When names have become long-established through extensive usage, prudence indeed will dictate caution in avoiding their use, even if by doing so one can avoid giving offense.

Clarity in scientific papers is hard enough to come by. Only confusion can reign if writers are to be enjoined from referring by name to the subjects of their work. Yet such prohibitions are precisely what Melvin Hunter proposes in his Opinion piece entitled "Racist Relics: An Ugly Blight On Our Botanical Nomenclature" in the Nov. 25, 1991, issue of The Scientist (page 13).

I think he can rest assured that, in this day and age, few would use terms such as "niggerhead" unless there was a pretty good reason. If such terms remain in use, it can mean only that to drop them would cause confusion.

Yet Hunter is not content. He goes so far as to attack the use of the...

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