USA Today’s astrological nonsense

Contributed by
Jan 16, 2006
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Update (January 17, 2006): I originally wrote that this article was in USA Today. My reporter friend Dan Vergano (whom I mentioned in the entry below) told me that USA Weekend was the name of the publication, which is unaffiliated with USA Today. They are owned by the same company (Gannett) and have similar logos and names, but that's it. They don't share anything else, so they have different writers, editors, values, culpability, etc. :-).

I am continually amazed that in a time where we can collect dust from a comet and from other stars, and launch probes to the outermost planets, people still promote the garbage of astrology like it's real.

USA Today has a fine Science section (one of its writers, Dan Vergano, is both a friend of mine and an excellent journalist), but when they screw up, they do it, well, astronomically. In Sunday's USA Today Weekend Magazine, they had an article labeled "Science" (and as a Special Report!) about -- uccch, it makes me queasy just writing this -- astrology. The tagline was

Newly charted territory

With the discovery of a new "planet" in our solar system, some people may wonder: Will this affect my horoscope?

It discusses the object UB313, an iceball out past Pluto. Instead of spending any time at all on the incredible and fascinating properties of this object, the article slavishly toes the pseudoscientific astrology party line, clearing up such potentially confusing issues like, will this new object change your star sign? or, how does the time of discovery affect how it affects us?

The article totally panders to this sort of nonsense, making one ridiculous assertion after another, and finally ends with,

"It gives us the opportunity to deepen our understanding," says Shelley Ackerman, noted newspaper astrologer and BeliefNet contributor, "at a time when it is imperative that we change course and learn to accept one another."

"Deepen our understanding", eh? Maybe they should have filed this under "Irony".

If you read the article and need to cleanse your palate, then go to my page debunking astrology.