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MATRIMONY: The bond or union of marriage. (See MARRIAGE) (MP) MATRIX METHODS

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MATRIMONY: The bond or union of marriage. (See MARRIAGE) (MP)

MATRIX METHODS: A matrix is a rectangular arrangement of data, usually with the unit, subject or individual in a horizontal row and the variables or measures represented by vertical columns. This arrangement facilitates matrix methods of arithmetic, statistics and analysis. (See LEOPOLD MATRIX) (MP)

MATTER: Physics: The ‘bricks and mortar’ of the universe, matter has characteristics of type, location, mass, density, extent and movement. Matter is solid, liquid or gas dependent on temperature. Matter contains mass and nuclear energy, being substitutable aspects of the same thing (e=mc2). The universe has been theorized also to contain ‘antimatter’ and ‘dark matter’. Matter is composed of particles and antiparticles including leptons and quarks, which combine to form atoms of different elements, which combine to form molecules and materials. (See ATOM, ELEMENT, ENERGY, LEPTON, MATERIAL FLOWS, QUARK) (MP)

MAXIMUM ACCEPTED CONCENTRATION: Commonly abbreviated as MAC. Human body is adopted to a certain threshold value to any substance. The upper limit of tolerance is the MAC., its levels are based partly on scientific evaluation of the available toxicological data and partly by the health based recommended occupational exposure limit. These data may be available with the Health Department. (JA).


MAXIMUM ECONOMIC YIELD: The value difference between the costs of inputs and the value of outputs in an economic process. The total cost of inputs should, but often doesn’t, include an estimation of environmental, social and ethical costs. (See COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS, MAXIMUM SUSTAINABLE YIELD) (MP)

MAXIMUM SUSTAINABLE YIELD: A long-lived but now obsolete term referring to the theoretical threshold level of greatest utilization of a resource such that the affected population or resource neither increases nor decreases. Maximum sustainable yield has given way to ‘optimum sustainable yield’, which accommodates into management modeling the existence of dynamic ecosystem fluctuations and precaution in the face of uncertainty. (See OPTIMUM SUSTAINABLE YIELD) (MP)

MD: Medical Doctor.

MEAN: Three types, arithmetic, geometric and weighted. Arithmetic mean is obtained by adding all the data values and dividing by the number of data items, the sample size is indicated by n and the mean xbar. Geometric mean is the nth root of the product of n items. Weighted mean is the method of assigning different emphasis or weights to data items. (JA)



MEAN DEVIATION: Is a measure of the average amount by which the values in a distribution differ from the arithmetic mean. (JA)

MEANING OF LIFE: Bioethical principles like beneficence and non-maleficence have no clinical application in the absence of reflection on the meaning of life. This is not necessarily a religious position because atheists and agnostics also have opinions on the meaning of life. The radical existentialist opinion that life is meaningless, is also an important result of reflection on the meaning of life.

Meaning of life is not identical with QUALITY OF LIFE (q.v.). One who is devoted entirely to chasing physical and aesthetic pleasure might have a life of much quality, but little meaning. But a very sick, dependent, bedridden, depressed patient in great pain, who for the first time reflects on ones good and bad deeds, one relationships with other people, and on our total ignorance of where we came from and where we are going, may have extremely low quality of life and much meaning. Nor is meaning of life identical with sanctity of life. The idea that there are some values more important than life itself, values for which one should be willing to sacrifice one's life, is the idea that a meaningless life is not worth living.

There are three levels to the meaning of one's life: the meaning of one's life in one's own eyes, the meaning of one's life with respect to others, and the metaphysical meaning of one's life, if such a thing exists. We can never be sure about any of these things. We cannot be sure about the meaning of one's life to oneself, because we can always change our minds, see things in a new light, or even come to realize that what we believed to be our own thoughts were really ideas to which we were indoctrinated. Terminal patients often change their minds about whether their continued treatment is worthwhile. Nor can we be sure about what our lives mean to others. A word or a small action today can have unknown and long term effects on our friends, families, students and others. Nor can we really know anything at all about the metaphysical meanings of our lives. Does God exist or not? And if God exists, what is God like? And if we don't know what God is like, what sense can there be in our belief that God exists? And is there life after death? And what is that life like? Heaven and hell, or reincarnation, or perhaps something so surprising we cannot even imagine it? Or maybe we are just meat, and death is the end of us? Reflection on the meaning of life leads to the conclusion that we cannot know anything about it. Therefore, declarations of whether continuing treatment is "in the interests" or "not in the interests" of a patient, are meaningless declarations. The humility to admit that we really don't know anything about the meaning of life should be the first prerequisite for engaging in clinical ethical decision making. (FL)

