DEAD FETUS: An expelled or delivered fetus which exhibits no heart beat or spontaneous breathing. A few organs/tissue/cells may show activity indicating that the individual part is alive for a period of time after the moment of death of the fetus. See LIVE ABORTED FETUS.(JA)
DEAD SEA SCROLLS: A collection of ancient scrolls found in 11 caves in Qumran, near the Dead Sea. These scrolls were discovered over 50 years ago by a Bedouin who was herding his goats. The find was a very rare one because these scrolls were written 2000 years ago, and parchment is a perishable material that generally does not survive many centuries. The climate of the Judean desert helped to preserve these scrolls over the many centuries. The language of the scrolls is generally Hebrew, although some scrolls were found to be written in Aramaic or Greek. The script is a variant of the one currently used to write Hebrew, although in a few texts an older script is also found. These scrolls were written between 100 b.c.e. and 100 c.e. by a group which lived in Qumran. Their lifestyle bears some similarity to a sect known as the Essenes in the writings of the historian Josephus Flavius, and so, the scrolls are often identified as Essene. The content of the scrolls is varied. Included are Biblical texts (Old Testament and Apocrypha), some of the commentaries of the Qumran sect on Biblical books, the rules and regulations of the Qumran sect, and correspondence. These texts are very important for comparison of Biblical manuscripts, knowledge of Hebrew of the 2nd Temple period, knowledge of 2nd Temple period Judaism, and knowledge of early Christianity and its early development. (AG)
DEADLY SINS: See SEVEN DEADLY SINS.
DEAFNESS: See HEARING.
DEATH. See BRAIN DEATH.
DEATH PENALTY: See CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
DEBUG: To detect, locate and correct errors (bugs) that occur in computer programs. Bugs are minimized by parsimonious programming, and can be fixed by consumers downloading software patches and upgrades. More advanced antivirus software may be required in the case of infection by a computer virus or worm. (See BUG, COMPUTER VIRUS) (IP & MP)
DECADENCE: (Medieval Latin: decadentia "a falling away") Self-indulgent behavior usually characterized by wastefulness, moral corruption and cultural deterioration. The materialism, self-absorption and decline of religious values characterized by the West has inspired the term "Western decadence". To bridge this cultural divide, affluent countries can no longer remain apathetic to the needs of the poor, and neither can the limited Earth support a decadent lifestyle for all people of the world. (MP)
DECEIVE:1. Mislead, persuade of what is false 2. Be mistaken or making general claims on the basis of partial knowledge. (IP)
DECEPTION: Written or oral communication to others of what one knows to be untrue or contrary to fact. (DM)
DECIBEL: Unit of volume or loudness; a whisper is about 10 decibels and pain becomes apparent at volumes greater than 120 decibels. Loud or continuous sound may be considered noise pollution. (See NOISE) (MP)
DECIDUOUS FOREST: Vegetation communities in which trees lose their leaves once a year during a beautiful ‘fall’. Climate is typically moderate/temperate with rain and distinct seasons. Trees involved include oak, maple, hickory, chestnut and beech. (See HABITAT TYPES) (MP)
DECISION ANALYSIS: A strategy for decision making in which management alternatives are made explicit, probabilities assigned t chance events, and numeric values given to potential outcomes. (See DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM). (DM)
DECISION MAKING:See DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM.
DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM: A model, planning framework or analytical device, often software, applied to data as an aid in the processes of decision-making or problem-solving. (See EXPERT SYSTEM) (MP)
DECISION THEORY: See DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM, DECISION TREE.
Decision Tree: Graphical representation displaying options, risks and the decision-making sequence. Decision trees and decision tables are used for optimizing solutions when there are a limited number of alternatives and a single goal (multi-criteria decision analysis is used for decision-making with multiple goals). (See DECISION ANALYSIS, DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM) (MP)
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:See UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.
