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CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS OR CFCs: Volatile compounds commonly known as "Freons". The chemicals have been used in association with refrigerant fluids, solvents, aerosol propellants and blowing agents in the fabrication of foam plastics. Their extraordinarily high stability enables them to persist in the atmosphere and to enter the stratosphere where they are the major culprit in ozone layer depletion (see OZONE HOLE). Lag times before the effects of human-driven change emerge can often be long; for example, CFCs released into the atmosphere now will damage the ozone layer in thirty to eighty years time, risking a false sense of safety. (IP)

CHLOROPLAST: Those structures within plant cells where photosynthesis occurs. They contain small circular DNA molecules that replicate independently of the nucleus. (DM)


CHORDATA: The bilaterally symmetrical animal phylum characterized by the presence of a flexible, rod-like notochord during at least some stage of development. The notochord serves as the main internal structural element in primitive chordates, but develops into a true backbone in others, such as the Vertebrata. (RW)

CHORIONIC VILLI: Finger-like projections growing from the external surface of the chorion that contribute to the formation of the placenta. (DM)

CHORIONIC VILLUS SAMPLING (CVS): The procedure used in prenatal diagnosis to take a small sample of the chorionic villi for testing, such as genetic screening. (DM)

CHRIST, JESUS: Central figure of the Christian faith, understood in a unique way as God's Son and, along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, as one of the Trinity. Seen by some other faiths as a great prophet. (MR)

CHRISTIANS: The disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were called Christians in the city of Antioch (Bible. Acts. 11:26). Their life style was so unique that King Agrippa replied St Paul " Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian" (Acts. 21:28). Till about 300 AD, Christians were persecuted (1 Peter 4:16) like the people living in Cappadocia (now in Turkey). Although there are two major divisions, namely Protestants and Roman Catholics, these groups are not found in the Bible, there are now many sects among Christians, which are based on minor doctrinal differences. (JA)

CHROMOSOMAL ABNORMALITIES: Congential disorders or genetic mutations involving changes in the number and structure of chromosomes. (see DOWN'S SYNDROME, XYY KARYOTYPE) (DM)


CHROMOSOME: chromo (clor) soma (body), stains with basic dyes. Specific to each species. A structure that lies inside a cell's nucleus. A chromosome is composed mainly of DNA. Each normal cell of the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. The organelle found in which they are found is the nucleus, containing DNA 23 pairs in human being. See AUTOSOME, KARYOTYPE. (JA)


CHRONOCENTRISM: (From the Greek "chrono-"= time + center+ ism) A belief or viewpoint which holds that a particular time period is better than others, and that the society which lives in that time period is superior to societies which live/d in other time periods. During the 20th century, many new terms were coined to acknowledge the growing awareness that being self-focused (either as an individual or as a group) has negative aspects, and that there are multiple viewpoints and perspectives that need to be recognised. The terms "racism", "sexism", "antisemitism", and "ageism" demonstrate examples of discrimination applied to certain groups of people, based upon the conditions of their birth, whether gender, ethnicity, race or religion are a factor. The coining of "ageism" also shows awareness of a person's age and how that affects the way that person is viewed in society. There is also recognition of the problem of discrimination of people with disabilities of various sorts. However, there is another subtle form of self-centered thinking, which has not been acknowledged with a special term, and this is why the term "chronocentrism" is being offered.

It is difficult to claim that chronocentrism is a form of discrimination in the usual sense of the word. The reason is that generally chronocentrism is applied towards people who are not currently alive. Chronocentrism is not quite the same as discrimination against people who were born earlier, and thus lived their formative years in a different societal and technological setting. It is also not quite the same as discrimination applied towards a traditional society that is considered "backward". In both cases, the discrimination is applied to people, and the negative attitude towards those people's ideas is given as the reason for the discrimination. However, in the case of chronocentrism, the negative attitude is applied to a society, rather than towards a particular person. That society is held to be "inferior" to one's own. In some ways, this parallels negative attitudes towards foreign societies that are contemporary with one's own. However, in the case of chronocentrism, the negative attitude is applied even towards one's own society of a different time period. While this does not have a direct affect on a particular human being, it can have affect on a large number of people, because chronocentrism is directed at the values and lifestyle of society. Derivative forms include "chronocentric" for an adjectival form, "chronocentrist"- "one who practices chronocentrism". (AG)

CHU HSI: (pinyin spelling Zhu Xi) (1130-1200) Confucian scholar and philosopher. His most influential work included commentary of the classical Confucian texts. Zhu Xi's interpretations became the official interpretation of Confucian texts, and so, his commentaries exerted considerable influence on Chinese thought for centuries. (AG)

CHUANG TZU: Chinese philosopher (c.369-286 BCE). The work which bears his name, the Chuang Tzu, is one of the key philosophical texts of Taoism along with the Tao Te Ching. (See LAO-TSE, TAO TE CHING, TAOISM) (MP)

CIA: Central Intelligence Agency (U.S.)

