"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Monday, January 02, 2012

Making people stupider

(JimDandy Goodness, with his sponsored argument between atheists and agnostics, and annoyance at dimwits who discount meteorology because it isn't 100% accurate 100% of the time got me thinking about this, so blame him.)

Not to kick off the new year by sounding like the opening of a Seinfeld  episode, but what is the deal with horoscopes?
Does anyone with an IQ above room temperature really put any stock in these things any more? Seriously, does anyone you know that you would trust with anything more dangerous than a crayon or a soft plastic spork consider the phrase "what's your sign?" anything other than a cheap pickup line or punchline? (the answer depends on who's asking the question: Stop, Yield, Do Not Enter and You Must Be This Tall to Ride being among the best answers) 
I ask, because amid all the arguments I see everyday in the newspaper about how we must be steely-eyed realists and put our faith in neither in socialist dreamers with their notions of the universal goodness of man nor in laissez-faire ideologues and their invisible hand of the marketplace, I notice that virtually every newspaper I see still devotes a quarter page a day to "What the Stars Reveal."
Truly, this is the oldest con-game in the history of mankind, even older than monotheism or patriotism.The numb-brained belief that the position of the stars and planets determine the content of your personality and the events that occur in your day-to-day life has been with humankind since we started looking up. It was the quest for more accurate star-charts for our soothsayers that drove us to develop astronomy in the first place.
As a newspaper copy editor, I have to read and edit this crap almost every day and have done so at several papers over the years and for the life of me I cannot ever recall seeing even one entry on a single day that wasn't so vague as to be totally meaningless.
Today's example for those whose birthday is Jan. 1: "This year waves of surprises keep hitting, forcing you to at least think. What you have taken for granted will be up for questioning. Curb becoming controlling when faced with instability."
Wow, pretty darned insightful, eh?
I'm pretty sure most of the drivel printed in the horoscope columns these days is either written by a not-very-sophisticated computer program, or somebody who has been drunk off their ass and recycling the same column since 1974. Either way, someone is making a living off of this shit and that money and effort would be better spent on almost anything else, even Ezra Levant's column. (though the intellectual rigor is of about the same level, Levant's columns are occasionally funny, at least accidently.)
I know this is shooting fish in a barrel and about as worthwhile as bitching about the weather, but really, shouldn't the news media be trying to encourage a little more intellectual rigor?
I appeal to my fellow working editors Could we not make better use of the shrinking amount of space in all of our publications to run more news about something that really matters - like whether Brittany Spears can make a comeback or the Royal Wedding or whether Rick Santorum can get elected president?



rww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rww said...

It's cheap filler between ads, which is what so much of newspapers are becoming these days. And copy editors, I thought they were non-existent. Reading some papers you would think so.

(First post deleted because I clicked before properly copy editing)

David said...

Sometimes I think all we have left to try and control are the fish in the barrel. Whenever I rage (yes, rage) about the horrorscopes, everyone tells me to calm down (Everyone tells me to calm down as soon as I wake up, so not really a surprise there) because, "who is it hurting". I don't think they realise, or accept, how many stupid people there are out there.

Dave said...

When is the last time you read a horoscope that said, "You will win."?

Keep it up Rev.

We love you.

Dave from The Galloping Beaver.

(Deep bow)