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YMMV / Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

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  • Anvilicious: Although some would argue that Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
    • The main flip between this depends on whether they're debunking people who are accidentally (or intentionally) using faulty scientific claims and/or simply don't understand the subject, and when they're talking about things that, to a degree, boil down to little more than opinion and cultural values.
    • There are three main positions they argue from: skepticism, atheism, and libertarianism (both social and economic). Since, in America at least, the first two are associated with Liberal politics episodes dealing with the third tend to be the ones that divide the fanbase.
  • Broken Base: Although many of their "opponents" in the show are scammers, fanatics or just not very nice people, some of the audience does not accept the fact that the discussion nature of the show is purely formal, and most of the episodes represent a demonstrative derision and insult to supporters of the ideas that Penn and Teller criticize. This reached a special level after their episode about passive smoking, when they were forced to apologize after research that fully proved the harm of it.
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    • Some fans of the show were not happy about the fact that the naked men were eventually gotten rid of while the naked women were still there.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The study they used as a reference for the second-hand smoke episode was a corporately funded exercise in Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, and had already been discredited when they made the episode.
    • In the "Taxes" episode, Penn tries to cite Al Capone's infamous 1932 conviction as evidence of how scary the American tax system really is, arguing that Capone was sent to Alcatraz for "tax evasion" because the government couldn't prove his more serious crimes—implying that the Feds can always use tax evasion as an "Ace in the Hole" if they really want to bust someone, but can't prove that they've done anything truly wrong. Except, if you know anything about Capone's trial, you'll know that tax evasion wasn't just a random crime that was unrelated to his criminal activities: he had vast sums of untaxed income because he ran a lucrative illegal bootlegging enterprise that he was trying to hide from the government, and his unpaid taxes were used as evidence of that.
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  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Penn and Teller are often prone to opposing mainstream aesops in their show. Perhaps an especially memorable case is Holier Than Thou, wherein they had some memorably harsh criticisms of such popularly revered figures as Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, but especially Mother Teresa.
  • Fridge Brilliance: At the end of the Season 4 intro, when Penn and Teller get hanged, Teller's feet are twitching. Teller is smaller than Penn, so of course it would take longer for him to hang. note 
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One of the jokes in the PETA episode is about the logistical problems of 'freeing' all the domestic animals in the world and the point that if they have rights they have social responsibilities. Since the episode aired it came to light that PETA actually has a plan to deal with this: utter extermination of domesticated animals.
      • In that episode they already noted that PETA actually euthanizes most of the animals it rescues, making their stance for animal rights seem hypocritical. This extermination plan just adds to it. In fact, according to the state of Virginia, the percentage of animals euthanized by PETA the last few years has escalated over 90%.
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    • The NASA episode blamed government cost-cutting for the Columbia and Challenger disasters, and implied that such things would be less likely under private corporations such as Virgin Galactic. Then came 2014...
    • Their episode on Vaccinations was incredibly important and brought to light some info that is much needed about vaccinations and autism. But as of February 2015 the Anti-Vaccination movement has seen a return and measles are coming back.
    • The Prostitution episode argued at one point that banning prostitution amounted to de facto discrimination against unattractive people. The Incel movement has since developed, and its members have carried out multiple mass shootings, which they justify largely by claiming ugly men are discriminated against in the sexual marketplace .
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the 2005 episode on government surveillance, they're impressed by the competence of a Kenyan immigrant compared to the other agents they study. "Yep! You gotta go to Kenya for a real American who can follow fucking directions!
    • A Running Gag in the animal activism episode was that you could accurately guess which side someone was on by their girth. In 2015 Penn really did lose more than a hundred pounds by switching to a (mostly) vegetarian diet.
    • That snail "mucas mask" gag from the first season became an actual fad about a decade later. Rendered down instead of applying the snails directly, but the justification is identical.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • (You need... to) SHUT. THE FUCK. UP!
    • "Into the trash it goes!", and any number of mutations from there such as "discarding" others' opinions into the trash. This later lead to Penn in general being associated with throwing trash away, and identifying garbage content in general.
  • Nausea Fuel: The "mucus mask" bit, with the snails that wind up clustered around people's eyes.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The shots of the baby receiving the operation in "Circumcision".
    • There's also the chiropractor operating on a little girl in Alternative Medicine. Penn even stops the film and sincerely warn us about the content beforehand. The same chiropractor admits that he used his technique on NEWBORN BABIES as well. Penn rightfully informs us that the man should be in prison.
    • The descriptions of botched executions in the Death Penalty episode. Pre-lethal injection anaesthetics not working properly, hanging where the victim's neck don't get snapped (both leading to strangulation) and the electric chair with the victim's flesh melting off, not much different from a certain execution in The Green Mile. Not to mention the medieval execution they mentioned on the side.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Since the show, being quasi-documentary in nature, went out of its way to find people in the public eye willing to talk about a particular subject the show was covering, it's likely you'll recognize someone who appeared on this show on other news or information programs (Jack Thompson from the "Video Games" episode, Richard Cohen from "Family Values", Roy Moore from “Bible: Fact or Fiction”, or Paul Watson from "Endangered Species" are particularly visible individuals, not to mention Sheriff Joe Arpaio). Given the show, you could call this trope, "Hey, it's that asshole!"
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The episode "Mount Rushmore" ends with one. Throughout the episode one of Penn&Teller's people was soliciting signatures on petitions at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The petitions start out questionable, the first one is for a declaration of the supremacy of the United States to be brokered at the United Nations, but get progressively darker, with the last one essentially eliminating free speech. No matter how bad the proposal was, there were people who would sign the petition. At the end Penn notes that the people signing the petitions in the footage were the only people who actually signed; the vast majority of people refused to sign the petitions when they realized what they said.
    • The episode on conspiracy theories, on top of showing and replaying footage of 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination, has Penn & Teller interview a firefighter who was one of the first responders on 9/11. The man explains how so many innocent Americans - including his fellow first responders - lost their lives in the attack, illustrating how horribly insensitive the 9/11 conspiracy theories are.
  • Values Dissonance: Considering that P&T often deal with the extreme fringe of many ideological groups, this comes up a lot. For instance, the duo believes violence is only justifiable in defense of self or of innocent people (and they fall just short of total pacifism), so much horror and disgust ensues when interviewing someone who thinks violence is excusable to advance political causes, like environmentalism or animal rights.
  • Values Resonance: The immigration episode has become this in recent years with the rise of controversial figures like Donald Trump and events like Brexit.
  • What an Idiot!: Some time after an episode debunking the use of chiropractors (not all forms, mind you; the main expert on their side was himself a chiropractor), a group of chiropractors bought tickets to their live show just to tell Penn and Teller that they were offended by the episode and are boycotting them.


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