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  • Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t! The Complete Second Season
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Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t! The Complete Second Season

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 65 reviews
63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Back in Top Form 5 Jun. 2005
By John A Lee III - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Penn and Teller can be abrasive and obnoxious but they are also quite rational and extremely funny. The BS series looks at a wide range of pop culture phenomena and debunks them from a rational point of view. They do so with humor and an intense, biting sarcasm directed at those who would harm others. To those who are merely acting foolishly or exhibiting bad judgment, they are slightly kinder.

Some think that the second season is not as good as the first but I disagree. I think it is just as good and I look forward to more episodes next season. Those for this one include the following:

PETA- exposing the animal rights organization that would rather have people die than animals; who support arson to free animals; who euthanize 2/3 of the animals they save; who object to medical research and drugs derived from animals except for their high executives.

Safety Hysteria- anti terrorist mail order goods, fear of magnetic fields, fear of cell phones, fear of toilets, school violence and some gratuitous nudity from a model are some of the features of this episode. Basically, lots of people make lots of money preying on lots of fears from lots of fools.

Business of Love - consider the proposition that monogamy is unnatural; look at schemes to meet the perfect mate; learn how to hoodwink members of the opposite sex into thinking you a better than you are; learn some of the methods of relationship books and magazines. The bottom line is that some people are looking for love and are miserable and most of the rest are in relationships and...miserable.

War on Drugs - This one does not glorify drugs and even makes the point that drugs screw up people's lives. What it does do is question the worth, effectiveness and moral rectitude of prohibition in general and the war on drugs in particular

Recycling - It causes pollution; costs extra and produces inferior products and results. It sounds counterintuitive and wrong. It goes against all of what we are taught by the popular media, school and "environmental whackos" but is it right? This program looks at the possibility that what we are taught is wrong.

Profanity - Looks at attempts to suppress profanity. This episode does not "endorse" the use of offensive or vulgar language but does question its suppression in a land dedicated to free speech. Freedom of speech comes with a price...sometimes people say things we don't like.

Yoga, Tantric Sex, Etc. - A look a new age psychobabble, this episode explores the proposition that most, if not all, new age trends is the result of a bunch of hippies with an effective capitalistic sense. It does not necessarily trash everything but it is pretty merciless on the mysticism aspect.

Fountain of Youth - The lady with all the plastic surgery was frightening in her obsession. The pricetag for all the body work was even more frightening. There are other dodges to "stay young". Salad diets, specialized art, human growth hormone, and other tricks are all tried. All of them have a cost and the cash was just the least of it. Real health problems are a big part of it and the loss of dignity might be the worst of all.

Death, Inc. - People spend a lot of money on all the stuff that accompanies death. This includes funerals, cemeteries, embalming, and all sorts of bells and whistles. It's a big industry and that means that there are lots of opportunities for profits. That means that there are plenty of opportunites for abuse. There is plenty of opportunity for exposure.

12 Stepping - This one was surprising. Twelve step programs are examined with the idea that they are a cult. The claim that that addictions are disease are completely dismissed. They take exception with the religious basis of the programs and from there tend to dismiss them. They do not say that the programs do not work at all but claim that others might be better. Perhaps the most valid point they make is their objection to the compulsory aspects of the programs when people are forced into the programs by the legal system or other authorities.

The Bible: Fact or Fiction - This one is nothing new. It pits biblical literalists against agnostics and skeptics. What is left out are most of the middle roads. The program rightly points out that there are some literal inconsistencies and goes on to try to explain some of them with rational explanations. I'm a clergyman and have no objections at all to these debates but I don't get much out of them either. Faith and theology are poorly equipped to deal with some issues. Science is also poorly equipped to deal with some issues. Both have had some spectacular failures.

Exercise vs. Genetics - This one is pretty much a rehash of one of the first season programs. In light of the craze for physical fitness, it looks at all the money and effort that is put into exercise regimens and other means of looking good but if your genetics aren't on the same page, you are doomed. That doesn't mean that exercise is not worthwhile but there is a difference between being healthy and being genetically disposed towards looking like Mr. Universe of a supermodel.

