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Espírito Natalino: Doe para o [email protected]

Alguns teóricos da conspiração acham que Jesus era um ET e a estrela de Belém era um UFO. Já outros conspiracionistas creem firmemente que Jesus nunca existiu. OK, também tem aqueles que acham que Jesus era filho de Maria com um soldado romano. E, por que não, ele poderia ser um viajante do tempo também! Bom, eu sei que você tem que escolher entre alguma das teorias (e dizer por que a sua é melhor que a do vizinho), mas em todo caso, com espírito Natalino, doe para o…

SETI@home
 

 


Winter 2012
Dear OsameKinouchi:In 2012, Americans spent more than $6 billion on political campaigns. (That’s 15,000 times the annual [email protected] budget). And during the presidential campaign, none of the candidates mentioned [email protected] even once.

That’s OK. We understand that SETI isn’t a federal priority, and that no flood of federal dollars will be headed our way. But we hope that we’re still one of your priorities. [email protected] and the rest of the Berkeley SETI projects depend on your donations in order to keep going.

If you’ve already donated this fall, we thank you. If you haven’t, or if you liked the process so much you’d do it again, please consider making a donation by going to this link:

http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/sah_donate.php

We promise we won’t spend it on commercials.

– Eric Korpela, [email protected] Project Scientist

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Em Alfa Centauri B, planeta com massa igual à da Terra

Acredito que o Paradoxo de Fermi tem um poder heurístico ainda inexplorado. Ou seja, o Paradoxo pode ser usado como evidência (a ser explicada) contra possibilidades ou especulações científicas tais como Inteligência Artificial, Viagens por Túneis de Minhoca ou Máquinas do Tempo. Ele estabelece afirmações de impossibilidade similares ao enunciado da segunda lei da Termodinâmica em termos de impossibilidade de se criar uma máquina do Moto Perpétuo.

Por exemplo, seja R(t) o raio de detecção de civilizações extraterrestres, ou seja, um raio (que depende do tempo) no qual nossa tecnologia é capaz de detectar tais civilizações. Podemos afirmar a partir desse conceito que não existe nenhuma civilização mais avançada que a nossa em um raio menor que R(t), dado que ela teria tido tempo de nos detectar e possivelmente nos colonizar.

Por outro lado, seja R_c o raio de colonização da civilização galática mais próxima do Sol e seja D a distância entre o centro dessa civilização e o Sol. Pelo Paradoxo de Fermi (“Onde está todo mundo?”), podemos concluir que D > R_c, a menos que o processo de colonização não seja descrito por uma difusão simples mas sim por uma difusão anômala, talvez fractal, de modo que a Terra se situa dentro de uma bolha vazia, não colonizada. Sendo assim, podemos concluir que não existem civilizações avançadas próximas de nós.

Também podemos prever que não estamos em uma região típica da Galáxia (em termos de densidade de planetas habitáveis). O mais provável é que estamos em uma região atípica (similar ao Deserto do Saara aqui na Terra) onde os planetas habitáveis e habitados são raros.  Ou seja, eu posso prever com algum grau de confiança que o telescópio Kepler vai detectar uma distribuição de planetas atípica (em termos de massa, distância da estrela central, presença na zona habitável da estrela – onde é possível haver água líquida etc.). Ou seja, vai ser muito difícil achar nas proximidades do Sol um planeta tipo Terra, situado na zona habitável de uma estrela mais velha que o Sol, pois tal planeta possivelmente seria habitado e sua civilização já teria  tido um monte de tempo para nos colonizar. 

Por outro lado, podemos usar o Paradoxo de Fermi para eliminar a possibilidade de Inteligencia Artificial Forte Auto-reprodutiva (sondas de Von Newman ou Monolitos Negros do filme 2010). Se tais sondas fossem factíveis de serem criadas, elas estariam já aqui.

