why do we still have dedicated astrologers?

Astrologers are demanding their pseudoscience be treated with all due respect. The problem for them is that no respect whatsoever is due to their woo.

steampunk solar system

Somehow over the last week, a number of space and science blogs are discussing, of all things, astrologers who managed to get in the news after the media suddenly discovered the decades old fact that all the ancient constellations named when astronomy was in its infancy have moved since then due to our planet’s wobbles in orbit, and their petition to the BBC demanding that the media titan do something about physicist Brian Cox and comedian Dara O’Briain, who had the temerity to call astrology rubbish. Really? We still have astrologers who want attention and respect to what was considered a pseudoscience when leeches were deemed to be viable treatments for the plague and people were busy turning lead into gold with caustic concoctions in giant cauldrons? Hasn’t a civilization that has spacecraft, nuclear reactors, and cyborgs outgrown the notion that a cold-reader could predict the future by drawing lines between stars? And yet, here they are, demanding that a respectable news entity like the BBC presents “a fair and balanced representation of astrology.” And science blogger and editor Martin Robbins actually happens to agree with this idea. As he puts it in the above link…

I’d love to see the BBC give a fair and balanced representation of astrology. Sod it, let’s extend that to all newspapers as well. Such a representation would depict astrology as a pseudoscience with no real basis in evidence, which was already being ridiculed in the Dark Ages, and note that after thousands of years astrologers still can’t produce statistically meaningful results. It would observe that any apparent successes of astrology probably owe more to [astrologers’] use of cold-reading techniques, convenient vagueness, and the exploitation of psychological quirks like confirmation bias or the Forer effect, expressing amazement at the continued ability of the astrological industry to lift hundreds of millions of euros, pounds and dollars out of the pockets of customers…

And really, it’s comical to see astrologers bent out of shape because people who actually have a grasp on the science behind stargazing don’t mince words and call astrology what it is: nonsense. If astrologers had a real ability to predict what will happen to us in the future past the generic “this is a good month to change jobs” or some vaguely positive missive about how good it is to be alive, you could bet that they’d be in demand by just about every major company and the military would trip over itself to recruit as many of them as possible to get an early warning about the next attack, and not only by some eccentric CEO or superstitious general. If you’re forewarned that as a Sagittarius, you shouldn’t trade stocks on the market for two weeks in November, or that because the commander of an enemy army is a Gemini, he’ll have the worst luck in organizing his soldiers to repel your attack over the next ten days, you’d have a huge advantage. But you won’t. Go ahead and check the horoscope. You’ll find generic, positive cold reading which uses the same ideas for every sign, and if you’re willing to press astrologers about that, they’ll start going on and on about how only they and their friends really understand The One True Astrology™ and that everyone else is just a poser. And they’ll be sure to cite some time astrologers correctly “predicted” something, forgetting to mention the millions of failed predictions they’d made between each successful one. It’s as if they were, oh I don’t know, just randomly guessing…

So ladies and germs, let’s consign astrologers to the same bin in which we put modern day geocentrists on a desperate quest for attention, alchemists, and bloodletting to balance the four humors. Not only is it even older than the other long-discarded pseudosciences of the past, it’s just as wrong, and it’s embarrassing that we actually have astrologers demanding that we ask the Moon how it feels about us exploring it, and trying to tie menstrual cycles to the lunar orbit, then demanding respect with a straight face. Respect is earned, not simply given to anyone who demands it, and if you want to be respected, do something to earn it. Astrologers are little more than a persistent reminder of how far we’ve come in the past 2,500 years and why we’re better off for it. And this stunt asking for the BBC to give two sides to a story that only has one for the sake of letting a crank vent some steam or show his ignorance on TV is frankly ridiculous, especially when this ignorance is a lecture on the amazing powers of something that even Medieval witch hunters and doctor-barbers considered to be impotent Occultism at best or just a really silly peasant superstition at worst…

# space // astrology / cranks / media / pseudoscience


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