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Penn and Teller's episode about PETA
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Penn and Teller's episode about PETA:

41314
I wanted to ask a question about Penn and Teller's attack on PETA. Now, I'm not saying PETA isn't dangerous, hypocritical, and all kinds of other bad things, but I noticed these about Penn and Teller's argument:

1. They seemed to rely a lot on info from the Center for Consumer Freedom, a lobying group for the food industry. This is like concluding that meat-eating is dangerous based on info from PETA; your info comes from an OBVIOUSLY biased source with an OBVIOUS motive for lying, so why take it at face value?

2. They claimed some of their info (including the claim that PETA gives money to arsonists) came from PETA's tax records and that these records are open to the public, but they wouldn't tell viewers how to find these supposedly publically-available records. (Wouldn't have made more sense to tell us where to find the records so we can see for ourselves that the claims are true?)

3. They at one point claimed that PETA opposes pet ownership, but that doesn't appear to be true.

So my question is, why do so many people appear to believe Penn and Teller's claims on this matter when support for the claims appears to be so flimsy? Are there more honest, trustworthy sources alleging the same things that I'm unaware of (feel free to point them out if there are)?

Just so everyone knows: I'm mostly vegan, but only because of how the meat and dairy industries tend to treat the animals before killing them. I'm not opposed to meat or dairy foods in principle, would consume these products if they were made humanely, and am fully open to the idea that PETA really is as awful as P&T say so long as there's stronger evidence. I hope I have not offended anyone with this post, since I really am posting in an attempt to understand, not attack others for hating PETA or having other diets.
the world is so complicated
 2 USAF713, Fri, 12th Aug '11 3:06:52 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I doubt that PETA openly is against pet ownership (they'd sink like a lead balloon in the popularity polls), but their fringe elements and the ALF definitely are, and since PETA is already a fringe group to begin with...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 3 Fighteer, Fri, 12th Aug '11 3:08:03 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Penn and Teller may be entertaining but they make absolutely no pretense of being unbiased. That said, PETA is rather crazy.
Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 4 USAF713, Fri, 12th Aug '11 3:13:00 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I don't know, but I must say, this is the most convincing argument PETA has ever given in my presence: link

Now, the problem with PETA isn't their view, per se, it's that they assume they're right automatically, and everyone else is just deluded and will come around eventually.

Pretentiousness isn't a good way to convince people you're right.

That, and they make incredibly insulting adds...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 5 Barkey, Fri, 12th Aug '11 3:30:41 PM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
PETA are nuts.

Personally, I'm just going to eat my steak and acknowledge my proper place on the food chain.
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 6 Tuefel Hunden IV, Fri, 12th Aug '11 4:06:55 PM from Wandering. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
Yes lets absolutely trust the opinion of PETA on a PETA website. Curse that rotten animal testing making sure things are safe for people before we put them on the market.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
 7 Mark Von Lewis, Fri, 12th Aug '11 4:16:50 PM from Somewhere in Time Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
KCCO
I'm inclined to side with Penn and Teller over PETA, no matter how flimsy their arguments, mostly because of my contempt for PETA.

Besides, Penn and Teller are funny; PETA is just belligerent. And, PETA is the only organization who can use hot, naked women in their ads and STILL fail to gain widespread support. Which is quite the feat.

edited 12th Aug '11 4:17:42 PM by MarkVonLewis

There is no Zuul, there is only the Bear Jew.
 8 USAF713, Fri, 12th Aug '11 4:23:53 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Yes lets absolutely trust the opinion of PETA on a PETA website. Curse that rotten animal testing making sure things are safe for people before we put them on the market.

I didn't say it was a good argument, I said it was the best they've ever made to me. That, in and of itself, is not a compliment...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 9 Heavy DDR, Fri, 12th Aug '11 4:25:55 PM from Central Texas
What's Gravity Falls.
Penn & Teller often have lots of holes in their arguments, but more or less, they remain reliable and well-researched. It's supposed to be an entertaining show first and foremost, anyway, and it often does just that. At it's worst, it at least makes you think about your opinion a little more. Generally.

