many of them are sound enough, but it’d keep people from believing everything there. Oh wait, no it wouldn’t. People tried to debunk some of the inaccuracies in Fahrenheit 9/11, and ended up just making propaganda movies in the opposite direction, which people believed even less.

And, before you mention it, I’m both a Democrat and a Michael Moore fan, but you can’t possibly believe that everything in that movie was 100% true. I’d say it was about 45% true, 25% comedy, and 30% exaggerations and misleading half-facts. Of course, the idea <I>behind</I> the movie was accurate enough, and the feeling that it conveyed on many of its viewers was sound. The same could be said about many episodes of Bullshit, too. The idea behind it is more or less accurate (the idea behind the show is wonderful), the idea it puts in its viewer’s heads is good, but the actual facts are occasionally bogus.

Bullshit should be seen as a warning light for people not to take things at face value without proof. Of course, if you automatically accept what Penn & Teller’s experts say as gospel, you’re a hypocrite. But I’m willing to bet that most of the topics they cover are largely supported by people who really have no clue if what they are being told is true: ie. recycling.

Just question everything and you’ll be fine. :ah-ha!: