March 8, 2010

When Jupiter Aligns With Mars...And Other Bullshit.

    Every morning thousands of seemingly rational people open
their newspapers, and check their horoscopes.


 But Why?

Certainly in this day and age most people should know that
 astrology is bunk. And it they don't they should be told.

   Horoscopes Are Horseshit

What bothers me most about astrology is that it cloaks
itself in science; or sometimes even claims to be a science.

It's nothing of the kind. It's a pseudo-science.
a pseudo science that falls to pieces under
actual scientific scrutiny.

And yet people still believe.
I bet you know someone who actually 
believes in astrology. 

Here's what I want to say to those people >

Let's walk through this, shall we? 

To simplify things, and correct me if I'm wrong,
astrology basically states that when and where 
you were born determines not only your fate, but also
your personality, and, furthermore, this is dictated by
the positions, and 'relationships' between the celestial
bodies of moons, planets, and stars.

" As above. So below."

It's a wonderfully romantic notion isn't it?
But it's not true. And can not be proven.

If you wanted to scientifically test your theory
here's what you would have to do:
Find two (or more) non-related people who were born
at the same time and place, (Babies born on the same day
in the same hospital, for example) and follow them 
throughout their lives. By the rules of Astrology these 
two (or more) individuals should both (all) have 
similar personalities and fates. 

       I'm betting they don't.

I'm betting you can tell a lot more about someone's
fate and personality by asking them who their 
parents were. Your parents (or at least one of them)
determine where you are born, and, when you are 
a child, where you live, where you go to school, and, 
sometimes, how many siblings you have. 
Not to mention your early financial circumstances, 
and what you watched on TV as a kid.
All far more influential on your fate and personality
than the moons of  Neptune, believe me.

Want another argument against astrology?

How about plane crashes?  

Plane crashes that have no survivors.

In such a crash all passengers suffer the same fate
at the same time.

Does this mean that these victims 
all shared the same sign of the zodiac.
Or were born in the same year?

Probably not.

Here's one last experiment >
One you can actually perform.
Take a copy of today's paper. 
Cut out the horoscope, but remove the sign
of the zodiac from each "prediction".
The next day, show some of your friends these
'predictions', then ask them which of the twelve entries
best described the day before.
The chances of them selecting the prediction that
fits their sign of the zodiac?
About one in twelve I would think.

In the city I live in we have a weekly newspaper that 
dedicates a half  of a page each issue to horoscopes.
What's more, there's an annual edition of the paper 
dedicated to pages and pages of astrological predictions
for the coming year.

The writers and publishers (and, I'm assuming,  much
of the readership) of this particular newspaper seem
to be made up of rational, secular, intelligent human beings.

Why they continue to publish this nonsense is beyond me.

But then, I'm a Scorpio.

March 1, 2010

In Praise of "Chit-Chat"

Last week I spent a most interesting evening at Victoria's inaugural "Pecha Kucha Night".
                                        "Pecha what now ???"
Pecha Kucha- a Japanese phrase which roughly
translates as "Chit-chat". As a format for the public sharing of
ideas Pecha Kucha has become a media phenomenon that now
takes place in close to 300 cities world-wide.
Began seven years ago in Tokyo by Astrid Klein and
Mark Dytham, this movement engages its audience on many
different levels, and yet the presentation itself if quite simple.
              Here's how it works;
Pick 15 people who are involved in interesting projects in your community.
Give each of those people just under seven minutes
to present a slide show to an audience.
Limit each presenter to 20 slides.
Invite the public.

The place was packed.
And, except for a few small technical glitches,
the format worked like a charm.
The producers of the show were smart enough
 to mix in enough variety so
the audience was presented with a wide range of topics.
From Eco-utopian ideals to self-promoting artists,
the presenters all gave us an intense and thought- provoking evening.

And there was a bar.
The show was billed as "An Evening of Thinking & Drinking"

Afterwards I got to wondering why Pecha Kucha has been such a
success, both here and around the globe. After all, we can all
pretty much go on-line and get information about any of these
projects or artists via websites/blogs and social networks, right?
But in this age of instant information we often find ourselves
isolated in front of our screens and laptops, and Pecha Kucha 
has found that people have a thirst for coming together for a
live/public/in person exchange of ideas, outside of academia, 
and outside of whatever church they may, or may not belong.

Any complaints I have are minor;
a public Q&A at the end of the evening would have
made the show a lot longer,but it would have engaged the audience
a bit more, and, for future events I'd recommend more science,music,
and/or comedy.

The people that put together Victoria's first Pecha Kucha Night
are planning three more for 2010. I suspect they all will be
very well attended. Keep and eye out.
And if you want a good seat - get there early.