“I don't believe in astrology; I'm a Sagittarius and we're skeptical.” July 12, 2007 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm not snark-honing here, but... seriously? If it's not deletion-worthy due to general craziness, it's now just a chat.
posted by Aloysius Bear to Etiquette/Policy at 3:44 PM (292 comments total)

Is it OK that jessamyn deleted the first crop of answers (some snarky, some not so much) that suggested that Saturn being in Virgo wasn't going to have a massive effect on the questioner's life?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2007


Now I have "father figure" stuck in my head.
posted by lemuria at 3:48 PM on July 12, 2007


LOLpsychos?
posted by Durin's Bane at 3:49 PM on July 12, 2007


I don't believe in astronomy. I'm a CHUD and we have no word for 'sky'.
posted by quin at 3:51 PM on July 12, 2007 [15 favorites]


This is no different than "I'm Jewish/Pagan/Christian/Meatbomist/Muslim...".
They're not asking for a referendum on the legitimacy of their beliefs. If you cannot respect the Asker and provide an answer within the context of their question, STFU.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wait, no hypotheticals allowed, but that's allowed? Crazy!
posted by OmieWise at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


It does seem kind of chatfilter-y.
posted by box at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2007


I removed three answers, two of which were out and out snarks and one that was a borderline "your day will be the same as every other day."

I see astrology questions as about the same as bible questions. If we can ask "what does the bible tell me about this or that?" (and we do see those) then we can have the same sort of questions about astrology. I agree about the chat factor and I'll drop the OP a note. Normally we don't delete follow-ups from the OP but I might drop her a note to let her know she doesn't have to thank everyone individually.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:57 PM on July 12, 2007


Yeah, I kinda prefer AskMe to be reality-based, but inna final analysis, it's answerable. Batshitinsane, sure, but answerable.

Aloysius, I agree that the less-snarky deletions were not warranted. "Astroloogy is bogus; thus, it's not going to affect you at all" is a pretty valid answer.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I had to read that twice to see that it wasn't snarkhonking but I'm thankful for this new addition to my personal lexicon.
posted by peacay at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2007


Paraphrasing.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2007


Yeah, Carnage could do to chill out with the in-thread pool party, but it seems mostly like an answer-within-your-expertise kind of question at its root. Let astrology nerds provide their answers and leave it alone.

I say this as someone who thinks astrology is completely embarrassingly nutso, so, you know, hey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd flag it but I know that such flagging would be useless now that its been called out.

But yeah seriously, what is the question that they're asking? Can I make an AskMe asking "Hey guys what are some things that might happen to me today?" I mean--

::sees that first comment is by jessamyn::

Well. There goes that.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good call, Jess.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:00 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is no different than "I'm Jewish/Pagan/Christian/Meatbomist/Muslim...".
They're not asking for a referendum on the legitimacy of their beliefs. If you cannot respect the Asker and provide an answer within the context of their question, STFU.


It is, in fact totally different. The question is:

I'm a Virgo. Everything out there says this is going to SUUUCK. What can I expect? What can I look forward to?

I don't know what the deleted responses were, but "You can look forward to Saturn being in Virgo having no actual impact on your life whatsoever unless you are inclined to believe it will" would answer the question perfectly well.

Whether it answers the question correctly is a matter of personal belief, but it is a direct and specific answer to a direct and specific question.
posted by dersins at 4:01 PM on July 12, 2007 [10 favorites]


I dropped the OP a note and told her to check in here if she wanted. I found the odd synchronicity of the email I got a few hours ago (from the comment I posted, I'm not an astrology follower at all personally but don't feel that strongly about it either way, any port in a storm etc.) and that question to be very strange indeed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:03 PM on July 12, 2007


Politeness would suggest that people not crap on the sincerely held beliefs of others, however bat shit insane.

That being said, it's a bad question. It translates to: "I'm expecting something bad to happen, what can I expect?" It's not really answerable on any terms, even if you believe in astrology, so it's bound to degenerate.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:04 PM on July 12, 2007


The question, as asked, should allow for [ASTROLOGIST] answers:

"What can I expect? What can I look forward to?"

You can expect a lifetime of not being manipulated by the stars. You can look forward to whatever events you have already put into motion.

Those are legitimate and helpful answers. You can tell them from snark, because snark looks like this:

You can expect me to roll my eyes. You can look forward to a sound mocking. mock, mock, mock
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:04 PM on July 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's "crazy" to you, but it's not crazy to the OP, and most answers are being supportive. If the OP had said "hey, I'm worried about dealing with some depressing stuff soon and I'm looking for some ways to feel better," I doubt this would be here.
posted by mdonley at 4:04 PM on July 12, 2007


I don't know what the deleted responses were, but "You can look forward to Saturn being in Virgo having no actual impact on your life whatsoever unless you are inclined to believe it will" would answer the question perfectly well.

Not that I'm disagreeing, but how is this different from saying "Well since the Bible is a made up bunch of fairy tales..." as an answer to a theology question? Difference in number of adherents? Snappier dressers of same?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:05 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


good call jessamyn!
posted by vacapinta at 4:06 PM on July 12, 2007


If someone were to ask "when will Jesus be resurrected?" then I think "he won't" is an acceptable answer. If they asked what the Bible says about it then it isn't.
posted by grouse at 4:09 PM on July 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


What kind of bible question would ask "What is going to happen to me this month/today/etc?"

What Quinbus Flestrin said. How the hell does one answer that question, and what seperates it from chatfilter?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:11 PM on July 12, 2007


Politeness would suggest that people not crap on the sincerely held beliefs of others, however bat shit insane.

How does that affect our ability to create a society that can rationally deal with the challenges of our future?

Can we, as a species, afford to let the batshitinsane go unchallenged?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Not that I'm disagreeing, but how is this different from saying "Well since the Bible is a made up bunch of fairy tales..." as an answer to a theology question? Difference in number of adherents? Snappier dressers of same?

The question wasn't "What does astrology tell me I can expect?" The question was "What can I expect?"

Others may disagree, but I find that to be an important distinction.
posted by dersins at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


She didn't ask "what astrology expects". She told us what astrology expected. And now she's chatting about what might specifically happen to her, which is completely hypothetical and completely chatfilter.

Just because it's a crazy belief doesn't mean you have to protect it.
posted by mendel at 4:13 PM on July 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


Can we, as a species, afford to let the batshitinsane go unchallenged?

Within the limited context of Ask Metafilter, I think we can afford that great risk.
posted by vacapinta at 4:14 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


If someone were to ask "when will Jesus be resurrected?" then I think "he won't" is an acceptable answer.

See, now that's bullshit. I don't even believe in Jesus, but I know that if a person is asking "When", it's already an implied assumption that Jesus will at some point be resurrected. It's intellectually dishonest, and pretty annoying, to say that Jesus won't resurrect, because it completely ignores the question's implied assumption. Instead, you're changing the framework of the question to fit your ideology (that Jesus can't be resurrected).

When I saw the question, I thought that it was crap. But Jess is right. If we allow Jesus questions (or Islam, or Judaism, or Hindu, or Buddhist, etc....), then we should allow for Scientology, astrology, and whatever other belief systems that exist. It's only fair.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:16 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


My father-in-law earned his living reading palms and creating "O-Mamori" (Japanese charms). It was a good living, and he had clients all over the world.

Don't you fucking tell me he was a psycho.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2007


I didn't see the deleted answers, but I don't see how "Astrology is a load of crap, therefore you shouldn't worry about it" is a bad answer. If people can't handle the truth wrapped in a bit of snark, they shouldn't believe in vicious lies.
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2007


If my answer gets deleted, I'm... probably going to be a little annoyed. But my answer isn't snarky and it answers her question as far as what she can expect and what she can look forward to.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2007


I recently had a hoodoo curse laid upon me. I've take a red pepper dusted dime and put it in a brown wrapper in my shoe. Any other methods to prevent witches from hoodooing me?
posted by geoff. at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bug alert: my answer in that thread got a "favorite". My answer is gone now, and it no longer shows up in the list of my answers which are favorited, but the number of favorites on my user page didn't go back down again.

(And I tried my best to answer the question directly without being snarky.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:19 PM on July 12, 2007


I don't even believe in Jesus, but I know that if a person is asking "When", it's already an implied assumption that Jesus will at some point be resurrected.

That's right. And we've seen again and again that it is okay to correct the erroneous assumptions of askers. There shouldn't be a free pass because the erroneous assumptions are part of a fully fledged erroneous belief system.
posted by grouse at 4:19 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I am no Darwin-thumper -- I get my woo on with the best -- but: total chatfilter.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:20 PM on July 12, 2007




The question wasn't "What does astrology tell me I can expect?" The question was "What can I expect?"

The charitable reading give us an implicit "what can I expect, oh you who may have further insights within the confines of the school of applied astrology?"

Which brings us back into reasonably specific an answerable territory. The asker being kind of hyper and chatty doesn't really change that, tempting though the idea may be once you've got your hackles up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2007


recently had a hoodoo curse laid upon me. I've take a red pepper dusted dime and put it in a brown wrapper in my shoe. Any other methods to prevent witches from hoodooing me?

I think you're set. I can say in all honesty that of the set of all people I've ever known who have taken a red pepper dusted dime and put it in a brown wrapper in their shoe, not one of them - not a single one! - showed any signs of having a hoodoo curse.
posted by vacapinta at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2007


I am now a little annoyed.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2007


it is okay to correct the erroneous assumptions of askers.

If you have a reasonable basis for believing this, AND provide and a good reason IN THE THREAD for why that is the case. But your answer in that thread is just a judgmental piece of tripe. It merely states, "Your belief system is wrong; deal with it." And that's crap. If you took the time to refute astrology with a couple of links, and decent argument, and THEN said, "Yeah, so tomorrow is going to be the same as today", I'd give you some credit here. But all you're doing now is coming across as a closeminded prig. And that's not helpful, useful, or friendly. (And thus, inappropriate for AskMeFi.)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


North Americans can be really arrogant. Why not accept the fact that there are other cultures out there with equally valid worldviews that are not necessarily Cartesian and rational, and that these "other" worldviews often coexist with hand in hand with the dominant Western way of thinking, while Western thought is not nearly so flexible.

Did I consult a fortune-teller/numerologist when I named my son in Japan? You're goddamn right I did.

The beliefs that are being mocked in this thread do not have a quantifiable value (you can't account for them in a ledger, which is all that really matters, right?), but they add richness to life.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Hey, my flag worked!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:26 PM on July 12, 2007


Noted. In the future, I will pose all my chatfilter questions within a quasi-religious belief system, so that I can make analogies to Jesus when they are deleted.
posted by smackfu at 4:26 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Even beyond the limits of Ask Metafilter, I don't make a point of telling everybody who holds some irrational belief just what I think of their crazy notions unless there is some good reason to do so. Everybody holds some irrational belief or other, it's not necessary to try and disabuse them of each and every one.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:28 PM on July 12, 2007


(BTW, I get that sometimes silly questions get people pissy. It happens to me to, and there's ample evidence to suggest that I occasionally fly off the handle and act inappropriately here, but I think the underlying premise of AskMeFi - to be helpful - is being violated, simply because so many people think of Astrology as fictional. And while that may be true, it's not fair to impose that belief on the Asker; that's not what they Asker wanted, it's not helpful when you give out one-liners calling the Asker irrational, and it's just not nice.)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:28 PM on July 12, 2007


And we've seen again and again that it is okay to correct the erroneous assumptions of askers. There shouldn't be a free pass because the erroneous assumptions are part of a fully fledged erroneous belief system.

Actually, that's an interesting point. If pointing out the erroneous assumptions is important to answering their question or otherwise germane, that's totally right (i.e. "you're actually not going to be able to make an effective bathtub out of balsa wood, I think you may need to consider a different material"). If pointing it out is just package and parcel of an "I'm not going to say you're crazy but you're actually crazy" response (i.e. "you're not going to be able to make an effective saviour out of allah I'd suggest a reason-based way of working out your existential problem.") then it belongs here not there.

I'f we allow "what does the bible say about this?" questions then we allow "what does Scientology say about this?" questions and we have the derail here, not there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:29 PM on July 12, 2007


Ok mendel is now my hero.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:30 PM on July 12, 2007


but how is this different from saying "Well since the Bible is a made up bunch of fairy tales..." as an answer to a theology question?

Depends on the question. If the question is, "What do [a bunch of fairies] think about [eating flan]?" then "Nothing. [Fairies] are mythical," is a marginal answer, politically. It does answer the question, however, though not within the requested frame of belief. And it may, arguably, actually be the only correct answer. If so, a set of answers that explicitely excludes (arguably) the only correct answer is poor one, in my opinion.

However, if the question is "What does Bulfinch's Mythology say about fairies eating flan?" then "Nothing. Fairies are mythical," doesn't answer the question at all, and is therefore a derail.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


And now she's chatting

Yeah, uh -- "crystalline father"?

One thing I really enjoy about Ask is all the well-written stuff about subjects I normally have no knowledge of or interest in. Well-written Q&A makes for well-rounded reading. Always nice to find new interests. Etc.

But this is just a lousy question with a lot of lousy follow-up that's definitely not educating me or anybody else. If I'm asked to pretend that's a good question, can't I ask that the OP at least spell her "rising sign" correctly?

I'm completely sympathetic to the analogy with the religious questions, but this whole thing is just a chatfiltery mess. I can't even snark on it, dammit. It is teh SUUUCK.
posted by kmennie at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2007


0xFCAF : they shouldn't believe in vicious lies.

And who exactly should they believe? Their faith may seem like vicious lies to you, but what truths are you giving them that is going to make their life any better? I don't agree with religion, and I think astrology is a bit silly, but if it hurts no one, what do you care if they believe in astrology or fairies or the Lock Ness monster?

Serenity is the greatest science fiction movie ever made.

I fail to see a flaw in that statement.
posted by quin at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2007


What I find a little distressing are the tags on that post. "Depression," "Uncontrollable crying," "Loss"? Those aren't tags that have anything, really, to do with astrology. To me, those tags are a very loud cry for help.

It seems like the poster either needs far more helpful advice but doesn't know how to get it, or just really, really needs some affirmation and hugs.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:32 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


If someone were to ask "when will Jesus be resurrected?" then I think "he won't" is an acceptable answer. If they asked what the Bible says about it then it isn't.

Wow. If I can snark-hone here I'll just note that among people who believe in Jesus's resurrection, pretty much all of them believe it happened a long time ago. Most Christians are looking for a Second Coming, but I'm interested in your sect of "still rotting in the grave" Christians. Tell me more.
posted by rossmik at 4:33 PM on July 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


Huh, I was going to join the pile-on until I saw the tags. Now I'm just gonna keep walking and look straight ahead. Jesus.
posted by puke & cry at 4:35 PM on July 12, 2007


Can we, as a species, afford to let the batshitinsane go unchallenged?

Hrmmm - I'm not sure. Let me consult my horoscope and get back to you.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:36 PM on July 12, 2007


The charitable reading give us an implicit "what can I expect, oh you who may have further insights within the confines of the school of applied astrology?"


Yes, but are we supposed to read people's questions, before responding to them, or read into them.

I'm not trying to be snotty here-- I mean this without snark.

I generally try to answer the question that is asked, rather than the one what I think the asker may have (or should have) intended to ask.

Note, by the way, that I did not answer this question in thread.

I'm merely suggesting that those who answered "You can expect nothing out of the ordinary to happen" were not out of line.

Matildaben for example. And grouse. I can't speak to any of the deleted responses because I haven't seen them.


Hey, my flag worked!


Mine didn't.
posted by dersins at 4:36 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dear MetaFilter: I suspect that my 14-year-old son is touching himself at night, possibly spilling his seed in the process. This is a definite problem as clearly indicated by the Bible, but I don't know how to prevent him from doing so as to save him from committing further grievious sin. What measures can I take to detect when said seed has been spilled? Also, what are some appropriate punishments for this behavior?
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:37 PM on July 12, 2007


but I'm interested in your sect of "still rotting in the grave" Christians.

After two thousand years, would there really be anything left to rot? I mean, your either frozen, bones, mummified, or dust after that amount of time.

Of course, it is Jesus...
posted by quin at 4:37 PM on July 12, 2007


Between the anecdotal responses ("My Saturn return was great!") and the OP's tendency to shower every response with fluffy kisses, it's a pretty much a chatfilter trainwreck over there.

If she had specified that she was looking for actual astrological information (valid within that belief system), and asked people to forego the woo-woo bashing, it would have been a somewhat better post.

You have to wonder, though: what did she expect?

Isn't it kind of like posting on the Focus on the Family forum to ask about people's favorite lube for anal sex?
posted by ottereroticist at 4:39 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


SeizeTheDay: just a judgmental piece of tripe... And that's crap... all you're doing now is coming across as a closeminded prig. And that's not helpful, useful, or friendly. (And thus, inappropriate for AskMeFi.)

But this is the grey where it's okay to post "pieces of tripe" far more judgmental than anything I did on the green. So thanks for that!

I'f we allow "what does the bible say about this?" questions then we allow "what does Scientology say about this?" questions and we have the derail here, not there.

There's no problem with asking about the theology or practice of Scientology. But if someone were to say that in their last Scientology auditing session their Age Flash number was 78, and what does that mean they can expect over the next month? The correct answer would be not very much. And if the subsequent thread was super duper chatty, it would be the nail in the coffin for deleting it as unanswerable chatfilter.
posted by grouse at 4:39 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sometimes it feels good to snark.

Often it feels better to help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


North Americans can be really arrogant. Why not accept the fact that there are other cultures out there with equally valid worldviews that are not necessarily Cartesian and rational

Yeah - insisting that your worldview is the only correct way is such a Western thing. Only North Americans try to impose their views on others.

*guffaw*

Also, sorry, but a "Western world view," if there is such a thing, is hardly "Cartesian and rational." On top of which, multiple worldviews that are not Cartesian and rational are not equally valid.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's honestly disturbing now.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with astology or the people who choose to believe in it. I did think the original question would be removed as chat filter, though, so I just ignored it. When it was tagged here and I read it...wow.

The comments from the OP after each post are seriously harshing my mellow.

I think I am having a methylviolet experience.
posted by misha at 4:44 PM on July 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


If we allow "what does the bible say about this?" questions then we allow "what does Scientology say about this?" questions and we have the derail here, not there.

Only if we blindly consider absolutely everything that's not Science! to be equivalently absurd and irrational. As smackfu said, the analogy to Jesus is dubious. We trust moderators' good judgement in lieu of strict guidelines elsewhere on the site; why not trust moderators to use their brains to delete questions about scams and cults and leave the relatively sensible ones, that have a good chance of not turning into a chatty trainwreck? You have to draw a line in the crazy somewhere; saying as we do at the moment that all non-Science questions are equal nonsense but we allow one type so all should be allowed is an extreme position.

the Lock Ness monster
As a Scot, I am honour-bound to say: OH YOU DID NOT.

posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:46 PM on July 12, 2007


This may even get me deleted here, but reading the profile of the OP and other comments makes me think maybe, just maybe, she is trying to put something over on us with this one.
posted by misha at 4:49 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon, no offense, but I had pegged you as somewhat curmudgeonly.

So I think it's really sweet that you're trying to help her with her question (such as it is).

A deposit has been credited to your karmic account.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2007


You have to draw a line in the crazy somewhere; saying as we do at the moment that all non-Science questions are equal nonsense but we allow one type so all should be allowed is an extreme position.

I dont see where the mods are saying anything is allowed. They are drawing a line in the sand I'm sure. Its just not where a lot of people here would like it to be.
posted by vacapinta at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2007


Whoa, mendel's helpful, kindly, snark-free answer got deleted? But matildaben's no-doubt-well-meant but "strongly-worded" and more snarky answer stays? Obviously I think that they should both remain, but deleting the less snarky one and leaving t'other doesn't make much sense any way you look at it.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 4:51 PM on July 12, 2007


misha: How's that?
posted by grouse at 4:52 PM on July 12, 2007


Also, sorry, but a "Western world view," if there is such a thing, is hardly "Cartesian and rational." On top of which, multiple worldviews that are not Cartesian and rational are not equally valid

I would argue there is indeed a Western worldview that's based on Enlightenment values. Its crowning achievement is the hydrogen bomb.

I just wonder why it's okay to say "LOLNewAgeHippie".
posted by KokuRyu at 4:53 PM on July 12, 2007


maybe, just maybe, she is trying to put something over on us with this one.

You mean she's trying to whip the scientismists into a frenzy of strictly rational indignation?

Actually, it doesn't seem to be working as well as I would have thought.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:55 PM on July 12, 2007


Sorry 'bout that AB, but I have it on good authority that she isn't a monster, she is actually quite nice. And yeah, I know Loch, my bad.
posted by quin at 4:55 PM on July 12, 2007


North Americans can be really arrogant. Why not accept the fact that there are other cultures out there with equally valid worldviews that are not necessarily Cartesian and rational

Are you suggesting that North American world views are rational? Have you ever watched Fox News?

and that these "other" worldviews often coexist with hand in hand with the dominant Western way of thinking, while Western thought is not nearly so flexible.

Just because your beliefs are non-Western doesn't make them any more valid.
posted by adamrice at 5:00 PM on July 12, 2007


It absolutely baffles me how not believing in something so completely and utterly debunked as astrology means you are "close-minded". I expect someone to come in and say "Well if only we had found the Philosopher's Stone, we'd be able to solve our economic woes by just creating more gold. Someone should really get to work on it, it's only a matter of time".

Do I have to give respect to a health question related to of the four humours were most prevalent in someone's system?
Do I have to answer an astronomy question using epicycles because the poster believes in geocentrism?
Can I tell someone that because there aren't creatures living upside-down on the inner shell of the hollow Earth, it's probably not necessary to avoid aerating their lawn for fear of letting them out?

Maybe we can get some clear guidance on when complete bunk is allowed as a premise in AskMe and when it's not.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:00 PM on July 12, 2007 [18 favorites]


Saturn in Virgo. I'm a Virgo. Everything out there says this is going to SUUUCK. What can I expect? What can I look forward to?

Your girlfriend? Yeah. She's totally gonna cheat on you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:02 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is a bad call by one who is usually the best administrator on the site. It is an error of judgement to support and, furthermore, encourage this chatty nonsense.

Administrators have removed crazy, chatty, and open-ended questions in the past. Claims of pure neutrality on all possible subjects are perhaps nice in theory, but site biases always have and always will affect delete or keep decisions. Often, I prefer it that way. Here, not.

Applying a "It's only fair" rule to allow in every viewpoint held by some subset of the population for all questions, of whatever stripe, leads to an impenetrable mix of fact, fiction, and nonsense. It would, for me, make reading AskMe a useless exercise. Judicious question deletions by the admins, often guided by member feedback, should be applauded. So, here is my feedback and lack of applause.

I further see that the "rationality is arrogance" apologists have arrived, making it clear that further debate on the question topic shall likely be unproductive. But I feel strongly enough about AskMe's credibility to cast my vote, though small in the vastness of the Meta* universe, against those who cheer jessamyn's decision as either correct or well-conceived.
posted by mdevore at 5:02 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I doubt that one could fruitfully mount a comprehensive argument that astrology is more batshit than mainstream religion and thus should not be subject to whatever protection those topics are; however, since Astrology makes very specific claims and even some pretensions towards being a "science"; it is far easier to debate on its merits, in terms of how it fails to fulfill its stated purpose.

But more importantly, I'd like to see where it has been set in stone that "faith" based questions are exempt from critical viewpoints. I am 100% against any such special protection. They should be exempt from wanton snark, for sure, but nothing more. There's a difference between saying "astrology (or whatever) is bunk because ___" vs. "you're a dipshit for believing in that bunk".
posted by anazgnos at 5:04 PM on July 12, 2007


North Americans can be really arrogant. Why not accept the fact that there are other cultures out there with equally valid worldviews that are not necessarily Cartesian and rational

Are you suggesting that North American world views are rational? Have you ever watched Fox News?


Last time I checked, neither animism, vodoo nor, in this case, astrology are used to develop public policy, etc, in Canada, the US or Europe.

It absolutely baffles me how not believing in something so completely and utterly debunked as astrology means you are "close-minded".

I think the issue here is ridiculing someone else for holding those beliefs. That is close-minded.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:05 PM on July 12, 2007


It's not an issue with north americans. It's an issue with geek culture. Unless it's on Star Trek, it can't be taken seriously.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:06 PM on July 12, 2007


So I think it's really sweet that you're trying to help her with her question (such as it is).

He linked to Rob Brezny, an "astrologer" who writes positive newspaper horoscopes without using any astrological principles, whose column is intended to let those who do believe in astrology follow "their sign" without it negatively impacting their life. I like reading Free Will Astrology too because it's nice to have fun positive affirmations and because it appears opposite Dan Savage in my local alt-weekly, but it's not what people who believe in astrology believe in. That's why it's Free Will Astrology.

Linking her to affirmations is admirable and all, but if we're going to tell this person that her sign isn't impacting her life, shouldn't we be able to just tell her, instead of tricking her into believing it?

I mean, I could write an answer that explains how some other planets and constellations interact so that she has nothing to worry about -- I'd be making it up from whole cloth and it'd be completely unverifiable but it'd make her feel better, just like Brezny's. But the message I'm getting here is that's exactly what's expected of us: fool the poster and the admins or the comment's gone.
posted by mendel at 5:07 PM on July 12, 2007


I believe the day will come when all mankind has perished and all that will be left are monkeys and bears. But who, pray tell, who will be the victor?
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:08 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the mods need to come up with an explicit policy here, or people are just going to continue to get pissed off, on both sides.

I mean, suppose a devout Catholic person posted something about being afraid that his Jewish friend was going to hell because he doesn't believe in Jesus. Would it be OK to post a response saying that there was no need to worry, even though that would trample on the poster's deeply-held belief that non-Christians will go to hell when they die?

I guess my point is, are the poster's deeply-held beliefs necessarily more important than the responders? I mean, I have the deeply-held belief that astrology is a giant load of crap without even the slightest basis in scientific fact, but apparently it's not OK for me to respond to the AskMe post without starting with the assumption that that belief is wrong.

So, what's the policy?
posted by cerebus19 at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2007


Last time I checked, neither animism, vodoo nor, in this case, astrology are used to develop public policy, etc, in Canada, the US or Europe.

Nancy Reagan?

I think the mods need to come up with an explicit policy here, or people are just going to continue to get pissed off, on both sides.

If we develop a firm policy people are just going to continue to get pissed off, on both sides.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on July 12, 2007


I think the issue here is ridiculing someone else for holding those beliefs. That is close-minded.

Well, the only person who has been called "closeminded" here today is me. And I can't really see what I wrote as ridicule, or closed-minded for that matter.
posted by grouse at 5:12 PM on July 12, 2007


Dear AskMe, at the bottom of my morning cup tea today I noticed that all the leftover tea-leaves had clumped in a pattern that looks like pentagram. What does this portend for my future? How can I maxmise any benefits that may accrue to me as a result?

I agree with deleting answers that say "you're a fucking moron" (though that would be my internal response), but I don't agree with deleting responses that say "astrology has never been proven to have any validity, so don't worry too much." That is as a good an answer as any.
posted by modernnomad at 5:12 PM on July 12, 2007


LOLovermoderation!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:14 PM on July 12, 2007


"Did I consult a fortune-teller/numerologist when I named my son in Japan? You're goddamn right I did."

Then you're batshit insane too.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:15 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


This really really makes me wish there was some kind of widget that could warn me if I was about to enter a thread that had more than a handful of emoticons or exclamation marks. I mean, I expected that question would be a horror, but my god that was annoying.
posted by stefanie at 5:17 PM on July 12, 2007


I saw it as a clear question with a fairly clear answer that is borne out by the astrology literature. According to astrology this particular phase of whatever has some sort of test coming up etc etc etc blah blah. Astrology's position as any sort of "science" doesn't matter and I personally don't care about it. I saw it as analogous to

- What's the best wood for dowsing in the Northern hemisphere?
- What does the Church of Satan say about intermarriage?
- Can Julio Iglesias be considered for sainthood?

and, an example that I personally don't like but would probably be acceptable under AskMe quidelines (though anyone posting it as a button pusher would watch it be speedily deleted)

- Could Jesus fly?

or, alternately

- Do most UFOs have windows?

Consider alternatives like "Why do UFOs have windows?" and "Could Jesus make a cake so big He couldn't eat it?" which are less halal.

Each of these okay questions is appealing to a certain body of work and is looking for people familiar with the body of work to answer the question. You could also see this with practices like certain kinds of dog training, parenting or gardening. Uber-rationalists can come to MeTa like they always have.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:20 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


It absolutely baffles me how not believing in something so completely and utterly debunked as astrology means you are "close-minded".

The OP isn't asking for astrological advice on how to kill or hurt someone. She's asking for astrological advice on how weather a difficult time in her life. You may not believe in it, but you're on the internet, so it's pretty easy to find a related link that help her. Or you could try to tear her and her beliefs down because...why?

You really don't have to shit everywhere just to prove your own beliefs.

Curiosity question: Has there ever been any Scifi written that uses Astrology or attempts to define it from a real world physics point of view? Spooky actions at a distance always seemed like it might apply to Astrology.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on July 12, 2007


She's asking for astrological advice on how weather a difficult time in her life.

No, she's asking for astrological advice on how to weather a predicted difficult time in her life. Some people pointed out that astrological advice was prompting the difficulty but that's not permitted here.
posted by mendel at 5:22 PM on July 12, 2007


"This is no different than "I'm Jewish/Pagan/Christian/Meatbomist/Muslim...".
They're not asking for a referendum on the legitimacy of their beliefs. If you cannot respect the Asker and provide an answer within the context of their question, STFU."

It's no different than a Jewish/Pagan/Christian etc. asking about whether their belief system has any predictive value. The answer is "No."

"If the OP had said "hey, I'm worried about dealing with some depressing stuff soon and I'm looking for some ways to feel better," I doubt this would be here."

Because it would have been deleted as goddamned chatfilter.

"Not that I'm disagreeing, but how is this different from saying "Well since the Bible is a made up bunch of fairy tales..." as an answer to a theology question? Difference in number of adherents? Snappier dressers of same?"

This is where semantics matter. Had the question been "What does astrology predict will happen based on these variables," it wouldn't have devolved into the shitpile. Kinda like how "writing a book" gets past the hypothetical filters.
posted by klangklangston at 5:24 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, she's asking for astrological advice on how to weather a predicted difficult time in her life.

Noted, but does it matter? Either you can attempt to speak her language or tell her language is all wrong, which probably won't do much, so why not speak her language?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 PM on July 12, 2007


Kettle's worldview is really arrogant because it isn't accepting of mine.
posted by Pot at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2007


of mine.
posted by Kettle at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm a skeptic. Pot's worldview isn't accepting of my skepticism.
posted by Kettle at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2007


Kettle doesn't understand that all worldviews are equally valid.
posted by Pot at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2007


all worldviews are equally valid

Then my worldview, being equally valid, wins. Because my worldview is that Pot's worldview is a load of crap.
posted by Kettle at 5:31 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Applying a "It's only fair" rule to allow in every viewpoint held by some subset of the population for all questions, of whatever stripe, leads to an impenetrable mix of fact, fiction, and nonsense.

I might agree with you if the viewpoint of the post were in some relevant way ambiguous or obfuscated. If it seemed there were a real threat of any even moderately intelligent person reading the question and failing to realize the OP was asking for an answer in the context of astrology, then the threat of intellectual pollution or whatever you want to call it might seem real to me. But I don't think there's any reason to worry that an innocent bystander could read the post and conclude that what would follow would be objective, fact-of-the-universe truths about what would happen to the OP on that day -- that such a person would be contaminated by astrology, mistaking it for hard science. In other words, I can't see any harm in it. You may see great harm in faith-based beliefs in general, and while I respect the championing of sense and reason that underlies that (as I do see great harm in maintaining beliefs that directly contradict things we objectively know to be true; I'm not sure that includes astrology), your stance here strikes me as just personal prejudice.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:31 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I doubt that one could fruitfully mount a comprehensive argument that astrology is more batshit than mainstream religion

I'm not going to try to do that, partly because I'm not really religious myself, but mainly because I don't have the willpower to face the absolute shitstorm of a derail that would follow.

But proving deep philosophical points isn't necessary when you're debating AskMe deletion practices. I think it's fair to say that one good reason why a non-crazy question about religion ought to remain, while astrology ones go, is that experience shows that it's (sometimes) possible for reasonable people to provide fruitful, interesting, intelligent answers to theological questions, even when commenters have radically differing premises — there's enough meat there to get your intellectual teeth into. The same isn't true for questions about astrology, on Metafilter or in the wider world (where are the Aquinas' or Dennetts of astrology?). Debates and questions-and-answers about religion, provided they don't decay into general asshattery, can end up being worthwhile; has there ever been, or could there ever be, a worthwhile, engaging, thought-provoking discussion of astrology?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:33 PM on July 12, 2007


has there ever been, or could there ever be, a worthwhile, engaging, thought-provoking discussion of astrology?

You mean other than this one?
posted by dersins at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm a skeptic. Pot's worldview isn't accepting of my skepticism.

As a Pyrrhonian Skeptic I am going to be skeptical of the fact of such an absolute statement.
posted by geoff. at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2007


has there ever been, or could there ever be, a worthwhile, engaging, thought-provoking discussion of astrology?

Not that I believe in astrology, but there will rarely ever be worthwhile, engaging, though-provoking discussions within a particular subject manner when people keep trying to derail them, or find an excuse to derail them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:38 PM on July 12, 2007


KokuRyu,

Before you continue slagging Western thought, please consider that the OP was talking about Western Astrology.

Oh, and you might find this interesting.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:39 PM on July 12, 2007


I was ready to flag, then when I saw jessamyn gave an answer... welllll.

I have no expectation of "fairness" in life, and especially on MeFi. This is a privately entity, and if Matt decides to just delete or allow things based on momentary whim (or his horoscope) that is his right.

However, this is not the same as a question about Biblical teaching. This question is more like: "I was at a Benny Hinn revival, and he gave a prophesy that the next month was going to suuuuuuuuuck! Have any of you had a prophesy over you, and if so what should I expect?" I doubt such a question would be allowed to stay. And in fact, I would be the first to flag it.

I guess the difference is it's one thing to ask what a belief system teaches, but another to ask what some unseen supernatural force, which exists only by faith, will cause to happen in one's life.

And I hope the Flying Spaghetti Monster will not make my life suck for saying any of this.
posted by The Deej at 5:41 PM on July 12, 2007


And I hope the Flying Spaghetti Monster will not make my life suck for saying any of this

He's sure to bust your meatballs for it!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:43 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is a worthwhile, engaging, thought-provoking discussion of astrology? Some people say that astrology is basically stupid, and others reply saying that all worldviews are equal. Kant it ain't. That's not to criticise the thread; for a callout it's been remarkably civil. I'm not criticising anybody; just saying that astrology is inherently a difficult if not impossible subject to say anything non-trivial or thought-provoking about. Like gummi bears. Saying that they're not exactly food for intellectual thought is not a major, biting, unforgiveable insult to those loveable bears or those who eat them.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:44 PM on July 12, 2007


I think it's fair to say that one good reason why a non-crazy question about religion ought to remain, while astrology ones go, is that experience shows that it's (sometimes) possible for reasonable people to provide fruitful, interesting, intelligent answers to theological questions, even when commenters have radically differing premises — there's enough meat there to get your intellectual teeth into.

There are also plenty of questions that can't and probably shouldn't be answered by people who lack some sort of specialized knowledge -- I would be unlikely, for instance, to supply a useful answer to where one might dine out while vacationing in New Orleans, being that I've never been there and have a palate as sophisticated as the average third grader's besides. Granted, that subject isn't quite so esoteric...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2007


This is a worthwhile, engaging, thought-provoking discussion of astrology?

Um, no.

I was, like, kidding and stuff.
posted by dersins at 5:47 PM on July 12, 2007


I would be unlikely, for instance, to supply a useful answer to where one might dine out while vacationing in New Orleans
posted by kittens for breakfast


You'd probably suggest PetSmart.
posted by dersins at 5:49 PM on July 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Feck!
posted by Aloysius Bear at 5:50 PM on July 12, 2007


Mmmm. PetSmart.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:51 PM on July 12, 2007



A deposit has been credited to your karmic account.


Young punks, why back in my day we dealt with cash only! Both ways! Uphill!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm a Virgo and I drive a Saturn. What does this mean for me?
posted by Partial Law at 5:55 PM on July 12, 2007


How few people must be afflicted by a particular delusion before it's acceptable to question it?

If I ask Metafilter how to deal with my cats talking trash about me, is it OK to point out that my cats aren't actually saying anything? What if one thousand people worldwide believe their cats are talking trash about them? What if they're organized?

Where's the line? What idiocy do we get to call out?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:55 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Dude, calling idiocy out is like all anybody DOES here!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2007


That post is the funniest thing I've read on AskMe in a long time. Personally, I hope to hear plenty more from Carnage Asada.
posted by rottytooth at 5:59 PM on July 12, 2007


This James Randi clip demonstrates some fascinating things about astrology. (Warning: James Randi).
posted by ldenneau at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2007


The question isn't just an astrology question; the OP included psychological aspects in her question.

-tags: depression, lonliness (sic), uncontrollablecrying, loss.
-text: "Everything is going to SUUUUCK", "What can I expect?"

So, depression symptoms in the tags and expectations / attributions built into the text. A person's expectations, attitudes and attributional styles can all play a part in their experience of depression and maintaining their depression.

Going off on a snarkfest about astrology in the AskMe thread is surely uncalled for, but addressing those points about expectations and attributions is perfectly on topic. And doing so isn't an attack on astrological beliefs; believing in astrology doesn't make psychology disappear.

Suppose a Christian were asking for advice on how to properly lose weight through prayer. Would pointing out that exercise and reducing calorie intake would also help, or providing links to specific workout programs, really be seen by the admins as a LOLskywizard snark?
posted by CKmtl at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2007


Here I thought the worst thing about MeFi was the fucking communists. Now I have to worry about the astrology nuts, too? What's next -- Mormons?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:09 PM on July 12, 2007


If anyone is wondering what my deleted comment was, it was a response to another now-deleted comment claiming that astrology worked for him and it couldn't have been confirmation bias.

And oh yeah, SeizeTheDay, my deleted comment had reasoning and links just like you wanted.
posted by grouse at 6:13 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm a Virgo and I drive a Saturn. What does this mean for me?

I'm a Virgon driving Capricans before me. Is this what is good in life?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 PM on July 12, 2007


Your favorite religion sucks
posted by jourman2 at 6:24 PM on July 12, 2007


How few people must be afflicted by a particular delusion before it's acceptable to question it?

Just don't make fun of Christians here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:25 PM on July 12, 2007


Do I have to answer an astronomy question using epicycles because the poster believes in geocentrism?

Let's just be clear here that you don't have to do anything. That's the great thing about living in a free society: nobody will ever put a gun to your head and force you to act against your conscience. (Unless you want them to and that raises some questions but... yeah.) If a question really offends you then -- wait for it -- ignore it. Have a chuckle and move on. What is important, and it's much more important than your self-righteous need to ridicule people over the internet, is to maintain an atmosphere of respect and helpfulness. So, yes, if somebody asks such a question then pause, take just a moment to step back and say 'Man, this person can't be serious. People believe the craziest things' and move on.

(And really I must admit I always find these discussions about the validity of beliefs on the net to be little more than theater. So few of these valiant defenders of Reason and Wisdom would ever have the courage to call out somebody's beliefs in real life, to their face. It's only safely behind their keyboards that they get all indignant.)
posted by nixerman at 6:27 PM on July 12, 2007


Excuse me. I need to break into song now.

Next time you want to call out a question...
a harmless simple little question...
Consider using the little-used -- your discretion!
And shut the HELL up up up
Ohhh, shut the hell up up up.
Are they trolling? Are there tempers boiling?
No? Are they Harry Potter's Book 7 spoiling?
Are they cortex's plan for domination foiling?
No? Then shut the hell up up up.
Ohh, shut the hell up up up.
The Bible, Photoreading, Carl Sagan, Astrology
All are appropriate for our good old AskMe
And next time, before crying out 'how crazy!'
Try, oh try to find a gentler and kinder esprit...
And shut the hell up up up.
Shut the hell up up up.

...never said it'd be a good song.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:27 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


grouse, I'm sorry if I came off more prickly than I really am. I wasn't trying to offend you, but I found your comment about the poster being irrational, and of course the jesus comment, to be, well, wrong, and judgmental. It annoyed me. Which isn't to say that I haven't annoyed anyone here (glass houses and all), but i do find it mildly hypocritical to be so sure about telling a person who claims to believe in astrology that they're just plain wrong, given the environment at this site (that ideas/diversity is welcome). Perhaps my comment came off as a bit personal, but the fact that people chimed in to agree with you should give you some solace in knowing that my comment applies to them, as well.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:31 PM on July 12, 2007


Just don't make fun of Christians here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon


Blatantly disingenuous creeps given to making willfully fatuous comments are still fair game though, right?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:32 PM on July 12, 2007


I want to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back for not snarking in the thread. These crazy bullshit questions are the ones I usually can't resist. Kudos.

Yay me.
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on July 12, 2007


Almost any system of belief which is passed from person to person over a long period of time will tend to accumulate some features which help the person who believes in it. I cannot see any way in which astrology is likely to be an exception to this.

If you want an example of something astrology handles better than the Judeo-Christian tradition, in my opinion, the problem of God allowing evil, as in the book of Job, is a lot harder to stomach than that the stars were against you, and that caused some bad things to happen. It at least saves you from the feeling that God and Satan, in their dealings with human beings, are difficult to distinguish from boys pulling the wings off flies to see how they'll run around, and laughing and making bets on it.

Nor is astrology some kind of mental poison which renders you stupid if you believe it. Isaac Newton had both astrological and alchemical beliefs, as did Chaucer and apparently Shakespeare.
posted by jamjam at 6:35 PM on July 12, 2007


Just don't make fun of Christians here.

And watch the homo jokes too. Those people are so excitable sometimes...dramatic, even.

;-)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:37 PM on July 12, 2007


So what is the best wood for dowsing in the Northern hemisphere? This is a very important question which I need answered, but I can't waste an AskMe on it!

Bonus points if it is useful for dowsing for both water and gasoline. I definitely need some gasoline. I can't afford the stuff at the gas station.
posted by wierdo at 6:43 PM on July 12, 2007


Nixerman - Let me rephrase, since you had trouble pairing the modifier with the thing to which it dangled: Would any answer I gave require the use of epicycles if the poster believed in geocentrism?

I'm not sure how you were under the impression that I thought I had to answer every single AskMe question that came across, as clearly there are at least two questions which I haven't answered.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:45 PM on July 12, 2007


As is usually the case, it's a little from column A and a little from column B, here. People tend to act out in more extreme ways in text than they do in person.

By which I mean, at least by my lights, that while it is corrosive and devolutionary to unquestioningly encourage and support goofy magical thinking (Christianity, Astrology, whatever) in the name of Tolerance, it is also counter to being a good human being to respond to the beliefs of others with 'that's bullshit'.

The middle way, of course, is to hit both notes, because at the end of the day, we want to be treated with respect and kindness even if we're out in lala-land somewhere, and should treat others the same way, but if we are completely bonkers, we kind of hope that someone might gently let us know.

So, yeah. In real life when people I know start talking bollocks about crystals and horoscopes and jesus and homeopathy and ufos and racism and the thousand other things that I think are dumb, destructive and detrimental to both individual and collective humanity, I tend to let it slide, unless they actually seem interested in talking about the validity of their beliefs, which is rare. But I never fail to raise an eyebrow, either literally or verbally, while doing what I can to find some common ground between their (from my perspective) totally-whacked-out beliefs and my own (which they may in turn find totally insupportable).

If they're adamant, evangelical, and annoying, I walk away (again, literally or metaphorically). But I don't tell them that I think they're foolish, unless they start first.

When it comes to people's beliefs, it is often the case that they effectively don't have very much choice about actually having those beliefs -- to change them would require that they tear down significant parts of the underpinnings of their personality, if they're adults, and most people just aren't going to do that. Our beliefs, unfortunately, tend to choose us as much as we choose them, for most folks.

So we have to find a way to live with people who are different, and their beliefs, even if we differ, or just turn away. And even though turning away is sometimes the only course that makes sense, making a habit of it can't be a good thing.

That said, if Carnage Asada posts another XXXXX X0X0X0 my beautiful starchild comment, I'll have to consider crushing their skull with a rock. 'cause toleration of others' idiosyncracies can only go so far.

Yes, that last bit was a joke. Don't hate me because I'm intolerant, hate me because I'm beautiful.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:47 PM on July 12, 2007 [20 favorites]


Wow. Just Wow.

Thanks everyone for letting me know that my tiny little insignificant question could send all of you off contemplating either your own navels or private plate of beans.

You all need to get out of the house. Please. Really.

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are.

My friends and I will be meeting up I-R-L. I recommend you all do the same...at least once.
posted by Carnage Asada at 6:48 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Don't worry about it, SeizeTheDay. I'm not really offended, but perhaps annoyed by the tenor of your comments, considering that I carefully tried to avoid the same kind of personalization and tone myself.

i do find it mildly hypocritical to be so sure about telling a person who claims to believe in astrology that they're just plain wrong, given the environment at this site (that ideas/diversity is welcome).

Two comments:
  1. It's a bit unfair to judge someone as hypocritical because their beliefs are inconsistent with what you imagine to be the beliefs of a larger group. It's not like there's some sort of MetaFilter creed that you can assume we all believe in.
  2. If you think that an overwhelming portion of MeFites hold beliefs inconsistent with claiming there is no evidence for astrology, this thread is evidence enough that you're just plain wrong.

posted by grouse at 6:48 PM on July 12, 2007


(And really I must admit I always find these discussions about the validity of beliefs on the net to be little more than theater. So few of these valiant defenders of Reason and Wisdom would ever have the courage to call out somebody's beliefs in real life, to their face. It's only safely behind their keyboards that they get all indignant.)

Would it precisely be courageous to question a person's delusions in this manner? I'm not sure that's the word I'd use. A person who believes in Christianity or astrology is suffering from a mental defect, and it can be difficult to quickly determine how deep this defect runs. There's no reason to think that such a delusional person will react reasonably to having their delusions questioned.

I'll argue with people regarding all sorts of issues over which reasonable people can disagree, but I tend to avoid confronting delusional people.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:49 PM on July 12, 2007


I would argue there is indeed a Western worldview that's based on Enlightenment values. Its crowning achievement is the hydrogen bomb.

Oh come on. The internet?

It's lame to bring out the atom bomb as some kind of hallmark a "Western Worldview" as if many, many countries and people were working on similar projects at the same time. All of humanity is fucking stupid in that regard, it doesn't seem to be isolated to one particular "Other," as you so quaintly seem to think it does. That would make things like xenophobia so much easier, though, wouldn't it? If the "Others" flaws weren't also so well mirrored in your own culture...indeed any culture.
posted by odinsdream at 6:49 PM on July 12, 2007


You all need to get out of the house.

It'd be a really bad idea for me to leave the house right now. Remember, Jupiter is in Aries!
posted by grouse at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2007 [13 favorites]


WTF?!? I retract everything I've said in this MeTa.

Except for the off-topic snarks at other people.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2007


My friends and I will be meeting up I-R-L. I recommend you all do the same...at least once.

Oh, that's hilarious. The "R" stands for "real," you know. As a believer in astrology, I'm not even sure you're qualified to talk about what's real.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:52 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Carnage Asada: Thanks everyone for letting me know that my tiny little insignificant question could send all of you off contemplating either your own navels or private plate of beans.

How is a discussion about how and where admins draw the line on deletions navelgazing or beanplating, exactly?

Also, if you're operating under the framework that a particular arrangement of celestial bodies can influence human experiences, it shouldn't surprise you that your particular arrangement of letters cause those who read them to create their own particular arrangements of letters.
posted by CKmtl at 6:58 PM on July 12, 2007


There's an article in the just-arrived issue of Harper's in which some idiot claims that though contemporary Westerns liberals and environmentalists mean well, their use of concepts like "ecosystem" and "habitat" to argue for the preservation of the environment stem from an overly scientific, rational system that all Westerners inhabit that overvalues work and the acquisition of money above all else. The idiot goes on to argue that we should instead accept a more spiritual appreciation of nature, in which we value things "just for being."

The idiot earns his title first by failing to see that the values of science are different from and come easily apart from the overwork/overgreed values, and that the values of science are worth keeping because science helps human beings lead longer, happier, more educated lives that are just better. Backing away from scientific worldviews to "spiritual" ones leads shorter, more painful, less enlightened lives.

He earns it second by sourcing basic value in existence. Suppose there's a piece of space dust orbiting Jupiter that exists. Suppose there's Sherlock Holmes, who doesn't exist. It's a desideratum for a value theory that, whatever else it says, it says that Sherlock Holmes is more valuable than the piece of space dust. His account fails that desideratum.

I don't think this has anything to do with anything, but I just read it and it made me very mad.
posted by Kwine at 6:59 PM on July 12, 2007


I think we've just been pwned by a moonbat.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jupiter is in Aries!
Jupiter is currently in Saggitarius, asshole. Get it right if you're going to criticize.

I'm not even sure you're qualified to talk about what's real.
Read some of my other posts and then let me know if they're "real" enough.
Then we can talk.

In the meantime don't be an ass. It always ends up making you look bad.
posted by Carnage Asada at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2007


It's not about you, Carnage Asada, so don't take it personally. Have a nice evening with your friends, eh?
posted by ottereroticist at 7:04 PM on July 12, 2007


Awesome. The crazy astrology chick turns out to be the sanest of them all. God does indeed play dice with the universe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


or not.
posted by NortonDC at 7:08 PM on July 12, 2007


In the meantime don't be an ass. It always ends up making you look bad.

Oh no, a lunatic (or possibly just a raving idiot) thinks I look bad! How will I ever find meaning in life without the approval of the world's lunatics and raving idiots.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2007


Huh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:15 PM on July 12, 2007


crazy astrology chick

See when you put it like that I kind of get turned on and start the appreciate the real value of astrology.

posted by nixerman at 7:20 PM on July 12, 2007


equally valid worldviews that are not necessarily Cartesian and rational

Does Not Compute.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 PM on July 12, 2007


stavros, if I could favorite your comment a thousand times, I would.
posted by ersatzkat at 7:37 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


stavros, if I could favorite your comment a thousand times, I would.

I thank you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:40 PM on July 12, 2007


Heh. Here's the rules: if it isn't in the library reference stacks, it isn't allowed. Or if that's too constrictive: if it isn't in Dewey, it doesn't stand a chance.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on July 12, 2007


Backing away from scientific worldviews to "spiritual" ones leads shorter, more painful, less enlightened lives.

Exactly. I believe we have a very web-fluential media here in the Meta Network. Allowing blatant fiction to be taken as authoritative is, in my opinion, dangerous to the long-term health of our society.

The longevity of man is going to rest on rational science's shoulders, not fringe cultural myth. We're not on Battlestar Galactica.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Jupiter is currently in Saggitarius, asshole. Get it right if you're going to criticize.

Okay, this, combined with the excessive in-original-thread posting, REALLY makes me think this is just a troll having some fun. I have no proof, obviously, but... just wow.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:51 PM on July 12, 2007


You missed it. The OP got their own "FU" comment deleted from their own thread. The whole damn thing shoulda gone.
posted by NortonDC at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]



I have no expectation of "fairness" in life, and especially on MeFi. This is a privately entity, and if Matt decides to just delete or allow things based on momentary whim (or his horoscope) that is his right.


I'd agree if I hadn't paid to get in.
posted by anazgnos at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2007


Jessamyn:

I simply do not understand why answers are being deleted for answering the poster's actual question, not the one you guess they meant to ask.

As I pointed out in my deleted comment, and as others have said above, there's a huge huge difference between "what can I expect" and "what does astrology say I should expect?" The poster didn't say "what does the bible tell me about this or that," no matter how much you squint.

The question you want us to answer, "what does astrology say I should expect?" is the question of someone interested in astrology. The one that WAS ASKED, "what can I expect," combined with their tags, is the question of someone concerned and looking for reassurance.

Deleting said reassurance does not help the poster, Jessamyn, especially when you're deleting straightforward, non-hostile, non-judgmental answers that simply address the OP's concern. If we aren't allowed help someone by answering their actual question neutrally and reassuringly, what the hell are we doing here?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:04 PM on July 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


You paid a fee, anazgnos; you didn't buy stock. You are most sincerely welcome aboard, and are free to jump in to the game/moshpit/policywonkery that is Metatalk (and kudos at that for being one of the rare birds to speak here first thing); but if your impression is that the $5 fee buys you the right to tell mathowie what he can and can't do, he'll probably be happy to offer you a refund.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 PM on July 12, 2007


You got your virgos in my sagitariuses!

La-la-la, connect the dots!
posted by furtive at 8:07 PM on July 12, 2007


I'd agree if I hadn't paid to get in.

If you want it your way, go to Burger King.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:08 PM on July 12, 2007


Dammit cortex, your reasoned but firm response totally took the legs out of my tersely badass, ultimatum-y comment!

I demand my money back! With interest!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:09 PM on July 12, 2007


snarkhonking

This is my new favorite word; I don't care if it's real or not. I needed to LOL.
posted by desjardins at 8:11 PM on July 12, 2007


So what is the best wood for dowsing in the Northern hemisphere?

Morning.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is it hysterically funny when someone tries to put down nerds by claiming to have friends "IRL"?


And for the record, while I generally worship at the feet of La Jessamyn, I think she's dead wrong here. The combo of lookame and my drama, chattiness, astrology and XOXHUGSTOMYSTARPEOPLE was toxic.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:14 PM on July 12, 2007


And watch the homo jokes too. Those people are so excitable sometimes...dramatic, even.

Gaytastic comment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:14 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


A person who believes in Christianity or astrology is suffering from a mental defect, and it can be difficult to quickly determine how deep this defect runs.

And here we come to the ironic finale.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:17 PM on July 12, 2007


Alright, everyone. Let's all calm down and go out for a drink.

will someone please buy me a drink?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:22 PM on July 12, 2007


I don't believe alcohol is intoxicating, so I'll drive.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2007


This was impressively ridiculous.
posted by blacklite at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2007


One of the several bizarre effects Mefi has had on my life is it makes me proud to be an agnostic, and really, that's just weird. Fuckin' evangelists, man. YOU ARE DEFECT YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING FALSE
posted by furiousthought at 8:26 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


For the astronomy believers, I ask this:

Your computer is based on rational, scientific principles. The electricity delivered to run your computer is generated by rational, scientific principles. The Internet works by using rational, logical rules of programming. You are here, using them and accepting them.

Disbelieving in astrology is based on rational, scientific principles. So why do you turn your back on science for this, but not for telling us about turning your back on science?
posted by stevis23 at 8:37 PM on July 12, 2007


What stavros said.

I further see that the "rationality is arrogance" apologists have arrived

No, rationality is not arrogance - arrogance is arrogance. Often, people who consider themselves rational use this self-assessment to justify being arrogant. They use it as an excuse to scoff at and belittle and even dehumanize other people whom they perceive to be less rational than they. The mental process involved here is called rationalization, and ironically, there's not much that's rational about it.
posted by granted at 8:37 PM on July 12, 2007


Agnostic? You're telling me that you don't know whether the stars control our daily lives? You honestly have no idea? That's hilarious

That's not a sophisticated position. That's just a cop out!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2007


I have a few chosen on Bravo and the E! network, Jupiter is currently in Saggitarius, asshole, my rising sign is Saggitarius and I'm really looking forward to some FUN coming up!
XXX
posted by signal at 8:42 PM on July 12, 2007


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America:

Our daily lives are, in some way, shape, or form, affected by those around us and those with whom we interact. If there are a large number of people acting on the basis of astrology around us and their actions can and do affect our daily lives then, yes, to some degree the stars control our daily lives.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:46 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Morning.

Oddly, I find that species to be the least effective, although usually the most durable.
posted by wierdo at 8:47 PM on July 12, 2007


Oh, yeah, I'm an agnostic, too.
And that's my big agnostic argument.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:48 PM on July 12, 2007


The Great Big Mulp, that's not really an astrological claim, though. That's a psychological or sociological claim.

By "stars control our daily lives" I was referring exclusively to astrological claims. I apologize for any confusion.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:49 PM on July 12, 2007


yhbt.
Close this thread.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:50 PM on July 12, 2007


Just relax and let yourself be trolled. It's surprisingly pleasurable, once you stop fighting it.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:52 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh my.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:58 PM on July 12, 2007


Most benevolent blessings to you, angel.

I think Carnage Asada is secretly a Nigerian scammer.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:00 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: You not only commented on the same thing I was just about to, but you picked the same example as possible crowning achievement of enlightenment philosophy so far.

I mean, atom bombs have been around for what, 50+ years now? The idea that modernism has come up with nothing more impressive since then is pretty silly. Along with the internet itself, I'd put forward a number of other candidates: space travel, personal computing, modern health care (deficiencies in providing it notwithstanding), or even nuclear power, which is a somewhat more difficult prospect than the nuclear bomb, and a great deal more useful overall.

The nuclear bomb is only the crowning achievement in scare tactics.
posted by Arturus at 9:05 PM on July 12, 2007


Disbelieving in astrology is based on rational, scientific principles.

No, I'm afraid it isn't. It's probably fair to say that believing in astrology -- or anything religious at all -- is NOT based on rational, scientific principles, but this is not the equivalent of your statement.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:06 PM on July 12, 2007


Agnostic? You're telling me that you don't know whether the stars control our daily lives? You honestly have no idea?

I'd be floored if they did, but I don't think anybody's really got the truth about that sort of thing, or that it matters that much, so I don't get so damn worked up when someone appears to be wrong. You okay?
posted by furiousthought at 9:21 PM on July 12, 2007


No, I'm afraid it isn't.

Sure it is. If astrology were true, there would be some connection between the position of the planets and people's daily lives that would not attributable to non-astrological phenomena. No such connection has ever been observed in a controlled, verifiable manner.

The reasoning is basically this: If astrology were true, we would observe X. We do not observe X, so astrology must not be true.

This is perfectly valid reasoning.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:21 PM on July 12, 2007


Something all the astrology haters here should consider, the engineer who had training as an astrologer, used that knowledge(precession) to solve the problem of helicopter stability, so every time you see one flying by thank the science of astrology.
posted by hortense at 9:27 PM on July 12, 2007


ok, i have a great fucking idea. it's brilliant. it goes like this:

we make a new subsite of metafilter.com. the address would be youvegottabefuckingkiddingmeineedafuckingdrink.metafilter.com.

and whenever threads like this one come along and there's just way too much... metafilterosity... coming from all sides to even consider dealing with, you just go to the site and click a button that says something like "beer me!" you then are entered into a database that figures out if anyone else from the site near you clicked the button. if so, you get an email, or a text if you prefer, telling you to get your ass to a newly created thread where you and everyone else in your area who clicked the button can enter and say "ok. grassroots in 15 minutes?" and then go there. cause right now i'd much rather get fucking hosed than be involved in this discussion.
posted by shmegegge at 9:30 PM on July 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


the engineer who had training as an astrologer, used that knowledge(precession) to solve the problem of helicopter stability, so every time you see one flying by thank the science of astrology.

Honestly, now. Is that a troll, a joke, or are you so utterly uninformed about science. The concept of precession did not in any way arise from 'the science of astrology', as I'm hoping you are aware.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:31 PM on July 12, 2007


BEER ME!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:31 PM on July 12, 2007


No, I'm afraid it isn't.

One example would be for Nature. It's late and I don't feel like digging up more, but there's one case where, in a controlled study of a falsifiable question (i.e., a rational, scientific principle), the hypothesis that astrology works was found to be an inadequate explanation of the results.

Also, what Mr. Pres. Dr. said.
posted by stevis23 at 9:31 PM on July 12, 2007


Well, you're right, MPDSEA (Mr? Mr. Prez?). I guess that was all psychology.

I think the debate is pretty much over, but I wanted to throw in my two cents, anyway:

I suppose my thought on this whole matter of astrology and belief and what-not is that our lives are exceptionally complicated and random, society is a baffling and massive thing, and having some knowledge, even if it is incorrect, of what to prepare for next (or having a great, big, all-powerful friend, or having a complex system of religious rituals, etc.) can be very reassuring. In this life, we need all the reassurance we can get.

When it comes to the events of our daily lives, science really hasn't all that much to offer. Sure, social psychology can tell us something about how our moods and attitudes affect the way others treat us, how self-fulfilling prophecy can alter social situations, but such things only deliver a statistical probability. And so does astrology.

(I think I was channeling Vonnegut for a minute, there.)

(No! Wait! I don't believe in channeling!)


(And as far as things for which we can thank the -science- of astrology, I'd say ... er ... astronomy might be a better candidate than helicopters.)
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:34 PM on July 12, 2007


It does not follow that not being able to observe something implies it does not exist, though that assumption is often made.

I cannot observe magnetism, though I can observe its effects on other objects. Yet I would still agree with scientists that the concept of magnetism as such exists through a description of its effects on the physical world.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:36 PM on July 12, 2007


From the Skeptical Inquirer quoting James Randi:

"While Newton was undeniably a brilliant man, one of the most productive and perceptive of scientists who ever lived, I have no problem with the fact that in some respects, he could be simply wrong." It certainly is true that very smart people can make lapses in judgment, and even Einstein made mistakes. It is easy in retrospect to dismiss discredited beliefs, but we are all to some degree products of our age, and even brilliant men and women can get caught up in fashionable nonsense of the times. Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, among others, put credence in astrology."

We all believe that Newton was the product of his age and besides being brilliant has these other strange beliefs. But somehow we don't have any.

In the future maybe they'll call this the Age of Engineers and laugh at how often we compared things to computers. Or how we praised binary logic even though it breaks down in experiments we conduct today in particle accelerators.

Astrology is almost certainly wrong. But it is the arrogant attitude expressed here by so many that makes me side with the Astrologers.
posted by vacapinta at 9:38 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


What can I expect?

Well, one thing that you will never expect is... THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!! No one ever does... Pitty...
posted by blue_beetle at 9:39 PM on July 12, 2007


Not a troll. Arthur young claims his training as an astrologer provided understanding he used to solve the old problem, how to stabalize the helicopter.
posted by hortense at 9:41 PM on July 12, 2007


BEER ME!

A meme is born.
posted by Kwine at 9:43 PM on July 12, 2007


Well, thanks all for distracting me from the really, really lousy evening I've been having. I think I've nearly calmed down enough to get some sleep, though it would have been easier had I been beered.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:44 PM on July 12, 2007


That is truly a wonderful argument, the Great Big Mulp, and one which is uncomfortably pointed when you consider that Nancy Reagan was a very strong believer in astrology, and that her husband Ron did follow the advice she gave him based on her understanding of the portents according to the stars and according to the advice of certain professional astrologers. One might almost say, therefore, given how close we came to nuclear war with the Russians back then, that the fate of the world was determined by the stars.

In honor of that argument, I will take up the challenge laid down by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America of making a direct case for a possibly valid form of astrology.

Human beings spend nine months in the womb. At least during the last trimester, the trend of research seems to be that the fetus responds much more to varying conditions in the outside world, such as day length, as well as the varying condition of the mother, such as a presumably seasonally dependent and changing level of crucial nutrients like folic acid and protein and vitamin D, than we thought at one time. For a given latitude in the northern hemisphere, then-- and keep in mind that for most of our history most of us have lived almost all our lives only a few tens of miles from our birthplace-- people born at the same time of year could be expected to tend to have characteristics in common which would distinguish them from those born at other times of year, though those, too, would tend to have some distinguishing characteristics in common.

Therefore, especially historically, a purely sun sign astrology could have, or have had something to it.
posted by jamjam at 9:45 PM on July 12, 2007


WHBT.WHL (and how!).HAND.
posted by The Bellman at 9:49 PM on July 12, 2007


This argument has real feng shui.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:51 PM on July 12, 2007


I must admit that I'm still puzzled that Jessamyn thinks there was ever a real question there, and I, like so many others, defer to her superior wisdom on most matters.

Even if you fully accept astrology, how could you answer a "what can I expect" question with so little data to go on. You share a birth sign with roughly 500,000,000 people, a birthday with 16,000,000 and a birth date with more than 250,000 (a rough guess from world population and life expectancy). We know that experience is individual, so there will be a myriad of outcomes even for people who fall under the same sign/aspect/whatever. Without lots details of birth date, time, place and more, the question is meaningless on it's own terms, even within an astrological world view.

The question is crap not because it's about astrology, but because it's chat filter. It's not "what's the best wood for dowsing?" it's "I'm using hazel, will that go with my dress?" Or, if you prefer, not "I'm taking X medication for Y condition, what are the possible side effects?" but "I think I might be ill, what can I expect?"
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:02 PM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't know if it's Saturn in Virgo or what, but it does seem that Carnage Asada's month isn't shaping up too well -- I mean, a 200+ comment metatalk thread bashing her? Sucky indeed.
posted by lilac girl at 10:05 PM on July 12, 2007


I recently had a hoodoo curse laid upon me. I've take a red pepper dusted dime and put it in a brown wrapper in my shoe. Any other methods to prevent witches from hoodooing me?

That one's fine.

I recently had a hoodoo curse laid upon me. Everything out there says this is going to SUUUCK. What can I expect? What can I look forward to?

That one's not fine.

Wherein lies the difference? Not in the belief system. It's well-known that people on MeFi have several different belief systems, and equally well-known that when you pose a question framed in one of them, buttheads from another one will come along and derail the thread to make fun of you. And it's well-known that the policy is, let the people answer who can answer in the system, and everyone else can shut up up up.

Nor does the difference lie in the questions' referring to the future. It's not a question of hypotheticals. Even if the questions do refer to expected events, it's not deletable in the same sense as, say, this:

Scenario: The entire NRA hijacks an airplane to get past the sniper security of Breakers Stadium in Los Angeles after a devastating earthquake. Their objective? Two stone tablets on which Michaelangelo has engraved Marc Antony's recipe for a tasty synthetic foodstuff, tablets currently held by a sizable consortium of simians. A scuffle breaks out and swiftly elevates to biological warfare. I survive, having injected myself with an experimental vaccine. If I pry the tablets from the cold dead hands in which they lie, will John the Baptist still get resurrected?

Contrast that with

Suddenly pregnant with triplets. How difficult are triplet pregnancies? Then, how do you manage feedings and changings and stuff for three? Do you ever sleep?

which would be fine, despite assuming a number of things which haven't happened yet; and contrast both with

Suddenly pregnant with triplets. What should I expect?

which SUUUCKs because it's too broad. There's a terrible sexist pun in there somewhere, if I could only line it up.

If we could specify things, as in, say,

Saturn in Virgo. I'm a Virgo. Everything out there says this is going to SUUUCK. Can I do anything to lessen its influence? Pluto and Charon are in Saggitarius, but I haven't been able to find out where Ceres and Eris are ... does anybody know, and could they help?

this would be better. I'm not saying I'd answer it ... but I might read it, and I wouldn't flag it.
posted by eritain at 10:13 PM on July 12, 2007


Well this has certainly made me take a step back and reconsider my Ask MeFi question regarding the meaning of chicken entrails...
posted by gomichild at 10:20 PM on July 12, 2007


When the Moon is in the Seventh House,
And Jupiter aligns with Mars,
Then peace will guide the planets,
And love will steer the stars.


Sounds pretty good to me. What do you haters have against magic crystal revelations?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:23 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


vacapinta - does the arrogance espoused by some people also make you side with young earth creationists? Or flat earthers?
posted by Justinian at 10:29 PM on July 12, 2007


Why aren't any of the Science! vigilantes posting in the Airborne thread? That's about as bad science as Astrology is. Get to it, guys! You have a duty to save humanity from ignorance.
posted by vacapinta at 10:30 PM on July 12, 2007


Sounds pretty good to me. What do you haters have against magic crystal revelations?

Because when love steers the stars, you get this.
posted by Snyder at 10:31 PM on July 12, 2007


vacapinta, I eagerly await these advances to human understanding you predict. So would most of the scientific community. In fact, that's what they're working on right now.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:32 PM on July 12, 2007


Justinian: not really. Young earth creationists can be even more arrogant, thus flipping the argument.

It's more about respecting other people's beliefs especially if they are mostly harmless. Stavros said it better than me.
posted by vacapinta at 10:36 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm not going to respect people's beliefs unless they arrived at them through a respectable process.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:45 PM on July 12, 2007


Astrology prediction questions, unlike other religion questions I've seen on AskMe, garner responses of independently testable claims about the near future, not just ill-remembered events of the past. So do this: let's recruit a few test subjects, get them their predictions, then verify a few months later. If the predictions beat pure chance, allow any astrology questions on AskMe. If not, don't.

Oh, and total chatfilter question anyway.
posted by todbot at 10:57 PM on July 12, 2007


It ain't even about "respecting" people's beliefs even though they are harmless so much as not having to go on a howling crusade every time you hear that somebody believes in fairies. It's relaxing. Try it.
posted by furiousthought at 12:11 AM on July 13, 2007


Obviously I don't have to make any comments. I like to, though. It's relaxing.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:23 AM on July 13, 2007


Oh man, you guys are all gonna regret your skepticism when the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 and Mars is retrograde in Gemini and human sized lizards rise up from the earth and devour you whole.
posted by cmonkey at 12:26 AM on July 13, 2007


I don't even know what the fuck you people are arguing about anymore.
posted by puke & cry at 12:38 AM on July 13, 2007


Born on July 14, 1999, Metafilter is a Cancer - Sign of the Crab.

Cancerians have an unemotional demeanor, appearing uncompromising and obstinate. This is the facade they use to mask an insecure nature. Their intimates, however, may see a different character, one with sympathy and sensitivity to others.In their personal relationships they are a mixture of toughness and tenderness. Emotional, romantic and sentimental on one side, and tenaciously possessive and loyal on the other side. Even when they have affairs, their first loyalty is to their partner and family.

They are rather close minded and opinionated. They have a retentive memory, and rarely forgive slights and hurts. With a tendency toward chronic complaining, a Cancerian will never let you forget an error. They are driven by their emotional nature, and, in this respect, can be the best and the worst of friends.

posted by taz at 12:41 AM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


SIDEBAR !
posted by philomathoholic at 12:53 AM on July 13, 2007


I LOLed.

Jessamyn, I think if you're going to leave the question up, you should rephrase it and steer the question towards answerability — more like "What's the best wood for dowsing in the Western Hemisphere?", and less like "Give me a fortune telling, I'l go first: …"
posted by blasdelf at 2:01 AM on July 13, 2007


Don't you fucking tell me he was a psycho.

He wasn't a psycho, he was just deluded. So are you. So are a lot of people, including people who champion Science!. Nevertheless, astrology is pretty fucking stupid as these things go. As is palm reading. And certainly consulting a fortune teller before naming your child deserves mockery. Note that you brought this all up yourself as part of mocking the beliefs of the entire western world. Normally, I keep these thoughts to myself.

That said, I completely agree with jessamyn's reasoning. If there's a basis for deleting the thread, it's that the phrasing of the question strongly encourages chatfilter. But it shouldn't be deleted because most of us consider the premise bullshit, and “answers” that assert the premise is bullshit aren't answers. They don't belong.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:25 AM on July 13, 2007


If there's a basis for deleting the thread, it's that the phrasing of the question strongly encourages chatfilter. But it shouldn't be deleted because most of us consider the premise bullshit, and “answers” that assert the premise is bullshit aren't answers.

Normally, answers that deny a premise of the question absolutely are answers, and often valuable ones. For example, if I asked "I've decided to feed my precious pet crickets diazinon, since I understand that's good for them. How much should I give them each day?"

Of course, the only correct answer is, "diazinon is an insecticide and it will kill your pet crickets."

Under your model, though, we'd have to answer as though diazinon actually were cricket food and somehow figure out what an appropriate amount would be. Basically, what you're describing condones "hypothetical-filter."

Apparently, though, you want to allow people to ask hypothetical questions only if they don't appear to be aware that they're asking them. As I understand it, your suggestion is that if someone asks a question premised on a fatally flawed and incorrect belief, we must endeavor to keep them in the dark about their mistake, even it involves fabricating answers for their hypothetical question.

AskMe should provide correct answers to the question posed. The correct answer is that I should not feed my crickets diazinon unless I want them to die. The correct answer is that the position of Jupiter has no appreciable effect on one's life.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:58 AM on July 13, 2007 [14 favorites]


The correct answer is that the position of Jupiter has no appreciable effect on one's life.

Unless Jupiter has somehow in the course of its stately orbit around our sun lodged itself up your ass.

In which case you're in big big trouble, son, and no degree of precessional astrological scientificatin' is going to get that planet out of there!

That'd SUUUUUCK.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:10 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's some kind of giant-ball-of-gas joke to be made, but I'm too exhausted to do it.
posted by box at 4:58 AM on July 13, 2007


At this point I'm pretty much convinced it's a troll.
posted by OmieWise at 5:38 AM on July 13, 2007


One example would be for Nature. It's late and I don't feel like digging up more, but there's one case where, in a controlled study of a falsifiable question (i.e., a rational, scientific principle), the hypothesis that astrology works was found to be an inadequate explanation of the results.

Well, it's early now and I don't feel like doing your work for you, but I question the respectability of any scientist who sets out to prove/disprove an intangible! To determine in any meaningful way whether astrology does or doesn't "work," we'd first have to arrive at and agree upon a definition of what that would even mean...and I wish you the best of luck there. Mind you, I'm not saying that religion of any kind is or isn't valid -- I'm saying that the scientific method isn't built to determine religion's validity. To say that is not to impose a value judgment either way.

Steve's example of feeding his crickets diazinon because he really, genuinely believes diazinon is good for them is a bit over the top in this case, I think -- astrology is unlikely to kill anyone, or even anybody's crickets -- but there certainly are people whose religious beliefs have led to all manner of life-threatening problems...people whose beliefs forbid them to receive conventional medical attention, for instance. It's when religion overtakes a person's rationality -- especially with life-or-death consequences -- that I see it as an issue. The argument that even "harmless" beliefs that defy proof do still erode a person's ability to think rationally may have some merit, but I think we're venturing out onto a slippery slope there.

I generally don't see a need to police the beliefs of others unless their beliefs (a) are doing them obvious harm (i.e., placing them in physical jeopardy, not making 'em dumb), or (b) are impacting the lives of others in some measurable negative fashion (i.e., my god says that all life is sacred, and all combinations of human nut and egg constitute life, therefore you cannot have stem cell research). Even then, I care less about debunking these beliefs as I do about controlling their symptoms so that they don't muck up the world for the rest of us.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:39 AM on July 13, 2007


I'm saying that the scientific method isn't built to determine religion's validity.

When said religion makes testable predictions, what method would you use? The thesis behind the Nature paper was that birth charts could describe personality traits. That's not tangible? Is that not what astrology purports to do? If you won't agree that said thesis is a definition of astrology, than no, you and I are not talking about the same thing. But I'm talking about what most people think of when the word "astrology" is mentioned, so I stand by my declaration that it's bunk.

Many religious claims aren't testable, and I'll grant that science doesn't provide a framework to answer them. It's a different model of truth. But this was my original point--the scientific model of truth is the one that has brought us all the modern advances, culminating in the peak of civilization that is Metafilter. I want to know why people turn their backs on this paradigm at what seem to me to be inconsistent occasions.
posted by stevis23 at 5:58 AM on July 13, 2007


Born on July 14, 1999, Metafilter is a Cancer - Sign of the Crab.

REMEMBER ME, CANCER?
posted by mendel at 6:11 AM on July 13, 2007


I thought the signs were pointing to flameout.
Instead there appears to have been a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
posted by needled at 6:13 AM on July 13, 2007


The correct answer is that the position of Jupiter has no appreciable effect on one's life.

Not that I believe in astrology, but I wish people making an indefensible positive assertion, just like an astrologist would, to invalidate astrology would think a bit more carefully about inference and other epistemological principles and actually prove statements like this with a bit more rigor, before using them as counterexamples.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:36 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Normally, answers that deny a premise of the question absolutely are answers, and often valuable ones.

No, sometimes answers that deny a premise of the question can be useful answers, of wildly varying value depending on the nature and context and specificity of both the question and answer.

What makes this tricky is that the person deciding to answer off-axis is often a lousy objective judge of whether their answer is one of the useful ones or not. This question in particular is a nightmare because the asker didn't do a great job or presenting and the answerers haven't done a great job of reining in the old Hollerin' At The Astrology Nuts instinct.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:49 AM on July 13, 2007


My friends and I will be meeting up I-R-L. I recommend you all do the same...at least once.

Stupid. Horrible. All Meta threads are an extension of the initial errant inception, this one being no exception. Viewing through that lens I am simply amazed that an admin would participate in such a blatant slandering of standards and practices.

As far as the inquirers behavior is concerned I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that the author has penned such a question, or the ensuing at large personal insults directed to a body of members discussing site policy. Truly impressive.

Each of these okay questions is appealing to a certain body of work and is looking for people familiar with the body of work to answer the question. You could also see this with practices like certain kinds of dog training, parenting or gardening.

Dog training, parenting or gardening. Is this a joke? All activities with tangible results directly relating to tangible practices that are studied and incorporated over time.

Yes, that sounds completely analogous to astrological circlejerks, questions about imaginary spaceship construction and propulsion parameters on deities of your choosing.

Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!
posted by prostyle at 6:50 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


UGH! SUUUCK :) XXXX.

I'm going to posit that the truly indefensible parts of the post where the sound effects, smilies and kissies.
posted by signal at 7:03 AM on July 13, 2007


Under your model, though, we'd have to answer as though diazinon actually were cricket food and somehow figure out what an appropriate amount would be.

I didn't describe a model. But jessamyn did. And she described the difference between when denying the premise is relevant and when it is not.

This isn't that hard to understand.

Anyone who asks an astrology question already knows that a whole bunch of people think that astrology is bogus. This won't be new information to the poster. They're not going to say, "Oh, it never occurred to me that astrology might not be true. Now that you've told me it's not true, I no longer believe in astrology. Thank you!" The same is true for all questions regarding: religion, UFOs, parapsychology, creationism, ghosts, and a whole bunch of other things—all of which we're all very familiar. There are things which lots of people believe, lots of other people don't believe, and all parties are aware of this. With regard to all of these things, it is not appropriate to deny the premise of an AskMe question as an answer.

If you're so stupid that you need it explained to you why denying the premise of well-known and oft-disputed beliefs as an answer to an AskMe question that assumes such a belief, then you're too stupid to be answering any questions. Try Yahoo Answers if you must.

If you're so stupid that you need an explicit list of all such beliefs that are a) well-known, and b) oft-disputed, then you're too stupid to be answering any questions. Try Yahoo Answers if you must.

But we all know that hardly anyone in this thread, aside from perhaps Carnage Asada and KokoRyu, is actually that stupid. We all know that the nitpicking and obtuseness are really just disingenuous attempts to justify the urge to tell stupid people like Carnage Asada that they're stupid.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:10 AM on July 13, 2007


Born on July 14, 1999, Metafilter is a Cancer - Sign of the Crab.

Yeah - More like a Cancer on my free time, amiright?
posted by god hates math at 7:11 AM on July 13, 2007


Well, it's early now and I don't feel like doing your work for you, but I question the respectability of any scientist who sets out to prove/disprove an intangible! To determine in any meaningful way whether astrology does or doesn't ‘work,’ we'd first have to arrive at and agree upon a definition of what that would even mean...and I wish you the best of luck there.

Oh, please. Astrology is well known and well understood to be a method of predicting the future. This makes it eminently falsifiable. And it has been falsified.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:14 AM on July 13, 2007


The thesis behind the Nature paper was that birth charts could describe personality traits. That's not tangible?

Not especially, no. There's too much subjectivity involved, both in the interpretation of astrological data and the researchers' ability to map the personality traits of the subjects. If astrology posited that a person born on 1/1/01 would be male and would at 30 be 6'2" and weigh 240 pounds, its claims would be easy enough to fact check. It's a little harder to make an objective claim that a person is or is not, let's say, "compassionate."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:24 AM on July 13, 2007


Oh, please. Astrology is well known and well understood to be a method of predicting the future. This makes it eminently falsifiable. And it has been falsified.

Oh, please indeed. Predictive astrology makes me roll my eyes for the very reason that its prognostications are SO vague as to be completely subject to interpretation. That may be a good reason to disregard it, but that isn't proof that it's inaccurate.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:33 AM on July 13, 2007


I'm saying that the scientific method isn't built to determine religion's validity.

First of all, astrology isn't a religion. It's an ancient practice that has existed independently of the religions with which it has coexisted. In some times and places, religions have utilized and/or integrated some astrological practices. Astrology describes the movements of the visible objects in the Earth's night sky. Ptolemy's Almagest was the epitome of that aspect of astrology, and the superstitious predictive practices of astrology were the driving force for such meticulous accuracy in describing these movements. Ptolemy created one of the first sine/cosine tables. This aspect of astrology was quite empirical, modern science partly arose from astrology. In this regard, you claim is worse than absurd, it's ignorant.

Secondly, as I said previously, the use to which all this mathematics was put was to predict future non-astronomical events. This, too, is not "intangible".

Finally, religion is not synonymous with metaphysics. Science is indeed not built to determine the validity of metaphysics. But it is built to determine the validity of physics, which many religions speak to in one form or another. (Such as, the age of the Earth and its creation.)

If you are going to attempt to make an argument about epistemology, at least know what you're talking about. I see little evidence of this in your comments in this thread.

Predictive astrology makes me roll my eyes for the very reason that its prognostications are SO vague as to be completely subject to interpretation.

Really? Are you sure of this, or is your familiarity with astrology limited to astrology columns in the local newspaper?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2007


*NEIGH!!* *stab* *bang*







*kick*

I'm not going to respect people's beliefs unless they arrived at them through a respectable process.

A person who believes in Christianity or astrology is suffering from a mental defect, and it can be difficult to quickly determine how deep this defect runs.

At some point you decided that the things that were important in your life would be derived from a logical progression of reasoning. Not everyone works that way. Having faith in something is not a mental defect, it is a different way of processing the world. I believe in science. I also believe in God. The two are not mutually exclusive. When I have kids, I can insist that they're taught real science while, at the same time, giving them Arnica when they fall and hurt their knee and yet taking them to a normal hospital if something weirder happens.

Most people that I have met who are firmly atheist are so because they cannot believe in a higher being, not because they are somehow more rational (or, to take the wacko religious standpoint, more sinful or immoral) then those who believe.

EB, I'm surprised at you. I thought you would be championing the right of astrology believers and criticizing people for not accepting other people's "reality spheres".
posted by Deathalicious at 7:58 AM on July 13, 2007


The original post was bad, not because it is about astrology, but because if it isn't deleted, then expect a shitload of FPP's like this:
(insert your Planet name) in (insert Astrology Sign). I'm a (insert Astrology Sign). Everything out there says this is going to (be great, SUUUCK, rule, kill me). What can I expect? What can I look forward to?avoid?
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:07 AM on July 13, 2007


The original post was bad, not because it is about astrology, but because if it isn't deleted, then expect a shitload of FPP's like this:

That's just the icing on the cake! Although there is trouble distinguishing between arbitrary subjective chatfilter versus reasonable inquiries with objective solutions - they sure as hell can tell if you're fucking around based on your participation history.

(though anyone posting it as a button pusher would watch it be speedily deleted)

So basically you have to appear ignorant enough to not know just exactly how retarded your question is, otherwise the gloves are off. Fantastic.
posted by prostyle at 8:23 AM on July 13, 2007


Really? Are you sure of this, or is your familiarity with astrology limited to astrology columns in the local newspaper?

Actually, it pretty much is. I never claimed to be an expert in astrology -- as, apparently, you are, strange as that seems given that you appear to have a huge, sharp stick up your ass relative to its existence. Or maybe you just have a huge, sharp stick up your ass. In any event, I don't recall ascribing any particular authority to myself on the subject; I suppose you inferred this from my generally wise, wonderful and authoritative tone, but never did I claim it was so, and indeed it is not. Was knowledge of the long and storied history of this practice a prerequisite for posting to this thread, or did I just need you to sign a permission slip?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2007


astrology is unlikely to kill anyone

You must not have lived through the Reagan era, when life-and-death decisions regarding trade, war, and aid were being based on Nancy's astrologer's reading of the stars.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 AM on July 13, 2007


A joke about Harry Potter dying in the next book must be zapped instantly because some people thought it was a spoiler, but astrology is fine? Well, that's just wonderful!

[comment edited by jessamyn]
posted by Termite at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2007


But not edited enough!!!!!! Potter DIES!?!?!?!?!?!

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2007


"You all need to get out of the house. Please. Really."

The house of Saturn?

"The reasoning is basically this: If astrology were true, we would observe X. We do not observe X, so astrology must not be true."

PLZ LERN SCIENCE OR LOGIC B4 CONTINUING.

"Predictive astrology makes me roll my eyes for the very reason that its prognostications are SO vague as to be completely subject to interpretation."

They're called Barnumisms (or noted as The Barnum Effect) for a reason.
posted by klangklangston at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2007


The correct answer is that the position of Jupiter has no appreciable effect on one's life.

I believe that the current theory is that, because it's a giant gravity well, Jupiter has had immeasurable influence on the Earth, in that it has sucked up many objects (asteroids, meteors, etc) that would have eventually impacted us.

Since many of these impacts could have led to an extinction-level-event, the fact that there is human life on this planet could be directly tied to the position of Jupiter.

Of course, this has nothing to do with astrology.
posted by quin at 9:47 AM on July 13, 2007


Metafilter: You rock in a special, special way I can't even pronounce.
posted by amro at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2007


This has nothing to do with astrology either, but since someone brought up Harry Potter, Libraries Face $200,000 Fines For Opened New Harry Potter Books.

Yeah, if someone wants to make that a FPP, go ahead. I screwed mine up today.
posted by The Deej at 9:56 AM on July 13, 2007


If p, then q
~ q
/:. ~p

If astrology is true, then we observe X
It is not the case that we observe X
/:. It is not the case that astrology is true.

Modus tollens.

So, that really should be just "PLZ LERN SCIENCE B4 CONTINUING."

(I -so- do not care if astrology is true, or worthy of debate, or in any way acceptable for belief. Go forth and believe in invisible green men who transfer knowledge with humans in the form of hotdogs if you want. I'm so not in that debate. Just don't disrespect modus tollens, man.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2007


I'm really very surprised that this thread has been left open past Stavros inspired piece of brilliance above. Kudos to the wonderchicken on that one.
posted by shmegegge at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2007


If astrology is true, then we observe X
It is not the case that we observe X
/:. It is not the case that astrology is true.


The problem, of course, is: What is X? But, y'know, we've been here before and etc.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2007


So, what'd I miss?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2007


I'm really very surprised that this thread has been left open past Stavros inspired piece of brilliance above. Kudos to the wonderchicken on that one.

I'm kinda stumbling over the reference to racism as goofy things people believe in. Is Stavros saying that a racist is an irrational person, someone worthy of scorn? (If so, I mean, THAT'S fine, though I'd be hesitant to equate being a racist with believing in UFOs and whatnot...sure, okay, both kooky behaviors, but the scale is off.) Or is Stavros saying that people who still believe there IS racism are irrational? 'Cause, I mean, that's kinda...bullshit. Either way, a discordant, sour note in an otherwise funny reply compelled me to give it a very reluctant thumbs-down. Sorry, Stavros -- but I'm looking forward to your next production.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:19 AM on July 13, 2007


Most people that I have met who are firmly atheist are so because they cannot believe in a higher being ...

Hey, you've pretty much just accounted for my lack of religion. Though sometimes I wish I could believe in a higher being for reasons I've previously stated.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2007


True story. Back in the day, when I was a newspaper editor, we failed to receive our weekly allotment of horoscopes for the features page. Normally, we'd get a preformatted delivery of a week's worth, and we'd cut them out and drop them onto the galleys. They just didn't show up one week.

So I sat down and wrote one day's horoscopes myself. "Let's see ... Aries, Aries ... hmm ... 'avoid making difficult decisions today' ... uhh ... 'stay close to your friends.'"

I deliberately kept the ones I wrote oblique, so they were meaningless. What I really wanted to write was "Put your money on Paperboy in the fifth race at Hollywood Park." But I thought that would be offsides.

The next few days, I reached back into the archives and ran old ones and just changed the dates.

Nobody complained. Nobody noticed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:31 AM on July 13, 2007


When it comes to the events of our daily lives, science really hasn't all that much to offer. ...

... says the person that used an alarm clock to wake up this morning.

You know, an alarm clock -- a marvel of electronics and astronomical observation that allows us to track the movement of a giant planet around a massive star and trigger an audible warning at a pre-selected moment in the future.

But yeah, I can see how you'd think science doesn't have anything to offer you on a day-to-day basis.

Now that you're awake, take two aspirin (more science!) and call me (more science) later, 'kay?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"(I -so- do not care if astrology is true, or worthy of debate, or in any way acceptable for belief. Go forth and believe in invisible green men who transfer knowledge with humans in the form of hotdogs if you want. I'm so not in that debate. Just don't disrespect modus tollens, man.)"

Except that the inferences are what's out of hand. Astrology may predict X, and the failure of X to be observed only proves that Astrology cannot predict X.

Asserting that all of astrology is wrong because of any given failed prediction is like asserting that all of Newtonian physics is wrong because of relativity. It's the fallacy of negative proof, and that was what I was referencing when I mentioned logic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2007


"Your Horoscope For Today" (apologies to weird al)

Aquarius
There's travel in your future when your tongue freezes to the back of a speeding bus Fill that void in your pathetic life by playing Whack-A-Mole seventeen hours a day

Pisces
Try to avoid any Virgos or Leos with the Ebola virus You are the true Lord of the Dance, no matter what those idiots at work say

Aries
The look on your face will be priceless when you find that forty pound watermelon in your colon Trade toothbrushes with an albino dwarf, then give a hickey to Meryl Streep

Taurus
You will never find true happiness - what you gonna do, cry about it? The stars predict tomorrow you'll wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and then go back to sleep

Gemini
Your birthday party will be ruined once again by your explosive flatulence Your love life will run into trouble when your fiance hurls a javelin through your chest

Cancer
The position of Jupiter says you should spend the rest of the week face down in the mud Try not to shove a roll of duct tape up your nose while taking your driver's test

Leo
Now is not a good time to photocopy your butt and staple it to your boss's face, oh no Eat a bucket of tuna-flavored pudding, then wash it down with a gallon of strawberry Quik

Virgo
All Virgos are extremely friendly and intelligent - except for you Expect a big surprise today when you wind up with your head impaled on a stick

Libra
A big promotion is just around the corner for someone much more talented that you Laughter is the very best medicine, remember that when your appendix bursts next week

Scorpio
Get ready for an unexpected trip when you fall screaming from an open window Work a little harder on improving your low self-esteem, you stupid freak

Sagittarius
All your friends are laughing behind your back (kill them) Take down all those naked pictures of Ernest Borgnine you've got hanging in your den

Capricorn
The stars say that you're an exciting and wonderful person, but you know they're lying If I were you, I's lock my doors and windows and never never never never never leave my house again
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"You know, an alarm clock -- a marvel of electronics and astronomical observation that allows us to track the movement of a giant planet around a massive star and trigger an audible warning at a pre-selected moment in the future."

