Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
by Carl Safina, 2015, Henry Hold and Co.
Reviewed by Linda A. DeStefano and Spanish translation by Rob English
Safina has a PhD in ecology. Besides being a scientist, he is a good story teller so his book is easy and fun to read. The title of the book is perhaps a jab at those animal behavioral scientists who insist that we can’t know what – if anything – an animal thinks and feels. This bias is so strong that some scientists have even had their careers ended by exploring the question. Safina regards this narrow-minded approach as unscientific even though the behaviorists claim they are being scientific by describing behavior without interpreting the likely thinking and feeling which accompany it.
He traveled to spend time with people who study animals in the animals’ habitat: particularly elephants, wolves and orcas (a type of dolphin – featured in the film BLACKFISH). Their observations over many years leave little doubt that these animals do indeed think and feel – fear, love, compassion, fun, problem solving, creativity, loneliness, etc.
He thinks we would see the obvious if we weren’t so concerned about proving that we are better than all the other beings. Our basic similarities are more compelling than our differences. An acceptance of this might lead to more kindness and respect on our part for these other creatures.
Linda is President of People for Animal Rights.
People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 15358
(315)488-PURR (8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Eastern Time) peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org