Problem

Discriminatory scientific language

Other Names:
Genetic labelling
Simplistic biological value descriptions
Nature:
Scientific language, once brought to the public arena for common usage, is sometimes simplified for conceptual understanding. Hence, the application of the prefix "normal" and "abnormal" abound. Such value labelling is particularly prevalent in the dialogue of genetics. Current discussions of genetic predisposition and gene variants in the biological study of homosexuals and the mentally and physically handicapped often focus on such value assessments. Although genetic labelling of the "good" and the "bad" may assist public awareness of contemporary medical challenges, it may also perpetuate value assessments of the individuals facing such genetic predispositions. Categorizing human beings as normal or abnormal not only threatens the social and personal well-being of the individual, but threatens to perpetuate simplistic stereotypes and discrimination of those assessed a negative value judgement. Ultimately medical, social, legal and ethical issues may be influenced by such labelling.
Claim:
No human being should be assessed in terms of his genetic composition. Scientists, medical practitioners and those in the media are particularly responsible for the proliferation of this discriminatory labelling. Throughout medical history are examples of once genetically "abnormal" individuals who, sometimes after their death, would have later been considered "normal" because of a shift in medical fashion and discovery. Left-handedness was once considered "abnormal".
Counter Claim:
Labelling is an intrinsic part of any language. An attempt to eliminate labelling results in the abundance of euphemism, which is usually a more confusing way of saying the same thing. Euphemism either provokes public cynicism or public ignorance.
Related Problems:
Oversimplification
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Date of last update
08.02.1997 – 00:00 CET