Archive for category astrology

Political Astrology: Star Guff In The Huff-Po

As our educated, smart and – I’ll say it! – downright sexy readers are doubtlessly aware, the Huffington Post is a great source of… well… crap. For one thing, there’s Dana Ullman making wild statements about homeopathy, Jenny and Jim trying to kill babies… it’s rarely a tome worthy of a great deal of respect.

However, even I was surprised to see the angle taken by the Huff-Po this week, when I spotted Patricia Martin’s column ‘The Politics of Astrology and the Secret Lives of CEOs‘. In an interview with Astrologer Susan Miller, the article explores the ways in which astrology can play a part in politics and business… and, bizarrely, doesn’t come to the conclusion ‘none’. Quoting the article:

Over slabs of glazed salmon at the Drake Hotel dining room, Ms. Miller and I discussed the astrological year ahead for American politics. Cheerful even when delivering hard news, Ms. Miller offered up the following outlook:

So, lets take a look at what the stars predict for the political year ahead in America –

Healthcare reform will pass, but undergo tweaks and revisions for several months to come.

I think that’s fair to call it a hit. I think it’s also fair to say it’s a hit I could have come up with – the political weight behind the healthcare reform definitely had it in the ‘plausible’ pile, and the opposition to it most certainly had it in the ‘undergo tweaks and revisions’ pile. What’s more, what controversial bill doesn’t get tweaked and revised? Poor hit.

President Obama should not stop with health care reform, she twinkled. “He’s going to be very powerful these next few months and he should use it to his advantage”

Excellent, this is interesting – for one, she’s saying the President of the USA will be powerful. Which is obvious. What’s more, she’s not actually making a prediction there at all – his level of power isn’t quantifiable, for one thing, so nobody can dispute it. On top of that, she’s said he should use it to his advantage, not that he will, or can, or anything definite. So if he doesn’t make the most of it, she can claim that she told him he should have! These kind of predictions of potential (rather than actuality) are classic examples of cold reading, and something to look out for – a good psychic (ie someone who’s good at faking magical powers) will never tell you anything for certain, instead they’ll give you statements about your potential, leaving themselves the exit strategy of the ‘untapped potential’. Add to that the fact that Obama’s potential is to use his power to ‘his advantage’ – an entirely vague outcome – and we can see how lame this ‘prediction’ really is. Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 – A Psychic Insight (part II)

Following on from yesterday’s look at the psychic predictions of thirteen ‘well-known’ psychics (including Joshua the Psychic – a psychic so well-known he has to use ‘psychic’ in his name), here’s more of the same, taken from boomers-write.com

Taking a look at the Healthcare category, we get our first offering from the delightful Sylvia Browne:

“Browne predicts a “great rise in skin cancer in children in 2010.” She notes that people are aware of the dangers of UV rays and products to protect themselves. She hopes that more attention will be made to this serious issue so her prediction does not come true”

So she’s saying ‘kids will get ill and die, but if it doesn’t happen it’s because we all managed to stop it, not because I’m wrong or because I’m a liar who’s making it all up.’ Nicely played, Browne. Less nicely played is her bizarre prediction for the common cold:

“Browne predicts an end to the common cold and the solution may be heat. Just as a fever is the body’s natural response to fight a cold, she says doctors will put patients in a heated cubicle that also contains a special vapor. Patients will stay in it for five minutes to kill all rhinitis germs. These cubicles will also be used to treat patients with allergies, asthma and other breathing disorders”

This is just patently bonkers – cubicles of heat to cure the common cold? I’m just going to leave that one there, and wait for history to prove her an idiot. Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 – A Psychic Insight (part I)

As any talking calendar will tell you, it’s 2010. The New Year always bring with it the same traditional things – people complaining about how weird it looks to write the date now, and how they keep writing the old date; TV and Radio shows doing lazy ‘lets look back at the year that just passed’ affairs (exactly like I did last week on Righteous Indignation…); and psychic predictions. Guess which of those I’m most interested in?

Correct. I don’t know what it is about the transition from December 31st to January 1st that makes us all look, wide-eyed and wonder-filled, for insights into the upcoming 12 months – after all, when you’re predicting events in the next year, you’d be as well to start on any particular date you fancied. Especially when you’re just making stuff up. Perhaps it’s a little harsh to suggest readers of stars, tarot cards, auras, weird-spirit-guidey-ghosts and tea leaves are just making up their seery-wisdom… so let’s take a look at some of the offerings, and see what 2010 has in store… Read the rest of this entry »

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Astrology 101: Debunking The Dirty Dozen

As we were sat around MSS HQ (which, being skeptics and all, you’re no doubt 100% aware of the fact it doesn’t actually exist), it occurred to us that there is an awful lot of woo out there, and not everyone can be expected to be fully versed in every bit of it.  I’d never heard of Pascal’s Wager (as Mike charmingly announced to the world).  People we’ve spoken to had no idea why homeopathy and acupuncture were pseudomedicine.  Some forms of woo are so obscure people may not have even heard of them (please please please spend 5 minutes looking up Breatharianism, for your next ‘what’s the harm?’ conversation).  We’ll be giving a basic intro to the pseudoscience and fuzzy thinking behind some of those in the near future, as part of our ‘Skeptic 101‘ series.

Then there are the other topics – the ones where everyone knows it’s nonsense, but you might not have the facts to hand next time you’re accosted by a woo-peddler on the subject.  Bigfoot.  Crop Circles.  Dowsing.  For me, Astrology falls firmly into this second category.

Twelve signs, twelve months, twelve types of people.  In the whole world. From looking at the positions of the stars and planets at precisely the moment of birth, it’s possible to predict character, future events, love life and a whole manner of cold, hard facts about a person.  Except it isn’t.  Because that’s ridiculous.  We all know that.  So here’s your at-a-glance guide to the woo that is astrology. Read the rest of this entry »

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