‘All Great Truths Begin as Blasphemies’

Published by PETA.

Today would be the 156th birthday of George Bernard Shaw (“Bernard” to his friends), which is an occasion worth noting. If you’re not familiar with the work of this independent-minded Irish playwright and provocateur, you’re missing out. Shaw managed to speak truth to power with such humor, clarity, and intelligence that the powerful ended up laughing with him, not at him.

We aim to do something similar here at The PETA Files, so we’re sure that Bernard—a vegetarian and an opponent of experimentation on animals—would have felt right at home here. Sadly, that can’t happen, so instead, we’ll share a few quotations from Shaw that still resonate with animal rights advocates today:

  • “Why should you call me to account for eating decently? If I battened on the scorched corpses of animals, you might well ask me why I did that.”
  • “If you cannot attain to knowledge without torturing a dog, you must do without knowledge.”
  • “A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.”
  • “When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport: when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity.”
  • “All great truths begin as blasphemies.”
  • “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
  • “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
  • “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”
  • “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”


Are you a dedicated Shavian? You can support a cause near and dear to the great man’s heart by supporting PETA’s work to make the world a kinder and fairer place for animals.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind