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The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives Hardcover – September 20, 2011
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8-page insert. Author tour to San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pieces of this book are written as sentimental anecdotes and pieces are written more scientifically. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Diana Reiss is a voice for science, animals, understanding and connection. I just loved every page of this book!Published 4 months ago by Cara Gubbins
An incredible book from an amazing scientist. "We the people" are not just human people. More than anything, in this book you will find indelible proof of this. Read morePublished 14 months ago by G Baker-Cinnamon
Had previously read this as a library book and loved it so much I wanted to own it and read it anytime I want. With my Kindle Paperwhite, storage is not a problem.Published 17 months ago by Lynda M Lafferty
A friend lent me this book. Sorry, but there are no valid reasons to keep dolphins in captivity, not even Ms. Reiss's research on their language. Read morePublished 18 months ago by John
I really enjoyed this book. Reiss mainly talks about her work with captive dolphins, particularly her efforts to show dolphins are self-aware through the mirror test (which proved... Read morePublished 22 months ago by KPDR87
Fascinating book. I am interested in animal intelligence and have been for years. This is one of those books. Hoorah, HoorahPublished on October 23, 2013 by Lawrence Jelf Larry