Penn Jillette
Magician
02:49

Penn Jillette's B.S. Detector

Penn Jillette's B.S. Detector

The most important thing is to feel about things you feel about – should feel about – and think about things you should think about. You should not feel about the speed of light or evolution and you should not think about love. You should feel “I love you,” you should think about reality.

Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette is an American magician, comedian, and author, and is half of "Penn and Teller." Jillette began his career as a juggler, graduating from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, and in 1981 he teamed up with his friend Teller for a famous off-Broadway show. Since 2003, Penn and Teller have hosted the popular television show "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" in which they debunk popular misconceptions or pseudo-scientific beliefs. Jillette is an outspoken advocate of atheism and libertarianism, and is the author of the novel "Sock."

Transcript

You know, my bullshit detector works first of all…if there’s something you really want to believe, that’s what you should question the most.  I don’t question bad news very much. I don’t question things that go against what I believe very much. But boy, the stuff that I really want to believe, I really question a lot. 

Now, I was taught – I grew up as a Christian. I suppose at some level I wanted to believe someone was watching over me. But when I want to believe something, that’s when I want to question it the most.  That’s when I have to be the most careful. And I feel a little bit disingenuous with that answer because I don’t think I any longer want to believe in God. My friend, who I miss very much, Hitch, Christopher Hitchens, said that wanting there to be a god was like wanting to live in North Korea, to give away all of your freedom. And for someone who loves freedom and loves people, I don’t think you should hope for God at all. 

So I guess my detector on God is that whenever someone uses what they feel as evidence instead of what they think as evidence or what they can prove as evidence, I’m very, very skeptical. The most important thing is to feel about things you feel about – should feel about – and think about things you should think about. You should not feel about the speed of light or evolution and you should not think about love. You should feel “I love you,” you should think about reality. And when someone says they feel the universe was created by a God, that’s nonsense, just like saying, you know, “I’ve thought about it and maybe I should love you.” Don’t mix those two.

And a lot of people seem to think that – that feeling cheapens the science, that if you feel something it cheapens it. And there’s not enough said about how it cheapens the emotion. You know, if you’re spending your time feeling that the earth was created, instead of… by intelligent design, you should be spending your time feeling love, feeling compassion, feeling generosity and loyalty and all the stuff you should feel in your heart. Even anger, even disappointment. But that doesn’t change the world. You should think about the world and feel about your heart. 

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

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