Sunday, 22 June 2008

'Talking' With the Animals?

The BBC 'Countryfile programme carried a strange item on the activities of an 'animal communicator' ( The individual concerned claimed that their communications (with horses, cats and dogs etc) were 'telepathic' and could relay details about the animal's unhappiness's that could then be formally checked by a vet. The limited viewing of the process shown, however, seemed to me to have much in common with the approach of 'mind readers' e.g. the owner being asked about whether the teeth of the horse had been checked or what type of saddle was used and the answers being used to further probe the 'diagnosis' of the animal's ailments. There is little doubt that a keen observer of familiar species can tell much about an animal's welfare from its appearance (e.g. coat condition, appearance of the eyes etc), its posture (e.g. favouring a particular limb) and the subtleties of its behaviour (movements and responses). Such 'screening' may provide a useful service in early diagnosis or 'putting the owner's mind at rest' but I very much doubt that 'telepathy' is involved. Ethologists attempt to interpret animal behaviour, using appearance, postures and elements that are not a million miles away from the observational techniques employed by such practitioners (without questioning the 'owner'). They even do it to assess welfare.

1 comment:

Paul Brain said...
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