2005-11-25

It's astronomy, not astrology!

Grantham has a weekly paper called The Grantham Journal. In last week's edition there was an article about how StarLincs paid a visit to a school in Colsterworth. The article spoke about how the children had learnt about "astrology" and how they'd been told about a "new planet" called "Zena".

I'm not really one for writing letters to magazines or newspapers (I've probably done it three times in my life, two of those being in the last month — the other one being to Sky At Night Magazine) but I couldn't really let this one slide. So, last Sunday, I composed and sent an email to the editor.

Fast forward to today and the new edition of the paper is out. Look what I found on the letters page.

Shame the heading draws on the Zena/Xena thing when the real error that needed correcting was the astrology/astronomy thing.

File Under: Astronomy, Astrology, Grantham, Colsterworth, 2003 UB313.

4 comments:

Stuart said...

Good letter Dave. This is another example showing that most of the nation don't really know the difference between the two. Possibly worse is the fact that a large percentage of the UK population also believe in astrology even though it has been shown to be no better than guessing.

Dave Pearson said...

Thanks Stuart. I really wanted to try and write the letter such that it corrected the errors but, at the same time, didn't come over as "stuffy". The Xena link would seem to make this a little easier.

As for the astrology business — yes, I tend to find it very worrying. It's the way that "we" seem to accept it without any question and never flinch when presented with it. You've only got to look at the broadsheet papers that carry astrology columns to see how acceptable it is.

Sure, there's the "but it's just a bit of fun" argument but, if that's the case, and given the point you make about it being no better than "guessing", why not have a column based around the first letter of people's surnames or something equally as silly? I guess something like that wouldn't have that veneer of mystery about it...

Ian Musgrave said...

Like Stuart said, good letter Dave.
I have ceased to be surprised by the people who think I do astrology. Yes, there is widespread misunderstanding, this mirrors a wide misunderstanding of science in general. It has not yet driven me to dispair. Statistics for the US show that acceptance of astrology hasn't got bigger in the past 20 years (OTOH, that means for 20 years, public science education has failed)

Stuart, it may confort you to know that while 3/4 of people in the UK read horoscopes daily, only around 10% of those actually act on the advice give.

Stuart said...

Ian, I don't know if you ever saw Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment. He lived his life as the astrologers told him to for 40 days while his twin brother didn't. It was very funny.