CIESIN: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (US).

CIGUATERA: food item that is not toxic in itself becomes toxic due to contamination - bacterial/toxic diatoms/heavy metals. (JA)

CILIA: Short hair-like structures on a cell or microorganism, the movement of which aids mobility of the cell and transfer of materials across its surface. (See FLAGELLA) (MP)

CIRCUMCISION, MALE: Practiced for religious reasons by Jews and Muslims, and for medical reasons to a large extent in the United States and Canada. Reviews conducted by committees of the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Medical Association acknowledged some benefits of the operation for reducing sexually transmitted disease, penile cancer and neonatal urinary tract infections. But they also noted dangers of surgical error and complications. Both the benefits and the risks are statistically small, and they are close to equal. So both committees recommended against routine medical neonatal circumcision. Their reports were published, however, before more recent research suggesting that circumcision may protect against AIDS because receptors for the HIV virus are located on the inner side of the foreskin and at the point where the foreskin is attached to the penis.

There is a debate in Jewish tradition between those who believe, with Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Saadia Gaon, that circumcision improves the baby by removing an unnecessary piece of skin, and those who believe, with Maimonides (q.v.) that nature never does anything unnecessarily, and that whatever nature does routinely (as opposed to mutations) is for the good of health. Maimonides believed that the foreskin performs a perfectly healthy function, contributing to pleasure and erectile Function, and that Jews are commanded to remove it in order to reduce sexual pleasure to no more than is needed to perform the Biblical commandment to be fruitful and multiply. There are religious Jewish movements today, associated with Reform Judaism, who want to do away with infant circumcision. (FL)


CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE: Common-sense notion of indirect information that suggests the most likely explanation for some event. For example, if a gun shot is heard from a room with only one entrance/exit and I then walk out and others then find a dead woman in the room, there is circumstantial evidence that I killed her. Of course, it could be that she killed herself, that I shot her but she was already dead, etc.. (MR)

CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: An individual or community action which, although is in violation of the law, acts as an expression of personal or ideological values and a democratic plea for legal change. Examples include ‘Reclaim the Streets’ for pedestrians and the ‘Mardi Grass’ for advocates of pot decriminalization. (See ACTIVISM, CRITICAL MASS, MARDI GRASS, NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, RECLAIM THE STREETS) (MP)


CLAIRVOYANCE: (French: "clear-seeing") The clairvoyant is a person who claims, without apparent sensory means, awareness of events occurring at a distance or the ability to foretell future events. (See EXTRA-SENSORY PERCEPTION, PRECOGNITION, TELEPATHY) (MP)

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS: A popular term emphasizing the role of inter-civilizational differences as one of the causes of wars, cold war and international tension, for example contrasts between the dominant religious/political/ideological systems of the Sinic, Islamic and Western civilizations. Popularized by Samuel Huntington's 1997 book of the same name, the clash of civilizations hypothesis experienced a revival after the 2001 terrorist attacks upon America. Although a useful basis for peace research and the search for common philosophical ground, care should be taken not to promote the concept of a divided world. Such generalizations should not ignore the positive international effects of multiculturalism, trade, travel and human diversity, nor the fact that civilizational differences are often merely used as an excuse to justify war - the true underlying reasons for war usually more directly involve power, territory, resources and/or economics. (See CIVILIZATION, WESTERN CIVILIZATION) (MP)

CLASS: (Latin: classis "rank") 1. Sociology: A division or classification of people by economic, cultural or social ranking, or containing members sharing common attributes. Social rank, economic stratum and cultural caste may be useful classifications for understanding socioeconomic systems, but should be broken down to bring people together rather than emphasizing difference and encouraging prejudice. (See CASTE SYSTEM) 2. Biology: The taxonomic classification of organisms below the phylum, and containing one or more orders. For example Class Reptilia, or Class Mammalia which includes humans. (MP)

CLASSICAL MECHANICS: A system of mechanics that is based on Newton's laws of motion; that is, the laws of bodies acted on by forces. Einstein's theory of relativity and Planck's quantum theory are not taken into account. Classical mechanics is essentially experimental and its laws are based in intuitive deduction. (See NEWTON, NEWTON'S LAWS OF MOTION, QUANTUM THEORY, RELATIVITY THEORY). (IP)

CLAUSEWITZ, CARL VON: Prussian-born military officer and strategist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was the author of On War, considered one of the definitive collections of insights on the subject. Although his work has negligible emphasis on morality or war ethics, its contributions to the theory and nature of war include valuable insights. Clausewitz argues that politics is the source and objective of war, which is mere "continuation of policy by other means". (See INSTITUTION OF WAR) (MP)

CLEAN PRODUCTION: A worldwide movement towards greener production practices, 'cleaner production' (or 'clean production', emphasizing the shift towards zero impacts) includes efforts towards the minimization of resource use, ecological disruption, social impacts, industrial emissions and wasteful products or processes. (MP)

CLEAVAGE: The stage of cell division that takes place immediately after fertilization and that lasts until the cells begin to segregate and differentiate and to develop into a blastocyst. (IP)

CLIA 88: Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment of 1988 by the FDA, prescribing federal regulations in genetic testing.

