We are Sentientists

Where are sentientists around the world?

Here’s our wall of sentientists. If, like them, you’re committed to evidence and reason and have compassion for all sentient beings, why not join them and add your tile here.

Brian Greene

Suspected Sentientist

Brian is a theoretical physicist, mathematician and string theorist. He is a professor at Columbia University and has been chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. Brian has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and related PBS television specials. He also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode "The Herb Garden Germination", as well as the films Frequency and The Last Mimzy. He is currently a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Brian is an atheist and has a naturalistic worldivew. He is vegan, implying he has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Brian on Wikipedia
Brian at Columbia

Kate Nash

Suspected Sentientist

Kate is a singer-songwriter and actress. Her 2007 single "Foundations" became a hit and brought her to public attention in the UK. Her debut album, Made of Bricks, peaked at No. 1 in the UK and was an international success. Kate subsequently won the award for Best British Female Artist at the 2008 Brit Awards. Her second studio album, My Best Friend Is You, was released in 2010 and reached the top 10 in the UK and Germany. After her departure from a major label, Nash self-released the albums Girl Talk and the Kickstarter supported Yesterday Was Forever.

Aside from music, Nash has appeared in films such as the drama Greetings from Tim Buckley, the comedy Powder Room, and the comedy-drama Syrup. She played Rhonda "Britannica" Richardson in the Netflix comedy-drama series GLOW. She also stars in the 2023 comedy film Coffee Wars about a vegan coffee shop owner fighting to save her business by competing in the World Barista Championship. Kate was awarded the Rising Star Award at the Maui Film Festival for this role. Kate is a vocal campaigner for feminism, LGBT and non-human animal rights.

Kate is vegan and seems to have a sentiocentric moral scope. She seems to have a broadly naturalistic worldview.

Kate on Wikipedia
Kate's Interview on Our Hen House
Kate on Instagram

Max Tegmark

Suspected Sentientist

Max is a physicist, cosmologist and machine learning researcher. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the president of the Future of Life Institute. He is also a scientific director at the Foundational Questions Institute and a supporter of the effective altruism movement. He is the author of Our Mathematical Universe and Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Max is vegan, implying he has a sentiocentric moral scope. He has a naturalistic worldview.

Max on Wikipedia
Max at MIT

Peter Lewis

Committed Sentientist

Peter holds a Canada Research Chair in Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, at Ontario Tech University. He is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology, where he leads the Trustworthy AI Lab. He co-edited the foundational book, Self-Aware Computing Systems, published by Springer, and is Associate Editor of IEEE Technology & Society Magazine. He has published over 75 papers in academic journals and conference proceedings, and led teams that have worked with dozens of companies in the areas of artificial intelligence, data science, and software development.

Peter has a naturalistic worldview. He is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope. His article "Of Fish and Robots" links his sentiocentrism with his work on artificial intelligence.
Peter at the Trustworthy AI Lab

Dhruv Makwana

Suspected Sentientist

Dhruv is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge. He has interests in psychology, philosophy and animal advocacy.

Dhruv has a broadly naturalistic worldview. He is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Dhruv on the EA Forum
Dhruv's article "Abolitionist in The Streets, Pragmatist in The Sheets"
Dhruv on LinkedIn
Dhruv at the University of Cambridge
Dhruv on Medium

Otep Shamaya

Suspected Sentientist

Otep is a writer, singer, voice-over artist and activist best known as the lead vocalist and founder of the metal band Otep.

She is an animal rights advocate and vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. Otep seems to be non-religious so may have a naturalistic worldview.

Otep on Wikipedia
Otep on Tumblr
Otep on YouTube
Otep on Instagram

Douglas Hofstadter

Suspected Sentientist

Douglas is a scholar of cognitive science, physics and comparative literature whose research includes concepts such as the sense of self in relation to the external world, consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation and discovery in mathematics and physics. He is Director of the Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition at Indiana University Bloomington. His 1979 book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" won both the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and a National Book Award for Science. His 2007 book "I Am a Strange Loop" won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology.

Douglas describes himself as a "non-religious person" and a "materialist" who is strongly critical of pseudoscience and claims of the paranormal - so has a naturalistic worldview.

He seems to have at least a theoretical sentiocentric moral scope, having gone vegan as a teenager due to his views on the distribution of consciousness across the animal kingdom and due to his compassionate ethics. In "I Am a Strange Loop" he describes himself as vegetarian.

Douglas on Wikipedia
Douglas at Indiana University

Tania Lombrozo

Suspected Sentientist

Tania is the Arthur W. Marks Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. She oversees the Concepts and Cognition Laboratory, which uses the empirical tools of cognitive psychology and the conceptual tools of analytic philosophy to study the human mind. Their research focuses on topics including explanation, learning, causal reasoning, and folk epistemology.  Tania is the recipient of numerous early-career awards including the Stanton Prize from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Spence Award from the Association for Psychological Science, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation and a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition. She blogs about psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science at Psychology Today and for NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture.

Tania seems to have a naturalistic worldview. She has said "These new strands of research can’t promise a scientifically grounded account of human origins that rivals creationism in its psychological appeal, but they can help to explain how some people find beauty and fulfillment in a naturalistic worldview. There is something deeply satisfying in broadening the scope of what we understand. And that is part of the seductive grandeur of science." She is vegan and seems to have a sentiocentric moral scope.

Tania on Wikipedia
Tania at Princeton
The Concepts and Cognition Lab

Andrew Knight

Committed Sentientist

Andrew is Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics and Founding Director of the University of Winchester Centre for Animal Welfare, Adjunct Professor in the School of Environment and Science at Griffith University, Queensland, EBVS European and RCVS Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, American and New Zealand Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare, Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and Principal Fellow of Advance HE.

Ever since helping launch Australia’s campaign against the live sheep trade to the Middle East in the early 1990s, he has advocated on behalf of animals. For nearly a decade prior to 2012 he practiced veterinary medicine, mostly around London. In 2013 – 2014 he directed the Clinical Skills Laboratory and taught animal ethics, welfare, veterinary practice management and surgical and medical skills at one of the world’s largest veterinary schools in the Caribbean.

Andrew's books include The Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare (2023) and The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments (2011). He has around 150 academic and 80 popular publications and an extensive series of social media videos on plant-based companion animal diets, climate change and the livestock sector, invasive animal research, educational animal use, humane clinical and surgical skills training, and other animal welfare issues. His papers have been published in leading scientific and medical journals, such as New Scientist, the British Medical Journal USA and PLoS One. He has delivered over 200 presentations at conferences and universities internationally, and has organized or chaired seven conferences and seminars. He regularly works with animal welfare charities to advocate for animals and is often interviewed by the media. Andrew has been honoured with 14 awards and 22 research grants, including the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics Shomer Award, a University Values Award and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association Humane Achievement Award. He also received a University Student-Led Teaching Award in 2017.

Andrew has a naturalistic worldview, is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Andrew on LinkedIn
Andrew on FaceBook

Katherine Roe

Committed Sentientist

Katherine is chief of Science Advancement and Outreach (SAO) at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). SAO aims to change the paradigm of biomedical research by promoting the development and implementation of cutting-edge strategies in biomedical research and training and eliminating the use of animals in experimentation. Katherine earned her bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology and cognitive science from the University of California–San Diego. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, she went on to become a research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she stayed for eight years. Over the course of her research career, she studied the neural correlates of linguistic, spatial, and memory processes, working with children with early focal brain injury, adults and children with schizophrenia, and individuals with Williams syndrome and related genetic disorders. Katherine has more than 20 years of experience conducting brain and neuroimaging research with humans and is an expert at experimental design and data analysis. She has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has presented her findings at national and international industry conferences.

