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Alex & Me

Alex & Me

Scritto da Irene Pepperberg

Narrato da Julia Gibson


Alex & Me

Scritto da Irene Pepperberg

Narrato da Julia Gibson

valutazioni:
4/5 (52 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
5 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 28, 2008
ISBN:
9780061769344
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

Alex & Me is the remarkable true story of an extraordinary relationship between psychologist Irene M. Pepperberg and Alex, an African Grey parrot who proved scientists and accepted wisdom wrong by demonstrating an astonishing ability to communicate and understand complex ideas. A New York Times bestseller and selected as one of the paper’s critic’s Top Ten Books of the Year, Alex & Me is much more that the story of an incredible scientific breakthrough. It’s a poignant love story and an affectionate remembrance of Pepperberg’s irascible, unforgettable, and always surprising best friend.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 28, 2008
ISBN:
9780061769344
Formato:
Audiolibro

Informazioni sull'autore

Irene M. Pepperberg is an associate research professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and teaches animal cognition at Harvard University. She is head of the Alex Foundation and author of The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots.


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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (5/5)
    This was a wonderful look into the work with Alex the parrot, who participated in groundbreaking studies to show that animal intelligence is far more than just response to stimuli. Alex comes across as a wonderful personality, and of course the last words he said, "You be good. I love you," are tearjerkers! We have come far in our understanding of animals, and Alex was a big part of that. This is a wonderful story.
  • (4/5)
    Alex and Me tells the surprisingly moving story of a 30 year professional relationship, scientific experiment, and dare I say "friendship" between Alex the parrot and his owner, the author Irene Pepperberg. Pepperberg, fell in love with birds as a lonely, shy, sad and silent little girl. She earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT but fell out of love with it around the same time that she learned that serious science was being conducted on the topic of animal behavior and communication. After some self-study, she embarked on a new career. Alex and Me describes Alex in charming detail. He was a roguish and imperious bird, but awfully sweet. Everyone loved him. Because he could do things that no one thought a bird could do: develop a decent vocabulary, count, add, spell, reason, communicate, he became a bit of a media celebrity. Pepperberg does a good job describing the experiments, conveying Alex's talents and personality. She also conveys the long and at times lonely struggles she endures in her career, as an academic outside the mainstream, dependent on grant funding or a university brave enough to hire her. Alex died at age thirty in 2007, twenty years earlier than expected. His accomplishments proved a great deal about the power of bird brains. This book is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable parrot.
  • (5/5)
    Not until the end of this book does Pepperberg wax philosophical to any degree. The story of the amazing Alex is one much more important than a cute parrot playfully challenging its owner and its trainers. It’s a story of giving the animal world its due as a full fledged member of the same universe that man occupies. Not as equals, but with the same importance in the scheme of things. The farther we as a species have gotten from this notion, the more destructive we have become. And if current political arrogance toward climate change is any indicator, we’re doomed.
  • (3/5)
    By science memoir standards, this one is pretty dry, but the work summarized within it is quite interesting.
  • (5/5)
    I listened to the audiobook which was 5 segments, a fairly short book. I very much enjoyed the biographical bits of Pepperberg's youth, her education experience leading to a PhD in Chemistry, her struggles throughout her research and the descriptions of the variety of places where she did the work, and the descriptions of the training method and information found. The best parts were the little stories about Alex and her which went above and beyond the strict science. I loved this book.
  • (3/5)
    It's interesting enough, but Pepperberg seems really detached and unfeeling. I get that she was trying to maintain academic and scientific distance from the experiments, but it's obvious from her own observations and videos I've seen of her with Alex (and later the other birds) that they really needed affection and love. As her own research proved, they're highly intelligent creatures (as well as being extremely sociable) but she deprived them of the love they need. It just seems so cruel.
  • (4/5)
    A wonderful account of Irene Pepperberg and her amazing African Grey parrot, Alex. Alex was well known for disproving many theories about animal cognition, and his death was a shock and sadness to so many people. In this book, Pepperberg talks about her life with Alex, and other birds, and the discoveries they made. There were many problems, such as finding funding, figuring out the right training methods, and just dealing with the stubborness of Alex who did his best to get what he wanted, when he wanted it. The book also has some cute anecdotes about Alex.
    Overall, I enjoyed this book. As someone in the science field, I had heard many things about Alex and his accomplishments and was very saddened to hear of his death. It was nice to see a bit of insight to his daily life and the efforts that went into discovering just how smart he really was.
