A note on Astrology....
The Abysmal Failure of Astrology or STFU about your stars..
A new day can always be counted upon to to offer fresh outrages, as well as the constant and recurrent. The daily astrology column, and its adherents take the form of the latter. These columns can be seen, and if you like, read, in almost any newspaper across the country (though these columns differ from paper to paper...why should that be?). At my local Starbucks the behavior of astrology fans is likewise a constant and daily source of outrage and disappointment. There are many ways to dismantle the arguments of the astrologers, but here is the argument I find most satisfying when laying waste to the pretensions of this ancient and exploded stupidity. The thrust of this argument is perhaps not original to me however I haven't heard it phrased quite this way before.
Perhaps you are looking at your horoscope and see that you, an Aquarius, have not lost your tendency to carry water, but are, nevertheless, about to embark on a five star day. Among fellow Zodiac travelers you are not alone, on this day Sagittarians (archers I guess), and Geminis (twins?) have similar positive auguries and can also expect to have a five star day (I've pulled these "predictions" from a daily horoscope found in the Portland Press Herald, dated, 13 Aug 2010). To see and hear it, many recipients of such portents find them to be quite prescient, convincing and accurate. At least these people don't demand their fortunes be told in the entrails of chickens or goats. But surely you yourself have heard someone exclaim, and exclaim is certainly the right word, "This is exactly what is happening," or maybe, "This is sooo spooky, its so accurate. That is totally you." Perhaps you have uttered something very like that,and have felt compelled to bore your fellow humans with this "news." Let me say this, gullibility displayed so nakedly is embarrassing enough to cause strangers to look away.
According to those "trained" in such arcana the predictions for any given sign are quite binding, and can be expected to unfold for anyone sharing any of the 12 Zodiac signs. In the example above, all Gemini, Sagittarians, and Aquarians can be expected to have a day characterized by five stars and some accompanying vaguery (i.e. A coworker likes you, be circumspect but remember boisterousness has its place). When I listen to such people, who-it must be said- are displaying a fairly grotesque solipsism, I am moved make a few points.
According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day from preventable diseases. This number is down from just a few years ago where 25,000 children died a day. For the new estimate, that leads to the depressing but unavoidable conclusion that 8.03 x 106 children die every year from utterly preventable diseases, and conditions. That is to say eight million thirty thousand kids die a year. A year. What does that have to do with astrology you ask? Well I am glad you did.
We have established, thanks to the tireless efforts of UNICEF, twenty two thousand children die every single day. Lets assume an even distribution of that twenty two thousand across the twelve signs of the fatuous Zodiac (this seems like a reasonable assumption). So that will distribute 1/12 of the 22,000 to each of the signs. If there is a more or less even distribution that gives us about 1,833 per sign. Returning to my example above, about 5,500 of those kids had a five star day! Many of those children will have died in some considerable pain, confused and scared. How many of those children, whose last day it was, would have remarked on the accuracy of those silly, and completely wrong predictions? Do you think the children dying of some pathogen causing explosive diarrhea and extreme, unremitting dehydration might have thought their three star predictions were pretty on point? Spookily Accurate? Would any of these expirations be considered a legitimate one star day? Hmmm? Why do the portents of the stars not apply to these children?
Now think of the appallingly large number of miserable, suffering people in the world that didn't die, but maybe share your (unimportant) birth month. Compare your day's astrological prediction (five stars you say?) with the experience of these hypothetical people that you know exist (think of Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan, Uganda, hell even in the developed world people can suffer horribly) but that you have not met, and then tell me again how accurate you think that silly "prediction" is. Maybe now we can hear a little bit less about how brutally accurate your vaguely phrased augury was, and maybe we can hear a little bit less of that idiotic, content-less question...What's your sign?
Author's Note If you are tempted to buy material associated with, or about astrology and to do so credulously let me suggest that you money and time might be better spent. Instead of that book about your readings for the year, and before you renew your subscription to your favorite astrological website you could click on the title of this entry and donate the money you were going to spend on that bullshit on something a bit better for everyone. The link takes you to UNICEF, and there they will explain to you why you should donate.