Arquivo da tag: Acusação

People tend to blame fate when faced with a hard decision (Science Daily)

Date: February 19, 2014

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Summary: We tend to deal with difficult decisions by shifting responsibility for the decision to fate, according to new research. Life is full of decisions. Some, like what to eat for breakfast, are relatively easy. Others, like whether to move cities for a new job, are quite a bit more difficult. Difficult decisions tend to make us feel stressed and uncomfortable — we don’t want to feel responsible if the outcome is less than desirable. New research suggests that we deal with such difficult decisions by shifting responsibility for the decision to fate.

Life is full of decisions. Some, like what to eat for breakfast, are relatively easy. Others, like whether to move cities for a new job, are quite a bit more difficult. Difficult decisions tend to make us feel stressed and uncomfortable — we don’t want to feel responsible if the outcome is less than desirable. New research suggests that we deal with such difficult decisions by shifting responsibility for the decision to fate.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Fate is a ubiquitous supernatural belief, spanning time and place,” write researchers Aaron Kay, Simone Tang, and Steven Shepherd of Duke University. “It exerts a range of positive and negative effects on health, coping, and both action and inaction.”

Kay, Tang, and Shepherd hypothesized that people may invoke fate as a way of assuaging their own stress and fears — a way of saying “It’s out of my hands now, there’s nothing I can do.”

“Belief in fate, defined as the belief that whatever happens was supposed to happen and that outcomes are ultimately predetermined, may be especially useful when one is facing these types of difficult decisions,” they explain.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers capitalized on a current event of considerable significance: the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

They conducted an online survey with 189 participants and found that the greater difficulty participants reported in choosing between Obama and Romney (e.g., “both candidates seem equally good,” “I am not sure how to compare the candidates’ plans”), the more likely they were to believe in fate (e.g., “Fate will make sure that the candidate that eventually gets elected is the right one”).

In a second online survey, the researchers actually manipulated participants’ decision difficulty by making it harder to distinguish between the candidates.

Participants read real policy statements from the two presidential candidates — some read quotes from the candidates that emphasized the similarities in their policy positions, others read quotes that emphasized the differences.

As predicted, participants who read statements that highlighted similarities viewed the decision between the candidates as more difficult and reported greater belief in fate than the participants that read statements focused on differences.

“The two studies presented here provide consistent and converging evidence that decision difficulty can motivate increased belief in fate,” write Kay and colleagues.

The researchers note that these findings raise additional questions that still need to be answered.

For example, do people invoke fate when they have to make decisions that are personally but not societally significant, such as where to invest money? And are we just as likely to invoke luck or other supernatural worldviews when faced with a difficult decision?

“Belief in fate may ease the psychological burden of a difficult decision, but whether that comes at the cost of short-circuiting an effective decision-making process is an important question for future research,” the researchers conclude.

Journal Reference:

  1. S. Tang, S. Shepherd, A. C. Kay. Do Difficult Decisions Motivate Belief in Fate? A Test in the Context of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election.Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613519448

Blame, Responsibility and Demand for Change Following Floods (Science Daily)

Nov. 25, 2012 — New research shows concerns about governmental failure to act effectively and fairly in the aftermath of extreme weather events can affect the degree to which residents are willing to protect themselves.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the findings of a team led by scientists at the University could prove key to establishing how society should evolve to cope with more turbulent weather and more frequent mega storms.

The team examined attitudes in Cumbria in north west England and Galway in western Ireland, which were both hit by heavy flooding in November 2009. Record rainfall was recorded in both countries, resulting in a number of deaths, properties being severely damaged and economic disruption.

Professor Neil Adger of Geography at the University of Exeter, who led the research, said: “The flooding of 2009 was devastating to both communities. Our study is the first to track the impacts of floods across two countries and how communities and individuals demand change after such events. When people in both studies felt that government had fallen short of their expectations, we found that the resulting perception of helplessness leads to an unwillingness to take personal action to prevent flooding in future.”

Scientists at the University of Exeter worked with colleagues at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, which also provided funding for the study.

Researchers surveyed 356 residents in both areas eight months after the flooding. They measured perceptions of governments’ performances in dealing with the aftermath, as well as perceptions of fairness in that response and the willingness of individuals to take action.

Dr Irene Lorenzoni of the Tyndall Centre comments: “Residents in Galway were significantly more likely to believe that their property would be flooded again than those in Cumbria. Yet it was Cumbrians who believed they had more personal responsibility to adapt to reduce future incidents.

