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September 08, 2006

The stars are blind


Syndicated astrologer Paul Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" has significant advantages over the competition. His commentary seems informed by some actual, like, astrology as opposed to the pre-blended opinion of most advice columns. Given the limitations of a sun-sign alone, his writing is also made distinctive by an unusual turn of metaphor and an apparently genuine sympathy for this readers.

And then there are Brezsny's preachy days. Take this week's thoughts for Capricorn, for example.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Help! Pluto's not a planet any more! Won't that disastrously tweak astrological theory? Actually, no. Nothing whatsoever has changed about Pluto in its role as a revealer of cosmic portents. All that has shifted are the ideas about Pluto that reside in the minds of 424 astronomers who were at the International Astronomical Union's conference in Prague. ("I'm embarrassed for astronomy," said Alan Stearn, science chief of NASA's mission to Pluto. "Less than 5 percent of the world's astronomers voted on the change.") Still, it's important to note how many millions of people take this tiny group's delusions seriously. Let this be a reminder for you to be very discriminating about whose definitions you choose to believe. Use it as a prod to be more aggressive in giving your own names and frames to life's mysteries.

Whatever the tiny group delusions of fewer than five-percent of astronomical opinion, astrology needs a good deal more tweaking than its younger sister profession. One clue lies in the fact of a science which managed not to notice the existence of Pluto for several thousand years.* Now we are only a chance few decades after astronomy defined the place as a planet. But Brezsny thinks this previousnly unnoticed tid-bit is written in stone, if not in the stars, and his fellow scientists* fit for nothing more than a snide dismissal. After all, astrology column need know nothing but that they know better than the International Astronomical Union. And as if by magic it is so.

Beyond pandering to whatever received prejudice sells newspapers I cannot see what Brezsy is being defensive about. Frankly, I am not convinced of the existence of "Neptune" or "Uranus" let alone Pluto. Don't get me started on the asteroids.

* Yes, a science. The longest running longitudinal correlational study in human history, in fact. So much for statistics. Astronomers found Planet X some time after they inferred its existence. Astrology, by contrast, is short on specifics.
**The ones with degrees and theories which allow refutation as well as the odd fracas over points of definition.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 8, 2006 06:44 AM


Astrology is pretty clear on one thing: somebody has to pony up for these otherworldly insights, they don't get given away for free.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2006 04:03 PM

"Patients are nothing but riff-raff. The only useful purposes they serve are to help us earn a living and to provide learning material. In any case, we cannot help them."
- Sigmund Freud

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2006 05:17 PM

Oh that's nice. It makes me feel so much better about paying my psychiatrist yesterday!

I wonder if I can get him to assign a royalty contract...hmm.

Posted by: agent bedhead [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 9, 2006 12:46 PM