"We have a Cancer -- within, close to the AskMefi, that's growing." December 22, 2009 1:37 AM   Subscribe

Given the guidelines for AskMefi, this seems a particularly hard one to answer at all.
posted by orthogonality to Etiquette/Policy at 1:37 AM (185 comments total)

Yeah, I flagged that one.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:00 AM on December 22, 2009


"My apologies to all Scorpios for last week's misprint, the result of a transcription error. The entry should have read 'fantastic luck ahead' and not as it appeared. Thank you for all those who wrote in. Both the offended and the disappointed. Today's lucky biscuit: chocolate digestive." (Psychic Psmith)
posted by Electric Dragon at 2:12 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why isn't it answerable?

Shouldn't this be the same as a question such as "What kind of hammer do I use for opening my car's trunk, I lost the key?" Obviously, they've got some bad assumptions going in, but they can still certainly be helped: by being told you don't use hammers for opening trunks, or you don't use somebodies birth month to figure out how they work.
posted by floam at 2:19 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Shouldn't this be the same as a question such as "What kind of hammer do I use for opening my car's trunk, I lost the key?"

You actually can open a car trunk with a hammer, though, and the kind of hammer you use will make a difference. This is different from astrological signs, which make no difference whatsoever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:25 AM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Okay shitty analogy. But my point didn't really hinge on it. I don't see why being told "that's bullshit, you should do x instead." isn't an answer, and this is a good example of a person that really needs help from Internet Strangers.
posted by floam at 2:28 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Should AskMe be in the business of giving bad advice?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:29 AM on December 22, 2009


This should be self-correcting; anyone who uses astrology as a serious guide to business relationships will soon be out of business.

Or so I hope.
posted by maxwelton at 2:32 AM on December 22, 2009


Gullibility may be a sad thing, but I don't think we should wish people ill simply because of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:35 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Superstition causes bad luck.
posted by Floydd at 2:46 AM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Should AskMe be in the business of giving bad advice?

Most of the thread is suggesting the asker treat people like human beings rather than pick a star chart template. I'd say that's pretty good advice.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:48 AM on December 22, 2009


Should AskMe be in the business of giving bad advice?

I'll go with "no."
posted by floam at 2:49 AM on December 22, 2009


Pope, I think I misread you there.

see what i did there oh my god i'm sorry that was awful
posted by Mikey-San at 2:50 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm very, very, very interested in the mod response to this question. It has long been my contention that many, maybe even most, questions need to have assumptions questioned and yet the mods are very loath of assumption-questioning replies.

(I've never used "loath" like that organically. Hope I did it right.)
posted by DU at 2:56 AM on December 22, 2009


Also, full-disclosure: I'm a cancer. Maybe I'm just upset with my fate and my horribly titled constellation.
posted by floam at 3:01 AM on December 22, 2009


They are loath of answers where the assumption-questioning comes in the form of harsh admonishment for the sake of being fighty or for talking down to the asker, but I believe they have always been fine with assumption-questioning when worded in a way where it's clear that the intention is to actually be helpful, i.e. phrasing and context matters considerably.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:03 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU - not that it matters, but you did.
posted by koeselitz at 3:05 AM on December 22, 2009


floam writes "'What kind of hammer do I use for opening my car's trunk, I lost the key?'"

You want to use about a 16 oz hammer which has enough drive to punch the lock into the trunk without being so unwieldy that you miss and hit the trunk lid. The business end should be a double tapered cone similar to a centre punch about 8 inches long and about 3/4" wide at the base. Handle should be standard framing hammer length, say about 16-18" long. With a bit of practice you can punch the lock into the trunk with a single swing and barely damage the trunk lid at all. Cars with protruding pushbutton style locks are a bit tricky because the hammer will tend to skitter off the lock.

Unfortunately no one makes a hammer like that, mine was custom made for my dad decades ago. You need to find a machinist to turn the head who can also heat treat it afterwords. Luckily the handle can/should be a length of pipe so you won't need to worry about broaching a hole for a wood handle.
posted by Mitheral at 3:06 AM on December 22, 2009 [26 favorites]


DU: “I'm very, very, very interested in the mod response to this question. It has long been my contention that many, maybe even most, questions need to have assumptions questioned and yet the mods are very loath of assumption-questioning replies.”

Rhomboid: “They are loath of answers where the assumption-questioning comes in the form of harsh admonishment for the sake of being fighty or for talking down to the asker, but I believe they have always been fine with assumption-questioning when worded in a way where it's clear that the intention is to actually be helpful, i.e. phrasing and context matters considerably.”

Well, somebody figure out what their signs are, and we might be able to figure out what the mods will think about this before they get here.
posted by koeselitz at 3:09 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, cortex is a Taurus, which means that while he is often social, he sometimes holds himself in reserve. He can be a very giving person, but will in some cases take a stand and demand that his rights be recognized. He responds strongly to flagging, but sometimes shows mercy. Finally, he makes music, though he sometimes doesn't.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:17 AM on December 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


Jessamyn is a Virgo, which means she'll give the matter at least five nanoseconds of very reasonable thought before making a decision. Since she as a Virgo is super-intelligent and meticulous, she will probably give us all a very well thought-out opinion.

... Wait. Was I supposed to be making fun of people using astrological signs to show a person's character traits? Because I think I did it wrong.
posted by brina at 3:21 AM on December 22, 2009


pope guilty - hang about, that makes no sense... that describes me, and I'm a capricorn... I guess my parents must be lying about my birthday...
posted by russm at 3:24 AM on December 22, 2009


As a cancerian, I found this question really
posted by seanyboy at 3:55 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Anyway - It's a bad question and it really needs deleting.
posted by seanyboy at 3:58 AM on December 22, 2009


It's my birthday right now!!!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:27 AM on December 22, 2009


Like all Pisces, I transcend mere labeling and astrological pigeonholing.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jesus was a Capricorn.
posted by fixedgear at 4:48 AM on December 22, 2009


Like most Sagitariuses, I don't believe in astrology.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:03 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Actually, DU, I think that using the 'loath of' construction instead of 'loath to' is somewhat nonstandard. If there is a relationship between unwillingness and x, to me that implies that x is some sort of action and involves intentionality, and that is better described by loath to x than loath of x. Our cases here are sort of weird (rhomboid did the same thing): "loath of replies" and "loath of answers" implies that loathiness attaches to nouns rather than verbs; "Mods are loath to take action x" fits into my idiolect but "Mods are loath of thing x" doesn't seem actiony enough.

