kottke.org posts about pennandteller

Penn and Teller interviewJul 14 2010

As a casual Penn & Teller fan, I didn't know that the pair rarely socialize outside of work...and that they might not even like each other (although the respect is obviously there). That and more from this interesting interview.

"But then you come out here and it turns out, as insane as this is, that you have more artistic freedom in Las Vegas than you have in New York. Much more. And the reason is this..." He leans forward conspiratorially and says, in a stage whisper. "In Vegas, our investors don't give a f--- about us. The people who are our bosses see our show maybe once a year. One of them will bring their kids and come by. And they are pleasant and they love us and they sincerely enjoy the show. Then they leave and they don't think about us. And because nobody's paying attention we do exactly the show we want. As long as people come to see it nobody cares what we do. And it means that we have done wilder things and more new stuff here than we ever did in New York. The contract is 100 per cent between us and the audience. And that's crazy."

"The contract is 100 per cent between us and the audience"...I love that.

The Neuroscience of IllusionApr 27 2009

In a bit of a sequel to Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer talks to Teller (of Penn and Teller) and learns how the tricks that magicians do can be explained by neuroscience.

Our brains don't see everything -- the world is too big, too full of stimuli. So the brain takes shortcuts, constructing a picture of reality with relatively simple algorithms for what things are supposed to look like. Magicians capitalize on those rules. "Every time you perform a magic trick, you're engaging in experimental psychology," Teller says. "If the audience asks, 'How the hell did he do that?' then the experiment was successful. I've exploited the efficiencies of your mind."

Andy unearths an old video game byFeb 28 2006

Andy unearths an old video game by Penn and Teller called Smoke and Mirrors, which famously features a game in which you drive a bus for 16 straight hours to score a single point. See also Takeshi no Chousenjou, a similarly challenging Japanese game.

Penn Jillette on why he believes "there is no God".Dec 07 2005

Penn Jillette on why he believes "there is no God".

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