Arquivo da categoria: semiótica

>Austrália reconhece pessoa sem sexo pela 1ª vez (BBC Brasil)

BBC Brasil – 15 de março de 2010

Foto: Norrie foi registrado homem ao nascer mas tentou trocar de sexo.

Uma pessoa que mora na Austrália pode ser a primeira no mundo reconhecida oficialmente como não pertencendo a nenhum dos sexos, segundo a imprensa australiana.

O governo do Estado de New South Wales emitiu uma certidão de “Gênero Não-Específico” a Norrie May-Welby. Isso significa que o governo não reconhece Norrie como homem ou mulher.

Norrie se considera andrógino e é ativista do grupo Sex and Gender Education (Sage, na sigla em inglês), que faz campanha por direitos de pessoas com diferentes identidades sexuais.

Norrie, de 48 anos, nasceu na Escócia e foi registrado como homem. Aos 23 anos, ele passou por um tratamento hormonal e cirurgias para mudar de sexo, e foi registrado na Austrália como mulher.

No entanto, Norrie ficou insatisfeito com a mudança e interrompeu seu tratamento, preferindo denominar-se “neutro”.

‘Gaiola’ dos gêneros

“Esses conceitos de homem e mulher simplesmente não se encaixam no meu caso, eles não são a realidade e, se aplicados a mim, são fictícios”, afirma Norrie em um artigo publicado no site The Scavenger na semana passada.

Norrie assina seu nome como “norrie mAy-Welby”, um trocadilho com “may well be”, que em inglês significa “pode ser”.

Em e-mail à BBC Brasil, Norrie comemorou a decisão do governo australiano. “Liberdade da gaiola do gênero!”, escreveu.

Segundo a notícia publicada no The Scavenger, os médicos declararam em janeiro deste ano que não conseguiram determinar o sexo de Norrie – nem fisicamente nem em função do seu comportamento.

A certidão de gênero não-específico foi dada de acordo com uma recomendação de 2009 de um relatório da Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Austrália, segundo o portal. A certidão foi publicada na capa do jornal australiano Sydney Morning Herald.

Uma porta-voz da Procuradoria do governo da Austrália disse ao jornal que esta foi a primeira certidão do tipo.

A porta-voz do Sage, Tracie O’Keefe, disse ao Scavenger que a decisão tem impacto importante na vida de pessoas que não se identificam nem como homens ou mulheres.

Em entrevista ao jornal britânico Daily Telegraph, o porta-voz do grupo britânico Gender Trust, que ajuda pessoas com problemas de identidade sexual, saudou a decisão do governo de New South Wales.

>Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate (N. Y. Times)

New York Times, March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — For months, climate scientists have taken a vicious beating in the media and on the Internet, accused of hiding data, covering up errors and suppressing alternate views. Their response until now has been largely to assert the legitimacy of the vast body of climate science and to mock their critics as cranks and know-nothings.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times.
Ralph J. Cicerone of the National Academy of Sciences says scientists must try to be heard.

But the volume of criticism and the depth of doubt have only grown, and many scientists now realize they are facing a crisis of public confidence and have to fight back. Tentatively and grudgingly, they are beginning to engage their critics, admit mistakes, open up their data and reshape the way they conduct their work.

The unauthorized release last fall of hundreds of e-mail messages from a major climate research center in England, and more recent revelations of a handful of errors in a supposedly authoritative United Nations report on climate change, have created what a number of top scientists say is a major breach of faith in their research. They say the uproar threatens to undermine decades of work and has badly damaged public trust in the scientific enterprise.

The e-mail episode, dubbed “climategate” by critics, revealed arrogance and what one top climate researcher called “tribalism” among some scientists. The correspondence appears to show efforts to limit publication of contrary opinion and to evade Freedom of Information Act requests. The content of the messages opened some well-known scientists to charges of concealing temperature data from rival researchers and manipulating results to conform to precooked conclusions.

“I have obviously written some very awful e-mails,” Phil Jones, the British climate scientist at the center of the controversy, confessed to a special committee of Parliament on Monday. But he sharply disputed charges that he had hidden data or faked results.

Some of the most serious allegations against Dr. Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia, and other researchers have been debunked, while several investigations are still under way to determine whether others hold up.

But serious damage has already been done. A survey conducted in late December by Yale University and George Mason University found that the number of Americans who believed that climate change was a hoax or scientific conspiracy had more than doubled since 2008, to 16 percent of the population from 7 percent. An additional 13 percent of Americans said they thought that even if the planet was warming, it was a result solely of natural factors and was not a significant concern.

