Guiding Stars

Posted on January 19, 2011 by

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According to your horoscope, you need to get out more.

By Patrick Bigsby

Take turns spinning. Left foot Virgo! (Photo from forastrologyzone.com.)

There I was, splitting my attention between Facebook and an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 available on Netflix instant play, when this story broke – apparently, the zodiac signs we’ve used for centuries to guide our lives are actually wrong. Links to the story began sprouting up on my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter feed, accompanied with comments ranging from mild bemusement, to mock surprise, to “OMG THIS IS BULLSHIT I’M SERIOUSLY A LEO.”

My reaction? I need smarter friends.

Seriously, if a bizarre and frivolous non-science that has existed for thousands of years without having any kind of tangible impact on your life suddenly gets a rebranding makeover courtesy of a slow news day, there is no reason to perpetuate the story.

In this case, that proved doubly true when follow-up stories began to appear and discredit the original. All that panic over twice as much nothing.

But why the hysteria? Surely someone must stand to gain from reshuffling stellar alignment.

Obviously, reassigning zodiac signs would be a windfall for tattoo parlors. But what about professional astrologers, who must have spent hours (or however long it takes to read this book) to gain the extensive training necessary to divine fortunes by staring at the night sky while resisting the urge to howl? Naively, I imagined that the people who make a living from convincing gullible fools that they can see the future would apologize for this grievous industry-wide shortcoming. As if.

I don’t think the authors of Bible would want to be associated with astrology. (Photo from thecrookedpath.net.)

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, credited with getting this important scoop first, ran an article that included professional astrologer Linda “Moonrabbit” Zlotnick (seriously, Moonrabbit) remarking that leading astrologers were already well aware of the potential discrepancy and rarely-invoked 13th sign. If that is the case, why didn’t they warn us that their prognostications were based on outdated and inaccurate information? Oh, right, because it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

Jeff Jawer, an astrologer with Tarot.com (tagline: “Experience the wisdom!”), told CNN that “This story is born periodically as if someone has discovered some truth. It’s not news.” Take that, mainstream media! Even people who gaze into crystal balls under the impression that someone might gaze back think you’re silly for getting so worked up about this.

Constellations, despite being beautiful natural wonders, have no magic powers. They’re basically what you’d get if you commissioned Wassily Kandinsky to paint livestock. Unless you’re a 17th-century maritime explorer, any shifts in the night sky probably won’t affect you. You should, however, always consider the position of Uranus before making any big decisions (come on, you knew it was coming).

So, Facebook friends and Tweeters of the world, next time you think there’s an important news story everyone needs to see, please cross-check with The National Enquirer nearest you.

– Patrick Bigsby

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