Richard Dawkins has stirred up a new nest of critics, and they’re actually getting space in the media. This time, it’s an astrologer complaining about those damned skeptics.
Evidently hoping to prove astrologers are know-nothings, Dawkins’ interview started with a lengthy grilling about astronomy – the precession of the equinoxes, sidereal and tropical zodiacs, Kuiper Belt objects. There was the usual objection to astrology dividing people into 12 Sun signs, and my usual reply: that’s eight more than the Myers-Briggs personality test used by commerce. Actually, astrology’s basic personality types number 1,728.
Ooooh, 1,728. That certainly sounds precise and scientific and all that … of course, the real question is whether these carefully enumerated types correspond to actual personality types, and whether date and hour and place of birth impose that kind of disposition on people. And the answer is no. I could add another arbitrary signifier to his list — say, “were you born at or below sea level, or above sea level?” — and double the number of types assigned by astrology to 3,456 (or more if I start subdividing the altitude!), but it’s all utterly meaningless without a mechanism or without replicable evidence.
Like many woo-woo crackpots, there’s no brand of nonsense this fellow won’t try to defend. Obviously, hard-nosed skeptics must criticize the unknown because it doesn’t conform to their paradigms.
Homeopathy and acupuncture are particularly repellent since they work through mechanisms unknown to the laws of physics.
Actually, I think homeopathy and acupuncture are repellent because they don’t work.
Oh, well. Critiqued by theologians, now by astrologers … there really isn’t much difference in the collection of clowns that gather to throw marshmallows, is there?