Climate scientists have been shaken by the criticism and are beginning to look for ways to recover their reputation. They are learning a little humility and trying to make sure they avoid crossing a line into policy advocacy.

“It’s clear that the climate science community was just not prepared for the scale and ferocity of the attacks and they simply have not responded swiftly and appropriately,” said Peter C. Frumhoff, an ecologist and chief scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We need to acknowledge the errors and help turn attention from what’s happening in the blogosphere to what’s happening in the atmosphere.”

A number of institutions are beginning efforts to improve the quality of their science and to make their work more transparent. The official British climate agency is undertaking a complete review of its temperature data and will make its records and analysis fully public for the first time, allowing outside scrutiny of methods and conclusions. The United Nations panel on climate change will accept external oversight of its research practices, also for the first time.

Two universities are investigating the work of top climate scientists to determine whether they have violated academic standards and undermined faith in science. The National Academy of Sciences is preparing to publish a nontechnical paper outlining what is known — and not known — about changes to the global climate. And a vigorous debate is under way among climate scientists on how to make their work more transparent and regain public confidence.

Some critics think these are merely cosmetic efforts that do not address the real problem, however.

“I’ll let you in on a very dark, ugly secret — I don’t want trust in climate science to be restored,” Willis Eschenbach, an engineer and climate contrarian who posts frequently on climate skeptic blogs, wrote in response to one climate scientist’s proposal to share more research. “I don’t want you learning better ways to propagandize for shoddy science. I don’t want you to figure out how to inspire trust by camouflaging your unethical practices in new and innovative ways.”

“The solution,” he concluded, “is for you to stop trying to pass off garbage as science.”

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious scientific body in the United States, said that there was a danger that the distrust of climate science could mushroom into doubts about scientific inquiry more broadly. He said that scientists must do a better job of policing themselves and trying to be heard over the loudest voices on cable news, talk radio and the Internet.

“This is a pursuit that scientists have not had much experience in,” said Dr. Cicerone, a specialist in atmospheric chemistry.

The battle is asymmetric, in the sense that scientists feel compelled to support their findings with careful observation and replicable analysis, while their critics are free to make sweeping statements condemning their work as fraudulent.

“We have to do a better job of explaining that there is always more to learn, always uncertainties to be addressed,” said John P. Holdren, an environmental scientist and the White House science adviser. “But we also need to remind people that the occasions where a large consensus is overturned by a scientific heretic are very, very rare.”

No scientific body is under more hostile scrutiny than the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which compiles the climate research of hundreds of scientists around the globe into periodic reports intended to be the definitive statement of the science and a guide for policy makers. Critics, citing several relatively minor errors in its most recent report and charges of conflict of interest against its leader, Rajendra K. Pachauri, are calling for the I.P.C.C. to be disbanded or radically reformed.

On Saturday, after weeks of refusing to engage critics, the I.P.C.C. announced that it was asking for the creation of an independent panel to review its research procedures to try to eliminate bias and errors from future reports. But even while allowing for some external oversight, Dr. Pachauri insisted that panel stood behind its previous work.

“Scientists must continually earn the public’s trust or we risk descending into a new Dark Age where ideology trumps reason,” Dr. Pachauri said in an e-mail message.

But some scientists said that responding to climate change skeptics was a fool’s errand.

“Climate scientists are paid to do climate science,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, a senior climatologist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. “Their job is not persuading the public.”

He said that the recent flurry of hostility to climate science had been driven as much by the cold winter as by any real or perceived scientific sins.

“There have always been people accusing us of being fraudulent criminals, of the I.P.C.C. being corrupt,” Dr. Schmidt said. “What is new is this paranoia combined with a spell of cold weather in the United States and the ‘climategate’ release. It’s a perfect storm that has allowed the nutters to control the agenda.”

The answer is simple, he said.

“Good science,” he said, “is the best revenge.”

>Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets (N. Y. Times)

New York Times, March 3, 2010

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Photo: Bud Craft/Legislative Research Commission, via Associated Press. “Our kids are being presented theories as though they are facts,” said State Representative Tim Moore of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The bill, which has yet to be voted on, is patterned on even more aggressive efforts in other states to fuse such issues. In Louisiana, a law passed in 2008 says the state board of education may assist teachers in promoting “critical thinking” on all of those subjects.

Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.

Oklahoma introduced a bill with similar goals in 2009, although it was not enacted.

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week.

