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Predictions as Lies in Ceará, Brazil: The Intersection of Two Cultural Models

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 86, Number 3, Summer 2013
pp. 759-789 | 10.1353/anq.2013.0038



An examination of the interplay of cultural models of prediction and lie helps explain why climate forecasts are negatively evaluated by subsistence farmers in Ceará, Northeast Brazil. Analysis of linguistic differences between farmers and meteorologists reveals underlying conceptual differences that result in farmers interpreting the forecasts as false statements. Distrust of government, the unmet expectation of optimistic predictions, and the existence of alternative forecasts by traditional “rain prophets” create a context in which state meteorologists are called liars. Material context and emotions are shown to be crucial components of the models.

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