Since rhomboid and koeselitz at least are comfortable with it, this is probably one of those natural language evolution things and I'll be adjusting to it. But I tripped over it even before you wondered whether you used it correctly, so insofar as it makes sense to describe it as 'wrong', I vote wrong, as a data point.
posted by Kwine at 5:08 AM on December 22, 2009


Happy birthday thinkpiece!
posted by ocherdraco at 5:09 AM on December 22, 2009


I think the tarot-card answerers should get in there, pronto.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:11 AM on December 22, 2009


As much fun as you would have saying "you are stupid for believing in the Zodiac", it would be about as effective as saying the same thing in a religion question.
posted by smackfu at 5:11 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm a cancer (and a middle child) and the astrological profile fits me like a comfy, cozy glove. My brother is a cancer (and "the baby") and couldn't be more opposite --- type-A entrepreneur through and through. I'm sure birth-order mumbo-jumbo has more influence here than birth-month mumbo-jumbo.
posted by headnsouth at 5:12 AM on December 22, 2009


This is different from astrological signs, which make no difference whatsoever.

Hey, placebos work, so who's to say astrological signs don't — if the person knows what traits they are supposed to show. "Virgos make natural critics? Gee, guess I better say what I think."
posted by smackfu at 5:14 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that this gets called out, but the Myers-Briggs relationship question slides by.
posted by drezdn at 6:18 AM on December 22, 2009 [20 favorites]


This is a stupid callout - based on assumption and guesswork - not exactly providing an example of how to be rational and enlightened.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 6:20 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


As much fun as you would have saying "you are stupid for believing in the Zodiac", it would be about as effective as saying the same thing in a religion question.

Pretty much, yeah. The difference is astrology has a fun, game-like quality to it. There's a lot I could say about religion, but "fun" wouldn't be the first adjective to spring to mind.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:27 AM on December 22, 2009


I think it's interesting that this gets called out, but the Myers-Briggs relationship question slides by.

Myers-Briggs is all science-y, though. Seriously, it was kind of a strange night on AskMe. Astrology, Meyers-Briggs and that 'men are like this, women are like that' one.
posted by fixedgear at 6:29 AM on December 22, 2009


There's a lot to be said for live and let live.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2009


Fine then. I won't be asking you people for assistance interpreting pig entrails anytime soon.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, what's fun about astrology? Is it the ignoring of interesting scientific questions in favor of superstitious mumbo-jumbo? Or maybe the fun game of ostracizing certain groups based on meaningless and accidental properties?
posted by DU at 6:39 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I only like astrology when it picks out negative traits, for example

Sept. 27th - Libra - Indecisive gossipy drunks.
posted by The Whelk at 6:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why the hell does that question need a callout? Ortho, what are you doing today? The person is asking about something, people have been questioning the assumptions, gently and not-so-gently, from the very start, and some members who perhaps find astrology acceptable are offering astrology-related information that accepts the underlying assumptions.

i.e., AskMe is working exactly as it should here. What the fuck deserves a MeTa thread? That you personally want to take a dump in the thread but can't figure out a way to do it without being a total jerk so you call it out for no reason here?
posted by mediareport at 6:46 AM on December 22, 2009


What is someone wrote in and asked "How can I find peace with God, forgiveness for my sins, and eternal life?"

or

"How do I reach nirvana?"

or

"What is--in terms of distance as the crow flies alone--the shortest route to Mordor?"

Just because you believe a system is fictional does not mean you can't answer a question from within the bounds of the system. Or you can defer to someone who can/will. Or you can venture an estimate with a caveat.
posted by jefficator at 6:47 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


"cortex is a Taurus"

A Taurus wagon, no less. With a V-6 and automatic transmission.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:02 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Um, this is not a callout of the question.
posted by orthogonality at 7:03 AM on December 22, 2009


And this is not a comment in a MeTa thread. Whatever.

You called out the question. That's why we're here.
posted by mediareport at 7:05 AM on December 22, 2009


This sentence is false.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2009


You have earthworms in your arse.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 AM on December 22, 2009


I wrote an "answer" and promptly pressed BACKSPACE. I figured I'd save the mods the hassle of deleting it and getting on their naughty list.
posted by yeti at 7:16 AM on December 22, 2009


Sounds like someone has got a bad case of the Leo's.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2009


My joke answer was deleted, the thread stands. One of those things is good.
posted by atrazine at 7:28 AM on December 22, 2009


I wish I could find that very old web joke, the universal online horoscope. After entering your birthdate, it would spit out something like, "Today you will accept generic advice from a dubious source."
posted by scruss at 7:30 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Given the guidelines for AskMefi, this seems a particularly hard one to answer at all.

Don't feel bad - you're just a bit thick because you're a Leo ;)

PS: Your lucky number is (1+sqrt(5))/2
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:31 AM on December 22, 2009


Myers-Briggs is all science-y, though.

Sigh.

Human beings are complex. NO pencil and paper test, birthday, birth order, pig entrails, etc. can sum up who you are and how you will react in every situation. Period.

I say this as someone who has to administer assessments like the MBTI et al. on a relatively frequent basis.

All these frameworks and models do for us is to give us a neutral language for discussing differences or preferences with each other. That's it. MBTI is a self-report instrument where some of the outcomes are valid only because the subject themselves is telling you their preferences.

These things are for discussion, NOT DIAGNOSIS.

(Now, if you'll excuse me, the tea leaves in the bottom of my coffee cup are telling me that it's time to go scrub my auras.)
posted by jeanmari at 7:34 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Good morning!

I'm very, very, very interested in the mod response to this question. It has long been my contention that many, maybe even most, questions need to have assumptions questioned and yet the mods are very loath of assumption-questioning replies.

What we dislike is replies that do a poor job of framing premise-challenging constructively and with an ear toward the balance of the thread and what's going to actually help the asker. Things like one-liners or mockery or strident rebukes or fight-starting rhetorical gymnastics—of which I just deleted a bunch—tend to make the question no better for anyone but, I guess, the person typing up the lousy answer and the people sitting around waiting for a pileon, and that sucks.

Challenging an asker's assumptions gently and constructively is generally fine. It helps to look around at what's in the thread already and consider whether you're adding anything new on that front, of course: someone establishing for the first time in a thread that Premise X is an issue is on somewhat better footing there than someone repeating it for the twentieth time without some new information.

It's always a balancing act, though, and while it works pretty well in general it gets harder to manage (both for folks responding to the question and for us as mods trying to keep the whole thing from going pear-shaped) when there's something controversial or by popular conception very flawed about the question. People tend to lose their shit a little, we end up being in the position of having to be de facto arbiters of just how "wrong" a premise is in terms of what we do and don't allow. I don't love that, though better that we do that sometimes I think than just say no one can ask those questions at all.

