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Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

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I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack's personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest. Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity's place in the world.

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I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack's personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest. Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity's place in the world.

30 review for Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A wonderful tour of how animals think and feel and plea to afford them respect as beings worthy of better stewardship of their fate by the planet’s masters. You are in reliable hands with a respected ecologist and conservationist as long as you factor in that animal behavior and brain science are outside his field of expertise. The societies of elephants, wolves, killer whales get the lion’s share of focus, enhanced by the author’s long forays with field scientists who have monitoring their soci A wonderful tour of how animals think and feel and plea to afford them respect as beings worthy of better stewardship of their fate by the planet’s masters. You are in reliable hands with a respected ecologist and conservationist as long as you factor in that animal behavior and brain science are outside his field of expertise. The societies of elephants, wolves, killer whales get the lion’s share of focus, enhanced by the author’s long forays with field scientists who have monitoring their societies for decades. There are many forays into discoveries from study of chimps, bonobos, birds, and even reptiles and insects to enhance his themes. For elephants we spend time in a park in Kenya , for wolves it is in Yellowstone National Park, and for killer whales the locus is Washington State. Another section, “Whines and Pet Peeves” cuts across species as it takes laboratory scientist and philosophers to task for sophistry and reticence to accede to the obvious that a number of animals possess minds and depths of feelings comparable in richness and validity to the precious cargo of vaunted humanity, top dogs of the earth. Over a dozen essay-chapters for each of the three featured species on various topics makes for a nice level of depth and a delightful spectrum of examples of the amazing ways these animals are geniuses in their own lives and sensitive beings in their own ways. It was a great catch-up for me as I haven’t read much on animal behavior studies since syntheses by Jane Goodall on chimps, John Lilly on dolphins, and Barry Lopez on wolves some decades ago (recent exceptions being De Waal on primate empathy and Sapolsky on baboon societies). In example after example, we are shown how acts of individuals from these species bear resemblance in multiple ways to human behaviors associated with the full range of emotions: love, empathy, joy, envy, jealousy, pride, shame, pity, grief, and likely awe and magnanimity. One can never know what their true feelings are like since they can’t speak, but close analogy to the human forms is a simpler, even scientific, supposition compared to the alternative that they emerged in exalted form in humans and limited forms only in our “higher” primate cousins. Besides, these emotions as well as exalted cognitive feats of humans are often beyond characterization by language and mean different things to different people (e.g. is love more a state of freedom or dependence?). Just as with human families or tribes, elephant, wolf, and killer whale counterparts can be flexible in composition between strictly biological members or outsiders adopted into them. For the people watching them over the years, the animals’ individual personalities shine through no less than what we experience with our own pets. And their personalities seem obviously critical to their success or challenges in the social roles they assume. Yes, we get a special amplification of social memory and abstract communication with human language, but is this capability a difference in degree or a qualitative leap above particularly brainy animals? Though animals may have a pretty extensive range of communication calls and signals and primitive levels of syntax and generativity when taught symbolic modes of communicating with humans, what stands out is their ability to “read” each others’ intentions and feelings without words. And touch is a persistent and universal mode of sharing emotions and social cohesion among the three species (as well as dolphins and primates). Of course nobody really knows what is conveyed in the rich sonar and aural productions of Cetaceans, the howling of wolves, the recently discovered complex vocalizations of elephants in the low frequency range below human hearing, and the repertoire of gestures being uncovered among gorillas and other apes. A case of a female Yellowstone wolf with a bullying, despotic personality being exiled from the pack by her own sisters The careers of particular animals conveyed by Safina come off as characters in a history or story. For example, one wolf, Number Six, seems in every way “The Prefect Wolf.” She successfully manages the largest packs ever known and with such harmony fights are rare. She is such a hunter that she singlehandedly killed two elk in one day. When an intruder is cornered in defeat, she dispenses mercy by letting him go instead of meting out a fatal attack common to others in the same situation. And we learn of one elephant matriarch who has been the leader of the herd for decades, maintaining lifelong bonds with her children. She uses essential knowledge of their world for navigating long foraging treks to known sources of water and food at particular times of the year, and the skills of marshalling her family to successfully address dangers to young or infirm members in the face of predators. Similar stories and observations apply to examples of the female leaders of a wolf pack and a killer whale pod, but longevity of killer whales puts them more in line with the elephants for their memory as a cultural repository and survival benefit for the family. A female killer whale in Peuget Sound playing with her three-year daughter. Children are rare in this salmon eating species in decline, and this one was killed accidentally by naval practice gunnery or demolition The efforts to get to know these species in their natural state in the wild are confounded by stresses and losses due to impacts of mankind. More and more what gets observed by their long-term monitors is angle both on pathology and resilient adaptation to changes in their environment, food sources, and unnecessary deaths of key family leaders. The social devastation to family structure and survival is covered in examples from each species in the aftermath a losses of the matriarch. In the case of elephant and wolf examples, the parks in Kenya and Yellowstone are too small to protect species whose range goes outside park and, for elephants, do not a sufficient barrier to poaching. The continuing decline of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest reflects loss of their salmon prey, pollution such as lead, boating or fishing accidents, or adverse impacts of naval operations such as from sonar blasts or demolition (as many as ten species specialize in different food prey, such as seals among their Arctic cousins). As we can see clearly from Safina’s narrative the loss of key family members can mean death to a whole family from the disruption of missing leadership, cultural knowledge, and the emotional center for adults and infants alike. He emphasizes how we need to be aware of these consequences and hopefully get more serious about halting the continuing decline in each species’ populations still going after reductions of 90% or more in their numbers and ranges over the last couple of hundred years. Safina’s writing is accessible to general readers and jargon free. For example, he refrains from even using words like ecological niche or altruism. I applaud his deflating claims of neuroscience of accounting for unique capabilities of humans, although at one point he countenances with objection claims that over-aggressiveness, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism are caused by deficiencies in neural systems using serotonin as a transmitter to account for. Usually he is honest and humble on areas of speculation. I appreciated a lot his pondering of the special consciousness elephants seem to have about death and the meaning of incredible restraint among killer whales in never attacking humans. But I had the most pleasure with his handling of the discovery that wolves and dogs are the same species and theories that wolves domesticated themselves in adapting to cooperation with humans, in the process selecting for genes that promote more social, less aggressive juvenile psychology at maturity (technically termed “neoteny”, though not used by him ). Here’s some of his line of thinking as an example of his accessible discourse: It’s been said that no two species are more alike than wolves and humans. If you watch wolves not just in all their beauty and adaptability but in all their brutality, it’s hard to escape that conclusion. … Living as we do in family packs, fending off the human wolves among us, we can easily recognize in real wolves their social dilemmas and status quests. No wonder Native Americans saw wolves as a sibling spirit. Consider the similarities between male wolves and men. They’re quite striking. Males of very few species directly enhance the survival of females or young year-round. … Helping procure food year-round, bringing food to babies, helping raise young to full maturity over several years, and defending females and offspring against all individuals who threaten their safety is a very rare package to find in a male. Human males and wolf males—that’s about it. And of the two, the more dependably faithful isn’t us. Male wolves more reliably stick with the program, helping raise young and actually helping females survive. Chimpanzees seem much closer to us, but male chimps don’t help feed babies or bring food back to the home site. Wolves and humans can understand each other better. That’s one reason why we invited wolves, instead of chimpanzees , into our lives. Wolves and dogs and us; it’s not surprising that we found one another. We deserve one another. We were made for one another. …A wolf knows who to protect and who to attack and how to defend to the death. That obsession for distinguishing friend from foe is one we share. It’s why we since deep antiquity we have viewed wolves as everything from guards to gods. To watch wild wolves is to recognize a kindred creature by turns riveting, horrifying, and admirable. It’s also to see how many of our dogs’ tendencies and talents were fully formed in the wild, and remain intact in our homes. In dogs, we’ve bred the people we wish we could be: loyal, hardworking, watchful, fiercely protective, intuitive, sensitive, affectionate, helpful to those in need. No matter how they originated, their feelings are real to them. Your dog genuinely loves you, as you, in your domesticated state, activating the deep, old parts of your brain, love your dog. Though Safina does take humans to task for arrogance and blundering in his Biblical dominion over animals, he does find hopefulness in the progress of our self-domestication toward a more pro-social biology. He doesn’t delve into the debate over the cultural versus biological bases of human murder and war. I close with some inspiring thoughts of his about underpinnings of peace in our nature: Aren’t we, by fits and starts, even through the darkness of unspeakable human horrors, always searching for peace, always seeking more perfect ways of taming ourselves? Self-domestication does indeed seem part of the human program. The process of becoming more civil is called civilization. …What is certain: our view of ourselves as post-evolutionary, purely cultural creatures, standing outside selection pressures and in control of our fate is wrong. We tend to think that humans evolved, then stopped evolving and started culture. Far from it. The onset of agriculture and the flowering cultures of civilization were themselves enormous changes in the human environment, massively altering selective pressures. Pressures to maintain a hunter’s size and strength relaxed, while pressure to behave cooperatively, expand social skills, and suppress violent urges intensified.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Review to come. Do I love it....or do I like it a lot? I do definitely want everyone to read this book. When I think about the book, I automatically say, "I liked that A LOT", so four stars. When I chose to read this book I thought I was going to get something like The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think which I gave four stars, but rather than concentrating solely on dogs the focus would cover many animals. Carl Safina's book is wider in scope and completely different in focus. Review to come. Do I love it....or do I like it a lot? I do definitely want everyone to read this book. When I think about the book, I automatically say, "I liked that A LOT", so four stars. When I chose to read this book I thought I was going to get something like The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think which I gave four stars, but rather than concentrating solely on dogs the focus would cover many animals. Carl Safina's book is wider in scope and completely different in focus. Hare's book is very good, but Safina's is better, in my view! Hare's book draws conclusions by looking at particular experiments, stipulating how they were carried out and analyzing their results. It is a book about the latest scientific studies on dogs’ cognitive abilities. Some of the conclusions drawn in reference to dog behavior are briefly referred to in Safina's book. Safina's book is less about scientific experiments. Safina's book is based on studies of animals in the wild and the resultant conclusions that can be drawn. At first, statements made had me asking, “Where is your proof?!” By the end I was totally in sync with what the author was stating. There are lengthy sections devoted to the study of elephants, wolves and killer whales, alternately known as orcas (Orcinus orca). They belong to the dolphin family, are toothed and are its largest member. Take one guess what their name implies, yet they do not hurt human beings! I found that revealed about the whales and the elephants utterly fascinating. That about the wolves I found a bit long-winded. We follow the fission of a wolf pack. There are shorter sections on other, widely varied animals (some examples being chimpanzees, bonobos, hyenas, falcons, dogs and bats), the point being to show their emotional and intellectual capacity. We are an animal too and we share a common bond. The author vividly exemplifies how we are similar and how we differ. What is striking are the cognitive and emotional similarities while our outward appearances so differ. The author goes a step further and proposes ideas that are controversial - on self-domestication, anthropomorphism, empathy, intelligence and understanding. It is here the book gets MOST interesting! Great for lively discussions. I like that he steps back and questions where the facts and evidence seem to point while at the same time stressing what remains unknown. After reading this book, one look at animals, even insects, fish and turtles with a new perspective. It is much more difficult to be cruel to a thinking and emotional creature. Authors should NOT read their own books! The author does that here. Yes, I could understand what was said, but often he reads too fast. Way too fast. HE is at home with the ideas presented and to him they are not new. Speaking for myself, I had to stop and consider what exactly self-domestication implies and what are its consequences. There are concepts that must be thought about to fully absorb their significance. There is one section concerning some of the author’s pet peeves, an example being the mirror mark test, also known as the mirror self-recognition test (MSR). He was so very angry he simply couldn’t hold himself back; listening became a difficult task. It was hard to keep up with him! I was also disappointed when different animal calls were spoken. In an audiobook it would have been perfect to let us hear them! The author is a famed conservationist, a marine biologist and has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. Reading this book was fascinating due to its depth of information and the wisdom I found in the lines. Here is one quote: If the world can no longer afford the luxury of natural beauty, then it will be overcome by its ugliness. …..In an entirely man-made world there can be no room for man either. He dares to ask uncomfortable questions about human behavior. He shows us the nonsensicality of assumptions we have relied on in the past. He shows us that man must begin to work with nature in a moral and ethical manner

