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Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals
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Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Do baboons have a sense of right and wrong? Do cats and dogs have their feelings hurt? Animal behavior expert Jonathan Balcombe makes the case that animals, once viewed only as mindless automatons, actually have rich sensory experiences and emotional complexity. Drawing on new research, observational studies, and personal anecdotes to reveal the full spectrum of animal exp ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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This is a book with a mission. The author tries to convince us that animals are sentient and feeling creatures and we should treat them with dignity. That includes not eating them and not using them in experiments of any nature.
What a change from Hauser’s book! Balcome devotes the whole book to convince us that inner lives of animals are not much poorer than ours. He shows that they are capable of altruistic behavior and some of them operate with an obvious theory of mind, display social behavio
just read it. and then stop being so human-centric. all of you! :P
as the author himself points out a few different times, a book like this could not have been printed decades ago (or, had it been, it would have been laughingly dismissed). second nature: the inner lives of animals is a fascinating, often unbelievable foray into the latest science regarding animal intelligence, behavior, and the like. balcombe's work as an animal behavior research scientist has undoubtedly led to discoveries similar to those he outlines in the book.

much of second nature serves t
A usually interesting collection of research studies, anecdotes, and observations about animals, with the author believing strongly that animals are capable of enjoying life, rather than being devoid of feeling, and acting on instinct. Definitely some good food for thought, though the writing sucked, and everything was so 'fluffy' and agenda-laden, that I found it frustrating at times. But it convinced me that the double-priced eggs from the family farms are worth it!
The Wandering Bibliophile
I literally finished this book in the span of 24 hours. It was amazing. I can't recommend it highly enough to those who are concerned with animal welfare. While I borrowed the book from the library this time I will most definitely be purchasing it for my own library as there were numerous passages that I desperately wanted to take a highlighter to.

Definitely my first "favorite" of 2011.
I thought the book had a great idea to begin with, and although the supporting points were fascinating, I felt as though the book was nothing more than a listing of experiments. I also wondered why, especially in a book having to do with the feelings of animals, they chose to watch lab rats writhe after being injected with a painful drug for one of their experiments.
Cathy Unruh
Written largely from a scientific perspective, so one needs to be prepared for that: incredibly informative and possibly life-changing in the way we view our fellow creatures.
Julia Lynn Rubin
An exceptionally researched, candid and extraordinary book. A must-read for animal lovers and those narrow-minded about animals.
Amelia Mulder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An extremely thoughtful look at not only the lives of animals, but of our moral and ethical thoughts about them. At first the focus is on animals, their behaviour, sentience, how their senses differ depending on physiology, and finally on their emotions. Although scientific research is always used as evidence, this author never starts with an "they don't have this until it is proven otherwise" attitude, instead he is most willing to give the benefit of the doubt. One particular point is emphasiz ...more
excellent study (humane in best sense)
especially interesting to me for the (typically brilliant) Foreword by J.M.Coetzee
This book is a fantastic read. There is a great deal of scientific research but it is written in a manner that is friendly even for those who have little/no background in the natural sciences. At the same time, Balcombe also refrains from 'dumbing down' the work. For me, a couple of the chapters were extremely difficult to read as they describe the violence people do to animals and that people do to one another. However, these chapters were in no way gratuitous; they supported Balcombe's argumen ...more
Thought provoking read about animals emotional lives as well as their interactions with the same species and others, how we humans treat animals in the laboratory and factory farms. Nice ancedotes about interactions between animals. Not so pretty thoughts about humans' unethical and immoral actions towards animals.
It seemed like a lot of information was thrown together without really fleshing out the narrative. Many interesting studies that I would have liked expanded. Clearer, more concise arguments would have made this a stronger book.
I recommend this book. The main point for me was that the life of each individual animal matters to that individual animal. "Factory farming" is not a good thing. I'll try to become more conscious of my personal choices.
Steph Bradford
This book is FASCINATING!!!!! I have learned SO MUCH about animal behavior. It reminds me of watching Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" as a kid! I hope to use snippets with my students.
This one book taught me more about animals than any I have ever read
Almost the same book as his "The Pleasureable Kingdom"
Kevin Saldanha
Great book... confirms what I had mostly suspected.
Ed Dieringer
Really gets that ol' brain a tickin'
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Jonathan Balcombe was born in England, raised in New Zealand and Canada, and has lived in the United States since 1987. He has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, where he studied communication in bats. He has published over 45 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection.

He is the author of four books. J
More about Jonathan Balcombe...
Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives, & Recommendations Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

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“Humbling as it may be, for all our vaunted brain power, humans emerge as nothing special in the sensory sweepstakes. Our senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are middling, at best.” 0 likes
“Animals are as intelligent as they need to be. If a particular mental ability—such as learning to recognize other individuals, or to identify predators—is important to survival and reproduction, then it will be favored evolutionarily. But nature doesn’t waste energy building brains just because it can. All else being equal, an organism with a smaller brain should have a survival advantage over one with a larger brain, because the “brainier” one must consume more energy to sustain its gray matter.” 0 likes
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