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MAD: 1. Commonly used word meaning ‘insane’. (See INSANITY) 2. Appropriately chosen acronym standing for “Mutually Assured Destruction” - the likely outcome of any exchange of weapons of mass destruction between nation states. This insane paradox was the centerpiece of the concept of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War (1945-90), and today perhaps also between more recently-declared nuclear states such as India and Pakistan. (See COLD WAR, DETERRENCE, NUCLEAR WEAPONS) (MP)





MAHAVIRA: (meaning "Great Hero") The Title of Vardhamana (599-527 bce). Vardhamana is held to be the last of a series of 24 ancient teachers of the traditions of Jainism, known as "Tirthankaras" (ford makers). (AG)

MAIMONIDES, MOSES (MOSHE BEN MAIMON): (1135-1204) Physician, philosopher and rabbi, he lived in Spain and Egypt. His writings on Jewish Law, medicine and philosophy, are an integrated whole. Observance of Biblical commandments keeps the body healthy and frees the mind from emotional pressures and addiction to material pleasures. So the mind can concentrate on active, intellectual activity. Just as Aristotle claimed that one who exercises the intellect is most beloved by the gods, Maimonides claimed that one comes under the protective supervision of God to the extent that one exercises one's intellect.

Maimonides describes Nature as if it had a mind, calling it "wise and crafty", and believing that it always strives for our health and the health of other creatures. Although there are what we call today genetic mutations, what nature does for the most part tends to be good and healthy. So a doctor should try to intervene as little as possible with a patient, allowing nature to cure itself. Only if this does not work should one try treatment, starting with treatment by way of the mind: especially by combating depression. Only if this does not work may one try medicine, starting with easy treatments and then using harsher ones only as a last resort.

Maimonides did not believe that one should turn to a doctor for every health need. One should become aware of one's own body, learning what foods, exercise and way of life are best for us. There are no universal rules in medicine because every person is different. The right diet, way of life or medicine for one person is not necessarily right for someone else. Modern medicine is just becoming aware of this fact, especially through genetic medicine, which is helping us learn the clinical importance of individual differences. Becoming aware of the individual health needs of one's own body, and discovering for oneself the way to health, with minimal dependence on physicians, would be an authentic autonomy.

As a physician, rabbi and philosopher, he was Israel's first interdisciplinary bioethicist. Angels, sometimes indistinguishable from the gods of Shinto and Hinduism, played a central role in his philosophy. He personified Nature as wise and crafty, bringing living organisms into existence, preserving them and always seeking their health. He therefore urged the physician to try to let nature cure the patient alone, with little or no interference. If that does not work, then one should try to cure the body psychosomatically, by first addressing the soul. Finally, easy natural treatments are to be preferred to harsh medicines. He urged people to look after their own health, paying attention to the effects of food and various behaviors on one's health, and trying to live accordingly: what is good or bad for one person may not necessarily be so for another. Today's genetic studies of why different foods, environmental conditions and medicines may have different effects on different people, are just starting to give scientific precision to this idea. -

Emphasizing psychosomatics, Maimonides saw worry as a major cause of illness. He said that it is pointless to worry about the past, because the past is already fixed and cannot be changed. It is pointless to worry about the future because the future lies in the realm of the possible. It can always turn out different from what we expected. So it only remains to concentrate on the here and now, without worry. A similar doctrine can also be found in Buddhist philosophy. (FL)

MAJOR HISTOCOMPATIBILITY COMPLEX: This huge complex of immune-response genes is located on chromosome 6p21.3. It covers a region of more than 3.800kb. Besides the classical class I, II and III genes, it also encodes DN/DO and 21 hydroxylase molecules. (see also HLA LOCUS CLASS I, CLASS II and CLASS III GENES, PHEROMONE) (GK)

MAJOR INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: An industrial accident involving the release of toxic/deleterious emission of a gas or a hazardous substance during an uncontrolled industrial activity resulting in the loss of human lives and long term health impacts. E.g. Methyl Iso Cyanide (MIC) gas release from Bhopal (India) and nuclear fall out from Chernobyl (Russia). (JA)

MAL- : Combining prefix indicating wrongness, badness or illness, from Latin: malus ‘bad’. (See ANTI-, META-, PSEUDO-) (MP)

MALE: Organisms whose reproductive organs produce only male gametes; that is, sperm in animals or pollen in fruit-bearing plants. (See FEMALE). (IP)


MALEFICENCE: [Latin maleficentia doing ill] Committing harm, hurtful or disrespectful to, of evil criminal nature. (IP)

MALNUTRITION: (mal ‘bad’ + ‘nutrition’) 1. Insufficient nutritional and food intake, typified by hunger, malnourishment, lethargy, depression, weak immunity, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and in extreme cases such as famine, symptoms of sunken ribs, bloated belly, weakness, sickness and death by starvation. 2. Bad or incorrect nutritional intake more broadly, whether food insufficiencies typical of third world countries, or the typically high fat/salt/sugar diet and caloric over-consumption of countries like the U.S. and Australia. (See ANOREXIA NERVOSA, BULIMIA NERVOSA, FAMINE, FOOD AID, FOOD CRISIS, MINERAL AND VITAMIN DEFICIENCY, NUTRITION, NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY, OBESITY) (MP)

MALPRACTICE: In law, failure of a professional to exercise a reasonable degree of skill and care. (See MISCONDUCT, NEGLIGENCE). (DM)

MALTHUS, THOMAS ROBERT: (1766-1834)- Author of "An Essay on the Principle of Population". In addition to his research on population growth, his achievements in the field of economics are also impressive. However, most influential was his work on population. Darwin developed some of his ideas of the theory of natural selection from Malthus' essay. The adjective "malthusian" is used to refer to predictions of large growth in population. Malthus' essay on population is of particular relevance to questions of population growth and food supply. (AG)

MAMMALIA: The homeothermic (warm-blooded), hairy, milk-suckling vertebrates of the class Mammalia. Extant taxa are the Monotrema (echidnas and platypus), Marsupalia (kangaroos, koalas, etc.), and Eutheria (placental mammals). (RW)

MAN: A man is an adult human male, but the term was also commonly used to refer more generally to the human species as a whole, as in "the evolution of Man". Such male-centric language is outdated in the modern context of equal rights and status of men and women - humans or humanity are preferable alternatives to the term. (See HOMO SAPIENS, HUMAN, MALE) (MP)

MANAGED CARE or MANAGED CARE PROGRAMS: Health insurance plans intended to reduce unnecessary health care costs through a variety of mechanisms, including economic incentives for physicians and patients to select less costly forms of care, programs for reviewing the medical necessity of specific services, increased beneficiary cost sharing, controls on inpatient admissions and lengths of stay, selective contracting with health care providers, and the intensive management of high-cost health care cases. (See HEALTH CARE DELIVERY, HEALTH INSURANCE, HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS). (DM)

MANDATORY DRUG TESTING: Drug testing that is compulsory, required for some employees of companies. The consequence of refusal may be dismissal from the job, or in the case of military staff, some punishment may be effected. (See DRUG TESTING) (DM)

MANGROVE FOREST: The mangrove forest habitat is located along tropical and subtropical estuaries and coastal intertidal zones, often fringed seaward by seagrass habitat and landward by saltmarsh habitat. Many mangrove species occur from 20 families (e.g. 39 species in Australia including Avicennia integra and Rhizophora stylosa). Mangrove trees are salt-tolerant and ‘breathe’ through aerial roots known as pneumatophores. The conservation of this habitat is essential for nutrient cycling/filtering, intertidal communities, waterfowl habitat, and especially as a breeding nursery to rejuvenate fish stocks. (See ESTUARY, HABITAT TYPES, SCLEROPHYLL FOREST, SEAGRASS, TROPICAL RAINFOREST) (MP)

MANIA: An elevated mood or state of mind, often associated with bipolar depression or drug use, characterized by pathological enthusiasm, flight of ideas, energy, elation, extravagance, obsession, overconfidence, distractibility and delusion. The sufferer of mania may have optimism and confidence and may or may not be concerned by their own indiscreet behavior, pressure of speech, inflated grandiosity and other impaired social functions. (See BIPOLAR DEPRESSION, LITHIUM) (MP)



MANUSMRITI (THE LAWS OF MANU): First systematization of sacred Hindu law, composed around 1500 BCE. The twelve extant books of the Manusmriti are attributed to Manu, the mythical father of Hindu moral and social law. (MP)


MAORI: The indigenous people of New Zealand – Aoteoroa (Maori name for New Zealand), who are thought to have immigrated to New Zealand about 1000-1300 A.D. (DM)

MARDI GRAS: 1. A world-famous vibrant and gaudy city parade featuring wide-ranging partying and high levels of crime which takes place annually in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2. The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a famous annual event in Sydney, Australia, including risqué street parade advocating homosexual rights and lifestyles. (See MARDI GRASS, PROTEST) (MP)

MARDI GRASS: Colorful parade, anti-prohibition rally and community direct action advocating the decriminalization of marijuana, taking place for example annually in Nimbin Australia, and other places such as organized ‘smoke-ins’ on some university campuses. (See CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, CRITICAL MASS, DECRIMINALIZATION, NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION, RECLAIM THE STREETS) (MP)

MARIJUANA: Marijuana, also known as dope, pot, weed, buds, grass, leaf, mull, Mary-Jane, reefer, kif or ganja, is a psychoactive recreational drug consisting of the dried flowering buds and leaves from plants of the genus Cannabis (hemp), containing the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite its illegality, statistics show a remarkably high overall use and increasingly at a younger age. Among the 15 to 35 year age group, for example, it is often considered an ordinary part of social life. Marijuana and its stronger resinous form hashish have dose-dependent effects on mood, perception, cognition and psychomotor coordination. Users experience feelings of relaxation, euphoria, childishness, lateral thought, time distortions, enhancement of taste and touch, omniscience and ease, in which emotions are enhanced and everything seems more profound. Heavier doses cause difficulties in concentration, "tunnel" attention, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and sleep, but since the drug does not affect the brain's respiratory center death by overdose is highly unlikely. Pot smokers are rarely aggressive or belligerent whilst under its influence (peacenik hippies are a dope cliché) although they may become irritable during comedown or withdrawal. Marijuana does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms but is addictive as it induces dependence, as seen by continued use despite adverse consequences especially when mixed with tobacco where the habit can also generate a nicotine addiction. However, statistics indicate that the majority of addicts give up by their 30s, probably because of the adverse life-impacts from regular use, especially considering the increasingly potent THC content of modern hydroponic weed. With the increased tolerance and dependence of frequent intake, the previous enhancement of creativity and philosophical insight may be replaced by mental dullness, memory impairment, learning difficulties, communication problems, sleeping disorders, paranoia in interaction with "straights", and possibly transient psychosis. Another common behavioral disorder is amotivational syndrome, in which lethargy and apathy in the "pot-head" can cause impairment of relationships, academic activity and other work-related performances. Amotivational syndrome is resolved on quitting. Other serious risk factors are exacerbation of preexisting mental illness especially schizophrenia, and increased likelihood of severe depression if coincidental with emotional crises and other extraneous stresses. Regular use also decreases levels of the male hormone testosterone, which should alert users about paternal responsibilities in matters of reproduction; particularly since research has established a significant correlation between heavy marijuana use during pregnancy and impaired fetal growth and development. As for cigarettes, so for dope - prolonged smoking leads to impaired pulmonary function, emphysema, and risk of mouth, lung and especially throat cancers. These physical risks are increased by the typical smoking techniques: pipes and water pipes ("bongs") are very hot, pot cigarettes ("joints") are inhaled deep, holding in the smoke, and the synergistic effects with tobacco may be higher by an order of magnitude when compared to the risk of either separately. Alternative methods of intake include the use of a vaporizer to minimize the inhalation of tar, or incorporation into foods such as cookies. There is no evidence of progression to harder drugs as a result of occasional social cannabis use progression and heavy use may indicate a preexisting addictive personality. Likewise there is no evidence that marijuana use leads to other criminal behavior. Dope interferes moderately with hand-eye motor coordination thus risking motor vehicle accidents, though driving impairment is less affected compared with alcohol intoxication because the driver tends to drive more carefully. There has been much media and political dialogue in recent years about the decriminalization of marijuana. Statistical comparisons between the long-running Dutch experiment in decriminalization and other Western countries have concluded that the decriminalization of dope makes very little difference to its social patterns of use. Marijuana has been identified as having a variety of medical uses including pain control, appetite enhancement (the "munchies", e.g. for AIDS), as a muscle relaxant, as an anti-nausea and anti-emetic (e.g. chemotherapy), and as a treatment for glaucoma. (See AMOTIVATIONAL SYNDROME, CANNABIS, DOPE, HASHISH, QUIT SMOKING, THC). (IP+MP)



