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.
Subjects: Biological Sciences, Zoology
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