Genetic labelling Simplistic biological value descriptions
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.
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".
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.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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