Saturday, April 24, 2010

Going green is not enough. Specially if you're running for president

There is a very positive article on The Economist about the Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva, a strong environmentalist. But one of her weak points is her permissive view towards religious issues, as described in the comment I dropped there:
You also forgot to mention her proximity with the creationist movement: when asked about it, she used the "teach the controversy" strategy, saying that the children should be free to decide. She also breached the religion-state separation a couple of times when lecturing at religious events as a minister.

I understand she fits well with the liberal saviour character that western academics enjoy, but they (and the media outlets) should not forget that she also represents a good share of the retrogressive religious wackos. I don't have quarrels with her being an outspoken person of faith, but she should also be outspoken about what is her stance on these (religious) issues, in such a way that voters and political pundits can know what to expect --besides going green, whatever that means. (IOW, she must show if she can control her clergy or if she is the one below the strings).
I am also suspicious about her connections with the Natura cosmetic firm's president (since we don't know if he's just a successful entrepreneur or he wants a legal platform to sell his snake-oil) and with a lame self-help writer (a medical version of Deepak Chopra).

(PS: I apologize but almost all the links are in portuguese)


  1. Leonardo,
    as a man of science, it is most becoming that you base your analysis on facts, and not just hearsay.
    As to Marina´s defense of creationism, I take the liberty of repeating a comment left on the Economist:

    "(...) is refering to an often repeated false accusation against Marina Silva, that she is close to the creationist movement. She talked about how a statement of hers was grossly distorted and stated clearly her position about this issue on an interview, aired on November 2009, and available at
    There she also talks about abortion, marijuana and stem-cell research. Anybody who listens to her words will see that she is a very reasonable person. Yes, she in an evangelical, but she is no religious nuts."

    As to Guilherme Leal, I am at this point unable to say if his products are "snake-oil", but he is the candidate of choice of the Green Party for vice-president. And like José Alencar, Lula´s vice-presidente, he is an impressive entrepeneur and self-made man.

    Finally, in regards to Augusto Cury, which I agree with you, is very lame, he is NOT Marina´s personal Guru, as she clearly pointed out after taking note of that ludicrous article ( Believe me, if AC were actually her Guru, I would seriously reconsider my allegience.

    That said, I hope that a person with your intelligence and credentials is able to see that Marina is, though far from perfect, a very viable and positive option for our upcomming presidential elections.

    With my best regards,

    Pedro Mader

  2. Pedro, thanks for the comment.

    If you go to the link provided in the text "children should be free to decide" (,marina-silva-nega-que-tenha-defendido-o-criacionismo,439003,0.htm) you will see that I was in fact referring to this interview at Roda Viva. To avoid further misunderstandings, I will translate the relevant part (the text excerpts can be found here, in portuguese):

    She stressed that, when speaking specifically about these [protestant schools], she declared that the students should make the choice they find more sensible".

    That is exactly the "teach the controversy" creationist approach, as if evolution is just a narrative or opinion, or that creationism is a valid scientific hypothesis. Later on the interview she declared "never having defended creationism", which is irrelevant given her pratical and recurrent defense of it.

    But this is not the first time she dodges the problem after some lame declaration backfires: in her blog she blames her staff for an incorrect information theoretically written by her, you provide another example with Augusto Cury, and in the link I provided where Guilherme Leal's company is being accused of biopiracy against an indigenous population she refuses to state her opinion.

    So for me it is irrelevant that she declares 1) "not being a creationist" when she in practice defends it; 2) that "her staff apologizes for the mistake" that she committed (when she wrote to them the draft or otherwise it was plain ghostwriting); 3) that "AC is not her guru" when her speech comes from his pen; 4) that "she cannot judge the accusation of biopiracy against her associate" when in fact she must have a position on that. We, brazilians, should know better that what politicians say bear no correlation to what they do. And in the current government we had enough of this "I will keep pushing until people force me to stop", blaming somebody else afterwards.

    On a side note, I must tell you that I despise the view that scholars have any privileged access to the truth (an argument from authority): we are not shielded from being deceived, and our opinions (specially outside our area of expertise) should count as anyone else's on a democratic debate [1]. I posted here as a citizen who happens to care a lot about education.

    [1] obviously not everything is subject to debate, like an election to decide the value of pi ;)



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