  • (5/5)
    A wonderful glimpse into the study of Irene Pepperberg's time with Alex and a great showing of what that little soul was capable of.
  • (3/5)
    Frankly, Irene by herself is not appealing. So her childhood and adolescence in the first third of the book; and her afterward mourning and preaching detract from the book. Alex is the star, and scenes without him are just irrelevant filler material.Alex is quite a personality. And while Pepperberg is always careful to couch her results so as to not claim too much, Alex' intelligence and wit shine through.
  • (5/5)
    Irene grew up in a family with a deficit of love and companionship, except for a parakeet that her father bought her as a pet. She loved that parakeet and it was her constant companion. So it is not a total surprise, after obtaining degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, that she might turn to animal communication as her postgraduate field of study and that she would decide to use the African Gray Parrot, renowned for its ability to talk and mimic the sounds of other animals and people. Despite difficulties finding stable faculty positions, she managed to do groundbreaking work in animal communication and linguistics with her beloved parrot, Alex. Alex seemed to be an extremely intelligent parrot who, often as not, would purposely give the wrong answer unless she did something he wanted, or often interrupt training sessions with other parrots to give the right answer. He also used to ask questions and give answers he was never taught and seemed to understand principles such as quantity, the idea of zero and other ideas often thought to be too sophisticated for a "bird brain". A lifelong relationship, ended too soon by Alex's death at the age of 31, was a rewarding scientific journey and a wonderful story about how a person and a parrot can grow to value each other's company. I highly recommend reading this book for its novelty, its warmth, the science and the humor.
  • (5/5)
    I became aware of Alex a few years ago when I read Drawing the Line, a book on animal rights. Having lived with animals my entire life I have a higher opinion of all their intelligences than most people but Alex was a revelation. I read Alex And Me last night and was repeatedly amazed at his abilities. The book begins with the outpouring of sympathy from around the world at Alex's untimely death last year. His researcher, Irene Pepperberg, was devastated at his loss. She recounts the many lives he touched even if only from afar.Then she moves to the past and the beginning of her love affair with birds and science when she was a young child. Irene recounts the early struggles to get funding and any kind of recognition for the work she was doing with Alex. If you do not know of Alex, his cognitive abilities astounded the scientific community. Beginning with labels - names for objects - he proceeded to identify colors, numbers, matter and ultimately learned to spell and add. His abilities amazed Dr. Pepperberg as he continued to do things he was never expected to do.Alex had quite a personality also. He considered himself top parrot in the lab and new students were expected to run through a series of demands before he would allow them to work with him. He could be mischievous - sometimes calling out the wrong answer when other birds were being tested. He got bored with the long, repetitive testing sessions that were needed to provide statistical significance. And he was obviously very lovable. What an amazing animal and he and Dr. Pepperberg have made a huge impact on how we look at animal intelligence. The end of the book left me sobbing for the early loss of Alex. He certainly changed my way of thinking and I already had a pretty high level of respect for animal minds
  • (4/5)
    I would have enjoyed a bit more about the science behind Dr. Pepperberg's experiments with Alex the parrot. Not that this aspect was left out of this book, but there is more of the memoir than the scientific exploration in the book, as was intended, I'm sure. In any event, the fact that I had hoped for more on that score did not keep me from enjoying the story of Irene Pepperberg's investigations into animal intelligence and her work and relationship with the inimitable Alex. There are numerous excellent anecdotes about Alex's feats learning to say and understand many words and concepts, plus many heartwarming stories about the unintended but very real bond Dr. Pepperberg forged with him in the decades they worked together.
  • (5/5)
    This was a book that I could not put down once I started it. Because I knew from the beginning that Alex, the African Grey parrot who helped Dr. Irene M. Pepperberg with her research, was no longer alive, I wanted to find out what happened to him. Along the way, I was introduced to two separate worlds. One was world of the investigator and how Dr. Pepperberg had to cope with the difficulties of obtaining research funding to carry on what was deemed as "off-the-beaten-track" research. The other was the world of the intellectual capabilities the African Grey parrot. Dr. Pepperberg had several of these, but Alex was the one with which she began her research and who became best-known of all her birds. Dr. Pepperberg describes the intertwining of these two worlds in a way that is captivating, humorous, and surprising. She ends her story with a beautiful note of how all nature is connected and Homo Sapiens are really not as supreme as we would like to think.
  • (3/5)
    My son saw this on my pile and fussed at the title Alex & I!" But it depends on the rest of 'understood' sentence, doesn't it? Are we referencing a subject or an object? "This book is about Alex & me" would be correct, would it not?

