Sunday, September 24, 2006

Animals in Translation

While doing chores this weekend I've been listening to an audiobook of Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation". She is autistic, and the central premise of the book draws parallels between the thinking and perceiving of animals and autistic people.

She says that humans process out an extraordinary amount of sensory information that animals and autistic people can't-- we can't see the same things, so we have trouble understanding their reactions. She is a consultant in the humane handling of livestock. As a result, many of her examples concern why cattle balk at entering a chute (strong transition from bright to dark lighting), and why pigs wouldn't go down an alley (bicolor vision made a yellow ladder frighteningly bright).

It's more readable than my examples indicate, and I am just now getting into the more doggy portion of the book. For scientific tastes it probably oversimplifies the subject, but for the rest of us it is a good blend of research and storytelling.

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