What is reasonable to ask of people?

Question: What is reasonable to ask of people?


Ingrid Newkirk: Well the sky may be falling, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some things that are within your control. And to me the important thing is that you take a step, any step. Don’t just stop at a step. Think, “What else can I do now?” and keep going. Walk the walk of caring about yourself, the earth, the animals, the whole nine yards. But if you know; the first thing is to become informed. Because if you don’t really know what’s going on, and people say, “Oh don’t show me. I like my steak.” But really you owe it to yourself as an intelligent being to find out what are the facts, and then you can make an informed decision.

And I believe that unless you’re Attila the Hun, that when somebody shows you facts, for example, about what happens to animals in the circus, you may decide you’re going to go to Cirque de Soleil where all the performers are paid, they get to go home at the end of the day and be with their family. You may make that informed decision. You may do nothing else that helps animals. Or you might decide then to open up your eyes, go to PETA.org for example, read “Making Kind Choices”. Go to GoVeg.com, learn something. Look at a film, get a fact, and then think to yourself, “Hmm, there is something else I can do,” and you might want to do it.

So it’s in every pursuit you have an opportunity to contribute to the sum total of happiness, or at least to reduce the sum total of misery. So no one is the Buddha. No one is Gandhi. And I’m not even sure Gandhi was Gandhi. The stories come out about what Gandhi did now and then. But we can all just as fallible human beings start to think about what we’re doing and make choices that we may end up actually liking better.


Recorded on: November 12, 2007


The sky may be falling, but there is no reason not to change your consumption habits to help the environment, Newkirk says.

To the very beginning: going back in time with Steven Weinberg (Part 2)

What was the universe like one-trillionth of a second after the Big Bang? Science has an answer.

Credit: gonin via Adobe Stock
  • Following Steven Weinberg's lead, we plunge further back into cosmic history, beyond the formation of atomic nuclei.
  • Today, we discuss the origin of the quark-gluon plasma and the properties of the famous Higgs boson, the "God Particle."
  • Is there a limit? How far can we go back in time?
Keep reading Show less

Surprisingly modern lessons from classic Russian literature

Though gloomy and dense, Russian literature is hauntingly beautiful, offering a relentlessly persistent inquiry into the human experience.

Credit: George Cerny via Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Russian literature has a knack for precisely capturing and describing the human condition.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are among the greatest writers who ever lived.
  • If you want to be a wiser person, spend time with the great Russian novelists.
Keep reading Show less

3,000-pound Triceratops skull unearthed in South Dakota

"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.

Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College
Surprising Science
  • The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
  • It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
  • Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Keep reading Show less

Do we still need math?

We spend much of our early years learning arithmetic and algebra. What's the use?

Credit: Antoine Dautry via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • For the average person, math seems to play little to no role in their day-to-day life.
  • But, the fanciest gadgets and technologies are all heavily reliant on mathematics.
  • Without advanced (and often obscure) mathematics, modern society would not be possible.
Keep reading Show less