What is Normal?


"Biology is politics by other means, and it also generates reliable information about the empirical world." 
- Sandra Harding

The biological sciences both tell us facts about the natural world and weaves this information into stories about nature that informs how we perceive ourselves and our environmentFor example, the concept of "Normal" (and thus, what is not normal) shapes virtually every aspect of our lives. But, what exactly is normal and how has our metric for normal changed over time? How does this affect our (social) construction of biological knowledge (e.g. mental illness or disability)? As an undergraduate student in Scott Gilbert's History & Critique of Biology course at Swarthmore College, I collaborated on a companion piece to his Developmental Biology textbook which explored these questions. 

Cho, M., M. Cohen, S. Sistla. 2003. What is a “Normal” Phenotype? DevBio: A Companion to Developmental Biology. Sinauer Associates. Edited by Scott F. Gilbert and Emily Zacki.