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cissa

    Humans are human- and we are also animals, with our physical lives on a continuum with other animals. Safina is persuasive enough to convince anyone but the most rigid that "mere animals" share much with us, in terms of intelligence, emotions, sense of humor, and individuality- not to mention social groups and ties. I thought it an excellent point that , regarding many of the "tests" for animal intelligence, etc.- most humans would not pass them. Dogs are stupid because they can be fooled? What ab Humans are human- and we are also animals, with our physical lives on a continuum with other animals. Safina is persuasive enough to convince anyone but the most rigid that "mere animals" share much with us, in terms of intelligence, emotions, sense of humor, and individuality- not to mention social groups and ties. I thought it an excellent point that , regarding many of the "tests" for animal intelligence, etc.- most humans would not pass them. Dogs are stupid because they can be fooled? What about humans victimized by con artists? And, OK, my cat is not going to write a symphony... but then, neither am I! This book is beautifully written, and brings many of the other denizens of our world alive. Highly recommended, both for people interested in the other animals that share our planet, and for sf authors interested in writing persuasive aliens. I received this book in exchange for writing a fair review, from LibraryThing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    S.Baqer Al-Meshqab

    Carl Safina, an author, professor and ecologist, presents us with his newest work "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (2015)", shedding some light on the mysteries of animal actions and behaviors within their own societies, and their interactions to the human world as well. The book will take the readers in a journey to the forests, valleys and oceans, where they can literally live among the elephants, wolves, dogs, birds, chimpanzees, bats, dolphins and whales. The author, and so does th Carl Safina, an author, professor and ecologist, presents us with his newest work "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (2015)", shedding some light on the mysteries of animal actions and behaviors within their own societies, and their interactions to the human world as well. The book will take the readers in a journey to the forests, valleys and oceans, where they can literally live among the elephants, wolves, dogs, birds, chimpanzees, bats, dolphins and whales. The author, and so does the evidence, portray these animals not like any other animals, but as individuals. Through a collection of observations by him and his fellow researchers, Safina touches the capability of animals to feel, to sympathize, to grieve, to help and seek help, or even to punish. How elephants feel the loss of a beloved, and even cover the corpse of a family member with dirt and tree branches, how the alpha wolf travels to the coyotes den, mascaraing them because they injured her pride, or how female dolphins play some seduction tricks on males to rescue a trapped friend who is not interested in mating with the hungry males, are some of many examples to the existence of conciseness within animal minds. Safina also highlights astonishing acts of intelligence that may not cross our minds; things we might have thought only us are capable of doing. What is really interesting is that those scientists, when explaining how an animal does something, they refer to them with names; Ella, Treisa, Grace, or even numbers like 06, or 755. These names obtain, through the chain of events of their lives, certain personalities. This is the message the author wants to deliver: there is no "wolves do this" and "elephants do that"; each animal is an individual. Some Show toughness, shyness, or laziness, while others are simply playful and joyful. THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Esmerelda Weatherwax

