5 perfect things Jane Goodall told Reddit about hope, work, and Bigfoot.

On Sept. 13, Jane Goodall held a Reddit Ask Me Anything, or AMA, session.

The question-and-answer session gave the internet a chance to pick the famous anthropologist's brain. Goodall is a world-famous primatologist and conservationist, and her work with chimpanzees in Tanzania — not to mention her activism and remarkable common sense — has earned her a ton of fans, including bigwigs like John Oliver and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Goodall hosted the Reddit event in part to promote her new online class about animal intelligence and environmental action.


Goodall at a German zoo in 2004. Photo from Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Images.

Between questions about whether she has pets (no, she travels too much) or if she believes in Bigfoot (she's open to the idea), Goodall spoke openly about her life, her work, and humanity's future.

The entire discussion is worth a read, but if you can't set aside enough time to read all 3,684 (and counting!) comments, here are five big points from Goodall's AMA that are worth checking out.

1. Hard work can defy even the most ardent critics.

Ever since she was young, Goodall says, she wanted to go to Africa and study animals. A lot of people laughed at her.

"They told me girl students cannot do that," she said. "But I had a wonderful mother who had supported my love of animals ever since I was born, and she said to me if you really want to do this, then you’re going to have to work very hard and take advantage of opportunity.”

Screenshot via Reddit.

Today, Goodall — a world-renowned scholar, conservationist, and peacemaker — is an example to others of just how far hard work can take you.

2. Animals are more human than we give them credit for.

When asked how she wanted to world to see her work, Goodall said she'd like to be remembered as the person who encouraged humans to consider the animal mind — which we didn't do much before the mid-1960s.

Screenshot via Reddit.

Goodall's time with the chimps at Gombe National Park revealed their great intelligence and emotional range. From watching an older male adopt an orphaned baby to seeing chimps wage bloody war against each other, the scenes Goodall documented changed how we thought about the animal mind.

Goodall says she hopes we continue to explore the field of animal intelligence well into the future. After all, there's still a lot to find out.

3. In case you didn't know, Doctor Dolittle books are pretty awesome.

Screenshot via Reddit.

OK, so maybe this isn't world-shattering, but anyone who's read them knows it's true. Doctor Doolittle was the main character in a series of children's books in the 1920s about an English doctor and naturalist who can speak to animals and spends his days helping and studying them.

In other questions, Goodall  shared other personal facts, like her favorite color (green, although she's fond of blues as well), some of her favorite music (classical and Michael Jackson), and an appreciation for a certain Far Side cartoon.

4. There are plenty of actions we can take to help protect both animals and the planet.

Screenshot via Reddit.

Over the course of several questions, Goodall listed a variety of ways people can help, from spreading awareness and getting involved in local efforts, to raising funds, to even simple things like changing what we buy and what we eat (Goodall is a cheese-eating vegetarian, she says).

Goodall says she's seen firsthand what happens when people change. One of the things she says she's most proud of is helping empower local Africans to save their national park, transforming it from a green island barely holding on into a national treasure.

5. Finally, while the world might seem dark sometimes, she still thinks we'll reach our true human potential together.

"As we look at what is happening in the world today, it is very, very grim," said Goodall. So much seems to be going wrong all at once, people feel helpless. They give up.

But Goodall isn't ready to give up. "I have reasons for hope," she says.

Screenshot via Reddit.

Young people have been empowered and fired up to take action. Clean energy is on the rise. Social media, harnessed for good, can unite billions of people for a cause and change politics. And, finally, there's always the human spirit.

“Only when the head and heart work in harmony can we reach our true human potential," said Goodall. "And this, I believe, is to come.”

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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