Um... Alarm clocks work on different science, chief. They're (at the most precise) based on being able to measure minute (NPI) vibrations and accurately track the passage of time relative to their position. That they were modeled after a solar calendar (but aren't exactly accurate) makes them similar to the falsifiable predictions of early astronomy/astrology.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on July 13, 2007


Which isn't to say that I'm not in the science camp and that I think astrology isn't bunk.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2007


You know, an alarm clock -- a marvel of electronics and astronomical observation that allows us to track the movement of a giant planet around a massive star and trigger an audible warning at a pre-selected moment in the future.

Clocks (alarm- or otherwise) don't "track" the movement of a giant planet around a massive star. They "track" the giant planet's rotation around its own axis. Kind of an important part of that heliocentric explanation of sunrise and sunset.
posted by CKmtl at 10:55 AM on July 13, 2007


Astrology may predict X, and the failure of X to be observed only proves that Astrology cannot predict X.

Astrology can not predict X, Y, Z, A, Q, omicron, or qoph. When is it ok to assert that it's bunk?
posted by stevis23 at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2007


Shit, I wandered into dickhead hairsplitting territory again. Sorry, guys. Continue with the dickhead hairsplitting, ye jackasses.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The vast majority of people in this thread think astrology is bunk so I'm not sure why people are arguing that point. Yeah we got it. Science rocks.

The only real issue at hand here was whether someone asking for astrology advice in the context of astrology was ok. I think so. The foundations of Science won't fall apart because of someone's mistaken beliefs.

Yeah I get the Nancy Reagan stuff and all that but that's still not relevant here. Thats making the same argument that religious questions dont belong because of all the damage religion has caused.

Again, its just a harmless question. Its just someone asking for advice and help from fellow travelers. If you can't help then stay out and move on. The future of civilization is not at stake here and never was.
posted by vacapinta at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2007


Shit, I wandered into dickhead hairsplitting territory again. Sorry, guys. Continue with the dickhead hairsplitting, ye jackasses.

Hah. You were being a dickhead and you're upset when others return the favor? Continue, you jackass.
posted by OmieWise at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2007


Actually, they were just correcting your inaccuracies.
posted by OmieWise at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2007


Was knowledge of the long and storied history of this practice a prerequisite for posting to this thread, or did I just need you to sign a permission slip?

No, but it's a prerequisite to making arguments about whether science has anything to say about astrology.

But the reason I've found your comments annoying is that you've taken the incontrovertible idea that metaphysics is outside the domain of science and casually asserted that a whole bunch of stuff are metaphysics when they aren't. You're using this as a club to beat down the scientific questioning of any belief system that isn't explicitly scientific. And you specifically have some weird desire to claim that astrology is immune from scientific investigation when, in fact, of all the religious and/or fringe paranormal belief systems, astrology is much more falsifiable than most.

Insofar as it seems like I'm defending astrology, what I'm doing is defending that (large) part of astrology which is astronomy. People are commenting in this thread in ignorance of this. Both the defense of astrology by one commenter about the invention of the helicopter, and the critical responses to that defense, are ignorant of the fact that astrology involved a lot of useful mathematics and deep understanding of astronomy. People often praise the Mayans' sophisticated astronomy and somehow ignore that this astronomy was in the service of superstition. Just like astrology.

The superstitious aspect of astrology drove the endeavor to understand the motions in the heavens. I'm one of the relatively few people who have studied Ptolemaic astronomy in depth, and one of the only people to have written computer simulation of Ptolemaic astronomy. I have a lot of respect for the sophistication and accuracy of Ptolemaic astronomy, it made the Copernican revolution possible, and modern astronomy exists because of astrology. Talking about astrology as something intangible with no relationship to science is profoundly historically ignorant.

That said, the astronomical portion of astrology became anachronistic at the advent of the heliocentric era and is absurdly so today. The superstitious, predictive portion of it is extremely silly in today's world. Yes, its predictions are obtuse; but to my mind modern astrology is notable in that it's far less adapted to the modernist environment than are most other ancient superstitions which have survived to this day. That's why, I think, it's more accurately described as a hobby than it is a belief system as far as western culture is concerned. Only the very nuttiest people truly take astrology seriously. Unfortunately, having lived in Santa Fe, I've been around far too many of them.

EB, I'm surprised at you. I thought you would be championing the right of astrology believers and criticizing people for not accepting other people's ‘reality spheres’.

You may have gotten the impression that I'm more relativistic than I am. I advocate tolerance of other people's belief systems, particularly religious belief systems, on the basis of the unavoidable fact that “reasonableness” is extremely culturally sensitive.

I find all religious belief systems to be absurd when taken in isolation and from my empiricist, materialist perspective. However, the simple truth is that if 95% of the world's population believes something, you can't claim that the belief is aberrant.

Nevertheless, I don't think astrology qualifies for this category. Sure, in some cultures it probably does. Not in ours. Very few people in our cultures truly believe in astrology in the same way that they believe in God. And both its premises and its predictions have been widely, repeatedly, debunked. I have very little tolerance for astrology, in comparison for my tolerance of other beliefs which I think are false.

That's not to say that I feel the need to challenge people's beliefs in astrology or to ridicule them. I did when I was younger—now I just shrug my shoulders. I'm only being harshly mocking in this thread in response to one particular poster's risible defense of astrology which was coupled with an intolerant critique of my belief system.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:20 AM on July 13, 2007


"Astrology can not predict X, Y, Z, A, Q, omicron, or qoph. When is it ok to assert that it's bunk?"

Astrology has historically predicted the future position of planets well, though I believe that it no longer does so. The point at which you can assert its bunkatude is when it doesn't incorporate evidence that contradicts its expected outcomes in future hypotheses.
posted by klangklangston at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2007


Well, klangklangston, I have no beef with that. (The fallacy of negative proof, that is.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2007


EB, if you're in fact arguing -- as I...think you might be?...that astrology is not only not religion, but in fact bad/outdated science, that is interesting. I'm not sure it's relevant unless its followers routinely claim with a straight face that astrology (as practiced today) has scientific validity...do they? I would certainly look at this subject differently if it seemed so. As for the vast ignorance of pretty much everyone who isn't you as regards ancient astronomy, I hope you can step outside your monstrous tower of self-regard long enough to take in some fresh air and reflect on the possibility that the litmus for wisdom is not whether others are privy to every obscure bit of historical science trivia at your disposal -- that in fact your chosen specialization does not contain the sum total of all knowledge. In other words -- wow, neat that you know about Ptolemy and stuff, but get over yourself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:55 AM on July 13, 2007


Snark
posted by grateful at 12:01 PM on July 13, 2007


Cool Papa Bell: Shit, I wandered into dickhead hairsplitting territory again. Sorry, guys. Continue with the dickhead hairsplitting, ye jackasses.

Hairsplitting? The difference between the length of time it takes for the planet to orbit the sun and the length of time it takes for it to revolve around its own axis is a matter of dickheadedly splitting hairs? I'm not familiar with these coarse and massively thick hairs of which you speak.

You got all smarmy with your invocation of SCIENCE!, in which you made SCIEN(CE!)tific errors. Either you had a flawed understanding of SCIENCE! or accidentally misstated the facts. Either way, they've been corrected and not as veiled personal attacks or defenses of astrology.

Now, I must go out back and see if my jackass has any hairs on its dickhead that are in need of splitting.
posted by CKmtl at 12:01 PM on July 13, 2007


Astrology has historically predicted the future position of planets well

Umm....that would be astronomy.

I don't think we're having the same conversation here. Just because the ancients needed to develop astronomical knowledge to do their forutne-telling doesn't make said knowlege a part of astrology--at least as I mean to use the word. YMMV.
posted by stevis23 at 12:28 PM on July 13, 2007


I used to write the horoscope for my universities weekly newsletter. I invariably wrote direct messages to my friends for their signs, stuff like "your girlfirend will return from Rio, and you will very happy and then you will go out with your friends this Saturday to that party in downtown.", really, really specific stuff, and I always had (non-friend) people come up to me and tell me how spot on I was, how this had happened to them, etc. Confirmation bias in action.
posted by signal at 12:40 PM on July 13, 2007


...and one of the only people to have written computer simulation of Ptolemaic astronomy...

EB: These days Ptolemaic simulations are on YouTube.
posted by vacapinta at 1:13 PM on July 13, 2007


Y'all can split hairs with your dicks?

I've heard of a diamond-cutter, but that's impressive.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2007


Well, at least they're not splitting hares with 'em.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:24 PM on July 13, 2007


Anyone who asks an astrology question already knows that a whole bunch of people think that astrology is bogus. This won't be new information to the poster.

All of that is irrelevant. Questions based on false premises are fundamentally hypothetical questions, and those are disallowed because they can't be answered definitively.

Hypothetical questions aren't disallowed because we disfavor the subjective mindset of the people making them, so it doesn't really matter whether the asker knows they're asking a hypothetical questions. They're disallowed because reasoning from false premises can land you anywhere at all.

The only solution is to try to correct the false premise. If the asker doesn't want the false premise corrected, the question should be deleted.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:37 PM on July 13, 2007


Questions based on false premises are fundamentally hypothetical questions

Not when there is an answer within that framework.

That is, a question of the form: "According to [X doctrine], if Y is true then what follows?" is perfectly valid.

For example, a question of the form "According to Freudian analysis..." is perfectly fine and an answer may be possible within that framework. If you think Freudian Analysis is bunk, well, thats outside the scope and responding to the question in that way is noise.

This is not at all the same as "If 2=4 then what is 8 equal to?" which is not part of any framework at all.
posted by vacapinta at 2:53 PM on July 13, 2007


Yeah (sing the song brother...)
Now if uh, 2 uh, huh, turned out to be 4
Oh I 8 some more, I 8 some more ( well all right... )
And if all the hippies cut off all their arms
It was in the stars, oh it was in the stars.
Dig.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:07 PM on July 13, 2007


"Oh, it never occurred to me that astrology witch-burning might not be true. Now that you've told me it's not true, I no longer believe in astrology. witch-burning Thank you!"

Sure, it took a few generations, but this is really a prime example of the good that social stigmas can do.
posted by odinsdream at 6:17 PM on July 13, 2007


EB: These days Ptolemaic simulations are on YouTube.

Ooh, that's cool. Thanks for linking to that!
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:50 PM on July 13, 2007


Ya know, when youse guys start thowin' around "Ptolemaic simulation" links and Freudian analysis and confirmation bias n shit... it jus' makes me reelize... I'm too dum to be hear! No wonder I dont get invited to the cool partys and the cabal (whatever that word even means!) and other shit like that.

It's like when they made fun of me in 7th grade, and then in 8th grade, and then in 8th grade again!
posted by The Deej at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2007


MetaFilter: Shower every response with fluffy kisses
posted by deborah at 9:03 PM on July 13, 2007


Insofar as it seems like I'm defending astrology, what I'm doing is defending that (large) part of astrology which is astronomy.

I think that's actually missing the point of astrology in itself - astronomy was a much larger science for the ancients, and not just about personality & so forth - before electricity the night sky was dominant for most human beings and constantly studied & charted. But I think the basis of astrology isn't really ultimately that "the stars control your life", but that the place and time that you were born have an impact on what sort of person you become. The ancients just used the stars as an absolute system for recording place and time - it was complete and reliable as a way to compare one time or place to another. What the night sky looked like at this moment vs that, at this place vs that, is an accurate way to determine what point in time and on earth something happens.

The notion that the space-time coordinates at which one becomes an independent being have any impact on the personal traits one develops is completely unsubstantiated, of course, but at least one can see why the thought might have come up, especially if they were using the chart of the night sky as a way to record the place & time of birth. Without clocks & published / decreed calendars, they would have had the chart of the sky as the best way to record time - we have artificial dates now that we've agreed to, but they relied on what seemed the universal absolute above, rather than being completely committed to the arbitrary number of a calendar year, as we've become comfortable with...
posted by mdn at 4:37 AM on July 14, 2007


Quinbus Flestrin points out what, as far as I can tell, is the easiest and most sensible way to debunk Astrology. The sheer number of people which must, somehow, share your experience and personality is enough to make any reasonable person understand that there's something wrong with the whole thing.

However, reading these last few posts makes me wonder if it isn't precisely this statistical trickery that allowed Astrology to become what it is today. Thinking back to when travel between societies and cultures was rare, and travel from your place of birth even more rare, imagine what Quinbus Flestrin's numbers would be reduced to.

Mathematically, the chance of someone sharing some of your personality traits, again, simply by chance, is increased astronomically. As a result, even though the premise of Astrology is clearly flawed, the predictions it makes would have that much more chance of being believed.
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 AM on July 14, 2007


mdn: the idea that astrology is relevant to the "little people" at all is relatively new—I'm not sure, but I think it only dates back to the 1800s. Before then, the movement of the planets was thought to affect only important matters of state, princes and potentates, that sort of thing.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on July 14, 2007



I would argue there is indeed a Western worldview that's based on Enlightenment values. Its crowning achievement is the hydrogen bomb.


How many World Wars has Astrology stopped?

How many World Wars has Astrology prevented?

Nuclear Bombs FTW
posted by Megafly at 4:12 PM on July 16, 2007


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