Jump to content

Talks at Google: Penn Jillette: 'Presto! How I Made 100 Pounds Disappear!'

Guest khashmi317

Recommended Posts

Guest khashmi317

I'm sure Dean remembers this fu--ing as-h-le (2002) in the HBO Bullsh-t program * ...


Well the guy was (got) fairly obese (340lbs) which gave him health issues. So he decided to loose 100 lbs crazy-quick (3 mos?!!!), assisted by "science" and a consultant from NASA, went on a potato diet, and then wrote a book (now a NYT bestseller?)....


(CONTENT WARNING: sensational use of profanity...and relentless pacing)


About the Google Talk (and the tons of new hits on Google Search -- 'cause he's promoting the book) ... marginally entertaining, with some interesting parts. 

*I can't find refs to the (2002) P&T BS episode tho' there are some refs to Dean and that program here.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Khurram,


I like Penn.


At around 6:00 he writes:


"I don't respect moderation. If you're good at moderation I don't like you. I think you're a boring a**hole. The only things we brag about are things that don't involve moderation, like climbing Mt. Everest."


~10:00 He talks about cold exposure expert Ray Cronise, who I've reviewed a lot on the CE thread. Ray was the guy who helped him with the crash program of weight loss.


12:00 Two weeks on "mono diet" of potatoes. Takes away eating as entertainment and social aspect of eating. Makes other food taste better - like corn.


14:50 His current diet is no animal products, no refined grains, and extremely low added salt, sugar or oils. After three months of that - his cravings for crap went away. He'll still eat occasional crap on special occasions. No more cravings for meat.


18:30 He speculates that the microbiome changes after a few months of eating this way to change your food preferences.


20:00 Loosing all that weight (110lbs) really improved his mood. Happier and nicer.


22:50 Now after 17 months - he doesn't feel it takes any willpower to keep it up.


26:30 No exercise during weight loss. Now he does exercise. Muscle came back fast.


28:45 At his peak, he was 6'7" and 330lbs.


32:00 He disses on the idea of literally eating monkey chow (sorry Khurrum ☺). He doesn't trust Soylent because he doesn't think we know enough about nutrition to formulate the right human chow.


32:30 He eats a huge salad w/ just apple cider vinegar, enjoys it, and feels he's getting the nutrition he needs now.


35:00 His ultimate simple, healthy & tasty recipe - 5 containers of blueberries & blackberries, buttload of cayenne pepper, raw cocoa powder. Mix it all up. Tastes great, like spicy flourless chocolate cake. Makes you feel great too.




*I can't find refs to the (2002) P&T BS episode tho' there are some refs to Dean and that program here.


Wow - my ears are burning, or should have been back in 2006. Those guys were pretty harsh...


I'm not sure where you got the Penn and Teller Bullshit reference that involves me? Did he say it in his talk? If so, I didn't catch it.


But I very vaguely remember doing some kind of show (I think it was P&T) where the host/producer was trying to lampoon me for practicing CR - i.e. one of those shows where they seem sincerely positive about what you're doing to start, but then ambush you either during filming or in post-production. I wish I could find it or remember it better. I'm sure I posted about it to the CR email list. Anyone remember details? TomB? You have the best archives and memory from back then that I know of.


Anyway, Penn seems to have become a convert to a plant-based, whole food diet like many of us practice, and thriving at it. He's now down to a BMI just under 25, from a high of about 38.


I wonder if Michael would consider him calorie restricted...



Link to comment
Share on other sites



I couldn't seem to watch the video in Chrome, and when I tried to open it in Edge, my virus scanner popped up and had me quarantine a file - not good. Can you summarize what my section of "Fountain of Youth" show depicted? Please be candid. As I vaguely recall it wasn't very flattering, but I have a thick skin ☺.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a transcript:


Penn: "A few years ago some folks did a survey. They asked senior citizens to rate the best years of their lives. Their favorite years: their sixties. Followed by: their fifties. Then in sequential order: their forties, thirties and finally their twenties, the years they describe as the least satisfying in their life. Why? Because it is not just your body that ages. It's your mind maturing in exciting ways that allow the true experience of life to be felt and understood. [i find it interesting that they don't mention money or work here. Maybe your sixties are your best decade precisely because you aren't working a job you hate and you have a little bit of money and security. In your twenties, you're scrambling for every penny and wasting your life doing a *bullshit* job.] So don't let your fat lips [they had just covered plastic surgery] or blue skin [they are standing next to enigma] ever get in the way of that."


"Now if you are hell bent on inflicting yourself on three or four more generations there are a number of nut theories for pulling that off."


Dean: "It's about six pounds worth of vegetables that I eat in a day."


Penn's voiceover: "Dean Pomerleau loves salads. So much so he believes in stuffing himself with leaves to the ripe old age of 120."


Dean: "The bulk of the diet that I eat keeps me from getting hungry."


