Friday, February 02, 2007
Inside the Animal Mind by George Page
I recently saw a 25th anniversary episode for the PBS program Nature. As I watched I kept waiting to hear the voice of the late George Page, who was the host and frequent narrator for many years. It was surprising deep in the program before one of his episodes was highlighted and he was acknowledged. The segment showed Page talking about canine/human interactions, which reminded me about his book Inside the Animal Mind.
While some ancient and tribal people believed animals have spirits and powers, most modern thinkers since the Age of Reason and the Industrial Revolution have assumed that animals act strictly according to instinct. According to common and sometimes religious belief, animals are inferior to humans. It was assumed that animals have no self-awareness and they are unable to think.
According to Page, scientists now disagree strongly about the nature of the animal mind. Some continue to believe animals have no thoughts, feelings, or conscience, while other point to studies of animal communications, problem-solving, and relationships with humans to contend that they are more capable. In Inside the Animal Mind, Page presents the arguments, his own beliefs, and the moral implications for how humans should treat animals in labs, zoos, feedlots, and the wild.
Librarians should offer this fascinating book when helping students with animal behavior and animal rights research.
Page, George. Inside the Animal Mind. New York: Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 038549291X