Astrology is one of those subjects. Do I personally think astrology is hooey? Yeah. Does the whole mod team? I honestly don't know. Does it matter that I think it's hooey? Not really. Does it matter that a lot of mefites seem to think it's hooey? Kind of, but again not to the point where that makes it okay for the guidelines to be suspended for the duration of the unpopular question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just because you believe a system is fictional does not mean you can't answer a question from within the bounds of the system. Or you can defer to someone who can/will. Or you can venture an estimate with a caveat.
posted by jefficator


I agree with jefficator. You don't have to accept the poster's assumptions in order to answer a question from within those assumptions. If the poster had used the standard it's not chat-filter dodge and framed the question suchly, "I'm writing a novel with a character that is strongly influenced by the zodiac. I need some advice about how this character would likely view Cancers in a business environment," nobody would have said boo and people would have had fun answering.

If you think it is important to question the askers assumptions I think it's fine if you do so in a polite helpful way. If you think the question is garbage don't answer it or flag it. Why on earth do you care about it beyond FIAMO?
posted by Babblesort at 7:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Moon Children Represent!
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 AM on December 22, 2009


I'm a Gemini, which I've been told means that I have two conflicting demons living in my brain, fighting out, in an eternal struggle to the death, which one will get to control my descent into madness.

In this case however, the sun demon feels that the best course of action is try to provide an answer within the framework of the belief system, while politely pointing out the potential failings of following that belief system too closely. The moon demon keeps screaming shitcock, but otherwise concurs.
posted by quin at 7:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Represented!
posted by ericb at 8:05 AM on December 22, 2009


fixedgear: "Seriously, it was kind of a strange night on AskMe. Astrology, Meyers-Briggs and that 'men are like this, women are like that' one."

I blame the winter solstice.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:08 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Like most Sagitariuses, I don't believe in astrology.

That's because we tend to be skeptical.
posted by TedW at 8:08 AM on December 22, 2009


Uh - guys. MetaFilter is a Cancer.

All about MetaFilter:

Such people are easily hurt by the slights of others. These are very complex people, sometimes appearing extremely strong and at other times to be as vulnerable as a child.

These people are remarkably good at accumulating things; indeed, they can be unwilling to throw anything out, even relationships that have passed their use-by date. They are generally over-anxious in financial matters, and make great efforts to gather in money; as a rule, they have unusual ups and downs in their early life and so they are compelled to work to keep ahead, but once they get on their feet they keep there. If channeled in the right direction, their enormous sensitivity can become a great source of strength. Once they overcome their touchiness and master their turbulent emotions, their intellect and imagination enable them to become a success in almost anything they undertake.

The main problem for them is to remember not to let the powerful, turbulent emotions of the moment crowd out their normally rational judgment. Their intuitions are reliable and should be trusted.

They are generally gifted with strong imaginations, and it is very easy for them to become excellent artists, writers, composers, or musicians. At heart they are romantic and of a very loving and affectionate disposition.

On the other hand these people are perhaps the most sensitive natures from any other class of people and if aren’t recognized they quickly give up or get depressed and melancholy. Above all, they require encouragement and appreciation. Their deep sensitivity presents them with valuable and illuminating intuitions, especially regarding those they care for.

They often make excellent psychics, and usually have a yearning after the mysterious.

They should never marry young, for their nature seems to change at different stages of life.

People born in this part of the year often reach very high exalted positions. In their home lives, however, they usually go through a great deal of trouble, and are seldom surrounded by happiness, no matter how successful they may appear in the eye of the world.

Such people have deep love for what they call "their own people," for family customs and for tradition.


I think we've all learned something here.
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uh - guys. MetaFilter is a Cancer.

Indubitably.
posted by atrazine at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2009


I don't believe in astrology, but I often joke that I don't believe in astrology except for Pisces.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2009


Uh - guys. MetaFilter is a Cancer.

And the only cure is ... ah, shit.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:28 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm very, very, very interested in the mod response to this question. It has long been my contention that many, maybe even most, questions need to have assumptions questioned and yet the mods are very loath of assumption-questioning replies.

cortex pretty much addressed this. I see this stuff along a continuum, so with this question specifically

- answering it is fine [me personally I don't go in for astrology and think it's made up; I feel the same way about a lot of religious questions so I stay out of them]
- gently challenging the assumptions [the first answer did this fine] in the context of answering the question
- questions the entire foundation of the question [large derails about astrology that don't even address that the person is asking a specific question] which are usually against the rules
- GRAR GRAR YOU'RE STUPID FOR YOUR BELIEFS answers

Really, only the first two are okay. We've said before that while questioning assumptions is fine if done so contextually, if the whole topic makes you annoyed, please come to Metatalk and don't answer it.

Put another way: do you think we should be able to have questions about religion? That's an institution definitely a lot more relevant and important to many people in society, yet there are others who feel the same way about religion as they do about astrology. Popping in to every religious question with "blar blar invisible sky monster" is against the rules. You can give people answers that refer to various books on the subject and that's an entirely consistent answer to a question. Your personal feelings on the topic are not necessarily relevant to the person who wants an answer to their question.

We've decided that we want AskMe to be an okay place for peopel to ask questions on topics other people think are wrong. This includes astrology, religion, drugs, teen sex, divorce, pornography, butt sex, Sarah Palin, circumcision, driving SUVs and cat declawing. We expect the people in the community to be decent to people asking questions about topics they think are wrong, or recusing themselves from answering, end of story.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm a Scorpio. Do you know what that means? Once I say my power word I can transform into a FUCKING GIANT GOD DAMNED SCORPION!!! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!
posted by Loto at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Libra - Indecisive gossipy drunks.

That can't be right. I'm a Pisces.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:37 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a friend in college who would say, "You are such a Cancer," as if that would explain everything. If course her saying that would get me frustrated (which to her was a prime example of being moody.)
posted by yeti at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2009


I'm a Cancer. I didn't know that I would make an excellent psychic! And since that seems like the sort of thing a psychic would have already known... I think I'll stick to my day job.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2009


Myers-Briggs always struck me as a system for using quizzes to massively oversimplify actual personality traits - eg, it's generally not all that helpful but at least has a foundation you can disagree with, whereas astrology is indistinguishable from pure rambling gibbering bullshit.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Haven't we done this before? It's answerable within the context it was asked, and a properly presented questioning of the asker's assumptions is also acceptable.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:19 AM on December 22, 2009


I think astrology can be tremendously useful. And probably more people than you think agree with me. We just tend to keep it to ourselves.
posted by lunit at 9:25 AM on December 22, 2009


And yes we've done this before. At least once.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:34 AM on December 22, 2009


I'm a Virgo. Do you know what that means? Once I say my power word I can transform into a FUCKING GIANT GOD DAMNED VIRGIN!!! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:39 AM on December 22, 2009


I think Metafilter acts more like a Gemini (and as I am one myself, I know whereof I speak!):

Traditional Gemini traits

Adaptable and versatile
Communicative and witty
Intellectual and eloquent
Youthful and lively


On the dark side....

Nervous and tense
Superficial and inconsistent
Cunning and inquisitive
posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on December 22, 2009


This includes astrology, religion, drugs, teen sex, divorce, pornography, butt sex, Sarah Palin, circumcision, driving SUVs and cat declawing.

I think we see what the Most Amazing AskMe Ever would sound like now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that one could make a perfectly serviceable bathtub out of balsa wood. It's really easy to work with and extremely lightweight.
posted by fixedgear at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2009


Haven't we done this before? It's answerable within the context it was asked,

Except that it doesn't even make sense if you accept the premise of the question that astrology isn't a load of hooey.

Cancerians have no head for business? They're just "confusing?"

Those born between 21 June and 22 July include such noted cotton-headed ninnymugginses as billionaire businessman and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson; former White House budget Director Leon Panetta; founder of Standard Oil and one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the history of the world John D. Rockefeller Sr.

And the list goes on. The question makes no sense whatsoever on any level.
posted by rabinowitz at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter is a Pisces, like me:

A dreamer of dreams
A teller of tales
Whose mystic sight
Knows that truth prevails
posted by fixedgear at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2009


If you had any doubt in your mind that jessamyn and cortex are clear-reasoning open-minded and communicative mods, this thread will either set those doubts permanently to rest or you are an unswayable Scorpio.

Hamburger. About the Scorpio bit.
posted by Plutor at 9:49 AM on December 22, 2009


I think astrology can be tremendously useful. And probably more people than you think agree with me. We just tend to keep it to ourselves.

I wish they'd be more vocal about it; it helps to know when logic and rational thought won't work on a person before engaging them.
posted by Loto at 9:49 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Loto - that's rude.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:55 AM on December 22, 2009


Those born between 21 June and 22 July include such noted cotton-headed ninnymugginses as billionaire businessman and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson...

... and industry titan George W. Bush. Regardless, the Asker isn't saying that Cancers are bad at business, just that it's difficult to communicate with them.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:58 AM on December 22, 2009


The question and subsequent MeTa confuse me. So much so, that I forgot that I had some green tea steeping in the kitchen, and when I finally remembered, it was black.

And I think I was supposed to work on a home project today, but I can't recall what. Ah well. I can't imagine it was anything important, and like my spouse would tell you, I'm no mind reader.
posted by CancerMan at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2009


What's the sign that means you like to start the same stupid argument over and over again long after it should have been obvious that everyone wishes you'd just shut up?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:11 AM on December 22, 2009


Myers-Briggs always struck me as a system for using quizzes to massively oversimplify actual personality traits - eg, it's generally not all that helpful but at least has a foundation you can disagree with, whereas astrology is indistinguishable from pure rambling gibbering bullshit.

I was asked about my M-B type in a job interview once. I’ve never taken the test, so my response was more about how I don’t believe in Myers-Briggs, why its assumptions are wrong about humanity, and it couldn’t possibly be useful in this field. I didn’t get the job, but it's good to know that I was right.
posted by Think_Long at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2009


The question makes no sense whatsoever on any level.

To play devil's advocate briefly, I think it's answerable if you believe there are a bunch of internally consistent tenets of astrology that inform conclusions that people make based on astrology. This is similar to "Who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse or Superman?" Both of those characters are not real, but they have backstories that are consistent and data about those backstories that can be applied to solving that particular problem. Astrology also has a foundation that you can agree or disagree with, same as Myers-Briggs.

If you do not, at any level, accept that astrology can be a useful teaching/learning/divining tool then you are more than welcome to stay out of that thread. The fact that the mere existence of that thread and people who believe in astrology turns people into grouchy jerks [in the thread and out] says more to me about irritable internet users than either astrology or anti-astrology.

And again, I do not agree that astrology has any connection to real world events [except that there are stars in the sky and they move in predictable patterns] but I'm also not threatened by its existence. If you want to use AskMe to play "you are so fucking wrong" that's not your option.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


The question should have been posed in the Religion and Philosophy category - problem solved!
posted by Pax at 10:15 AM on December 22, 2009


Pope Guilty: Should AskMe be in the business of giving bad advice?

My first impulse when reading a relationship question is always to answer: "Send him a dead marmoset in the mail with a tiny picture of his face stapled to the butt."
posted by Kattullus at 10:16 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can only speak for myself here, but I find astrology and/or the tarot useful when I don't know where to go with an idea, and am looking for a little bit of whimsy to get things started. Something to orient to, forcing me to analyze whether the random proposition that is suggested fits or not, even in some small way that hadn't occurred to me prior to being exposed to this outside influence. It's like when I want to go out to dinner, but have no idea where. If an idea is suggested, it's a launching point for my own thoughts to take off from:

"Where should I go for dinner?"
"How about Olive Garden?" says the cards.
"Um, hell no. But pasta sounds good, didn't even think of that! Hmm, what pasta places do I know of? Oh, right, there's that place I've been meaning to check out on 4th street."

In other words, rational thought can emerge out of the mysterious nether of such illogical mysticism. Crazytalk, I know.

Also, finding small ways to play throughout the day is really, really important to me. Otherwise everything all day is drenched with import and seriousness, and that's no way for me to live. Then again, astrology, religion, politics, WoW, whatever overtly guiding your decisions is probably not healthy. I just wanted to point out the distinction between engaging in small, silly and/or joyful activities vs. an ideology driven by mysticism, faith, destiny or randomness. Because there is one, and all the shades in between. That is all. [Tucks small freak flag back in pocket.]
posted by iamkimiam at 10:16 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why is this question still here?
posted by fixedgear at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2009


Er, guiding ALL of your decisions. As in, unchecked and blindingly guiding. Just wanted to preemptively correct that. You MeFites are sticklers!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2009


I'm just surprised no one popped into that thread to recommend treating business Cancers with some business Chemotherapy.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


gently challenging the assumptions

Yeah, I'd be happy to see this go. I think it would make AskMe a better or more useful site. As an asker, I really don't care if somebody disagrees with my premise; I want an answer, otherwise I wouldn't have asked. As a reader, I'm interested in answers, otherwise I wouldn't have clicked on the question. The only people who benefit from "gently challenging assumptions" are people who have a bone to pick with the question and want to have a conversation about it. And I guess if that's what you want to encourage, that's fine. I just wish there was a way to filter it out.