“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” the resolution said, “but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life.”

The measure made no mention of evolution, but opponents of efforts to dilute the teaching of evolution noted that the language was similar to that of bills in other states that had included both. The vote split almost entirely along partisan lines in both houses, with Republican voting for it and Democrats voting against.

For mainstream scientists, there is no credible challenge to evolutionary theory. They oppose the teaching of alternative views like intelligent design, the proposition that life is so complex that it must be the design of an intelligent being. And there is wide agreement among scientists that global warming is occurring and that human activities are probably driving it. Yet many conservative evangelical Christians assert that both are examples of scientists’ overstepping their bounds.

John G. West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a group that advocates intelligent design and has led the campaign for teaching critiques of evolution in the schools, said that the institute was not specifically promoting opposition to accepted science on climate change. Still, Mr. West said, he is sympathetic to that cause.

“There is a lot of similar dogmatism on this issue,” he said, “with scientists being persecuted for findings that are not in keeping with the orthodoxy. We think analyzing and evaluating scientific evidence is a good thing, whether that is about global warming or evolution.”

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.

“Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

Not all evangelical Christians reject the notion of climate change, of course. There is a budding green evangelical movement in the country driven partly by a belief that because God created the earth, humans are obligated to care for it.

Yet there is little doubt that the skepticism about global warming resonates more strongly among conservatives, and Christian conservatives in particular. A survey published in October by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that white evangelical Protestants were among those least likely to believe that there was “solid evidence” that the Earth was warming because of human activity.

Only 23 percent of those surveyed accepted that idea, compared with 36 percent of the American population as a whole.

The Rev. Jim Ball, senior director for climate programs at the Evangelical Environmental Network, a group with members who accept the science of global warming, said that many of the deniers feel that “it is hubris to think that human beings could disrupt something that God created.”

“This group already feels like scientists are attacking their faith and calling them idiots,” he said, “so they are likely to be skeptical” about global warming.

State Representative Tim Moore, a Republican who introduced the bill in the Kentucky Legislature, said he was motivated not by religion but by what he saw as a distortion of scientific knowledge.

“Our kids are being presented theories as though they are facts,” he said. “And with global warming especially, there has become a politically correct viewpoint among educational elites that is very different from sound science.”

The evolution curriculum has developed far more than instruction on climate change. It is almost universally required in biology classes, while the science of global warming, a newer topic, is taught more sporadically, depending on the interest of teachers and school planners.

But interest in making climate change a standard part of school curriculum is growing. Under President Obama, for example, the Climate Education Interagency Working Group, which represents more than a dozen federal agencies, is making a strong push toward “climate literacy” for teachers and students.

State Representative Don Kopp, a Republican who was the main sponsor of the South Dakota resolution, said he acted in part because “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary film on global warming starring Al Gore, was being shown in some public schools without a counterweight.

The legal incentive to pair global warming with evolution in curriculum battles stems in part from a 2005 ruling by a United States District Court judge in Atlanta that the Cobb County Board of Education, which had placed stickers on certain textbooks encouraging students to view evolution as only a theory, had violated First Amendment strictures on the separation of church and state.

Although the sticker was not overtly religious, the judge said, its use was unconstitutional because evolution alone was the target, which indicated that it was a religious issue.

After that, said Joshua Rosenau, a project director for the National Center for Science Education, he began noticing that attacks on climate change science were being packaged with criticism of evolution in curriculum initiatives.

He fears that even a few state-level victories could have an effect on what gets taught across the nation.

James D. Marston, director of the Texas regional office of the Environmental Defense Fund, said he worried that, given Texas’ size and centralized approval process, its decision on textbooks could have an outsize influence on how publishers prepare science content for the national market.

“If a textbook does not give enough deference to critics of climate change — or does not say that there is real scientific debate, when in fact there is little to none — they will have a basis for turning it down,” Mr. Marston said of the Texas board. “And that is scary for what our children will learn everywhere.”

>An unconventional way to combat petty corruption (The Economist)

Fighting corruption in India
A zero contribution
An unconventional way to combat petty corruption

Jan 28th 2010 | From The Economist print edition
5th Pillar

A ZERO-SUM game is one in which the gains of one player are exactly balanced by the losses of another. In India a local non-governmental organisation has invented a new sort of zero sum which, it hopes, will leave everyone better off: the zero-rupee note.

What on earth is the point of that? The note is not legal tender. It is simply a piece of paper the colour of a 50-rupee note with a picture of Gandhi on it and a value of nothing. Its aim is to shame corrupt officials into not demanding bribes.

