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John Katz Strikes Again


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#41 Northof49

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 06:11 AM

Originally posted by Stafford:
Here's an article where Katz talks about using acupuncture and "Chinese" herbs to treat one of his dogs' behavioral problems.

http://www.slate.com...0824/?nav=navoa

Add contributing to quackery to his list of crimes.

Of course, gullibility and the panicked flight from science and reason seem to be hallmarks of this day and age.

So are you saying that chinese herbs, acupunture and other forms of holistic and/or homeopathic treatments are all quackery and have no place in our society?

#42 sandra s.

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 06:18 AM

Originally posted by GeorgiaBC:
Just a suggestion--Why not spend more time enjoying your dogs and less time kvetching online?

Because I don't know any other BC people in real life, for example.
Btw, since I've come to this board, my originally quite stubborn attitude about dogs (I tend to be stubborn about anything) has become a lot more open-minded and willing to learn.

Now my dog has learned not to pull, I'm learning how to use a clicker, I've started feeding her raw food, and I'm even looking around for an opportunity to let her work with sheep. Etc.

So, even though she starts chewing my sleeves every now and again when I've been sitting here too long, it's not all that bad for her :rolleyes:

#43 laurie etc

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 06:22 AM

Originally posted by Kitch:
I read Dogs of Bedlam Farm - mostly because it was about border collies and partly because his farm is in my neck of the woods....He spends too much time whining and making sweeping generalizations. ...I thought he made it pretty clear in his books that he was fairly clueless about what he was doing and making up the rules as he goes along.

My Mom (a pet-dog owner) had it, and loaned it to me to read. To a basically pet-dog person, it was a cute book, and reminded her of me and my dogs - the parts about his "relationship" (love for his dogs). My impression was - "who is this clueless guy, and isn't he lucky that his dogs weren't killed, maimed or otherwise ruined by his stupid novice antics?" It seemed a manual in how NOT to train a Border Collie, to me. And now this guy is giving out training advise? With what credentials?!?

#44 Claire Owen

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 06:26 AM

Originally posted by GeorgiaBC:
he was entitled to his opinions.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but if it is JUST an opinion then its wrong to claim to know the answers to other peoples problems (whether its dog related or not) because an opinion is not a fact or necessarily true!

Most people aren't like you, and are not prepared to rehab dogs with severe behavioral problems.

My BC is a rescue dog, he did not have 'severe behavioral problems', and I cant say I've ever met anyone with a dog who has severe problems. But even if he did have severe problems I would have still given him a home and tried my best to fix the problem, I'm sure I'm not unique and a lot of people would do the same!

Just a suggestion--Why not spend more time enjoying your dogs and less time kvetching online?

I'm sure others like me are here to gain advice and tips that can help us enjoy our dogs and give them the life they deserve. I too am sat here playing fetch with Bailey whilst typing this, so please do tell me how I can spend more time with my dog by not doing this?!

#45 Valhalla

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 07:20 AM

Here is another Katz article on MSN today.

Do Dogs Think?
http://slate.msn.com...7419/?nav=navoa
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#46 SoloRiver

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 07:35 AM

It would have killed him to name the "Cornell behaviorist" and give credit where credit is due?

I agree with most of the points in the article (I've made many of them myself in discussions with friends), but speaking as a writer I have to say this piece could have been much tighter. Meow.
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#47 Stafford

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 07:43 AM

Originally posted by Northof49:
So are you saying that chinese herbs, acupunture and other forms of holistic and/or homeopathic treatments are all quackery and have no place in our society?

I'm a science & reason sort of person, or at least I try to be one. I try to be a thinker, rather than a believer.

People can believe what they want, and in general I'm not in favor of legislating belief. If when asking if they have no place in our society, you are asking me if I think those sorts of treatments and practices should be banned or outlawed, then no, I don't agree with that.

However, I do think they are for the most part quackery, and rely on magic and supernatural explanations rather than objective reality.

Ok, there may be real physiological effects from chemical compounds found in herbs, Chinese or otherwise. They could be studied, and the scientific method would apply nicely.

There is no scientific evidence that acupunture does anything, and plenty of science showing that the theories behind homeopathy are patently false.

Four out of five scientists in a recent poll say that John Katz is a nincompoop. :rolleyes:

#48 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 07:44 AM

So much true, and so much poop. A very good example of why he's a nuisance.

I had a dog with severe seperation anxiety. One time she bent the bars of an extremely strong crate (an old rigid type with welded joints), and nearly choked to death after pushing her head through. Given the approach he offers, she would have killed herself by the third day. We fixed her, but we had to start with rewarding her for staying two feet away, then four feet, then out of reach, then in another room, etc.

