Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Homans

What’s a Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy and Politics of Man’s Best Friend
by John Homans
Penguin USA,  375 Hudson St.,  New York, NY 10014),  2012.
272 pages,  hardcover.  $16.00.

The following excerpt is from an essay-review by Barbara Kay, published by Animals 24-7 on August 30, 2014

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Throughout his previous fourteen chapters, discussing dog matters in general, Homans has exuberantly scattered like rose petals down a wedding aisle the supportive names and theories of peer-reviewed animal-studies experts on evolution, cognition, behavior and animal-human relations: Charles Darwin, James Serpell, Konrad Lorenz, Alexandra Horowitz, Marc Bekoff, John Bradshaw, John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller (who wrote “the bible of canine science” proving the heritability of breed traits), Brian Hare, Dmitri Belyaev (whose Siberian fox experiments demonstrated that changing function results in changing form), Ray Coppinger, Clive Wynne, C. Lloyd Morgan, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, Jane Goodall.

In the pages devoted to the pit bull controversy, though, all appeal to science-based authority skids to an abrupt halt. Homans makes many declarations of faith regarding the nature of the pit bull, but adduces as evidence for them no more than a single supportive voice from the world of canine studies – and that voice one that is not only based in emotion rather than science, but is not, upon examination, even supportive of Homans’s views.

Read the full review by Barbara Kay in Animals 24-7

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Related Post:
Canine Cognition; SRUV, January 4, 2014