Point Five


“I am an occasional visitor to the Natural Dog Training (is there such a  thing as Supernatural Dog Training?) blog authored by snake-oil salesman and new-age mystic Kevin Behan. Reading the blog is amusing and infuriating. I find it painful to see him lie to readers and distort the latest science story to support the sales his energy snake-oil story.”

“I am also amused by the similarities between Behan’s attack on science and the way creationist (and climate deniers, anti-vaxxers, truthers, oil lobby and at one time the smoking lobby) deal with science – blanket dismissal, logical fallacies, distorting findings and outright lies.”

KB: By the way, I am not attacking science. I am asking behaviorism to be logically rigorous, as is the case in Physics. An astrophysicist is currently arguing that the universe is not expanding, it merely looks like it’s expanding because mass is turning to energy and this produces the same effects as an expanding universe. It’s a wild idea given the decades of prior consensus and yet physicists are willing to consider it simply based on its logical merit. Physicists are open to new ideas. Likewise I am making the argument that emotion, the oldest aspect of consciousness, works according to the same principles of energy that all natural systems work by. That’s it.

Behan’s description of the process is classic pseudoscience nonsense-speak and I think Dr. Risë VanFleet would agree. On July 14 she wrote on Facebook:”

“BIG WORDS all strung together do NOT = Science. I’ve seen some pretty strange things on Facebook in the past couple weeks that claim to explain how animals work, are motivated, or have feelings. They are essentially strings of big words put together in an effort to sound “authoritative.” If anything, what they are saying is quite the opposite of science, not just of animal behavior, but also about physics, chemistry, etc., and some of it sounds like complete gibberish. Sounds like a marketing ploy to me. Critical thinking is an important skill to have, and we need to get to the sources of the science when there’s any doubt at all!!”


I don’t know who Dr. VanFleet is referring to, but since it’s been directed at me by way of a third party, and since I certainly have heard it before, I want to emphasize that my theory has no big words. It is one simple concept linked to the next. In the whole, I concede, it can be hard to grasp, but not because it is full of big words or difficult concepts but because it runs counter to the human proclivity to conceptualize nature. I’m attempting to articulate how a dog’s mind works and without allowing myself the intellectual expediency of inserting thoughts into a bubble over their head, or resorting to a familiar psychology to explain complex relationships, as in “Dogs evolved to comprehend human signals given their long affiliation with human beings.” Or, “A dog herds sheep due to a herding instinct.” The animal mind does not conceptualize, and while we share the same subconscious core with animals, we don’t have conscious awareness of this directly. Yes I use clunky words and unusual phrasings but we’re talking about a non-human form of consciousness. There are terms which are more familiar, but they immediately mislead and inject the notion of Time into the mind of the dog.

My theory is that emotion works just like energy. Not that it is telepathic or an actual field or current of energy, rather that the internal physiological and neurological effects of emotional affects, renders within the individual an unconscious motive to move in a synchronized and aligned manner with others, in other words, to behave just like an electrically or magnetically charged particle. Thus the pattern of behavior of animals is just like metal filings aligned in a magnetic field, or the actions of an animal is like electricity running to ground. Note that every culture in the world talks of emotion in energetic terms. And when scientists several decades ago set out to study the dynamic of human beauty, they interviewed people from every culture as to what strikes them as anatomically beautiful, and they received these reports as a genuine scientific finding. Why not do the same with emotion? But notice that no scientist will step up and on the record argue directly. There are oblique references or anonymous attacks and when I engage they never respond to the heart of the question, deflecting the issue onto some word play or comma out of place. The Unknown Scientist says my theory is ridiculous, but then he/she finds themselves infuriated. If it’s ridiculous how could it infuriate? My suggestion is to first try to understand the theory in order to test it. Only then is one in a position to debunk it. And why might someone take the trouble to learn this model? Because it’s the only model out there.