MARKER: An identifiable physical location on a chromosome (e.g., restriction enzyme cutting site, gene, RFLP marker) whose inheritance can be monitored. Markers can be expressed regions of DNA (genes) or some segment of DNA with no known coding function but whose pattern of inheritance can be determined. (DM)

MARKER GENE: A gene for expressing a protein which makes the cells or organisms with the gene, e.g., to provide tolerance to antibiotics. A selected gene with a characteristic feature for gene transfer. (JA, DM)

MARRIAGE: the legalized union between husband and wife. Since prehistory, the institution of marriage has passed from one society to another in different forms (e.g., abduction, straight purchase, legitimized property and economic agreement such as a dowry, organized competition among the perspective suitors, monogamy, polygamy etc) but always retained a positive sacred social value because through it humans reproduced themselves. The importance of marriage in the conscience of our distant ancestors is well illustrated in western mythology where Zeus, right after establishing his authority on mount Olympus, legitimized his relationship with Hera through marriage. From the ethical point of view, a couple demonstrates through marriage their desire to produce children as fertility insured a kind of immortality. (See CONCUBINE, DIVORCE). (IP)


MARTIAL ARTS: People have fought one another during most of the times known to history and archaeology. But a distinction should probably be drawn between purely physical techniques, on the one hand, and what the Japanese call kamiwaza, ie Divinely Inspired techniques, on the other. The warriors of the Bible seem to have known kamiwaza. It is also present in the more ancient Japanese schools, like Kashima Shinryu. More modern schools, like Aikido, which were developed from ancient schools, may also have kamiwaza. Martial arts are bioethically relevant because of the spiritual elements and because of the ethic which warriors have developed, and which insists on principles like honour, honesty, fairness and deep human relationships in the most difficult of situations. It is easy to be ethical while teaching a philosophy class, but much harder when contending with terror attacks.

In the last century, martial arts went through a period of time when spiritual development was considered the most important thing, and many people, in the more peaceful parts of the world, ignored practical application for defence of oneself and others. People in some parts of the world, however, have been contending with war and terrorism with little interruption for many years. People elsewhere could ignore real life until late 2001. But after the September attack on New York and Washington, and after the navy of formerly pacifist Japan had to engage in a fire fight in December, the revival of warrior ethics has become a necessity. We would all rather not fight. But if we have to fight, let us learn to do so ethically and with inner calm and peace. (FL)

MARTYR: From old English and Greek.Literally means a witness. 1-a person who choose to die rather than give up his faith. 2-a person who assumes an attitude of self-sacrifice for his beliefs. 3-In Islamic context the word " Sha`hid" has the same meaning. It means sacrificing one`s own life on the way of God's faith. (AB)

