Electric Monk

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Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller credit The Amazing Randi with bringing them together. They have been outspoken supporters of Randi's work, and contributed greatly to the success of TAM 2. In addition to their performance at TAM2, Penn auctioned 12 spots on eBay for a personally-conducted tour of his house, The Slammer, and lunch with himself and Teller.

Penn & Teller
Teller & Penn Take The Stage

Their perfomance consisted of several favorite bits that they had not performed in some time. A sheet of polyester was cut and restored in various fashions with the assistance of one of the Beiersdorfer twins. Teller performed his needle-swallowing trick, where the needles are regurgitated on a swallowed thread. Finally, Penn demonstrated his fire-eating abilities.

Polyester Scarf
Beiersdorfer Twin In A Polyester Scarf

Following the performance, Penn & Teller took questions from the audience. Penn noted that showing illusions on television implicitly involved camera tricks, since the camera necessarily restricts the view of those watching, and permits the best take of a trick to be selected for broadcast.

Penn also described how Kreskin had taken away his faith in science, and that Randi had restored it.

Sans Scarf
...And Is Freed

Penn's opinion on the proper attitude of skeptics was that everyone should simply tell the truth as they see it, and be prepared to be wrong. In doing so, skeptics should show respect for the people they talk to, by treating them as adults with no need for sugar-coating.

Teller Swallows Needles

A doctor in the audience challenged Penn's position opposing anti-second-hand smoke legislation. Penn argues that smoking bans aimed at curbing second-hand smoke were enacted based on flawed studies, and that while there may be harms caused by second-hand smoke, the data gathered to date does not support that conclusion. Until the data does give that support, laws should not be made.

The doctor in the audience responded to Penn's challenge to name a supporting study with a reference to a paper published by JAMA. Penn replied that that paper was based on flawed data, but invited the doctor to supply him with other data, or counterarguments.

Holy Relic
An Official Penn & Teller Holy Relic

The polyester sheet used in the performance was donated back to the JREF, to be signed by Penn, Teller, and Randi, then auctioned off. JREF Forum member Brown was the eventual winner of that auction.

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