Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The rising stars of politics

If you're a Democrat, I have good news for you: President Obama is going to win reelection in November.

I'm not saying this because of any sort of expertise in politics.  In fact, saying that I am ignorant about political science is a little like saying my dog is ignorant of differential calculus.  I find politics baffling and frustrating to the extent that when I read political editorials (seldom), I usually come away feeling like I've been trying to comprehend something that my brain simply isn't built for.

So, no, the above prognostication is not based upon any kind of sophisticated political punditry.  It is based upon something that is baffling for an entirely different reason: astrology.

Yes, the astrologers have weighed in on the presidential race, and what they have come up with is going to be cheering news to any Democrats who are dumb enough to believe in astrology.  Last weekend there was a conference of "top astrologers" in New Orleans, and a panel of them put their heads together and drew lots of abstruse-looking charts, and they were unanimous in concluding that Obama would win.

Nina Gryphon, a Chicago astrologer who also has a practice as a corporate lawyer, said her conclusion was based upon the timing of the Aries ingress, the moment that the Sun enters the constellation Aries.  "It's obvious," she said. "Obama stays where he is without a change in status."

Denver astrologer Chris Brennan agreed.  He said that both Obama and Romney "are entering into peak periods of eminence in the next few months."   However, his chart-drawing turned up a difference that he said will turn the tide in Obama's favor.  "Obama's peak period stays consistent throughout the election, whereas Romney's seems to falter a few weeks before the election."

Brennan did go on to say that even though the stars are of the opinion that Obama will win, they do contain a warning that things might not stay smooth for the incumbent.  "The ingress of Saturn into Scorpio may trouble him," Brennan said to reporters.  "It won't cost him the election, but it may indicate difficulties in the first half of his second term."

Brennan hedged a little, though, when asked how sure he was about his results.  There was one other factor that could play a role, he said; "We should all be aware of the Mercury retrograde that will occur on election day.  Most astrologers are pretty certain that this could cause problems similar to what happened in the 2000 election."  The retrograde, Brennan said, "seems to imply that there's something up in the air about the election until sometime later in the month."

Oh.  Okay.  Saturn ingressing into Scorpio and Mercury retrograde means trouble.  This last one I find particularly bizarre -- not that the whole idea of thinking that there's some significance to the apparent motion of planets relative to random groupings of stars that are actually nowhere near each other, and that this motion could possibly have any bearing on a political election, is exactly sensible.  But the retrograde motion of Mercury (and Venus) are just optical illusions -- caused by the fact that they move in closer circles around the Sun than the Earth does, so at times (because the Earth is "overtaking" them in orbit) they spend a short while appearing to move backwards.  They're not actually moving backwards -- it's a total trick of perspective, similar to the apparent backwards motion of a slower-moving car relative to a distant mountain as you pass it on the highway.  So now we've moved into the realm of attributing events on Earth to a motion of a planet that isn't even happening.

Not, of course, that any astrological claim is within hailing distance of scientific validity.  Astrology makes about as much sense as thinking that a person's future could be foretold by the random patterns of lines on their hands.  Oh, wait!  People believe that, too, don't they?

I mean, come on.  How could astrology possibly work?  And don't start babbling to me about forces and energies unless you have the equations from physics to back you up.  If you think astrology is science, explain to me how the science works.

I know I'm engaging in a futile exercise, here.  It's not like my feeble attempts are going to convince the die-hard astrologers -- they are too invested in it (both philosophically and financially) to be willing to give it up.  So I suppose I should go back to doing something marginally more likely to meet with success, like teaching my dog differential calculus.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to hear a follow-up damage-control by this large group if their prognostications turn out to be false.

    Nothing more entertaining than a rambling backpedal from a person who wrote checks with their mouth that their ass couldn't cash.

    But, in my estimation, damage-control is one of a woo-woo's strong suits as their statistically low accuracy ratings have not effected their "employment" status, to date.

    Sure, there are professions whose predictions have large margins for error, though in the example of Meteorologists... at least weather actually exists.