MEASUREMENT: The collection or quantification of data on location, size, shape, distribution, boundaries, distance, dimensionality or rate of change. Data is obtained through the use of a measuring instrument. Measures are against some standard, for example the meter was defined at different times by a fractional proportion of the circumference of the World, a platinum rod stored in Paris, and currently by the distance light travels over a particular time. Usually parameters or indicators are measured rather than the real population or value. You need to know not just what you are measuring, but what it represents, to what precision and accuracy, and what assumptions or biases may be inherent. Moreover, relativity theory states that measurement is subjective to the measurer’s viewpoint, and in quantum theory the act of measurement usually interferes with the measure itself. Complexity theory has also illustrated some of the subjectivities and difficulties inherent in measurement. Nevertheless, measurement is one of our most powerful tools for approximating the true shape of reality, and one of the defining differentiators of science from common opinion. (See ACCURACY, ASSUMPTION, ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING, INDICATOR, MODELING, PARAMETER, PRECISION, SCALE, SPACE, STATISTICS, TIME) (MP)

MEASURES OF CENTRAL TENDENCY: Measures of central tendency conceptualize the middle position of a data set or group of observations, and include the mean, median and mode. (See MEAN, MEDIAN, MODE) (MP)

MEASURES OF DISPERSION: Measures of dispersion indicate the spread or distribution of data, and include variance, standard deviation, standard error, range, interquartile range, skew and kurtosis. (See KURTOSIS, RANGE, SKEW, STANDARD DEVIATION, STANDARD ERROR, VARIANCE) (MP)

MEDIA ACTIVISM: See CULTURE JAMMING.

MEDIA MANIPULATION: See PROPAGANDA.

MEDIA PIRACY: Illegal or unauthorized use of copyrighted media content, software, brand-names, bandwidth or connection to internet, cable or satellite TV broadcasts. "Pirate radio" refers to stealthy broadcasting on illegal bandwidths of activist and alternative radio stations. Piracy refers more particularly to unauthorized "borrowing" of copyright media for cheap reproduction and sale, a practice widespread for example across Asia in print, CD, CD-ROM, VCD, and DVD formats. Media piracy reduces economic incentives and may drive official prices up. Nevertheless, it also equalizes the availability and distribution of information to the poor in developing countries who would otherwise not have access. (See ANTICOPYRIGHT, CULTURE JAMMING) (MP)

MEDIAN: 1. In statistics, the value falling in the middle of a data set when arranged in ranked order; the 50th percentile of the measurements. If the set contains an even number, the average of the two middle measurements is taken. The median is more robust than the mean, i.e not as sensitive to unusual data points such as outliers. (See MEAN, MODE) 2. In anatomy and biology, situated in the middle - for example the median artery or nerve. (MP, JA)

MEDIATION: Mediation of conflict in personal, industrial or international relations refers to the involvement or intervention of a third party such as a mutually respected neutral analyst. Success or failure can depend on the belief systems of the mediator in relation to each side of the dispute. Effective communication is also essential to negotiate compromise or settlement. Best may be several independent mediators who are able to represent each side of the dispute with empathy, but are still friendly with each other. (See COMPROMISE, CONFLICT RESOLUTION, CONSENSUS, DISPUTE, FACILITATION, NEGOTIATION, PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY, TEAMWORK, THIRD PARTY) (MP)

MEDICAID: A US funded form of public assistance sponsored jointly by the federal and state governments providing medical aid for those below a certain level of income. (See MEDICAL CARE, MEDICINE). (IP)

MEDICAL CARE: The provision of expenses for doctors, nurses and other medical services as well as surgery, hospitals, institutional care and transportation necessary in the prevention/alleviation or treatment of a physical or mental disability or illness. Medical expenses, including medicines, drugs and health insurance premiums of an individual and his or her dependents are allowed as an itemized deduction to the extent that such amounts exceed a certain percent of adjusted gross income. (See MEDICAID, MEDICINE). (IP)

MEDICAL EDUCATION: Specialist training in one or more branches of medicine, including instruction in biology, physics and chemistry. Medical education has developed very differently in different countries but is becoming more and more transdisciplinary taking in, for example, subjects such as bioscience and bioethics. (See EDUCATION, RELIGIOUS EDUCATION). (IP).

