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DISPUTE: Not as strong connotation as conflict, a dispute is an argument or debate, often involving material considerations, which can be settled by peaceful mediation, negotiation or legal means. (See CONFLICT) (MP)


DISSENT: Difference in sentiment, such as an alternative opinion or separation from an established religion. Public dissent may be expressed in protest or activism, which require attention by the processes of democracy and peace building. (See ACTIVISM, PEACE BUILDING, PROTEST) (MP)

DISSOCIATION: (Latin: dis "apart" + sociatio "union") An emotional separation of normal thought processes from consciousness (dissociative disorder or reaction), for example in amnesia, somnambulism or lucid dreaming. Another form involves the splitting of individuality into multiple sub-personalities who may or may not be aware of each other, each with distinct behaviors and emotional development (dissociative identity disorder). (See DEPERSONALIZATION) (MP)


DISSOLVED OXYGEN (DO): An important component of water quality, DO is a measure of the concentration of oxygen available for biochemical activity within a water body or sample. (See BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND) (MP)

DISTRESS: Unhappy stress from the Latin dis meaning negative. In biology stress is essentially reflected in the total rate of all the wear and tear caused by life and, although it is impossible to avoid stress, a lot can be learnt about how to keep its damaging side effects to a minimum. It is argued that many common diseases can be avoided if the adaptive response to stress were more moderate and thus better controlled. For example, many nervous and emotional disturbances, high blood pressure, gastric and duodenal ulcers, certain types of sexual dysfunction, allergic, cardiovascular and renal derangements appear to be essentially diseases of inadequate adaptation. It helps to know your personal strengths and weaknesses and so adjust your life, as much as is possible, to function within these constraints. In addition, the routine incorporation of knowledgeable nutrition and relaxation (meditation, sport, music) and the ability to reduce other sources of stress when subjected to a certain particular stress help to heighten eustress and conserve the body's energy for use in areas of maximum demand and effect. (See EUSTRESS, GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME, STRESS). (IP)


DIVORCE: Legal dissolution of marriage. In the UK and Australia, for example, irretrievable breakdown of marriage becomes the basis of divorce. The five main proofs of irretrievable breakdown are adultery, unreasonable behavior, desertion for two years, living apart for two years or when both partners consent to divorce. A divorce is granted provided the court is satisfied that financial and child-care arrangements are reasonable. (See MARRIAGE). (IP)

DMT: DMT is short for dimethyltryptamine, among the most powerful of the hallucinogenic recreational drugs. Usually smoked in a safe environment, its action is similarly intense but much shorter lasting than that of LSD. (See HALLUCINOGENS, LSD). (IP)

DNA, DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID: The molecule that encodes genetic information. DNA is a double-stranded molecule held together by weak bonds between base pairs of nucleotides. There are four nucleotides in DNA: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). In nature, base pairs form only between A and T and between G and C, thus the sequence of each single strand can be deduced from that of its partner. Deoxyribonucleic acid usually found in chromosomes, contains genetic triplet code - structure elucidated by Watson and Crick in 1953 Determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein. (DM, JA)

DNA COMPUTER: A computer which uses dissolved DNA molecules in a test tube for calculations rather than silicon chips (ordinary computers) or electrons (quantum computers). Leonard Adelman has demonstrated their efficacy at the University of Southern California. These energy-efficient machines are capable of performing multitudinous simultaneous calculations, providing enough power to crack codes and solve problems too complex for ordinary computing. Unlike quantum computers, they remain digital, with specific gene sequences coded as 1 or 0. Chemical processes are used for calculating, such as cutting DNA sequences with restriction enzymes and reproducing them with the polymerase chain reaction. Minor drawbacks include their technical intricacy, bulky proportions and the decay of DNA molecules, meaning that information cannot be stored for long periods of time data must be transferred to silicon computers for reliable memory. The principal drawback is their lack of versatility a unique sequence of chemical reactions is required to address each new problem, unlike all-purpose silicon computers. DNA computers may have applications similar to heavy-duty mainframe supercomputers. (See COMPUTER, MOLECULAR COMPUTER, QUANTUM COMPUTING) (MP)