Katherine is non-religious, with a broadly naturalistic worldview. She is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Katherine at SAO
PETA's Research Modernisation Deal

Dr. Crystal Heath

Suspected Sentientist

Crystal is a veterinary practitioner, a journalist and an activist. She is the co-founder of Our Honor, a charity aiming to create an organized network of veterinary professionals who are able to challenge unethical institutionalised systems and amplify the voices of those who have been marginalised.

Crystal is vegan and has, at least, a sentiocentric moral scope. She has a scientific and naturalistic worldview although is open to the idea that "consciousness may be a supernatural thing".

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Crystal on Instagram
Crystal on TikTok

Eva Hamer

Committed Sentientist

Eva is the operations lead for the non-profit Pax Fauna. Pax Fauna exists to design a more effective social movement for animal freedom in the U.S., using original research as well as careful study of social movement literature and the recent history of the animal movement in order to reverse the cultural norm of eating animals. Eva has been organizing in the animal freedom movement since 2015 when she started working with DxE in Chicago, where she focused on building community, writing protest music, and compiling the movements’ songs into an online songbook used by advocates around the world. She started working full time as DxE’s legal coordinator in 2018, managing the organization’s many legal cases, organizing trainings, and orchestrating large artistic demonstrations. Eva has a deep curiosity about culture in all its forms, and how social movements engage with culture both internally and externally. Through songwriting, she has explored how music and art can shape the messaging and attitudes of the animal movement. Building on a background in Kingian nonviolence, she is a dedicated student of Nonviolent Communication, and she is committed to bringing NVC’s repertoire of creative problem-solving tools to the work of building a better culture in the animal movement. Working for years as a music therapist in hospice taught Eva how to apply metrics to aspects of life that are difficult to measure- and how to judge when metrics aren’t working to tell the whole story.

Eva is non-religious and has a naturalistic worldview. She is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Eva on Mastodon
Eva on Instagram
Eva at Pax Fauna

Lori Marino

Committed Sentientist

Lori is Executive Director of The Kimmela Center and Founder & President of The Whale Sanctuary Project. She is a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence, formerly on the faculty of Emory University where she was also a faculty member at the Emory Center for Ethics. She is internationally known for her work on the evolution of the brain and intelligence in dolphins and whales and marine mammal welfare in captivity, as well as cognition in farmed animals through The Someone Project. In 2001 Lori co-authored a ground-breaking study with Diana Reiss offering the first conclusive evidence for mirror self-recognition in bottlenose dolphins, after which she decided against conducting further research with animals held captive in zoos and aquariums.

Lori has published over 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers, book chapters, and magazine articles on marine mammal biology and cognition, comparative brain anatomy, self-awareness in nonhuman animals, human-nonhuman animal relationships, and the evolution of intelligence. Lori has appeared in several films and television programs, including the 2013 documentary Blackfish about killer whale captivity; Unlocking the Cage, the 2016 documentary on the Nonhuman Rights Project; Long Gone Wild, the 2019 documentary; and in the upcoming documentary about Corky, the orca held captive by SeaWorld since 1969.

Lori is an atheist & has a naturalistic worldview, saying "I don't see any reason to propose that there's anything supernatural out there". She is vegan & has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Lori on Wikipedia
Lori on FaceBook
The Kimmela Center
The Whale Sanctuary Project

Kathy Hessler

Suspected Sentientist

Kathy is Assistant Dean, Animal Legal Education at George Washington University Law School and Director of the Animal Legal Education Initiative. Kathy has been a clinical law professor for 30 years and has been teaching animal law for 22 years. She is the first law professor hired to teach animal law full-time. Kathy helped develop the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School (L&C). For fourteen years she taught there and directed the Animal Law Clinic. She also created and directed the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative and is the co-founder of World Aquatic Animal Day along with Amy P. Wilson. Kathy co-authored "Animal Law in a Nutshell", "Animal Law - New Perspectives on  Teaching Traditional Law" and the amicus briefs submitted in the U.S. v. Stevens and Justice v. Gwendolyn Vercher cases. She has written numerous law review and other articles and teaches and lectures widely across the U.S. and internationally.

Kathy was a board member with the Animal Legal Defense Fund; helped found the Animal Law Committee of the Cuyahoga County Bar; and was the chair and a founder of the Animal Law Section and the Balance in Legal Education Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). She was also a co-chair of the Clinical Legal Education Section of the AALS, is on the board of the Center for Teaching Peace and is a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Kathy is vegan and has (at least) a sentiocentric moral scope. Kathy is non-religious and has a naturalistic worldview.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Kathy at GWU
Kathy's papers at SSRN

Ann Druyan

Suspected Sentientist

Ann is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary producer and director specializing in the communication of science. She co-wrote the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan, whom she married in 1981. She is the creator, producer, and writer of the 2014 sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and its sequel series, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, as well as the book of the same name. She directed episodes of both series. In the late 1970s Ann became the Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message Project which produced the golden discs affixed to both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. She also published a novel, A Famous Broken Heart and later co-wrote several best selling non-fiction books with Sagan.

Ann seems to have a sentiocentric moral scope, at least in concept. It's not clear whether she is vegetarian, vegan or neither. Ann has a non-religious, scientific, naturalistic worldview.

In the book "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", co-authored with Carl Sagan, they wrote: "Humans — who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals — have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and ‘animals’ is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them — without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us."

Here, she writes: "It is precisely in the absence of reciprocity, as in our mercy towards the helpless [including non-human animals], that we may be most sure that any given moral act is unalloyed by self-interest."

Ann on Wikipedia

Nicky Campbell OBE

Suspected Sentientist

Nicky is a broadcaster and journalist. He has worked in television and radio since 1981 and as a network presenter with BBC Radio since 1987. He is a vocal advocate for animals, writing and campaigning for animal rights, welfare and conservation. Nicky was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 Birthday Honours for his services to children and adoption causes.

He seems to be vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. He has a non-religious, naturalistic worldview.

Nicky on Wikipedia

J. Howard Moore

Suspected Sentientist

John Howard Moore was a zoologist, philosopher, educator, humanitarian and socialist. He is considered to be an early, yet neglected, proponent of animal rights and ethical vegetarianism/veganism and was a leading figure in the American humanitarian movement. John was a prolific writer, authoring numerous articles, books, essays, pamphlets on topics including animal rights, education, ethics, evolutionary biology, humanitarianism, socialism, temperance, utilitarianism and vegetarianism.

John was raised as a Christian with an anthropocentric moral scope. As he learned about Darwin's theory of evolution he rejected both Christianity and anthropocentrism. Instead, he developed a secular, sentiocentric ethic grounded in the evolutionary Universal Kinship (1906) of all sentient beings. His speech "Why I am a vegetarian" was published in pamphlet form in 1895. In it he wrote: "human beings preach as the cardinal of morality that they should act upon others as they would be pleased to have others act upon them, and then take the most sensitive and beautiful beings all palpitating with life, and chop them into fragments with a composure that would do honor to the managers of an inferno."

J. Howard Moore on Wikipedia


Corry Will

Suspected Sentientist

Corry (notcorry) Is a YouTuber and podcaster. He co-hosts (with Luke Cutforth) the SciGuys podcast that “brings you the crazy, weird, and wonderful stories from the science world”.

