Wednesday, 26 January 2011

It is not in the stars

Have you heard, it's in the stars, next July we collide with Mars goes that catchy little number by Cole Porter What a Swell Party this Is. And that is astrology's greatest contribution to human culture. The rest, as they say, is rubbish.

Now, I had assumed that this was hardly news. We surely no longer need to hammer out the mantra:
  1. Astronomy and astrology are not the same thing.
  2. Astrology has no scientific basis. It's something newspaper editors do to fill up the space. It's a bit of fun.
But no. It seems that this apparently obvious state of affairs is not at all obvious to some. Apparently the Astrological Association of Great Britain (ahem) has taken umbrage because Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain said both 'astrology is rubbish' and 'astrology is nonsense' on the BBC. The little tinkers.

Like alchemy, astrology does have an interesting history, and just as alchemy started people on the way to real science, so did astrology, and for that we should be thankful - but it's time to put away childish things. Interestingly, in medieval times, some people espoused a version of astrology that had more chance of having a scientific basis than the current version. My old mate Roger Bacon held that it was silly to suggest that astrology could predict the future, but it seemed reasonable that natural conditions, including the state of the heavens, could influence a baby's development, so could shape, to some extent, its personality. He was wrong - but there was a kind of sense to this thirteenth century astrology, unlike the modern, future predicting version.

For goodness sake, astrologers. You are just as entitled to write fiction as J. K. Rowling - but please don't expect us to consider it in some sense valid as fact. There's a great Monty Python sketch where someone's horoscope predicts all sorts of strange things about them (including 'you have green scaly skin'). After hearing all this rubbish, the recipient picks up on the one thing that was true - she wears glasses. 'It was good about the glasses!' That's astrology, folks.


Original story from the Guardian - image from Wikipedia

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