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Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (2005)

by Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,326686,742 (4.07)86
Science. Nonfiction. HTML:

How is Animals in Translation different from every other animal book ever published?Animals in Translation is like no other animal book because of Temple Grandin. As an animal scientist and a person with autism, her professional training and personal history have created a perspective like no other thinker in the field, and this is her exciting, groundbreaking view of the intersection of autism and animal.

Unlike other well-known writers in the field of animal behavior -- When Elephants Weep by psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaleff Masson, How Dogs Think by psychologist and dog trainer Stanley Coren, and The Hidden Life of Dogs by anthropologist Elizabeth Marsha Thomas -- Temple Grandin is an animal scientist who has devoted the last 30 years of her life to the study of animals. Animals in Translation is the culmination of that life's work -- a book whose sweep is huge, including just about anything that gallops, trots, slithers, walks, or flies.

Temple Grandin is like no other author on the subject of animals because of her training and because of her autism; understanding animals is in her blood and her bones.

Animals in Translation ...

* redefines consciousness and argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness

* categorizes autism as a way station on the road from animals to humans

* explores the "Interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, creating an unintentional blindness that animals and autistics do not suffer from

* applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity' to animals, meaning that there is no forest, only trees, trees, and more trees

* argues that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is make it feel afraid

* examines how humans and animals use their emotions, including to predict the future

* compares animals to autistic savants, in fact declaring that animals may be autistic savants, with special forms of genius that normal people cannot see

* explains that most animals have "super-human" skills: animals have animal genius

* reveals the abilities handicapped people, and animals, have that normal people don't

.
… (more)
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» See also 86 mentions

English (66)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (68)
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grandin, Templeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Catherinemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Blum, Isabella C.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bol, IrisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botzek, M.Photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burkhardt, Christianesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farny, InèsTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frasier, Shellysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallo, AndreaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gradin, T.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Μητσομπόνο… Ασημίναsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pérez Gómez, Julia ÁngelaTraductorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winard, RosaliePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
ג'ונסון, קתריןAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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For the animals
-- Temple Grandin
For Jimmy, Andrew, and Christopher
-- Catherine Johnson
First words
① MY STORY

People who aren't autistic always ask me about the moment I realized I could understand the way animals think.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Science. Nonfiction. HTML:

How is Animals in Translation different from every other animal book ever published?Animals in Translation is like no other animal book because of Temple Grandin. As an animal scientist and a person with autism, her professional training and personal history have created a perspective like no other thinker in the field, and this is her exciting, groundbreaking view of the intersection of autism and animal.

Unlike other well-known writers in the field of animal behavior -- When Elephants Weep by psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaleff Masson, How Dogs Think by psychologist and dog trainer Stanley Coren, and The Hidden Life of Dogs by anthropologist Elizabeth Marsha Thomas -- Temple Grandin is an animal scientist who has devoted the last 30 years of her life to the study of animals. Animals in Translation is the culmination of that life's work -- a book whose sweep is huge, including just about anything that gallops, trots, slithers, walks, or flies.

Temple Grandin is like no other author on the subject of animals because of her training and because of her autism; understanding animals is in her blood and her bones.

Animals in Translation ...

* redefines consciousness and argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness

* categorizes autism as a way station on the road from animals to humans

* explores the "Interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, creating an unintentional blindness that animals and autistics do not suffer from

* applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity' to animals, meaning that there is no forest, only trees, trees, and more trees

* argues that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is make it feel afraid

* examines how humans and animals use their emotions, including to predict the future

* compares animals to autistic savants, in fact declaring that animals may be autistic savants, with special forms of genius that normal people cannot see

* explains that most animals have "super-human" skills: animals have animal genius

* reveals the abilities handicapped people, and animals, have that normal people don't

.

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