Corry is vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. He seems to be non-religious and to have a naturalistic worldview.

notcorry YouTube

Luke Cutforth

Suspected Sentientist

Luke is a film-maker, YouTuber and podcaster. His first feature film, "The Drowning of Arthur Braxton" won the Best UK Feature award at the Raindance film festival. He co-hosts (with notcorry) the SciGuys podcast that "brings you the crazy, weird, and wonderful stories from the science world".

Luke is vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. He seems to be non-religious and to have a naturalistic worldview.

Oscar Horta

Committed Sentientist

Why Sentientism?: "For all sentient beings"

Oscar is an animal activist and moral philosopher who is currently a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and is one of the co-founders of the organization Animal Ethics. Oscar is vegan and non-religious.

Oscar on Wikipedia
Oscar's Blog
Oscar on FaceBook

Mylan Engel Jr.

Committed Sentientist

Why Sentientism? Because every sentient being has the capacity to be harmed, and any being with a capacity to be harmed has a moral right not to be harmed. See my “Demystifying Animal Rights” for details.

Sara Pascoe

Suspected Sentientist

Sara is an actress, comedian and writer. She has appeared on television programmes including 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown for Channel 4, QI and The Great British Sewing Bee for BBC and Taskmaster for the digital channel Dave.

Sarah is vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. She has said here: "I went on a school trip to a farm and loved the animals. I told Dad I was going to be a farmer because I wanted to look after animals and show them to children, but he said that’s what we eat, chopped up. I was aghast." She is an atheist, a patron of Humanists UK and seems to have a naturalistic worldview.

Sara on Wikipedia

Jon Richardson

Suspected Sentientist

Jon is a comedian. He is best known for his appearances on 8 Out of 10 Cats and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and his work as co-host with Russell Howard on BBC 6 Music. He is the presenter of Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier, and also featured with his wife in the TV show Meet the Richardsons. He's co-host of the "Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts" podcast which takes a rational, compassionate look into our future.

Jon is vegan, implying he has a sentiocentric moral scope. He seems to have a naturalistic worldview.

Jon on Wikipedia

Matti Wilks

Suspected Sentientist

Matti is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She was previously a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University, working with Professor Paul Bloom with whom she published the paper “Children prioritize humans over animals less than adults do”. She studies moral psychology & moral development – including attitudes to cultivated meat & the “natural”, the moral status of various types of entities & altruism.

Matti is vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope. She is non-religous and has a naturalistic worldview.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism podcast and here on the Sentientism YouTube channel.



Claudia Hirtenfelder

Suspected Sentientist

Claudia is a PhD Candidate in Geography at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. She is host of The Animal Turn Podcast (Subscribe!)

Claudia is an atheist (ex-Christian) and has a naturalistic worldview - although is cautious about defining "evidence and reasoning" too narrowly such that we might exclude more emotional or intuitive modes of thinking and neglect social contexts and personal experiences. She is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast. I also had the pleasure of being Claudia's guest on "The Animal Turn". You can find our episode here.

The Animal Turn Podcast

Jill Ettinger

Suspected Sentientist

Jill has been a leading voice in digital media for more than a decade. She's been published in outlets including MTV, The Huffington Post, and the Village Voice. She served as Head of Content for a popular vegan media platform from 2017-2020, with a reach of more than 50 million per month. She has worked with a number of impact media platforms to help build their traffic and positioning, as well as with leading brands and celebrities working to make the world a more sustainable and ethical space. Jill is the co-founder, CEO and Head of Content for Ethos.

Jill has a broadly naturalistic worldview. She is vegan, implying a sentiocentric moral scope.

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.


Tom Clark

Suspected Sentientist

Michael Dorf

Suspected Sentientist

Michael is a law professor and scholar of U.S. constitutional law. He is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. In addition to constitutional law, Michael has taught courses in civil procedure and federal courts. He has written/co-written/edited six books, including Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights (co-written with his wife, Sherry Colb), as well as scores of law review articles about American constitutional law. He is also a columnist for Verdict. Michael is a former law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Michael has appeared in American news media as a legal expert and has been interviewed by and/or quoted in, for example, The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (another suspected sentientist).

Michael is vegan with a sentiocentric moral scope. He has a naturalistic worldview, describing himself here as "an ethnically-identifying-but-non-religious American Jew."

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube channel and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Michael on Wikipedia
Dorf On Law Blog
Michael @ Verdict

Katie Mack

Committed Sentientist

Katie is a theoretical cosmologist who holds the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at Perimeter Institute. Her academic research investigates dark matter, vacuum decay and the epoch of reionisation. Katie is also a popular science communicator who participates in social media and regularly writes for Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time and Cosmos. She is the author of the book "The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)"

Katie is vegan and has a sentiocentric moral scope. She has a naturalistic worldview, saying here: "I had a lot of trouble believing in anything that I didn’t have strong evidence for. It comes back to the scientific view point maybe. I didn’t have religious experiences. I didn’t have a feeling of connection with the divine. I wanted that feeling of connection … I found the practice very meaningful, but I never got the faith."

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Katie on Wikipedia
Disorientation, a poem by Katie

Chiara Mingarelli

Suspected Sentientist

Chiara is an astrophysicist who researches gravitational waves. She is an associate research scientist at the Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics and an assistant professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. She is also a science writer and communicator.

Chiara is a Humanist, implying she has a naturalistic epistemology. She is veg*an, implying she may have a sentiocentric moral scope.

Chiara on Wikipedia

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Add my name to the wall!

