Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cultural history colors thought about bioethics, evolution

Date:
February 21, 2010
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Popularized ideas about evolution assume that some human groups are more evolved than other human groups. These cultural views of evolution can have important ethical implications, says an expert on theological and biomedical ethics.

Cultural views of evolution can have important ethical implications, says a Duke University expert on theological and biomedical ethics. Because the popular imagination filters science through cultural assumptions about race, cultural history should be an essential part of biomedical conversations.

Related Articles


Amy Laura Hall, associate professor of Christian ethics at Duke University, argues that many popularized ideas about evolution assume that some human groups are more evolved than other human groups.

"I believe that evolutionary biology, as depicted in the popular press, too often uncritically reinforces ideas about race that privilege white, Western bodies and cultures. I see this at work today in new arguments for paternalism in Haiti, for example" says Hall, who participated on a panel at the AAAS annual meeting called "Genetics and Ethics: Different Views on the Human Condition" on February 17.

The panel of scholars from the fields of genetics and theology will focus on how genetics and its medical applications are communicated to the general public.

Hall's current research looks at ways evolutionary biology is conveyed in the popular media. She cites examples of television documentaries about evolution that portray human evolution commencing in Africa, using images of dark-skinned people "almost as living icons" to represent humanity at our genesis. "When evolution is depicted as an upward slope, those representing the origin are also often perceived as the nadir," she says.

Hall is looking at how these popular portrayals are reinforced in recent media coverage of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, coverage that she says depicts Haitians as more primal and less developed, and how this may influence relief efforts that are more paternalistic in nature.

"In order to seek more collaborative, less hierarchical models of international engagement or relief work, we need to discuss head-on the racist ways evolutionary biology has become dispersed," she says.

"In order to collaborate, you have to consider your potential collaborators as adults, rather than as people further down a slope of human development, thus assuming a kind of tacit paternalism," says Hall, whose training is as a moral theologian.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Cultural history colors thought about bioethics, evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143154.htm>.
Duke University. (2010, February 21). Cultural history colors thought about bioethics, evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143154.htm
Duke University. "Cultural history colors thought about bioethics, evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143154.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins