Saturday, June 12, 2010

Something More Scientific

My tenth book of the year was "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior" by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson. This was a book sent to me by my Twitter friend @BlueberryCat, who knows I am an animal lover.

"Animals in Translation" looks at the similarities between animals and autistic people. Temple Grandin is able to give examples of how her life with autism parallels certain animal behavior. She has many interesting theories based on her observances, however I'm not sure if I can completely believe in everything she says until studies have been conducted backing her up. She has clearly done extensive research in the field of animal behavior and has had much success. She has worked with other scientists and the book has a very thorough bibliography. There are also footnotes throughout the book citing her various sources. I believe her to be very well educated and think that even if some of her theories prove to be wrong, the time she puts into study of them will be quite beneficial.

One thing I must note about the book is that even though there is a co-author, Catherine Johnson, the book seems very much to be written with Temple Grandin's voice. That being said, it can be very "staccato". Also, she can go from using very technical, scientific terms right to using elementary phrases to describe an animal or its behavior. I found this to be a bit jarring as I was reading; it seemed to interrupt the flow of the text when it happened.

The book focuses primarily on livestock rather than house pets, so be aware of that if you are hoping for some insight regarding your kitty cat. That is not where the author's specialty lies and she doesn't try to pretend that it does. I did take exception to her discussion of certain types of dog breeds. I think she focused a bit much on Rottweilers, among others, and their "aggressive nature". I am a big believer that most of the time, with the proper training, these breeds of dogs can be trusted completely. This is where she and I disagree.

It took me quite a long while to finish this book. It was slow reading and could be quite repetitive. I also felt at times she went off on tangents by telling a story that didn't quite pertain at the moment. I had been wanting to read Temple Grandin's books because I find her to be very fascinating. This was the first one I read and will not be the last. However, I will go into the next one understanding that there will be little entertainment value and I may have to struggle through it like I did this one.

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