DECOMPOSITION: The breaking down of dead organic matter into its constituent minerals and elements. The study of decomposition plays a part in ecology and in forensic investigations. ‘Decomposers’ such as fungi and bacteria play an important ecological role in the recycling of nutrients. ‘Biodegradable’ products should break down into organic molecules which can decompose. (See BIODEGRADABLE, BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLE, FORENSIC SCIENCE, FUNGI) (MP)
DEDUCTION: Mathematical type reasoning, in which conclusions are derived from premises by means of established methods of reasoning. A classic example of deductive reasoning was Euclid's Elements, which is the basis for the geometry learned in schools to this day. Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics set forth principles of deductive reasoning. A more modern example is Principia Mathematica, by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. Methods developed by philosophers, in exploring the theory of deduction over the years, formed the basis of the logic used today in computer science. This shows that not all philosophy is impractical. (FL)
DEDUCTIVE REASONING:The kind of reasoning used in deduction. (See DEDUCTION). (FL)
DEEP BLUE: ‘Deep Blue’ is the software program that beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov at an international tournament in 1997. Although a rules-based program, Deep Blue is nevertheless hailed as an ambassador of the coming era of Artificial Intelligence. (See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) (MP)
DEEP ECOLOGY: 1. A value system which assigns an intrinsic value to natural systems and places nature within a system of morality or ethics, and which recognizes the ecocentric nature of our existence and the synthesis and interrelatedness of human cultures with ecological environments. Deep ecology is one of the most ecocentric of the preservationist green ideologies, and may also be referred to as ‘ecologism’, ‘deep green’ or ‘Gaian’ viewpoint. 2. Global management strategies promoted by deep ecologists include reduced human population, a reduction in the scale of economic consumption, holistic management of whole systems, environmental codes of conduct, limits of acceptable change, decentralization of autonomy, renewable resources and energy, bioregionalism, sufficiency, sustainability and the ethical use of appropriate technology. (See DEEP DESIGN VALUE SYSTEMS, ECOCENTRIC, ECOLOGISM, ENVIRONMENTAL CODE OF CONDUCT, GAIA HYPOTHESIS, GOLDEN RULE, GREEN, HABITAT CONSERVATION, INTRINSIC VALUE OF NATURE, SUFFICIENCY, STRONG SUSTAINABILITY,) (MP)
DEEP DESIGN VALUE SYSTEMS:Value systems which take into account the wider, long-term ecological issues of sustainability, esthetics and bioethics within the holistic framework of environmental management; for example by taking account of the fundamental importance of symbiotic relationships, a deep value system contrasts starkly with the simplistic and materialistically driven short-term approaches, which could well be described as "shallow design value systems" (see DEEP ECOLOGY). (IP)
DEEP FREEZING: Typically refers to the freezing of gametes (sperm and eggs) and embryos. Frozen human and animal semen are routinely used and more sophisticated techniques for eggs and embryos are being developed. The main ethical questions which arise in the context of human material are for how long gametes and embryos should be cryopreserved and what should happen to them if the donor(s) die. The Warnock Report (UK Committee reported in June 1984) recommended that storage of embryos could be for a maximum of 5 years and gametes for a maximum of 10 years and that said embryos and gametes could only be stored with the signed consent of the donors, and could only be used by the license holder responsible for storage for the purposes specified in the consent; for example, for infertility treatment or for research. The sale and purchase of human gametes and embryos should be controlled so as to avoid the risk of commercial exploitation. (See CRYOBIOLOGY, CRYOGENICS, CRYOPRESERVATION). (IP)
DEGREE CENTIGRADE: See CELCIUS DEGREE (C°)
DEGREES OF FREEDOM: 1. The statistical latitude available in a test of significance, related to the number of observations (n) in a data set. 2. More broadly, perhaps may refer to the degree of development of a country in relation to human rights and freedoms, as measured for example by the Human Freedom Index. (See ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE, HUMAN FREEDOM INDEX) (MP)
DEINSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS:Persons who have been released from mental institutions. (DM)
DEIST: Natural religion of the eighteenth century, practiced by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and Jean-Jacques Rosseau (1712-1778). (JA)
DELETION: Gene or DNA segment that is absent from a chromosome. Deletions of coding sequences usually lead to pathological phenotypes. Deletion of anonymous sequences are often retained as population markers during evolution. The counterpart of deletions are duplications of the same chromosomal region, which should statistically be equally frequent if no selective pressures operate on them. (GK)
DELIBERATION:Careful thought requiring a not insignificant amount of time. (MR)
DELUSION: (Latin: deludere "to cheat") Aberrant beliefs which are disproportionate to one’s own knowledge and perception. Delusions may be symptoms of psychosis; for example delusions of persecution (paranoia), delusions of grandeur (megalomania) and delusions of being controlled by an external force (schizophrenia). (MP)
DELPHI METHOD: A Delphi study is a method of reaching expert opinion on an issue of significance. A number of experts are consulted for their opinions, and the results are collated and returned for various revisions in an attempt to achieve relative agreement or consensus. (See CONSENSUS) (MP)
DEMATERIALIZATION: The process of reducing human consumption of materials. Although contrary to the current economic paradigm of growth, dematerialization will be essential for allowing equity of human wellbeing whilst conserving ecosystem life-support services in line with requirements for sustainable development. Eminent authorities such as the World Resources Institute and Wuppertal Insitute have cited the dematerialization requirement at Factor 10, or a staggering 90% reduction of current material consumption in developed countries. This was the central recommendation of the Factor 10 Club Carnoules Declaration in 1994. Factor 10 should be achievable using present technologies, and has been acknowledged by governments like Sweden, Denmark and Austria. There are lighter recommendations in the Club of Rome report ‘Factor 4: Doubling Wealth - Halving Resource Use’ (1997). The dematerialization component of sustainability requires much work in the face of powerful growth-oriented global institutions and corporations. (See DEMILITARIZATION, OVERDEVELOPED NATIONS) (MP)
