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Animals in Translation: The Woman Who Thinks…

Animals in Translation: The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Temple Grandin

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1,817633,849 (4.04)74
Title:Animals in Translation: The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow
Authors:Temple Grandin
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2006), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned, O
Tags:2012, 12-12-22

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Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin (2005)


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Temple Grandin's unique viewpoint as an animal behaviorist and a person with autism allows her to understand animal perceptions and experiences in ways the most people can't. Important ideas discussed include animal's hypersensitivity to details and inability to filter sensory information in the same way the human brain does and that consciousness does not rely on language. Provides a new and valuable understanding of animals.
  CLlibrarystudent | Dec 6, 2016 |
Quite brilliant. Grandin presents many theories and observations that seem rather obvious in retrospect but must have been groundbreaking to discover. I know I was completely awestruck by many of Grandin's observations. ( )
  benuathanasia | Aug 13, 2016 |
One of the most amazing books i have ever read. Couldn't put it down.
  newnoz | Aug 6, 2016 |
This book was a whole lot more interesting and informative than I expected it to be. I am dubious about any deep connection between autism and animal minds; I think Grandin may be generalizing a bit from her fairly unusual experience. But this book has a huge wealth of anecdote about animals from an observant, intelligent, and educated person who is deeply interested in them. It also has some wierd but actually useful analogies to computer software. I plan to read her other book, "Animals Make Us Human", which I originally avoided because I feared the dim sentimentality that the title of the book seemed to promise. I realize now that the book's thesis is at least related to our shared human and canine evolutionary heritage, and although this co-evolution seems to me quite speculative, the book may be much more interesting and substantial than I had imagined. ( )
  themulhern | Jun 14, 2016 |
I do love Grandin's work, both in the ideas in and writing style of her books, and in the fact that she makes me feel less guilty for being a carnivore because she's done so much work for feedlots and slaughterhouses.

This book really is a must read. I love the structure of each argument, in particular. Now, bear in mind that I was too engrossed in reading to take notes, so my example may not be exactly accurate, but it could go something like this:

First, she'd say something axiomatic, like, we all know that baby animals like cuddles. Then she'd point out research to support that, like, the famous experiment where baby monkeys were given two wire mothers, one with milk, one wrapped with toweling, and they'd get desperately hungry before leaving the softer mother (even though it was neither alive nor furred nor scented...). Then she'd talk about newer, lesser-known research, often based on neuro-science instead of just observational psychology, and/or about her experiences as an autistic person or about other autistic people she's known. Or she'd talk about experiences in her career, or with friends' pets, about different kinds of reactions animals have to nurturing touch or lack thereof. And finally she'd theorize about what is actually going on in everyone's different kinds of brains, and what all those ideas, if integrated together, could be saying about the insufficiently acknowledged intelligence of animals, and about the best ways to treat animals, and autistic people, respectfully and humanely.

I love particularly her examples of what kinds of jobs the people with autism can excel at, and her insistence that dogs are being over- and mis-bred, for example breeders are killing collies' intelligence and giving Border Collies a bad reputation for makers of mischief by not ensuring they have *jobs* to suit their nature.

Sorry - I don't think that was particularly coherent. Read the book yourself, really. She's much easier to understand than I am.

Still not convinced? Ok.

In the section on prairie dogs, she introduces Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, who speculates that instead of looking for animal language in our closest genetic relatives, the primates, we should look at animals with the greatest need for language in order to stay alive." Quite an eye-opening idea, eh? Read the rest of that section and you'll probably find yourself not only unsurprised, but nodding in agreement.

Or, how about this statement. I'll give you no context - you'll have to read it yourself to believe it. "We're just leaving it up to animals like the seizure alert [service] dogs to invent their own jobs."

One of the most important things *I* got out of the book was clarity about my opinion of anthropomorphism. I always have known I'm not a fan. Otoh, I've also felt that critters are smarter, at least in some ways, than we give them credit for being. Now I can integrate my attitude thus: by perceiving animals through our own experience, and by giving them humanoid motivations and beliefs, we're blinding ourselves to being able to understand their true natures.

In other words, don't say, "That chimp is as smart as a 3 year old human." Say instead, "That chimp has the vocabulary of an average 2 year old child and can solve addition & subtraction problems typically solvable by 4 year old children." (Not Grandin's example, but my own synthesis.)

I only have two minor quibbles. Grandin doesn't define 'animals' in the same sense I usually see it. She usually means mammals and birds only - but, confusingly, sometimes means social insects or even reptiles. Second, she sometimes over-generalizes to include other people with autism as being very like her, whereas she and I both know that ASD manifests differently in different people.

I've read a lot of psychology and popular neuro-science books lately, and a lot of books by and about people who are autistic, and in none of them did I learn as much as I did from this. Of course, they may have laid the foundation to help me get more out of this work, but I do believe that if you only want to read one book on any of the subjects covered here, this would be a great choice." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Temple Grandinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Johnson, Catherinemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For the animals
-- Temple Grandin
For Jimmy, Andrew, and Christopher
-- Catherine Johnson
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People who aren't autistic always ask me about the moment I realized I could understand the way animals think.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156031442, Paperback)

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 Translation

Why 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:15 -0400)

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An animal scientist draws on her experience as an autistic to identify commonalities between animals and autistics, offering insight into how animals process sensory information and how they often possess unrecognized talents.

(summary from another edition)

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