Adam is a Lecturer in Environmental Science at Deakin University. He is an environmental scientist working on questions related to ecology, conservation and society. He is most interested in: i) how concern for Animals informs environmental values and practice, ii) the environmental potential of transitioning to plant-based agriculture and iii) more critical approaches to how the sciences consider Animals. Adam wants to leverage research to help create a better future for Animals, the environment and humans. Adam is also a co-host of the Freedom of Species show on Melbourne’s 3CR community radio.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:57 Adam’s Intro – “An animal person”. Vegan activist, lecturer & scientist
- The idea that animals matter “took over”
03:16 What’s Real?
- Catholic grandma, mother traumatised by Catholicism, non-religious father
- High-school: enthusiastic atheism & “an affinity with science”
- Uni: learning about the social history & context of religions
- “I’m a proper atheist… I just don’t think there’s anything there”
- “How I think about reality is grounded in natural science”
- Humility re: complex systems (e.g. social, envir)
- Scientism. Science might not have all of the answers
- Reading fantasy & sci-fi: “Religion is just another fantasy book”
- Religious friends. Talking about bible inconsistencies & faith & submission
- “Letting your thinking be done by others – I’m not into that”
- Scepticism “show me the evidence”
- The positives of religious community & connection
- Environment: “Why can’t we love it for what it is rather than investing some sort of supernaturalness into it”
- Faith vs. evidence & reason
- Pseudoscience & “pretend naturalism”
- Conspiracy theories, woo & Goop
- “Pseudoscience tries to use the language of science to trick people”
- QAnon: “That stuff is batshit”
- Teaching science communication
- Flat Earth, Cults & “True Believers”
- The “Oh No Ross & Carrie” podcast https://ohnopodcast.com/
- “Religion is an accepted mass delusion”
- Heaven & hell: “It’s a good way to control people”
33:40 What Matters?
- Social cohesion & relationships
- “Being good to the person next to you… not harming”
- Pluralism: virtues, deontology, utilitarianism, consequentialism
- Evolution of morality: from having young that need care
- “Survival of the most caring?”
- “I don’t want to just propogate my genes any more – that’s why I’m not down the sperm bank every day”
- “Ethicists & philosophers often talk shit”
- The frequent disregard of conservationists for sentients (e.g. culling)
- Conservationist parallels with “white saviourism”?
50:19 Who Matters?
- Anthropocentrism in law, SDGs, rights, culture
- Being anthropocentric & teasing vegetarians “I said all the stupid stuff”
- Chats with a vegetarian & watching Earthlings
- Researching lapwing birds “Would I run out there & eat you? – I wouldn’t”
- Killing birds during scientific conservation work
- Visiting farms “At every dairy farm I saw something atrocious”
- Going vegetarian then vegan then into activism
- Sentient animals garner a particular type of consideration but “I also don’t want to hurt animals that may be not sentient”
- “Live & let live – even with plants… I’m not going to cut down a tree for no reason”
- Degrees of moral consideration
- Predation by domestic cats
- “Humbling our desire to be arbiters of what’s right or wrong in the world”
- Compassionate conservation & Marc Bekoff (previous guest)
- Is worrying about the victims of predation in the wild like “white saviourism”? Is it our role?
- Nearly all mamalian biomass is farmed animals
- The shocking waste of animal agri
01:15:1 How Can We Make a Better World?
- Serving animals at COP26
- Ending animal ag would free up 3/4 of ag land
- UK badger cull “experiment”… “What if we just stop having the cows?”
- “We create these situations – get upset about them – and who suffers?… It’s other sentient animals.”
- “I’m hopeful!… Half the content on the internet is about animals.”
- PHAIR group & psychology
- Rothberger’s “Meat related cognitive dissonace”
- Personal conversations & systemic changes & alternatives
- Simon Anstell’s “Carnage”
- Make it easy, then we can have the “moral revolution”
- Opportunities to be attentive
- “My dog & me – we know how to communicate”
- “Gunda” & “Cow” films
- JustTransition paths for communities with animal ag identities: Transfarmation, Rancher Advocacy Prog, Vegan Soc’s Grow Green
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.