DNA DATA BANKS: Collections of genetic information that are maintained for clinical, research, or law enforcement purposes. (See DATA BANKS, DNA FINGERPRINTING). (DM)

DNA FINGERPRINTING: A genetic identification procedure in which band patterns of DNA (the DNA fingerprint) from one individual or an unknown individual are evaluated for similarities with those of a known individual. Used in forensic medicine and immigration cases, and investigation of paternity. (See DNA DATA BANKS, GENETIC SCREENING). (DM)

DNA HYBRIDIZATION TECHNOLOGY: The formation of double-helix deoxyribonucleic acid from two complementary single strands. The technique is useful for comparing genome relationships between different species. Comparing human and chimpanzee DNA by the process of DNA hybridization, reveals that the DNA of humans and chimpanzees is much more similar (1.6% difference or 98.4% similarity in DNA sequences) than would be expected, given the considerable morphological differences between the two species. More recently, DNA sequencing of genes fully supports and adds detail to the data obtained from hybridization technology. (See RECOMBINANT DNA TECHNOLOGIES). (IP)

DNA PROBES: Segments of single-strand DNA that are labeled with a radioactive or other chemical marker and used to identify complementary sequences of DNA by hybridizing with them (see HYBRIDIZATION). (DM)


DNA SEQUENCE: The relative order of base pairs, whether in a stretch of DNA, a gene, a chromosome, or an entire genome. (DM)


DNR (DO NOT RESUSCITATE): A decision or order not to administer life-saving treatment, especially CPR, the next time a patient begins to fail. With respect to adults, and children sufficiently mature and intelligent to participate in the decision, it has been generally accepted that DNR is appropriate only if the patient has given an advance directive to that effect. But literature has begun to appear in which it is argued that even lacking such directives, staff and/or family can make these decisions if they clearly consider DNR to be in the "best interests" of the patient.

When the patient has not made an advance directive, a DNR decision involves grave seriousness. And even if the patient has made an advance directive, it is not always clear whether the patient's intentions apply at a certain time, or whether the patient may have undergone a change of mind. And in some countries (e.g. Israel) advance directives are not legally binding. In some places even a registrar can make a DNR decision with no need to consult others. In others, the hospital ethicist or ethics committee must be consulted. More attention might be paid to making DNR decisions ward decisions involving more than one physician, together with nurses, social workers and, of course, .whenever possible the patient and the family.

Some bioethicists think that there should be international, or nationwide, or at least hospital-wide guidelines for DNR. But others think that the issue is so complicated and the differences among individual cases so subtly different, that it is healthy for each ward staff to exercise its own judgment and conscience. (FL)

DO NO HARM: The principle of 'doing no harm' or 'not doing harm' is generally thought of as perhaps the first duty of a doctor or other health professional and appears in the HIPPOCRATIC OATH (q.v.) in the form 'at least, do no harm'. (See PRIMUM NON NOCERE).

'Doing no harm', or NONMALEFICENCE (q.v.), is also often thought of as a duty incumbent on all moral agents. Some moral philosophers recognise no distinction between nonmaleficence and BENEFICENCE (q.v.) - 'doing good' - but most hold that they are distinct, albeit complementary. In many countries there is a legal requirement for a person not to harm others, including strangers, whereas there are only rare circumstances in which a person is legally required to help strangers. (MR)

DOCTOR-ASSISTED SUICIDE: The taking of a lethal drug provided by a doctor for the purpose of ending the life of a terminally ill patient. Central to the euthanasia debate is the reduction of extended pain and human suffering. However, the legalization of euthanasia and the concept of assisted suicide have also highlighted the dilemma within medical ethics of whether or not assistance is a breach of the Hippocratic Oath and whether the application of advanced medical technology is a breach of patient autonomy. Most Western countries have passed laws making doctor-assisted, physician-assisted or medically-assisted suicide illegal. (See EUTHANASIA, SUICIDE). (IP)

