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The Human Nature Of Birds by Theodore Xenophon Barber, Ph.D.
Book Review
by Dan Dugan
Dan Dugan Sound Design, San Francisco

Subtitled "A Scientific Discovery with Startling Implications," Barber's book presents an easy-to-read and entertaining theme, but fails to substantiate "discovery" or "startling implications." Barber argues that animal consciousness and intelligence are fundamentally the same as ours, perhaps simpler in some ways but then, perhaps, more complex in others. His main thesis is that modern science regards animals as "instinct-driven automations," and that science refuses to give them credit for the thoughts and feelings.

As I am not from the academic community, I don't know whether this is a fair complaint. The animal scientists I've heard lecturing to the Nature Sounds Society certainly seem to agree more with Barber when they talk about animal behavior. I recall Luis Baptista's interpretation of a sparrow's song as "come over here and I'll break your face." In any case I think Barber laments too much about (continued page 5) being rejected by official science. Outside of this, Barber's animal stories are charming and fascinating. He tells the tales of Alex, the gray parrot with a large vocabulary, the signing apes Koko and Washoe, and many other remarkable examples. I recommend this book to all nature lovers.

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