Bookstein, Fred L. (2016) "Beyond words," yes, but also beyond numbers Animal Sentience 2016.104
Safina’s fascinating series of fifty separate feuilletons tries to bridge a painful Methodenstreit in contemporary ethology mainly by an accumulation of anecdotes. Some deal with his own dogs, but most derive from reading or conversing with observers of a wider range of social mammals including elephants, wolves, apes, and whales. In spite of the many interruptions by travesties of the academic lifestyle and its literature, there is a point to be made, concerning the centrality of evidence about cooperative behavior styles, especially aspects of child-rearing, for the understanding of “what animals think and feel.” But Safina’s argument would be a lot more persuasive, at least to this outsider, if he were more aware of his own methodological preferences and the restraints they impose on the rhetoric of scientific persuasion. In spite of my skepticism, I sketch a possible application of his ideas to human neuroteratology.