The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Language Project is working hard to destroy the "colonialist" mindset that Western scientists are supposedly in by breaking down language that could be deemed to be offensive, according to The Times.
Instead of male and female, the research group wants people to use “sperm-producing” and "egg-producing" to avoid reinforcing "heteronormative views." Father and mother should be replaced with "parent," "egg donor" and "sperm donor" as well.
The mission written on the group's website states, "Amid a growing disciplinary commitment to inclusion in ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), it is critical to consider how the use of scientific language can harm members of our research community. To unite those of us working to revise harmful terminology in EEB, we introduce our grassroots, collective initiative called 'The EEB Language Project.'"
"Much of western science is rooted in colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, and these power structures continue to permeate our scientific culture," some of the project's members, who hail from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of California, wrote in a paper in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
The abstract of the February 6 paper states that this effort is "particularly important for redressing the ongoing marginalization of many groups in EEB, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities; and disabled communities; among others."
Other language deemed too offensive was included on the group's list of the top 24 "harmful terms."
According to the EEB Language Project, "primitive" and "advanced" shouldn't be used because they are used "derogatorily towards humans or human practices, and also scientifically inaccurate as implies an evolutionary hierarchy." The scientists recommended "ancestral" or "derived" instead.
"Survival of the fittest" is also now a bad term, due to its links to "eugenics, ableism and social Darwinism," the scientists said. "Natural selection" and "survival differences" were recommended in place of that phrase.
Despite their best efforts to change scientific language, some in the scientific community have said no.
In a statement to The Daily Telegraph, Professor Frank Furedi of the University of Kent said, "I think that when you characterize terms like male/female, mother/father as harmful you are abandoning science for ideological advocacy. Regardless of intent, the project of re-engineering language will cause confusion to many and the last thing that scientists need is a lack of clarity about the meaning of the words they use."
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