Welcome to Clip from Spiral logo

Interactive video lesson plan for: Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God?

Activity overview:

Right before he goes to sleep every night, staunch atheist Penn Jillette does something surprising. He says a little prayer – sort of. Jillette's latest book is "Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales" (


Follow Big Think here:

Transcript - I very rarely look in this kind of proximity when I’m not sexting. If you want to know how to be a good leader watch Donald Trump and don’t’ do that. Don’t do any of that. I realized recently that I do something very close to prayer. And I don’t want to show any disrespect to people by using the word prayer because I know from my friends who are religious that prayer has a supernatural element, that people are actually connecting to a higher power. And I don’t want to show disrespect to that. But I also want to make a little bit of an argument. Sam Harris makes his argument for atheist meditation. I want to make a little bit of an argument for atheist prayer. I do something before I go to sleep at night called Penn’s guild roundup. And Penn’s guild roundup is I go through conversations that I’ve had like tonight before I go to bed I’ll think should I really have made that sexting joke when I was at the Big Think. Should I really have done that? Did that make people uncomfortable. Is that a line. And I’ll run through how I could have done that better.

I say that with no joke. I’ll actually do that. And I run through conversations I’ve had and things I’ve done. One that comes up every night was, you know, should I treat Teller better? And the answer is always no. But I do reflect about it. I do think about it. I also try to think of what I want and how I can get there. Now I’m very fortunate because when I go to my desires they’re not very often material desires because my family is well cared for. I’ve been very lucky and I’ve done well. But I think about – I used to think about my weight and one of the things I used to – and I’m very hesitant to use the word because I don’t want to show disrespect for those who think it really is supernatural. But I would pray to be able to control the watts of my diet. Wouldn’t that be great? And I try to run through how to do that and I do believe with God there’s a lot of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I’m not referring to baptism there. I’m referring to the fact that so much of the social and personal elements of religion are really good. I would say maybe more than good, maybe very close to necessary. Read Full Transcript Here:

Tagged under: Penn Jillette,atheism,prayer,Donald Trump,leader,religious,religion,supernatural,higher power,Sam Harris,Teller,family,desires,material,diet,God,atheist,community,Mormons,Salt Lake City,Las Vegas,-reflection,imaginary,placebos,cult,weight loss,pretend,polite,compassion,love,hate,superstition,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU

Clip makes it super easy to turn any public video into a formative assessment activity in your classroom.

Add multiple choice quizzes, questions and browse hundreds of approved, video lesson ideas for Clip

Make YouTube one of your teaching aids - Works perfectly with lesson micro-teaching plans

Play this activity

1. Students enter a simple code

2. You play the video

3. The students comment

4. You review and reflect

* Whiteboard required for teacher-paced activities

Share on:

Share Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God? on Google+ Share Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God? on Twitter Share Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God? on Facebook Pin Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God? Email Penn Jillette on Placebo Prayer: Should Atheists Talk to God?

Ready to see what else Spiral logo can do?

With four apps, each designed around existing classroom activities, Spiral gives you the power to do formative assessment with anything you teach.


Carry out a quickfire formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking


Create interactive presentations to spark creativity in class

Team Up

Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices


Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes

1000s of teachers use Spiral to deliver awesome, engaging activities that capture students' understanding during lessons.

Now it's your turn Sign up

Spiral Reviews by Teachers and Digital Learning Coaches

Review of Spiral by teacher: Kathryn Laster @kklaster

Tried out the canvas response option on @SpiralEducation & it's so awesome! Add text or drawings AND annotate an image! #R10tech

Review of Spiral by teacher: Room 220 Math Stars @3rdgradeBCE

Using @SpiralEducation in class for math review. Student approved! Thumbs up! Thanks.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Miss Ord @ordmiss

Absolutely amazing collaboration from year 10 today. 100% engagement and constant smiles from all #lovetsla #spiral

Review of Spiral by teacher: Adam J. Stryker @strykerstennis

Students show better Interpersonal Writing skills than Speaking via @SpiralEducation Great #data #langchat folks!

Review of Spiral by teacher: Dr Ayla Göl @iladylayla

A good tool for supporting active #learning.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Brett Erenberg @BrettErenberg

The Team Up app is unlike anything I have ever seen. You left NOTHING out! So impressed!

Get the Clip Chrome Extension & Create Video Lessons in Seconds

Add Clip to Chrome