    Well anyway, I finally read it. Quick & engaging, but not nearly enough science for me. I want to know more about more recent work on the cognitive abilities of birds."
  • (4/5)
    This parrot was no bird brain. In fact, it displayed a level of cognitive intelligence and (linguistic) interaction with humans, that surpassed that of primates.
  • (4/5)
    Important story, both philosophically and scientifically. Pepperberg earns a major foul for not sharing Alex's autopsy results though--a seasoned scientist should know better.
  • (5/5)
    Simply one of the greatest books ever written in the field of ethology, because it is not so much about ethology as about the extraordinary relationship between one person and a parrot. Pepperberg's reluctance to step outside an objective approach to her work with Alex makes this more than a good or interesting book, because in the end it is her transcending objectivity (but blink and you'll miss it) that takes this story into exceptional territory.
  • (3/5)
    Alex is a fascinating bird. However, the book was not as interesting as it could have been. I really wanted to know more about the bird and the experiments and less about the author. Also the book didn't feel authentic. It felt as though she was trying not to offend anyone she wrote about in the book. Also she was trying to show that she was not too close to Alex to do good scientific research. But all of that made for a boring book.
  • (5/5)
    I never would have thought that a book about a bird could make me cry, but Alex & Me succeeded. I'm not much of a bird person. I've never had a bird for a pet, and when I've visited bird owners in the past the incessant chirping of their pets was less than endearing. After reading this heartwarming (and informative) book however, I found myself dreaming about life with an African Grey parrot.

    A big part of this book centered on the linguistic and cognitive abilities of Alex, and as someone who studied linguistics in college that really appealed to me. The text is written for the layperson though and is easy to understand, telling Irene Pepperberg's story as well as Alex's.

    In college I remember spending a very short amount of time learning about animal communication (probably a week or two out of my entire college education). We learned about chimpanzees using sign language, the intelligence of dolphins, and how birds communicate using birdsong. I have just a vague recollection of reading about Alex the parrot.

    Part of what I thought was so fascinating about Alex was not just his cognitive and speech abilities (which were amazing), but how prejudiced the scientific community was against the idea of birds being intelligent enough to communicate with meaning. By that I mean that Alex was speaking words and knew what he was saying, not just mimicking speech.

    I did cry when I read the passage where Alex died. I actually paused in my reading in order to soak in that section, went to check my email and found out that Michael Jackson died. I think I was more emotional about the news that Michael Jackson died than I would have been otherwise, because I was already misty-eyed from reading about Alex's passing.

    Alex and Me is an enchanting and informative read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in learning more about the capacity of animals to communicate with humans.

    Oh, and I looked up how long African Grey parrots live - about 60 years. I guess that's not a pet you want to adopt without putting a lot of thought into it.
  • (4/5)
    I didn't "really like it" because it is all that good a book. I really liked it because it was a really good story. I've known of Alex and seen him in action and loved him from afar. I also have had the privilege of living with a parrot, a Yellow-Naped Amazon named Barney.
    No bird lover can resist crying and smiling through it. It is a very special book about a very special kind of friendship.

