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terça-feira, outubro 06, 2009

Dawkins versus Wilson, e o jornalismo científico investigativo


Poucos jornalistas científicos e divulgadores de ciência fazer trabalho investigativo, ou seja, em vez de aceitar informações oficiais, tentam se aprofundar na questão das forças políticas presentes em um acontecimento científico ou universitário.

Estou desconfiado que esbarrei em um caso que necessitaria de jornalismo científico investigativo: a "aposentadoria" de Richard Dawkins da cátedra Charles Simonyi de Compreensão Pública da Ciência. Tem algo esquisito nessa história toda, que talvez só a paciência de um Roberto Takata poderia revelar.
Minha suspeita é que Dawkins "foi aposentado", em vez de se aposentar. E que isso tem a ver com os propósitos da cátedra, estipulados aqui, que Dawkins satisfazia em 1995 quando assumiu, mas não satisfazia mais em 2008 quando se aposentou (ou foi aposentado), a saber (grifos em vermelho refletem possíveis conflitos entre a atuação de Dawkins e o propósito original da Cátedra):
The chair is for 'Public Understanding of Science', so the holder will be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field rather than study the public's perception of the same. By 'public' we mean the largest possible audience, provided, however, that people who have the power and ability to propagate or oppose the ideas (especially scholars in other sciences and in humanities, engineers, journalists, politicians, professionals, and artists) are not lost in the process.
Here it is useful to distinguish between the roles of scholars and popularisers. The university chair is intended for accomplished scholars who have made original contributions to their field, and who are able to grasp the subject, when necessary, at the highest levels of abstraction. A populariser, on the other hand, focuses mainly on the size of the audience and frequently gets separated from the world of scholarship. Popularisers often write on immediate concerns or even fads. In some cases they seduce less educated audiences by offering a patronizingly oversimplified or exaggerated view of the state of the art or the scientific process itself. This is best seen in hindsight, as we remember the 'giant brains' computer books of yesteryear but I suspect many current science books will in time be recognized as having fallen into this category. While the role of populariser may still be valuable, nevertheless it is not one supported by this chair. The public's expectation of scholars is high, and it is only fitting that we have a high expectation of the public.
Understanding' in this instance should be taken a little poetically as well as literally. The goal is for the public to appreciate the order and beauty of the abstract and natural worlds which is there, hidden, layer-upon-layer. To share the excitement and awe that scientists feel when confronting the greatest of riddles. To have empathy for the scientists who are humbled by the grandeur of it all. Those in the audience who reach the understanding sufficient to reveal the order and beauty in science will also gain greater insight into the connectedness of science and their everyday life. Finally,' science' here means not only the natural and mathematical sciences but also the history of science and the philosophy of science as well. However, preference should be given to specialties which express or achieve their results mainly by symbolic manipulation, such as Particle physics, Molecular biology, Cosmology, Genetics, Computer science, Linguistics, Brain research, and, of course Mathematics.
The reason for this is more than a personal predilection. Symbolic expression enables the highest degree of abstraction and thence the utilization of powerful mathematical and data processing tools ensure tremendous progress. At the same time the very means of success tends to isolate the scientists from the lay audience and prevents the communication of the results. Considering the profoundly vital interdependence between the society at large and the scientific world, the dearth of effective information flow is positively dangerous. In order to accomplish the above goals, the appointees to the chair must have a pedagogical range that goes beyond the traditional university setting. They should be able to communicate effectively with audiences of all kinds and in different media. Above all, they must approach the public with the utmost candour. Naturally, they will interact with political, religious, and other societal forces, but they must not, under any circumstances, let these forces affect the scientific validity of what they say. Conversely, they should be also candid about the limits of scientific knowledge at any given time, and communicate the uncertainties, frustrations, scientifically perplexing phenomena, and even the failures in their area of expertise. Scientific speculation, when so labelled, and when the concept of speculation and its place in the scientific method has been made clear to the audience, can be very exciting. It is a very effective communication tool, and it is by no means discouraged.
Jornalistas cientificos investigativos, cadê vocês? A questão que coloco é: Dawkins se aposentou (aos 68 anos em vez de 70?) ou foi precocemente aposentado para dar lugar a um divulgador com mais "candura" e diálogo com as diferentes extratos da sociedade, inclusive religiosos? Investiguem, por favor!
Em todo caso, acho que preciso esclarecer por que tenho feito alguns posts críticos em relação a Richard Dawkins. Afinal, isso contrasta com minha defesa apaixonada desse autor em artigos anteriores como no "A Perturbadora Persistência do Determinismo Social". Estes esclarecimento são dirigidos à multidão de meus amigos que elevaram Richard Dawkins a uma espécie de santidade precoce, ou seja, a uma posição que não pode ou deve ser criticada pois "isso seria dar munição aos inimigos da razão e da ciência etc." Acho que Richard não quer e não merece ser canonizado dessa forma.