“Whether people felt responses were fair also diverged. In our survey in Cumbria three quarters of respondents agreed that everyone in their community had received prompt help following the flooding, while in Galway it was less than half.”

Dr Conor Murphy of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth said: “The strong perception in Galway that authorities failed to deliver on the expectations of flooded communities in late 2009 is a wakeup call. Given the high exposure of development in flood prone areas it is clear that both England and Ireland need to make major investments in building flood resilience with changing rainfall patterns induced by climate change. Political demand for those investments will only grow.”

Professor Adger says: “Our research shows that climate change is likely to lead to a series of crises which will cause major disruption as instant short-term solutions are sought. We need to consider the implicit contract between citizens and government agencies when planning for floods, to enable fairer and smoother processes of adaptation.”

Journal Reference:

  1. W. Neil Adger, Tara Quinn, Irene Lorenzoni, Conor Murphy, John Sweeney. Changing social contracts in climate-change adaptationNature Climate Change, 2012; DOI:10.1038/nclimate1751

Ghana aims to abolish witches’ camps (The Christian Science Monitor)

For years, Ghanaians have banished women from their villages who were suspected of witchcraft. Now, Ghana is trying to ban this practice.

By Clair MacDougall, Correspondent / September 15, 2011

Ghanaian leaders and civil society groups met in the nation’s capital, Accra earlier this week to develop a plan to abolish the witches’ camps in the northern region, where over a thousand women and children who have been accused of sorcery are currently living in exile.

Deputy Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba said the ministry would be doing everything that it could to ensure the practice of families and neighbors banishing women from communities whom they suspected of being witches is abolished by developing legislation that would make it illegal to accuse someone of being a witch and gradually closing down camps and reintegrating women back into their communities.

“This practice has become an indictment on the conscience of our society,” Ms. Gariba said at the conference called Towards Banning “Witches” Camps. “The labeling of some of our kinsmen and women as witches and wizards and banishing them into camps where they live in inhuman and deplorable conditions is a violation of their fundamental human rights.”

Supreme Court Justice Rose Owusu also said that the practice violated numerous clauses in section 5 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution. That section protects human rights and outlaws cultural practices which “dehumanize or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a person.” Ms. Owusu also called for the development of new legislation to outlaw the camps and the practice.

The witch camps of Ghana’s north

There are currently around 1,000 women and 700 children living in 6 of the witches’ camps in Ghana’s northern region.

Many of them are elderly women who have been accused of inflicting death, misfortune, and calamity on their neighbors and villages through sorcery, witchcraft, or “juju,” a term used throughout West Africa.

The women enjoy a certain degree of protection within these camps, located some distance from their communities in which they could be tortured, beaten to death, or lynched, but the conditions of the camps are often poor. The “accused witches,” as they are sometimes referred to, live in tiny thatched mud huts, and have limited access to food and must fetch water from nearby streams and creeks.

Forced to flee

An elderly woman named Bikamila Bagberi who has lived in Nabule witch camp in Gushegu a district in the Northern Region for the past 13 years, told the story of how she was forced to leave her village. Dressed in a headscarf, faded T-shirt, and cotton skirt, Ms. Bagberi spoke softly with her head bowed as a district assemblyman translated for the conference delegates.

Bagberi’s nephew, her brother-in-law’s son, had died unexpectedly and after the village soothsayer said she caused the death of the child her family tried make her confess to murdering him through sorcery. She said that when she refused she was beaten with an old bicycle chain, and later her nephew’s family members rubbed Ghanaian pepper sauce into her eyes and open wounds.

When asked whether she could return back to her village she said the family couldn’t bring her back into the community because of the fear that she will harm others. Bagberi said she expected to spend the rest of her life in the camp.

Catalyst for action

Human rights groups have been campaigning for the closure of the witches’ camps since the 1990s, but have had little success in abolishing the practice of sending women suspected of witchcraft into exile, in part because of lack of political will and the pervasiveness of the belief in witchcraft throughout Ghana. But the brutal murder of 72-year-old Ama Hemmah in the city of Tema in Novermber of last year, allegedly by six people, among them a Pentecostal pastor and his neighbors who are accused of dousing her with kerosene and setting her alight, caused public outrage and made headlines across the world. Since Hemmah’s death, opinion pieces and articles about the issue have featured in Ghana’s major newspapers, along with feature stores on local news programs.