(at the same time, I realize that if you did apply a more stringent filter to "gently challenging assumptons), it would increase the admin-load astronomically, as more answers would be deleted and people always get snappy about that kind of thing)

I mean, yes, sometimes people post totally (or partially) misguided questions. But I think a more appropriate "error condition" would be if they got very few -- or zero -- responses.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think astrology can be tremendously useful.

Append "as a tool for self-reflection" and I don't disagree. Some of my friends use astrology as a jumping off point, I often find it helpful to revisit MBTI-related materials when I'm hitting a wall working through a sticky emotional problem, my mother has gained valuable personal insights from the enneagram. I think there are a lot of ways to enter into a space that promotes better understanding of yourself, and I don't take issue with astrology as one of them.

What I do have a problem with is using any of these tools as shorthand for dealing with other people, as if affixing a label to someone suddenly unlocks the secrets of their personality. There is no substitute for doing the hard work of sitting down with someone and getting to know them. Understanding comes through engagement, and labeling someone (especially labeling them using a system they don't buy into) does not generally lend itself to full and meaningful engagement with them.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


HA! That thread is SOOOO chatfilter. Super duper subjective and non-empirically answerable chatfilter.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


And again, I do not agree that astrology has any connection to real world events [except that there are stars in the sky and they move in predictable patterns]

Well, that's astronomy. Astrology doesn't even get the astronomy right a lot of the time, as Unca Phil Plait tells us.

Because I Am Old, I remember when the newspaper astrology columns tried to rebrand "Cancer" as "Moon Children." I think that ran aground because a) it was stupid, and b) scandals about the Unification Church.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 AM on December 22, 2009


If it stays, I want to follow up with "What's the best episode of Beverly Hills 90210?" or "What's the most fun vegetable to eat?" or "Name the best galaxy!"

Don't worry mods. No stunt posting from me ever, I promise.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2009


Isn't astrology based on the position of the planets and the constellations? Or do I have that backwards?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2009


"How about Olive Garden?" says the cards.

You really need to find a better set of cards.
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I mean, yes, sometimes people post totally (or partially) misguided questions. But I think a more appropriate "error condition" would be if they got very few -- or zero -- responses.

I kind of disagree.

If someone asks "How can I buy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin on UK DVD, because it's not available in the US where I live?" and someone gives them a link to where it is, indeed, available in the US, that's much more helpful than answers that address the mistaken premise of the question.

Obviously there's a big continuum between that and answering someone's question about "I'm thinking about converting to Judaism. Do you think I would be happiest in the Reform, Reconstructionist, or Conservative traditions, given these elements of my own spiritual philosophy?" with "GRAR FLAIL GOD DOESN'T EXIST."

But that's why there are mods, yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:27 AM on December 22, 2009


Isn't astrology based on the position of the planets and the constellations?

Astrology is based on some very arbitrarily defined selections of astronomical observations, which are often fudged in order to fit the astrologer's theories.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:28 AM on December 22, 2009


Isn't astrology based on the position of the planets and the constellations? Or do I have that backwards?

Sun signs are based on which constellation the sun rises in front of. The funny thing is that since the system hasn't been updated in a couple of millennia, the stars have shifted enough that your sign is actually different from what the usual assignment of dates to signs would hold.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2009


You know the thing I love, love, love about astrology? There's actually 13 signs of the zodiac. Ophiucus, between Scorpius and Sagittarius. It just didn't make it into the chart, because it screws up the even distribution of twelve 30º pie slices. Plus, who wants to be born under Ophiucus?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2009


Some more in-depth info about why astrology isn't good astronomy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:30 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Plus, who wants to be born under Ophiucus?

As opposed to CANCER? I think Sextans might be cool though.

Again I feel like I need to say again that I think astrology is hand-wavey nonsense, but I see it as largely harmless hand-wavey nonsense, along the lines of dowsing or something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:37 AM on December 22, 2009


Religion and the Decline of Magic It's all in there; tour de force of social history that everyone should read.
posted by Abiezer at 10:37 AM on December 22, 2009


Every comment in that thread not specifically answering the question using the asker's specified framework, that is, through an astrological lens, should be deleted.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:38 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Other people get to be crabs or archers or twins or bulls or rams or virgins, what do I get?

Scales. An object. Inert.

*huffs*
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on December 22, 2009


Ok, right. Cancer vs. Ophiucus, tough call. See, I'm an Aries, so that means I'm self-centered and ego-driven (meeee first!!), which also allows me free pass to not look at anything from any other perspective but my own.

Also, just in case it's not clear: HAMBURGER.

And if that's further obfuscating: I am being totally sarcastic, pretty much throughout this entire thread. Astrology is a fun little mouse to bat around.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:42 AM on December 22, 2009


Again I feel like I need to say again that I think astrology is hand-wavey nonsense, but I see it as largely harmless hand-wavey nonsense, along the lines of dowsing or something.

Dowsing is not so harmless when people take it too seriously.

Making business decisions on the basis of astrology woo-woo is a lot less harmful than getting people blown up because of dowsing woo-woo, but I don't think the harm potential is zero.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:45 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


A few years back, my dad went back to school to study Astronomy and got a second BA in Cosmology. I take immense joy when I get the opportunity to ask him how the astrology and cosmetology is going.

(He usually responds with, "Great! How's entomology and sociopathy working out?")
posted by iamkimiam at 10:47 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh - guys. MetaFilter is a Cancer.

I wouldn't go that far.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:54 AM on December 22, 2009


A crab at the very least.
posted by The Whelk at 10:54 AM on December 22, 2009


A crab in a beanpod clutching a tater with a declawed appendage.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:57 AM on December 22, 2009


I thought it was a lobster in lightly soiled lederhosen.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:02 AM on December 22, 2009


GRAR: Now I'm trying to get the image of Steve Carrell losing his virginity out of my head.

When the moon is in the seventh house.....
posted by effluvia at 11:03 AM on December 22, 2009


Wait, what's fun about astrology? Is it the ignoring of interesting scientific questions in favor of superstitious mumbo-jumbo? Or maybe the fun game of ostracizing certain groups based on meaningless and accidental properties?

It's the fun of looking up your horoscope and seeing "now is a good time to travel!" or reading that your star sign is creative and awesome or whatever. Or you could take it super serious like you seem to be doing. Whatever tickles your fancy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:08 AM on December 22, 2009


butt sex, Sarah Palin, circumcision

Carnac the Magnificent: Why did Russia sell Alaska off to the US?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse or Superman?"

Superman.
posted by ericb at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2009


"Who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse or Superman?"

