Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Front Cover
Harcourt, 2005 - Nature - 358 pages
636 Reviews
I don't know if people will ever be able to talk to animals the way Doctor Doolittle could, or whether animals will be able to talk back. Maybe science will have something to say about that. But I do know people can learn to "talk" to animals, and to hear what animals have to say, better than they do now. --From Animals in Translation

Why would a cow lick a tractor? Why are collies getting dumber? Why do dolphins sometimes kill for fun? How can a parrot learn to spell? How did wolves teach man to evolve? Temple Grandin draws upon a long, distinguished career as an animal scientist and her own experiences with autism to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals act, think, and feel. She has a perspective like that of no other expert in the field, which allows her to offer unparalleled observations and groundbreaking ideas.

People with autism can often think the way animals think, putting them in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." Grandin is a faithful guide into their world, exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and, yes, even animal genius. The sweep of Animals in Translation is immense and will forever change the way we think about animals.


*includes a Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide   Among its provocative ideas, the book:
  • argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness--and that animals do have consciousness
  • applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity" to animals, showing that animals and autistic people are so sensitive to detail that they "can't see the forest for the trees"--a talent as well as a "deficit"
  • explores the "interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, leaving people blind to much of the reality that surrounds them--a reality animals and autistic people see, sometimes all too clearly
  • explains how animals have "superhuman" skills: animals have animal genius
  • compares animals to autistic savants, declaring that animals may in fact be autistic savants, with special forms of genius that normal people do not possess and sometimes cannot even see
  • examines how humans and animals use their emotions to think, to decide, and even to predict the future 
  • reveals the remarkable abilities of handicapped people and animals 
  • maintains that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is to make it feel afraid


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Great book for some insight into Autism. - Goodreads
... the writing is not that good, skimming is needed. - Goodreads
good, but not nearly as good as thinking in Pictures. - Goodreads
Clear writing, fascinating content. - Goodreads
So much insight into the livestock industry and autism. - Goodreads
And some of the research she discusses is fascinating. - Goodreads

Review: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

User Review  - Rose - Goodreads

Temple Grandin is amazing. She can be a bit repetitive, but if you can get past that everything else is spot on and perfect. Read full review

Review: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

User Review  - Jessica - Goodreads

basically an essential read for all humanity. Read full review

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About the author (2005)

TEMPLE GRANDIN earned her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, went on to become an associate professor at Colorado State University, and wrote two books on autism, including the seminal Thinking in Pictures. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

CATHERINE JOHNSON, Ph.D., is a writer specializing in neuropsychiatry and the brain and is the author of three previous books. She lives in New York.

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