Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (20)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geniuses of the Deep
Who is that dolphin in the mirror? When a dolphin looks in a mirror, does it know it is looking at itself? Dolphin expert Diana Reiss says yes, and her colleagues agree. Reiss has spent 30 years studying dolphins and getting to know them as intimately as one can hope to know a marine mammal species. Central to her research were experiments to determine if a dolphin could...
Published on August 5, 2011 by Someone Else

versus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not particularly engaging autobiography of one of the leaders in marine mammal research
I was really looking forward to this book (I typically eat up anything that has to do with the ocean), but as much as I wanted to like this book it never really clicked for me. I readily admit that the story of how Diana Reiss started a career in theater and then returned to school and switched over to the life of a marine mammalogist/researcher was interesting. She is...
Published on September 19, 2011 by ARH


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geniuses of the Deep, August 5, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Who is that dolphin in the mirror? When a dolphin looks in a mirror, does it know it is looking at itself? Dolphin expert Diana Reiss says yes, and her colleagues agree. Reiss has spent 30 years studying dolphins and getting to know them as intimately as one can hope to know a marine mammal species. Central to her research were experiments to determine if a dolphin could recognize itself as itself in a mirror, rather than thinking it is seeing another dolphin.

Mirror self-recognition is considered a sign of extremely high intelligence, and was previously believed possible only in humans and higher primates such as chimpanzees. Dolphins have now been added to that elite category. Once a dolphin figures out that the image in the mirror is himself, he will explore his body, gazing into his own eyes, checking out his teeth, and displaying various body parts for self-inspection. If a researcher makes a mark on a dolphin's body, the dolphin will quickly swim to the mirror and orient himself so as to look at the mark. This "mark test" was first used on primates and is considered the definitive proof of mirror self-recognition.

The self-recognition findings are the pinnacle of Reiss's work, but there's much more to the book. She discusses dolphin myths in various cultures and the centuries-long history of man's fascination with dolphins. She also outlines some of her other dolphin intelligence studies, including an underwater keyboard dolphins could use to select a specific toy or other reward. The stories of dolphin antics during the various experiments were my favorite parts of the book. The author is careful not to ascribe human traits to these animals, but it seems to me they have quite a sense of humor. They're also prone to behaviors strongly resembling empathy and service.

Near the end of the book, Reiss slips out of her role as scientist and into that of activist. She describes the brutal slaughter techniques used on dolphins in Taiji, Japan. These practices were the subject of the 2009 film "The Cove," which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. These dolphins are the victims of several methods of slow, painful death, including something resembling a torture rack. The Japanese government has refused to ban these inhumane practices, but Diana Reiss is not giving up.

Reiss writes with a style that is easy for anyone to understand. She maintains scientific integrity while avoiding pretentiousness or oversimplification. The organizational structure of the book seems a little odd at times, but it's not a major drawback. The stories of the antics and exploits of the dolphins Reiss worked with over the years made me laugh out loud, and sometimes laugh and cry at the same time. I would have liked to see even more of these stories, and perhaps a little less of the history of research done on species other than dolphins.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interested in the Dolphin Mind? Then "The Dolphin in the Mirror" will Blow You Away !!!! - 5 STARS, August 9, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What led me to take an interest in this book was author Dr. Diana Reiss's relationship with Dr. John Lilly who was probably the finest and one of the earliest researchers on the Dolphin mind. Lilly was a Cal Tech trained physicist and biologist who went on to get a medical degree from Dartmouth College. He was a very big part of the counterculture during the Viet Nam era. His expertise in dolphin research probably led to two Hollywood movies.

Dr. Reiss, the author makes it very clear that John Lilly was very influential on her own development as a scientist. She was also blessed with certain corporate sponsors who believing in her work were willing to help fund it by giving her the necessary equipment to carry on when it was necessary.

The Dolphin in the Mirror is the story of a lifetime of work devoted to trying to understand the mind of another species, not only different from our own, but also from a different environment - the SEA. We as humans occupy the land, we breathe through our nostrils. Dolphins on the other hand were once land creatures, and somewhere in the last several hundred million years made the journey into the sea and never came out again.

EXTRAORDINARY BOOK

The first chapters are devoted to the author's attempt to save a humpback whale that are lost in the inland waterways of California. She is successful at helping the whale make it back to the open ocean. She then proceeds to tell us about the history of dolphins as it relates to mythology and origin stories. At times she goes all the way back to ancient Greece to tell us about the impact the dolphins had on history. As an example the sheer number of stories relating to dolphins saving the lives of distressed sailors by either keeping them afloat or leading them back to land is so extensive that you cannot discount the truth of these narratives.

