Penn Jillette's B.S. Detector

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

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.

Related Articles

A controversial theory claims past, present, and future exist at the same time

Our experience of time may be blinding us to its true nature, say scientists.

Back to the Future.
Surprising Science
  • Time may not be passing at all, says the Block Universe Theory.
  • Time travel may be possible.
  • Your perception of time is likely relative to you and limited.
Keep reading Show less

Six disastrous encounters with the world’s most hostile uncontacted tribe

From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.

Culture & Religion
  • Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
  • But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
  • Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
Keep reading Show less