Sunday, November 30, 2014

naming nature

Art sent me a book under the guise of my non-birthday last year.  It's Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science by Carol Kaesuk Yoon.  I'm not a big reader, so it sat on my shelf for 9 months until Andy and I went to a cabin for holiday this spring (read: no internet, no tv, no phone).  Naming Nature made sense to me at the time and provided a good historical summary, most of which I've long forgotten the details.  I also took along my perennial favorite Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, which I read through twice (it's total book candy) while it rained.

Given my recent discovery of my own religious-based beliefs still lurking about in the grey matter, I think it's time to give Carol's Naming Nature another read through.  Let's see what will stick this time around under a refocused lens of understanding.

I'm guessing my written lines from my last blog post's edit, "As humans, I think we have an instinctive need to identify things, although our ability to do so is not always intuitive.  What are you?  It's in our nature." came directly from having read Carol's book.  It's funny how the mind works.

Art and Jim also sent me several scientific papers, a book chapter, and a dissertation all covering related topics on speciation, subspeciation, the molecular phylogentics of Eriogonum, and the issues that arise when taxonomy meets law.  I'll admit to being a bit intimidated by the technical details that read like Greek to me, and that's one of the points of Carol's book of how science, as it's practiced today, is largely out of reach to the average Joe.

One of the goals that I set out for Nature ID was to invite folks to "learn along with me."  Despite the foolishness I've displayed as of late, that invitation still stands.  Take a look at the book if you want (I recommend it), and feel free to comment.

ps - Has anyone else noticed their reading comprehension is easier from a printed physical page compared to an electronic pdf?  I'm loathed to print out so much paper, but...  I wonder if this holds true for kids growing up in the digital age who are learning to read primarily from computer screens?