MEDICAL ETHICS and MEDICAL ETHICISTS: Medical ethics is the clinical branch of bioethics dealing with the ethics of physicians and surgeons. It is to be distinguished from NURSING ETHICS (q.v.), Physiotherapy Ethics, Pharmacist Ethics, etc. Medical ethics includes many subcategories. Internists and oncologists tend to take a major interest in questions of care and the discontinuation of care of terminal patients, truthtelling, and the like. Neonatologists deal with patients who are incapable of making informed decisions on their own, but whose parents or guardians cannot always be counted on to make the best decision for them. Psychiatrists and paediatricians have patients with varying and often-unclear degrees of ability to make informed choices. Gynaecologists have questions about abortion, in-vitro fertilisation, etc.

Bioethicists can play different kinds of roles in medical ethics. Some people think that medical ethics is a branch of philosophy. There are ethicists, sometimes with education in philosophy, who serve on hospital ethics committees or who accompany physicians on rounds, participating in clinical decisions. But it can be debated whether an education in philosophy gives sufficient understanding of the clinical realities to make decisions about life and death. So others think that the people to make the clinical ethical decisions should be physicians and nurses, and that the role of philosophical bioethicists should be pedagogical, helping to educate physicians and nurses to think deeply when they approach clinical ethical questions.

It is doubtful whether one person alone should take life and death decisions, like DNR, even if that person is the most distinguished professor of medicine. Weighty decisions should be made together with the patient and family, whenever possible, and after consultation in the ward staff meeting, with other physicians, nurses and social workers. (FL)


MEDICAL ETHICS COMMITTEES: See INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD, ETHICS COMMITTEE.

MEDICAL ETIQUETTE: Accepted forms of social behavior among physicians and other health professionals. (DM)

MEDICAL INFORMATION DIRECTORIES: The desire of the health profession to benefit humanity saw it pioneer free and open distribution of medical journals on the internet. Medline (www.medlineplus.gov) is a free archive of some 3500 medical journals selected by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Numerous other periodicals, directories, medical forums and diagnostic tools exist such as Medscape, Medical Matrix, HealthAnswers, OnHealth and Virtual Hospital. (See BIOETHICS INFORMATION DIRECTORIES, ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION DIRECTORIES) (MP)



MEDICAL WASTE: Waste materials from a diagnosis process or treatment of patient e.g. intravenous tubing, contaminated dressing materials. Synonymous names include hospital waste and infectious waste. Former includes all the discarded total waste both biological materials and non biological. Infectious while the latter refers to any hospital/ medical waste contaminated with germs of infectious diseases.(JA)

MEDICINE: (Latin medicina 'art of healing') the science and art of dealing with the prevention, cure and alleviation of disease. In its more recent sense the science and art of preserving good physical and psychological health. (See HIPPOCRATIC OATH, MEDICAID, MEDICAL CARE). (IP)

MEDITATION: See TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION, ZEN.

MEDLINE: See MEDICAL INFORMATION DIRECTORIES.

MEGA- : Standard SI Unit multiplier denoting one million times, or ten to the power of six (mega: 106). The mega- spatial scale deals with the international and global environment. (See INTER-, MACRO-, META-, MICRO-, SCALE, TRANS-) (MP)


MEGADIVERSITY: A concept introduced by Dr. McNeely to indicate the richness of species diversity in a given country by taking an inventory of species - 70% of worlds' species diversity is found in 10 such countries - Mexico. Columbia, Equador, Peru, Brazil, Zaire, Madagascar, china, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. (JA)

MEGAFAUNA EXTINCTIONS: See EXTINCTION.

MEGALOMANIA: Delusions of grandeur or personal importance, or a personality typified by lust for wealth and power. Megalomania may be a symptom of drug delusion, mania or psychosis. (See DELUSION) (MP)

MEGALOPOLIS: After the Ancient Greek Megalopolis of Arcadia, a mega-city; an extensive system of urban centers and interconnecting metropolis, typically with a population in the tens of millions. (See ECUMENOPOLIS, METROPOLIS) (MP)


MEIOSIS: The process of two consecutive cell divisions in the diploid progenitors of sex cells. Meiosis results in four rather than two daughter cells, each with a haploid set of chromosomes.