MASOCHISM: A perverse form of self-defeating gratification derived from receiving physical, mental or emotional abuse. Masochism is a personality disorder in which pleasure is heightened during maltreatment or domination, even to the extent of violence or cruelty, at the hands of another/others. The masochist may need to experience, in reality or fantasy, emotional or physical pain to become sexually aroused. The term is derived from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), the Austrian historian, cuckold and author of the classic masochist novel Venus in Furs which was drawn from his own life and relationships. (See SADISM, SADOMASOCHISM). (IP + MP)

MASS EXTINCTION: Mass extinction events are relatively brief periods during which a large proportion of the Earth’s existing species are extirpated. They are characterised by numerous extinctions occuring simultaneously on a grand scale, and result in an evolutionary lottery of fundamental changes to the ecological nature of the planet. The big five mass extinctions in Earth’s history occured at the final stages of the following Periods: Ordovician, Devonian, Permian (over 90% of species extincted), Triassic, and Cretaceous (extinction of the dinosaurs). We are currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction. Regrettably, the current mass extinction event has been driven by human development and expansion, and Homo sapiens will not necessarily be excluded from it’s catastrophic effects. (See EXTINCTION, HUMAN EXTINCTION) (MP).

MASS MEDIA: Instruments of communication that reach large numbers of people; for example, the press, radio, television. (DM)

MASS SCREENING: The use of quick and simple diagnostic procedures with large groups of apparently well people for the purpose of detecting the presence or risk of diseases or disorders. (DM)

MATERIAL FLOWS: Material flows include abiotic solids (minerals, fossil energy carriers, topsoil etc.), biotic flows (animal harvest biomass, plant biomass etc.), water (surface runoff, groundwater, ocean currents), air (atmospheric gases) and pollution (damaging chemicals, human waste, radioactive materials etc.). ‘Material Flux Analysis’ and ‘Substance Flow Analysis’ are methods for tracking the flow of material inputs, stocks, outputs and wastes. (See ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS) (MP)


MATERNAL BLOOD SAMPLING: A term applied to blood sampling from pregnant mothers, usually to assess the health of the fetus. Certain serum protein markers can indicate higher probability of the fetus being suffering from neural tube defects or Down syndrome. Because it is only elevated risk, the followup is normally a more direct fetal diagnosis test. (See AMNIOCENTESIS, CVS). (DM)

MATERNAL HEALTH: Health of the mother, while pregnant or raising a child. (DM)

MATERNAL LOVE: The love given to a child by a mother. (DM)

MATERNAL MORTALITY: The rate of death of pregnant mothers or women giving birth to a child. There is a high rate of mother's death in the case of abortions performed by untrained medical practitioners or women themselves. (See ABORTION). (DM)

MATERNAL SERUM ALPHA-FETOPROTEIN: A protein normally secreted by the fetal liver, yolk sac and gastrointestinal tract. Elevated concentration levels of alpha-fetoprotein in the amniotic fluid is used to diagnose early fetal neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. The protein concentration is normally low in adults but may be elevated in cirrhosis, alcoholic and viral hepatitis and certain malignancies such as hepatomas and germ cell neoplasm. (See FETAL THERAPY, PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS). (DM+IP)

MATESHIP: 1. The condition of being mating partners. (See MARRIAGE) 2. That feeling of fellowship, common bond, camaraderie, trust and honor between ‘mates’ or friends. Traditionally a male ethic, such as ‘gentleman’s rules’ or the comradeship of the convict or soldier, today the term is applicable to either gender. Mateship has been considered one of the defining elements of the Australian identity. (See COLLABORATION, CULTURAL IDENTITY) (MP)

MATHEMATICAL MODELING: Artificially constructed models by the use of computers in order to predict greenhouse or population trends for example. Scientist use these models to make statements or predictions about the world, however, models are only as accurate as the data used in its construction. (IP)

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