CLIMATE: Conditions of temperature, rainfall, humidity, etc. in a region. Of little ethical concern until in recent years when it has been realised that climate can be affected by human actions, as, for example, in GLOBAL WARMING (q.v.). (MR)


CLINICAL ETHICS: The identification, analysis, and resolution of moral problems that arise in the care of individual patients. (DM)

CLINICAL ETHICS COMMITTEES: Institutional committees established to protect the welfare of patients. (See ETHICS COMMITTEE). (DM)

CLINICAL TRIALS: A general term for attempts to make testing of new drugs as scientific as possible. Clinical trials are the central method for applying the ideal of "Evidence Based Medicine", i.e. allowing into the physician's pharmacopoeia and clinical repertoire only those drugs and techniques which have been scientifically proved to be safe and effective. This is still far from reality, however, as it is generally understood that the majority of treatments in use today are still based upon the collective experience of the profession, and not on scientific evidence. Also, controlled clinical trials of surgical techniques lag far behind those of drugs.

After a new drug is studied in vitro and with animal subjects (a bioethical issue in itself) controlled clinical trials are performed on human subjects, ideally with the free informed consent of the patient, although this is problematic in pediatric, psychiatric and geriatric medicine. Trials are "controlled" in that the test group may be compared with a group which receives no treatment, or with a group receiving an existing treatment, or with a group receiving a placebo. The most recent version of the HELSINKI DECLARATION (q.v.) however, recommends using an existing treatment for comparison rather than a placebo. The bioethical reason is that patients may find that their only hope for cure is to enter a trial and take a risk of getting the placebo rather than the real treatment. This would be a form of coercion. Trials are also supposed to be "double blind" in the sense that both the physician and the patient are not supposed to know who is getting the treatment and who is getting the placebo.

Clinical trials are usually sponsored by the corporation which has invested in developing the drug, and which hopes to eventually make a profit. This can lead to many bioethical problems. For example, there is little uniformity among contracts between drug companies and physician-researchers, but some have clauses forbidding the physician to divulge to a third party or to publish information learned during the conduct of the trial, unless the drug company gives permission. A physician, whose first loyalty must be to one's patients, and to patients in general, has a bioethical dilemma when one has concluded that the drug is detrimental to the patients, but the drug company is slow about giving permission to publish this information. By the time the drug company gets around to giving permission, some patients can be hurt. Physicians who have seen their loyalty to their patients, and their academic freedom to publish data which can prevent future harm to patients, as more important than their contract with the drug company, have not always been supported by their hospitals and universities. (FL)

CLINICAL TRIALS, INFORMED CONSENT IN PEDIATRIC, PSYCHIATRIC AND GERIATRIC: The requirement for freely-given informed consent becomes problematic when the patient is incapable of clearly understanding and freely assenting, or when the patient's competence is on the borderline. Such cases may be more the rule than the exceptions in hospitals, where even the most sane, intelligent and well-informed patients may be in pain, in fear and under great emotional pressure. These problems are amplified when the patient is a baby, or mentally ill or a geriatric patient in or close to dementia, or when the patient is in coma. In order to allow research to proceed, the concept of a "proxy" or "surrogate" was devised. A parent of a baby, for example, or a family member of an adult incompetent patient, is allowed to give the "free informed consent" thereby preserving the ideology of "autonomy". But this is a legal and bioethical fiction.

When the treatment under trial is indicated for the clear medical benefit of the patient, then there is room for proxy assent. Obviously a parent can impose treatment (an unpleasant vaccine injection, for example) when it is clearly for a baby's good. But more attention must be paid to formulating ethics of interventional trials on healthy babies, or on other patients who are incapable of giving free informed consent by themselves. (FL)

CLONE: A collection of cells or organisms that are genetically identical. An identical genetic copy of an organism - animal/plant/ human being. (DM, JA)

CLONING: The process of asexually producing a group of cells (clones), all genetically identical to the original ancestor. In recombinant DNA manipulation procedures to produce multiple copies of a single gene or segment of DNA. The production of a cell or an organism from a somatic cell of an organism with the same nuclear genomic (genetic) characters - without fertilization. (See STEM CELL) (DM, JA)


