Born March 5, 1955 in Greenfield, Massachusetts, Penn Jillette is a magician, a philosopher, an all-around entertainer, and one of America’s preeminent skeptics. Not only is Penn a huge voice for the atheist community, but along with his partner Teller, their former Showtime series, Penn & Teller: Bullshit, was one of the network’s top-rated series of all time. On the show, they dealt with everything from the Bible and global warning to recycling and astrology (my personal favorite). While Penn has ended up suffering mass criticism for attacking people’s sacred cows, he continues to stand up for what he believes in: Science and having logic and evidence to put forward if you make a claim.
This is what makes Penn such a great skeptic in America. A lot of people who claim to be skeptics are only skeptical about a certain thing. For instance, many progressive liberals are atheists, and they claim to be skeptics, yet they refuse to show skepticism about socialist theory, feminist theory, or the patriarchy. Instead, they accept what they want to accept on pure faith, while decrying religious people for doing the same. This type of hypocritical skeptic gives skepticism a bad name. Penn attacks everything, even the things he believes in (like NASA), and demands evidence before believing in something. This is what makes a true skeptic.
Not everyone appreciates needing facts to believe; most of the world takes at least something on faith. But as long as there are people out there like Penn Jillette, other skeptics realize that they’re not alone. Requiring evidence to believe is an objective standard which can help the world, not hurt it, and we’d be far better off with more Penns than less Penns.