Dr. Reiss takes us through each of her research assignments both in this country and abroad in France. Many of these engagements last anywhere from months to years. In each case she learns more and more about the minds of these incredible and misunderstood creatures. Her description of her scientific endeavors is so extensive, so detailed that a graduate student in any field could use it as a model to do their own work.

Dolphins Dr. Reiss shows us are extremely intelligent, and have large, complex brains with brain weights even greater than our own. They have the ability to become vocal mimics. Their great achievement is an echo-location ability that blows away anything the Navy has ever dreamed of creating. They can locate a ping pong ball in a body of water from 400 yards away. If you want to explore how they can be used in war, go to the search engines and explore the swimmer nullification program deployed by the Navy during the Viet Nam conflict.

Chapters of this book are devoted to Dr. Reiss's attempts to study the range of the dolphin's intelligence. Experiment after experiment conclusively shows that these mammals can do a whole lot more than scientists previously modeled in their templates. Many scientists still reject the results that are so clearly evident in her research, but that is the nature of science. One would think that researchers are open minded by definition. Instead we find that they could as biased and closed minded as anybody else.

By the end of the book, the reader has explored not only the minds of these captivating inhabitants of our planet, but also what might be called their emotional nature. The author and the dolphins in each segment of the book become great friends. When Dr. Reiss leaves to begin her work somewhere else, she suffers greatly at the loss of her friendship with her dolphins. At times she suffers the almost unbearable loss of a dolphin dying, which he equates to the same feelings we experience when a human dies that we care about.

Hopefully a book like this will cause many of the readers to appreciate man's place on this planet, and that we may not be alone. After all, how much difference is there between a dolphin intelligence that might be able to interact with, and an alien intelligence that researchers might encounter? Are the difficulties of one versus the others that much different from one another? Read the book and find out. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

Richard Stoyeck
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not particularly engaging autobiography of one of the leaders in marine mammal research, September 19, 2011
By 
ARH (The Shadow of the Tetons) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was really looking forward to this book (I typically eat up anything that has to do with the ocean), but as much as I wanted to like this book it never really clicked for me. I readily admit that the story of how Diana Reiss started a career in theater and then returned to school and switched over to the life of a marine mammalogist/researcher was interesting. She is now considered to be one of the nation's leading researchers in marine mammal cognition, learning, and marine mammal psychology(?).

If you are a psychologist interested in questions like what it means to be self-aware, what it means to have intelligence, or related questions then you should enjoy this book. In it Reiss spends many pages detailing how she did different experiments designed to discover how smart marine mammals are, especially bottlenose dolphins, as well as to see if they really are self-aware. Reiss also spends many pages reflecting on her conclusions and her bonds to her subjects. I imagine that it would be virtually impossible not to develop emotional and deeply sentimental connections with dolphins if you worked with them every day. The risk of having those kinds of emotional connections and trying to do objective, empirical research, however, is that it becomes increasingly difficult to minimize bias in that kind of setting. You see, if you love dolphins and you have a pre-existing bias that they are intelligent, there is a very real risk that when they do something it will be interpreted as intelligence. Am I saying that dolphins are not intelligent? No. What I'm saying is that what Reiss did was extremely difficult...to manage to separate bias and observation enough to do some good science.

Toward the end of the book Reiss started to get into the topic of marine mammal protection, not using conservation as the argument, but that humans have a moral obligation to protect other species that show evidence of self-awareness and intelligence. That's an interesting idea, but, sadly, that argument has not yet shown an ability to sway nations like Japan that continue to harvest wild bottlenose dolphins for marine mammal parks, shows, etc., and also butcher the rest for sale as food. For more on this particular situation you should watch the documentary, The Cove.

All in all, there is a good message here and the science is pretty interesting, but the heavy dose of sentimentality and writing that is not really engaging (for me) leads me to award 3 stars for this book.

"The Dolphin in the Mirror" is OK, but I do not intend to add this title to my list of recommended readings for my marine biology students.

3 stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes You Fall in Love, Makes You Pause and Think, August 4, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's hard not to be enamored by dolphins. And if you are the least bit interested in them, you've probably heard about how intelligent they are. You've also probably been amused by any number of their antics. In this fascinating book, dolphin researcher Diana Reiss explains why scientists have concluded that dolphins are so intelligent, and what those "antics" actually reveal about dolphin problem solving skills, "theory of mind", etc.

