Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

Season 2 Episode 5


Aired Monday 10:00 PM Apr 29, 2004 on Showtime
out of 10
User Rating
50 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Exposing the reality behind recycling, a supposedly pro-environment activity that in actuality creates pollution, has to be subsidized by the government because it's cost ineffective, and is completely unnecessary because, contrary to popular belief, our landfills are not running out of space. Special Guest Experts include: Amanda Enclade (Recycler) Neil Seldman (President, Institute for Local Self-Reliance) David Wood (Executive Director, GrassRoots Recycling Network) Daniel Benjamin (Professor of Economics, Clemson University) J. Winston Porter (Former Assistant Administrator, EPA) Angela Logomasini (Director of Risk and Environmental Policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute) Joe Howard (Information Officer, Sanitation District, Los Angeles County) Kreigh Hampel (Recycling Coordinator, City of Burbank)moreless

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  • My personal favorite episode of the series, but it's going to make you mad, if you're currently for or against recycling. It's an outright fraud.

    Incredibly well written and executed. They break down the pros and cons of recycling point by point. The only regretable thing is that they only had 30 minutes, this should have easily been an hour. I've had my suspicions about recycling, but it's an outright fraud. The other reviews on here complain that they don't educate us on making less waste. We do produce too much waste as a country, but that's not the point of this episode. It's not called "How to Make Less Waste", it's called "RECYCLING" and they stuck to the topic. It's not a valid criticism to say that the episode didn't cover a topic they didn't set out to cover. They set out to uncover the fraud and self-perpetuating business that recycling has turned into and how most of it is doing more harm than good. This episode spurred my interest and I've done a lot of research on this and they're right. Recycling paper is more harmful to the atmosphere than making new paper. That's staggering. I believe in less polution to keep our air and water clean, but if you've ever driven by a recycling plant you will roll up your windows for quite a few miles. New York City even stopped their recycling reprogam all together for about a year because it was too expensive. When they did that it removed the guilt of throwing things away for a lot of people and then haven't gone back even when the program was reinstated.

    I was very pro-recycling in high school and we even had an organization to collect and recycle for the entire school. I feel a bit used from that effort and wish I had known about this sooner.moreless
  • over simplified conclusions from selective data

    The obvious conclusion (from their facts as presented) is to recycle certain things only (aluminum, glass etc) not that all recycling is bullsh*t!

    Also like someone else already said, why not talk about how to reduce waste at source. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . as always though very entertaining which is the main reason to watch this series, just don't expect enlightenment!moreless
  • This was the first episode that i did't like. It was just full of **** The did't say the hole truth.

    This was the first episode that i did't like. It was just full of **** The did't say the hole truth. Please keep recycling. Don't turn against the world not more that you already do. They did't say any thing about the oil that is useing doing the bottels or useing when transporting the tree from the woods. I don't say that you have to recycle ever thing. But it is the small things that matters. Tin of aluminium and steel, glass, papper and electronics(tv), refrigerators(Chlorofluorocarbon is not good for the ozone) . And one last thing the stuff that is batterys. Ok this was not so good review but it show that it ws not a good show.moreless
  • It\'s fun to shock people out of their usual thought patterns and this show is great fun to watch but I think they kinda skipped over an important issue with this one for the sake of entertainment...moreless

    The loud rude one and his short and silent partner take on a pretty confronting issue with this episode, claiming the act of recycling to be an expensive, wasteful, and unneccessary act that was generated by environmental nuts and inflicted on society. They make some very salient points to support their argument, and as usual, like to discuss impossibly broad subjects by using very specific and usually total whack-job examples. But the question I pose to Penn and Teller is this. Instead of yelling at the camera about how much of your MFing tax money is wasted on recycling when you can safely and cheaply throw everything into landfill for the next 200 millenium, wouldn\'t it be more constructive to actually look at why America PRODUCES SO MUCH WASTE, instead of what to do with it. But, that doesn\'t make for as shocking viewing, and would kind of expose them as a tad hypocritical. I\'m a fan of these 2 and this show, but this episode left me scratching my head a bit...moreless
  • Wow!

    All I have to say is wow, after seeing this episode I realize the goverment has really pulled one over on us. From as early as my childhood I have been brainwashed that recycling is good for us and how dare anyone say any different. The show really went over each point that recycling advocates use to say how great recycling is and disproved each one of them.

    First off we are not running out of landfill space and that was just a faceless beurocrat that made that statement in the 80's and we believed it. Then they took a visit to a landfill and I was imressed at how well they are managed and even that the landfill produces methane that they collect and use to fuel houses. Wow!