"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153
"I went vegan finally when I fell in love with one" - filmmaker & writer Jay Shapiro - Sentientism Episode 151
Should Effective Altruism Take Abolitionism More Seriously? - Dhruv Makwana - Sentientism Episode 150
"Vegan pets... They're enjoying their lives more & they're living longer" - Dr. Andrew Knight - Sentientism Episode 148
"Animal research... much harm with very little benefit" - Neuroscientist Dr Katherine Roe from PETA - Sentientism Episode 147
Bursting "The Reality Bubble" - Ziya Tong - Science Broadcaster & Author - Sentientism Episode 146
A US Constitution For All Sentient Beings - Maybe Sooner Than We Think? - Professor Michael Dorf - Sentientism Episode 145
“How do you find meaning in a universe that’s doomed?” - Astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack @AstroKatie - Sentientism Episode 144
"Why bad beliefs happen to good people" - Philosopher Neil Levy - Sentientism Episode 143
"Veterinarians are merchants of doubt for the animal agriculture industry" - Dr. Crystal Heath of Our Honor – Sentientism Episode 142
"All suffering matters morally" - Eva Hamer from Pax Fauna - Sentientism Episode 141
"Animal rights is a social justice issue now" - Fashion Activist Bel Jacobs- Sentientism Episode 140
"Who am I to take another's life?" - Paige Parsons Roache of UnchainedTV - Sentientism Episode 138
"What is it like to be another animal?" Lori Marino - Sentientism Episode 137
"Rationality comes with responsibility" - Kathy Hessler - Sentientism Episode 136
"The Creative Lives of Animals" - Author Carol Gigliotti - Sentientism Episode 135
"It just started to not make sense" ObjectivelyDan - Host of "Truth Wanted" Sentientism Episode 134
"I relate directly to other creatures - I don't need any belief system" - Karen Davis - United Poultry Concerns President - Sentientism Episode 133
Update: Sentientism Movement: Nov 2022
"I agree wholeheartedly with Sentientism" - A.C. Grayling - Humanist Philosopher & Author - Sentientism Episode 132
"Watching Earthlings hit me really hard" - Author Sandra Nomoto - Sentientism Episode 131
"The Animal Turn" podcast - challenges to Sentientism!
"What is compassion if it doesn't include all sentient beings?" - new YouTube conversation
Consumers can drive compassionate change - Ethos CEO Jill Ettinger - Sentientism Episode 130
Can Humanists and Atheists Break Free From Human Supremacism?
"We gotta make friends... that's the path to liberation" - DxE's Matt Johnson - Sentientism Episode 129
Knowing Animals and Vegan FTA! - talking about Sentientism
"It feels really good to be doing the right thing" - Alene Anello - Legal Impact for Chickens President & Founder - Sentientism Episode 128
"We need to transition [India]... the question is how?" - Economist Chaitanya Talreja - Sentientism Episode 127
"I've always identified with the 'Other'" - Adrian Tchaikovsky - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author - Sentientism Episode 126
"Religion is at the intersection of everything I care about" - YouTuber & Podcaster Emerson Green - Sentientism Episode 125
"People can't not eat free vegan food!" - Pearl Monique Cole Brunt - Sentientism Episode 124
"Let's make a world with less suffering today!" PETA president and founder Ingrid Newkirk - Sentientism Episode 123
From Dairy & Beef Farmer to Animal Activist - VeganFTA's Jackie Norman - Sentientism Episode 122
"Compassion is a boundless capacity" - Lisa Kemmerer - Sentientism Episode 121
"The Politics of Love" - Writer Philip McKibbin - Sentientism Episode 120
"I have this instinct to go to the underdog" - Ana Bradley - Sentient Media ED - Sentientism Episode 119
"You can definitely be a victim & a perpetrator" - Farm investigator Erin Wing - Sentientism Episode 118
"As people who are harmed - how can we possibly perpetrate harm?" - LoriKim Alexander - Sentientism Episode 116
Sentientist Economics - Nicolas Treich - Sentientism Episode 115
"Humility should underpin our efforts to understand" - Journalist Marina Bolotnikova - Sentientism Episode: 114
"We are reflective animals - which comes with responsibility" - Susana Monsó - Sentientism Episode: 113
"Ought flows from sentience" - neuropsychologist & "Hidden Spring" author Mark Solms - Sentientism Episode:112
"The basis of all value is sentience" - Steve Sapontzis Take #2 - Sentientism Episode:111
"Bringing individual animals into the frame " - Author & Ethnographer Kathryn Gillespie - Sentientism Episode 110
"Incorrect beliefs impact the lives of others" - Street Epistemologist Mark Solomon - Sentientism Episode 109
"The Weight of Empathy" - author Lucas Spiegel - Sentientism Episode 107
"There's a myth that we can't understand animals... if we listen, we can" - Adam Cardilini – Sentientism Episode 106
Imagine a politics based on evidence, reason and compassion. Magnus Vinding has done just that in: "Reasoned Politics"
"The world is going to get better for animals in our lifetime" - Species Podcast host Macken Murphy - Sentientism Episode 105
"Veganism is the secular manifestation of Ahimsa" - author Jordi Casamitjana - Sentientism Episode 104
"Humanism is just way too focused on one animal" - Philosopher Constantine Sandis - Sentientism Episode 103
Misinformation and conspiracism in the vegan movement - on Freedom of Species
Modes of Inquiry - Talking About Sentientism
"There's a caste angle to how animal cruelty works in India" - Karthik Pulugurtha - Fish Welfare Initiative - Sentientism Episode 101
"I am relentlessly naturalistic" - Barbara J. King - Animal Author & Advocate – Sentientism Episode 100!
"The right to a fair start in life" - Carter Dillard of Fair Start Movement - Sentientism Episode 99
"Wars start because someone gets annoyed." - Richard Firth-Godbehere - History of Emotion - Sentientism Episode 98
Why is it so hard to talk about meat?
"Sentientism Salon" - online event - hosted by the American Ethical Union
"It's the same fight regardless" - Ex-Mormon writer Coral Sands - Sentientism Episode 96
Clearer Thinking - about Sentientism!
"The Sustainable Development Goals Are All About Us Humans!" – Dr. Helen Kopnina - Sentientism Episode 95
Talking to Humanists About Non-Human Sentients
"Artificial Animals" - a fascinating essay by Claire L Evans referencing Sentientism
Let's create more effective, compasionate narratives - Writer Alex Lockwood - Sentientism Episode 94
"I believe in the abolition of cages - human & non-human" - Rachel Krantz, author of "Open"- Sentientism Episode 93
"Science denial is about identity, not facts" - Lee McIntyre - Sentientism Episode 92
"Learning can liberate" - Mary Pat Champeau - Institute for Humane Education - Sentientism Episode 91
"Farmers say they want to take care of their animals... let's give them that opportunity!" – David Michelson of YesOnIP13 - Sentientism Episode 90
Freedom of Species - Talking About Sentientism
How can Africa avoid industrialised animal farming? - Cameron King of Animal Advocacy Africa - Sentientism Episode 89
"Punk music was my gateway into politics & ethics" - Sociologist Nick Pendergrast - Sentientism Episode 88
"You CAN change other people!" - Howie Jacobson of Plant Yourself - Sentientism Episode 87
"There's not a huge difference between how we treat farmed animals & how we treat people - as resources" Nandita Bajaj of Population Balance - Sentientism Episode 86
Uncomfortable Conversations - Sentientism outreach! Two new podcast appearances
"If you have experienced suffering you're aware of its badness" - Philosopher Michael Huemer - Sentientism Episode 85
"Nobody likes hypocrisy but we're all hypocrites" - Dr. Brian Earp - Sentientism Ep:84
"If I can open my mind about veganism... I can do anything... it was so liberating" - Jamila Anahata from the Afro-Vegan Society - Sentientism Ep:83
"Al Gore didn't want to talk about it!" - Dr Sailesh Rao - Sentientist Conversations EP:82
"Ethical value flows from reality" - Pablo Perez Castello - Sentientist Conversation EP:81
"'I love what you do for me' - isn't love!" - Cat Besch - Vietnam Animal Aid & Rescue Founder - Sentientist Conversation - EP:79
American Humanist Association Publishes Article on Sentientism
"A whole new relationship with non human animals that will blow people’s minds!" Jonina Turzi - Sentientist Conversations ep:78
Rod Graham's "Being" - Interview on Sentientism
Update: Sentientism Movement: Oct 2021
Humanism will Evolve into Sentientism - Peter Tatchell - Sentientist Conversations ep:76
Why Should We Care About The Environment?
Should Stoics be vegan? - philosopher Massimo Pigliucci - Sentientist Conversation ep: 75
"Veganism, Sex and Politics... pleasure, not sacrifice!" - Author C Lou Hamilton - Sentientist Conversation
"Making Compassion Easier" - Tobias Leenaert - Author and meta-advocate - Sentientist Conversation
"Boom! - the entire world changed - everyone was questioning everything" - Mariann Sullivan - Sentientist Conversation
"What will you say to your grandkids?" - @Soytheist Aditya Prakash - Sentientist Conversation
Pineal Podcast - Sentientism and Spirituality
"Are Panpsychism, Veganism and Sentientism Compatible?" - A Sentientist Conversation with Philosopher Luke Roelofs
"We need to develop Mental Immunity against epidemics of nonsense" - Andy Norman - Sentientist Conversation
"Time has come for non-human animals to be globally protected in UN-iversal law" - Sabine Brels of the World Federation for Animals
"When I adopted a dog - my whole worldview shifted" - Aditya from Animal Ethics
"The conversation has to start with you" - Jenny Splitter - Journalist and SciMom Founder
"May all beings be happy & free from suffering" - Cebuan Bliss
"Animal farming will end by the end of this century" - Jacy Reese Anthis
"You cannot go wrong with compassion" - primatologist Frans de Waal - Sentientist Conversations
"That's moral progress - you have to interfere in things" - Philosopher Kyle Johannsen
"I'm positive about our future... I experienced the rapid change in my own views" - Lu Shegay - Institute of Animal Law of Asia - Sentientist Conversation
"Factory farming is a complete disaster" - Financial Times Journalist Henry Mance
"We don't need a god - we can do it ourselves" - Philosopher Richard Brown
"We are entropic eddies complex enough to have woken up" - Sci-Fi author Peter Watts
"We don't have to wait until the 24th century for a Star Trek future" - Christopher Sebastian - Sentientist Conversation
Suffering matters even if we didn't cause it - Heather Browning - from Zookeeper to Philosopher
"I would consider myself a Sentientist now" - Tennis pro Marcus Daniell
"Ending animal testing is a win-win for humans and animals" - Neurologist CEO Aysha Akhtar
"There is no us and them" - Yasmine Mohammed - Ex-Muslim Activist - New Sentientist Conversation
"Animal activists don't have to be on the political left" - Josh Milburn - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"I'm concerned with oppression in all its forms" - Joey Tuminello - New Sentientist Conversation
"Maybe moral systems are harmful! Like religion, they are used to divide us." - Walter Veit - New Sentientist Conversation
"Freedom, equality & avoiding harm to others" - Psychologist Kristof Dhont - New Sentientist Conversation
"The root of all evil is in thinking some suffering doesn't matter" - Jane Velez-Mitchell - Sentientist Conversation
"Children are much less speciesist than adults" - Psychological Researcher Matti Wilks - New Sentientist Conversation
"There is suffering - end it!" - Actress Victoria Hogan - New Sentientist Conversation episode on YouTube and Podcast
"We're at the beginning of a huge movement" - Author Julie Taylor - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"Morality isn't linked to religion" - Amy Wilson - Activist Lawyer - New Sentientist Conversation on Podcast and YouTube
"Compassion needs to be grounded in reality" - Jessica Pierce - Bioethicist and Author - Sentientist Conversation on YouTube and Podcast
"The Peppa Pig Paradox" - activist academic Lynda Korimboccus - New Sentientist Conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"Sentientism captures everything - it's future proof" - Michael Dello-Iacovo - New Sentientist Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"No judgement... just how do we solve this?" - Humane Educator Zoe Weil - New Conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"The Ocean is Alive" - Ocean Ecologist Glenn Edney - New Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"We can't understand humans without recognising that we're animals" - Dr. Diana Fleischman - New Sentientist Conversation
Our Hen House podcast: Sentientism Episode!
"Maybe the point of being is to be loving" - Comedian Myq Kaplan - New Sentientism YouTube & Podcast episode
What if we re-wrote the Sustainable Development Goals for all sentient beings? Sentientist Development Goals?
"Us humans are slow learners" - Kim Stallwood - author & scholar - New conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
An Introduction to Sentientism - on YouTube and podcast. "Talking to Humanists about other sentients"
From Human Rights to Sentient Rights: the next generation of rights thinking
"Every individual matters" - Marc Bekoff - New Conversation on Sentientism YouTube and Podcast
"If you hand most people a knife they won't stab a cow!" - John Oberg - New Sentientist Conversation
"Vet training reduces empathy for animals" - Vet Kevin Saldanha - New Sentientist Conversation
"Vegan stuff is going to be hot!" - Sociologist Corey Lee Wrenn - New Sentientist Conversation
"Change is possible but hard" - Jeff Sebo - Author, Activist, Academic - New Sentientist Conversation
"Imagining a better future through our everyday decisions" - Podcaster and academic Claudia Hirtenfelder - New Sentientist Conversation
Truth Wanted Live Call in Show - about Sentientism!
"Breeding into suffering is the root of the problem." - Sentient Media founder Mikko Järvenpää - New Sentientist Conversation
“A Fabulous Vegan Future!” - Jasmin Singer - New Sentientist Conversation
"How can I have been morally asleep for so long?" - Prof Randall Abate - New Sentientist Conversation
“De-centring the human” - New Sentientist Conversation with Josh Gellers. Also Happy New Year!
"Diverse sentients could live in mutual symbiosis" Graham Bessellieu - New Sentientist Conversation
"Being in balance with ourselves and the rest of the living world" - Author Gill Coombs - New Sentientist Conversation
"How can we do the most good for non-human animals?"- Jamie Harris - Animal Advocacy Careers co-founder & Sentience Institute Researcher - New Sentientist Conversation
"Let's end humanity's war on the rest of the planet" - Better Meat CEO & Animal Rights Hall of Famer Paul Shapiro - New Sentientist Conversation
"Humans might one day need to beg AIs for our sentient rights" - AI expert Roman Yampolskiy - New Sentientist Conversation
"As a Vet I Felt Helpless" - Vicky Bond, Humane League UK Managing Director - New Sentientist Conversations Video
"No victim, no problem!" - New Sentientist Conversation video with philosopher Floris van den Berg
"We'll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric" - New Sentientist Conversation video with campaigner CEO Naomi Smith
"Compassion alone is not enough - we need to systematise benevolence": David Pearce Video #Sentientist Conversation
From Devout Pentecostalist Sunday School Teacher to Sentientist Academic and Author - John Adenitire - New Sentientist Conversations Video
Drop the Retribution: Sentientist Justice
Update on the Sentientism "Movement" (if that's what it is)...
"My enemy, which I will destroy, is arbitrariness!" New Sentientist Conversation with Stijn Bruers
We Have a Sentientism Podcast!
"The aim is to convince 8 billion people to use evidence & reason & extend universal compassion to all sentient beings, thereby solving all the world's problems." New podcast interview!
"Do you want a habitable planet for your children?" A Sentientist Conversation with Zion Lights
Sentientist Conversations: Dr. Joe Wills
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"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153

