Category: Neologism

“Retard” and other disability-insults.

| May 21, 2011 | 7 Replies
“Retard” and other disability-insults.

The word “retard” possessed dual meanings for a long time. First used as a term for intellectual disability in 1788, the word took on a pejorative sense in the 1970s. For thirty years the two meanings curiously co-existed. Universities had “Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability” Departments and students who drunkenly called one another ‘retards’ for lobbing bad beer-pong balls, and the two existed in tandem.

But once medical and social service experts finally disavowed the word ‘retard’, it vanished from official usage with amazing swiftness. The Special Olympics ceased using the ‘r-word’ in 2004, initiating the trend. In 2006, the (former) American Association of Mental Retardation changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

By 2008, Special Olympics turned the abolishment of ‘retard’ into a full-time effort and launched R-word.org. The site protested the derogatory use of ‘retard’ (including a protest campaign against the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, which featured a lengthy discussion on ‘retard’ roles in film). Special Olympics and R-word.org also pushed for their fellow disability-service organizations to drop the term.

In 2010, ‘retard’ was legally banished from the professional lexicon. On October 5 of last year, Obama signed “Rosa’s Law”, which banned the use of “retard” in all federal health, education, and labor policy. “Intellectual disability” and “developmental disability” became the approved nomenclature. Non-federal organizations followed hastily: in Ohio, Google directs you to the “Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities“, but the website itself has already been scrubbed of the R-word(even if the url still has the dreaded ‘r’ in it).

It’s official: ‘retard’ has no place in formal usage. Once a medical term for someone with an intellectual disability, it lives now only as an insult. One that means, roughly, unintelligent.

Like moron, which began as medical terminology for one with a mental age of 8 to 12.

Or imbecile, which meant ‘a mental age of 6 to 9‘.

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NOMA is a Myth?

| November 13, 2010 | 8 Replies
NOMA is a Myth?

A FaceBook friend just shared a post called The Myth of Separate Magisteria that argues that Steven Jay Gould’s premise of Non-Overlapping Magisteria is flawed.

He argues,

“One might as well say that conflict arises between men and women only when they stray onto each other’s territories and stir up trouble. Science produces discoveries that challenge long-held beliefs (not only religious ones) based on revelation rather than evidence, and the religious must decide whether to battle or accommodate secular knowledge if it contradicts their teachings.

I usually claim NOMA when pressed on whether Science can disprove God. The realms of revelation vs. evidence can be kept separate as long as religion keeps stepping back as verifiable research claims ever more territory.

Scientific understanding will keep stepping on religions skirts until the faithful stick to claims that can only be held on faith, and stop claiming “truth” about things for which there is contradictory evidence.

God is a fuzzy and non-falsifiable idea. Science will never disprove God. But it has disproved most of what the Bible claims about God’s involvement in nature, the Earth, and the Universe.

So these ways of looking at the universe do overlap, until such time as the weaker one bows out of the territory. As with the flat Earth, the Sin theory of gravity, the God’s Pillars principle of Earthquakes, God’s Wrath principle of extreme weather, the Geocentric universe, the Young Earth, and so on.

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Another neologism needed

| June 30, 2010 | Reply
Another neologism needed

I’m looking for a single word to capture this attitude, perhaps an entirely new word:

I really appreciate that you’re doing important task for me without any compensation. I don’t know anyone else capable of doing it at all, and it’s miraculous that you are doing it at all, and doing it this quickly, but could you please do even faster? And could you do it more often? But thank you so very much!

Bald Machiavellian compliments, just enough compliments and pleasantries to keep the volunteer going . . .

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