Hypnosis - "One person is talking and another person is going along with it" That sums up the view of what hypnosis is all about. People do want they are predisposed towards wanting to do. This works even better when they are told to do what they want to do. Self delusion with some friendly but larcenous help is the key.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Good and Needful Effort (with Some Reservations) 24 Oct. 2005
By DonAthos - Published on
Format: DVD
I consider myself to be a science-minded, libertarian-sympathetic skeptic. Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World is one of my favorite books, of all time. In short, I am in the choir that surrounds Penn & Teller's pulpit. I love this kind of thing--debunking popular claims with a healthy dose of clear thinking, evidence and reason. I only wish, having watched this season on disc, that Penn & Teller had done a better job of it.

It's likely not their fault, but it remains thus: that the series presents topics, such as the existence of fact in the Bible, profanity, New Age mysticism, recycling and P.E.T.A., which are then dealt with (pronounced "B.S.") in a slickly produced 24-25 minutes (minus the title sequence). The problem is that many of these topics, no matter how much I agree with P&T on their judgment, are too weighty and subtle to be dealt with effectively in that kind of time frame, and in the manner of the show. There's no way that they can cover it all, and so I'm forced to conclude that, given the time they take and detail they go into, they can only really convince people who were *already convinced*.

Also, the slick editing always makes the viewer wonder--are they pulling things out of context? Are they giving the other side "a fair hearing"? For instance, I whole-heartedly agree that New Age mysticism is tripe, but I cringed to see the folks that P&T dredged up to defend those beliefs. To really prove the point, in my opinion, you have to be able to debunk/impeach the best-spoken advocates of New Age, not the drugged-out psychos. Because of the format of the show, P&T are forced to strike quickly for the jugular, which means that, instead of giving us fully reasoned and evidenced positions--a true intellectual back and forth--they give us fringe looneys with a comic voiceover, pointing up the obvious that their opponents don't know what they're saying or how they come across.

But still, at least someone is out there making points that desperately need to be made: that "free speech" doesn't allow for the FTC regulations; that P.E.T.A. is hypocritical, and devalues human life (by minimizing things like the Holocaust) as it tries to elevate non-human life; that most forms of recycling acutally make pollution worse; and so on.... Whether or not P&T could convince an intelligent person who initially disagreed with them--and that really should be the goal--or not, maybe at least by raising the subjects, they will inspire people to do more investigating on their own. Maybe they'll get some people to challenge commonly-accepted ideas. Maybe they'll get some people to *think* about what they believe. And that would be very good, indeed. Three stars.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous! 1 Feb. 2005
By Cynthia M. Garland - Published on
Format: DVD
This series is one of the finest on TV! Penn and Teller have always specialized in exposing the tricks, obfuscations and downright lies people try to perpetuate on one another. This show is definitely for thinking people who are not easily suckered. Oh, and an active, functional funnybone helps!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
PETA and a whole bunch more 2 Feb. 2005
By TJinPhilly - Published on
Format: DVD
You know some people will say that these episodes are "slanted and biased". Anyone who ever comments on any subject approaches the subject with their own perspective. Penn and Teller do a great job of giving opposing sides the opportunity to have their say on camera. The opposing side does a great job of making themselves look bad. They don't need any help from P&T. Watch how the PETA representative squarms when confronted with the fact that PETA themselves support KILL shelters. This is another great box set from two great guys.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Always question 11 Feb. 2005
By Garrison Geary - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The most important thing you can do after you watch this television show is take all of the things you disagree with, all of the things you do agree with, write them down and actually look them up. You will be surprised to see that most of the things they tell you are correct. The reason why many people avoid this show is that people are frightened of truth because with truth brings responsibility and we'd rather be told that everything is one way then look it up for ourselves. That's why I admire these fellows so much.
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