Emmanuel Anukun-Dabson from Christian Outreach Fellowship, a group working with the accused witches at the Nabule camp and one of the organizers of the conference, suggested that a broader cultural shift needed to take place if the camps were to be abolished.

“In Ghana, we know that when a calamity happens or something befalls a family or a community the question is not what caused it, but rather who caused it?” Anukun-Dabson said. “We are a people who do not take responsibility for our actions; rather we find scapegoats and women are the targets.”

Chief Psychiatrist of Ghana’s Health Services Dr. Akwesi Osei, who spearheaded the conference, argued that a public awareness campaign on psychological disorders, dementia, and the mental and behavioral changes associated with menopause might help the public understand behaviors and perceived eccentricities that are often associated with witchcraft.

Belief in witchcraft and supernatural powers is common throughout Ghana, and Africa countries and is often encouraged by pastors who preach in the nation’s many charismatic churches. Supernatural themes and sorcery also feature strongly in Ghanaian and West African films and television programs.

Deputy Minister Gariba has called for another meeting to develop a more concrete road map and said that the National Disaster Management Organisation would be providing the witches’ camps with water tanks and additional food supplies.

Joojo Eenstua, another organizer of the camp who works with Christian Outreach Fellowship at Nabule, said the conference marked a new era in activism on the issue and believed that significant changes and improvements to the livelihoods of the women and children living in these witches camps would follow.

“There is more public awareness than before and there is more political will and momentum around this issue,” Ms. Eenstua says.

Shooting the messenger (The Miami Herald)

Posted on Monday, 08.29.11

Texas Gov. Rick Perry stirred up controversy on the campaign trail recently when he dismissed the problem of climate change and accused scientists of basically making up the problem.

As a born-and-bred Texan, it’s especially disturbing to hear this now, when our state is getting absolutely hammered by heat and drought. I’ve got to wonder how any resident of Texas – and particularly the governor who not so long ago was asking us to pray for rain – can be so cavalier about climate change.

As a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, I can also tell you from the data that the current heat wave and drought in Texas is so bad that calling it “extreme weather” does not do it justice. July was the single hottest month in the observational record, and the 12 months that ended in July were drier than any corresponding period in the record. I know that climate change does not cause any specific weather event. But I also know that humans have warmed the climate over the last century, and that this warming has almost certainly made the heat wave and drought more extreme than it would have otherwise been.

I am not alone in these views. There are dozens of atmospheric scientists at Texas institutions like Rice, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M, and none of them dispute the mainstream scientific view of climate change. This is not surprising, since there are only a handful of atmospheric scientists in the entire world who dispute the essential facts – and their ranks are not increasing, as Gov. Perry claimed.

And I can assure Gov. Perry that scientists are not just another special interest looking to line their own pockets. I left a job as an investment banker on Wall Street in 1988 to go to graduate school in chemistry. I certainly didn’t make that choice to get rich, and I didn’t do it to exert influence in the international arena either.

I went into science because I wanted to devote my life to the search for scientific knowledge. and to make the world a better place. That’s the same noble goal that motivates most scientists. The ultimate dream is to make a discovery so profound and revolutionary that it catapults one into the pantheon of the greatest scientific minds of history: Newton, Einstein, Maxwell, Planck, etc.

This is just one of the many reasons it is inconceivable for an entire scientific community to conspire en masse to mislead the public. In fact, if climate scientists truly wanted to maximize funding, we would be claiming that we had no idea why the climate is changing – a position that would certainly attract bipartisan support for increased research.

The economic costs of the Texas heat wave and drought are enormous. The cost to Texas alone will be many billion dollars (hundreds of dollars for every resident), and these costs will ripple through the economy so that everyone will eventually pay for it. Gov. Perry needs to squarely face the choice confronting us; either we pay to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, or we pay for the impacts of a changing climate. There is no free lunch.

Economists have looked at this problem repeatedly over the last two decades, and virtually every mainstream economist has concluded that the costs of reducing emissions are less than the costs of unchecked climate change. The only disagreement is on the optimal level of emissions reductions.

I suppose it should not be surprising when politicians like Gov. Perry choose to shoot the messenger rather than face this hard choice. He may view this as a legitimate policy on climate change, but it’s not one that the facts support.

Read more here.