Acho que minhas principais críticas a Richard Dawkins são as seguintes (corrijam-me se estiver enganado):

Richard primeiro abandonou a pesquisa científica para se dedicar à divulgação científica, e depois abandonou (praticamente) a divulgação científica pela militancia ateísta. Nenhum reparo a ser feito nessa trajetória, afinal é uma opção de vida dela. O problema é que, já não sendo um cientista atuante, mesmo assim ele tende a se colocar em seus livros como um porta-voz da razão, da ciência e dos cientistas. Ou seja, o público acaba entendendo que Dawkins é o paradigma do cientista atual, é a face pública da ciência. Sua propaganda de que, para apreciar ciência, antes você precisa se tornar ateu, não me parece contribuir para o aumento do apoio à ciência em nossa sociedade. Ou seja, se Dawkins tiver a opção de defender o ateísmo mesmo que isso prejudique a aceitação pública da ciência, ele o fará. Ateismo em primeiro lugar, divulgação científica em segundo lugar e ciência em terceiro lugar, é uma escala de prioridades que não compartilho.

Dawkins iniciou uma "cruzada" anti-religiosa que lembra os hegelianos de esquerda do século XIX (os jovens Marx, Engels, etc). Ou seja, ele ainda não atingiu a compreensão, dos marxistas maduros, de que a religião é mais um sintoma do que uma causa, que a religião dominante em uma dada época e lugar é um reflexo das estruturas sociais daquela época e lugar. Ou seja, ao eleger a questão do ateísmo e da religião como "a grande questão" da atualidade ("A Origem de Todos os Males" etc), o público é distraido de questões muito mais importantes, por exemplo a preservação do ambiente natural e a questão da economia sustentável. Pior ainda, Dawkins aliena os religiosos esclarecidos (sim, eles existem, sim!) de uma possível aliança no combate a males concretos, da distribuição de riqueza à questão ecológica, estes sim problemas preementes e que precisam ser tratados com urgencia e união de todas as forças sociais progressistas.

Em comparação, o biólogo Edward Wilson, com uma carreira científica de maior impacto que Dawkins, e grande divulgador científico, propõe em seu livro The Creation (título habilmente escolhido para atingir certo público) que cientistas e religiososos esclarecidos unissem forças em prol de um bem comum. Da Wikipedia:
Wilson’s views on religion

As summarized by Michael McGoodwin [19]-

The predisposition to religious belief is an ineradicable part of human behavior. Mankind has produced 100,000 religions. It is an illusion to think that scientific humanism and learning will dispel religious belief. Men would rather believe than know (…) A kind of Darwinistic survival of the fittest has occurred with religions (…) The ecological principle called Gause's law holds that competition is maximal between species with identical needs (…) Even submission to secular religions such as Communism and guru cults involve willing subordination of the individual to the group. Religious practices confer biological advantage. The mechanisms of religion include (1) objectification (the reduction of reality to images and definitions that are easily understood and cannot be refuted), (2) commitment through faith (a kind of tribalism enacted through self-surrender), (3) and myth (the narratives that explain the tribe's favored position on the earth, often incorporating supernatural forces struggling for control, apocalypse, and millennium). The three great religion categories of today are Marxism, traditional religion, and scientific materialism. Though theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline, traditional religion will endure for a long time to come and will not be replaced by scientific materialism.

Scientific humanism

Wilson coined the phrase scientific humanism as "the only worldview compatible with science's growing knowledge of the real world and the laws of nature". [20] Wilson argues that it is best suited to improve the human condition.

God and religion

On the question of God, Wilson has described his position as provisional deism.[21] He has explained his faith as a trajectory away from traditional beliefs: "I drifted away from the church, not definitively agnostic or atheistic, just Baptist & Christian no more."[13] Wilson argues that the belief in God and rituals of religion are products of evolution.[22] He argues that they should not be rejected or dismissed, but further investigated by science to better understand their significance to human nature. In his book The Creation, Wilson suggests that scientists "offer the hand of friendship" to religious leaders and build an alliance with them, stating that "Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation."[23]

Wilson makes a similar suggestion, and appeal to the religious community, on the lecture circuit. An article on his September 17, 2009 lecture reports, "he said the appeal received a 'massive reply' and a covenant has been written. 'I think that partnership will work to a substantial degree as time goes on,' Wilson said."[24]

Wilson appears in the upcoming documentary Behold The Earth, which inquires into America's "divorce from nature", and the relationship between the forces of science and religion.