Does this even qualify as a question? Superman, or I’m not an aquarius
posted by Think_Long at 11:29 AM on December 22, 2009


lunit: “I think astrology can be tremendously useful. And probably more people than you think agree with me. We just tend to keep it to ourselves.”

I don doubt that, in a spiritually and morally bankrupt age, when hatred of superstition has extended even to the most genuine of inner reflections and few of us have even allowed ourselves the solace of a simple family cult, many people who yearn for completion and an outlet of the inborne intuition that there is meaning in the universe would turn to trivial fakery and seek their solace there.
posted by koeselitz at 11:41 AM on December 22, 2009


Law of the Asymmetrical Hero Matchups: in the realization of an implausible matchup, the favorite will lose (in some capacity) to the underdog. Losing may range from failing-to-trounce (scrappy underdog manages to sufficiently repel/survive supposedly unstoppable advantage of superior combatant) to fought-to-a-draw-and-mutual respect (underdog meets, equals superior, they shake hands and probably go team up to kick some else's ass together) to David-pwns-Goliath (Batman with his fist at Supes' throat at the end of Dark Knight).

Which is not to say that the underdog should ever be considered a favorite in a null context. But if there's an actual matchup, you can count on it, because nobody bothers to script and draw "underdog predictably gets ass thoroughly kicked, nothing to see here" just for the heck of it.

Cf. Squirrel Girl.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:43 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse or Superman?

That will never happen, Mighty Mouse is a cartoon, Superman is a real guy.
posted by marxchivist at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, this stupid question is much worse than any goddamned astrology question. Please nuke.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2009


DAMMIT PEOPLE IT'S NOT A COMPETITION
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yikes! This increase of holiday trains has led to numerous trainwrecks.

(But I do love how we've triaged 4 or 5 threads so far in one MeTa. Is this a new record?)
posted by iamkimiam at 12:17 PM on December 22, 2009


I am so thrilled to be spending my first metafilter holiday season on the MetaTalk page. Things are better here. At Christmas dinner there's no one to moderate my sisters' bickering or banhammer my little cousins.
posted by Think_Long at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should just keep this thread open through the holidays? Festivus is tomorrow, and you know how many kooky AskMes that always brings, what with the airing of grievances and all.
posted by fixedgear at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2009


All the dames I date get uppity when I suggest they make me a sandwich. Where can I meet a girl who makes a mean dagwood without giving me lip? Also, how awesome do I look in this fedora?
posted by Loto at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2009




Ok, this stupid question is much worse than any goddamned astrology question. Please nuke.


I read this just after I finished doing the dishes and moping the floor. Note: I am a dude.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2009


You're also a troubled artist. Hence moping the floor.

Try mopping next time, The Whelk. Tears are salty, which is tough on both linoleum and hardwood.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2009


My bitter tears beat Clorox in a recent consumer report study.
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sooooooooo, can we declare December 22nd as AskMe Whack-a-Mole day?
posted by The Whelk at 12:37 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am still waiting for the answer to the "why is marxism good?" thread. Surely someone could provide me with a pithy response that neatly sums up both sides of the argument and gives an answer that will forever end this silly marxism business. I mean really, don't they get that it doesn't work?
posted by Think_Long at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


How I approached that question: First, I answered it, with a link I already had bookmarked from Novareinna. I tihnk it's fun to read and fascinating that people have gone into that much depth about astrological signs. I am a Cancer so I'd already read the Cancer pages of the site and it covers damn near everything. It provides my ruling planets, my prophet, apostle, tree sign, associated cities and animals, associated tarot card, and that's all just on the first page. The site even further breaks down the astrological signs into decans... how being born in the first 3rd of Cancer is different from being born in the 2nd or 3rd days of Cancer.

Now, how much stock do I put into anything it says? None. How much have I taken their advice and let it influence my daily life? Not at all. I view it as I do studying the ancient Egyptian gods... it fascinates me to read about how the Egyptians worshipped Ra and Bast and the other gods, but I don't, in turn, worship them myself.

So then after I answered the question with a link, I suggested there might be other, better ways to prepare for dealing with "difficult" co-workers. I both answered the question being asked and questioned their assumptions.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:53 PM on December 22, 2009


To each according to their needs. Obviously you don't actually need an answer about why marxism is good or else you'd already have it. QED OMG WTF.
posted by Babblesort at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2009


You know, I actually assumed it was someone trolling ask.me to annoy people. It's such a crock of shit, I actually hope that no one is that naive, so clearly written to trigger people's shit-o-meters particularly since astrology has never gone down well here before. If it was a genuine question then my faith in humanity will dip even lower than it currently is.
posted by shelleycat at 12:58 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it was a genuine question then my faith in humanity will dip even lower than it currently is.

Really? What happened to a site that respected everyone's personal beliefs? It's really weird how this is so distasteful to some people. Like, mysticism is okay when it's far away from us, but to meet someone who actually believes in these things physically disgusts people.
posted by Think_Long at 1:05 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey Cancers, your sign sucks so much it doesn't even have a relevant planet in Battlestar Galactica!
posted by qvantamon at 1:07 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because robot plane attacks on wedding parties and people who shoot up crowds of unarmed people and billion dollar bank scams are so much more preferable and faith-in-humanity inspiritng than someone who tries to use a quaint archaic system of personality abstraction to garner insight on interpersonal relations.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


^ inspiring an edit window
posted by Burhanistan at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2009


Hey Cancers, your sign sucks so much it doesn't even have a relevant planet in Battlestar Galactica!

"The esteemed delegate from Canceri would like permission to weep openly now Madam President."
posted by The Whelk at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do Cancers do housework?
posted by stormpooper at 1:40 PM on December 22, 2009


*tosses dirty Swiffer pads at stormpooper*
posted by Burhanistan at 1:43 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


*tosses dish sponge that's been soaking in tepid dirty dishwater at stormpooper, scratches male parts*
posted by Think_Long at 1:45 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoever does these sorts of things, I would like this on a t-shirt: blar blar invisible sky monster
posted by craven_morhead at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2009


:)
posted by stormpooper at 1:52 PM on December 22, 2009


Repost!

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 2:00 PM on December 22, 2009


Other people get to be crabs or archers or twins or bulls or rams or virgins, what do I get?

Scales. An object. Inert.

*huffs*


/me waves at the fellow member of the Only Inanimate-Object-on-the-Zodiac tribe.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2009



Other people get to be crabs or archers or twins or bulls or rams or virgins, what do I get?