DOGMA: An idea or doctrine which is not supposed to be questioned, if one is not to fall out of favour with a political, religious, scientific, medical, academic, etc., establishment. Dogmas are often false. But the fact that something is a dogma does not guarantee that it is false. Some dogmas are true. In science, Darwinian evolution is a kind of a dogma. But in some religious circles, its denial is a dogma. In medicine, the idea that brain death is really death is becoming a dogma. (FL)

DOLLY: A transgenic cloned farm sheep, produced by Dr. Ian Wilmut, Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, through a technique of somatic nuclear transfer in 1997. Died in 2003. See also TRACY and POLLY. (JA)

DOLPHINS: 32 species in 17 genera in the family Delphinidae and five species in four genera in the family Plantanistidae. Some people believe that dolphins have similar intellectual abilities and complexities of social organisation to the Great APE (q.v.) and so deserve comparable ethical regard. Most biologists, though, hold that this overstates the mental faculties of dolphins. Large numbers of dolphins die in fishing nets put out to catch tuna and other fish. 'Dolphin-friendly tuna' sells well in some countries as a result of consumer objections to such deaths. (MR)

DOMAIN: 1. An area of land or habitat occupied by a particular individual or species. (See POPULATION DISTRIBUTION) 2. Descriptive term for a general collection of related pieces of information, usually studied by specialists within a particular profession; a ‘domain of knowledge’. (See KNOWLEDGE) (MP) 3. A discrete portion of a protein with its own function. The combination of domains in a single protein determines its unique overall function. (DM)

DOMINANT: A trait or condition that is expressed in individuals who have a single version of a particular gene. (DM)

DOMINANT PARADIGM: The prevailing epistemological framework or world-view, entrenched in place by inertia, tradition and established institutions. The current dominant social paradigm is techno-centric, militaristic and capitalistic, based on hard energy and hard power, treats economics as an end in itself, condones competitive, complex and fast lifestyles, places a low value on nature by destroying it for economic growth, and places a low value on human compassion evidenced by a lack of concern for other species, other people or for future generations. (See ALTERNATIVE PARADIGM, DEVELOPMENT, DYSTOPIA, HARD POWER, HARD TECHNOLOGY, INDUSTRIALIZATION, PARADIGM, PROGRESS, PROPAGANDA, TECHNOCENTRIC, TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM, URBANIZATION, YUPPIES) (MP)


DONOR CARDS: Cards on which a person notes their preferences regarding donation of their organs after death. (See BRAIN DEATH, ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION). (DM)

DONOR GAMETES: Eggs or sperm donated by individuals for medically assisted conception. (DM)

DONOR INSEMINATION (DI): also known as artificial insemination by donor. DI is the insemination of a woman with sperm from a donor other than her husband or defacto partner. DI is much more successful than husband/partner insemination with a reported 60% birth rate after six insemination cycles and is, therefore, one of the major treatments for male infertility. The technique is routinely used in Australia, Europe, and the US. As an example of its popularity, over 30,000 DI births were registered in the US in 1987. (See ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION, ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION BY HUSBAND). (IP)

DOPAMINE: Is a major neurotransmitter coordinating brain function through an extensive network of synapses. Dopamine functions as the messenger of the brain’s reward system; that is, it generates the subjective feeling of pleasure or happiness and for this reason has been dubbed the ‘courier of addiction’. Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol, nicotine and marijuana all work by raising dopamine unnaturally high at unnatural speeds; however, the relative toxicities, risks and pleasures vary according to each drug's characteristics. Dopamine, as well as being a neurotransmitter, is also a major neurohormone mediating neural interactions between the brain and the pituitary gland, which secretes the hormones that control the life-sustaining functions of metabolism, growth, reproduction, immunity and the biology of stress. Dopamine is also the messenger that appears to operate in excess in severe mania and acute schizophrenia, dominating the pathways of limbic communication and fermenting these psychoses. When this syndrome is exogenously induced, the condition is sometimes referred to as chemically-induced manic-depressive psychosis. (See ADDICTION, BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, HAPPINESS, LIMBIC SYSTEM, SCHIZOPHRENIA). (IP)

