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Second Nature

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  23 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, 242 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published 2010)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  253 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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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 b
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
just read it. and then stop being so human-centric. all of you! :P
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
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 to
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
May 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Julia Rubin
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally researched, candid and extraordinary book. A must-read for animal lovers and those narrow-minded about animals.
Cathy Unruh
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark McTague
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author, a biologist by training and profession, cites numerous scientific studies over the previous decade (published in 2010) that have been shifting our understanding of the so-called "lower animals." These studies (and presumably even more in the nine years since publication) also make a strong case for changing our view of ourselves, particularly the conceit that places Homo sapiens at the apex of all life and the corollary idea, that all other animals exist only for our use. In carefull ...more
Amelia Mulder
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animal-rights
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent several hours with this author at a fundraiser where I purchased my (signed) copy of this book. While I like Jonathan a lot, I have mixed feelings about this book. Written at a college level, at times it had my eyes glaze and I had to re-read a paragraph to understand what he was trying to say. The author is well-traveled and many of the anecdotes are personal experience. This is well-researched with pages of notes at the end of the book. The final chapters are a bit "preachy" though.

Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
José Pedraza
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excelente libro. Aprendí mucho sobre comportamientos animales que son tan "humanos" que uno no creería verlos en animales.

Lo que más me gustó es el argumento que dice que los humanos no son superiores a los animales, cada uno tenemos nuestras cualidades que nos hacen especiales por igual.
Ed Dieringer
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really gets that ol' brain a tickin'
Steph Bradford
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: colleens-books
Excellent book!
Jun 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Almost the same book as his "The Pleasureable Kingdom"
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
excellent study (humane in best sense)
especially interesting to me for the (typically brilliant) Foreword by J.M.Coetzee
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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 f
“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.” 2 likes
“Science likes to measure things, to test hypotheses and collect data. Until quite recently science wasn’t testing hypotheses about animal feelings. From the time Charles Darwin wrote his last book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) to about the time Neil Armstrong left footprints on the moon nearly a century later (1969), prevailing scientific dogma denied animals their hearts and minds. A nonhuman animal was viewed as merely a responder to external stimuli. The idea that a walrus made decisions, or that a parakeet felt emotions, was considered unscientific.” 2 likes
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