ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Temple Grandin, Author, Catherine Johnson, Author . Scribner $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4769-6

Philosophers and scientists have long wondered what goes on in the minds of animals, and this fascinating study gives a wealth of illuminating insights into that mystery. Grandin, an animal behavior expert specializing in the design of humane slaughter systems, is autistic, and she contends that animals resemble autistic people in that they think visually rather than linguistically and perceive the world as a jumble of mesmerizing details rather than a coherent whole. Animals—cows, say, on their way through a chute—are thus easily spooked by novelties that humans see as trivialities, such as high-pitched noises, drafts and dangling clothes. Other animals accomplish feats of obsessive concentration; squirrels really do remember where each acorn is buried. The portrait she paints of the mammalian mind is both alien and familiar; she shows that beasts are capable of sadistic cruelty, remorse, superstition and surprising discernment (in one experiment, pigeons were taught to distinguish between early period Picasso and Monet). Grandin (Thinking in Pictures ) and Johnson (coauthor of Shadow Syndromes ) deploy a simple, lucid style to synthesize a vast amount of research in neurology, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology, supplementing it with Grandin's firsthand observations of animal behavior and her own experiences with autism, engaging anecdotes about how animals interact with each other and their masters, and tips on how to pick and train house pets. The result is a lively and absorbing look at the world from animals' point of view. (Jan.)

Forecast: Anyone who's enjoyed the work of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson—and especially those who liked it but felt it a bit warm and fuzzy in spots—should appreciate this valuable, rigorous book.

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-7475-6669-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5146-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61574-580-7
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-8710-4
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4391-3084-1
Hardcover - 679 pages - 978-0-7862-7651-6
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-0-15-603144-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-3146-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-0146-7
Hardcover - 356 pages - 978-0-7475-6668-7
Prebound-Glued - 358 pages - 978-1-62765-584-2
Show other formats
FORMATS
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X