Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Season 3, Episode 3

Conspiracy Theories (9 May 2005)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Documentary
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Penn and Teller look at some of the crazy conspiracy theories that people believe in.

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Penn and Teller look at some of the crazy conspiracy theories that people believe in.

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[on a book advocating September 11th conspiracy theories]
Penn Jillette: We're showing you the cover, because if you ever see anybody carrying it, push them down a flight of stairs.
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If only logic and reason would prevail.
31 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Penn & Teller's Bullshit documentary series is designed to try to kill the myths of what a lot of people believe about the world around us, so naturally those who believe in such myths are going to get upset. The former magicians had to know this would happen, and in the case of those who believe various popular conspiracy theories, this is no exception to the rule.

The first conspiracy delusion mentioned is the 9/11 conspiracy advocates, who we all know insist on denying that Al-Qaida was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The people who made this crap up are motivated mainly be demoralizing us into losing the global war on terror. Whether it's for hatred of America, hatred of our allies (one of them being Israel), sympathy for the third world people of the Middle East, and Muslim World, the false notion that we'd be better off trying to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, or just that idiotic "oil war" line, it's still a lie, and it still desecrates the victims of the attacks. One IMDb user boasted of the "thousands of architects and engineers" who "disagree with the official report." Really? Is that supposed to impress me? A small group of pseudo-intellectual rebels claiming to be architects & engineers who signed a petition written by a political cult leader, who himself fell for the lies of other cult leaders, and uses his own status as an architect to give this lie credibility? Sorry, but I'm not buying it. In fact, to even consider such a possibility is as idiotic as denying the holocaust. If anybody's mad because the hosts make the allegations of the twoofer cults look ridiculous, that's their problem. They're already ridiculous. And if they're bothered by Penn Jillette's vulgarities aimed at them, they can kiss my ass as well!

Then there's the moon landing conspiracies. In truth, nobody really denied that we landed on the moon until around the mid-1970's and one of the first major advocates of this notion were organizations like the Flat Earth Society. Such an notion was far too ludicrous. Both sides of the cold war knew we landed on the moon, and so did the Arab and Muslim World, and even KKK/Neo-Nazi/Orange Order types. As the cold war was ending, and some of our not-so-stellar activities on how we won it began to surface, the denial gained a little more support among people who claimed to be open minded to "new ideas," even if logic and reason disproves these ideas. One of the "questions" asked by the moon-landing deniers is that if we went to the moon, why haven't we gone back. Perhaps the economic decline of the 1970's and the fact that there's very little reason to return to the moon might have something to do with this. Did those people ever think of that? That would be like me saying Merritt Parkway isn't a real highway because I haven't been on that road in a good 30 years! Or that the Pacific Coast Highway is fake, because I haven't been on the goddamn California Coast in my entire life!

The third conspiracy theory covered on this episode is the JFK Assassination, and this is the easiest of the conspiracy theories to believe. The world changed after his assassination mainly because we were getting more involved in the Vietnam War than before. Or course this was actually due to the fact that the Communists were turning up the heat in that region of the world. Penn Jillette and his sidekick successfully explain why the single bullet theory is NOT physically impossible, because it did not in fact go up right and left, and why even without military training it's not as difficult to fire two shots in eight seconds with a Mannlicher-Carcano Model 91-38 Carbine Rifle. What it doesn't deal with is the motive. The claim that JFK wanted to pull out of South Vietnam can be dismissed with his final speech reminding fellow Democrats of the consequences of doing nothing about the communist threat, whether in Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin America, or anywhere else. Other anti-communist speeches disprove this too, including one which many conspiracy nutters insist was against the Illuminati. Never mind the fact that the Illuminati has been dead since the 1780's and was never evil when they existed.

Meanwhile Oswald himself proudly admitted in a news report from a year earlier that he was a communist who was involved in the pro-Cuban organization "Fair Play for Cuba." Furthermore, the first group to suggest that Kennedy was killed by the feds was a Belgian Communist newspaper. This doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't think Oswald acted alone is a communist, but it explains the origins of the myth, and therefore the motive behind those who started it. Yes, there were people on the far-left and far-right who wanted him dead, but at this point, the only evidence contradicting the Warren Commission report is Oswald himself saying he was a patsy.

The bottom line is, while some of these conspiracies may seem valid (the key word in that sentence being "some") not all of them are, and it has nothing to do with whether or not you like the government, politicians, or anything else. The people who insist on advocating these conspiracies at all costs, also end up costing one other thing; Truth - the very issue they claim to stand for.


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