    So often when I recommend a non fiction book I like it because it reads like a novel, and not like a textbook. Although textbooks can provide you with a lot of information, often it's difficult to retain because it's just a long list of facts and data and no easy way to have substantial retention. This author goes above and beyond anything I've read from a non fiction book, this not only read like a novel, this read like a poetic work of art. Like, this guy rivals Josiah Bancroft with his use of So often when I recommend a non fiction book I like it because it reads like a novel, and not like a textbook. Although textbooks can provide you with a lot of information, often it's difficult to retain because it's just a long list of facts and data and no easy way to have substantial retention. This author goes above and beyond anything I've read from a non fiction book, this not only read like a novel, this read like a poetic work of art. Like, this guy rivals Josiah Bancroft with his use of simile and metaphor, the way he wrote sucked you into the moments he was living. He went to Africa to study with the experts to write this book, and it could not have turned out any better. If you have a love of animals, get this book. If you've ever wondered how unique humans are with their emotions, family relations, problem solving, and intelligence get this book. If you've ever sat and admired Discovery Channel, been at the zoo and stared at the animals wondering what they were thinking or feeling, get this book. If you've studied Ethology (animal behavior) Biology or Zoology and all your life you've been told it goes against science to "anthropomorphize" get this book and realize why this is an archaic way of thinking. If you believe in evolution, you'll know that nothing just springs out of no where, nature and biology build on itself. Yes, there are random mutations, but they are random mutation for *pre-existing genetic structure*. A mouse will never randomly mutate and have wings for example., it's not in it's background dna, it's not possible. However, sometimes humans are born with tails, because we do evolve from animals that have tails. So, where did our emotions come from, where did our intelligence come from? It was built off the backbone of evolution, we are not supremely unique in our ability to form bonds with other individuals of the same species. We are not unique in our family ties. We are not unique with our intellegence. We may have capitolized on our large brains in ways other species haven't, but to assume other animals have *none* of those qualities in any way is ludicrous. It was so taboo for the longest time for any animal behaviorist to suggest there were emotions and feelings in other animals it could be a career ending paper to put forth that maybe we aren't alone in this. This book explores what possibilities lie in the brains of other animals, and what evidence we have for intelligence in other species. Elephants are one of my favorite animals of all time, and this book opens with the author in Africa working with one of the leading experts in the field - she's been there for over 40 years and has so much experience it boggles the brain. Reading about the herds and how they are structured was so captivating and endearing I was helpless to stop reading, but I wanted to take it slow and absorb every word. If you've never had any of the above interests, pick this book up anyway and find a new passion in life. http://weatherwaxreport.blog

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim Overstreet

    Carl Safina prompts readers to consider animal behavior and thought, not by comparing it with human behavior, but by viewing it as unique. He encourages marrying science and logic to draw conclusions about animal thoughts and feelings. For example, we may think it good science to very detachedly document the way a dog bounds and jumps up to greet us when we return home. We can also use logic and apply what we know about this dog and our experiences with feeling to say the dog is happy. Major sec Carl Safina prompts readers to consider animal behavior and thought, not by comparing it with human behavior, but by viewing it as unique. He encourages marrying science and logic to draw conclusions about animal thoughts and feelings. For example, we may think it good science to very detachedly document the way a dog bounds and jumps up to greet us when we return home. We can also use logic and apply what we know about this dog and our experiences with feeling to say the dog is happy. Major sections include visits with scientists observing elephants, wolves, and killer whales roaming freely in the wild. Dogs, parrots, ravens, tigers, humans, monkeys, and many other species get brief mentions. Content is mostly anecdotal, relaying Safina's own adventures or those of the long-time observers he visits in the field. Reading this book is like sitting down with a friend or relative (albeit a smart and well-traveled one!) and listening to him philosophize as he recounts experiences in the field with some of the world's leading researchers on the behavior of free roaming animals. Safina is entertaining and is not above using some punny humor, particularly in chapter titles. Some of the experiences are hard to read; nature can be cruel. Others are funny. Most all are fascinating. Generally, I read fiction at a rapid pace and assign myself a set number of daily nonfiction pages, like I would with medication or a homework assignment. Beyond Words was highly readable, and I found myself actually wanting to surpass my mandatory quota. I finished the book in three sittings, though I did find the prose a bit verbose at times. (Maybe I would have finished in two, with a bit more editing!) I would have loved to enclose a few quotations from the text to make my points, but could not since I read an advance reader's edition prior to the book's release date. Recommended for those interested in animal behavior.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I took a long time to read Beyond Words, not because I didn't like it but because I had to let each piece sink in. We learn so much about animal brains but also much about the human brain. The first section will make you fall in love with elephants, so it was hard to read because every time I read the news, more elephants had been slain for their ivory. Just two days ago I read where six elephants were killed with cyanide, CYANIDE!, for their tusks. And orcas are so smart, so loving to their fam I took a long time to read Beyond Words, not because I didn't like it but because I had to let each piece sink in. We learn so much about animal brains but also much about the human brain. The first section will make you fall in love with elephants, so it was hard to read because every time I read the news, more elephants had been slain for their ivory. Just two days ago I read where six elephants were killed with cyanide, CYANIDE!, for their tusks. And orcas are so smart, so loving to their families, especially their children, and grieve hardily when one dies or a baby is kidnapped for amusment park shows. The military is allowed to bomb in the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary. Bomb in a sanctuary! Every time it happens dead whales are found with hemorrhages all over their bodies. But this book is also filled with joy. Readers will grow to love the families that are followed here, whales, elephants, and wolves. They do think and they are intelligent. Beyond Words will make you laugh in delight but will also make you shed a few tears.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This book was mindblowing in analyzing the communication, empathy, playfulness, grieving, hierarchy, and interaction of elephants, wolves, lions, dogs, crows, parrots, bower birds, killer whales and dolphins with one another and people. Safina explored the growing pressure on African elephants for their tusks and the difficulty of changing the culture of the Maasai tribes and the economic rewards they receive from poaching. The elephants have learned to fear the scent of a Maasai. The stories an This book was mindblowing in analyzing the communication, empathy, playfulness, grieving, hierarchy, and interaction of elephants, wolves, lions, dogs, crows, parrots, bower birds, killer whales and dolphins with one another and people. Safina explored the growing pressure on African elephants for their tusks and the difficulty of changing the culture of the Maasai tribes and the economic rewards they receive from poaching. The elephants have learned to fear the scent of a Maasai. The stories and insights on elephant communication, feelings, grief, memories and love were endearing. The elephants are nearing extinction. Asia has to stop their lust for ivory. When I read a Chinese woman thought ivory was picked up off the ground I nearly screamed! Safina explored the near extinction of wolves in the U.S. They were brought back to Yellowstone National Park to control the elk population. The wolves brought increased tourism and economic gain for the Park and state of Montana. Yet a few farmers complaints brought open season hunting and poaching back and a few more sport hunters thought they had more elk to shoot in the fall. The most mindblowing of all the stories and research on animals was the killer whale and dolphins. Unbelievable how they have saved countless lives of people and dogs. Our capturing and holding them in captivity in zoos and marine parks is atrocious. Like elephants, they need to live with their families. Japan needs to stop overfishing and the U.S. and Canadian Navy must stop underwater bombing and sonar. Humans, as a species, are destroying the planet and the animal kingdom. This book reminds us of the fragility of the planet and why we need these animals to survive. "A study in Yellowstone Science concluded that in one year, "approximately 94,000 visitors from outside the region came to the park specifically to see and hear wolves." They spent "a total of $35.5 million in three states." The market value of cattle and sheep killed by wolves (the value ranchers would have gotten when they sold them for slaughter) was about $65,000 per year." "Betty is a New Caledonian crow who uses previous experience to reason through problems. Having learned what a hook is, she bends straight wire into hooks to reach food deep inside tubes. Presented with an array of wires, Betty chooses the correct length and diameter for the task before her." "We don't really have enough to go on; there's not enough to analyze. We have. Few stories of free-living killer whales guidi people lost in fog; of whales seemingly returning lost dogs; of free-living killer whales Turing in circles as a person makes a circular motion with his finger, or returning a worn hat perfectly for the occasion, or seeing someone wave and waving back, of empathy-of sympathy." "Yet when park ranger Roberto Bubas stepped into the water and played his harmonica, the same individual killer whales would form a ring around him like puppies. They rally playfully around his kayak and come as, by names he gave them, he called to them."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gregory K.

