Talk:Radiation poisoning (disambiguation)

Latest comment: 11 years ago by Ytrottier in topic Disambiguation
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Disambiguation edit

I think this should be a disambiguation page, because the term "radiation poisoning" has had fundamentally different definitions at different times in history, and it still means different things to different people. In the early twentieth century, it was used to describe the fate of Eben Byers and the radium girls who got radiation-induced cancer as a result of ingesting radioactive material. Following Hiroshima and Nagazaki, there was a great amount of public interest and education which shifted the popular language. Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) was clearly distinguished from cancer, and it was ascribed to toxins produced in the blood by radiation. Hence "radiation poisoning" came to mean exclusively ARS for the next four decades or so. But as this condition faded from importance in the public's mind, some laypersons started to use "radiation poisoning" for almost any of the health effects of radiation. Then the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko refocused the common meaning in many people's minds to the deliberate poisoning with radioactive materials, leading to ARS. Note that this is not quite the same thing as the original meaning which referred to accidents leading to cancer. And in the meantime, a minority have used the term to refer to the physical action of nuclear poisons.

Another editor contends that making this a disambiguation page would be a violation of WP:DABCONCEPT. Presumably he or she believes that "radiation poisoning" has a primary meaning as a broad concept capable of being described in an article. He has defined it as "any medical condition involving illness or death resulting from exposure to radiation." That comes close to the emerging definition at the end of the twentieth century, but I would argue that this is not currently the primary definition, and it was not the primary definition through most of the term's history. Perhaps we have a need for a conceptual page on the general health effects of radiation, but I don't think it belongs here. Most people looking for information on radiation poisoning have something more specific in mind, and we should provide a quick route to the article they want. I think it's relevant to look at the large number of pages that link to this one, most of which should be disambiguated directly to a more specific page.

So if we're to be purists, I think this should be a disambiguation page with the following four options:

Now the only problem with that is that two of those pages don't exist, and that's what led me to this pragmatic compromise, which was rejected. Can we work on a better way to structure this while still addressing my concerns above?--Yannick (talk) 02:24, 9 June 2012 (UTC)Reply

  • Aside from Neutron poison, which does not seem to generally be called "radiation poisoning" except perhaps by accident, all of these meanings are connected to the negative effects of radiation on living organisms. That is probably the broadest level of abstraction that this title could accommodate, but this is no more ambiguous than the various historical kinds of carbonated beverages are ambiguous to soft drink. Certainly it is not ambiguous in the way that Mercury is ambiguous to a planet, an element, a Roman god, and the lead singer of Queen; or that Phoenix is ambiguous to a mythical bird, an Arizona city, and a spacecraft. bd2412 T 03:04, 9 June 2012 (UTC)Reply
I agree with you point by point, but I don't feel you've acknowledged my concern. If you look at the pages that link to radiation poisoning, a lot of the editors apparently thought they were referring to something more specific than the negative effects of radiation on living organisms. This reflects usage outside of Wikipedia. So in a way, this is more like Coke than soft drink: in the southern US "Coke" refers to any soft drink, but that's not the primary meaning worldwide. So Coke disambiguates to soft drink, among other more specific meanings. Likewise, radiation poisoning is used by some to refer to any negative effect of radiation on living organisms (except, inconveniently, teratogenesis) but that's not the primary meaning worldwide. It is relatively unusual to see this term used in that broadest sense.--Yannick (talk) 03:32, 9 June 2012 (UTC)Reply
After looking at a few dictionaries and glossaries,[1] [2][3] I would say that the current primary meaning, if there is one, is ARS, which this page used to redirect to. Maybe we need to revert to that, and place a hatnote on ARS linking to radiation poisoning (disambiguation) with something closer to what I want?--Yannick (talk) 03:58, 9 June 2012 (UTC)Reply
Coke is not a disambiguation page because it is used as slang for multiple soft drinks, but because it is also the name of a material used in steel-making (which has no relationship to the soft drink at all, which is named for the coca plant, although that is no longer among its ingredients), and a number of notable people and places, also with no relation to the soft drink. If the soft drink uses were the only uses, then there would be no disambiguation page because those uses could be discussed within the article on the name brand soft drink. I would be amenable to moving this material to radiation poisoning (disambiguation) and restoring the original redirect as the primary meaning. bd2412 T 04:01, 9 June 2012 (UTC)Reply
Done. Thanks for the input.--Yannick (talk) 22:28, 10 June 2012 (UTC)Reply