With unique personal insight, experience, and hard science, Animals in Translations is the definitive, groundbreaking work on animal behavior and psychology.
Temple Grandin’s professional training as an animal scientist and her history as a person with autism have given her a perspective like that of no other expert in the field of animal science. Grandin and coauthor Catherine Johnson present their powerful theory that autistic people can often think the way animals think—putting autistic people in the perfect position to translate “animal talk.” Exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and even animal genius, Grandin is a faithful guide into their world.
Animals in Translation reveals that animals are much smarter than anyone ever imagined, and Grandin, standing at the intersection of autism and animals, offers unparalleled observations and extraordinary ideas about both.
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.