Penn's voiceover: "But thanks to his diet he's enjoying the onset of osteoporosis at 37."


Dean: "I see it as worth it to experience more of life to give up a slice of pizza."


Penn's voiceover: "Pizza is not the only pie he has given up. [That's actually a pretty good joke.] He's completely lost his sex drive. There ain't no free."


They then jump-cut to a psychologist who says that "these people" are driven by anxiety to live longer, but they don't "live at all."


They then cut again to a doctor who is proscribing growth hormones to people.




I rather like Penn & Teller, although I think their politics are--well--*bullshit.* I think they are highly creative non-conformist anti-hippie hippies. I'm really loving their new "Fool Us" show. I wish I could have afforded to see their show when they came to anchorage a few months ago. And I'd like to give Penn the benefit of the doubt here. One: I think that they have their own amount of "bullshit" and are willing acknowledge that and have fun calling themselves out on it. But also I think Penn is the kind of person who can change his mind and can see himself in others. His weird diet is motivated by a similar enough ethic to your weird diet that I feel like if the two of you could have coffee together you would walk away liking and admiring each other.


The real shame of the segment they made is the laziness of it, the lack of being able to admire the weirdos who are willing to risk a lower sex drive in the same way that they clearly admire the full body tattoo performers or the cosmetic surgery "Barbie" and "Ken." There was something interesting going on here, but they opted for the lazy narrative instead.




I watched the full video of Penn's talk at Google and I'm interested in the way that Penn's diet takes both the psychological science and the physiological science seriously and is willing to trade one for the other. I think he is probably right that losing a lot of weight quickly through some kind of dramatic life change is more likely to result in a long term lifestyle change than a gradual, measured approach. Technically speaking, losing 100 pounds in three months is not really the "healthy" way to do it. But which scenario would be better in the long term: losing 100 pounds in three months and keeping it off and eating a plant based whole food diet for the rest of your life, or, trying to lose 0.5 pounds a week for two years only to give up six months into the diet and revert to your former weight? Taking the weirdness of our psychology seriously seems worthwhile.


Since I spend so much of my time thinking about debt (everything in my life is ruled by debt, so much so that I wish I had never gone to school) I'm reminded of the "snowball" approach to debt. From a mathematical perspective it would be better to pay off the highest interest loans first, no matter the size, and then move on to the lower interest loans. But we have a lot of data showing that people do better paying off the smaller amount, even if it is a lower interest rate, and then feeling the gust of momentum at their backs to take on the larger debts at higher rates. Of course, they never stop to question why they are forced into debt in the first place or whether paying an unjust debt is a moral thing to do, but the point is that we should take our psychology seriously. I think Penn has a lot to teach me here. I'm trying to go slowly, but I find it easier to be motivated if I go a little too fast. Is it worse to flood my body with toxins from burnt fat right now if it means I stick with a version of a CR diet for the rest of my life, or would it be better to risk reverting to a standard diet by trying to go at 0.5 lbs a week? I don't want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe losing 100 lbs in three months is the good enough, much more "moderate" than getting a surgical stomach sleeve (which might also result in dramatic and too quick weight loss). Sure it would be perfect to lose 100 lbs in two years time and keep it off forever, but if the likelihood of failing by taking that approach is high, maybe it's smarter to sacrifice your body to your psychology here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Thanks so much for transcribing my portion of the Penn and Teller Bullsh*t episode from 2002. That is pretty much how I remember it. No wonder I'd pushed it out of my mind ☺. Isn't it ironic that I talk in that 2002 video about eating 6lbs of veggies per day and Penn made fun of me for it. Now he's eating almost my identical diet, and even wrote a book about it. Life doesn't always repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme a lot.


[Penn's] weird diet is motivated by a similar enough ethic to your weird diet that I feel like if the two of you could have coffee together you would walk away liking and admiring each other.


Definitely. I'd love to meet Penn one day. There would be absolutely no hard feeling on my part. I'm sure we'd have a good laugh at how he made fun of me so many years ago and is now following in my footsteps, and making a buck off it!


I think they [Penn and Teller] are highly creative non-conformist anti-hippie hippies.


Yup - that's why I like them too. My twin mottos have always be:


Don't be afraid to go out on a limb for a worthy cause


Chose to live a life less ordinary, rather than a lifeless ordinary


Damn what other people think. You only live once. Might as well try something different than everybody else.  


While I'm sharing inspirational quote about going for it, I came across these yesterday here:


“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd
“Follow your bliss, and doors will open for you that you never knew existed. Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S Eliot
“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great Bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – “WOW – What a Ride!” -Anon.
“Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” - Sarah Ban Breathnach
“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas Alva Edison
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” — Helen Keller

I've been in an adventurous mood lately and trying to think big. So I was seeking some inspiration. I thought others might appreciate and resonate with a few of these.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...