Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Review:: Why Dogs Eat Poop, by Francesca Gould

Title: Why Dogs Eat Poop, and Other Useless or Gross Information About the Animal Kingdom
Author: Francesca Gould
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

While this book contains quite a few interesting animal facts, the science is wrong in bits, which is enough to get me to dump a book. Add in a whole bunch of ethical weirdness, and I couldn't wait until this thing was over.

There's nothing that's going to get me to question a book than when I know the science is wrong in parts. I read Why Dogs Eat Poop alongside Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, which yanno, actually has sources. Both have a section on animal intelligence, and they take drastically opposite sides. I know de Waal is biased himself, but his sources are actual scientific papers, not just talking about relative brain size.

Anyway, that aside, there was a whole section at the beginning that talked about unethical experiments on animals without recognizing that they aren't exactly something everyone might be comfortable with. Removing a cockroach's wings and wiring it up to be a remote controlled animal might seem cool on the surface, but just extolling the viritues and possibilities of this without pointing out the (to me) blatant issues with it, set me off on the wrong foot.

Furthermore, the "questions" he answers in the book seem really staged. Yes, I know Mantis Shrimp are really cool, but I've never asked the question "Which crustacean has a switchblade?" And the few questions someone might actually come up with, without knowing the fact itself, aren't actually answered. The answer to why dogs eat poop? ...we don't know. Why zebras have stripes? ...we don't know.

The categories the book used as chapters also felt a bit forced. Some things didn't seem to belong, while others could have been put until multiple areas. For a book of trivia, it just wasn't that impressive. I should have known better, but the title grabbed me. This book is the clickbait of dead trees. It has a title that makes you want to know more, but doesn't really deliver anything of substance.

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