Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Is It About Elizabeth Marshall whozits?

As I've mentioned, I've been listening to Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation", and in it she paraphrases my least favorite dog-book hack, Elizabeth Marshall whozits (EMw) of "Hidden Life of Dogs" notoriety.

Given that I can accept when Temple Grandin, Stanley Coren, and most other animal authors tell their share of unbelievable whoppers over the course of their books, why do I dislike EMw so? I'm capable of taking in the information, weighing how well-founded it seems, and accepting the solid research while overlooking the idle speculation. Why can't I give EMw the benefit of this balanced assessment?

Probably because she starts off poorly in the introduction of "Hidden Life" with an explanation that she is no scientist, followed by a lame-brained rationalization of anthropomorphism of dog behavior as a vital element in her "research" method. To translate, she describes a tiny scrap of dog behavior and proceeds to weave it into a tapestry of thorough nonsense. She brags of logging thousands and thousands of hours observing her pets, yet she is blithely unaware when they dig an extensive den feet away from her back door. One of the scenes that drives me nuts is when she is trying to comfort her pregnant dog by telling her that she'll be fine, but the dog won't believe her. I sure don't believe her.

Amazon is always an interesting forum for rants about authors, though it's impossible to come away with a common opinion. Here are some links to people weighing in on EMw, Temple Grandin, and Stanley Coren. In looking over the reviews for EMw, I see that I posted one many moons ago-- can you guess which one?

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