Carol Kaesuk Yoon
Biologist and New York Times Science Writer
"Revolutionary" - Publishers Weekly
"Fearlessly iconoclastic" - Time Out New York
"A sensuous delight" - Oprah
Carol Kaesuk Yoon is a biologist by training and a journalist by profession. She covers ecology, evolution, genetics, natural history, entomology, and earthquakes for the paper of record. In her mesmerizing new book, Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science, she looks at the scientific quest to name life. In the process she helps us relate more closely to the world around us. Naming plays on the twin strengths of Yoon's work—scientific reporting and gorgeous writing—and has received critical acclaim.
Breakthrough in the Backyard: Biodiversity in an Urban Landscape
After logging thousands of miles around the globe to glimpse one exotic creature or another, Carol Yoon was shocked to make the scientific find of her life while glancing out her living room window. There resting on the glass was a species-- a dazzling iridescent moth-- that had never before been seen alive in North America. In this talk, Yoon takes audiences along on what became her quixotic quest to discover every possible species in, on and around her modest urban home and yard. Venturing from back steps to rooftop to the surprising array of species in the condiments in her refrigerator alone, Yoon finds life everywhere showing us that even in the most mundane of locales, we are each immersed daily in mad kaleidoscope of wild species. This talk inspires us to discover the life within our own lives and explore the living world that is-- and always has been-- a whirlwind of change full of exciting new discoveries just waiting to be made.
Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Deep inside of every person, there lies a powerful drive, one that has long shaped human behavior: the urge to order and name living things. In this talk, Carol Yoon tells the story of this human mandate which, for better and worse, has shaped both the progress of science and humanity's deep disconnection from the natural world. She looks at science's limitations and instills in us an urgency to stay connected to the natural world by using familiar, rather than scientific, names. Taking us across the disciplines, Yoon reveals just how deep-seated the innate vision of life really is in all of us, and shows us how important it is to reclaim that vision, if we hope to save our world.
Asian Girl Nerd: From Run-Away PreMed to Science Dork to Journalist
In this talk, Carol Kaesuk Yoon, half Japanese, half Korean, tells her personal story of becoming a journalist. Beginning with the pre-ordained life path of Ivy-League-College-then-Medical-School as determined by her parents, she describes how, en route, she fell in love with evolutionary biology, a fascinating science but one which was at times dauntingly dominated by white males. Eventually, on a lark, she discovers the diverse and dynamic world of newspaper writing, which led to nearly two decades of covering news about biology for The New York Times. A funny, relatable look at a fascinating life so far.
Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus set out to order and name the entire living world and ended up founding a science: the field of scientific classification, or taxonomy. Yet, in spite of Linnaeus's pioneering work and the genius of those who followed him, from Darwin to E. O. Wilson, taxonomy went from being revered as one of the most significant of intellectual pursuits to being largely ignored. Today, taxonomy is viewed by many as an outdated field, one nearly irrelevant to the rest of science and of even less interest to the rest of the world.
Now, as Carol Kaesuk Yoon, biologist and longtime science writer for the New York Times, reminds us in Naming Nature, taxonomy is critically important, because it turns out to be much more than mere science. It is also the latest incarnation of a long-unrecognized human practice that has gone on across the globe, in every culture, in every language since before time: the deeply human act of ordering and naming the living world.
In Naming Nature, Yoon takes us on a guided tour of science's brilliant, if sometimes misguided, attempts to order and name the overwhelming diversity of earth's living things. We follow a trail of scattered clues that reveals taxonomy's real origins in humanity's distant past. Yoon's journey brings us from New Guinea tribesmen who call a giant bird a mammal to the trials and tribulations of patients with a curious form of brain damage that causes them to be unable to distinguish among living things.
Finally, Yoon shows us how the reclaiming of taxonomy—a renewed interest in learning the kinds and names of things around us—will rekindle humanity's dwindling connection with wild nature. Naming Nature has much to tell us, not only about how scientists create a science but also about how the progress of science can alter the expression of our own human nature.
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