Dr. Reiss is one of the world's leading researchers on dolphin intelligence and communication. When you read her book, you may realize that many of the things you've come to "know" about dolphins (like how they can understand symbols on a keyboard or the fact that they recognize themselves in the mirror) stem from her research. So, while we have yet been able to unlock the dolphin's mind, it is fascinating to gain insight into the mind of the person peering into their brains.
And dolphins are brainiacs. One of my biggest take-home from this book is the way dolphins are currently presented at aquariums showcases their charisma and agility more than their incredible intelligence.

Some parts of this book are sure to trouble certain readers: the fact that intelligent life evolved TWICE, through completely different evolutionary pathways and environments, will leave some feeling uneasy. Some parts of this book should trouble ALL readers: humans in general are altogether to blasé in our treatment of the "nonterrestrial intelligence" that is dolphins, and downright cruel and murderous in a particular cove in Japan.

Reiss covers a lot of territory in what feels like an all-too-short book. She left me with a lot of unanswered questions, both about existing dolphin research and about where we can go from here. Her prologue about a whale rescue is puzzling given that dolphins (not whales in general) are the overwhelming subject of her book, and the part about dolphin myths throughout history was unfortunately dry. Overall, though, her book is fast-paced, and the anecdotes and research findings regarding dolphins are both a pleasure to read and great food for thought. The last chapters veer sharply into a call for action against the plight of dolphins in the dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan (subject of the award-winning documentary THE COVE); but they are couched in a way that makes the reader understand why Dr. Reiss is so passionate about the subject. (Though, while I understand her frustration at having the Japanese sidestep her request, I must say their questions (eg,
"How intelligent did an animal have to be before it was no longer ethical to kill it and eat it?" seemed both valid and worth exploring)

How would we react to extraterrestrial intelligence? What would we do to them, or they to us? It is a question humans have been asking for years. Ironically, we have the opportunity to answer them right now, with our nonterrestrial colleagues, the dolphins. Reiss makes a convincing, if incompletely written, case for robust protection and continued dolphin-centric study.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Read in Years, September 29, 2011
By 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Alien intelligence. It's out there somewhere in the cosmos. We talk about what it would be like to communicate with aliens; what they might be like; how we might get along. Science fiction revolves around the notion of intelligent aliens from other worlds - but there is alien intelligence right here on earth.

I was about eleven and a total sci-fi geek when I discovered and devoured John Lilly's groundbreaking books on dolphin intelligence a long time ago in a century not so far away. As a geeky kid, it took me only about a minute to start making up stories about how dolphins were really aliens from another planet. (It was amazing what other kids would believe.)

But the truth is much more interesting and Dr. Reiss's book has reawakened my youthful interest and then some.

Like us, dolphins are creatures of Earth, yet their intelligence is alien to us, just as ours is alien to them. Do you suppose they can understand living on the land any better than we comprehend their undersea society? Do you suppose they are as curious about us as we are about them? Curiosity and intelligence go hand in flipper.

Dolphin researcher and rescuer Diana Reiss is an author who truly loves her work, and her devotion to cetaceans shines through on every page. She has, thus far, spent thirty years working with and learning from dolphins and she is passionate about her subjects. Even as Reiss maintains the scientist's strict separation between fact and feeling, she respects her intuition and takes it under consideration and freely admits it. For me, this is the best science.

The Dolphin in the Mirror is not a text that will tell you every little fact we know about dolphins; rather Reiss takes us along on her own journey of discovery. It's riveting, and more, it's magical. I can't recall a non-fiction book ever moving me to smile, chuckle, shed a tear, or simply feel so wonderful so frequently. Reiss's stories about dolphins' reasoning, humor, and creativity fill me with wonder and awe. This is better than science fiction: the aliens are among us!

Diana Reiss is a true hero and I will be waiting and hoping for more books!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding - should be a must read for all of humanity, September 2, 2011
By 
80 Shades (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of those rare books that I would recommend, no - insist, that everyone read.

It isn't Shakespear. It isn't Steinbeck. It isn't Stephen King. It is reality, and an important reality in understanding that as humans, we really are not the only super intelligent beings on this planet. And unfortunately we systematically harm these creatures, without realizing the gravity of what we are doing as a race.

I'm an "good old boy" type from Texas. I grew up hunting and fishing, but had an appreciation for animals, especially those with "souls" like you find in dogs (or even some cats, admittedly!). I always had liked seeing dolphins, and figured they had some level of intelligence needed to do those "tricks" you see, but the combination of seeing the 2009 film "The Cove" in conjunction with reading this book has been something of a life-altering experience.