I want to thank the Unknown Scientist for this opportunity to expand and expound on NDT principles. In the seventies I arrived at the understanding that the core of the animal mind was emotion. Forty years ago NDT argued that neutering was not calming or healthful, it debunked the dominance model when the Monks of New Skete were at their zenith. NDT taught that bite work is good for dogs and that a dog must always win. NDT presaged emergence theory with the argument that canine society was self-organizing and is the only theory of behavior consonant with Control theory and the Constructal law. Modern robotics and computer simulations are executing self-organizing systems based on algorithms predicated on a state of attraction, the predicate of emotion. My highest aspiration with the upcoming NDT conference in Indiana is to teach others how to see past our thoughts and into the mind of a dog. It’s how our emotional mind works as well. We don’t even have to call it science because yes indeed natural is super, in fact, it’s a matter of Heart.


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Published August 1, 2013 by Kevin Behan
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7 responses to “Point Five”

  1. Kevin, I’m not sure why you’re entertaining the ad hominem ravings of the Unattributed Scientist, but bless you for all your patience and your amazing work.

    I’m like you. I LOVE science. What I’m complaining about are dognition “experts” who do their research in very unscientific ways; i.e., via confirmation bias, by blatantly ignoring the laws of parsimony, and through one of the weakest forms of reasoning: analogy (i.e., a wolf pack is like an economic system).

    Of course not all dognitive researchers are guilty of those sins, but, sadly, it’s the ones who are who tend to get the most press.


  2. One other thing. It mystifies me that an “energy theory” of animal behavior would be met with such resistance. Surely every animal of any kind has to use whatever forms of energy they possess in order to sustain life by feeding on the energy contained in other things in nature, whether living or non-living.

    And by the way, I found this today: http://ow.ly/nxijb

    “Key social questions of interest have been the object of previous studies using physics tools. The field of magnetic interactions has previously been used to compare opinions to a degree of freedom associated with atoms, called spin. Global average opinion is associated with overall magnetisation of the material, whereas sudden opinion shifts compare to magnetic materials’ phase transitions.”

  3. kbehan says:

    I hope I haven’t imposed too much on the readers’ forbearance, it’s just that I find it helpful to sharpen my point against how others approach these questions, even if they’re over the top. I appreciate your feedback and I would also like to note that the comments of Josh and Chris have also been especially insightful. I also think that Martin might have posed the unanswerable question to our mystery protagonist. Perhaps there’s a response in the offing. Thank you for reading.

  4. Mystery protagonist or antagonist?

  5. wetnosewarmhearts says:

    My feedback on the process or “flow” of your recent blog exchanges. I look to Constructal Law for guidance. Bejan’s colleague, G. W. Merkx, noted that “…there are four basic types of behavioral response to flow systems: obstruction; avoidance; facilitation, and inaction.” Thus, people “can affect the evolution of flow systems and their environment” and “environmental factors may interfere with a desirable flow system.” My opinion is that US and the Electric Skeptik obstruct flow with their epithets and try to coerce you into a rigid energy wasting environment. On the other hand, Martin, Chris, Josh, Udell etc. facilitate flow by promoting a freer environment. They facilitate flow as “…facilitation of a flow system amounts to strengthening or protecting the channels of a system to prevent leakage or loss of energy.” “Flow Systems, Catastrophes, and Public Policies” 2009 by G. W. Merkx in a book entitled “Constructal Human Dynamics, Security and Sustainability” that was edited by A. Bejan et. al.

  6. kbehan says:

    Of course the Constructal law keeps it all in perspective. I like to think the US in all his/her internet embodiments (Subaru, Anton Ramos, Prometheus Fire, Pax Canadian, Galaxy this or that,) are adding to the flow by demonstrating the vapidness of the theory of dog as learning machine. Dogs are emotional beings, our mission is to learn how they learn by feel.

  7. cliff says:

    Bottom line: It works. Period. Our dog was saved by Kevin.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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