Adam Cardilini headshot

“There’s a myth that we can’t understand animals… if we listen, we can” – Adam Cardilini – Sentientism Episode 106

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

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?”

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” In addition to the video above the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple and here elsewhere.

We discuss:
00:00 Welcome

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
  • “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)
  • Bio/ecocentrism
  • 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

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Thanks Graham for the post-production.

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