MEME: The word meme was first proposed by Richard Dawkins in the context of evolutionary processes and cultural replication, in The Selfish Gene (1976): “We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternately be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or the French word même.” The concept differentiates the replication of information in the genes (biological evolution) from the replication of mental and environmental information in the memes (cultural and technological evolution). Some explanations of the meme imply its residence in the mind, and describe memes as patterns of information affecting the brain or configurations of activated and non-activated neural synapses. It seems clear however that memes are information which can reside in and/or propagate from not only the brain, but also the word, the book, the computer, products, behavior and prevailing fashions, although not necessarily direct perception or things that cannot replicate or be imitated. Perhaps the best example of how memes compete and reproduce by natural selection is the ‘meme’ meme itself. The concept of the meme has successfully made it into dictionaries and general discourse, presumably helped by being analogous to the word gene. In contrast, another term for almost the same concept, the ‘culturgen’, proposed by Charles Lumden and E.O. Wilson at around the same time, was not as successful in copying itself out into the community. (See CULTURAL EVOLUTION, MEME COMPLEX, MEMETICS, MEMOTYPE, REPLICATOR) (MP & IP)

MEME COMPLEX: The ‘coadapted meme complex’, abbreviated to ‘memeplex’, is a group of memes which are symbiotic in that they are selected for, replicate and evolve together. Dawkins uses the ‘God’ meme complex as an example, suggesting we “regard an organized church, with its architecture, rituals, laws, music, art, and written tradition, as a co-adapted stable set of mutually-assisting memes.” (See MEME) (MP)

MEMEPLEX: See MEME COMPLEX

MEME POOL: See COLLECTIVE MEMORY.

MEMETICS: The scientific study of memes; their nature, replication, cultural transmission, storage media, technological links, genetic analogues, corresponding physiology, cooperation, competition, copying fidelity, fecundity and longevity. (See CULTURAL EVOLUTION, MEME, MEME COMPLEX, MEMOTYPE, SEMIOTICS) (MP)

MEMORY: (Latin: memoria) 1. The capacity of the mind for learning, retention and recall of thoughts, observations and information. Memory is involved in the selection of events relevant to survival from a constant barrage of environmental inputs. Stimulus during certain critical stages of child development is crucial to memory and learning. There are different types of memory associated with different parts of the brain and having specific characteristics (e.g. visual association, language, short term & long term memories). Memory is associated with changes in the processing and neural channels of the brain rather than the molecules. Neurological details remain unknown, but memories are expressed as changes in the synapses and/or as broader interrelated patterns of excitation. (See COLLECTIVE MEMORY, MEME, MEMORY ENHANCEMENT, MEMORY IMPAIRMENT, MIND). 2. The storage capacity of a computer system, measured in bytes, or units of information, available for central processing, with hard drive storage commonly in the gigabyte range and random access memory in the megabyte range. (See ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) (MP)

MEMORY ENHANCEMENT: Capacity for memory is not necessarily predetermined and can be considerably enhanced with training and mental organization. The effort of memorizing must be made at the initial time of the observation rather than later at the time of recall. The metaphor of a filing cabinet is useful as it illustrates the importance of proper organization of memories in logically related groups. For long-term memory revision is important to reinforce the associated neural connections. Because memories predominantly rely on visual representations, many memory enhancement techniques use pictures and spatial relationships. Mind-maps are a useful tool for representing relationships between memory groups. Mnemonics associate initial letters or other markers with easy-to-remember phrases and are useful for memorizing lists or equations. Daisy-chaining also uses mental visual associations (most memorable if seemingly ridiculous) to link together related information such as the segments of a seminar. There are numerous other techniques involving visual associations and mental codes for remembering facts, lists, faces, names and numbers. (See MEMORY, MEMORY IMPAIRMENT) (MP)

MEMORY IMPAIRMENT: The condition in which an individual experiences the inability to remember or recall pieces of information or behavioural skills, such as losing memory of earlier periods of life or forgetting to perform a behavior at a scheduled time. Memory impairment may be a symptom of drug intoxication, severe emotional trauma, brain damage, Alzheimers disease and senile dementia. The condition can be pathophysiological or environmental, and may be either temporary or permanent. (See AMNESIA, MEMORY, MEMORY ENHANCEMENT) (MP)

