July 28, 2011
Real Bullshit: Penn Jillette's Silent Partner
Penn and Teller’s Bullshit! series on Showtime ended last year, and not a moment too soon. At first glance the show is unconventional. It’s stated purpose is to follow in the footsteps of Houdini and James Randi by debunking cultural myths and supernatural claims.
The series starts that way- with episodes Talking to the Dead and Alternative Medicine. If the show had gone on like that, taking down modern-day confidence men and snake oil peddlers such as medical magnet salesmen and mormons, I would’ve gladly bought a Showtime subscription or downloaded the episodes illegally for the entire 8 seasons.
By the end of the first season, in 2003, the episode Environmental Hysteria was aired. It was controversial. The episode was highly critical of environmentalism, leftwing politics, and the existence of global climate change. It attempted to disprove the existence of global climate change, and in an act of public cognitive dissonance, downplay the importance of its ‘non’-existence.
In that episode Penn Jillette, as the sole voice of the show, carelessly mentions the (booger)sugar-daddies who're running his show- The CATO institute. When introducing members of CATO, he proudly announces, “Jerry Taylor, a member of the libertarian think tank CATO...” as if that lends credibility to the person.
A Think Tank sounds like it’d be a great institution, but think tanks are always a front group, to push the agenda and at the same time obscure the agenda of billionaires. In the case of CATO, the agenda that’s pushed and obscured, is that of Charles and David Koch. I imagine the average fan of Bullshit! is an Atheist, Skeptic, or admirer of empiricism. Those guys must be gullible.
There’s a disproportionate presence of CATO members on Bullshit! because Penn and Teller are both fellows at CATO. Penn has authored articles that are still on record to help their ‘cause.’ The first is an anti-TSA piece he wrote in 2002 before his bullshit went on the air-
“...some people are fighting against the airport police state. And the weird thing is that, as far as I can tell, those fighters mostly are comedians.”
He goes on to compare the past fight against censorship and obscenity laws by the likes of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin with the joke-of-the-week fight against the TSA by low-rent modern-day (at the time) comedians. Which suggests that anyone who interferes with the TSA’s job is a boundary-pushing pro-freedom anti-censorship pioneer.
And Jillette counts himself among them. He published his own experience with the TSA, shortly after the agencies inception, in which he calls local police on a TSA agent for assault . That’s how long this bullshit has been going on.
On Bullshit!, libertarian propaganda was easier to sneak under the radar, so to speak.
Shortly after Environmental Hysteria aired, it was debunked point-by-point by Logical Science. Though,despite self-describing as cheerleaders for science, Penn and Teller don’t really care about science. Jillette doesn’t put his money where his mouth is; he puts his mouth where his money is.
Self-describing as a skeptic is like self-describing as a scientist- you’re up for peer review. At The Amazing Meeting, a convention of scientists, magicians, skeptics, atheists and freethinkers organized by James Randi, Jillette was asked whether or not he still believed that climate change was bullshit. His answer was that he hated Al Gore, and since Al Gore has been trying to raise awareness for climate change, it must not be true.
Afterwards, clearly emotionally affected by this opposition and challenge in the skeptic community, Jillette wrote an article for the Los Angeles times in which he said:
Is there no ignorance allowed on this one subject? ...There's a lot of evidence, but global warming encompasses a lot of complicated points: Is it happening? Did we cause it? Is it bad? Can we fix it? Is government-forced conservation the only way to fix it?
But the climate of the whole world is more complicated. I'm not a scientist, and I haven't spent my life studying weather. I'm trying to learn what I can, and while I'm working on it, isn't it OK to say "I don't know”?
This is obvious misdirection of the kind Jillette has been performing his whole life, and this was in 2008, 5 whole years after the Environmental Hysteria episode had aired. His plea of Isn’t it okay to say I don’t know? is pathetic. This is a person whose built his career on taking sides and taking the ‘right’ side, objectively. Why would the fact of global climate change be the one that the makers of a TV show called Bullshit! could never make up their minds about?
Penn and Teller and staff have jumped at the opportunity to accept the scientific consensus on anything except global climate change. There’s a reason for that- they’re paid by their oil-baron sugar daddies for services rendered.
P. Jillette: “We haven’t tackled Scientology because Showtime doesn’t want us to. Maybe they have deals with individual Scientologists—I’m not sure. And we haven’t tacked Islam because we have families.”
Interviewer: “Meaning, you won’t attack Islam because you’re afraid it’ll attack back …”
P. Jillette: “Right, and I think the worst thing you can say about a group in a free society is that you’re afraid to talk about it—I can’t think of anything more horrific.”
So, Penn and Teller are not only willing to let the money of their sugar daddies at Koch Industries influence their ‘opinion,’ they’re willing to let anyone’s money and the threat of litigation influence their opinion. How libertarian of them. And forget Islam. Even though they’re self-described hardcore Atheists; real religious belief that leads to violence is too scary!
Jillette is just insecure teetotaling carnival trash, and since he’s joined up with the billionaire-bankrolled idiot-tanks, it won’t surprise you to know he’s an Ayn Rand fan. He publicly adheres to Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy. Watch here at 5:00.
There you see it. Penn Jillette appearing on a teetotaling Mormon’s cancelled show, supporting the astroturfed tea-baggers efforts by gushing about Ayn Rand and how she,
...laid this all out in Atlas Shrugged.
He’s made a few more cringe-worthy appearances on Glenn Beck’s show. And he’s continued to gush about Ayn Rand, Objectivism, Rand Paul, and defend Glenn Beck on his own third-rate v-logging youtube channel. In his defense of Glenn Beck, he mentions that he wouldn’t have gone to his rally. Yet appearing by satellite for moral support is just A-Ok.
I suspect that after Bullshit! was done shilling out it’s anti-environmental hysteria and deregulation dogma, CATO wondered what further use Penn Jillette could be to them. And isn’t it obvious?
Atheists, as the least trusted, and fastest growing group in the United States, are likely upset by their lack of representation in the government, and in society. What better giant talking head could lead all these unrepresented people to the false revolution of Libertarianism than Penn Jillette?
That’s why Penn Jillette makes me embarrassed to be an Atheist. Intuitively the non-religious belong, and have historically been a part of, the leftwing of politics. Because, if there is no god, then it’s up to individuals and governments to show compassion for other people in their society. By contrast, strong religionists are always part of the rightwing. They literally trust in god to do all the compassionate stuff, or they’re neo-Calvinists, and don’t really care.
I suspect that nowadays the billionaire mafia and social-darwinist banksters are trying to attract naturally gullible ‘freethinking’ atheists to their ‘cause,’ dubbing the followers as revolutionaries, rather than boot-lickers. It’s in their best interest to conflate and confuse Atheism with social darwinism. Ayn Rand’s bankrupt Objectivist philosophy and Penn Jillette’s blustering presence are their best weapons.
Never trust a magician. Or a Russian woman.