Sunday, July 29, 2007

Burro velho não aprende línguas II

Brian May futuro doutorado em Astrofísica

Brian May, que foi o principal guitarrista da banda de rock Queen, está perto de concluir seu doutoramento em Astrofísica, 35 anos após ter abandonado os estudos para se tornar músico. A tese do doutoramento intitula-se «Velocidades Radiais na Nuvem de Poeira Zodiacal». Após apresentar a tese ao Imperial College, de Londres, ele terá de esperar a aprovação para então receber seu diploma.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Conservadores e progressistas na academia americana

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty (Stanley Rothma, Robert Lichter, Neil Nevitte)

This article first examines the ideological composition of American university faculty and then tests whether ideological homogeneity has become self-reinforcing. A randomly based national survey of 1643 faculty members from 183 four-year colleges and universities finds that liberals and Democrats outnumber conservatives and Republicans by large margins, and the differences are not limited to elite universities or to the social sciences and humanities. A multivariate analysis finds that, even after taking into account the effects of professional accomplishment, along with many other individual characteristics, conservatives and Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and Democrats. This suggests that complaints of ideologically-based discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and further study. The analysis finds similar effects based on gender and religiosity, i.e., women and practicing Christians teach at lower quality schools than their professional accomplishments would predict.

(via Gene Expression, onde se encontram mais tabelas retiradas do artigo sobre filiações partidárias)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monkey see, monkey do

Two More Things to Unlearn from School de Eliezer Yudkowsky, no Overcoming Bias:

I suspect the most dangerous habit of thought taught in schools is that even if you don't really understand something, you should parrot it back anyway. One of the most fundamental life skills is realizing when you are confused, and school actively destroys this ability - teaches students that they "understand" when they can successfully answer questions on an exam, which is very very very far from absorbing the knowledge and making it a part of you. Students learn the habit that eating consists of putting food into mouth; the exams can't test for chewing or swallowing, and so they starve.

Much of this problem may come from needing to take three 4-credit courses per quarter, with a textbook chapter plus homework to be done every week - the courses are timed for frantic memorization, it's not possible to deeply chew over and leisurely digest knowledge in the same period. College students aren't allowed to be confused; if they started saying, "Wait, do I really understand this? Maybe I'd better spend a few days looking up related papers, or consult another textbook," they'd fail all the courses they took that quarter. A month later they would understand the material far better and remember it much longer - but one month after finals is too late; it counts for nothing in the lunatic university utility function.

Many students who have gone through this process no longer even realize when something confuses them, or notice gaps in their understanding. They have been trained out of pausing to think. (...)

It may be dangerous to present people with a giant mass of authoritative knowledge, especially if it is actually true. It may damage their skepticism. (...) [P]erhaps, you could teach the habit of thought: "The ideas of received authority are often imperfect but it takes a great effort to find a new idea that is better. Most possible changes are for the worse, even though every improvement is necessarily a change."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Burro velho não aprende línguas

José Mário Branco é aluno de excelência

Aos 65 anos o conhecido cantor José Mário Branco voltou à Universidade e teve uma média de 19,1 valores no 1º ano, no ano lectivo de 2005/06 no curso de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa. No ano passado, o cantor foi o melhor aluno desta universidade - já está no segundo ano -e foi agora um dos estudantes distinguidos com uma das Bolsas de Estudo por Mérito, atribuídas hoje na Reitoria da Universidade de Lisboa (UL). Teve a segunda melhor nota desta Cerimónia de Entrega das Bolsas de Mérito e de Louvor.

Chilling effect

The portuguese Prime Minister presides over a Government which persecutes people who criticize the way the country is ruled or who make jokes about the Prime Minister himself. In the last months high ranking civil servants have been punished either because they joked about Mr. Socrates university degree (altough the alleged joke was made in a private conversation) or because they allowed public criticism over the health policy and its Minister, Mr. Correa de Campos. In these last weeks important industrialists said that some of the sponsors of a technical report about the placement of a new international airport - which contradicts Mr. Socrates decision - wished to remain incognito because they feared retaliation from the government in contracts with their companies. In general there are worrying signs of political harassment by over zealous officials, but until now none of the ministers or the prime minister himself have condemned what happened. Instead, the Prime Minister decided to persecute in Court the author of a Blog that led and first hand released an investigation about the academic degree of Mr. Socrates and the way it was obtained. All the national press followed the leads in that blog, and some of the newspapers digged deeper than the blogger. It was clear there were contradictions between Mr. Socrates official CV and the University archives. Following the investigation, the private University where Mr. Socrates obtained his degree was shut down by Government decision, in the middle of an unexpected turmoil.
Freedom House; Reporters sans frontièrs