DEMENTIA: (Latin de 'out' + mens 'mind'). A progressive organic mental disorder characterized by deteriorated memory control, personality disintegration, confusion, disorientation and degeneration of intellectual capacity and function. Organic forms of dementia are generally progressive and incurable; however, recent studies have shown that about 10% of patients with dementia have conditions for which treatment can reverse the otherwise irreversible decline of mental function. Progressive dementia, known as senile and multi-infarct (arteriosclerotic) dementia, is most often diagnosed in the elderly. Kinds of dementia include Alzheimer's disease, secondary dementia resulting from another concurrent form of psychosis, senile dementia and toxic dementia resulting from excessive use of poisonous substances. (See Alzheimer's Disease, INSANITY,PSYCHOSIS). (IP)
DEMILITARIZATION: Transition to a sustainable world involves reducing national emphasis on threat of force, arms races, conscription, weapons proliferation, defense spending, military-industrial economy, gun ownership and violent media. Demilitarization is re-allocation of technologies from defense to civilian applications. This can be economically successful, as with Japanese post-war electronic, mechanical and optical products, and Japan’s Constitutional restrictions on military activities stand as a non-aggression model for other countries. Demilitarization is also a shift in the use of defense forces from warfare and offensive roles to peacekeeping, homeland security and emergency response. A model of this role progression is as follows: transition from traditional military aggression through peace enforcement, peacekeeping and peace building roles, to disarmament of the community, arms restriction in the military, and increased transfer of specialized skills to dangerous security, crime, environmental and humanitarian missions. (See ALTERNATIVE PARADIGM, DEMATERIALIZATION, NON LETHAL WEAPONRY, PEACEKEEPING) (MP)
DEMOCRACY: (Greek: demokratia, combining demos 'the people' + kratein 'rule') Government by the people; state so governed by direct or representative representation. The system of government first evolved in ancient Greece when all citizens, including the poor, had access to the market place where the orators spoke and the politicians stood and took part in the democratic processes for the election of their rulers [Greek demokratia where demos the people and Kratein rule]. (IP)
DEMOCRACY PARADOX:See WESTERN DECLINE.
DEMOCRATIC: literally: rule of the people. When it refers to a mode of governing in modern states, it describes a particular way of will formation that goes from the bottom up, that is, theoretically includes every citizen (“Citizen” does not coincide with “human being”. “Citizen” commonly refers to individuals possessing citizenship in a given country, not to all residents. Therefore, in most countries residents without citizenship do not have the right to vote. In the past, the term “citizen” did not include individuals that were regarded as being of minor dignity, like women, slaves, peasants).
Since the purest form of democracy, that is, the participation of every citizen in every single act of governmental will formation (see Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Social Contract) is not feasible in modern states, when we speak of “democracy”, we refer to a system of representation. The sovereign (= the sum of all citizens) elects representatives, who represent them in legislation. In a democracy, the people possess means to control and sanction their representatives in case of abuse of powers. The government is typically dependent in some way or another on the parliament, as another means of control exercised by the poeple. A coherent and transparent court system is essential in a democratic system.
“Democratic” also refers to a mode of will formation in communities or ad hoc groups of people, which includes everybody in the decision making process, instead of subjugating the group to the rule of one. (BP)
DEMOCRATIC: "Demos" means people in Greek, and a democracy is a society ruled by the people. Some democracies, like ancient Athens, are "direct" in the sense that the people directly vote whether they are in favour of, or oppose a proposal. Direct democracy still exists in relatively small groups, like the New England town meetings, kibbutz meetings, etc. Modern states, however, are usually representative democracies, in which decisions are made by elected representatives. It is sometimes remarked that a democracy is dictatorship for four years. The idea of modern democracy developed together with the reorganization of church government during the 16th and 17th century Protestant reformation in Europe. The Catholic Church heirarchy ruled from the top down, by means of the priesthood, who essentially told the people what to believe. The Protestant reformers introduced an idea of the "priesthood of all believers". They believed that if you read the (Christian) Bible with faith, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you, and your interpretation will be as valid, or more valid than the priestly interpretations. This lead to the idea that the congregation of believers has the major authority in church government. The people, in Protestantism, do not take orders from the priest, but appoint or hire a minister to help them with this religious needs. The minister can be hired or fired by the people. Political democracy is only a secular application of this religious idea, with elected politicians gaining their authority from the consent of the governed. Democracy has been strongly criticised by anarchists, who have argued that there is really no difference between monarchy, democracy, dictatorship, etc. In any system, they argue, those who are gifted at manipulating and exploiting other people will rule. The differences between "elected representatives", "nobility", "commissars" etc etc, are only differences in name. But in fact, the anarchists argue, they are all the same people. (FL)
DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLE: An attribute of an individual for use in social surveys such as the census, demographic variables include such things as age, sex, marital status and standard of living. (See AGE/SEX PYRAMID, DEMOGRAPHY) (MP)
DEMOGRAPHY: (Greek: demos 'populace') Scientific study of human populations, for example size, structure, distribution and other population statistics. (See POPULATION) (MP)
DEMONS:Evil, supernatural spirits. (MR)
DENDRITES: are the processes or nerve fibers that carry impulses towards nerve cells. Each neuron has many dendrites. (See AXON, NEURON). (IP)
DENDROCHRONOLOGY: A study of the annual ring patterns in trees to date past events and past climatic conditions. (JA)
DENSITY-DEPENDENCE: widely observed phenomenon in which populations of cells or organisms are naturally regulated - one or more factors act as (a) increasing brakes on population increase with increase population density, and/or (b) decreasing brakes on population increase with decreased population density. Bioethical concern point out how humans actively seek to avoid the natural controls of their own population size, whilst interfering with the life cycles of other organisms on an ongoing basis (see BALANCE OF NATURE). (IP)
DENTISTRY:See DENTAL ETHICS.
DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS: Theories of ethics which hold that some actions are morally obligatory regardless of their actual or anticipated consequences. (See DEONTOLOGY). (DM)
DEONTOLOGY: A theory according to which actions are judged right or wrong based upon inherent right-making characteristics or principles rather than on their consequences. A branch of moral philosophy with emphasis on duty, rules and regulations, principles and moral obligations which govern ones" right action. (DM, JA)
DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID: See DNA.
DEPENDENT VARIABLE: In statistics, the variable or attribute which is thought to be affected or influenced by the independent variable. The dependent variable is also known as the response variable or criterion. (See INDEPENDENT VARIABLE, VARIABLE) (MP)
DEPERSONALIZATION: A loss of one’s feeling of individuality and self; an alienation from the ego and the personality. Depersonalization may be a result of stress, anxiety, fatigue, or a side effect of some drugs. In some cases, a sense of depersonalization may be sought after in recreational drug use or by immersion in media such as movies or virtual reality. Others may suffer from depersonalization disorder, a psychological symptom of schizophrenia or severe depression in which there is a loss of emotional connection to important life events or personal qualities. (See DESENSITIZATION, DISSOCIATION) (MP)
DEPRESSED IMMUNE SYSTEM: pertaining to the condition where the general activity of the immune system is functioning inefficiently. The condition enables low virulent bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi to become established and cause infection. There are always organisms present in the body and the environment, which a healthy immune system can readily keep in check. Depression of the immune system may be caused by cytotoxic drugs, radiotherapy as in the treatment of cancer, anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, diseases such as AIDS, leukemia, tumors of the lymphoid tissue, cancer and the use of unsterile syringes and unhealthy lifestyles such as encountered by drug addicts. (See AIDS, AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, IMMUNE SYSTEM, IMMUNITY). (IP)
DEPRESSION: Depression is a mood disorder characterised by severe emotional disturbance due to feelings of sadness, despondency, dejection or despair. A minimal requirement for its diagnosis is set down by the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Diseases as "a period of at least two weeks in which there is a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities". Causes of depression may include bereavement, illness, anxiety, relationship breakdown, postnatal stress, work or social failure, seasonally affective disorder, loneliness, life instability or low self esteem. The illness also sometimes has a hereditary component, and may be divided into endogenous (implying a genetic predisposition), or reactive (induced by external life events). The condition may be difficult to diagnose as it ranges from mild melancholia (dysthymia) to major chronic depressive disorder. Common symptoms include: loss of interest in enjoyable activities, lowered initiative, inability to concentrate or make decisions, decreased efficiency, fatigue or sleep disorders, change in weight, sullen attitude, negativity, irritability, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, loss of hope, and possible contemplation of suicide. The majority of cases will undergo remission without treatment, however relapse is also common and a combination of psychological counselling and temporary drug treatment may be helpful (e.g. Prozac, Lithium or St John’s Wort). Most important is addressing the underlying causes, perhaps involving a change in physical or social environment. Approximately 10% of people will have a major depressive episode during their lives.. Females seem twice as susceptible, though male statistics may be underestimated due to non-reporting. Depression also occurs in children. The incidence of depression seems to have increased over recent decades, however it is not certain whether this represents an actual increase or improved identification of the condition (See also BIPOLAR DEPRESSION, DEMENTIA, POSTNATAL DEPRESSION, PSYCHOSIS, SEASONALLY AFFECTIVE DISORDER, UNIPOLAR DEPRESSION) (IP & MP)