    I think a person's reaction to this book will probably be based on on the style of writing they prefer. When I read non-fiction I am hoping for a concise and professional approach. That doesn't mean that there can't be some humor and some reflection, so long as it doesn't overpower the purpose of the book. The author of this book though seems overly concerned with trying to embed his personality into the pages. There are constant off-the-wall reflections and comments, numerous one and two word s I think a person's reaction to this book will probably be based on on the style of writing they prefer. When I read non-fiction I am hoping for a concise and professional approach. That doesn't mean that there can't be some humor and some reflection, so long as it doesn't overpower the purpose of the book. The author of this book though seems overly concerned with trying to embed his personality into the pages. There are constant off-the-wall reflections and comments, numerous one and two word sentences, and long circular reflections. It felt almost as if I was reading a YouTube video. We could remove most of that extra stuff, keep the animal stories and important information, and reduce the book by 50%. That is not to say this was not a good book. For those who prefer a much more conversational approach this book may have even been pleasant to read. And for anyone interested in animal societies and animal ways of being this book is certainly worth the effort it may take to push through it. Otherwise it may be a better idea to watch a PBS Nature special on Netflix.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nora|KnyguDama

    Visi žino kaip aš myliu gyvūnus. Ir ne tik dėl to jog jie gražūs, mieli ar bejėgiai prieš žmogaus smurtą. Aš juos myliu, nes jie geri. Nes jie ne piktavaliai, nes jie tyri. Būtent gyvūnai man yra gamtos ir pasaulio grožis bei stebuklas. O svarbiausia, kad aš suprantu, jog jie yra lygiaverčiai žmonijai - žmonės taip pat yra gyvūnai. Dėka Dievo mes labiau evoliucionavome, ir kažkokiu, man nepaaiškinamu būdu pasiskelbėme žemės karaliais, galinčiais čia daryti ką tik norim. Žudom silpnesnius - ir sa Visi žino kaip aš myliu gyvūnus. Ir ne tik dėl to jog jie gražūs, mieli ar bejėgiai prieš žmogaus smurtą. Aš juos myliu, nes jie geri. Nes jie ne piktavaliai, nes jie tyri. Būtent gyvūnai man yra gamtos ir pasaulio grožis bei stebuklas. O svarbiausia, kad aš suprantu, jog jie yra lygiaverčiai žmonijai - žmonės taip pat yra gyvūnai. Dėka Dievo mes labiau evoliucionavome, ir kažkokiu, man nepaaiškinamu būdu pasiskelbėme žemės karaliais, galinčiais čia daryti ką tik norim. Žudom silpnesnius - ir savo padermės ir ne, be gailesčio kertam miškus, deginam pievas, teršiam atmosferą nereikalingų fabrikų chemija, mirtį vadinam prabanga (kailiai, odos, ragai, iltys...). Ne kartą man buvo gėda už žmoniją, o perskaičius šią knygą visai "degiau". Ši knyga idealiai parodo, jog gyvūnai yra itin protingos, giliai jaučiančios, mąstančios nuostabios būtybės. "Anapus žodžių" - skaudus antausis visiems išverstaakiams rėkiantiems, jog gyvūnai nieko nesupranta ar, kad jie skirti žmogaus poreikiams tenkinti. Carl Safina jau daug metų tyrinėja žmogaus ryšį su gyvūnija. Yra parašęs apie tai ne vieną knygą ir už jas gavęs gausybę apdovanojimų. "Anapus žodžių" nagrinėja dramblių, vilkų ir orkų gyvenimą, įpročius, šeimas ir tradicijas. Ar žinojote, jog visų minėtų gyvūnų rūšių šeimas valdo patelės? Ypatingą svarbą užima vyriausia patelė dramblė, mat jos atmintis geriausia. Ji žino kur keliauti, kad rastų vandens ar saugų prieglobstį, žino kur geriau nesilankyti ar kokių vietų vengti. Visa dramblių šeima jai paklūsta, o jai žuvus ta visa šeima gali nukentėti. Ar apie tai pagalvoja brakonieriai? Jog dėl ilčių paaukota dramblės gyvybė su savim nusineš dar kelias, mat šeimai bus sunku orientuotis, rasti vandens. Carl Safina kalbino jau dešimtmečius dramblių šeimas stebinčią mokslininkę, kuri iš vieno žvilgsnio atskiria visus 900 čia gyvenančių dramblių. Jie turi savo kalbą, savo ženklus, jie atpažįsta savo šeimos narius. Jie be galo myli savo jauniklius ir neretai dėl jų rizikuoja savo gyvybe. Drambliai dažnai net žmones gelbėja. Mokslininkė pasakojo kartą mačiusi, kaip pasiklydusią turistę, užmigusią po medžiu drambliai apklojo šakomis ir paslėpė nuo žvėrių.Toliau Safina veda mus link vilkų. Čia jis kartu su ilgus metus dirbančiu mokslininku stebi šių žvėrių gaujas. Vilkai turi nepaprastai stiprų šeimos jausmą. Jie yra kone vieninteliai gyvūnai medžiojantys už save stipresnius ir didesnius žvėris ir jiems tai puikiai pavyksta! Ir viskas dėl to, jog jie tai daro kartu - turi strategiją ir niekada nepuola po vieną. Dažnai šeimoms vadovauja alfa patinas, pasižymintis toli gražu ne smarkumu, stotu ar dydžiu. Tai ramiausias, patikimiausias, logiškai mąstantis vilkas, keliantis tikrą pasitikėjimą visai gaujai. Kalbėdamas apie vilkus, Safina paliečia ir šunų temą. Be abejonės VISI šunys yra kilę iš vilkų (net mano mažasis pudeliukas!). Senovėje vilkai ateidavo prie žmonių, kurie jiems numesdavo maisto. Ilgainiui jie ten liko ir saugodavo žmogaus namus, kaip savo teritoriją ir vykdavo savotiški mainai: tu man duosi mėsos, aš tave saugosiu. Su laiku vilkai prisijaukino žmones, o mes vilkus. Mes vieni kitus pamilome ir vilkai ėmė keistis: pamiršo daug išgyvenimui reikalingų dalykų, jų kūno proporcijos sumažėjo, pasikeitė kailis, nulėpo ausys. Kodėl? Ogi todėl, kad vilkas džiaugdamasis žmogumi ir rodydamas jam nuolankumą ausis nuleisdavo. Su laiku jos visai nulėpo ir taip atsirado prieraišiausi - nulėpausiai šuniukai. Be to, knygoje autorius pateikia mokslinių įrodymų, jog šunys nėra tiesiog prisirišę prie žmonių. Jie mus iš tikro myli! Po susipažinimo su vilkais keliaujame prie orkų - didžiųjų, plėšriųjų vandens gyvių. O, koks kvailas įsitikinimas, kad jos piktos žudikės! Nėra nė vieno įrašo, kad natūralioje gamtoje orka būtų nužudžiusi žmogų, ar puolusi kitą orką. Jos be galo mylinčios, žaismingos ir geros motinos savo jaunikliams. Jos itin protingos mąstančios būtybės, mielai prisileidžiančios žmogų (knygoje yra tyrinėtojo ir orkos bičiulystės nuotraukų). Kartą orkos net įkritusį į vandenį mokslininko šunį išgelbėjo. Knygoje rašo apie žiaurią orkų medžioklę, jų neapsakomą kančią ir sielvartą atskyrus jauniklius. Žiaurūs būdai, kokiais orkas dresavo pasirodymams - šokiravo. Ne vieną ašarą nubraukiau skaitydama, Be to, po 3-4 metų nelaisvėje orkos išprotėja... O ar ne visi gyvūnai? Jūs neįsivaizduojat kaip buvo smalsu skaityti. Apima jausmas jog viena akim pro rakto skylutę man buvo leista stebėti natūralią šių laukinių gyvūnų kasdienybę: kovą už būvį, gedulą, kovas, džiaugsmo šokius ar dainas. Apgailėjau kiekvieno nušauto ar kitaip nužudyto gyvūno ir dar kartą įsitikinau, kad neišprususio ir nemąstančio žmogaus žiaurumas yra beribis. Ar žinojote, kad kiekvienais metais orkų populiacija sumažėja 1-2 gyvūnais vien dėl žmogaus rankos? Ar neskaudu žinoti, kad daugybė mokslininkų dirba prie jų išlikimo, o bedvasis brakonierius nužudo gyvūną taip pasmerkdamas mirčiai dar kelis? Gyvūnai jaučia skausmą, išgyvena netektis, baimę. Suvokia kas yra jų vaikas, jų partneris, ir gina juos aukodami gyvybes. Gyvūnai GALI mirti iš sielvarto, o ar tai nėra aukščiausio lygio sąmoningumo įrodymas? Knyga jokiu būdu nėra įvilkta į gailesčio ir romantikos rūbą norint sugraudinti ar sujaudinti skaitytoją. Tai tyras mokslas, žinios ir faktai paremti nenuginčijamais šaltiniais. Tai tikrai viena nuostabiausių mano skaitytų knygų. Pamokiusi mane, privertusi daug mąstyti, gilintis, ieškoti papildomos informacijos internete. Aš žinojau, kad gyvūnai yra protingi ir gali daug, bet tai ką perskaičiau "Anapus žodžių" praplėtė mano akiratį šviesmečiais. Aš netikiu, jog žmogus perskaitęs šią knygą kada nors norės kalinių ar dirbinių iš dramblio ilčių. Nors man ir šiaip nesuvokiama, kaip žmogus gali trokšti tokių dalykų. Puoštis lavonais? Rimtai? Tai tokia atgyventa "prabanga", toks akivaizdus sąmoningumo nebuvimas, kad pamačius žmogų su kailiniais jo tiesiog pasidaro gaila... Mama visad mokė, jog neprotingų ir neišprususių reikia gailėti, o ne pykti ant jų. Stengiuosi tuo ir vadovautis. Labai labai nuoširdžiai rekomenduoju šią knygą visiems "kailiniuotiems" - patikėkit, sužinosit dalykų, kuriais nepatikėtumėt net devintam gyvenime. Na, o mylintiems gyvūnus net neturiu ką pasakyti. Viską patys suprantat ir knyga tikrai jau yra jūsų norimų perskaityti sąraše. Pridursiu tik tiek - tokias knygas privalu skaityti ir šviestis apie tuos, kurie apie save nepapasakos. O tai jog jie mums nepasako, jog jų žudyti ir engti negalima, nereiškia, kad mes tokią teisę turim.

