Posts Tagged astrology

Skeptics with a K: Episode #036

Extended bumper episode!  This episode of Skeptics with a K was streamed live over the Internet on Monday 13 December 2010.  Featuring cold fusion, Toys “R” Us, hassidic diets, the Emo Buzz Lightyear, urine injections and the heaviest man in the world.

This episode was sponsored by the QED conference; for more information visit www.qedcon.org.

Mike’s mysterious tweet can be found at: http://bit.ly/eh0z8G

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Skeptics with a K: Episode #018

Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Susan Miller, Patricia Martin, Peter Fisher, Edzard Ernst, Robert Mathie and Barabbas.  All these people, plus Mike, Marsh, Colin and the British Hirsute Andrews – it’s Skeptics with a K!

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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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Skeptics with a K: Special #002

Marsh returns to City Talk FM to discuss astrology with clairvoyant and astrologer Claire Petulengro.

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iWoo: Woo on the iPhone

I love my iPhone. I love the way that photos insert themselves into messages and posts.  I love the fact it’s a real computer that does stuff relevant to my life. I love the screen, the touch screen and I particularly love the fact that when I bought it, I was among the first to adopt this latest 32GB 3GS model. I cannot normally be described as an early adopter; I shop at TK Maxx for goodness’ sake!

But the thing that makes it sing (I like that rhyme) is the apps, or applications for long.  Yes, there is a whole world of people out there who have quickly and brilliantly devised handy tools that you can download and which reside on your iPhone.  Just waiting for that perfect conjunction of need and opportunity to arise.  Then they spring, gazelle-like, into action with just the lightest press of your finger on the screen, bringing almost immediate gratification and a rush of happiness.  “What is my bank balance just now?”; “How much would the payments work out to on that car with £1000 deposit?”; “What time is the next train to Liverpool from where I am right now?”; for that matter “Where am I right now?”. 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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