January 18, 2011
Do Journalists Believe In Astrology?
Some do, as I was reminded
by last Friday's
Gang of Four
The KUOW host, Steve Scher, opened the
Weekday program with a brief
discussion of the day's top issue (for him, anyway), the controversy over the
I expected the other three, Lynne Varner of the Seattle Times, Knute Berger of Crosscut, and Eli
Sanders of the Stranger, to dismiss astrology as unscientific. Instead, all three implied
that they half believed in it. Sanders summed up their attitudes by saying that "a certain part
of me" believes in astrology. And, judging by what he and Berger said, you might get more
dates in that reactionary city, Seattle, if you at least pretended to believe that the stars determine
Believing in astrology is mostly harmless, but I did expect one of the four to say what everyone
with a scientific outlook knows, that, after centuries of searching, scientists have found no evidence at all
for astrology. But none did, perhaps because all four believe in it, in part.
Cross posted at
Jim Miller on Politics.
(I'll have much more to say about last Friday's program in a future post.)
Posted by Jim Miller at January 18, 2011
07:05 AM | Email This
1. Maybe that's why they believe in global climate change also....
2. And maybe that's why they believe in the Boogey Man, and that he's conservative!
3. They believe in astrology, Anthropological Global Warmingô, diversity as strength and every other crackpot liberal theory. But believe in God, no thanks, that's just goofy right wing stuff.
4. Believe in it just enough to realize that messing with that stuff is more harmful than helpful.
One of the big smears the left makes against the right, is the allegation that the right is "anti-science". While the right does have a few loons that think the earth is 6,000 years old, I have generally found the left to have a much lower understanding of and appreciation for the scientific method. It is usually on the left you find the new age fabulists with beliefs in crystals, psychics, channeling, astrology, homeopathy, and all the rest of that crap. On the right you find business people who create companies that invest in research to move humanity forward. The left would also take us out of our cars, dim our lights, and lessen our control over the climate in our homes and offices.
So the gang of four reacted in exactly the way I have come to expect.
6. I am as frustrated as anyone with all the crystals, and shamanism, and yogaism, and irrational government in Seattle. But anyone of any faith who would use science and reason to bash those of less popular faiths is being hypocritical.
7. "The findings of anthropologists seem weird to us only because they are unfamiliar.¬† All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them.¬† Boyer did research on the Fang people of Cameroon, who believe...
...that witches have an extra animal-like organ that flies away at night and ruins other people's crops or poisons their blood.¬† It is also said that these witches sometimes assemble for huge banquets, where they devour their victims and plan future attacks.¬† Many will tell you that a friend of a friend actually saw witches flying over the village at night, sitting on a banana leaf and throwing magical darts at various unsuspecting victims.
Boyer continues with a personal anecdote:
I was mentioning these and other exotica over dinner in a Cambridge college when one of our guests, a prominent Cambridge theologian, turned to me and said: 'That is what makes anthropology so fascinating and so difficult too.¬† You have to explain how people can believe such nonsense.'¬† Which left me dumbfounded.¬† The conversation had moved on before I could find a pertinent response--to do with kettles and pots.
Assuming that the Cambridge theologian was a mainstream Christian, he probably believed some combination of the following:
- In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no
¬† biological father being involved.
- The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had
¬†¬† been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.
- The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three
- Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then
¬† disappeared bodily into the sky.
- If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his
¬† 'father' (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon
¬† them.¬† He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in
¬† the world.
- If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees
¬† all, even if nobody else does.¬† You may be rewarded or punished
¬† accordingly, including after your death.
- The fatherless man's virgin mother never died but 'ascended' bodily into
- Bread and wine, if blessed by a priest (who must have testicles),
¬† 'become' the body and blood of the fatherless man.
What would an objective anthropologist, coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?"
Hairy@5 writes "I have generally found the left to have a much lower understanding of and appreciation for the scientific method."
While it's certainly true that there are plenty of loons and plenty of wise people on both sides of the aisle, it's ironic that you use an anecdotal "I have generally found" in praising the scientific method. A science-lover like you surely would prefer a scientific poll. The one I found (http://people-press.org/report/528/) reports that 55% of scientists consider themselves Democrats while only 6% consider themselves Republicans. This is an unsurprising consequence of the Republicans' war on reality in recent decades.
10. #9: this may mean nothing to you, Bruce, but "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". I'd say that you're ahead if you start there, as opposed to not starting there. Those non-libs may be in a sort of minority in your eyes, but they may well be way ahead in scientific knowledge.
American scientist and inventor George Washington Carver (my favorite american inventor) specifically asked God what one could do with the peanut, and God definitely opened the doors of knowledge to him on that one.
11. Maybe they are highly religious. After all if they think the stars can tell the future then they must also believe in intelligent design, there really is no other way to accept astrology.
12. Michele@10, did your beloved GW Carver ask God why He created peanut allergies?
13. #12: Who knows if he asked? But are you sure that the one who made peanuts made the allergies? If everything that he made was not just good but "very good", then the allergy *problems* came from somewhere else.
14. #11: Doug, explain what you see as being the connection between ID and astrology.
15. Predestination or predetermination, can't have either without it. Sorry, the proof calculations would likely be 30+ pages, but those who claim to believe in astrology and non-ID type are mis-wired, like having a thought process that makes 2 and 3 equal blue.
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18. @Michele - George Washington Carver was also an often overlooked gay icon.
19. ... I did expect one of the four to say what everyone with a scientific outlook knows, that, after centuries of searching, scientists have found no evidence at all for astrology.
No doubt, Jim expected that KUOW's listeners needed the obvious stated forcefully. But they don't. Jim doesn't understand.
And, judging by what he and Berger said...
What Berger said was so important, Jim quoted it at length here.
... perhaps because all four believe in it, in part.
Perhaps Jim believes everything he claims to hear, but that needn't apply to anyone else.
... in that reactionary city, Seattle ...
George Orwell wrote some great stuff about how political hack writers would misuse the common meanings of words. Unlike our views of the stars' influence, some things never change:
"Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality." (Italics in the original.)
(I'll have much more to say about last Friday's program in a future post.)
(Does that mean Jim had less to say now? Is that even possible?)
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21. So, this article seems to be stating the obvious:
Christianity is bad, every other religious belief system is wonderful.
I know very few liberals... even atheists... who don't believe in astrology and/or spirit guides.
It's just the literal interpretation of the Bible that people don't like. surprise surprise surprise.