Born 5 March 1955 – Penn Jillette, American magician, illusionist, atheist, libertarian, skeptic, and author, who, along with his partner Teller, has performed the invaluable service of championing reason and fact over belief and delusion on the “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” television program. These courageous men have followed the enlightened path of other benevolent magicians like Harry Houdini and the Amazing Randi, who, knowing how susceptible human beings are to illusion, have devoted themselves to exposing frauds, especially ones operating to great personal profit in the fields of parapsychology and religion.
My Friends: We have to stop being so willing to allow crackpots, fools, and charlatans to take advantage of our trust, hope, and fear, and, perhaps above all, we need constantly to engage in the hard task of interrogating our own beliefs and opinions by reading widely and then taking what we have learned from books and measuring it against our experience in the world. In this regard, I hope that everyone has read the work of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, because they are among our species’ greatest contemporary liberators.
In honor of Penn Jillette’s birthday, I offer everyone an instructive talk from Michael Shermer, one of the sanest human beings on the planet.