  • (5/5)
    good book. makes you think. enjoyed listening.
  • (4/5)
    4.5 starsIrene Pepperberg was educated as a chemist, but she decided to study parrots and how they are able to communicate with people. She fought for a lab and a place to do her research (with a lot of obstacles put in her way). She found Alex, an African Gray Parrot, to train and study. She tried to keep a scientific distance from Alex, but she fell in love with him, anyway. He died early (at age 31), and he had so much potential to learn so much more and to prove to the scientists who’d come before, who didn’t believe that an animal could think, that they might be wrong. This was really, really good. I laughed and cried, right from the start of the book. The only thing I was disappointed in was at the end – I don’t think she ever said how he died, and I was wondering about the other parrots that she had brought in to train. Whatever happened to them? I assume she continued her work with them, as well, but she never did say. Overall, though, well worth the read, certainly for anyone who likes animals of any kind.
  • (3/5)
    This book was written clearly (nothing special) but it was great to read about the authors' various experiments and experiences with Alex and her other Grays. He really was amazing.
  • (3/5)
    While I did admire this woman for tackling what was thought (at that point in time) to be a man's job as a scientist and while I found some of the stories endearing, it did drag....
  • (3/5)
    Pepperberg’s ode to Alex is both entertaining and endearing, and the question of the African gray’s potential for language and thought is intriguing. To her credit, Pepperberg is conscientious in her attempts to apply scientific protocols to her work with Alex, though I was unable to entirely shake the anecdotal sources of some of her conclusions. That said, I am reminded of the pre-Darwinian debate over whether mankind occupies a uniquely privileged place in the cosmos. Is it equally unfounded to insist that language, thought and reflection belong only to us? While it is impossible in Alex’s case to rule out a complex form of operant conditioning, there seem to be no categorical reasons that the rudiments of something language-like could not occur more than once throughout the tree of life. Our kinship to other living organisms runs at least as deep as our propensity to anthropomorphize.
  • (5/5)
    A fascinating and uplifting story of friendship between a scientist and a grey parrot. Recommended for everyone who thinks only humans (or only mammals) have intelligence.....
  • (3/5)
    This is a very interesting story. I learned about Alex the parrot in a class of mine and instantly wanted to know more. This provides a great background into what Alex (and therefore many other creatures) can be capable of. If you're looking for more information about animal communication and thought processes, this is a great resource. Do be wary if you're looking for a good read, though--to put it bluntly, scientist ain't no writer. It drags on at points (if the title gives you any indication), waxes poetic quite a lot at the end, and so on. But don't let that stop you if you're interested in the subject.
  • (4/5)
    Irene Pepperberg is a scientist so she has two strikes against her. She works in a profession that has limited respect for women and she does research on animal intelligence when much of her fellow scientists not to mention humans in general remain stuck in the old idea that animals act purely on instinct and are rather like warm blooded robots rather than sentient, intelligent creatures. Pepperberg is ambitious, intelligent, articulate and rather emotionally cold. Alex, the bird in her studies is quirky, intelligent, loving and fun. They made a great pair and a fascinating book.
  • (3/5)
    I had read the obituary of Alex, an African grey parrot, in an anthology of Economist obituaries, but didn't know much beyond that. In this memoir, the scientist who trained Alex (an acronym for Avian Learning EXperiment) tells their story. Without getting too technical, the author tells about how she did research -- often with minimal funding and without much support from the scientific community -- that changed the way the world looks at "bird brains." This is a short book, with large type, a quick read. It's simple enough to be read by precocious eight-year-olds, but this adult didn't find it altogether satisfying. It will be interesting to see what kind of discussion it engenders at our non-fiction group.
  • (2/5)
    This book was interesting, but not really my style. I didn't really know that parrots were that smart. On the other hand, the author is a crazy parrot lady. I'm not really interested in pursuing anything related to parrots or this author.