I agree with lots of the individual concepts outlined. That was some decent journalism. I wish it were all like that. He managed to get another dig at rescue, did you notice that? The part where he says that if they had known more about their dog, another child wouldn't have gotten bitten. But he takes some research and frankly, some existential philosophy which is NOT science, and combines it to produce the sweeping generalization that dogs don't think.

Here's an opinion of my own - I think they do think, they just think like dogs. That doesn't make their problems any less approachable by us, it just means we have to take that into account.

The phrase refers to a belief each of us has about the way others think. Simply, it says that since we are aware and self-conscious, we think others?humans and animals?are, too. There is, of course, enormous difference of opinion about whether this is true.

This one statement gives me a lot of insight on his world view, and I believe I'll be satisfied now. Randomness in cad-dom bother me - when I can attribute underlying consistency to this kind of person I feel much better. :rolleyes:
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#49 AK dog doc

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:04 AM

Actually, just as an FYI sort of thing, there have been published reports regarding accupuncture (applied to animals, for pain control), indicating that it does have at least some effect in animals. Parameters used to decide whether or not it was effective included objective measures such as heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure, as well as subjective ones (muscle tension, movement, etc). Since animals are not suggestible (you can't tell them, "This will make you feel better" and have them placebo themselves into wellness), if it works in animals it has to work on another level than the psychological.

Unfortunately, I can't quote you references since this is something I read in vet school and I don't currently have access to the University's veterinary library (which is where I found the articles). If you like, you can take my word as a professional that I have read such articles and they indicate at least some response to accupuncture as applied for pain relief. I have not read any studies in peer-reviewed publications regarding the efficacy of other alternative types of medicines, but I'll point out that there are plenty of pharmaceuticals that have their origins in the plant world. As I am not an alternative medicine practitioner, I proably can't legitimately make much more of a statement about it than that.

As for the Katz thing... I think I'll have to go listen to the audio to comment on that part of it, but the other day I was in the local bookstore and had the manager (who knows me well as a patron there) point out the latest Katz book. I had to tell her that I wouldn't buy anything he'd written, ever, because I didn't want him to profit from not only his own ignorance, but the ignorance (not to mention potential harm) he perpetrates upon the general public. He's in print. This lends him a certain credibility, regardless of how far off the mark he might be. Just the fact of having two covers and some nice cover art in itself lends it a certain legitimacy, however undeserved. He presents himself, if not as an expert (although I think he DOES do this, it might be argued that he's not doing it intentionally), then at least as if he knows what he's talking about, and it can be demonstrated that at least some of the time he does not. This does not appear to trouble him in the least, and certainly it has not stopped him from acting as if he's spouting the gospel truth.

Before I'm accused of cattiness (and you all know what a B*#$^ I am in general ), I might use just a single example to illustrate my point about the ignorance/error thing. In this case I'll use a FACT, not an opinion, and point out that it does an enormous disservice to dogs and dog owners everywhere for him to say "dogs only live about 8 years." This is not only incorrect, it's misleading, and it may very well encourage people to either euthanise their healthy geriatric dog, or to fail to pursue treatment in a geriatric dog of the myriad manageable and curable complaints and circumstances of old age. I WEEKLY have people say, "Well, he's old, so there's nothing you can do, right?" WRONG. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. There's tons we can do. Old age is not a disease. Things accumulate over time, and disease my OCCUR in old age, but there is not a disease called Old Age. Granted, we'll all come to the end of our road eventually, and there are times when trying to continue is the wrong choice, but every day that goes by I do something to make the life of an older animal easier, more comfortable, more active, more enjoyable, more disease free, and generally better. Sorry, but Katz is NOT an expert in the world of medicine, and for him to be spouting nonsense such as "dogs only live 8 years" as if this is a fact, is both morally and professionally offensive.

But THAT is just an opinion. Mine, as it happens.
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Besides, I have to go make some wine now.

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#50 KrisK

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:23 AM

Thanks AK dog doc for pointing out that 'dogs living 8 years' is a crock. I know that I'm not the only one on this board who has had healthy, elderly dogs, (My Brandy lived to be 16 1/2..she slowed down around 15 yrs old) Zachary, currently 10 years old, is now on heart medication, but he's acting like a puppy again..so full of energy and looking forward to his evening walks (1.6 km every night) Of course, bringing Dusty BA into the picture might have something to do with his increased energy too :rolleyes: they play continually!
I can't express any opinion on Katz since I haven't read anything by him...and am not likely to now. I have read Patricia McConnell, Suzanne Clothiers (sp?) and Stanley Coren. Those are people whose writings I do respect.

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#51 SoloRiver

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:31 AM

"Theory of mind" is actually not BS. I think I may have brought it up here a couple of times (which of course is not in and of itself, evidence that it is not BS, but simply that I don't think it's BS). It is true that we cannot assume dogs (or goats, or chimpanzees) think the way we do, and so giving a name to one of the special things we do is a way to operationalize this.

"In recent years, the phrase "Theory of mind" has more commonly been used to refer to a specific cognitive capacity: the ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own. (following the paper "Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?" by David Premack and G. Woodruff, 1978)"

This is from Wikipedia, which I don't always trust but this entry looks pretty good. http://en.wikipedia..../Theory_of_mind

What Katz said could have been said much more efficiently.
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#52 BigD

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:46 AM

There is no scientific evidence that acupunture does anything, and plenty of science showing that the theories behind homeopathy are patently false.

Tell that to the Chinese!

#53 Rave

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 10:04 AM

Tell that to my dearly departed dog Casey and other dogs with Wobbler's, who could barely walk before gold bead (acupuncture) treatments, and who were able to run and frolic and jump like dogs half their ages after gold bead therapy.

And tell that to my dog Wick, who was having muscle spasms in her back Saturday before acupuncture and darn if we couldn't even make her flinch once after acupuncture; and she's been running and jumping since then with no problems.

Homeopathic methods are not for everyone, but those of us who do believe and have seen it work firsthand numerous times are glad it's around.

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#54 Stafford

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 10:47 AM

Originally posted by AK dog doc:
Actually, just as an FYI sort of thing, there have been published reports regarding accupuncture (applied to animals, for pain control), indicating that it does have at least some effect in animals.
(snip)
Unfortunately, I can't quote you references since this is something I read in vet school and I don't currently have access to the University's veterinary library (which is where I found the articles). If you like, you can take my word as a professional that I have read such articles and they indicate at least some response to accupuncture as applied for pain relief.

Ok, and thanks. I may try to look for some of those references if I'm not feeling too intellectually lazy.

I would like to hear a theoretical framework for what acupuncture might actually do to affect pain, an explanation that doesn't include non-testable, metaphysical components.

I have not read any studies in peer-reviewed publications regarding the efficacy of other alternative types of medicines, but I'll point out that there are plenty of pharmaceuticals that have their origins in the plant world.

Absolutely, and I was definitely not trying to suggest otherwise. My only point, perhaps not well stated, was that there's nothing inherently magical about Chinese herbs. Perhaps if I wanted to make some easy cash, I could culture some penicillium chrysogenum mold on a piece of Chinese bread, and market my own ancient Chinese antibiotic...



#55 Stafford

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 11:13 AM

Originally posted by rtphokie:
Homeopathic methods are not for everyone, but those of us who do believe and have seen it work firsthand numerous times are glad it's around.

I'd just like to point out here that acupuncture and homeopathy are two very different things.

#56 Eileen Stein

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:34 PM

<< His credentials are as good as anybody else's . . . >>

THERE'S THE PROBLEM, RIGHT THERE. People believe he has the credentials to opine authoritatively about dogs and dog training. Because he's in print, because he's on a radio show, because he bills himself as "a leading authority on the human-canine bond." But where could you possibly have gotten the idea that his credentials are as good as anybody else's? What ARE his credentials? He's owned a few dogs. As far as I know, he has never trained one. He's dealt with the problems of his dog Devon/Orson in various bizarre ways (encouraging him to chase traffic from the other side of a fence, for example), and still has a problem dog. In A Dog Year he said his other dog Homer was "a star" at herding and that he'd "won several trial ribbons," but in his later book The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, having lost interest in Homer, he said in praise of his new dog Rose, "Instinctively, she began 'wearing' -- shuttling back and forth behind the flock, a move Homer hadn't mastered in two years of training." (Anybody who's been involved with working dogs will have trouble imagining a "star" who hasn't managed to wear sheep after two years of training. A dog who cannot wear sheep is not in any sense of the word a trained sheepdog.)

Katz reveals a lack of understanding of dogs and a lack of intellectual honesty in everything he writes. It's pretty appalling to think that he's now considered a respected writer and speaker on dog training, whose credentials are as good as anybody else's. I think the less you know about dogs, the more inclined you are to think well of him, and vice versa.