Ashley Byrne is Director of Outreach for PETA. A conversation about Sentientism's "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings".

"Just dive in and meet people where they're at" - Ashley Byrne - PETA Outreach Director - Sentientism Episode 153

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Ashley is Director of Outreach for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She has led a broad range of PETA’s campaigns and has been interviewed about her work to promote animal rights by the LA Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and in many other publications.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:33 Ashley Intro

  • 16 years at #PETA: public campaigns, celebrities… "enjoying every minute of it"

03:18 What Matters

  • #ChristianScience "there was never a divide… this is science & this is god… a lot of spirituality"
  • (see risks re: prayer vs. medicine)
  • Father "a non-practising Catholic… not a religious person but was very supportive of… that part of my mother's life"
  • Personal relationship with god "connect directly with this spiritual part of your life"
  • More a spiritual, all-pervasive god than a "judgemental, human figure"
  • Rejecting "we judge everything based on a human worldview"
  • Universally accessible rather than in/out-group based
  • "Not telling you what to do"
  • Religious vs. scientific views of reality "It never occurred to me that those things could be incompatible"
  • Spiritual rather than literal interpretation of the #bible
  • "#spiritually I really still do identify with these ideas & these values"
  • "Macro spiritual concepts of love… that bring us out of what's right in front of us"
  • "Isn't so much of science trying to go bigger & deeper"
  • Science that we don't yet understand that can sometimes be anticipated by mystical/spiritual thinking
  • Ontological (what's real?) & epistemological (how should we work it out?) naturalism
  • Risks of wishful thinking
  • #faith vs. #naturalism "I'm the latter… the evidence"
  • Is there evidence that would lead you to reject Christian Science? "it's more of a spiritual practice"
  • "#spirituality … it is a scientific pursuit… our ideas of science are too limited"
  • Risks of dogma / harmful & discriminatory ethics in religious/supernatural worldviews
  • "If you have an ethical question about the world you should be going back & working it out with these spiritual tools"
  • Growing up in #losangeles
  • One 8th grade term in a Southern #Baptist school "pamphlets in the office that told you why every other religion in the world was wrong & sinful - mine was in there"
  • "You're going to hell!"
  • "I was constantly being told 'be quiet, sit down, stop asking questions'… I remember the word 'obey' was used a lot"… "I didn't get it… why can't you answer these questions?"
  • The #trauma caused by religious beliefs (e.g. threat of hell)
  • Secularism & kids learning about multilple worldviews

41:08 What Matters?

