ANGER: A negative emotional reaction associated with other bad feelings such as fear, disgust, shame, irritability, outrage, hostility and possibly even violence. Actions resulting from anger often have negative consequences, because the neurotransmitters/hormones (e.g. adrenaline) released during anger intensify impulsive action and cloud rational thought processes. (See ADRENALINE, AGGRESSION, CONFLICT MANAGEMENT, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, FEAR, JOY, TRANQUILITY) (MP)
ANGIOSPERM: The flowering vascular plants which dominate many terrestrial habitats such as deciduous forest, sclerophyll forest and rainforest. Class Angiospermae is primarily differentiated from the Gymnospermae by its mode of reproduction, which is via the seed, the fruit and the flower with its pistil and stamen. Angiosperms are divided into monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. (See FLOWER, GYMNOSPERM, HARDWOODS) (MP)
ÅNGSTROM: A unit of length defined as 10-10 meter. Å is used to express wavelengths of light, ultraviolet radiation and sizes of molecules. (IP)
ANIMAL: A living being with a capacity for spontaneous movement and a rapid motor response to stimulation. Animals can be divided into two groups, invertebrates (animals without backbones) and vertebrates (animals with backbones). (DM)
ANIMAL CARE COMMITTEES: Institutional committees established to protect the welfare of animals used in research. A type of ethics committee that focuses on the welfare of nonhuman animals. (See also ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS). (DM)
ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS: An experimental procedure conducted upon a non-human animal. These may be conducted for a variety of purposes, including education, medical research, cosmetic testing, product safety. There are ethics committees in many countries to regulate the experimental nature, procedure and justified purposes. (See ANIMAL RIGHTS, CLINICAL TRIALS). (DM)
ANIMAL HOUSE: A place where animals are reared and bred for experimental research, or laboratory testing, of cosmetics and other chemical substances prior to wider use. (JA+DM)
ANIMAL RIGHTS: A right is a thing to which an entity is entitled, for example, the 'right to free speech'. Traditionally only human beings have been said to possess rights and even then the term 'rights' is understood by many philosophers as having only legal currency rather than moral authority. The notion of animal rights extends rights to certain non-humans, typically those with sentience, that is, the ability to feel pleasures and pains. Those who advocate animal rights maintain that to allow humans rights but to deny them to all other species is speciesist - which is unacceptably discriminatory. There is an ethical and legal move to ascribe rights to Great Apes, and New Zealand has enacted laws which do. The UK and European Union have not enacted laws which ascribe rights to the Great Apes but it has stopped the practice of using Great Apes in medical experiments, whatever the purported benefits. (See GREAT APE PROJECT, HUMAN RIGHTS) (MR+DM)
ANIMAL TESTING ALTERNATIVES: Procedures, such as tissue culture and mathematical models, that are used in place of the use of animals in research or diagnostic laboratories. (DM)
ANIMAL WELFARE: The entitlement of animals to protection from cruelty and abuse, or to not be used solely for the benefit of humans. (See BIOCENTRIC). (DM)
ANIMISM: The belief that the boundary between human and non-human is fluid so that the things of the world, both animate and inanimate, are spirited and able to communicate or be spiritually affiliated with humans (see Dreaming). In the modern context most of us now wish to see ourselves more as a participating member of Nature by giving due regard to the interdependence of all living systems and their further dependence on physical cycles. This acknowledgment is a significant intellectual advance as it undercuts the dualistic Greco-Roman view of human and natural systems being distinct from one another and links back to ancient understandings, as substantiated in Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira and the Dreamtime depictions in Aboriginal rock art. Our hunter ancestors knew Nature and its creatures (many of whom were also their deities) and respected their ethical right to exist alongside humankind. Animism probably served as an adaptive ecological mechanism by impressing a bioethical restraint upon overexploitation and abuse (See AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL, TOTEMISM) (IP+AG).
