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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 8, 2021

Good, bad and ugly genes? Science matters, also in terms of terminology and word usage

  • Claus-Christian Carbon EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Psychology


Our words shape our thinking, our thinking creates action. Scientific terms can be particularly influential when used in everyday language in terms of allegedly scientific arguments that back certain views or actions. Such use can be especially toxic when the terms refer to concepts that are ill-defined, outdated or questionable themselves. The term “good genes” represents an exemplary case in this regard. It refers to the belief system of eugenics and implies a moral perspective. The latest political debates demonstrate how easily such terms and concepts are employed to induce racist thinking and action; in the end it may even result in specific medication, selective investment in medical treatment, and so ultimately impacting the life and death of patients. Science has the obligation to explicitly opt-out from such lines of argument, and to routinely check and re-think its theories, concepts and vocabulary.


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Received: 2020-10-22
Accepted: 2021-04-01
Published Online: 2021-05-08

© 2021 Claus-Christian Carbon, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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