  • "My parents really laid the foundation… for my sense of ethics… each coming from their own respective backgrounds… two extremely ethical, thoughtful, kind, intelligent people."
  • You don't need an old book to be a good person… universal goods
  • "Goodness is something more primal than that [#divinecommandtheory]"

45:30 Who Matters?

  • "I grew up in an animal loving household… unquestionably family members"
  • The family dog: "She loved me and I loved her"
  • "There was never any idea that these weren't individuals"
  • At a few years old "why is this called chicken… if the animals are called chicken?"… "There was this pause… like when someone at school said 'Santa Claus isn't real?'"
  • Mum had once been #vegetarian. Dad was "red meat & potatoes"
  • "When they told me that meat was made of animals I was not happy"
  • Thinking as a teen, but then drifting back to the social default
  • Imagining humane farms & "there must be something different about these animals that we're eating"
  • "We [good people] wouldn't be doing this if chickens felt pain… if it was cruel & violent & wrong"
  • Asking a Sunday school teacher about "Thou shalt not kill" vs. eating animals… "take that back… & address it spiritually… figure it out… so I did."
  • Seeing horrific footage in "Faces of Death" that "changed my entire life on the spot"
  • "I knew that the footage of animals was real because I knew that they didn't need to fake that"
  • "The worst thing I had ever seen… the level of devastation"
  • Cultural differences re: #dogmeat vs. other animals
  • “There’s no scientific reason why it’s wrong to eat a dog but OK to eat a chicken – it’s entirely cultural”
  • “I can’t accept that this is OK… I guess that means it’s not OK to kill & eat any of these animals… & that’s when it stopped”
  • “What we do to animals… it’s horrifying”
  • Mum gave Ashley “Diet For a New America” book
  • Learning about eggs, dairy & wider animal exploitation: “Dammit… I’m going to have to go vegan”
  • “The punk scene was integral to educating me about these things.” Vegan bands and animal advocacy zines
  • Previous guests: Nick Pendergrast (not Paul – sorry!), Kristof Dhont
  • “In the punk community it was absolutely supported”
  • Rebelling against classic teenage forms of “rebellion”
  • “Our default should be that everyone matters… to care & to respect”
  • Sentience vs. intelligence
  • “Sentience should help us guide how we can do the least amount of harm”
  • “A rock & a pig are very different”
  • Destroying nature – “you’re in an ecosystem that does impact sentient beings”
  • “There’s this impulse… ‘what can we not care about?’ Shouldn’t the default be the other way?”

01:16:33 How Can We Make A Better Future?

  • “The whole of my work is dedicated to that [making a better world]”
  • “Just caring more… and acting on it… not ‘what’s the most I can get away with?’”
  • We’re not living on a desert island with a chicken… “we’re living in this modern world where we just have an abundance of choices”
  • The power of improving human worldviews
  • Win-wins
  • Changing minds & institutions
  • Many kinds of activism “what brings one person around is not the same as what will bring another person around… PETA is a great example of this”
  • Changing legislation, corporations, cultural change, habits, ideas, thoughts “how people think about animals”
  • “How do you change cultural thought?”
  • Demonstrations that “people cannot walk past”, making headlines, “reaching people where they are”, social media, whistleblowers, veganism, lobbying
  • “You can’t give problems without solutions… here’s the problem & here’s the action”
  • Corporate vegan options
  • Previous guest Ingrid Newkirk (PETA founder & president)
  • Criticisms of PETA: corporatisation of philanthropy (vs. grass roots), feminist critiques, shock tactics
  • “I am absolutely a feminist… Riot Girl is how I entered the punk scene” after experiencing the sexism of the Southern Baptist school
  • “Respecting people’s autonomy… decisions about their bodies & their lives… something humans constantly deny animals”
  • “If I choose to take part in a protest… with my clothes off… that’s entirely my decision… I’m standing up for animals.”
  • “bodily putting myself out there for animals who have no choices about their bodies”
  • “It’s interesting how often the media will take a photo of that protest & cut out the men… & what people choose to share on social media”
  • Animal exploitation industries are marketing to people in this way “it’s very subversive that we take this imagery & we use it to unmarket – to tear down this facade”
  • “Now that we have your attention we are going to debunk”
  • “Meeting people where they are and making use of things that people already respond to – that is what some people need”
  • Dress Vegan: People think that veganism is a diet “so it’s interesting to talk about something that clearly isn’t food”
  • “There is a demand for vegan fashion”… vegan leather shoes, down alternative jackets
  • Smaller brands often have some ethical motivation. The big brands “aren’t doing it to be nice… there’s a demand”
  • “Individual choices do matter… it’s happening because people demanded it, asked for it, bought it, supported it… I think it’s empowering to think about that”
  • “If you’re funding a terrible system unnecessarily, then stop!”
  • Arguments from futility, ineffectiveness
  • “The system wants you to believe you’re powerless… Put more stock in your ability to make a difference”
  • “You just dive in – you get your hands dirty”
  • “It’s almost as if people don’t realise they have the agency to act!… they’re almost waiting for someone to give them permission”
  • Helping free ranging animals in New York
  • “You’re allowed… you don’t need anyone to give you permission to do the right thing”
  • JW: “If everybody sits at home waiting for collective action & systemic change to solve the problem – there isn’t going to be any collective action or systemic change”
  • “The solution is – you act!”

01:44:00 Following Ashley:

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.


"I went vegan finally when I fell in love with one" - filmmaker & writer Jay Shapiro - Sentientism Episode 151

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Jay is an award winning filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. He directed Islam and the Future of Tolerance, a film based around a conversation between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. He produces and creates a wide range of content, writes on his “What Jay Thinks” blog & hosts the Dilemma podcast (some co-hosted with Coleman Hughes). I had the pleasure of being his guest for a Dilemma Hangout on Sentientism back in 2020.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:54 Jay Intro

  • The Essential #samharris series
  • Documentary & narrative film-making
  • "I really want to understand ideas… and transmit those to an audience… even if I totally disagree with the idea"

03:16 What's Real?

  • Growing up in a secular #Jewish household
  • "Post-holocaust American judaism is it's own brand… a very ethical & political tribe more than a religious one"
  • "'Never again' becomes the holiest prayer"
  • Psychologist dad, guidance counsellor mum
  • "I'm a boring naturalist but… I love analogies for what it feels like to exist"
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five "Oh… This is what I like"
  • An over-active imagination as a kid… "my scientists", The Truman Show, solipsism, Philip K Dick & #scifi
  • #Meditation, #psychedelics, religious experiences… "scrambles the dials"
  • Donald Hoffman's "The Case Against Reality"
  • How evolution shapes our construction of experiences of reality
  • Psychedelics help us "catch it in the act" of reality construction
  • "There's much more out there" e.g. non-human sentient experiences
  • "It reminds you of the expansiveness of reality rather than show you a new one"
  • The National High School Ethics Bowl
  • Anil Seth's "How your brain hallucinates reality" @TED
  • Annaka Harris's exploration of consciousness theories re: "The Hard Question"
  • "Reality is awesome enough - who needs magic" (I mis-spoke!)
  • Epistemological tests?: atheism, veganism, spherical earth…
  • Writing about Sam Harris, not for him
  • Object-oriented ontology
  • #psychology "I don't think we're the rational animal… we're the rationalising animal"
  • How people respond to #cognitivedissonance (Leon Festinger) "they really don't like it"
  • Criticising #consequentialism "you can justify anything… wait long enough and the consequences will work out… where do you stop the clock… too easy to find an out"
  • #Virtueethics "Secular virtue" (vs. religious views of virtue)
  • What happens after noticing the cognitive dissonance. More about psychology & values more than epistemology?
  • Coping mechanisms. Consequentialism, capitalism, economics… give people outs to "quiet these voices in their heads"
  • Neil Levy "people are more rational than you think"
  • Qanon, Goop products… everyone selects evidence/sources to suit themselves
  • Believing unfounded things can be a "rational" response to existential crises / the discomfort of cognitive dissonance

37:45 What Matters?

  • "There is no grounding (to ethics)"
  • David Hume's "unbreachable" is-ought chasm
  • "If you hate Sam (Harris) I think you'll like a lot of what I do there" (the Foundations of Morality episode of The Essential Sam Harris
  • There is a relationship between is and ought but "It's up to us to define that relationship"
  • "My bridge": Carl Sagan's "We are a way for the universe to know itself"
  • "I'm super humanistic… I bristle at the efforts… to downgrade the human as just another animal"
  • We have the "moral opportunity" to figure things out & decide what we ought to do
  • "Luckily there's a lot of joy & fun in figuring it out… and some sadness… it's the only game in town… so I'm playing"
  • "I'm trying to champion the human" & David Deutsch re: creation of explanations/knowledge
  • "Experience must be the only way to see the bridge across is-ought"
  • Moral agency & patiency
  • Compassion as a moral opportunity
  • Cultivated meat: Is there a risk of easy solutions that don't require humans to be better? Would we be missing a moral opportunity? What future horrors might we create?
  • A future where everyone is #vegan so "we don't even need the word any more"
  • The value of sacrifice?

58:50 Who Matters?

  • “I went vegan finally when I fell in love with someone who was a vegan – and now she’s my wife”
  • “I know what it feels like to agree with the arguments about animal suffering… I can remember what it feels like… to participate in a system that I now think is incredibly evil and harmful… and it feels like nothing… the banality of evil… but cognitive dissonance sucks.”
  • The “I’m waiting for clean meat” and “I die if I eat vegan” / “I have no choice” responses (e.g. Sam Harris, Paul Bloom) and “it’s normal”
  • The hope in realising people still feel cognitive dissonance
  • Consistency & coherence… eating dogs and babies?
  • How responding to cognitive dissonance can warp ethics (“they don’t matter”) and epistemology (believing things that are wrong)
  • “My wife is the person who saw a video and was like ‘I can’t participate any more this is too horrible’ and changed her behaviour”
  • “Most people are more like me – it’s hard for us – we just don’t face it”
  • “I was living the [meat] paradox – but I do remember it felt like nothing”
  • “The arguments themselves don’t carry the day”… humility
  • Falling in love, going vegan, falling in love with cooking
  • “My veganism was easier than hers – 15 years earlier”
  • Anthropocentrism, sentiocentrism, biocentrism, ecocentrism
  • The social norm determinants of how humans morally evaluate different non-humans (e.g. horrified at eating dogs but OK with eating pigs) “I must have been one of those people!”
  • Jared Piazza, Brock Bastian, Rob Percival re: “The Meat Paradox” and Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”
  • Jay’s experience of his dad’s death: “you don’t have to wait ‘til they die – it was a missed opportunity… don’t wait!”
  • Moral opportunities… finding “better ways to live”
  • “[non-human] animals don’t tend to struggle with cognitive dissonance”
  • The naturalistic fallacy and the “necessary” argument… “A failure to embrace the transcendent nature of human knowledge creation… to question who we are… to engineer ourselves away from, if we want to, evolution.”
  • Jay’s “Two Burgers on a Plate” article
  • Sentientism’s ethical pluralism (deontology, utility, feminist care, virtue…)
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Thomas Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?”
  • Solipsism
  • “With your definition of Sentientism – sign me up”
  • Dan Dennett
  • Integrated Information Theory IIT Tononi et al
  • Imagining a consciousness/sentience detector “would people still eat lamb?”
  • Can non-human animals do art? Second order thinking “most people would not want to eat that animal”
  • “I don’t think animals are on the same level… I don’t think a lion… is wondering if it should be going plant-based”
  • Carol Gigliotti’s “The Creative Lives of Animals”… play, love
  • Frans de Waal & animals’ complex inner lives
  • “I’m actually optimistic”

01:50:49 How Can We Make A Better Future?

  • The Direct Action Everywhere right to rescue cases: if rescuing a dog from a hot car is illegal – so should rescuing animals from farms
  • Rescuing Lily and Lizzie from Smithfield farms in Utah and being charged with felony burglary – then being acquitted
  • Jay’s film project about the case & visiting Lily & Lizzie in a sanctuary
  • Luna makes an appearance
  • “given the choice humans don’t want to really do this”
  • Imagining streaming live camera footage from slaughterhouses “My optimism is… it still bothers people”
  • “We all know veganism is getting easier… the argument of necessity will be absurd”
  • The flawed argument that “In the global capitalist consequentialist socioeconomic system… the greater good always works out…”
  • Filming DxE protesting a rodeo… “people were upset… there’s some optimism in the anger… kids were just curious”
  • Jay’s wife “it’s wrong – why don’t they just stop?”… “Most people have trouble just stopping”
  • Sentientism puts intra-human and intra-species ethics “all on the same page”
  • Religion and politics re: intra-human ethics. Re: non-human ethics it’s more culture?
  • “I want to reinvigorate faith in the human capacity for love and compassion and for change”
  • There’s a mismatch between “a better future” (consequentialism?) and “a good individual life” (virtue?) today. 8 billion people can’t live the way that’s currently thought of
  • “We want to think of ourselves as good people… and doing something worthwhile” – integrity
  • “Easy” tech fixes: horseless carts and cultivated meat
  • Personal choices, political campaigns, donating to causes, influencing others, inventing new products, changing the market
  • “Go try to watch an animal cruelty video and see if it bothers you… take an evidence-based approach… ask yourself and wonder… is that integrity?”
  • An examined life. We have the capacity to address our cognitive dissonance
  • “Catch yourself in the act…” of reacting to cognitive dissonance “taking the exit”
  • If you wait for the easy tech fix you’ve missed a moral opportunity “We all face the opportunities that come along”
  • “Believe me, Sam, you can be healthy”
  • “You realise how fun it can be and how lovely it is to feel the integrity grow in yourself… and you can probably do others… that’s human”
  • “Or fall in love with a vegan” 😊

Following Jay:

  • Leaving social media (as has Sam Harris – same deal)
  • The Essential Sam Harris series

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.


