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Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D.

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<Dr. Jonathan Balcombe is the author of five non-fiction books, including: the New York Times best-seller What A Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure, Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals, Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives, and Recommendations. His books have been translated into sixteen foreign languages. Balcombe currently writes and speaks independently. He is an Associate Editor with The Editorial Department, a private editing firm. He also serves as Associate Editor for Animal Sentience, an interdisciplinary journal on animal feelings. Balcombe teaches a course in animal sentience for the Viridis Graduate Institute. In addition to writing, Balcombe enjoys biking, nature, painting and drawing, cooking and baking, piano, singing, and trying to understand the squirrels in his backyard.

Lectures and Consultations for the 2019 Cruise

Keynote Lecture: What a Fish Knows
Arguably the least understood, and certainly the most exploited vertebrates on Earth, fishes have been predominantly viewed by us in two contexts: as a source of food, and as a source of recreation. It is as if they didn’t have lives of their own! Modern science shows otherwise. Combining science and story-telling, this presentation explores startling discoveries of fishes’ colorful lives that will make eyebrows raise and jaws drop. In this companion to Balcombe’s latest book, What a Fish Knows, you’ll learn how fishes can use tools and create mental maps, recognize shoalmates, deceive others, keep accounts, parent, woo, collaborate, and undergo gender reassignment without costly surgery.

Lecture: The Inner Lives of Animals
Twenty-first century discoveries show what some have suspected all along—that animals lead lives of acute sensitivity, awareness, and virtue. This presentation takes audiences on a tour of some of the more surprising scientific revelations of how animals perceive, think, feel, communicate, socialize, and cooperate. You’ll discover how baboons grieve, how starlings show optimism, how crocodiles use tools, how rats laugh, how scrub jays deceive, how magpies recognize themselves in a mirror, and how a humble-looking intertidal fish performs a cognitive feat that will knock your socks off. Against this backdrop, our own anthropocentric and predatory behavior toward animals needs a major overhaul.

Lecture: Beastly Bliss -Animal Pleasure and its Significance
Animals’ capacity for pain and suffering has, quite rightly, been central to rising moral protests against humans’ abysmal record of animal abuse and exploitation, but very little attention has been given to animals’ capacity for pleasure. This lavishly illustrated presentation shows how central the desire for reward is to animals’ lives, and debunks the popular perception that life for wild animals is a continuous, grim struggle for survival. There are many sources of pleasure in animals’ lives, including food, play, touch, sex, comfort, companionship, love, beauty, and freedom. Animals are not just pain-avoiders, but active pleasure-seekers, and their lives take on intrinsic value. The moral implications are profound.

Lecture: After Meat
What would happen if humans suddenly stopped eating animals? This presentation explores such a scenario, compelled by a lethal illness linked to the consumption of animal products. I explore the impacts on animals, the environment, human health, food, and society. Such is the manifold current scale of animal agriculture that the upheavals associated with its sudden collapse would be immense. And such is its destructiveness that, in a short time, large-scale benefits would ensue. And what of a possible future return to meat consumption? Would it resemble the current system, or would industrial-scale meat production go the way of colonialism, slavery and women’s suffrage?

Lecture: Bats - Myth and Reality
As the world’s least understood mammals, bats are the subject of a wide range of misconceptions. In this illustrated presentation, I will address some of the most prominent of these. In the process, we will also discover some of the remarkable ways in which bats live, including how they find food, communicate, parent, and cooperate. With over 1,300 species, bats are second only to rodents as the most diverse group of mammals, and their astonishing abilities make for an eye-opening tour.

Panel Q&A: Animal Rights Leadership with animal rights advocates Dan Mathews, James Aspey, Will Tuttle, Ph.D., and Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D.
Knowing what’s going on is the best ammunition in the quest for animal protection and animal liberation. Ignorance is industry’s greatest weapon, and spreading the facts will bring exploitative systems crashing to the ground. Join our knowledgeable panel to learn about the plight of animals used in the entertainment, experimentation, clothing, meat and dairy industries and how society is responding to the increasingly large and powerful message of the animal rights movement.

PRIVATE CONSULTATION: How to Write and Publish Your Non-fiction Book - $200/person, 60 min.
In this private session Dr. Balcombe will help you with the process of writing a non-fiction book from the initial idea stage through publication. Topics include: identifying and honing your idea; finding and approaching literary agents (or not); publishing contracts, advances, and royalties; tips for researching and writing your book; getting constructive feedback; and delivering a winning manuscript. We can focus on any of these topics to suit your needs. Schedule a follow-up one-hour Skype conversation up to one year following the initial consultation to update your project and discuss next steps. This consultation includes a signed copy of Dr. Balcombe’s book Pleasurable Kingdom.

Books by Dr. Jonathan Balcombe

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