Damned Dogmas


Penn Jillette—the self-described "taller, louder half" of the magic-and-comedy duo Penn & Teller— is an internationally known illusionist famous for exposing how magic tricks work. He and Teller also co-host the Showtime series Bullshit!, a program devoted to debunking irrational and unscientific thinking. We asked him to list the three dogmas that hurt Americans most.


God exists. Imagine how boss the right wing would be without the religion stuff making them bug-nutty. Without God, even Glenn Beck isn't all that crazy.


Most people are evil. One has to look long and hard for a truly bad person. Imagine how groovy the left wing would be if they just trusted most people to take care of themselves and each other. Without cynicism, even Michael Moore isn't all that…oh, never mind. 


Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. Your country doesn't owe you jack shit. It's not supposed to take care of you or stop you from being unhappy or offended. Government should do nothing beyond protecting individual rights—and "rights" doesn't mean "anything that would be nice to have." The second half of that quote is the problem. It should read: "Ask not what you can do for your country." You don't need to do anything for your country—you do everything for yourself, your family, and other people.