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Animal expert Wynne (Animal Cognition: The Mental Life of Animals), an associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida, delivers a detailed yet enjoyably written exploration of recent discoveries of modern animal behavior. In answering the question whether animals "think" or have the consciousness of self that humans do, his main point is simple: "We don't have to pretend that some species have consciousness equivalent to ours. They don't and they don't need it to matter to us and deserve our attention." Wynne is clearly arguing against the view of animal rights advocates such as Peter Singer and Jane Goodall who ascribe human attributes to animals. But Wynne is no reactionaryhe strongly sympathizes with those who wish to improve the treatment of animals. But he forcefully argues that what animals may "know"for example, the honeybee recognizes time of dayis "coded in the connections of the neurons; they are not conscious ideas." However, in contending that "the psychological abilities that make human culture possible... are almost entirely lacking in any other species," he delightfully presents the many remarkable abilities of such animals as the bat, which "sees" using echolocation, "one of the most astonishing discoveries made about any animal's world in the last fifty years"; and dolphins, who use a form of sonar. It helps his arguments that Wynne is often as entertaining as he is erudite ("Like journalists listening in for excitement on police radio frequencies, dolphins channel-surf through the sound frequencies fish use").
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"[An] enjoyably written exploration of recent discoveries of modern animal behavior. . . . Wynne is clearly arguing against the view of animal rights advocates such as Peter Singer and Jane Goodall who ascribe human attributes to animals. But Wynne is no reactionary--he strongly sympathizes with those who wish to improve the treatment of animals. . . . It helps his arguments that Wynne is often as entertaining as he is erudite."--Publishers Weekly
"In this critical account of selected research, Clive Wynne takes aim at over-sentimental anthropomorphism, particularly on the part of animal-rights advocates. He argues that the degree to which animals are like us cannot be the measure of how much they are worthy of our respect and protection. . . . All this material is presented in a clear informal and entertaining way, enlivened by historical asides."--Sara J. Shettleworth, Nature
"Wynne has a pleasant writing style and a knack for engaging the reader. . . . [H]is book offers many insightful descriptions of animal behavior. . . . He seems to take delight in animals, and possesses great knowledge about them, yet he prefers them at arm's length. The constant message is that animals are not people."--Frans B.M. de Waal, Natural History
"Wynne's new book provides a timely corrective to many myths about animal minds, without detracting from the wonders of the natural world."--Nicola S. Clayton, Science
"[Wynne] is a lively writer with a congenial sense of humor, an obvious passion for truly understanding the minds of animals, and a sincere desire to come to terms with what all this means for the larger philosophical and ethical questions about the place of man and animals in the world."--Stephen Budiansky, Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science
"A fun read . . . packed with clever experiments, intriguing anecdotes, and a delight in the diversity of animal behavior."--Sy Montgomery, Discover
"Readers will delight in this insightful, well-referenced book."--Choice
"Lucid and witty. . . . Mr. Wynne makes a compelling case against true rationality in animals, but he resists the temptation to reduce animals to mere 'machines,' as Descartes famously did; he is too seized with wonder at the marvels of animal behavior to adopt so barren a model. In the end, Mr. Wynne prefers to accept our fellow animals for what they are, as they are."--Eric Ormsby, New York Sun
"An intelligent and balanced discussion of our attitudes towards other species and what (if anything) animals think. . . . A refreshingly skeptical and pugnacious investigation."--P.D. Smith, The Guardian (UK)