The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Biologist and journalist Carol Kaesuk Yoon takes us beyond genus and species to deep cognition, revealing our drive to name life. She tells the strange story of scientists leading people away from the impulse to name the living world, even as they are driven by it.
Naming Nature, sure to delight readers who love words and nature, is a rich journey of naming from Linnaeus, whose system turned classification from a hobby to a science and Darwin, who ended the idea of rigid species definitions, to today’s dream of naming all of earth’s species and listing them online.
Readers will see science’s limitations and will feel the urgency of staying connected to the natural world by using familiar, rather than scientific, names. Naming Nature illuminates the reasons why we might care less whether a whale is a fish or a mammal as long as we know its importance in our world.
"...this is an inspiring and unputdownable read."
"...a compelling account of how... the human brain is programmed to order and make sense of the natural world and prone to react badly when that order is challenged.”
Jennie Erin Smith, The Times Literary Supplement
"...began life as a paean to the work of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who invented the science of classification, or taxonomy. It ended up being something much more profound, however, as Carol Kaesuk Yoon came to believe that taxonomy is 'no ordinary science'."
"A lively blend of popular scientific history and cultural criticism."
The New York Times Book Review
"The author has an engaging anecdotal style, making this an intriguing read for anyone who wants a basic understanding of the story of why and how we name organisms."
"...a compelling account..."
The Times Literary Supplement
"This book is stuffed with facts and common sense, written in an easy, humorous and eminently readable style. Buy it. Read it."
January 2010 • £19.99 • ISBN 978 0 393 06197 0 • 352pp • 156 x 235mm
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October 2010 • Paper • £12.99 • ISBN 978 0 393 33871 3 • 352pp • 140 x 210mm • 27 illustrations
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