Right, because a goat is soooo cool.
posted by Pax at 2:03 PM on December 22, 2009


Only Inanimate-Object-on-the-Zodiac

Aquarius is quite lame too.
posted by qvantamon at 2:10 PM on December 22, 2009


Well a sea goat is pretty damn cool.
posted by Sailormom at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2009


There's a goatse joke in there somewhere.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:15 PM on December 22, 2009


You say GOAT-see? I say GOAT-seh. I can't remember hearing it said that way, but then it's not a topic that gets brought up in spoken conversation much.
posted by Kattullus at 2:18 PM on December 22, 2009


Okay cats and kittens I'm off to deliver the holiday bonus to the staff and give my local Overworked Bartender some leftover rice and chili with surprise Mefite-filled holiday Mix CD. Remember to do the dishes, feed the cat, and lock up when you're done.
posted by The Whelk at 2:21 PM on December 22, 2009


Something something retrograde.
posted by Sailormom at 2:29 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aquarius is quite lame too.

Yeah, but you have a SONG!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:36 PM on December 22, 2009


Other people get to be crabs or archers or twins or bulls or rams or virgins, what do I get?

You get to be the only one useful in measuring precise quantities of drugs. It's just not something that goats or bulls are all that good at.

Hey, it's something. The best thing mine gives me is an excuse to act bipolar or two-faced.
posted by quin at 3:03 PM on December 22, 2009


Other people get to be crabs...

Or get them...or scabies. Thank god for Lindane (aka Kwell). Not that I have any first-hand experience with such.
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on December 22, 2009


There's a lot to be said for live and let live.

That's what I used to say too, until this ever-changing world in which we live in made me give in and cry.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


You get to be the only one useful in measuring precise quantities of drugs. It's just not something that goats or bulls are all that good at.

Virgins are awesome at this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:20 PM on December 22, 2009


Hey Cancers, your sign sucks so much it doesn't even have a relevant planet in Battlestar Galactica!

Not in the old one; but who cares? Canceron is in the new BSG; we saw it's quorum delegate for, like, half a second.
posted by spaltavian at 6:33 PM on December 22, 2009


I have seen Libra represented not just by a pair of old timey scales, but some vaguely Greek-deity-looking figure holding them, both male and female.

I don't know. At least when I did Tarot I had some armchair Jungian method behind it. I can't really say I've been able to do a similar thing with astrology. At least not insofar as monthly partitions are concerned. People born in different seasons, however, do tend to show certain traits relevant to their season. Or I could be projecting. Either way, go winter babies!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:56 PM on December 22, 2009


DU: "Wait, what's fun about astrology? Is it the ignoring of interesting scientific questions in favor of superstitious mumbo-jumbo? Or maybe the fun game of ostracizing certain groups based on meaningless and accidental properties?"

Ostracizing...? What kind of astrologers do you know?

I ignore astrology 99% of the time (was obsessed with it as a teenager) but it is certainly its own system, with its own language, methods, etc. Some people find it helpful for contemplation or whatever. Using it to "interpret" other people leads to nothing particularly helpful.

As a Sagittarius with a Sagittarius Rising and an Aries moon, I should've been all up in there with my tactless, rude self telling the OP what's what. But I wasn't. Because sometimes you have to just answer the fucking question instead of being a sanctimonious douchehead.
posted by kathrineg at 8:00 PM on December 22, 2009


Anyway, if you want more reading about astrology, try Linda Goodman's books. She's very humane and entertaining.
posted by kathrineg at 8:03 PM on December 22, 2009


I understand that astrology is sort of a backdrop to a certain kind of psychological consideration of character and what 'types' people fall into. The draw of astrology to a lot of people, I think, isn't so much in a predictive capacity, in the sense that it can prognosticate the future, but rather in a explanatory capacity, in the sense that considering it and affirming or denying certain assertions it makes is a process which can be stimulating and can lead to a deeper understanding of what makes up our characters. Most of the people I know with a real interest in astrology aren't interested in having their futures told; they're interested in thinking about what kinds of character people have, and what tendencies they might display. As such, the connection to star charts and the apparent predictive aspect takes a back seat to something more like psychoanalysis.

Is that what you're talking about, kathrineg?
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 PM on December 22, 2009


Yes. Thanks for articulating that for me.
posted by kathrineg at 9:46 PM on December 22, 2009


Jupiter cooks your endocrine system in ways you don't know how to track yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:02 PM on December 22, 2009


I've always found astrology to be fascinating, and I feel like it's one of those things that might have something to say even if its base assumptions are incorrect. Not with as great a ratio of "Precision of Prediction":"Incorrectness of Base Assumtions" as, say, newtonian physics, but the same general idea.

It doesn't seem insane to think that there could be cycles of personalities that people trend towards, and that those trends have been observed and recorded over however many jillion generations. The same groups of people had also observed cycles of the sky that seemed to correspond, and they got recorded in that way.

So I have no belief that the position of the stars and planets dictates behavior in any way. But could there be some interesting statistically relevant cyclic variations? Sure, why not.

I think daily horoscopes and attempts at extremely precise predictive powers are pretty silly, but I read the question as "There are people that I'm dealing with that are fitting with trends associated with a certain descriptive group. Based on other properties of that descriptive group, how could I best interact with them?". I can see some nasty parallels with racism lurking in there, but I'm going to ignore that for the moment lest this turn into an essay of some sort

I also assumed that the Considering What Sign They Are happened after the frustrations, not that a birthdate was found out that led to pre-judgement. I don't think I've ever seen something that approached a astrological prejudice, and I've been around a lot of people that put more stock into it than I do.
posted by flaterik at 12:37 AM on December 23, 2009


I was even LOOKING for someone else that had voiced a similar opinion, and I somehow missed koeselitz, who said something pretty much equivalent to what I did but much less... abstractly
posted by flaterik at 12:42 AM on December 23, 2009


But could there be some interesting statistically relevant cyclic variations?

But wouldn't that show up in the tests that people have done to see if astrology is correct? Any result at all would mean it was worth looking into to find the true cause, but time and again they've shown no correlation to any kind of personality traits based on time or season of birth. Correlation doesn't equal causation, but no correlation at all means there's not even anything interesting to even look at.
posted by harriet vane at 5:02 AM on December 23, 2009


Even.
posted by harriet vane at 5:02 AM on December 23, 2009


Like most Geminis, we're always late, but we think that question is laughable.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:42 AM on December 23, 2009


Yeah, like most Geminis, we're always late, but we think that question is laughable.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2009


Hey guys, guess what the stars had in store for me today?

A Christmas Cold! Coughing sneezing wheezing soreness! Right before a big lunch! Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!


DOUBLE BACON EXTRA CHEESE TRIPLE STACKED SPICY HAMBURGER ON A SESAME SEED BUN
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2009


On preview: This comment took a bad tangent and I vacillated back and forth on whether or not to post it. It's later tone is fueled by my anger towards the described situation.