As for his views on dog rescue, they are changeable as the wind, they are whatever suits his purpose at the moment. I wrote the following in an earlier thread, so some of you have already read it, but I know of no better illustration of the fundamental Jon Katz:

It seems that Katz has become a regular dog columnist for Slate on the strength of A Dog Year. Readers of the book may find his column at http://slate.msn.com/id/2083699/ , in which he ridicules the rescue movement and Americans' emotional "need" to rescue dogs, pretty surprising, in view of his having built his book and his dog rep around his rescue of Devon, whom he describes in the book as

a mess. His hair was matted and knotted, and underneath the tangle,
he was skinny as a chicken. His eyes indicated near-perpetual panic
as he took in every sight and sound. His nails were long and sharp.
His breath was foul. . . .

He was a split personality, fiercely proud and willful, but at the same
time lonely and defeated, with a sense of anxious despair about him.
His eyes were sometimes deep and mournful wells.

Somehow, in the intense, high-expectation world of the border collie,
a breed that imposes rigorous standards on itself, he had failed.
I would never really know what happened, but he didn't seem to have
been loved, or to have succeeded in his obedience work. He was
ultimately fired and dumped, a triple catastrophe that had to be crushing
to such a dog, one bred for centuries to attach to a single person
[sic!]
and energetically undertake important tasks.

He didn't appear physically abused so much as neglected and drained,
like an employee who'd been laid off three times in one year and couldn't
get a job interview. Yet, certain objects--brooms, fly-swatters, sticks--
would spark terror. He'd shake and hide in a corner.

No, I wasn't reading too much into this, Deanne counseled during one of
our extended phone consultations.
[Deanne is Devon's breeder, who is
presented as supremely wise and caring in the book, even though she
apparently didn't even comb out Devon's mats between getting him back
from his previous owner and persuading Katz to take him.] She hadn't
had Devon back for long, and he mostly had stayed out back in her
fenced-in fields with a score of other dogs day and night, so most of the
problems I was having didn't show themselves. But she'd seen some of
the same behavior; that's why she'd worked so hard to find him a new home.

Long after having sold him, Deanne told me, she ran into him one day at
a competition where he was entered in the obedience trials. He'd left her
proud and spirited, but now he appeared broken and discouraged. She was
worried about him.

"He just looked unhappy," she said. "His ears were down. His tail was down.
I kept asking myself, 'Why would his ears be down?'" This was no minor matter.

Somehow, she urged, I had to persuade Devon that I loved him and would
stick with him, and at the same time--even more difficult since he was
ferociously strong-willed--convince him to accept my authority without further
damaging his psyche.


A Dog Year portrays the heart-warming story of how Katz supposedly turns his life upside down to save this "broken" dog. But without any self-consciousness or irony, apparently, he tells us in the Slate article:

The demand for "rescued" dogs is so great that groups often have to scour
faraway rural areas these days to find abused dogs for people to adopt. . . .

[A] growing number of Americans not only need to rescue a creature, but to
perceive those creatures as having been mistreated. Somehow, our dogs
have joined us in our culture of victimization. . . .

Something buried in the psyches of certain dog-owners needs to alter
animals' fates and leads them to see those animals as having suffered.
Owners of rescued dogs I have talked to tend to have holes of one sort or
another in their lives: "Saving" an "abused" dog can sometimes fill that
hole. It makes the owner a hero: a literal savior. It makes the owner
necessary: This poor abused creature can't possibly live without the person
who saved it from misery and death. And it gives the owner a willing, and
ever grateful, target of endless love.


Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

#57 INU

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:57 PM

Can someone help me locate this audio?

I did find another one by him that was aired back in 2003.

Oct, 2003

#58 AK dog doc

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 03:02 PM

Stafford, you're cracking me up! (IS there such a thing as Chinese bread? They don't strike me as a big bread-eating culture, but maybe I'm not paying attention.) You're right, just having it be Chinese isn't magic. There may be some plants that grow readily over there that are not usually found here, and hence have not made it into the western Pharmacopia; maybe that's where the "Chinese herb" thing comes in - plant remedies which have pharmaceutical properties which have not been investigated in Western medicine. I'm not sure. As I say, I'm not an alternative practitioner. I still believe in penecillin and digitalis. One of my big concerns with herbal medicine is that lack of standardization in most of them... who knows if the compound(s) of interest are in high or low concentrations in a given plant, and/or if other undesirable compounds are present in a given plant? That's what's handy about pharmacueticals - at least in theory, you should know just what is and is not present, and in what concentration. However, I am willing to work with clients who want to use alternative medicine. Sometimes this comes in the form of telling them NOT to use a particular remedy, or that I can't tell them if it's safe or not. Sometimes it's referring them to a veterinary chiropractic doc, or a veterinary accupuncturist. I basically feel you can't argue with results, so if the dog is getting well, I'm all for it. Even if I don't necessarily know WHY (although I vastly prefer TO know why.)