ANNELIDA: (Latin: ãnulus 'ring') The zoological phylum containing annelid worms with an internally and externally segmented body and hydrostatic skeleton. Annelida includes the classes Polychaeta (marine worms), Oligochaeta (earthworms) and Hirudinea (leeches). (MP)
ANOMALY: See DEVELOPMENTAL ANOMALY.
ANONYMITY: Without a name. The concept is used in databases to protect the privacy of an individual sample by deleting the name, or identifiable information. The removal of the identifying information can occur before entering the storage facility, or database, or after. (DM)
ANONYMOUS TESTING: Epidemiological testing in which the source of the specimen or the person being tested is not individually identified; often used in testing for the prevalence of a disease. (DM)
ANOREXIA ATHLETICA: is an exercise addiction which often overlaps with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia where the cycle of forced, prolonged exercise (swimming, running, dancing) and decreasing food intake forms the basis of activity anorexia. In order to maintain an adequate energy balance, caloric needs for non-essential bodily functions; such as reproduction, are suppressed. In the human context, anorexias may have resulted from natural selection favoring those individuals who become active in times of food scarcity as stopping to eat is negatively balanced against reaching an area where food may be abundant (See ANOREXIA NERVOSA, BULIMIA NERVOSA, OBESITY). (IP)
ANOREXIA NERVOSA: (Greek: a + orexis 'no appetite') An eating disorder characterized by a prolonged revulsion to eating resulting in emaciation, loss of periods, and emotional disturbance concerning body image and fear of becoming obese. The cause of thinness cannot be attributed to a primary endocrine (hormonal) disorder but the conditions of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, emotional deprivation and calorie restriction can cause secondary endocrine abnormalities; such as delayed or absent puberty and infertility. The condition is primarily a maturational problem in adolescents who, in the majority of cases, come from dysfunctional family homes. For example, a significant proportion of patients with eating disorders were sexually molested by a family member or friend during childhood, or who associated eating with emotional distress, conflict and anxiety states (Greek a + orexis meaning no appetite) (See ANOREXIA ATHLETICA, BULIMIA NERVOSA, OBESITY) . (IP)
ANOVA: see ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE.
ANOSMIA: (Greek a + osme 'without smell'). 'Odor blindness' - the total loss or impairment of the sense of smell. Anosmia may be temporary resulting, for example, from an obstructive respiratory infection or a blow on the head which may damage the olfactory receptors, or be permanent as a result of an irreversible damage to any part of the olfactory apparatus. Sometimes anosmia (the so called specific anosmias) does not involve a total loss or reduction of the sense of smell but is instead specific to particular substances; for example, 3% of the population has trouble smelling the odor of sweat, 12% have diminished sensitivity to musky odors. It is important to note that anosmia may be induced by injuring the olfactory receptors consequent to inhaling caustic substances such as lead, zinc sulfate, or concentrated matter such as cocaine. (See OLFACTION, SENSES). (IP)
ANTARCTICA: The continent at the South of the planet Earth, where the South Pole is located. A landmass covered with ice, up to several km thick, because it is below freezing. The Antarctic Treaty is an international treaty against commercial exploitation of the mineral resources of this continent, intended to prevent pollution. Many nations have research bases on he continent, and some claim territory of Antarctica or islands off its coast. (DM)
ANTE- : Prefix denoting ‘before’ in space or time. (See ANTI-, PRE-) (MP)
ANTENATAL DIAGNOSIS: See PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS.
