The Sciences

American Public Media promotes astrology

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJan 1, 2009 6:03 PM


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Well, nuts. The new year is barely unwrapped and I already have to knock some heads together. [Oops! I somehow got it in my head that it was NPR promoting this, but it's not. I've corrected my mistake below, and apologies to NPR.]

Now, usually I like National Public Radio. It has intelligent, thoughtful programming, unlike pretty much every other local or national radio station/network. What the frak they doing promoting astrology?

American Public Media aired a story recently (transcript here) with what could have been a good premise: economists in general were caught by surprise by the recession. If they are experts in their field, why not go outside the field and see how other prognosticators did? They chose astrologers, which I think could have been very cool; see if any of the big name astrologers predicted this event, especially since they do give money advice to people. Instead, APM did a wholly gullible, credulous, and ridiculous puff piece on astrology. It's galling.

Now, many news outlets do stuff like this, then make sure they do the story with just enough tongue-in-cheekiness and snark that they can say "Oh, we weren't taking it seriously!" But if you read the transcript of the APM story I don't see that being the case. And on that page they give a huge amount of space to the astrologers themselves to promulgate their antiscientific garbage, including casting charts for Obama, the US, and the Federal Reserve! Why not ask the Easter Bunny what he thinks while they're at it? A far more interesting and useful story would have been to collect as many pre-market collapse predictions about the economy from astrologers that can be found, and see how many of them actually saw it coming. I bet the answer is very, very low. OK, folks, repeat after me: Astrology doesn't work. As far as APM goes, shame on you. I'll note that at the bottom of the APM web page you can leave comments. I urge people to do so, but remember, BE POLITE. You can be strong and you can be firm, but please don't be rude. And a note: whenever I write about astrology, I get a bunch astrologers leaving comments about how I don't understand it, how I haven't researched it, how I haven't seen what they can do. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. I have researched it, I do understand it, and I have seen what astrologers can do. If you're soft on astrology, please read what I wrote on my website first before leaving a comment here.

Background image of Sun signs from grahamwilliam's Flickr stream. Tip o' the phiuchus to D. Jack MacConnell.

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