Friday, June 8, 2007

Celestial Rot

What is it about astrology that people find so fascinating? The answer is so obvious that I could have just stated it without asking the question. People like to hear good things about themselves, their future, their close ones, their jobs. In addition, people also like the possibility of actually knowing the future and thus being smug about being prepared for what's supposedly going to happen. It's a comfortable feeling to know that not everything is beyond control in the chaos that engulf one's life. This comfort factor is the most abused and misused of human feelings, unscrupulously manipulated by charlatans like astrologers and godmen in the most obscene manner possible. In the end it all boils down to ill-earned money, fame and power for these frauds.

Astrologers usually push in a little of bad, and then a hint of good in their 'predictions'. After all, nothing should be perfect, right? This sweet and sour mixture is what makes these predictions more believable to the gullible.

In India, it's very common for astrologers to have a side business of selling precious stones like sapphires and topaz. These are supposed to hold miraculous powers of warding off evil. Needless to say, such astrologers push more sour content into their predictions and thus open up an avenue of selling those pieces of rock at exhorbitant prices to their clients.

It's a fact that the best known astrologers of the world are very good scholars of the human psyche. Take Linda Goodman, for instance. Her fantasy books (Star Signs, Love Signs) are amazing bestsellers. Read a section, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

The sad fact is people don't realize that this pseudoscience (should I
even call it a science?) has so permeated our lives that it's almost impossible to imagine the common media without it. Take the daily horoscope. It's ubiquitous like the comic strips, the crossword, the editorial in the morning newspaper. So much that I wonder if people even think notice it anymore other than to read it for 'fun'.

I'll end this with a small example. Go to - the main page of one of India's most respected newspapers. Click on the Science/Health section. Yes, the Science section. Scroll down. On the right there's a small dropdown box for horoscopes. Yes, my good man, scientific horoscopes, no less!