DOPE: Colloquial for marijuana (or recreational drugs in general). "Dope" refers not only to the brain’s dopamine neurotransmitter but also to the dumb or "dopey" behavior of the stoned marijuana smoker. For the duration of the high, dope dulls the abilities of the intellectual mind (although not necessarily the emotional mind and its creativity). For example memorization, sustained concentration and attention to arithmetic are temporarily disorganized. (See MARIJUANA). (IP+MP)

DOUBLE BLIND EXPERIMENT: An experiment or medical trial where neither the researcher nor the subjects know which treatments or placebos are given to which subjects. (See CLINICAL TRIALS, CONTROL GROUPS, EXPERIMENTAL GROUPS, PLACEBOS) (MP)

DOUBLE EFFECT, LAW OF or DOCTRINE OF or PRINCIPLE OF: The theory that an evil effect is morally acceptable provided a proportional good effect will accrue, evil is not intended, the evil effect is not the means to the good, and the action is not intrinsically evil. (See AQUINAS, THOMAS). (DM)

DOUBLE HELIX: The shape in which two linear strands of DNA are bonded together. (DM)

DOVE: 1. A bird from several species within the pigeon family Columbidae, often smaller than the pigeons and white or blue-gray. A dove is said to have delivered an olive branch to Noah’s Ark to indicate the end of the great flood. The dove is considered a symbol of peace, innocence and gentleness. 2. A colloquial term for a politician or international statesperson who favors diplomacy, conciliation and peaceful resolution over threats of aggression or armed conflict. (See HAWK) (MP)

DOWN'S SYNDROME: Due to abnormal meiosis, non separation of a paired chromosome resulting in trisomy 21 aneuploidy in humans with 24 chromosomes. Symptoms mental retardation, mongoloid eyefolds, short stature, abnormal hands, feet and palm prints. (See SYNDROME.) (JA)

DREAM: (Middle English dreem 'joyful noise'). The manifestations of conscious thoughts, feelings and images during the rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep. Sometimes a dream may actually be acted out by the dreamer as in, for example, sleep-walking, sleep-talking and the performance of other acts during sleep which the dreamer has no recollection of on awakening. The whole question of the interpretation of dreams was put on a new basis in the 20th century by the work of Sigmund Freud and his followers. Freud and his school of psychoanalysts regarded the dream as the direct road to the 'unconscious' mind and consequently used it as a means to the patient's unconscious thoughts, emotions and illnesses. Dream analysis - the process of gaining access to the unconscious mind by means of examining the content of dreams, usually through the method of free association - is accepted as being a useful tool in psychotherapy. (See FREUD, SIGMUND). (IP)


DREAMTIME or DREAMING: the Dreamtime refers to the beginning or Creation in the ancient past during which Australia was constructed as a land of hundreds of distinct Aboriginal countries. The Dreaming, on the other hand, refers to the ongoing connection over all time as defined by language, belief systems, cultural practices and social organization as guided by the spirit ancestors. The Dreamtime is the story of how the Spirit Ancestors created the land with its natural features, sky, sun, moon and star systems, all based on the understanding of Earth as Mother - the giver and provider of all life. The Dreamtime also provides the spiritual affiliation with the land and the method of responsible custodianship to land which cannot be owned, sold or given away (see Corroboree; Sacred Sites & Totemism). Spiritual beliefs and practices vary widely among Aboriginal language groups, however, central to their spirituality is the identification with land and the Dreaming’s creative force where land remains eternally sacred - the source from which the ancestral spirits continue to render to its people the biological and social laws providing them with the strength and wisdom for healthy living. The Dreaming, as representing a complex social organization of political systems and relationships of peoples to land and spirituality, was not understood by Captain Cook who assumed that the land was not being owned; thus he adopted the concept of Terra Nullius (land belonging to no one) and claimed Australia for the Empire and the King (see AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL; RAINBOW SERPENT; NATIVE TITLE LEGISLATION - AUSTRALIA, MABO CASE). (IP)

