Well, I’ve never followed this “Jerome” fellow’s stuff at MyDD, with the recent accusations that he may have done some dubious things in the stock market and was a promoter of astrology, but the Commissar thinks I’m going easy on him because the Left thinks astrology is an acceptable pseudo-science, so I’ll take a moment to disabuse that silly notion.
I don’t expect anyone let alone a right-wing apologist like the Commissar, to be familiar with everything I’ve written, but no, I have not been kind to woo-woo nonsense, I was shocked at Berlinski’s defense of astrology (although he unconvincingly assured me that he does not support astrology), and I’ve criticized Kary Mullis’s pathetic rationalizations. Before blogs took off, I was active on Usenet, and in addition to talk.origins, I was also on the skeptical side in both sci.skeptic and alt.astrology—and I experienced far more extreme rhetoric from astrologers (would you believe I got death threats because I ridiculed astrology?) than I ever did from creationists. For an example, there was the infamous Jell-O experiment on sci.skeptic—who knew making gelatin could trigger such venom and sewage from astrology fans?
So no, I haven’t ignored the Jerome story because of some reticence about criticizing astrology, or one of my own. It’s because I’m completely unfamiliar with the guy.
Judging from this comment by Jerome, though, maybe I should pay more attention.
Oh yea, on the astrological stuff. I have done the new age type things over the years—life’s never boring that way. Down that line, I dabbled with planets and predictions in the most abstract manner, as one of several different predictive mathematical disciplines, when coming out of finances and into politics during my early blogging days (nobody is surprised that remembers the early 2001 days here), and since then have completely tapered out of it over time. So yea, the cons got me on this one being a little out of the ordinary… It has nothing to do with what I consult with in online political strategy. But hey, like JP Morgan once said, “millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do!” I hope to see those wingnuts that are obsessed with every little thing I do at the next bikram yoga or vipassana meditation session in DC— but fair warning that I believe we evolved from monkeys!
Astrology is like religion; my attitude is that if you want to believe that silly crap on your own, that’s your privilege…but if you try to make serious decisions on such unsubstantiated nonsense, or go public with half-witted defenses of the idea, you’re fair game for ridicule. And what Jerome has written is ridiculous.
Astrology is not a predictive mathematical discipline. It’s pseudomathematics, the tossing around of irrelevant formulae to put up an illusion of rigor. It’s about as sensible as biorhythms.
As for using it in “the most abstract manner,” that’s a necessity: astrology doesn’t work. I know from experience that what astrologers spend most of their time doing is cobbling together abstract excuses for failure, or concocting vague and faux rationalizations linking numerical nonsense to real world events. This page is damning—Jerome is using familiar astrological gobbledygook to make ‘predictions’ about the Virginia governor’s race in 2001. If I were running for office and discovered one of my advisors was using such irrational garbage to make decisions about my campaign, I’d fire him so soundly he’d be convinced Mercury was in retrograde and the moon was void-of-course.
The only reason “millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do!” is that billionaires are rich enough that they can afford to squander some effort on gross foolishness and stupidity. The impression I get from Jerome’s comment is that he’s an unrepentant advocate of pseudo-science…and that’s not who I want on my side.
But at least this kooky astrologer isn’t married to a presidential candidate.
Brent Rasmussen makes an additional significant point: astrology is not currently threatening American education and politics. Creationism is. On a relative scale of significance, right now a few fringe kooks on the left are not anywhere near as great a problem as the domination of the Republican party by the Religious Right.