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BADad
2002-Jan-24, 02:58 PM
I’ve been reading Matt Ridley’s "Genome (An Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters)". He quotes Shakespeare in the heading for Chromosome 10.

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune – often
the surfeit of our own behavior, - we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion… an admirable evasion of whoremaster men, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star.

I’ve always had to think about his language and I guess he is describing the foolishness of man to believe his misfortunes are related to the positions of the "heavenly" bodies (astrology).

I happened to mention astronomy to a favorite waitress at a favorite restaurant. She got all excited and said that she had her horoscope cast every other week. Here is a woman making some $1.50 per hour plus good tips. How can one convince her of the futility of what she’s doing? The advertisements on TV of such necromancers disgusts me, mostly because it is the less educated and usually the poorer portions of our population that succumb to their blandishments. On the other hand, maybe they really are getting their money’s worth in titillation and (non-scientific) mystery.

But, I guess Shakespeare was against it, too.

MongotheGreat
2002-Jan-24, 06:22 PM
As long as there's money in it, it will continue to happen. In fact, I wonder if there is more money in astrology than in astronomy or science in general. What would that say about our species, eh?

Mongo

ljbrs
2002-Jan-25, 12:55 AM
Mongo the Great:


As long as there's money in it, it will continue to happen. In fact, I wonder if there is more money in astrology than in astronomy or science in general. What would that say about our species, eh?

Mongo


Maybe using Astrology (as a secret joke) could be a great way to fund all of the astronomy projects we would ever wish to make. Let the Astrologers do the dirty work. Of course, we could explain it to the public in language which would only be understood by the astronomically wise. We could help diminish the number of true believers in the process. Astrologers probably could bring in enough money to fund a dozen interferometers (both radio and visual wavelengths) and put quite a number of telescopes into space. In the process, perhaps the astrologers would learn the errors of their ways. Now, I know that this is naughtybad, but one could wink slyly and let the show go on.

In *The Cambridge Guide to the Constellations*, there are two lists: The first shows the dates assigned to the Zodiac, while the second shows where the actual Sun signs are on certain dates. A friend of mine has two children (male and female), both of whom are Ophiuchans (in December), because both of their birthdays occur when the Sun is in Ophiuchus. It provides them with a wonderful (funny) conversation piece. Of course, I was the one who made them aware of their *Sun Signs*. Neither of them believes in nor takes Astrology seriously. It is a joke with them (as with me).

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Matherly
2002-Jan-25, 01:31 PM
On 2002-01-24 09:58, BADad wrote:
The advertisements on TV of such necromancers disgusts me

Dude! There are necromancers advertising on T.V.? COOL! I need some cheep labor to move, and maybe a team of Zombies is just what I need!

(Although, if you want to get nitpicky... some of the ads for Fellowship of the Ring had a shot of Sauron, who was at one point the Necromancer of Mirkwood... so I just that was an ad with a necromancer in it /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif)

msussman
2002-Feb-08, 03:28 PM
From ljbrs:

Maybe using Astrology (as a secret joke) could be a great way to fund all of the astronomy projects we would ever wish to make. Let the Astrologers do the dirty work.

Actually, I seem to recall that was precisely how Kepler kept himself in business. His role as court astronomer forced him to serve out horoscopes to the nobility (which he secretly felt were entirely useless), but also funded his actual astronomical research on his own time.

Bob S.
2002-Feb-11, 07:57 PM
Necromancers are people who speak with the dead. And there is one on TV. http://www.scifi.com/johnedward/ (If you believe that kinda stuff, which I suspect no one here does.)

But I kinda like ljbrs's idea of taxing Astrologers to fund Astronomers. It has a sense of Karmic balance. Like lotteries, it'd be a tax only on stupid people.

ljbrs
2002-Feb-15, 12:36 AM
While I am ostensibly an Aquarian, my sun sign now is actually in Capricorn (if one really makes charts about such nonsense). Of course, this is all bunk, but it makes a good conversation piece when there is nobody around for real conversations.

