Astrologers are in a tizzy after Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain called astrology “rubbish” and “nonsense” on BBC2′s “Stargazing Live.” The Astrological Association of Great Britain (yes, they have an organization) released the following announcement, along with a petition to BBC:
The Association will be requesting that the BBC make a public apology and a statement that they do not support the personal views of Professor Brian Cox or Dara O’Briains on the subject of astrology. We also request that the BBC will commit to making a fair and balanced representation of astrology when aired in the future.
The BBC is certainly biased…toward reality. Martin Robbins has the spot on response:
On the second sentence at least I think we can all agree. I’d love to see the BBC give a fair and balanced representation of astrology. In fact sod it, let’s extend that to all newspapers as well.
Such a representation would depict astrology as a pseudoscience with no real basis in evidence that was already being ridiculed in the Dark Ages, and note that after thousands of years astrologers still can’t produce statistically meaningful results.
It would observe that any apparent successes of astrology probably owe more to the use of cold-reading techniques, convenient vagueness, and the exploitation of psychological quirks like confirmation bias or the Forer effect, and express amazement at the continued ability of the astrological industry to lift hundreds of millions of euros, pounds and dollars out of the pockets of customers each year.
Finally, it would make the point that intellectually-speaking, the pursuit of meaningful predictions in astrology isn’t so much flogging a dead horse as punching a piece of rock and wondering why it won’t say anything. Fair and balanced reporting is not the best thing to ask for when your views have about as much credibility as Andy Coulson’s future in journalism.
Ah, beautiful. If only the media would give such a fair representation of hokum like astrology. Maybe we could extend that to religious claims as well, so reporters don’t have to report miracles and end of the world prophecies like they actually have a grain of truth to them.