Pharyngula

What’s the matter with M.D.s?

Take a look at this interesting discussion of a recent PLoS article in which publications in medical journals are reluctant to use the word “evolution”:

According to a report released last week in PLoS Biology, when medical journals publish studies about things like antibiotic resistance, they avoid using the “E-word.” Instead, antimicrobial resistance is (euphemistically, I suppose) said to “emerge,” “arise,” or “spread” rather than “evolve.”

This decision has consequences, too—popular press descriptions of the work then tend to avoid using the word “evolution”, too. This is exactly the kind of run-around that allows kooks like Phil Skell to claim that modern biology doesn’t actually need evolution (although, truth be told, Skell is so looney that he claims papers on evolutionary biology that use observations of fossils or gene frequencies don’t really need evolutionary theory).

Of course, what this is all about is really just to have an opportunity to tweak the noses of the good doctors here at Scienceblogs, like Orac and Revere and Charles and Craig—what’s wrong with these M.D.s? Are they poorly educated, cowardly, or do the granting agencies or journal publishers actually pressure them to avoid ‘controversial’ words?

There is some degree of seriousness to the question. This habit has effects; what can we do to correct it?