  11. 4 out of 5

    AC

    Safina, who has a degree from Rutgers in Ecology, and is a MacArthur winner, has written a beautiful and deeply moving book about the natural lives of animals, focusing on the profound intelligence and inner life of elephants, wolves, whales, birds, and with asides on insects and lower orders -- in an attempt to show how all of us -- man and beast...even plant -- is simply part of an integral space, of animate life on earth, stressing the horrible loss of beauty and understanding that man's geno Safina, who has a degree from Rutgers in Ecology, and is a MacArthur winner, has written a beautiful and deeply moving book about the natural lives of animals, focusing on the profound intelligence and inner life of elephants, wolves, whales, birds, and with asides on insects and lower orders -- in an attempt to show how all of us -- man and beast...even plant -- is simply part of an integral space, of animate life on earth, stressing the horrible loss of beauty and understanding that man's genocide of natural habitats is producing in our time. I (knowing very little about animal behavioral psychology) found this book to be accessible, utterly eye-opening, and persuasive. Safina argues that animals -- even down to the lowest levels -- are "whos", and not "its"; that they have personality, subjectivity, consciousness of both themselves and others, empathy, emotion, deep stores of love, jealously creativity, curiosity, immense intelligence, communication skills, and..., indeed, to allow a pun, immense humanity. Far more that we. That animals are not simply some step in a teleological ladder, whose pinnacle is man, but that each is an end it itself, living a meaningful and aware life, with talents and skills appropriate to what it is. An elephant or whale or bird can be mediocre or brilliant AS WHAT IT IS..., as what it is to be an elephant or whale or bird..., and cannot be measured by what a man can do. A man, after all, could not survive a lifetime in an ocean -- or in flight. Safina does not have a degree in animal behavior or in neurosciences, and so is writing anecdotally and as a long-time, albeit intelligent observer, but not as an academic expert in his subject. He deplores the still current popularity of Behaviorism. The book is mared by jokes and asides, some snark, and wearing his environmentalism on his sleeve -- and it is written for the non-specialist. Hence, one may deduct a star or more if one likes. But for the layman like myself, it was a marvelous introduction to an astoundingly profound moving problem: what do animals think and feel, and how do we know.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zawn V

    Dreadful. Contains lines like, "One time my friend..." followed by a claim that this one anecdote tells us something about an entire species. Very light on science, heavy on speculation. If this were marketed as a book of observations about animals, it might get a higher rating. But we were promised an explanation of what animals think and feel, not what the author thinks and feels about animals.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chiara Libriamoci

    Safina è molto bravo a descrivere, non risulta mai ripetitivo e riesce perfettamente ad unire curiosità del mondo animale – spaziando e toccando anche specie differenti a quelle protagoniste – e delle abitudini, a riflessioni intelligenti e innovative sull’aspetto empatico e cognitivo degli animali; inoltre il lettore si commuove ed emoziona, in certi frangenti, di fronte alla bellezza degli attimi descritti e alle immagini che sono contenute al centro del volume. Ho trovato davvero interessante Safina è molto bravo a descrivere, non risulta mai ripetitivo e riesce perfettamente ad unire curiosità del mondo animale – spaziando e toccando anche specie differenti a quelle protagoniste – e delle abitudini, a riflessioni intelligenti e innovative sull’aspetto empatico e cognitivo degli animali; inoltre il lettore si commuove ed emoziona, in certi frangenti, di fronte alla bellezza degli attimi descritti e alle immagini che sono contenute al centro del volume. Ho trovato davvero interessante l’intero scritto e sono curiosa di sapere quali altri mondi i prossimi volumi ci permetteranno di scoprire, ero spaventata dalla mole e dal singolo argomento trattato, devo dire che sono rimasta colpita dalla velocità di lettura e dalla fluidità dell’intera lettura. Un volume che va letto sicuramente con matita e righello alla mano per i molteplici passaggi importanti e fondamentali utili a capire l’intero senso profondo e il messaggio prezioso in esso contenuto, sicuramente adatta agli amanti del mondo animale e a chi è curioso di “scoprirne” la mente. Un’idea, quella di Adelphi che ha deciso di creare questa nuova collana, originale e nuova per permettere di “vedere” e scoprire il mondo animale da un punto di vista nuovo, moderno e senza censure di superiorità puramente umana. “Si può fare obiezione quanto al nome imposto a questa balena…poiché siamo tutti assassini” Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cass™

    Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Stars As an animal person myself, this was greatly enjoyable. It was amazing to see how animals that we consider "wild" and "untamed" are so much more than that. Humans love to consider themselves special and the most intelligent species in this planet, but what if we're measuring intelligence of other species using the wrong scale? That was one of the authors arguments that I found extremely compelling, as well as the argument that why does the scientific world deprive itsel Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Stars As an animal person myself, this was greatly enjoyable. It was amazing to see how animals that we consider "wild" and "untamed" are so much more than that. Humans love to consider themselves special and the most intelligent species in this planet, but what if we're measuring intelligence of other species using the wrong scale? That was one of the authors arguments that I found extremely compelling, as well as the argument that why does the scientific world deprive itself from applying human characteristics to animals, such as jealousy or being able to plan ahead of time. The writing was very conversational and I think that worked really well with this book since the topic is one that can cause great debate if read with someone else or in a book club. It also made the reading much easier. I'm not keen on non-fiction, so the style of writing extremely helped me from dropping the book. So if you're someone that wants to get into non-fiction, and have no idea where to start, I would recommend this book. Because who doesn't like animals? Now the issues I had were mainly the research the author used and how he presented it. At its core this book is argumentative, and like any good argument you're supposed to have done enough research on the pros and cons of both sides. However, he only presented to us research that proved his point and then deconstructed the opposing researching by showing how "ridiculous" it sounded, to him at least. As someone that does and studies research, I was greatly appalled by his disregard of some of it without even taking a glance at the actual study published. Furthermore, his demeaning tone for some psychological concepts and how little he knew about them while speaking like he had studied them his whole life was just not profesional in my opinion. One time to define a concept he used the Wikipedia page. Wikipedia. Unbelievable. Overall, I still enjoyed it. I mainly like the second half of the book, while the first half with the elephants was quite slow and boring. It's a solid 3.5 stars for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Uno de los mayores errores del ser humano ha sido relegar a los animales a escalones inferiores, debido a la falta de sus capacidades para sentir y pensar igual que hacemos nosotros. Este brillante libro de Carl Safina viene a demostrarnos que el ser humano no es la medida de todas las cosas. Páginas llenas de ejemplo, estudios científicos y observaciones realizadas nos marcan una nueva dirección acerca de lo que no supimos ver antes sobre la mente animal. La comunidad cientifica tiene muchísimo Uno de los mayores errores del ser humano ha sido relegar a los animales a escalones inferiores, debido a la falta de sus capacidades para sentir y pensar igual que hacemos nosotros. Este brillante libro de Carl Safina viene a demostrarnos que el ser humano no es la medida de todas las cosas. Páginas llenas de ejemplo, estudios científicos y observaciones realizadas nos marcan una nueva dirección acerca de lo que no supimos ver antes sobre la mente animal. La comunidad cientifica tiene muchísimo que agradecer a Safina. Durante años se ha paseado por los entornos naturales más interesantes, de la mano de expertos osbservadores de vida salvaje; a la vez que ha recopilado varias anécdotas y estudios sobre los animales. El libro al que ha llegado como resultado es un ejemplar vasto en información - resulta muy dificil no marcar menos de cien páginas como aquellas en las que te has sorprendido de lo que leías - y que concentra estimulantes visiones sobre los animales. El libro traza tres grandes bloques: elefantes, lobos y orcas; y dentro de cada uno nos asomamos al estudio pormenorizado que se realiza sobre la vida de varias generaciones, sus inquietudes y cómo afrontan la convivencia con el ser humano. Salpican a estas genealogías los datos, las historias curiosas, las habilidades desconocidas, e incluso hay algo de espacio para la especulación. En todo momento, cada referencia está perfectamente relacionada con la bibliografía, lo cual da un enorme y riguroso valor a esta joya. La edición también incluye páginas de fotografías en blanco y negro realizadas por el propio autor. Lo mejor de Mentes Maravillosas es que todos vamos a disfrutarlo: los científicos, los amantes de los animales, los que lo desconocen casi todo y aquellos a los que nunca les interesó saber. Resulta imposible simplificar cuánto aprendizaje se esconde sobre estas páginas. Nunca sospechábamos que los cuervos podían resolver puzzles complejos, que los lobos son los animales con la comunidad más humana posible, que los monos quedan cerca de un sentido de la estética, que los elefantes almancenan un conocimiento geográfico e histórico soberbio, o que las orcas parecen saber qué sienten los humanos y buscan constantemente la interacción con ellos. Algunas historias nos pondrán muy tristes cuando nos demos cuenta de la extinción a la que estamos conduciendo a estas especies. La gran mayoría de las narraciones nos dejarán asombrados al reconocer actuaciones y sentimientos nunca antes intuidos en los animales: justicia, sentido de la decisión, luto, deducción... Y si el libro es lo suficientemente largo y profuso en detalles, no hace sino aumentar nuestra sed de conocer más a medida que lo vamos leyendo. Los textos pueden leerse acompañados de sentimentalismo o de puro sentido práctico, se puede devorar a bocados o en muy cómodas porciones a lo largo del tiempo, se puede quedar en la esfera íntima o promulgar cada descubrimiento a todos los curiosos... son varias las lecturas que podemos realizar. Y todas ellas son fascinantes. Tenemos una joya de la naturaleza. Un libro que dignifica a los animales.

  16. 5 out of 5

    SilviaG

    Un libro que te adentra en las costumbres, la supervivencia y la sociabilización de tres especies muy distintas e increíbles: los elefantes, los lobos y las orcas. Me ha parecido una lectura muy interesante y reveladora, sobre todo, la última parte dedicada a los cetáceos. A modo de crítica, señalar algunos capítulos centrales en los que el autor habla de cuestiones filosóficas relacionadas con la ciencia, y que resultan pesados.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Yunker

    In Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, Carl Safina sets out on a global journey to listen to and understand animals on their terms and not ours. By the end of this book, I can guarantee that readers will come away with a greater appreciation for the self-awareness, intelligence, and empathy of the animals we share this planet with. The bulk of the book is devoted to studying African elephants, North American wolves, and Pacific Northwest orcas (killer whales). Safina does an excellent job In Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, Carl Safina sets out on a global journey to listen to and understand animals on their terms and not ours. By the end of this book, I can guarantee that readers will come away with a greater appreciation for the self-awareness, intelligence, and empathy of the animals we share this planet with. The bulk of the book is devoted to studying African elephants, North American wolves, and Pacific Northwest orcas (killer whales). Safina does an excellent job of describing what he sees and learns as he travels with naturalists who have dedicated their lives to understanding these species. We watch elephants caring for their young, playing, and mourning (something that happens all too often due to poachers). The elephants are named, and researchers can identify them them by sight — and we get a sense of the life histories of many of these elephants, histories that are no less complex and challenging than any human animal. We follow wolf watchers in Yellowstone, and while the wolves may be given numbers and not names, we learn their life histories in similar detail — histories that sadly include equally tragic encounters with humans. I was struck by the similarities of risks both wolves and elephants face when they venture beyond human-drawn boundaries. In Africa, so long as elephants stay within national parks, they enjoy a greater degree of security; when they wander out of the parks, they run a gantlet of dangers. So too do the wolves who step outside the boundaries of Yellowstone. Hunters have gone so far as to use radio devices to track the electronic collars placed on wolves by researchers to know when wolves have crossed outside park boundaries (you can read Beckie Elgin’s many reviews of wolf literature to grasp the full scope of the war being waged on wolves). And then we meet the orcas in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands. While I was aware that orcas have widely divergent diets — the residents of the San Juan Islands prefer salmon, while the transients who pass through prefer seals — I did not know that are eight distinct species of orca around the world, which scientists have not yet made official. We know so little yet about these animals. We do know that there is no documented case of an orca in the wild killing a human (only examples of orcas in captivity doing so). Orcas are members of the dolphin family, and the stories of kindness that this family have exhibited towards humans over the years are remarkable — leading lost swimmers and boaters to safety, protecting humans from sharks, rescuing a drowning woman. One may argue that these actions are merely instinctual, but as the evidence mounts I’m not sure that argument holds any weight. Safina does not limit himself to a few species of animal. He digresses into stories about dogs, bonobos, ravens, tortoises, even worms. Stories that illustrate again and again that the animal world is far more intelligent and communicative that we have been led to believe (and perhaps want to believe). Darwin made the case long ago for the intelligence of non-human animals. Safina does not hesitate to take scientists to task for the great efforts they have exerted to avoid the scientific “third rail” of anthropomorphism. Safina points out that scientists often try to apply measures of intelligence that simply don’t make sense. The “mirror test” is one such measurement. (I’d like to think my cat has self awareness, even though he has yet to show any signs of recognizing himself in a mirror.) As an aside, a hundred years ago scientists argued that vivisection on live animals was perfectly reasonable because animals were “machine-like” and felt no pain. I know we’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long ways to go. Safina writes that just because an animal can’t talk doesn’t mean it can’t communicate. And if we judge animals by the standards we set, we miss the point. Animals don’t need to measure up to our standards of intelligence — only their standards. This is an important book and one that raises tough questions about not only how society views animals but how we treat animals — all animals. I would have liked to see Safina include a “what you can do” chapter to the book with actions we all can take. It’s hard to walk away from this book and not wonder why we still eat animals. Safina does not draw this connection — and I’m clearly biased in this regard — but this is really the only conclusion we can draw. Animals evolve. Humans evolve. It’s time humans evolve to a more equitable and respectful relationship with all animals. They’ve suffered us long enough. I’ll leave you with this quote: If cruelty and destructiveness are bad, humans are by a wide margin the worst species ever to infest this planet. If compassion and creativity are good, humans are by a wide margin the finest. But we are neither simply good nor bad; we are all these things together, and imperfectly so. The question for all is: Which way is our balance trending? (Review first appeared on EcoLit Books: www.ecolitbooks.com)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    “Why do human egos seem so threatened by the thought that other animals think and feel? Is it because acknowledging the mind of another makes it harder to abuse them?” Wow, what can I say? This book is absolutely amazing. It’s actually *beyond words* haha. I wish everyone in the world would read it!!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Another nail in the "just so story" that humans are special. Safina challenges the old school animal behaviorists who suggest that animals are incapable of thinking or feeling in any meaningful way. Unlike other animal activists researchers who go off the deep end, Safina's arguments, while some times anecdotal, are balanced and well thought out. In one particularly good section of the book, Safina recounted his days at university, sitting in the classroom listening to lectures on the evils of a Another nail in the "just so story" that humans are special. Safina challenges the old school animal behaviorists who suggest that animals are incapable of thinking or feeling in any meaningful way. Unlike other animal activists researchers who go off the deep end, Safina's arguments, while some times anecdotal, are balanced and well thought out. In one particularly good section of the book, Safina recounted his days at university, sitting in the classroom listening to lectures on the evils of anthropomorphizing animal's actions. I too have sat in lectures along with myriad undergrads and grads who heard largely the same thing Safina did. It is bored into our brains that since we cannot speak the same language, we cannot ask animals what they think and feel, and thus it a sacrilege to anthropomorphize their actions. After all, we can only observe actions, not thoughts or feelings. We must take caution in our interpretation of these actions. Safina agrees with this but suggests that in fact the professors themselves have made assumptions. Safina claims it is just as wrong to assume they do not have emotions and feelings similar to humans. If we can only measure behaviors, then Safina cautions, just stop there. No need to come to unfounded conclusions that since humans can't observe a feeling or thought, that it does not exist. Great argument. He goes onto make some assumptions of his own. However, his arguments are largely based on a wonderfully balanced look at the shared neuroanatomy, neurochemicals, neurocircuitry, and so on, between animals and humans. He tries to understand if there might be feelings, to a lesser a degree, present in all animals, and even plants (to an even lesser degree) who share similar anatomy, chemicals, and so on. He wants to understand how all of the senses originated and how they diverged once they emerged. These are great questions. Despite some anecdotal findings, Safina never enters the realm of sloppy science seen in cases involving Koko the gorilla. Trainers speak for Koko and want the world to believe that their mashup of their own interpretation + Koko's actions = fully sentient being (philosopher even!). This kind of "science" is tantamount to the "science" of facilitated communication that "helps" autistic individuals speak to the world. When the facilitators are able to let the public know what the person with autism has been thinking all this time, it is shocking, much like how shocking as it was to find out a guy who was in a coma for 12 years was aware of everything, even his mother wishing (for his sake) he would just die. However, it turned out that in the case of the autistic individual, we really don't know what they are thinking or are not thinking. When given a simple test, one which they can easily pass with the facilitator present, they fail when a different facilitator is present. In the end, it amounts to a ouija board. The facilitators really believe they are receiving signals from the hands on the keyboard, just as teen girls at a slumber party feel they are getting a signal from the hands on a ouija board. Koko's trainers engage in much the same kind of facilitated communication. Safina doesn't do this as much. Also enjoyable in this book, Safina has a very self-reflective writing style. His whole goal is to try to understand if animals can think and feel like humans do. Yet, he constantly questions the validity of this quest. Such a great quality in a researcher/author/lecturer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Just wonderful. Safina really delves deep into the 'who' of animals; there are so many animal anecdotes here that are just jaw-dropping (my favourite one involved a tiger stalking his human enemy for months; I'm also very unlikely to ever kill another wasp because SOME OF THEM CAN RECOGNISE YOUR FACE :|). Although he might be taking things a little bit too far sometimes (for example when arguing that wolves' fear of humans could be the outcome of a cost-benefit calculation and not say, an evolut Just wonderful. Safina really delves deep into the 'who' of animals; there are so many animal anecdotes here that are just jaw-dropping (my favourite one involved a tiger stalking his human enemy for months; I'm also very unlikely to ever kill another wasp because SOME OF THEM CAN RECOGNISE YOUR FACE :|). Although he might be taking things a little bit too far sometimes (for example when arguing that wolves' fear of humans could be the outcome of a cost-benefit calculation and not say, an evolutionary repulsion to our smell) his main point is fair and important: that it's just as scientifically wrong to anthropomorphise animals as it is to do the opposite (objectify?). Safina definitely has a huge beef with animal scientists who seek the 'theory of mind' in animals, then proceed to hail it as proof of their lack of sentience when the animals invariably fail their terribly designed experiments. He spends several incisive (and highly amusing) chapters on discrediting their efforts. It makes for an entertaining read but I felt like he never really gets to the definition of the ToM that actually matters -- of it being the opposite of solipsism, so: not just of recognising that others have minds, but acknowledging that those minds have the capacity to feel that is similar to one's own (this surely takes years to develop even in humans, if it develops at all). These are all minor (and possibly entirely my own) issues in a deeply satisfying whole. A word of warning though: this book will leave you in a world of sadness. The author is a conservationist and conservationists, like climatologists, don't have much to be optimistic about. Large parts of the book are heart-breakingly sad and a proof that humanity truly is the cartoonish villain of the natural world. Though the book ends on a positive note, it's a very brief and forced-sounding positive note that is the opposite of reassuring.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Fintel

    This is quite a thought provoking book. Carl Safina studied primarily three animal groups, elephants, wolves and whales. All of these animal groups have been found to have complex social groups and communication skills. After reading that and then to read how humans have brought such misery and chaos into their lives is indeed horrifying. For instance, elephants have a matriarchal society led by older females. When these elephants are killed for their tusks, it throws the whole family into stres This is quite a thought provoking book. Carl Safina studied primarily three animal groups, elephants, wolves and whales. All of these animal groups have been found to have complex social groups and communication skills. After reading that and then to read how humans have brought such misery and chaos into their lives is indeed horrifying. For instance, elephants have a matriarchal society led by older females. When these elephants are killed for their tusks, it throws the whole family into stress and despair. For instance, the older elephants know where there is water and where to go to find additional food sources in lean times. When these older elephants are gone, the younger elephants then are also put in danger of losing their lives. Reading about humans kidnapping baby elephants and whales to put them in circuses or other types of shows, is just so sad. The mothers mourn the loss of their babies just like humans do by crying, refusing to eat and generally showing despair. I personally have always thought that animals all have their own personalities and complex lives so this is not news to me. Hopefully, all humans will begin to know this and treat animals with the respect they deserve.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    A surprisingly moving and poetic exploration on the topic of individuality in animals. The author is a Doctor of Ecology, and co-chairs the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and I can certainly see why Mr. Alda (who is one of the best ambassadors of science alive today) chose Dr. Safina for that role. The book teems with facts presented through narrative accounts of the author's journeys through the savanna, the ocean, and the forest as he encounters people working closely with elephan A surprisingly moving and poetic exploration on the topic of individuality in animals. The author is a Doctor of Ecology, and co-chairs the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and I can certainly see why Mr. Alda (who is one of the best ambassadors of science alive today) chose Dr. Safina for that role. The book teems with facts presented through narrative accounts of the author's journeys through the savanna, the ocean, and the forest as he encounters people working closely with elephants, whales, wolves, and a diverse cast of other creatures, all in an effort to understand how these beings perceive their world and themselves. I was caught off-guard by the poignancy of this book. At times, the attempted poetry in the prose doesn't always come off, but it is only through taking the number of chances that Dr. Safina does that he succeeds as often as he has in this book. A deeply important topic, handled with expert care by a knowledgeable guide. Though I have read a number of more scholarly books on this topic, none have left me feeling as profoundly moved and enlightened as this one. Highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love this. The author makes it extremely clear that we, as humanity, need to stop evaluating animals in terms of how similar they are to us, whether they have the exact same emotional abilities as us and whether they have the have the exact same stream of awareness as us because they are who they are - and that's more than enough! Humans are not the golden standard to which any kind of important being needs to be compared to - despite how special we think we are. Who an animal is, is just as i I love this. The author makes it extremely clear that we, as humanity, need to stop evaluating animals in terms of how similar they are to us, whether they have the exact same emotional abilities as us and whether they have the have the exact same stream of awareness as us because they are who they are - and that's more than enough! Humans are not the golden standard to which any kind of important being needs to be compared to - despite how special we think we are. Who an animal is, is just as important as who your next door neighbor is. In many ways their individual capacity and understanding is beyond anything we hope to attain. I love this and understand that using many first hand accounts of encounters with animals (retold by experts in the field) was to personalise the experience and go past 'hard science' which is often unfair to animals emotion and intelligence but I can see certain people discarding this book for that reason.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Duran