I went on a great bike tour/date with a really cool girl the other day. We're both Americans living in Thailand, it's tough to find someone else here that you have a lot in commin with. It's been a treat to hang out with her. Once of the last stops on the tour was to a small temple that had what I assume were some I Ching sticks.

Well we both took turns casting sticks. I got some lame one about expecting a daughter and not engaging in legal disputes.

She was kind of silent after she received her fortune. I jokingly asked her what her fortune was and she showed me a passage that warned her not to get caught up in any new relationships. It specifically warned her against spending time with new people and that any relationship started now would end in disaster.

I don't believe in this stuff on any level, but reading that momentarily soured the date for me. I realized it was silly, but I wonder how a superstitious person would react. She's a cool girl and I think that she probably shrugged it off too.

But fuck this shit for even putting us in a position to feel awkward after a perfectly nice day of riding our bikes together. And fuck anyone who has ever pigeonholed anyone else based upon this gobbledygook.

I'm about to go Godwin in this piece, so turn back if this unnecessary ratcheting up of rhetoric is offensive to you. (I'm being particularly crass given the blood libel hoohah of the last few days.)

Check it:

Business Matters with Semites

Religion filter: How do I conduct business with a Jew?

I have a few friends who are Jewish and boy are they confusing! They don't seem too dependable but I need a project done with a couple of them. So, I'd like to know what's the best way to communicate with a Jew when it comes down to business matters. Help!


I just cringed as I read over the the above edit, but it proves my point. It's despicable to categorize anyone based on the randomness of birth. As other people have said, I'd be incredibly angry if anyone made a similar post about my sexual orientation, handedness, eye color, horoscope or nationality. I don't see why astrology is cutesy and ok, when other generalizations are vulgar.

That's all. Sorry if I crossed a line.
posted by Telf at 11:59 AM on December 23, 2009


I want to apologize for my errant apostrophe in the word "its". Also my weird spelling of "common". How come these typos are invisible throughout the proofreading, but then become glaring as soon as you post?
posted by Telf at 12:03 PM on December 23, 2009


I just cringed as I read over the the above edit, but it proves my point.

No...no, it really doesn't.

I don't see why astrology is cutesy and ok, when other generalizations are vulgar.

Because no population was enslaved or systematically slaughtered because their mercury is retrograde?

If minor superstitions that salt your game bother you as much as people, you know, dying, then you need to get some perspective. Until then, feel free to stop running your mouth about how genocide and and a column in the lifestyle section are equally oppressive.
posted by kathrineg at 12:06 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]



gently challenging the assumptions
[Jessamyn]

Yeah, I'd be happy to see this go. I think it would make AskMe a better or more useful site. As an asker, I really don't care if somebody disagrees with my premise; I want an answer, otherwise I wouldn't have asked. As a reader, I'm interested in answers, otherwise I wouldn't have clicked on the question. The only people who benefit from "gently challenging assumptions" are people who have a bone to pick with the question and want to have a conversation about it.
[Afroblanco]

Every comment in that thread not specifically answering the question using the asker's specified framework, that is, through an astrological lens, should be deleted.
[Optimus Chyme]

I agree with Jessamyn, and not with the other two responses above. As an asker, I may indeed not know enough about the question, or the meta-question, or life, or whatever so that I may have assumptions that are counterproductive. One could argue that it's the poster's responsibility to frame a better question--and this is partially true--but at some level I don't feel it's right to withhold useful information from someone because of what is essentially their viewpoint interfering with the question. Personally, I feel "I could be wrong"--and as such would prefer to hear that. I can always ignore it if I'm wrong, or present my case in the followup comments.

As a reader, I honestly don't feel like I really have much of a say. The question exists for the asker, at least initially. It is possible as well that future searchers may indeed share some of the same (perhaps) misguided assumptions that the poster did, and as such the "assumption challenging" answers can help them as well.

Even in this response, though, I could be wrong. My penchant for preferring to hear about all my mistakes has not served me well when I assumed that others felt the same way. Perhaps the difference is between face to face communication and online interaction. (Tip for the odd misguided reader: other people do not generally want to hear when you think they are wrong. Keep it to yourself--you yourself could be wrong, and even if you're not it's not usually important enough to point out and make them feel bad).
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:18 PM on December 23, 2009


Religion filter: How do I conduct business with a Jew?

I get what you're trying to do, and I appreciate the point. I think you could have picked a less incendiary example. You did not refer to genocide yourself at all (well, maybe you did by invoking Godwin), just business practice--someone else made that connection.

It's a valid point, though. You just took it a bit extreme when you started with a soured date, then moved to painting a whole population with the same brush. Certainly the justifications in either case are just as arbitrary. It's just that the scope isn't quite on the same level, and of course the cultural implications of your later example tend to obscure your point.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:25 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Religion filter: How do I conduct business with a Jew?

Your example is not a very good parallel and annoying besides. We delete questions like that, have in the past, will in the future.

Using another example, if the topic were "eye color" a lot of people would be like "Well that's a little strange since eye color doesn't reasonably correlate to anything having to do with business. Just treat them like people." Which is, actually, what a lot of people said in the thread.

I'm not even going to make any "But you know, we run MetaFilter" jokes because the past few weeks on this site have made that sort of thing resoundingly unfunny.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:26 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


RikiTikiTavi: "You did not refer to genocide yourself at all (well, maybe you did by invoking Godwin), just business practice--someone else made that connection. "

Business practices are very, very tied up in harmful stereotypes about Jewish people. I think the connection to genocide is quite clear.

Anyway, this is pissing me off too much, so I'm done here.
posted by kathrineg at 9:10 PM on December 23, 2009


Well looking at my comment again in the morning, I do want to say that I was clearly wrong in my execution of the post. There's no way around that.

I was starting to work on a FPP detailing the Burmese government's use of Astrology to make some pretty horrible policy decisions, but realized that I was just being petulant.

What I wanted to convey was that I don't think it's acceptable to group people together based on when/where they were born. I could have replaced Cancer with words like "gen Xers, octogenarians, middle-aged people, left-handed people, Canadians, or whatever.

That being said, I realize that I didn't add anything to the discussion, so it was a comment that didn't need to be made.

As an aside, I really enjoy most of Kathrineg's comments, so I'm sorry for pissing her off. I was not however trying to make any connections with genocide, only to an established bigotry. Though I'm sure that many people have died because of astrology, I in no way am trying to say that astrology is in anyway akin to a genocide.
posted by Telf at 11:14 PM on December 23, 2009


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