As far as I recall, PETA isn't open about pet-ownership, but the extremists are harshly against it. I remember hearing a "pet/slave freeing" session going on in some neighborhoods, but that was years back. I'll try and find that article, that was one of my first "oh lordy, PETA, " moments.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
 10 Tuefel Hunden IV, Fri, 12th Aug '11 5:32:38 PM from Wandering. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
USAF: fair enough.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
 11 lee4hmz, Fri, 12th Aug '11 5:42:24 PM from Giant Not-A-Base
Lurks too much
Ah, yes, CCF, the lobbyists whose theme song (if they had one) would be "Doowutchyalike" by Digital Underground. "Have a neckbone / you don't have to say 'please' / EATWUTCHYALIKE!!!"

I'm sure that if it were up to them, we'd all eat as much tinned sausage gravy * (now with extra milkfat!) as we could stand. :P

Taking suggestions for a new sig. PM me or something!
 12 Jimmmyman 10, Fri, 12th Aug '11 5:54:06 PM from polan Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
cannot into space
Hey, I'm a member of People Eating Tasty Animals!! Because really, they taste great!

Seriously though, Penn and Teller may not be arguing well, but they are always very funny. Meanwhile, PETA may have some good points, but their crazyness usually ruins their image. Just another example of how image outweighs arguments.
Go play Kentucky Route Zero. Now.
FYI, that episode of P&T is like seven years old, and PETA has moderated their policy on pet ownership within the last five years, probably in part because they were called out on it (no, not by P&T specifically). I am a member of and have fostered for the ASPCA, but I wouldn't be caught dead with a PETA membership, primarily because they do far more harm than good to the cause of animal rights.

All that being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see P&T twisting facts or cherry-picking evidence. Still a pretty enjoyable show, from what I recall. The smack-down they put on 9/11 Truthers was brutally effective, as was their treatment of mega-churches.

1. Isn't it Ad Hominem to dismiss a perspective for who it's from?

2. I think they just expected it to be obvious.

3. It was at the time.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 15 USAF713, Mon, 15th Aug '11 6:29:47 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
[up] No, we argue against the arguments they make, too. It just happens that PETA is comically bad at making their points...
I am now known as Flyboy.
41314
FYI, that episode of P&T is like seven years old, and PETA has moderated their policy on pet ownership within the last five years, probably in part because they were called out on it (no, not by P&T specifically).

Oh, I didn't know that. Thanks

1. Isn't it Ad Hominem to dismiss a perspective for who it's from?

2. I think they just expected it to be obvious.

3. It was at the time.

1. If I understand the trope corectly, yes, it'd be Ad Hominem to dismiss a perspective based on who it's from, but that's not what I was doing. My point isn't that P&T's beliefs are automatically wrong because they're based on CCF's claims or that CCF is automatically wrong because they're CCF. Rather, I'm saying that if you're going to form your opinion based on objective evidence, it might be a good idea to make sure your info about the evidence comes from a trustworthy source.

For example, most of us would presumably agree that it's better to believe a claim about any given politician if it comes from Factcheck.org or some other non-partisan political fact-checking site than if it comes from one of that politician's political opponents. Is that Ad Hominem? If someone decides that it's probably a better idea to believe Snopes' conclusions about an alien abduction story than the National Enquirer's, is that Ad Hominem? If a study by National Public Radio says a certain video game is not likely to be dangerous, is it Ad Hominem to believe them instead of Jack Thompson?

Clearly, some sources of info are just more likely than others to be telling the truth, and a group that lobbies for the meat industry hardly seems like the most impartial source on weather or not PETA supports the ALF. That's why I asked if there are better sources documenting that and similar claims made in the episode.

2. It didn't seem obvious to me, but then I don't know much about tax records. How would one go about finding PETA's tax records, then?

3. Ah, I didn't realize that.

edited 19th Sep '11 7:25:09 PM by 411314

the world is so complicated
(1) PETA lose a lot of credibility when they objectify/disrespect women in their campaigns.

(2) We don't have a high-profile equivalent animal rights body where I am, and I used to be under the impression that PETA was actually NEVER as extreme and offensive as it's sometimes portrayed as in the media. Turned out I was wrong on that one. Sometimes PETA doesn't help itself in dispelling the conspiracy theories that it's really a puppet created by the rainforest-logging/baby-seal-murdering/kitten-torturing industries the purpose of which is to make all animal rights groups look weird.

