On banned words at the CDC.

I would like to offer an invitation and a challenge. I have a fairly broad level of scientific literacy, an MA in applied linguistics, and a PhD in creative writing. If the Trump administration thinks it can ban the CDC from using the words vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based, I will happily offer my assistance in revising scientific papers to the most accurate and preferably devastating effect possible. By forcing researchers to work around these words, the responsible government officials are requiring the affected scientists to unpack them. This will work out better for the researchers than for the administration, and I intend to help.

Every word that the federal government has banned can be worked around. Here are a few examples that come immediately to mind:

  • “Vulnerable”: If a certain disease is more common in vulnerable populations, this can be phrased as something along the lines of “This condition may occur in populations typically deprived of ~~” or “…populations lacking such necessities as ~~~”
  • “Entitlement”: If this is intended as a way of keeping researchers from talking about social-welfare matters, then something like “public benefit, such as Social Security or SSDI,” followed by a fact-based comparison of how the US compares to other countries that are still civilized.
  • “Diversity”: Instead of saying “as a part of the CDC’s diversity efforts,” something along the lines of “as a part of the CDC’s mission to be as inclusive as possible to minority groups who have traditionally experienced discrimination, such as ~~”
  • “Transgender”: “Trans men and women” or “trans people.”
  • “Fetus”: How about the British spelling, “foetus”? Or the more scientific “embryo”?
  • “Evidence-based” and “science-based”: These are actually the easiest. “Based on all available evidence,” “Based on the science,” “Based on research,” “Based on evidence gathered from multiple studies,” and so on.

What you will see here is that if you unpack the terms that educated people have taken for granted, sometimes to the extent that the implicit messages have gotten lost, the meaning is actually more troublesome for the regime. It’s more specific, more accurate, and more problematic in its exposure of underlying truths.

Here’s the part where I say how I really feel. I detest what is happening in the USA, and I despise the Trump administration. As a gay man, I am in one of the groups they would like to eradicate. As an alumnus of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, I have a respectable network of scientists, health-care professionals, attorneys, and government officials, more so than I would otherwise normally prefer to let on. I may not live there, but most of the people I care about in this world still do. Here’s the part where I step up and stare these fascist imbeciles down. My personal email address is articulate dot ink at gmail dot com. If you are in the CDC and affected by this, and would like informed, scientifically literate assistance from someone who is qualified to help, I can either assist or put you in touch with people who can.

This bullshit will not stand. I am in a position to do something about it. Here is my sincere offer to help.

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