The idea was dreamt up by an expatriate Indian physics professor from the University of Maryland who, travelling back home, found himself harassed by endless extortion demands. He gave the notes to the importuning officials as a polite way of saying no. Vijay Anand, president of an NGO called 5th Pillar, thought it might work on a larger scale. He had 25,000 zero-rupee notes printed and publicised to mobilise opposition to corruption. They caught on: his charity has distributed 1m since 2007.

One official in Tamil Nadu was so stunned to receive the note that he handed back all the bribes he had solicited for providing electricity to a village. Another stood up, offered tea to the old lady from whom he was trying to extort money and approved a loan so her granddaughter could go to college.

Mr Anand thinks the notes work because corrupt officials so rarely encounter resistance that they get scared when they do. And ordinary people are more willing to protest, since the notes have an organisation behind them and they do not feel on their own. Simple ideas like this don’t always work. When India’s government put online the names of officials facing trial for corruption, the list became a convenient guide for whom to bribe. But, says Fumiko Nagano of the World Bank, transforming social norms is the key to fighting petty corruption and the notes help that process. They are valueless, but not worthless.

>UCLA study proves [sic] looking at photo of loved one reduces pain

By Tima Vlasto
November 14, 5:12 AM – NY Holistic Science & Spirit Examiner –

According to a recent study by UCLA psychologists, looking at a photo, holding the hand or even just thinking of a loved one will reduce pain.

The study which appeared in the November 2009 issue of the Journal Psychological Science, involved 25 women who received a moderately painful heat stimulus on their forearms while they looked at either a photo of their loved one, a stranger or a chair.

“When the women were just looking at pictures of their partner, they actually reported less pain to the heat stimuli than when they were looking at pictures of an object or pictures of a stranger,” said study co-author Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. “Thus, the mere reminder of one’s partner through a simple photograph was capable of reducing pain.”

“This changes our notion of how social support influences people,” she added. “Typically, we think that in order for social support to make us feel good, it has to be the kind of support that is very responsive to our emotional needs. Here, however, we are seeing that just a photo of one’s significant other can have the same effect.”

During the second part of the study, each woman either held the hand of her partner, the hand of a male stranger or a squeeze ball. The study again found that holding their partner’s hand reduced their pain more so than when they held a stranger’s hand or squeeze ball.

Another interesting study, by Arizona State University, published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 49, No. 1, 100-113 in January 2009, Imaginal Relationships with the Dead, explored the benefits of imaginal relationships with deceased loved ones. Through the analysis of experts, interviews with the elderly and research on LexisNexis; they found that imagining conversations with the deceased was “common, normal and therapeutic. The therapeutic benefits included: feeling cared for and loved, experiencing resolution of grief and relationship conflicts, and experiencing increased confidence in problem solving and decision making.”

Of course, we may not have needed a study to prove this; the photographs we hold in our wallets and Flickr pages, the family photos that adorn our walls, tables and desks, should be proof enough. Even the imaginal relationships with the dead must obviously have some therapeutic effect, considering almost every culture and faith in the world, from the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Africans, Chinese, Indians and Christians have references to relationships with their loved ones and ancestors that have passed on.

The UCLA study did demonstrate once again how our social ties (whether with the living or the dead) support our well-being: physically, mentally and spiritually.

UCLA’s advice: “the next time you are going through a stressful or painful experience, if you cannot bring a loved one with you, a photo may do.”


Uma parte de mim
é todo mundo:
outra parte é ninguém:
fundo sem fundo.

Uma parte de mim
é multidão:
outra parte estranheza
e solidão.
Uma parte de mim
pesa, pondera:
outra parte

Uma parte de mim
almoça e janta:
outra parte
se espanta.

Uma parte de mim
é permanente:
outra parte
se sabe de repente.

Uma parte de mim
é só vertigem:
outra parte,

Traduzir uma parte
na outra parte
— que é uma questão
de vida ou morte —
será arte?

Ferreira Gullar
Poema do livro Na Vertigem do Dia (1975-1980)

>Duelo de Titãs


O que é rebelde à explicação não é próprio, como tal, para servir de explicação.”
Claude Lévi-Strauss, Totémisme
Mas se você diz: ‘Como posso saber o que ele quer dizer, se eu não vejo nada além dos sinais que ele fornece?’, então eu digo: ‘Como pode ele saber o que ele quer dizer, se ele não possui nada além dos sinais igualmente?
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, section 504