Media

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Deborah Houlding's illustrative comment on the BBC's reaction.[1]

Astrology has a difficult relationship with the general media. On the one hand, many newspapers have so-called "horoscope columns" which are typical examples of the kind of populist astrology that the majority of people are aware of. These columns can even be found in newspapers in which the editorials publicly reject serious astrology. On the other hand, the media makes virtually no attempt to take a serious look at or engage in serious debate on the subject of astrology. There appears to be a void between the trivial platitudes found in populist astrology columns and the often devastating criticism of serious astrology. The majority of journalists consider themselves to be part of the Enlightenment tradition and reject astrology without any kind of serious investigation of the subject. One typical example of the kind of reaction was the statement by the editor of a national newspaper who said: "I can't even accept the use of the adjunct serious in connection with astrology."

Nevertheless, greater presence of astrology in society has been reflected by an increase in newspaper reports on the subject, although the quality of these has left much to be desired. Many reports are a testament to the lack of serious investigative journalism on the subject, as the following example illustrates: "The structure of the cosmos itself is the most powerful argument against astrology: For current astrological practice is still based on the calculations of Ptolemy even though the Earth's axis has moved considerably since that time. The stormy Aries should in fact be a meek Piscean." This statement is utterly irrelevant to Western astrological practice which is based not on the constellations but on the Tropical Zodiac in which the spring equinox is always equivalent with the beginning of the sign of Aries.

A different author writes of his feelings of helplessness at an astrological seminar: "The other people attending come out with statements such as Pluto in Aries!? Aha. Sun in Scorpio!? Meaningful smiles, no further explanations needed. And I think to myself 'Oh dear, what have I got myself into'." This is a valid question, indeed; his reaction is justified. The seminar must have been full of exceptionally long-lived participants, because the last time Pluto was in Aries was between 1821 and 1853.

It is also remarkable, for instance, that in January 1995 and February 2011 numerous newspapers and magazines falsely quoted the Royal Astronomical Society as having announced the discovery of a thirteenth constellation between Scorpio and Sagittarius, and that this had destroyed any foundation upon which astrology claimed to be based.

French astrologer Jean Rignac proclaimed "the thirteenth star-sign" already in the 1970s.

See also

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Notes

  1. Houlding wrote her letters of complaint in 2011.