ANTHRAX: One of the powerful bacterial biological weapons Bacillus anthracis occurs in many different strains as skin and inhalation strains, stable in spore condition, on contact it multiplies, its toxins cause hemorrhage leading to death. (JA)
ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE: (Greek: anthropo ‘human’) Cosmological theory investigating the relationship of humans to the nature and structure of the universe. The weak anthropic principle notes that the universe must have properties which allow for the existence of intelligent life to observe it, and the strong anthropic principle implies that the universe is structured such that intelligent life will be inevitable. The theory was introduced by Brandon Carter and developed in John Barrow and Frank Tipler’s ‘The Anthropic Cosmological Principle’. (See ANTHROPOCENTRIC, HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE THEORY, OMEGA POINT THEORY, PARALLEL UNIVERSES THEORY) (MP)
ANTHROPOCENTRIC: A belief, doctrine or attitude in which the Universe is regarded as centered around humankind and organized in terms of human values). Anthropocentrism has been fostered by religious beliefs, placing human beings at the center of Creation, until scientific theories laid down by Darwin, Wallace and other naturalists in the mid-XIXth century have demonstrated that all living beings have common evolutionary roots and share mutual interdependence relationships, including our species. Bioethics based on anthropocentric views overlooks the many issues in which other species are involved, centering its attention only on human beings. (See BIOCENTRIC). (IP, GK).
ANTHROPOLOGY: (Greek, Anthropo : man) The study of humans, regarded as the most scientific of the humanities and the humanity of the sciences. Study of human origin, social development and political organization, language, religion and art. (JA)
ANTHROPOMORPHISM: (Greek: anthropos "man" + morphe "form") The attribution of human qualities to animals, inventions and other non-human objects or organisms. Although animals may not display properties related to human intelligence, they may have variations on other human qualities such as emotions and feelings like sadness or pain. (MP)
ANTHROPOSPHERE: (Greek: anthropo "human" + sphaira "globe") The realm of human activity and infrastructure, a rapidly growing component of the biosphere. The anthroposphere has an input of materials and natural resources, and outputs a flow of waste materials. (See BIOSPHERE) (MP)
ANTI-: Combining prefix denoting ‘against’, ‘reverse’ or ‘in opposition to’. (See ANTE-, MAL-, META-, PSEUDO-) (MP)
ANTI-ANXIETY DRUGS: See ANXIETY, ANXIOLYTICS.
ANTIBIOTIC: (Anti=against; bios = life) Anti = against, bios = life, substances produced by plants/animals/microbes which can kill microbes or inhibit their growth. Synthetically produced to stop microbial infection. (Bioactive compounds)(JA)
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE: The ability of microorganisms to adapt and survive high concentrations of a normally lethal antibiotic. The resistance is acquired by the natural selection of resistant mutants in the presence of low concentrations of this antibiotic; however, the production of resistant strains of microorganisms can also be artificially created by means of genetic technology. Antibiotic resistance is often an accidental result of medical overprescription. Another reason is the environmental release of large quantities of antibiotics which are added to the feed of factory-farmed animals. The accidental acceleration of antibiotic resistance generates an urgent race to create new drugs for combating human disease. (See ANTIBIOTIC, ANTIBIOTIC OVERPRESCRIPTION). (IP+MP)
ANTIBIOTIC OVERPRESCRIPTION: The overuse or overprescription of antibiotic drugs may result in the accelerated adaptation of resistant strains of microorganisms in the patient and the environment. Hospitals are one of the more common breeding grounds for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotics are often considered a generic treatment, and in many less developed countries are generally sold over the counter without a prescription or specialist advice. Careless use of antibiotics may also have other side effects, such as the death of useful symbiotic bacteria in the gut, or damage to the structure and function of the ear. For example, antibiotics called aminoglycosides (neuromycin, kanamycin, dihydrostreptomycin and vancomycin) may irreversibly damage hearing by attacking the hair of the cochlea, while streptomycin and gentomycin may affect coordination and balance - if continued, nerve deafness may occur. (See ANTIBIOTIC, ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE). (IP+MP)