DRIFTNETS: Large gill nets of up to ten kilometers in length with floats along the upper and weights along the lower edge, designed to entangle fish whilst drifting in the current. When lost to the ocean, driftnets continue "ghost fishing" for long periods of time. Maligned as "walls of death" because of their large by-catch including marine mammals, their use on the high seas has been curtailed since 1991 by the Wellington Driftnet Convention and the 1993 UN General Assembly moratorium on large-scale driftnets. (See SUSTAINABLE FISHING) (MP)

DRUG: (French drogue "chemical material") any substance taken orally, or applied topically, or injected subcutaneously, intramuscularly or intravenously, or applied to a body cavity to treat or prevent a disease or condition. A drug when taken into the body modifies one or more of its functions. (See ADDICTION, RECREATIONAL DRUGS, DRUG ABUSE, HARM MINIMIZATION). (IP)

DRUG ABUSE: Drug abuse refers to the deliberate long-term self-administration of a recreational or medical drug with uncontrolled frequency, excessive dosage, and/or in combination with other drugs. This behavior is distinct from drug misuse, which is accidental or intermittent use of drugs in a way not prescribed by a physician. The adverse consequences of drug abuse may be the development of drug tolerance, dependence and addiction with resulting personal health and wider social impacts. There is also the view that under certain circumstances 'responsible' recreational use, or self-medication, of some substances where control over frequency and dosage is strictly maintained may, in fact, be efficacious and not necessarily adversely impact on the normal processes of life and health. In the latter instance the double standard is evoked when illegal drug use is automatically assumed to be drug abuse, and abuse in relation to legal drugs, such as nicotine and alcohol, is under-recognized. (See ADDICTION, DRUG DEPENDENCY, DRUG TOLERANCE, RECREATIONAL DRUGS). (IP+MP)



DRUG DEPENDENCY: A psychological and/or physical craving resulting from the body’s reliance on the chemical substance(s). The condition is characterized by behavioral and social responses that include compulsive drug exposure, typically on a regular basis, in order to experience its effects or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. (See ADDICTION, DRUG TOLERANCE). (IP)


DRUG TESTING: 1. Random mandatory drug tests in the workplace are becoming a common feature of corporate life in developed countries. This is considered by some an imposition on recreational freedoms, however may be justified especially in careers involving fair competition (e.g. sportspeople), considerable responsibility (e.g. politicians) or risk to human life (e.g. pilots). 2. Voluntary ecstasy-testing booths have been used to assess drug constituents and strength, for example in Dutch nightclubs as a harm-minimization initiative. (See HARM MINIMIZATION) (IP+MP)

DRUG TOLERANCE: Tolerance in this respect refers to the adaptation of the cellular biochemistry to accommodate a pharmacologically active substance so that progressively larger doses are required to achieve the same physiological and/or psychological effects previously achieved from smaller doses. Tolerance management is an important concept for the occasional medicinal or recreational drug user. The maintenance of a low tolerance to a drug minimizes the loss of effectiveness, health impacts, monetary costs and likelihood of addiction. (See ADDICTION, DRUG DEPENDENCY). (IP+MP)

DUAL INHERITANCE THEORY: refers to studies that view culture and genes as providing separate but linked systems of inheritance, variation, and fitness adaptations in order to yield distinct, but interacting, evolutionary change. Inheritance in this instance refers to the idea that culture is information that is acquired socially; i.e., non-genetic, contrasting with information acquired through genetically inherited mechanisms (See EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY, HUMAN BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, MEME). (IP)

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