Bom, a alternativa à todos esses argumentos baseados no Paradoxo de Fermi é que eles realmente já estão aqui: podemos elaborar todo tipo de raciocínio conspiratório à la Arquivo X para tentar justificar a pergunta básica de porque os ETs, se realmente existem, não entram em contado conosco. Uma hipótese menos conspiratória seria que eles são antropólogos bonzinhos que já aprenderam que toda civilização inferior é destruída ou no mínimo absorvida culturalmente, pela civilização superior após um contato (Hipótese Zoo).

Finalmente, o Paradoxo de Fermi aumenta o ceticismo em relação à viagens com velocidade superluminal, warp drives etc. E uma versão temporal do Paradoxo pergunta: se é possível construir máquinas do tempo, onde estão os visitantes temporais? 

17/10/2012 – 05h05

Pesquisadores encontram planeta vizinho que é gêmeo da Terra

SALVADOR NOGUEIRA
COLABORAÇÃO PARA A FOLHA

É provavelmente a notícia mais esperada desde que o primeiro planeta fora do Sistema Solar foi descoberto, em meados dos anos 1990. Finalmente foi encontrado um planeta que tem praticamente a mesma massa da Terra.

E a grande surpresa: ele fica ao redor de Alfa Centauri, o conjunto estelar mais próximo do Sol. Read more [+]

Ação e reação na manutenção de crenças

How facts backfire

Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains

By Joe Keohane July 11, 2010

It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it? Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger. This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds.

The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper. “The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote. Continua…

Será que eu sou um conspiracionista?

27/06/2010-07h45
Supremo israelense liberta 30 pais de alunas de escola ultra-ortodoxa

27/06/2010-08h32
Primeira-ministra australiana anuncia imigração mais restritiva

26/06/2010-14h38
Políticos da Flórida preparam projeto similar a lei anti-imigração do Arizona

26/06/2010-05h19
Governo britânico quer limitar provisoriamente número de imigrantes

25/06/2010-18h23
Análise: Golpe de Estado em Honduras completa um ano sem pôr fim à crise

25/06/2010-10h31
Sanções da ONU deixarão Irã mais unido e resistente, diz líder religioso

25/06/2010-07h06
Popular apresentador americano expõe teoria conspiratória anti-Petrobras

17 obras + 1 livro e Frete Grátis – por apenas R$ 94,90





Escrito em algum momento do ano 2000, ver aqui:


Ok, vocês acham que eu exagero nesse negócio de futura onda obscurantista… Tá certo, vou maneirar com isso daqui para a frente. Mas lembrem-se, eu participo de círculos de discussão que vocês não participam, leio aquilo que vocês não lêem, e avalio um movimento social pela sua derivada temporal, capacidade de crescimento exponencial, potencial epidêmico, não pelo seu estado atual. Vocês se comportam como os meus aturdidos amigos da Teologia da Libertação quando eu os avisei em 1982 que o Movimento Carismático e os Evangélicos Pentecostais iriam varrê-los do mapa.

Mas se a tal onda vier, lembrem-se: “I told you, damned fools!”


ANDREA MURTA
DE WASHINGTON

PUBLICIDADE

A Petrobras caiu no centro de uma teoria conspiratória da ultradireita americana sobre o vazamento de petróleo no golfo do México, parte de uma cadeia de elos “suspeitos” que vai do megainvestidor George Soros até lucros oportunistas com a tragédia ambiental nos EUA.

O apresentador Glenn Beck, do canal a cabo Fox News, um ultraconservador adorado por reacionários, gastou seu programa na segunda-feira para explicar aos seus mais de 2 milhões de telespectadores tudo o que há de errado com a “malvada Petrô-bas” (como pronuncia o nome da estatal).

Ele sugere que a grande conspiração envolvendo Soros e a Petrobras tem a ver com o vazamento de petróleo na plataforma da BP.

O título do programa era “Crime SA: Petrobras”. O grande problema parece ser o que Beck vê como “oportunidade” de aumento do valor da estatal brasileira.

