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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, clear, comprehensive and authoritative
Dr. Justin Gregg is a researcher at the Dolphin Communication Project. Throughout this book it's clear he loves dolphins and other aquatic mammals, and deeply interested in their lives, behaviour and yes, intelligence.

The book reads as a PhD thesis - I rather suspect this was his (slightly padded out where some terms may be unfamiliar to the lay reader). This...
Published 15 months ago by CMB

versus
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Intelligence in humans is anecdotal
Being halfway through the book I thought I should leave a comment. I am having a hard time reading this book without feeling I am being misled. Though it is evident that the author manages a great amount of information, I believe another book is necessary to refute his interpretations of some studies, and therefore, dolphin's intelligence overall; however, there are flaws...
Published 18 months ago by Mother Foca


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, clear, comprehensive and authoritative, 4 Jan. 2014
By 
CMB (London UK) - See all my reviews
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Dr. Justin Gregg is a researcher at the Dolphin Communication Project. Throughout this book it's clear he loves dolphins and other aquatic mammals, and deeply interested in their lives, behaviour and yes, intelligence.

The book reads as a PhD thesis - I rather suspect this was his (slightly padded out where some terms may be unfamiliar to the lay reader). This is no bad thing, indeed, makes it highly authoritative. Every statement is cross-referenced to the end-notes, which have sources right there, so you can check his statements if you wish.

The book is far more than about dolphin intelligence. To do so, you have to explain what we mean by animal (and human) intelligence, and how to measure it. And all the remarkable and highly inventive techniques created to pry out this information. We end up with a tour de force review of comparative animal cognition and brain physiology. It's heady stuff (pardon the pun) and fascinating. One of those rare books where you can feel your own intelligence being given a gentle nudge upwards by a kindly master. Yes, high praise indeed.

The conclusion? I won't be giving too much away by saying they do much better than expected in a couple of areas (a good as dogs at understanding human gaze/pointing despite having not co-evolved with humans, and as good at chimps at learning and using a set of symbol usage despite having no obvious need for it in the wild). On the other hand, they don't do well in certain other areas, much as we would love to believe they do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, well-rounded introduction, 8 Nov. 2013
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This was a really enjoyable surprise of a book. As a vegan, I have a strong interest in better understanding animals, how they perceive the world and trying to get my head around what would be the right way for us to live with them, i.e. is there a way for us to live in a healthy, symbiotic relationship with the various species that we have domesticated? Oops, sorry - the book review.. :)

3 things I enjoyed and appreciated about it:

1. It was very well written and easy to read. I felt a couple of times like the author had done a lot of the heavy lifting for me in researching, organising and explaining the various topics and concepts. And there's a lot to get through. But I never felt like I was reading a technical manual but rather being expertly guided through the often dense topic.

2. It seemed to be very neutral with the author never seeming to take a side or push an agenda. If anything, it has a lot of gentle humour which I really enjoyed, in comparison with a lot of literature on environmentalism and veganism which tends toward more of a "shrill" tone, natural enough where you have people speaking about topics that they have strong emotional investments in. Top marks for the unbiased approach.

3. While focusing on Dolphins, it uses a lot of examples and references from other species, giving some breadth as well as depth. It opened up a couple of interesting additional avenues that I will be searching amazon for (especially chickens).

I think you'd probably need an interest in the topic to pick up a book like this but you'll find it hard to put down and probably, like me, find yourself afterwards searching Amazon for a book about the inner lives of Chickens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good account of experiments on dolphins, 10 Dec. 2013
By 
Alan Michael Forrester "I exist." (Northampton) - See all my reviews
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"Are Dolphins Really Smart?" by Justin Gregg is about whether dolphins deserve their reputation as the second smartest animal in the world after humans, and whether they are peaceful and benevolent as many people claim. Gregg summarises the available experimental and observational evidence for many of these claims and concludes that they don't stand up to serious critical scrutiny: dolphins are similar to chimps in their information processing ability. He points out that many of the experiments that people cite as evidence that dolphins are super smart are often ambiguous, or indicate that dolphins are about as smart as dogs or both. This is because such experiments are difficult and it is easy to trainers to inadvertently cue animals or provide other information that dolphins might use to get the "right" answer in these experiments. Also, dolphins are not especially "nice": They kill and injure one another and animals of other species, which isn't particularly surprising in a wild animal except to those who prefer imagination to reality.