MEMOTYPE: As yet, ‘memotype’ is poorly-defined in the new science of memetics. Cloak (1975) was the first to differentiate i-culture (instructions in the brain; equivalent of genotype) and m-culture (behavior/technology/society; equivalent of phenotype). Grant (1990) defines the memetic information as the ‘memotype’, and its expression in social behavior the ‘sociotype’. The distinction between the meme (or idea, instruction, ‘i-culture’, ‘memotype’) and the meme phenotype (or ‘phemotype’, ‘meme product’, ‘vehicle’, ‘m-culture’, ‘sociotype’) has varied between different investigators. Copying fidelity is not as good for ‘copy the product’ (e.g. Lamarckian inheritance) as for ‘copy the instructions’ (e.g. genetic inheritance), although both mechanisms are used by memes. (See MEME, MEME COMPLEX, MEMETICS) (MP)


MENDEL, GREGOR: Mendel, Johann - Given the name Gregor when he took the monastic vows in 1843. The so-called father of modern genetics for his experiments in the 19th Century on genetic segregation in peas. (DM)

MENDELIAN DISORDERS: In the pattern of inheritance there is a definite pattern of gene distribution hwere lateration of a single gene may lead to disorder with possible risk to relatives. A dominent gene inheritance with a 50% genetic risk to offspring of an affected person, is a frequent inheritance pattern in this group. The occurrence of new genetic mutations means that a significant proportion of such individuals may not have a family history of the condition, though their offspring will still be at high risk. E.g. Polycystic kidney disease. There could be late onset disorders following "recessive" inheritance E.g. haemochromatosis. (JA)

MENDELIAN GENETICS: Classical method of observing inheritance of a trait(s) in the offspring of crosses between individuals differing in that trait(s); results in accordance with Mendel's laws. (DM)

MENGELE, JOSEPH: (1911-1979) Known as the "Angel of Death". Mengele served as physician at the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and it was there that he conducted many horrifying experiments on living human beings. At the time of his enrollment at Munich University, the Nazi party already had a large presence in the German parliament. Mengele submitted his application to the Nazi party in 1937, after having absorbed an ideology of euthanasia and "purification" of race. He was admitted to the SS in 1938, after having been cleared of any suspicion of having Jewish ancestry, and received his medical degree the same year. He served as doctor of Auschwitz from May 1943 to January of 1945. His deepest obsession in his experimentation was with twins, because he was convinced that they held the key to genetic secrets. For this reason, he sought out Jewish twins in the camp for his experiments. The experiments themselves involved exposing the human body to extreme cold, high pressure, low pressure, etc., and he even injected dye into eyes to check the possibility of changing eye color in this manner. In addition to his general contempt for the subjects of his experiments, he deliberately chose Jewish holidays as dates of selecting his victims. When the Russian troops began to near the camp in January of 1945, Mengele fled. He was captured by the Americans and concealed his SS past. He managed to escape because he had switched his identity papers with his friend, Frizt Ulmann. Mengele fled Europe for Argentina, and later moved to Paraguay. In 1979, Mengele drowned. In 1985, his bones were exhumed. These were examined and proven to be his remains. (AG)

MEN'S BUSINESS: 1. Australian colloquialism used by members of "men’s liberation movement" 2. Australian Aboriginal term referring to male cultural life in general, or to secrets of male initiates only. The first stage of initiation is a ceremony which marks the beginning of life as an adult and establishes a young man’s responsibility to their family and group while also learning about men’s spiritual secrets and matters of law. Some parts of the ceremonies can be seen by men, women, children and outsiders, but other aspects are secret, with only other initiated men taking part. The initiates are marked by a permanent sign on the body to demonstrate that they are now responsible caring sharing adults. After their initiation boys travel around their country with an elder or teacher to gradually learn about the land, its sacred sites and other matters. Men's business can be seen as the Aboriginal equivalent of Latin terms Mens legis - the mind of the law; that is, the purpose, spirit, or intention of a law or the law generally, and Mens legislatoris - the intention of the law-maker. (See TOTEMISM, WOMEN'S BUSINESS). (IP)

MENTAL COMPETENCE OR CAPACITY: The ability to understand the nature and effects of the act in which a person is engaging; such as the transaction of a particular contract or will or giving permission for the performance of a particular test or medical procedure. (See INFORMED CONSENT, MENTAL INCOMPETENCE). (IP)



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