A Casa Branca decretou moratória na exploração de petróleo em alto-mar nos EUA (atualmente suspensa pela Justiça), enquanto a Petrobras continua fazendo suas perfurações e dando lucros a investidores “maléficos” como Soros.

É preciso grande dose de boa vontade para fazer as conexões sugeridas, tão complicadas que o apresentador precisa de uma intrincada cadeia riscada a giz num quadro-negro para explicar tudo.

Beck começa dizendo que fundos de Soros investiram em 2009 US$ 900 milhões [R$ 1,6 bilhões] na Petrobras. Pouco depois, os EUA fizeram compromisso de empréstimo de US$ 2 bilhões [cerca de R$ 3,5 bilhões] à empresa para ajudá-la a perfurar em alto-mar.

Para Beck, não é coincidência — Soros sabia que o dinheiro sairia devido a suas conexões com a Casa Branca.
Esse empréstimo já levantara polêmica em 2009, e o Exim Bank (de estímulo a exportações) dos EUA soltou nota afirmando que o dinheiro era um adiantamento para a Petrobras comprar material de indústrias americanas e será devolvido com juros.

As “conexões” e outros lucros potenciais da Petrobras com o vazamento também foram alvo de sites como “O Futuro do Capitalismo”, FrontPageMazine e Investors.com. “Daqui a pouco vamos importar petróleo do Brasil”, alerta o último.

Beck prefere partir para o ataque. “Nós não podemos perfurar, porque a Terra e [o ex-vice-presidente e ambientalista] Al Gore estão tendo ondas de calor”, diz. “Mas o Brasil é louco: gosta de biquínis fio dental e perfuração profunda.”

O perigo do conspiracionismo

O fenômeno do Conspiracionismo precisa ser encarado e estudado de forma mais séria pelos sociólogos (e talvez jornalistas). Eu acredito que, longe de ser um fenômeno marginal ou humorístico (feito por chatoletes e xaropetas, como diria minha namorada), o Conspiracionismo é um sintoma de profunda crise social. Explico a seguir.

Embora os diversos conspiracionismos (ou denialismos, digo negacionismos, Takata!) defendem teses contraditórias, por exemplo, que “A ida do Homem à Lua é uma farsa mas os cientistas escondem” versus “A Apolo XI observou UFOs mas os cientistas escondem”, ou ainda “Jesus nunca existiu mas os historiadores escondem” versus “Jesus teve uma filha com Maria Madalena mas os historiadores escondem” versus “Jesus morreu na Cachemira mas os historiadores escondem”, todos possuem uma base comum: o questionamento da autoridade dos scholars ou intelectuais. Sem esquecer o Criacionismo de Terra Jovem versus o Criacionismo de Terra Velha, onde os cientistas escondem que a Evolução é uma farsa. Ou seja, o Conspiracionismo é um sintoma de anti-intelectualismo.

Esse anti-intelectualismo, por outro lado, é um sintoma do questionamento da autoridade social (não é a toa que a maior parte das teorias conspiratórias tiveram origem na década de 60). Infelizmente, embora a extrema esquerda também seja conspiracionista, em termos de posicionamento político, o conspiracionismo atualmente é dominado por extremistas de direita, em particular anarquistas de extrema direita como os Libertarians americanos.

Assim, entre os conspiracionismos mais atuantes, está o negacionismo do Holocausto e o conspiracionismo da Nova Ordem Mundial (patrocinada por judeus via Protocolos dos Sábios de Sião etc). Mesmo na Ufologia existe uma teoria difundida de que os UFOs seriam aeronaves nazistas vindas de Agharta (situada na Terra Oca) e que um dia irão instaurar o IV Reich? Você duvida da Terra Oca e dos UFOs? É porque os cientistas, mancomunados com a ONU, escondem esse fato.

Sem querer cair falácia da Redução ao Nazismo, eu gostaria de propor que o ator social do Conspiracionismo é o mesmo dos Conspiracionistas Nazistas da década de 20-30: jovens machos pequeno-burgueses com educação universitária mediana (sem doutorado), suficientemente articulados para defenderem suas teses mas que sentem grande frustração social por não possuírem poder e influência intelectual. Esses jovens machos precisam, para sua própria afirmação social, questionar a autoridade dos machos adultos. Em volta deles atuam teóricos de uma geração anterior, que possuem agendas políticas bem definidas mas ocultas (e conspiratórias?).

Sendo assim, em vez de inutilmente ficar “debatendo” com conspiracionistas , cientistas e céticos deveriam focar esse movimento com um olhar sociológico: deve-se perceber que o alvo do conspiracionismo de direita é a ruptura da teia de autoridade social, representada pela Ciência, História, Política, Religião etc. a fim de instaurar uma Nova Ordem Mundial Facista (ops, estou caindo no conspiracionismo, mas vá lá!).

Infelizmente, o vírus do conspiracionismo está no ar e mesmo o movimento cético, cujo propósito inicial era desconstruir as teses conspiracionistas, têm recentemente enveredado por caminhos negacionistas (desde que alinhados com sua filosofia particular). Um exemplo claro pode ser encontrado no debate entre ateus extremistas (vulgo “chateus”) no blog do Reinaldo Lopes sobre a Teoria do Cristo Mítico, uma teoria conspiratória e pseudocientífica rejeitada pela comunidade de históriadores e scholars mas que cada vez mais, como um meme parasítico, tem contaminado as mentes de tantos autoproclamados racionalistas… Muito triste!

The New Scientist Debates Denialism

Category: DenialismGeneral DiscussionGlobal Warming DenialismHIV/AIDS denialismHolocaust Denial
Posted on: May 24, 2010 6:00 AM, by
MarkH

Luckily they don’t make the mistake of actually debating denialists. The feature of last weeks issue, “Age of Denial” is a series of articles by skeptics and one laughable rebuttal, discussing the nature of denialism and tactics to use against it. They do quite a good job covering the basics, starting with Deborah MacKenzie and her article “Why Sensible People Reject the Truth“:

Whatever they are denying, denial movements have much in common with one another, not least the use of similar tactics (see “How to be a denialist”). All set themselves up as courageous underdogs fighting a corrupt elite engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the truth or foist a malicious lie on ordinary people. This conspiracy is usually claimed to be promoting a sinister agenda: the nanny state, takeover of the world economy, government power over individuals, financial gain, atheism. … All denialisms appear to be attempts like this to regain a sense of agency over uncaring nature: blaming autism on vaccines rather than an unknown natural cause, insisting that humans were made by divine plan, rejecting the idea that actions we thought were okay, such as smoking and burning coal, have turned out to be dangerous.

Here she has it exactly right. Denialism starts with ideology, which most of us possess to some degree or another, and a conflict between that ideology and reality – at least so far as science allows us to understand it. In order to regain control of one’s beliefs, and protect them from being challenged, one has to prove that the science is wrong. And that requires one to believe in some form of non-parsimonious conspiracy theory, after all, how else could it be that science has come up with such an answer if not for the concerted malfeasance of thousands of individuals, all working together to undermine the TRUTH?

Further she cites these as tactics of denialists:

How to be a denialist Martin McKee, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who also studies denial, has identified six tactics that all denialist movements use. “I’m not suggesting there is a manual somewhere, but one can see these elements, to varying degrees, in many settings,” he says (The European Journal of Public Health, vol 19, p 2). 1. Allege that there’s a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence. 2. Use fake experts to support your story. “Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility,” says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut. 3. Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited. 4. Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts. 5. Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man. 6. Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature. Insist “both sides” must be heard and cry censorship when “dissenting” arguments or experts are rejected.

Sound familiar? That’s because McKee cites us in his paper. We’ll forgive her for not identifying the original source, after all McKee gives the credit.

She does get a few things wrong, likely due to her unfamiliarity with just how absurd some denialists are. For instance when she says:

The first thing to note is that denial finds its most fertile ground in areas where the science must be taken on trust. There is no denial of antibiotics, which visibly work. But there is denial of vaccines, which we are merely told will prevent diseases – diseases, moreover, which most of us have never seen, ironically because the vaccines work.

This is demonstrably false, as we have encountered denialists who do deny the efficacy of antibiotics and all of Western medicine, as their particular ideology requires them to believe in the primacy of religion (Christian Science, New Age Nonsense) or in the magical properties of nature. She goes on to describe the work of our good colleague Seth Kalichman and the good things he’s done to fight HIV/AIDS denialism. Overall, a good summary of the problem. I also like how she stays non-judgmental and reflects on how pseudoscience is ultimately a complement to science:

This is not necessarily malicious, or even explicitly anti-science. Indeed, the alternative explanations are usually portrayed as scientific. Nor is it willfully dishonest. It only requires people to think the way most people do: in terms of anecdote, emotion and cognitive short cuts. Denialist explanations may be couched in sciency language, but they rest on anecdotal evidence and the emotional appeal of regaining control.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, this certainly applies to pseudoscience. After all pseudoscience is a reflection of the authority science has as the arbiter of truth. If being on the right side of science wasn’t so important, cdesign proponentsists and global warming denialists wouldn’t fight so hard to warp it to fit their ideology, and by doing so, implicitly seek its approval.

Jim Giles contributes an interesting article on an example of how a lie travels twice around the world before the truth gets its boots on with Unleashing a Lie, but then the series gets a bit more problematic with the contributions of noted skeptic Michael Shermer (also anerstwhile global warming denialist and persistent libertarian) and an amusing counterpoint from the otherwise wonderful Michael Fitzpatrick, a British GP who fights the good fight against autism quackery.

Starting with Michael Shermer, who ostensibly flipped back from the dark side of denialism with his 2006 piece The Flipping Point, but who, I imagine due to his well-known libertarian ideals, inspired by Ayn Rand no less, still seems to reject the need for any kind of top-down societal change to address the problem. In recent writings – in particular his “5 questions”he still seems to be playing the same game (not to mention promoting the work) of Bjorn Lomborg. Admit global warming is real, sure, but deny we should do anything about it. Or certainly nothing difficult or requiring sacrifice. This is the well-known minimalization approach common to libertarians who “accept” the science. This is the strategy of the Lomborgians and the scam of the Copenhagen consensus, admit the problem exists, just minimize its significance, blow the costs out of proportion and create a consensus from a minority of like-thinkers. Shermer also clearly still has warm feelings for Rand even if he’s rejected Randians as being a creepy cult. His recent work the mind of the market, is primarily lauditory of the free-market solves-all view of things, and these hints and others suggest the ideological source of his problems with the theory. And even though he’s come around (very late I might add) to accept the science of AGW, you can tell he’s still sore about being once labeled a denier:

Though the distinction between scepticism and denial is clear enough in principle, keeping them apart in the real world can be tricky. It has, for example, become fashionable in some circles for anyone who dares to challenge the climate science “consensus” to be tarred as a denier and heaved into a vat of feathers. Do you believe in global warming? Answer with anything but an unequivocal yes and you risk being written off as a climate denier, in the same bag as Holocaust and evolution naysayers.

What is so interesting is that Shermer clearly gets denialism and the problem ideology plays in its promulgation:

Denial is different. It is the automatic gainsaying of a claim regardless of the evidence for it – sometimes even in the teeth of evidence. Denialism is typically driven by ideology or religious belief, where the commitment to the belief takes precedence over the evidence. Belief comes first, reasons for belief follow, and those reasons are winnowed to ensure that the belief survives intact.

In particular his baloney detection tool kit ends with the question “is the idea being promoted fueled by personal belief?” While I think it’s wonderful that he’s came around about 40 years after the science, I think he still has to own up to the fact that his rejection of the science, perfectly strong science in the 1990s and 2000s, was due to anything but his ideology. There wasn’t a new piece of data that arrived in 2006 to change him, just, according to him, Al Gore’s presentation of it that finally worked to change him. Why would a true skeptic reject the scientists and the IPCC only to convert after seeing the Vice President give a TED talk? I think it likely was easy to be skeptic given his distaste for the environmental movement and the perceived infringement on individual liberties that environmental regulation entails. It is also still questionable if his support for Lomborg and the other libertarian minimizers doesn’t represent that he hasn’t just morphed his denial into a new strategy that admits the science is real then happily undermines any of its significance. Anyway, that’s too much time trying to get into someone else’s head, but I’d be happier if Shermer, who is a leader in promoting true skepticism, could just say, “yes I was being irrational”, after all, that’s the whole point of what real skeptics are trying to achieve and what we are trying to achieve with denialism blog. That is, explaining the fact that even very smart, highly skeptical people can be tricked into thinking irrational things when reality conflicts with their ideology. It’s not that denialists are stupid, it’s that they’re irrational and can’t face changing certain core ideals or overvalued ideas that conflict with reality. Given his continued support for Lomborg and falling for his slight-of-hand I’m not sure he’s out of the woods yet on this issue.

Secondly, the denialism rebuttal, by noted autism quack-fighter Michael Fitzpatrick misses the point, and oddly channels some of the classic crank arguments against the very notion of denialism in his article, “Questioning Science Isn’t Blasphemy“. Note the offhand Gallileo Gambit in the title, in fact, that’s little more than the entire argument:

THE epithet “denier” is increasingly used to bash anyone who dares to question orthodoxy. Among other things, deniers are accused of subordinating science to ideology. In his book Denialism: How irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives, for example, Michael Specter argues that denialists “replace the rigorous and open-minded scepticism of science with the inflexible certainty of ideological commitment”.

How ironic. The concept of denialism is itself inflexible, ideological and intrinsically anti-scientific. It is used to close down legitimate debate by insinuating moral deficiency in those expressing dissident views, or by drawing a parallel between popular pseudoscience movements and the racist extremists who dispute the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Isn’t it telling that the only argument against using the terminology of denialism is an irrational Galileo Gambit, and completely missing the point? We’re not shutting down debate, or censoring anyone, or even insinuating moral deficiency. Quite the opposite, we’re showing how even well-meaning smart people fall for irrational arguments and try to describe which arguments aren’t worth listening to or accepting as legitimate. Denialism is not actual healthy debate, it’s the art of creating the appearance of a debate when facts are settled. Recognizing denialism is just recognizing that some tactics are flawed, and that their use does not represent actual healthy debate. Clearly some denialists aren’t honest brokers in a debate, but the fact is a lot of people fall for and use these arguments simply because they don’t know better. And until everyone understands what represents healthy debate and logical arguments, little progress will be made in advancing legitimate scientific views against the nonsense being peddled by the HIV/AIDS denialists, the autism/vaccine cranks, and AGW denialism. Every success I’ve ever had in changing someone’s mind on these topics has been in explaining how the denialists have twisted facts and relied on conspiracies to promote nonsense. And I have these arguments with good, smart people. I’ve argued AGW once with a surgeon and an anesthesiologist during a case, I’ve gotten into it in bars with the tipsy and opinionated. And usually, if I explain the origins of the opposition (see Naomi Oreskes work on this), factually explain the science, and explain the common canards like global cooling, warming has stopped, etc., I usually close the deal when you explain how absurd the denialists’ conspiracy theory ultimately is.