Should Effective Altruism Take Abolitionism More Seriously? - Dhruv Makwana - Sentientism Episode 150

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Dhruv is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge. He has interests in psychology, philosophy and animal advocacy.

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio is on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:

00:00 Welcome
01:33 Dhruv Intro
02:25 What's Real?

  • Born in India, moving to Scotland "A mix of two cultures"
  • Hindu temple at home, outside was "classic western materialism, science…"
  • @OfficialDerrenBrown 's "Tricks of the Mind". Magic, charlatanism, #homeopathy , #religion, #GMO scepticism (e.g. Golden Rice)
  • Reading Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" at 12 yrs old
  • Finding school academically easy but socially hard "immigrant children willl know… feeling like half and half and the halves don't really mix"
  • Culturally universal values: "There was this value of transcendence that was just missing… it would be really nice if god was real… I switched back and forth"
  • Celebrating #diwali when visiting India "I could see the appeal… but I couldn't see any reason or logic"
  • "It's not like the western materialists have any really great answers on how to live…"
  • Experiencing clinical #depression at Cambridge University
  • Discovering #stoicism & #nietzsche "a very positive nihilism"
  • The @philosophizethispodcast and @theschooloflifetv "self-directed, exploratory learning"
  • Existentialism "I couldn't really follow the continental philosophers". Camus' "The Plague" made more sense during #covid19
  • A personal situation "which just did not seem amenable to being logiced out of"
  • A talk by @akalamusic
  • Going back to Indian religion & philosophy "there might be something here"
  • Reading the #mahabharata to understand the context for the #bhagavadgita
  • #arjuna , #krishna roles & responsibilities "why should I act if the fruits of my acts are not my own?"
  • Encountering #buddhism Graham Priest's "Paraconsistent logics"
  • 2 weeks at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland "everyone had their own story… so much suffering… worse than mine"
  • Values of patience, generosity, loving
  • Practising #meditation & #mindfulness
  • "Let me just try things that seem to work"
  • The wisdom of hunter-gatherer cultures
  • Not dismissing or reifying any culture
  • "I accidentally moved to New Zealand"
  • Going #vegan (after growing up #vegetarian ) mainly for environmental reasons
  • Trying vegan pizza "this is fine"
  • @SimonAmstellNumb 's #Carnage documentary
  • @ed.winters Watching #EarthlingEd
  • Ethical & epistemological journeys developing in parallel
  • Meeting an activist community
  • Reading Peter Singer's "The Life You Can Save" and #effectivealtruism
  • Sam Harris' "Waking Up"
  • Identity & Derek Parfit
  • Physicist Carlo Rovelli's "The Order of Time" & intepretations of quantum physics
  • "I have 4 extremely diverse points of view pointing to this very strange thing about notions of identity… the Buddha takes things one step further… this is one of the reasons you're upset"
  • "Being troubled by open metaphysical questions is not because you don't have an answer… it's because you expect the answer"
  • A local #yoga group
  • "I stopped being bothered by these big existential questions"
  • Exploring from the outside & the inside (e.g. via meditation)
  • Cravings & suffering
  • Philosophy of mind: functionalism, materialism, #illusionism , #panpsychism
  • #dualism & non-dualism
  • Are fictional characters "real"?
  • Time as an abstraction of a gradient of #entropy
  • The movie "Tenet"
  • Consciousness as a statistical macro-phenomena?
  • P-zombies
  • #bayesian epistemology vs. Deutschian / Popper #CriticalRationality: putting reasons & explanation at the foundational level
  • St. Petersburg Paradox

53:00 Who & What Matters?

  • Inconsistency arguments re: moral exclusion
  • "Consistency seems like a good thing to aim for"
  • "Clearly animals count"
  • Kinship & transcendence "they are literally related"
  • "I use sentience… a fuzzy line"
  • Artificial or alien sentience
  • Plant sentience?
  • Blamelessness if we're making good faith efforts to attribute sentience
  • Risks of ethical flattening if consciousness is all-pervasive "everything matters so nothing does"
  • Buddhism's "ultimate reality & relative reality"
  • Pain vs. suffering & human capacity to mitigate suffering even when experiencing pain

01:03:03 A Better Future?

  • Criticisms of #effectivealtruism
  • Welfarism vs. abolitionism… end goals and tactics
  • #Greenwashing & #Humanewashing
  • Jeff Sebo and the psychological intuition re: rights
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Ex-vegans: “something leads them to eat some animal products and then their moral opinions change… that seems suspicious”
  • Not just ending animal exploitation but preventing it re-emerging
  • The wild animal suffering imperative
  • Welfarism is “unnecessary… and risky”
  • Logic of the larder, the myth of death without suffering, the intrinsic wrongness of killing?
  • “I believe in person-affecting views but I don’t believe in persons”
  • Individuals as “macro-phenomena”
  • Is existence better than non-existence?
  • “In the EA animal advocacy community it seems like people have said yes to welfarist approaches and no to abolitionist approaches (as tactics) – my conjecture is that… it should be ‘unknown’ to abolitionist approaches rather than ‘no’”
  • The limitations of welfarist tactics: high income countries focus (now changing); cultivated-meat optimism (also changing); over-scepticism about individual change advocacy (esp. elimination / veganism)
  • Reducetarianism: “More people will respond to the ‘reduce’ but they’ll do it by less – whereas fewer people will respond to the ‘eliminate’ but they’ll do it by more”
  • Outdated unfortunate caricatures of abolitionists
  • Risk of excuses & dead ends: reduction, “humane” animal farming…
  • Ideas for effective abolitionism: international rights based approaches to animal law (a Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights?); animal farm transitions;
  • “At some point all the pieces need to come together”
  • #transfarmation “one of my favourite ideas… often farmers are trapped in this industry” “There’s a win-win situation for everyone involved”
  • Economically self-sustaining interventions
  • Institutional land-holdings re: agriculture
  • Measuring human welfare via QUALYs and DALYs “well-intentioned but empirically and philosophically terrible”
  • Objective list theory
  • Biases re: loss and getting used to good or bad changes e.g. returning to hedonic set-points
  • A better approach: “I could ask you”
  • Happier Lives Institute “how bad is death and who is it bad for?”
  • Could helping people cope with suffering be an excuse for not fixing the problems (e.g. poverty, health) causing their suffering?
  • Trauma, stress and growth
  • Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics “Economies that are required to grow regardless of whether or not they make people thrive… we should be aiming for economies that make people thrive whether or not they grow”
  • The risks of environmentalism and degrowth movements “I’m comfortable, now everyone else needs to stop growing and find a different way to be happy”
  • Working with communities
  • Low-cost group therapy as an intervention can be highly cost effective “That’s a very surprising result… so illuminating… something that only the Effective Altruism movement could have produced”
  • The wellbeing and economic arguments for helping people suffering from depression “great if you care about the people but also great if you just care about the money”
  • Population life satisfaction as an indicator of whether a politician will get re-elected
  • Psychedelics and meditation “the science really needs to catch up” “clinicians will need to be able to take an ontologically neutral point of view” (re: seeing fairies, for examples)
  • Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium
  • “I had no idea if that was working… but it did make me feel better”
  • “You need a really finely tuned bullshit detector”
  • The Aurelius Foundation, stoicism and previous guest Massimo Pigliucci

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Tarabella and Denise for helping to fund this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.