I LOVE the fact that this book is not "preachy" against aquariums and zoos. Quite to the contrary, the author realizes that these are avenues of educating the public, and as long as animals are not taken from the wild, we can still maintain the existing population (treated the right way and given the right environment, of course) while reaching out and broadly helping to protect the species as a whole.

Also, I appreciate that the author is coming from a place of passion rather than profession. If everyone cared like she does, the world would be a better place. Give this book a try, and I think you'll find that you are also "infected" with the desire to help and further understand not only dolphins but all creatures of the earth.

This is the kind of book that makes society better, and I can't rate it high enough - as you might suspect, definitely a recommended read!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Eye-Opening Research in Interspecies Communication, August 28, 2011
By 
David J. Brown (Ben Lomond, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I absolutely loved every page of this book! If you're interested in learning about the human/dolphin communication research that has occurred since John Lilly's initial work, this is the book! Diana Reiss picked up where John left off. Absolutely beautiful work that she's done. Parts of this book brought tears to my eyes. Reiss does a wonderful job recounting all of her extraordinary research with dolphin communication, and she makes a strong case for just how intelligent these creatures are, before bringing to our attention what a tragedy it is that they're still being brutally slaughtered. I highly recommend this valuable book to anyone interested in marine mammals, interspecies communication, and ecology. It is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in dolphin intelligence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, September 29, 2011
By 
Amy Lynn (Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you're interested in learning about the lives and intelligence of dolphins then this book is for you. Diana Reiss writes not only an informative piece on the habits and intelligence of dolphins but also delves into their EQ (emotional intelligence) and the incredible level of self awareness these creatures possess.

Follow Diana on her journey with dolphins as the book starts at the beginning of her career with her initial interest in dolphins to trying to end the yearly slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

From the first page to the last, it kept my interest. Right off the bat the opening story or prologue of "Saving Humphrey The Blue Whale" drew me in. From there on you get to learn everything you could possibly want to know about dolphins and read as Diana tries to prove to the scientific community that these creatures do have an extremely high intelligence and are able to recognize their own reflection in the mirror. In other words, they are self-aware.

It was also interesting to hear both sides of the story on Japan's view on hunting dolphins and also Diana's as she fights to end their slaughter at the embassy. You can form your own opinion, but when all is said and done there is no doubt these creatures have a very special intelligence only shared by the great apes and humans.

It's an enjoyable and informative read if you're interested in dolphins or you want to learn more about the animal. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars revisiting friends, October 31, 2011
I was one of the volunteers with Project Circe in 1986-87 so I admit that I had an emotional reaction to this book for sure. I loved revisiting old friends, Terry, Circe, Delphi and Pan as well as Dr. Reiss. Even though I was a volunteer with the project, have my Master's in Ecology, and talk about whales and dolphins a lot as an amateur, I learned a lot as Dr. Reiss is so clear in her language. She makes the science clear and evocative without talking down to an amateur audience. She captured the essence of what it is like to interact with these amazing animals and also the essence of their impressive abilities. Though she may not have intended to, she also deftly captured the essence of her own spirit and personality. You will get to know Diana as well as many of the dolphins she's had the incredible good fortune to work with.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and heartbreaking, September 2, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I saw this book, I jumped at the chance to learn more about dolphins from Diana Reiss, who directs the Dolphin Research Program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and who is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University. An activist, she served as a member of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The book got off to a bit of a slow start, with Reiss telling us about her background and how she came to study dolphins and whales. There was a chapter devoted to Humphrey, the whale that wandered into the San Francisco Bay, seemingly lost and continued on to the delta and Sacramento River area which seemed a little unrelated. But once I got through the first 80 pages or so, the book was fascinating.

Who knew that a dolphin could recognize itself in a mirror? Reiss's experiments and observations to prove this were very interesting. There were things to consider in supporting this observation that never occurred to me. Reading about her observations and the minute detail she had to consider was much more involved than I would have imagined. So many things that an animal does could be just random or something that they do for a different reason. It was easier to show that a monkey recognized himself in a mirror because he has arms, hands and a finger to point to a colored dot that was put on a particular part of his body. Because a dolphin doesn't have arms or hands it gets a lot trickier. She tells about many other things they are capable of doing and understanding throughout the book.

There was also information about how dolphins are being hunted and killed and Reiss talks about her advocacy to try to save them. It's just mind boggling that anyone could hurt an animal that is so intelligent and can become so connected to humans.

If you're an animal lover, this is a book that you won't want to miss.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives
$13.95 $10.56
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.