As philosopher Edward Skidelsky of the University of Exeter, UK, has argued, crying denialism is a form of ad hominem argument: “the aim is not so much to refute your opponent as to discredit his motives”. The expanding deployment of the concept, he argues, threatens to reverse one of the great achievements of the Enlightenment – “the liberation of historical and scientific inquiry from dogma”.

How very cranky, sound like someone is feeling oppressed? All denialism is is a description of a flawed but common type of argument. Here the author suggests that calling flawed arguments flawed will bring the enlightenment to a screeching halt, and we will have a new dark age of scientific orthodoxy being filtered down from our evil leader, Al Gore. Not likely.

Dr. Fitzpatrick seems to think the problem of denialism is caused by a scientific establishment that is too slow to respond when denialist arguments rear their ugly heads, he cites Duesberg and Wakefield as examples:

Both Duesberg and Wakefield were reputable scientists whose persistence with hypotheses they were unable to substantiate took them beyond the limits of serious science. Though they failed to persuade their scientific peers, both readily attracted supporters, including disaffected scientists, credulous journalists, charlatans, quacks and assorted conspiracy theorists and opportunist politicians.

In both cases, scientists were dilatory in responding, dismissing the movements as cranks and often appearing to believe that if they were ignored they would quietly disappear. It took five years before mainstream AIDS scientists produced a comprehensive rebuttal of Duesberg. Though child health authorities were alert to the threat of the anti-vaccine campaign, researchers were slow to respond, allowing it to gather momentum.

Social psychologist Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut in Storrs mounts a typical defence of this stance in his book Denying Aids: Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and human tragedy. According to Kalichman, denialists often “cross the line between what could arguably be protected free speech”. He justifies suppression of debate on the feeble grounds that this would only legitimise the deniers and that scientists’ time would be better spent on research.

Such attempts to combat pseudoscience by branding it a secular form of blasphemy are illiberal and intolerant. They are also ineffective, tending not only to reinforce cynicism about science but also to promote a distrust for scientific and medical authority that provides a rallying point for pseudoscience.

As Skidelsky says, “the extension of the ‘denier’ tag to group after group is a development that should alarm all liberal-minded people”. What we need is more debate, not less.

I’m not sure exactly what he’s arguing here. Is labeling bogus tactics of argument fascist? Should we create a science PR wing that rises to meet all these challenges? We already have a private version of such a thing with folks like Orac and Ben Goldacre, but your average researcher is usually completely unaware of the pseudoscientists out there causing harm. In the case of HIV/AIDS denial in South Africa, the body count from this harm can be counted in the hundreds of thousands and the debate over the cause of AIDS is long over. The damage by Mbeki and others occurred a decade after scientists in an organized way addressed Duesberg’s bogus ideas and he still kept at it! At what point do we call these poisonous ideas what they are and stop acting like more talk fixes the problem? And what else do you call arguments that rely on conspiracy and cherry-picking and fake experts, logical fallacies and constantly moving goalposts? At a certain point you have to stop acting like you’re facing an honest broker and explain that your opponent isn’t even arguing anymore, because denialism isn’t debate. It’s just rhetorical parlor tricks, a performance designed to confuse and spread doubt where there should be none. If you don’t point out to people how not to fall for the crank arguments these arguments will continue to have resonance and work on the uninitiated (and even on seasoned skeptics like Shermer).

This whole argument reeks of false persecution to me. Fitzpatrick argues we should keep playing cards with a trick deck. At some point you have to point out the cheats for what they are. It’s not suppressing debate, it’s defining what legitimate debate is and refusing to engage unless we’re agreeing to use the same set of facts. If the denialists have a problem with that the solution is simple. Stop alleging idiotic conspiracy theories. Stop cherry picking and moving the goalposts. Stop making things up. When you stop acting like a denialist, you’ll stop being called one.

É mesmo preciso ver para crer?


Bom, provavelmente estas fotos do Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter vão colocar uma pá de cal nas teorias conspiratórias sobre as Apollos.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon’s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks.