CLOSED QUESTIONS: Questions which have a restricted range of answers. In research such as social surveys this may facilitate statistical analysis. Closed questions only requiring short answers include ‘Who?’, ‘When?’ and ‘Where?’, and are not as effective in encouraging the shy communicator to speak at social occasions. (See OPEN QUESTIONS) (MP)

CNIDARIA: The phylum of exclusively aquatic, invertebrate animals characterized by radial symmetry, a sac-like internal cavity and nematocysts stinging cells. There are four major groups of cnidarians: The Anthozoa include the corals, sea pens, and anemones. The Hydrozoa include many medusae, the hydroids, and siphonophores. The Scyphozoa are the true jellyfish. The Cubozoa are the box jellies. (RW)



COBE: Cosmic Background Explorer satellite, launched on 18 Nov. 1989 to map radio-wave data and investigate the nature and origin of the early universe. (See BIG BANG, ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION, SATELLITE) (MP)

COCA: A species of South American shrub Erythroxylum coca, native to Bolivia and Peru containing a natural source of cocaine. Traditionally, the leaves are dried and chewed or prepared in coca tea for their mild stimulant effect. (See COCAINE HYDROCHLORIDE). (IP)


COCAINE BABIES: the birth of a growth retarded infant with birth defects caused by exposure to cocaine prior to conception or during pregnancy. Direct causes may be poor sperm or egg quality of a male or female cocaine user, and/or drug-effects in utero adversely affecting the developing embryo and fetus. Contributing causes may be poor nutritional habits and abuse of additional substances such as alcohol and tobacco (see ADDICTION, COCAINE HYDROCHLORIDE, CRACK). (IP)

COCAINE HYDROCHLORIDE: a crystalline alkaloid derived from coca leaves but can also be manufactured synthetically. Traditionally used as a local anesthetic cocaine, when taken internally, is highly toxic with serious psychotropic effects. It is one of the most powerful dopamine-enhancing drugs and achieves its effect at the nerve synapse by blocking the neuron’s recycling system for dopamine; thus dramatically increasing the amount of dopamine messenger available to stimulate neurotransmission. Through this mechanism, cocaine precipitates a transient state of excitability characterized by euphoria, optimism, increased energy and decreased need for sleep. The euphoric effect lasts about 30 minutes with deleterious physical symptoms including nervous excitement, restlessness, incoherent speech, fever, hypertension, and cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to convulsions, respiratory arrest and death. Its euphoric properties explains why victims of depression so frequently abuse it (see ADDICTION, COCA, COCAINE BABIES, CRACK). (IP)

CODE: A set of principles (see GENETIC CODE).

CODE OF HAMMURABI: (actually should be Hammurapi, based on Ugaritic texts) Major lawcode of ancient Mesopotamia. This lawcode is named for Hammurapi, the king 6th king of the first dynasty of Babylon (1792-50 bce). On the stele of Hammurapi, the king is protrayed as receiving the lawcode from Shamash, the sun god. The laws in the code demonstrate three levels in society: the awilum (free man), the mushkenum (the dependant, of somewhat lower status than the awilum), and the wardum (slave). Each is judged according to his social class, and greater damages are awarded to an awilum who was injured than a mushkenum or wardum who was injured. The principle of "an eye for an eye" is applied to the extreme in this lawcode. Many of the cases in the code of Hammurapi are dealt with in the Torah as well, and so, this lawcode has become a popular source of comparison between Babylonian law and Jewish law. The text of the code is written in the Babylonian dialect of the Akkadian language. (AG)


CODES OF ETHICS: Systems of principles or rules of ethical professional conduct, usually established by professional societies. An ethical code governs , for instance, the use of a technology or the Patient -Doctor relationship. Ethical considerations form a guideline evoking acceptable behavior based on moral values and practical experiences. It serves as a regulatory principle e.g. marketing and labeling of GM food, confidentiality in the treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS. (DM, JA).

CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION (CAC): The joint FAO-WHO Intergovernmental body that makes legally binding standards for international regulation of food quality, safety and trade. (DM)

CODOMINANT. 1. From the phenotypic point of view, status of the alleles of an autosomal gene, where both contribute to the phenotype due to that particular gene in a heterozygote. 2. From the molecular point of view, differences in the two copies of a specific gene in a heterozygous person, that can be visualized by molecular methods (i.e., two sizes of a STR or a VNTR, or presence/absence of a restriction site from a RFLP marker). (GK)

CODON: A sequence of three DNA base pairs which codes for an amino acid. Consist of three nucleotides, a three lettered code word (e.g. UUU for phenylalanine/AAA= lysine) for each of 20 amino acids. (DM, JA)

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