The magicians Penn & Teller are in New York this summer performing Penn & Teller On Broadway. In a conversation with Teller (the quiet one) last week, the topic of explaining magic tricks came up, and I happened to have a tape recorder running. An edited transcript is below.
In February of 1971, Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell was on his way back from the moon when he had an epiphany. Staring out the window at the stars, he realized that everything is connected. The experience was so “puzzling and powerful,” he told me, that upon touchdown he launched a quest into what it was all about, seeking the wisdom of mystics and holy men around the world. He wasn’t alone in his spiritual awakening; an analysis of astronauts’ reports reveals that for many, the awesomeness of spaceflight increased their belief in God. New research may explain why.