The satellite reached lunar orbit June 23 and captured the Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. Though it had been expected that LRO would be able to resolve the remnants of the Apollo mission, these first images came before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. Future LROC images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.


Como eu dizia para o Takata, os físicos estão acostumados neutrinos, buracos negros e planetas extra-solares, de modo que “ver para crer” é substituido por “evidências indiretas mais teoria plausível são suficientes para crer”.

Bem-aventurados aqueles que não viram e creram na Apollo 11…


E a Apolo 12?

Foto: Bean, Surveyor 3 and the LM Intrepid (ao fundo) (NASA).

Vai chegando o dia 20 de julho e o pessoal da teoria de conspiração ganha espaço nos jornais. Agora, todos os argumento contra a possibilidade da viagem da Apollo 11 também deveriam ser válidos para a Apollo 12, que desceu na Lua apenas quatro meses depois (19 de novembro de 1969).
Alguns dados que eu não conhecia:

The second lunar landing was an exercise in precision targeting, using a Doppler Effect radar technique developed to allow the pinpoint landings needed for future Apollo missions.[4] Most of the descent was automatic, with manual control assumed by Conrad during the final few hundred feet of descent. Unlike Apollo 11 where Neil Armstrong took partial control of the lander and directed it further down range when he noticed that the intended landing site was strewn with boulders, Apollo 12 succeeded, on November 19, in landing within walking distance (less than 200 meters) of its intended target – the Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967.

To improve the quality of television pictures from the Moon, a color camera was carried on Apollo 12 (unlike the monochrome camera that was used on Apollo 11). Unfortunately, when Bean carried the camera to the place near the lunar module where it was to be set up, he inadvertently pointed it directly into the Sun, destroying the vidicon tube. Television coverage of this mission was thus terminated almost immediately.

Conrad and Bean removed pieces of the Surveyor 3, to be taken back to Earth for analysis. It is claimed that the common bacterium Streptococcus mitis was found to have accidentally contaminated the spacecraft’s camera prior to launch and survived dormant in this harsh environment for two and a half years.[6] However, this finding has since been disputed: see the article Reports of Streptococcus mitis on the moon.

Uma coisa que não entendo: por que Stanley Kubrick, que certamente também estava fazendo a filmagem falsa da Apollo 12, não substituiu a camera colorida a fim de permitir a cobertura por televisão. E por que fazer um relatório sobre a possível sobrevivência de bactérias na camera da Surveyor 3 dado que a camera também é falsa (pois os astronautas não a trouxeram). E além do mais, quem disse que a Surveyor 3 existiu? Não é tudo falso?


São esses pequenos detalhes que fazem as conspirações se afundarem. Mas eu tenho a minha própria teoria da conspiração:


Os teóricos da conspiração são agentes implantados pela CIA para diversionismo. Toda a alta tecnologia necessária para a viagem para a Lua estava disponivel pois foi roubada dos ETs de Roswell, inclusive os computadores quânticos. Ao querer negar que o homem foi à Lua, os conspiracionistas querem na verdade negar todo o Arquivo X!



Michael Jackson não morreu?

Tenho encontrado pessoas sensatas que acreditam que os cientistas do vôo 447 não tenham sido abduzidos e que Armstrong realmente pisou na Lua em 1969. Mas acreditar que Michael Jackson realmente morreu é um esforço demasiado para essas pessoas.
Aqui está a prova final de que MJ realmente morreu: seu fantasma induziu a formação de uma imagem na gordura seca de um assado de carne em Lageado – RS. Contra provas não há argumentos!
A família de Edison Mayer, de Lajeado (RS), teve uma surpresa ao deixar a louça para o dia seguinte: a gordura seca formou uma imagem semelhante a do cantor Michael Jackson, morto na semana passada aos 50 anos. O fato curioso aconteceu no último sábado após a família prepara uma carne assada.