Kepler was somewhat wise in that he was able to get some silly believers in nonsense to pay for his astronomy. It must have been terrifically boring for him to do this for a living. However, perhaps it beats working and one could possibly get creative in one's predictions.

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BADad
2002-Feb-20, 05:33 PM
Thought y'all might be interested in another physicist ringing in - I'm reading Steven Weinberg's "Facing Up - Science and Its Cultural Adversaries" (2001-Harvard University Press):

"... They see modern science as an expression of our "Western" civilization; it works for us, but the belief that the Milky Way is a river in the sky worked for the Mayans, and the belief that the Milky Way is a great canoe rowed by a one-legged paddler worked for the early peoples of the Amazon basin, so who can say that one belief is better than another?

"I can. For one thing, modern cosmology is not confined within Western culture. European astronomy received important contributions from Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and the Arabs, and today astronomy and physics are pursued in the same way throughout the world. The West is not so unanimous about science; it has NO SHORTAGE OF BELIEVERS IN ASTROLOGY, IN "HEAVEN'S GATE", AND SIMILAR NONSENSE" (Emphasis mine.)

So, there.

The Bad Astronomer
2002-Feb-20, 05:55 PM
Heh. I get this "cultural relativism" quite a bit as well. I tell them that there is a big difference between a story and a fact. The idea that the Moon eats the Sun during an eclipse is a good story, but it won't help when you are trying to land a man on the Moon. That's what science does: it separates story, superstition and prejudice from what's really going on.

Chuck
2002-Feb-20, 10:54 PM
Maybe the astrologers should have their own orbiting observatory in order to better determine which constellations the planets are in during crossovers. When it's up and running it can be used for real science and some computer program can feed the astrologers some data that's good enough. They'd never know the difference.

Don't offer it to them, though. Trick some astrologer dupe into recommneding it to NASA. Have NASA loudly ridicule the idea as worthless. Then the whole astrological community will be up in arms demanding equal funding for their science. Congress will have to give NASA a bigger budget to keep the masses happy.

ljbrs
2002-Feb-21, 12:32 AM
Heh. I get this "cultural relativism" quite a bit as well. I tell them that there is a big difference between a story and a fact. The idea that the Moon eats the Sun during an eclipse is a good story, but it won't help when you are trying to land a man on the Moon. That's what science does: it separates story, superstition and prejudice from what's really going on.

Of course! But there must be a sneaky way to get more real money to the real scientists. We could inform the public about the facts of astrology at the same time as we are promoting astronomy. Of course, we should get non-scientists to do the dirty work and then talk them into handing the money over where it is truly needed (for a tax break).

I noticed that the two main political parties were split down the middle in scientific funding, with one political party on one side of a dividing line and the other political party completely on the other side. The graph was shown in SCIENCE sometime ago, but without further commentary. I will give you three guesses and the first two don't count about on which side which political party fell...

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Lisa
2002-Feb-21, 10:15 PM
On 2002-02-20 17:54, Chuck wrote:
Maybe the astrologers should have their own orbiting observatory in order to better determine which constellations the planets are in during crossovers. When it's up and running it can be used for real science and some computer program can feed the astrologers some data that's good enough. They'd never know the difference.

Don't offer it to them, though. Trick some astrologer dupe into recommneding it to NASA. Have NASA loudly ridicule the idea as worthless. Then the whole astrological community will be up in arms demanding equal funding for their science. Congress will have to give NASA a bigger budget to keep the masses happy.

Sneaky, underhanded, questionable ethics. I like it.
Do astrologers even observe the night skies? Or do they just rely on their silly charts. There's gotta be a way to get them up in arms over the light pollution issue while we're at it. I spent part of my vacation around some large cities and couldn't see a darn thing.
Lisa

Moonpuppy
2002-Feb-25, 01:10 PM
This thread is brought to you by: Horoscopes--making ambiguous predictions for over 10,000 years.


Is anyone else reminded of Weird Al Yankovic's song, "Your Horoscope for Today"? Funny stuff!