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Animals in Translation (2005)

by Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson

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2,162696,302 (4.07)81
Animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, who is autistic, explains and demonstrates the parallels between the ways animals and autistic humans think and communicate. Her theory describes the differences between animal and human thought processes and suggests ways in which this can be overcome.

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Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book. It made me understand my iguana so much better. I was so moved by this that I wrote Temple Grandin an email and received a nice email in return. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
A fascinating point of view that makes you wonder just how much of the world passes by unnoticed on a daily basis. I read this book before I wrote my novel "Dragonforge" and used some of the ideas from it to craft the character of Zeeky, to explain her ability to "talk" to animals. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
Just fascinating. The subtitle of this book is "Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior". Temple Grandin, who is autistic, made a career in designing humane systems for handling animals in slaughter houses, poultry farms, breeding stables and kennels, and other situations where the needs of production have often resulted in appalling, frightening conditions for the animals involved. She has also advised the operators of such facilities on behavioral issues because she understands the animal mind in a way "neuro-typical" humans do not. In this books she explains the ways in which animals and autistic humans see things similarly, and how this has helped her see the world through animal eyes. There is a lot of brain science, human and animal psychology, common sense and uncommon wisdom, humor and heart in this book. Grandin says people always wonder how she could work for the meat-packing industry when she loves animals. Her answer is that she doesn't see the human race converting to vegetarianism any time soon (and that she herself was highly motivated to do so but found herself physically incapable of sticking to it), that most of the animals we eat "wouldn't exist if human beings hadn't bred them into being"...and that therefore we "owe them a decent life and a decent death, and their lives should be as low-stress as possible. That's my job." "If we're interested in animals, then we need to study animals for their own sake, and on their own terms, to the extent that it's possible. What are they doing? What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What are they saying? Who are they? And: what do we need to do to treat animals fairly, responsibly, and with kindness?" She applies these questions to ALL animals---pets, dairy cows, egg-producing chickens, animals raised for food, animals studied in labs and in the wild, birds, squirrels, elephants, snakes---without limits. A formal review said this is "one of those rare books that elicit a 'wow' on almost every page." Ask my husband how many times I made him "just listen to this!" while reading it. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jul 20, 2018 |
This is an easy to understand book just packed with interesting information about animals and their emotions, behavior, communication, and importance to humans. Connections are made between autistic brain function and that of animals especially about similarities seen by the author who is looking at this through the eyes of an autistic person. Grandin quite possibly jumps to conclusions, but her insights are generally backed up with studies she has seen or done herself. I learned a lot and time after time I was surprised and awed by what she presented. One of my favorites was a 30-year study of Alex, a parrot, by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Her means of training using a 3rd party and the intelligence and communication shown by Alex were just amazing. I found a couple videos online of Alex and Pepperberg at work. ( )
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
You know, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I read great swaths of it five years ago or more, enjoyed them immensely but never finished the book. It's been sitting on my to-read shelf forever and I finally picked it up to finish it. Oddly enough, I read [a:Temple Grandin|1567|Temple Grandin|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1241222068p2/1567.jpg]'s [b:Thinking in Pictures|103408|Thinking in Pictures My Life with Autism|Temple Grandin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320507943s/103408.jpg|1775856] before finishing this book. Autism isn't an especially deep interest of mine, cognitive ehtology is. It's funny how life works.

[b:Animals in Translation|7366|Animals in Translation Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior|Temple Grandin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1426808115s/7366.jpg|10490] will likely forever be controversial. The idea that animals and autistic people have similar cognition is going to be controversial and politically charged regardless of who you are. Nevertheless, the observations that Temple Grandin makes are compelling and ultimately, not all that insulting. She's not comparing autistic people to animals in a negative way, instead she's stating that due to changes in brain chemistry and make up both perceive the world in a way that's different from normal functioning people. She then backs her statement up with personal experiences, observations, and what at that time were recent studies. I'd be interested to hear what she thinks of her hypothesis now, though I doubt much has changed in the intervening years.

She credits animals with being far more intelligent than we believe, simply intelligent in different ways. Is a dog's ability to predict a person's seizure before it happens a sign of intelligence? They are responding to signs too subtle for us to predict. What about a magpie pretending to have a broken wing to distract a predator? What about the way ravens and wolves interact? Or the migration patterns of birds? The social structure of horses? Did we domesticate wolves, or did they domesticate us? Did we learn music from birds or vice versa? Is music, ultimately, how animals communicate?

I found the book fascinating and a good starting point for anyone interested in animal thought and behavior. While it will likely forever remain controversial, as Temple Grandin rightly points out, this field is controversial to begin with. Very few people are willing to admit just how intelligent and emotional animals can be and give further ground to them in such a way. Humans want to remain special, and bit by bit these studies are making it more evident that humans, truthfully, aren't. I don't think many people want to deal with the ramifications of that. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grandin, Templeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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Animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, who is autistic, explains and demonstrates the parallels between the ways animals and autistic humans think and communicate. Her theory describes the differences between animal and human thought processes and suggests ways in which this can be overcome.

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