    This book!!!! I gave it to three different people for the holidays. It has been a very long time since a book a) moved me to tears, b) kept me riveted to the page, AND c) forced me to cast it down so I could pace in agitation while pondering the implications of the paragraph I'd just read...all within the space of an hour. In short, while reading this book, I probably looked like I'd lost my mind. :) Anyway, if I could afford to gift a copy to every person on the planet, I would -- and I've no d This book!!!! I gave it to three different people for the holidays. It has been a very long time since a book a) moved me to tears, b) kept me riveted to the page, AND c) forced me to cast it down so I could pace in agitation while pondering the implications of the paragraph I'd just read...all within the space of an hour. In short, while reading this book, I probably looked like I'd lost my mind. :) Anyway, if I could afford to gift a copy to every person on the planet, I would -- and I've no doubt the world would be a better place for it, too.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Jacobs

    Safina makes a thoroughly convincing argument. Less brainy than de Waal, less reflective than Lopez, both of whom write in a similar vein, I feel a little distressed that Safina often sacrifices grammar to achieve his chatty tone, a tone I find ever so slightly suspect. Am I being patronized? But still a fine and worthwhile read - worth hanging on to if not quite a classic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    As close as any text could ever come to making me a vegetarian. The section on elephants is the best nature writing I've ever read. For an animal kingdom illiterate like me, a profound read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Eiler

    This book is a splendid ambassador for the Earth’s myriad non-human inhabitants, living for their own sometimes mysterious reasons, to be valued according to their own measures and granted rights to their lives, loves, and dreams – just like us. Highlighting the many ways that animals can only be rightly seen as “like” themselves – whilst acknowledging and celebrating the biological heritage that furnishes many of our commonalities with other species – is part of the brilliance of Beyond Words. T This book is a splendid ambassador for the Earth’s myriad non-human inhabitants, living for their own sometimes mysterious reasons, to be valued according to their own measures and granted rights to their lives, loves, and dreams – just like us. Highlighting the many ways that animals can only be rightly seen as “like” themselves – whilst acknowledging and celebrating the biological heritage that furnishes many of our commonalities with other species – is part of the brilliance of Beyond Words. The author ruminates and reports about his fieldwork observing elephants, wolves, cetaceans, and other creatures with a literacy and social conscience that propel the reader into an educated admiration and appreciation for these wonderful beings. His recounting of the plight of African elephants being slaughtered to extinction for the revolting ivory trade, or Yellowstone wolves being delisted as an endangered species and laid bare to hunters engenders pain and outrage. One may hope that at least some of his readers will be spurred to stand for change, acting as part of a growing counterpoint to human-centric barbarism. Carl Safina, with a PhD in ecology, is a scientist who has a healthy disagreement with many Western scientific theories and paradigms in so far as they attempt to judge the Animal Kingdom by ridiculous standards which humanity itself cannot meet. His presentation of biology is fascinating, but I found regrettable his exclusive attribution of every emotional reaction or “finer” tendency to hormone secretions, groups of neurons, and the evolutionary process of domestication. Safina treats philosophy, spirituality, and religion with a combination of indulgent pity, incredulous humor, and open dislike. Dismissed out of hand are spirits, gods, Angels, the afterlife, or an immortal soul as mere hormonally-induced delusions, irrational wishful thinking, or the adult equivalent of talking to an imaginary friend. As a metaphysician, this view obviously runs counter to my worldview – as does his assertion that philosophers rarely if ever possess any “facts” or have real-world experience of their subject matter. The insight into the complex political lives of chimpanzees, multi-layered societies of cetaceans, and hard-won alliances and family dramas of wolves is fascinating. The author refers to studies that demonstrate the intellect, teaching, and language of birds, bees, ants, and fish. The wonderful brains and other biological machinery of culture wielded by the Animal Kingdom (including humans) are explored in a detailed and fully accessible manner for non-scientists. Regrettably, spiritual dimensions to human and non-human animals are viewed as a silly fantasy. Philosophy, theism, karma, soul, telepathy, reincarnation, afterlife, deity – total bunk in the author’s view. The refusal to accept even the possibility of a metaphysical or spiritual dimension to life leaves a hollow emptiness echoing through the core of this book which is only partly ameliorated by the writer’s genuine emotion and moral concern for animals and the Earth. All in all, this was a well-crafted, artfully written, highly interesting, and educational book which I recommend to everyone interested in learning more about the non-human beings who so industriously populate our world. The biology of being is presented in beautiful, literate, and respectful prose. It’s a marvelous reference guide illustrating our most insightful glimpse yet (although we’ve barely scratched the surface) into how other animals live, love, work, communicate, reason, and preserve history. Quotes: “If you look at side-by-side drawings of humans, elephants, and dolphin brains, the similarities overwhelm the differences. We are essentially the same, molded by long experience into different outer shapes for coping with different outer surroundings, and wired inside for special talents and abilities. But beneath the skin, kin.” (Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, p. 324) “For a while, everywhere in the near and medium distance, black fins continue urgently scribbling their stories on the slate of the sea. I read them as intently as I can, knowing that the sea will soon erase what they have written, and that we don’t have a backup on file.” (Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, p. 409)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jammin Jenny

    I really liked this non-fiction story about how animals have emotions and how those emotions and thought processes are innate to their particular nature. I loved the story of Wolf 21 in Yellowstone National Park, and how he created a huge pack of wolves based on his personality and leadership. Great read for nature lovers, especially those that like non-fiction reads.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Feltham

    This is an important book about the emotions and intelligence of animals, and why it is so essential to protect habitat so the world's most precious animals can survive. Beyond Words is divided into four parts. The first, and my favorite, is about the elephants of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The wisdom of the herd's matriarch, the joy of the babies' play, and the empathy of each individual is described by researchers who have observed these elephants for years. One of the staff can recogniz This is an important book about the emotions and intelligence of animals, and why it is so essential to protect habitat so the world's most precious animals can survive. Beyond Words is divided into four parts. The first, and my favorite, is about the elephants of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The wisdom of the herd's matriarch, the joy of the babies' play, and the empathy of each individual is described by researchers who have observed these elephants for years. One of the staff can recognize 900 individual elephants by sight, and knows the diverse personalities of many. The second section is about the wolves of Yellowstone, and their remarkable social structures, again as told by researchers who have witnessed amazing feats. The third part is a compilation of theories and observations about various animals, including birds, apes, hyenas, squirrels (who like being tickled), and others. The final section describes the complex lives of killer whales in the Salish Sea, in my part of the world, as described by researcher Ken Balcomb. Carl Safina builds his readers' understanding of the beauty and complexity of the societies of elephants, wolves and killer whales, and then provides the devastating truth about the effects of their shrinking habitat-- the poachers who killed 10,000 African elephants in ten years, the sport hunters who killed even the wolves with research collars, and the U.S. Navy who use sonar in our Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary that has killed killer whales. I do think Beyond Words would have benefited from heavier editing, especially eliminating so many stories about the author's own dogs (I'm a cat person, and there is no mention of cats). But overall I deeply appreciate the new awareness of animals' emotions I got from this book, both for my own pet cats who have completely different personalities and emotional needs, and wild animals I encounter here on the Olympic Peninsula. And I reflect back on animals I have met and observed here and in different parts of the world, and having read this book, wish I could see them again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    Mind-blowing, breath-taking, stunning, amazing, outstanding, extraordinary. I'm running out of words to describe this book, and the way I feel about it. Safina is passionate, thought-provoking, persuasive, and compelling. His discussions of anthropomorphism and the evolution of the fields of behavior and the study of animal intelligence and emotions is unparalleled. This is one of those books, like Silent Spring or A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, that marks a turning point for Mind-blowing, breath-taking, stunning, amazing, outstanding, extraordinary. I'm running out of words to describe this book, and the way I feel about it. Safina is passionate, thought-provoking, persuasive, and compelling. His discussions of anthropomorphism and the evolution of the fields of behavior and the study of animal intelligence and emotions is unparalleled. This is one of those books, like Silent Spring or A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, that marks a turning point for the philosophy of science and the public attitude towards an entire field. On top of that, it's also smoothly readable and one of those books packed with such engaging anecdotes and such amazing facts that you become a font of information to all those around you. (Kind of whether they wanted you to or not.) Safina specifically focuses on dolphins, wolves, and elephants, and each section, on its own, would earn a five-star rating from me. Together, they make one of the most astonishing books I've ever read.

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