Deanna Dailey's Reviews > Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
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Dec 04, 11

Read in December, 2011

It makes me a little sad to rate this book with only two stars. I really like Temple Grandin's work, and I loved Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. I've gleaned a lot of interesting information from this book, and I think there was a lot of really interesting and valid research and experience that went into writing it. It's just that it's not very well written. It's like at the end of each chapter she starts to get tired of explaining everything and she starts just saying that doing things any way other than hers is "just wrong." I happen to mostly agree with her, but from Grandin as a scientist, I expect her to more fully explain why doing things in a way different than she recommends is wrong.

She's not approaching things from a moral/ethical (or even really an emotional) place. She is heavily involved in mass production of cattle, pigs, and chickens, and it's not her intention to change everything to small locally-owned permaculture farms. She's talking about how to make mega-ag more humane, while maintaining its ability to produce all the meat our American hearts desire. So when she says that breeding chickens with weak bones is "just wrong" it doesn't fit with the rest of her logical framework. I happen to agree with her; it is wrong. But then, I also think the whole mega-ag complex is just wrong, and any conversation about ethics is bound to decline into an argument about where it's okay to draw the line. Is it okay to keep chickens in cages too small to turn around in, as long as they have strong bones? It's a silly question. And that's what I love about most of what Grandin writes; she doesn't address the questions of right/wrong at all, but looks at the actual science. How are animals affected on a neurological level by their surroundings? How does that affect the final product, both in terms of profit and in terms of meat quality? Those are more effective arguments, and I think Grandin has that information in spades. I wish she had focused on sharing that information.
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