Does your dog know when you've had a bad day? Can your cat tell that the coffee pot you left on might start a fire? Could a chimpanzee be trained to program your computer? In this provocative book, noted animal expert Clive Wynne debunks some commonly held notions about our furry friends. It may be romantic to ascribe human qualities to critters, he argues, but it's not very realistic. While animals are by no means dumb, they don't think the same way we do. Contrary to what many popular television shows would have us believe, animals have neither the "theory-of-mind" capabilities that humans have (that is, they are not conscious of what others are thinking) nor the capacity for higher-level reasoning. So, in Wynne's view, when Fido greets your arrival by nudging your leg, he's more apt to be asking for dinner than commiserating with your job stress.
That's not to say that animals don't possess remarkable abilities--and Do Animals Think? explores countless examples: there's the honeybee, which not only remembers where it found food but communicates this information to its hivemates through an elaborate dance. And how about the sonar-guided bat, which locates flying insects in the dark of night and devours lunch on the wing?
Engagingly written, Do Animals Think? takes aim at the work of such renowned animal rights advocates as Peter Singer and Jane Goodall for falsely humanizing animals. Far from impoverishing our view of the animal kingdom, however, it underscores how the world is richer for having such a diversity of minds--be they of the animal or human variety.
"[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
Table of Contents:
1 What Are Animals? 1
2 The Secrets of the Honeybee Machine 13
3 How Noble in Reason 46
4 What Is It Like to Be a Bat? 84
5 Talk to Me 106
6 The Pigeon That Saved a Battalion 139
7 Monkey See, Monkey Do? 162
8 Dolphins Divine 195
9 Sandwiches to Go 222