Magic, Illusion, and Skepticism, with Bill Nye (Repeat)

An example of Pepper’s Ghost. Photo by Jeroen Kransen (originally posted to Flickr as Fairy tale ghost) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
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About This Episode

In this week’s StarTalk All-Stars, host Bill Nye applies his scientific mind and skeptical nature to fan-submitted Cosmic Queries chosen by co-host Chuck Nice, on subjects from miracles and levitation to conspiracy theories and climate change denial. Explore the nature and practice of magic and illusion, like Pepper’s Ghost shown above, and how the magician’s skill and artistry can be much more important than the technology of a trick. You’ll hear how magicians exploit the human brain’s programming for pattern recognition to fool us, even when they’re telling us exactly what they’re doing, like Penn & Teller. Examine the value of awakening critical thinking in kids by teaching them magic tricks, or forensics, and find out how we assess the reliability of data and how much skepticism is “too much.” Dive into the nature of conspiracy theories and learn why Bill thinks conspiracy theorists are lazy, hurt science, and hold society back. Compare people who are unwilling to believe the mountains of evidence that we landed on the moon with those who willingly believe in miracles and supernatural phenomena with no scientific proof whatsoever, like telekinesis. Unpack Arthur C. Clarke’s famous adage about magic and technology, and why math and physics can’t explain what happened before the Big Bang. Plus, discover what leaves Bill Nye in awe every day, what science and magic have in common, and what happened in Bill’s youthful, misguided search for a “smoke shifter.” Oh yes, and be sure not to miss Chuck’s less than flattering, but spot-on Bill Cosby impersonation.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Magic, Illusion, and Skepticism, with Bill Nye – StarTalk All-Stars.

In This Episode

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