Eu me identifico com essa posição filosófica e estratégica do Wilson (embora não sei se a Terceira Via deva ser considerada "provisional Deism"). Embora Wilson esteja no extremo oposto do meu espectro político (ele é um "conservative"), acho que sua priorização da questão ambiental é correta.

Ou seja, Você Que É Biólogo tem que escolher: Ou Dawkins ou Wilson! Os dois não podem estar corretos ao mesmo tempo, os dois tem posições filosóficas e visões de estratégia de defesa da ciência MUITO distintas, quase antagônicas!

Dawkins ou Wilson? Quem você escolhe como paradigma de biólogo? Sinto muito, mas para mim, como cientista (ver abaixo) e como escritor (ele ganhou dois prêmios Pulitzer!), Wilson é uma ordem de magnitude maior que Dawkins... Ou seja, não estou dizendo para você parar de ler Dawkins, mas sim para se começar a ler Wilson. Você vai gostar!

Awards and honors

  1. Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1969
  2. U.S. National Medal of Science, 1976
  3. Pulitzer Prize for On Human Nature, 1979
  4. Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, 1984
  5. ECI Prize, International Ecology Institute, terrestrial ecology, 1987
  6. Crafoord Prize, 1990, a prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in certain sciences not covered by the Nobel Prize, and therefore considered the highest award given in the field of ecology
  7. Pulitzer Prize for The Ants (with Bert Hölldobler), 1991
  8. Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science 1994
  9. Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential People in America, 1995
  10. American Humanist Association's 1999 Humanist of the Year
  11. Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, 2000
  12. Nierenberg Prize, 2001
  13. Dauphin Island Sea Lab christened its newest research vessel the R/V E.O. Wilson in 2005.
  14. Addison Emery Verrill Medal from the Peabody Museum of Natural History, 2007
  15. TED Prize 2007 given yearly to honor a maximum of three individuals who have shown that they can, in some way, positively impact life on this planet.

  16. XIX Premi Internacional Catalunya 2007

  17. Member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Honorary Board, and Scientist in Residence for the 2008 symposium organized in Crans-Montana (Switzerland).
  18. Distinguished Lecturer, University of Iowa, 2008-2009

Bibliografia de E. O. Wilson:

  1. The Theory of Island Biogeography, 1967, Princeton University Press (2001 reprint), ISBN 0-691-08836-5, with Robert H. MacArthur
  2. The Insect Societies, 1971, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-45490-1
  3. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis 1975, Harvard University Press, (Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition, 2000 ISBN 0-674-00089-7)
  4. On Human Nature, 1979, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-01638-6
  5. Genes, Mind and Culture: The coevolutionary process, 1981, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-34475-8
  6. Promethean fire: reflections on the origin of mind, 1983, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-71445-8
  7. Biophilia, 1984, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-07441-6
  8. Success and Dominance in Ecosystems: The Case of the Social Insects, 1990, Inter-Research, ISSN 0932-2205
  9. The Ants, 1990, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-04075-9, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, with Bert Hölldobler
  10. The Diversity of Life, 1992, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-21298-3, The Diversity of Life: Special Edition, ISBN 0-674-21299-1
  11. The Biophilia Hypothesis, 1993, Shearwater Books, ISBN 1-55963-148-1, with Stephen R. Kellert
  12. Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration, 1994, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-48525-4, with Bert Hölldobler
  13. Naturalist, 1994, Shearwater Books, ISBN 1-55963-288-7
  14. In Search of Nature, 1996, Shearwater Books, ISBN 1-55963-215-1, with Laura Simonds Southworth
  15. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, 1998, Knopf, ISBN 0-679-45077-7
  16. The Future of Life, 2002, Knopf, ISBN 0-679-45078-5
  17. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus, 2003, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-00293-8
  18. From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books. 2005, W. W. Norton.
  19. The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, September 2006, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0393062175
  20. Nature Revealed: Selected Writings 1949-2006, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-8329-6
  21. The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies, 2009, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-393-06704-0, with Bert Hölldobler


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