 18 Deboss, Mon, 19th Sep '11 10:51:23 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
@ 411314, Ad Hominem is not a "trope" it's a philosophical/logic/arguement term. And the wrong one, I believe it's the Association Fallacy or some such. It's related to Hitler Ate Sugar.
 19 Justice 4243, Mon, 19th Sep '11 11:31:28 PM from Portland, OR, USA
WHAT IS GOING ON?!
Penn and Teller have made some pretty dubious episodes of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, but even they where in disbelief about what they turned up about PETA.

Some of their interviewees have reported that the show edits their argument in a way to purposely make Penn and Teller's argument seem more valid...this was pretty much unnecessarily with the PETA episode.

That being said the episode IS getting up in years, so I wouldn't doubt PETA may have tried to improve on a few things.

edited 19th Sep '11 11:34:04 PM by Justice4243

Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.Proverbs21:15

SO JUSTICE I HEARD YOU WERE TUBESPHERING ON THE BLAGOBLAG-Blixty
[up] Which episodes are you calling dubious?
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 21 Justice 4243, Tue, 20th Sep '11 11:25:08 AM from Portland, OR, USA
WHAT IS GOING ON?!
Like… quiet a few of them. We’d probably have to examine specific episodes to figure out what parts are accurate and which are not.

They’re recycling episode is one that comes to mind where the “pro” recycling person was edited pretty heavily. Also the message “Recycling Is BAD” is likely rather inaccurate. Granted, they did say that recycling cans was good. However, the idea that “recycling paper is BAD” is probably inaccurate. China is willing to collect tons of paper from us and have it SHIPPED back to China, for instance. It’s unlikely they’d do that if they were better off just harvesting paper from trees.

Keep in mind Penn & Teller don’t approach each subject with an open mind. They have a research team that’s told to look for things to make THEIR side look good and a sledgehammer to hit the point home. They’re not a great source of unbiased fact, it’s good to take anything they say with a grain of salt or better yet, research the opposing side a little more.

Considering almost every show has been out long enough for people to comment on it, it’d probably be easy to see what the opposing side has to say.

edited 20th Sep '11 11:26:14 AM by Justice4243

Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.Proverbs21:15

SO JUSTICE I HEARD YOU WERE TUBESPHERING ON THE BLAGOBLAG-Blixty
 22 ued 199, Wed, 21st Sep '11 9:08:39 PM from Philippines
Emperor of Acheron
Though Penn and Teller maybe a bit off on how they portrayed PETA, they certainly point out many of PET As dark secrets which they don't want anyone to know.

A better acronym for PETA would be- People Eradicating Thousands of Animals.
Not all dreams are meant to come true, otherwise there would be a lot of dead people.
 23 Justice 4243, Wed, 21st Sep '11 11:22:09 PM from Portland, OR, USA
WHAT IS GOING ON?!
They where probably a bit heavy handed with PETA, but they're a bit heavy handed with everything. However, I still think the PETA episode was definitely one of the better ones. There was no need for "creative editing" to make their side look better, PETA had lots of skeletons in the closet.

Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.Proverbs21:15

SO JUSTICE I HEARD YOU WERE TUBESPHERING ON THE BLAGOBLAG-Blixty
[up][up][up] The recycling one does seem to be one of the more often criticized. I do suppose that reflects either on their case or on the popularity of recycling.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 25 Justice 4243, Thu, 22nd Sep '11 11:20:49 AM from Portland, OR, USA
WHAT IS GOING ON?!
Well there is some evidence that some of their conclusions are just false.

Some of it is a bit flawed as well. Many recycling programs do loose money, but most waste disposal programs loose money anyway. You're still essentially hauling garbage away from people. The idea that you MAY be able to sell this garbage and turn a profit doesn't mean the system is flawed if you don't.

Yet some areas DO turn a profit from recycling. It depends on how well the system is set up, what is being recycled and if there's enough of it to get money back.
Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.Proverbs21:15

SO JUSTICE I HEARD YOU WERE TUBESPHERING ON THE BLAGOBLAG-Blixty
Total posts: 46
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