On a subjective note, I acupunctured myself the other day at work because my wrist was hurting quite a lot, to the point where I was having trouble working. My boss (NOT the alternative type, so this was a surprise) gave me a bunch of acupuncture needles and told me where the acupuncture points were for the wrist. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME and all other appropriate disclaimers, and I must point out I've never acupunctured myself before and it certainly it isn't the first thing I'd generally think of to try. Subjectively, I can report that it made my hand feel hot and tingly, and that within about 2 minutes I had some improvement, and within 10 the wrist felt normal. As to the mechanism, I don't know; it might be what's called "gating" in midwife circles - the idea that if you flood the system with sensation, only so much can be processed, so by giving enough of a less-noxious stimulus, you decrease the amount of noxious stimulus that can be percieved. It might also be via endorphin release or via stimulation of circulation (since circulation brings healing.) However, I think it's possile there may be more than simple endorphin release going on.

I did expect the acupuncture to make my wrist feel better, so maybe there was some placebo. I did NOT expect it to feel as good as normal, but that still might be just a really good placebo effect (and if so, I have no objections - that "results" thing.) Pain relief is all well and good, and it was really all I was hoping to achieve. I did not expect that the next day the swelling would be gone, but it was (again, visually and ultrasonigrahically documentable). That could be simple healing, but it's a bit speedy for the amount of swelling I was seeing. That suggests (though it does not prove) something more than just endorphin release. While it is true that non-painful animals heal faster than painful ones, I'd have expected at least some residual swelling on the u/s. So perhaps it's a combination of effects?

As a BTW on the gold-bead thing... gold salts DO have anti-inflammatory properties, for reasons which are not clearly understood. I don't know if the efficacy of gold-bead acupuncture is related to that, though if the bead is not implanted into or under the skin, I have a hard time seeing how that could be the mechanism. If the bead is just positioned on the surface, it might be that the ongoing presence of something stimulating that area is responsible for the effect. Not really sure. However, I seem to have hijacked the Katz thread, which was not my intention, so I'm shutting up now.
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Besides, I have to go make some wine now.

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#59 Eileen Stein

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 03:30 PM

I'll hijack it further for a quickie about "theory of mind." I assume Melanie is familiar with this, but . . .

"Last year, in the journal American Cognition, the behavioral biologist Thomas Burnyar described a twist in an experiment he was conducting with laboratory ravens. The birds' job was to find bits of cheese hidden in film canisters, then pry open the lids to get the food out. One raven, Hugin, was best at this, but a dominant bird, Munin, would rush over and steal his reward.

"So Hugin changed his strategy: when the other bird came over, he went to empty canisters, pried them open and pretended to eat. While the dominant bird poked around in the wrong place, Hugin zipped back to where the food really was. He was deceiving Munin.

"To do that, Hugin had to grasp that 'what I know' and 'what he knows' are different. He had to understand, on some level, that other ravens have their own individual perceptions, feelings and plans, just as he does. It was big news when scientists found evidence that apes could grasp this. That some birds can as well is even more remarkable." N.Y. Times Magazine, 9/4/05, p.20

I was interested when I read this, because it reminded me of an anecdote Mark had posted about how one of his dogs tricked another into going outside. I don't accept that it's a fundamental error to believe that dogs can think. I just think that it's possible to come closer to understanding how and what dogs think than to believe that they're chewing things up or peeing on the rug to get back at their owners.

As for the Katz article on the subject, what I resent about it is the impression he gives that pretty much everyone else but him and the Cornell behaviorist believes and teaches that dogs misbehave to get back at their owners. I guess that portrayal is what gets reviewers to call him "insightful." In fact, I cannot think of a single dog trainer who would have a word to say in favor of the retaliatory misbehavior theory. Maybe the occasional vet, humoring a client, would go along with it, but that's it. Book after book debunks this misperception. Yet again, Katz is not quite the original thinker he portrays himself as.

#60 Keegan's Mom

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 03:56 PM

Originally posted by GeorgiaBC:
His credentials are as good as anybody else's and, last time I checked, he was entitled to his opinions.

Did you miss the part of the interview that mentioned he "did not come from dogs"...he is a writer who now enjoys writing about dogs...does that make him an expert? I think not, and the fact that people take stock in what this man says as far as training and rescuing is scary!!

Sorry, Eileen posted the same gist only much better than I did...I got ahead of myself.



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