    The other arguements are that it creats jobs, which it does but what good is a job that is not really needed in the first place, it is just another drain on our resources. Also they say that we save energy. Very wrong, it takes more energy and it cost up to three times as much to take the time to transport, sort and process it rather than just throw it away.

    What a waste of our time, too bad I have to be reminded of this every week as I put out the recycling...moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • New recycling rules used in the recycling stunt:
      Beige- colored paper
      White- labeled metal cans
      Purple- plastics that have come in contact with food
      Yellow- wet food items
      Brown- lightly soiled toilet paper
      Red- biohazardous items

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Benjamin: Once you build a landfill, after you fill it in, you put a layer of dirt on top, you plant some stuff on it, and you turn it into a park or a golf course.
      Penn: [as footage of a landfill park plays] IT'S NICER THAN MY YARD!

    • Porter: Well, some people have criticized me and others of saying there was a crisis back in the late eighties as far as landfill space. I don't think I said that. I think I expressed concern.
      Penn: Mr. Porter? Concern is when you raise an eyebrow and say "Is this gonna be a problem?" and start doing your homework to see if it is. YOU put out a F*CKING paper with the seal of the federal government on it where you said: "We're running out of places to dispose our trash", and "1/3 of the nation's landfills will be full within the next few years", and "If we wait, the problem will get worse". WE thought there was a landfill problem because YOU, the g*dd*mn, lazy, loser government expert, SAID there was a problem. And you arranged to spend EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR of OUR money solving it. I know. It's our fault. We should never ask anyone in government to assess a situation. THANK YOU for the annual EIGHT BILLION DOLLAR reminder. J. Winston Porter, you could not have been more wrong if your name were W. WRONGY WRONGENSTEIN! So thank you very much for starting an entirely USELESS ecological movement. SH*T!

    • Penn: [while a photo of Porter shaking hands with Ronald Reagan is on screen] Just look at him...smiling..shaking hands with that've almost gotta feel bad for Reagan.

    • Penn: [on J. Winston Porter's "Agenda for Action"] That guy??? That's the guy? The guy who pretty much started the recycling movement? Hold on, J. Winston Porter is the name of our pain??? The name for all this wasted money and effort? J. WINSTON PORTER????? That's not the name of a villain, that's the name of an accountant in Connecticut! F*CK!

    • Benjamin: To argue that one of the benefits of recycling is that it puts people on what are fundamentally make-work jobs doesn't make any more sense than to put these people to work trimming my yard with toenail clippers!
      Penn: Except, at least his yard being trimmed with toenail clippers would be funny.

    • Seldman: Every time you recycle more, you're avoiding extracting trees from endangered and virgin forests.
      Penn: They love that word. "Endangered". They say it as much as we say "bullsh**". They also love to say "virgin"....and WHO DOESN'T?

    • Penn: [on the Recycling stunt] What evil have we brought upon the earth? Our stupid little hidden camera gag worked too well. We've given the real recycling bureaucrats another data point on how much BULLSH** we'll put up with. [sighs] Back to the show.

    • Wood: If recycling is such a failure, why is it that we have between nine and ten thousand community recycling programs around the country? Why is it that it's a multi-billion dollar industry?
      Penn: Because people like YOU, who make their living off it, continue to perpetuate bullsh**. And STILL people trust you. THEY think you did your homework!

    • Penn: Quote. "Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. A waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources." I know what you're thinking...that quote is from some evil, right-wing, empire-capitalist, f*ck-the-earth publication...yep. A New York f*cking Times.

    • Penn: So, so far, we're feeling good for no reason, and that's fine too! But if you wanna feel good...while being stupid and wasting your time...maybe heroin is for you.

    • Penn: [on the Recycling test subjects] JESUS CHRIST, really! These are good people! Give these folks a medal! "Citizens of the f*cking decade" or something!

    • Penn: [on the lightly soiled toilet paper bin] Yep. Lightly soiled toilet paper. When closing the deal ALWAYS mention the Japanese. Works every time.
      Bureaucrat: But it Japan, I'll tell ya.
      Homeowner: Well Japan, I can understand.

    • Penn: [standing with Teller by a "crying" statue of a Native American] Don't cry Indian guy! When it comes to recycling, it's just another one of our palefaced lies! And what's the deal with using a Native American like he's WOODSY THE F*CKING OWL! If baseball teams are a**holes for using Native Americans on their caps, how come environmentalists get away with making Mr. Iron Eyes Cody their token mascot? Now, if the NASDAQ drops below 2000 again, will our government find a Jewish actor to CRY while telling us to save money?

    • Enclade: I also will buy recycled toilet paper. 'Cuz this is paper "preferred by trees". So, I like that too.
      Penn: Well, don't be silly! Most trees don't even have a**es!

  • NOTES (0)