The book is not perfect. Although the author clearly states when he is making a philosophical statement that can't be settled by experiment (good), his philosophical statements are often wrong (bad). Also, he, like most people misunderstands what makes humans different from other animals: the ability to create new explanatory knowledge. However, as an account of the experimental and observational evidence the book is worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars academic review, 20 Feb. 2014
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L. mckay "brookes_bargain_books" (scotland) - See all my reviews
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I am currently horrified by the dolphin drive hunts in Japan and the Faroe Islands, This book is an emotionally impartial scientific overview of the current and historical views and research surrounding dolphins. I am now even more convinced that keeping dolphins and orcas in captivity is wrong, we have enough research to now allow them to live free and if further research is required can be done in the wild.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and thought-provoking, 2 Feb. 2014
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Having an interest in human consciousness leads one inevitably to an interest in animal consciousness too and this book is a good one to pursue that line of enquiry.

The author approaches the subject more from the direction of 'intelligence' rather than overall consciousness and this is fair enough as they both are related but distinct phenomena. In fact the finding of this book confirm that. Dolphins are clearly intelligent and, like humans, social animals but it as with our overall approach to the animal kingdom, we have to be very careful not to anthropomorphise non-human animals. Their intelligence [and consciousness] are truly alien [and variable] and Justin Gregg does a good job of investigating this. Well worth a read if this subject area is of interest to you as this is an accessible but still academically sound book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are dolphins really smart? Probably, 13 Feb. 2014
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D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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I ordered this because we sometimes see dolphins off the coast; and because my son was fascinated by dolphins when he was young; and, finally because I watched Flipper as a child, which probably dates me no end. And not forgetting that Oxford University Press are a leading publisher of quality books - and, no I don't work for them. Overall, this is a fluently written and informative book. Did I feel the question in the title had been answered fully by the time I reached the last page? No, but that's science for you. And anyway I didn't particulalrly mind. It was a fun journey. And I now know far more about dolphins than I ever did before - as well as some interesting facts about other species (because the author, Justin Gregg, is good at using other species as comparators). Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a well focused book, 20 Feb. 2014
By 
Jack Chakotay "Ender Brazil" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This book focuses totally on dolphins and does not engage in the scientific pokery of "Why don't penguins feet freeze" series and their equivalent. There is a nearly mystical legend that is arising about dolphins and their intelligence which is seemingly backed up by scientific reports and documentaries. The author sifts through the research and evidence base and present this in a very readable format. Unfortunately, through no fault of its own, this does come across as more droll than it should be, thanks to the perceives subject matter (dolphins are supposed to be funny right?) and the aforementioned popular science books.

I thought this was a very good book especially in having the chance to read this so soon after the BBC series: Swimming with Dolphins (2014)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are Dolphins really smart?, 21 Jan. 2014
By 
Jago Wells - See all my reviews
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Author,Justin Gregg is a research associate with the Dolphin Communication Project, and Co-Editor of the academic journal Aquatic Mammals.In 'Are Dolphins really Smart' he tackles the accepted belief that after Homo Sapians, Dolphins are the most intelligent creatures on earth.
Written in a straightforward and non academic style, Justin Greggs offers an in depth look at dolphin society and considers the different experiments which scientists have undertaken to test the accepted norm. The conclusions are however inconclusive if that makes sense! Dogs for example out perform dolphins in many areas although as with all species, their inter-relationships different markedly from dolphins.
A very readable book from someone who obviously knows his dolphins!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dolphins, 20 Feb. 2014
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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There are many compendiums on the market of the 'Do Ants Have Ar**holes' (actual book title) that look at various aspects of animal physiology and behaviour. This book is NOT one of those volumes - it's ALL about dolphins and examines how intelligent they really are.

We've all been led to believe that they are super-smart, and are always cited alongside chimpanzees and whales as the cleverest animal on earth - after man of course. However, are they really that intelligent or just brilliant mimics - in the way that Mike Yarwood, for instance, wasn't?

Educational and rigorous this is a great read for all those who claim to be fascinated by the animal world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four star book, 9 Jan. 2014
By 
Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe "Cathy SL" (Reading Berks) - See all my reviews
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This book by a Phd at the Dolphin Communication Centre is a thorough discussion of the scientic facts about dolphins in an attempt to separate science from fiction of which latter there is a great deal. In doing so he throws a light on the remarkable abilities of less glamorous animals such as chickens. A good read.

Rating 4 out of 5
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