Emotional lives of animals (the)


Bekoff - Emotional_PUBLISHING YEAR: 2008

SUMMARY: Collection of anecdotes and observations supporting the case for “bioanthropomorphism”, i.e. the assertion (which I share) that animals have emotions. This assertion is still disputed by hard-line scientists in the field, given the difficulty in quantifying and verifying emotions.

AUDIENCE: Dog owners with an interest in animal welfare, and who appreciate pop science.

REVIEW: I was quite disappointed in this book. Bekoff is somewhat of an idol in the positive dog training world, thanks to his advocacy work on animal rights. As a scientist and popular press writer, he is in an ideal position to spread his message: let’s stop seeing animals in a  purely exploitative way. They have intrinsic value aside from the advantages they can mean to us.

Disappointingly enough, I found most of the examples he gave utterly unconvincing. If I had not already been a fervent defender of animal rights and a strong believer that they do have emotions, the book might have discredited that very point for me.

Too many examples used in this book are little more than wild speculation and often poorly documented anecdotes.

At this stage, I fail to see much added value in this book, as it basically just preaches to the choir. No self-respecting skeptic would be influenced by it, and most definitely not hard-liner scientists.

So the verdict is: I am on his side in thinking it unreasonable to assume animals have no emotions, but if you write a book to convince the skeptics, then please give them evidence and not anecdotes.

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Author: Bekoff Marc
Genre: pop science
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