Here’s an annoying case of political correctness run amuck.
The shortlist of 10 genes -Â including radical fringe, lunatic fringe and, bizarrely, Indian hedgehog –Â was compiled in response to physicians’ worries about “inappropriate, demeaning and pejorative” names.
The problem arose because most of the genes were initially discovered in fruitflies, and their names were then transferred to the human versions of the genes, which were discovered later…when applied to the human versions of the genes, many of these names become uncomfortable.
While no one wants to curtail the creativity of fruitfly geneticists, it will be important to ensure that, in the future, no joky names are adopted for human genes where they might cause offence. Other quirky names in the fruitfly genome include headcase and mothers against decapentaplegia (MAD).
Darn prissy physicians. They’ve got no sense of humor. Will they try to rename one-eyed pinhead next? How about half baked? The zebrafish geneticists are just as amusing, you know.
I’d like to know what the physicians are concerned about, anyway. It’s not as if they’re going to be informing patients that their illness is caused by a broken frizzled gene, nor is it going to be somehow better or easier if they rename it “Wnt Receptor X-17” or something similarly dry and empty. I hope whoever started this knows a good proctologist who can do a stick-ectomy.
And seriously, there ought to be something like the priority rules of taxonomy to prevent random gomers from running around changing names just because they don’t like them.