ANTIBODY: Immune related protein produced by the body in response to a specific antigen. A blood protein (immunoglobin) produced by white blood cells in response to the presence of a specific foreign substance (antigen) in the body, with which it fights or otherwise interacts. Antibodies recognize thousands of different antigens through their highly variable antigen-binding regions, and interact with leukocytes and/or complement components to destroy the antigen. Antibodies to sperm, if present, can impair fertility by causing agglutination of sperm. Antibodies against natural components of the body can also be generated, inducing an autoimmune response and subsequent destruction of the tissue (i.e. in insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis). (DM+GK+JA)
ANTICODON: Complementary to the codon of triplet code on a tRNA attracted to a complementary codon on mRNA. (JA)
ANTICOPYRIGHT: A term referring to new publications which are legally open to duplication and distribution to the widest possible audience. Poor nations are those most in need of ethical, environmental, social and medical information and resources. Anticopyright status may only be limited to poorer nations or non-profit organizations, in order to maintain economic incentives. Activist and subversive literature often bears an anticopyright label, and the internet has provided a free platform for many of the scientific and medical journals. (See ANTI-PATENTING, COPYRIGHT) (MP)
ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS: Drugs for the treatment and control of depressive illness. There exist three major groups of antidepressant drugs the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, the tricyclic antidepressants and the latest generation serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. The latter are favored for their selective action, since the tricyclics affect a broader range of neurotransmitter systems, and MAO inhibitors can potentially interact dangerously with certain food constituents. Lithium is also used to treat bipolar disorder (manic depression), and various herbal remedies (e.g. St. John’s Wort) are also used to combat depression. (See BRAIN NEUROTRANSMITTERS, LITHIUM, MONOAMINE OXIDASE, PROZAC, SEROTONIN RE-UPTAKE INHIBITORS). (IP+MP)
ANTIDOTE: A drug which neutralizes poisons and their effects. Antidotes may react chemically to produce harmless compounds, act mechanically to prevent absorption, or perform physiologically to produce opposite effects to the poison. Usually the stomach should also be pumped to remove the poison (and the occasionally toxic antidote), however not when this may cause damage in patients who have ingested caustic agents. (See POISON) (MP)
ANTIGEN: A foreign protein/polysaccharide, initiates immune response to form antibodies specific to it. (JA)
ANTI-GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT: A global collective of concerned people remarkable for its breadth and diversity, including workers groups, industrial unions, human rights advocates, social workers, ethicists, environmentalists, socialists, anarchists, anti-capitalists, the anti-war movement, green movement, advocates of fair trade, forgiveness of third world debt, anti-patenting of pharmaceuticals/genes, workers rights and ecology, including people from mainstream society in both the developed and developing worlds. Commentators on the globalization debate in no particular order include George Monbiot, Susan George, Edward Herman, Naomi Klein, Anita Roddick, Ralph Nader, Charles Handy, John Ralston Saul, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, John Micklethwait, Lester Thurow, Noam Chomsky, Michael Albert, Michael Moore, David Ransom, John Pilger, Vandana Shiva, Maria Mies, Joseph Stiglitz, David Pearce, Hunter Lovins and others. The anti-globalization movement dramatically increased its presence in the media and public consciousness with the 1999 Seattle protest gathering during the World Trade Organization conference, marred by rioting and security clashes. One section of the anti-globalization movement believes that any system which has lost control of what’s good, freedom, justice, human rights, responsibilities, for the people, must be dismantled if it cannot justify its power and authority. A more moderate position rather advocates reform of international trade agreements and global institutions (e.g. United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, World Economic Forums) to better reflect the emerging paradigms of sustainable development, global equity and ethics. (See ACTIVISM, ANARCHISM, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, CONDITIONALITY, GLOBAL VILLAGE, GLOBALIZATION, GREEN MOVEMENT, PEACE MOVEMENT, NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE, NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, PROGRESS, PROTEST) (MP)
ANTIHISTAMINES: Drugs which block the histamine receptors of cells to prevent allergic response. Antihistamines are used to treat allergic rhinitis (hay-fever), allergic rashes, asthma, and the common cold. Side effects may include sleepiness, dizziness and dry mouth. (See ANTIBIOTIC) (MP)
ANTIMISSILE: A missile or other defensive measure, which involves the interception and destruction of attacking enemy missiles. (MP)
ANTIOXIDANTS: are substances which delay the oxidation (spoilage) of matter, for example, raw vegetable oils contain natural antioxidants which reduce the speed of deterioration. Antioxidants are deliberately added to prepacked foods and drugs in order to delay degradation by oxidation and increase their shelf-lives. The consumer is often led to believe that vitamin supplements having antioxidant properties should be taken daily, however, the rationale for daily use of such products has not been established. In general, healthy adult men and non-pregnant women consuming a normal varied diet do not need vitamin supplements. (See FREE RADICALS, VITAMIN). (IP)
ANTI-PATENTING: A term referring to the movement against the patenting of products which increase environmental quality and social wellbeing. Products designed for sale in the developed world can be beyond the economic reach of people in less developed nations, for example drug patents prevent equitable availability to those living with HIV or dying of other diseases. The free or economically-scaled release of such bioethical products should be encouraged and subsidised. (See ANTICOPYRIGHT, PATENT) (MP)
ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS: Drugs used to treat severe mental illnesses such as aggressive psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mania and severe depression. They usually normalize the action of dopamine and possibly other neurotransmitters. Although antipsychotics can save people from the need for incarceration, they may have serious side effects such as dyskinesia (tremors), ataxia (staggering), seizures and lethargy. It is perhaps well to bear in mind that one-third to one-half of psychotic patients improve symptomatically - or show constructive personality change - without prescribed medication. When assessing drug effectiveness care must be taken to include adequate control groups - either untreated or treated by another type of therapy in order to avoid possible long-term risk. (See COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, LITHIUM). (IP+ MP)
'ANTISENSE' RNA: RNA that is complementary to the nucleotide sequence of normal mRNA. It therefore forms a duplex with the mRNA preventing the mRNA being used in protein synthesis, thus indirectly controlling gene expression. (DM)
ANTI-REDUCTIONISM: Reductionism, a doctrine deriving from Auguste Comte, says that "higher-level" sciences can always be reduced, ie explained in terms of "lower-level" or more fundamental ones. Thus sociology is explained in terms of psychology, which is explained in terms of physiology, which is explained in terms of biology, which is explained in terms of chemistry, which is explained in terms of physics, which is explained in terms of mathematics. Thus all history, international relations, human relations and our mental and emotional lives are really matters of particle physics formulated mathematically. Genetic Reductionism is just a special case of reductionism explaining human life in terms of molecular genetics.
Anti-Reductionism has been formulated in terms of a number of different arguments: (I) "Not even all clinical phenotypes can be attributed to single genes, so obviously not all personality types or patterns of human action can be attributed to single genes": to which the answer is that genetic reductionism need not be single-gene reductionism, but can explain each phenotype in terms of multiple genes. (II) "Human characterists, including clinical disease, are rarely explainable in terms of genetics alone. There are also environmental -- including nutritional and educational -- co-factors.": to which the answer is that while the objection may refute Genetic Reductionism, it does not refute Reductionism in general, because maybe environmental cofactors may eventually be explained in terms of mathematical physics. (III) "Reductionism leads to the denial of free will": to which the answer is that this begs the question. Maybe free will is just an illusion anyway. (IV) "Reductionism has never been proved. Has anyone ever shown how we can really explain international relations as events on the subatomic level?": to which the answer is that we need patience. Let's see how science develops, in the meantime leaving Reductionism as an open possibility. (V) "Reductionism takes the spiritual out of life, by making everything mathematical physics." To which the answer is that maybe subatomic particles are less material and more spiritual than we have thought, as explained in the entry ANGEL (q.v.) (FL)
ANTI-SEMITISM: Semites are a loosely interrelated group of populations speaking similar languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, and such Ethiopian languages as Geez, Amharic and Tigrinya. But "Anti-Semitism" usually means the hatred of Jews. Anti-Semitism was a central doctrine in Nazi ideology. (FL)
ANTISOCIAL: Antisocial behavior conflicts with societal expectations, and may range from harmless eccentricity, through rudeness and negativity, to aggressive or psychotic behavior. (See ASOCIAL) (MP)