The other day, when I criticized the op-ed in Scientific American that tarred E. O. Wilson (along with others like Mendel and Darwin) as a “racist”, I added the usual observation: the magazine is getting terminally woke and nonscientific. One hopes it would regain its former status as a sought-after place for laypeople to learn about science, but that won’t happen until they replace the Editor-in-Chief and/or get a new philosophy.
One commenter, though, suggested that a good replacement for Sci. Am. is Wired. I haven’t read Wired much, and have no strong feelings about it one way or the other. But this new article—yes, an article, not an op-ed—suggests that Wired, too, may be the victim of woo, and bears watching. Click on the screenshot to read:
It’s the usual modern apologia for astrology, which can’t bring itself to admit that astrology is a “science” that cannot make accurate predictions, and also argues that astrology is much more than just a form of “cold reading” or therapy: the stars and planets really do affect our futures in some way we don’t understand. Since there is no evidence that tests of astrology, properly conducted, show any ability to predict personality or the future (see below) this is basically Wired magazine’s presentation of woo—without any criticism. It is touting astrology, which victimizes people who pay good morning for nothing.
It’s even worse, for the author is identified this way:
Diana Rose Harper is a professional consulting & teaching astrologer currently living in southern California.
Yes, it works! And it’s historically justified!
ASTROLOGY IS A predictive art. And though many astrologers twist themselves into intellectual knots in an attempt to legitimize astrology within a scientific materialist paradigm—thereby creating a boundary between astrology and less-reputable “fortune-telling,” and avoiding guilt-by-association proximity with swindling “psychics”—there is no mechanistic explanation for how it works. Empirical astrological data, while extant, fails to satisfy the craving for clearly replicable quantitative results. The massively subjective nature of astrological interpretation doesn’t help: Two astrologers can look at the same planetary configuration and come to decidedly different conclusions, and sometimes, they’re both right.
Check out the link for “extant”, implying that there are actual data justifying the use of planetary and celestial positions in helping people. It just goes to the journal for astrologers!
And here’s a historical justification:
Still, rulers of nations and empires have a long history of relying on astrologers as part of the growth and maintenance of power; there’s just as long a history of astrologers being imprisoned (or worse). The ability to predict is precisely what makes astrology so potent, and exactly what brings risk into astrological practice.
There’s no test of the ability to predict that shows it works, and a “long history” proves nothing. There’s a long history of people praying to God and Jesus, but that doesn’t mean either that these figures exist or that prayer works.
Gobbledygook! It works but it requires a combination of stars and empathy!
Note the emphasis on counseling and empathy. If her astrology “works” (and that has yet to be ascertained), it will surely be due to the “friend/counselor effect”. Talking to anyone who empathizes with you, whether or not they are “paid friends”, is better than doing nothing.
I’ll draw this piece to a merciful close, though Harper says a lot more that one could parse. But why bother; there’s no material way the alignment of stars and planets when you are born could affect your personality or future. Until we think there’s a naturalistic way this could happen, I’ll just end with Hitchens’s Razor: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
For astrology, as with many species of woo, there is no evidence for it at all, much less “extraordinary” evidence. In this case, Wired is not only “unscientific”, but antiscientific. Let us dismiss it with prejudice!