Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson
I don't know if people will ever be able to talk to animals the way Doctor Doolittle could, or whether animals will be able to talk back. Maybe science will have something to say about that. But I do know people can learn to "talk" to animals, and to hear what animals have to say, better than they do now. --From Animals in TranslationWhy would a cow lick a tractor? Why are collies getting dumber? Why do dolphins sometimes kill for fun? How can a parrot learn to spell? How did wolves teach man to evolve? Temple Grandin draws upon a long, distinguished career as an animal scientist and her own experiences with autism to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals act, think, and feel. She has a perspective like that of no other expert in the field, which allows her to offer unparalleled observations and groundbreaking ideas.People with autism can often think the way animals think, putting them in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." Grandin is a faithful guide into their world, exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and, yes, even animal genius. The sweep of Animals in Translation is immense and will forever change the way we think about animals.*includes a Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide Among its provocative ideas, the book:argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness--and that animals do have consciousness applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity" to animals, showing that animals and autistic people are so sensitive to detail that they "can't see the forest for the trees"--a talent as well as a "deficit" explores the "interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, leaving people blind to much of the reality that surrounds them--a reality animals and autistic people see, sometimes all too clearlyexplains how animals have "superhuman" skills: animals have animal geniuscompares animals to autistic savants, declaring that animals may in fact be autistic savants, with special forms of genius that normal people do not possess and sometimes cannot even see examines how humans and animals use their emotions to think, to decide, and even to predict the future reveals the remarkable abilities of handicapped people and animals maintains that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is to make it feel afraid


Reviewed: 2016-06-05
This is an interesting and insightful look at some of the ways in which animals think, it made me think about the treatment of animals and how I could help make things better.

It advocates looking at things from an animals perspective and thinking about how to make their lives easier. It includes things like how to train our domestic friends how to tolerate children and the new and how to notice if there are issues. It's interesting to see how Temple herself can see this because of her autism. She seems to have a way into thinking like an animal because of it but a way into talking to other people about it as well. I particularly enjoyed the stories of the parrot Arthur, who died recently, and how she has managed to think her way through the ways in which animals really think instead of trying to understand them on a human level.

It's well worth reading, particularly if you have a pet or plan to have one, or just want a different perspective on animals.
Reviewed: 2014-04-04

I was expecting more autism and less animals, but I learned some things about animals that I never knew. Also some intriguing references to studies with animals, like research on prairie dog language that has revealed the critters use nouns, verbs, and adjectives! This is the drawback of having the audiobook but not the real text: very difficult to track these interesting tidbits for future reading.

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