Media shame of the month: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, May 12, 2011

If we’re going to have a world in which people get smarter as time goes on, we must start living in the current century. Today, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), our friends Down Under, issued a press release conveniently calling attention to the current planetary grouping in the predawn sky. (They, like most of the other media, call it an “alignment” because it sounds a little more preordained that way, or at least a little organized.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
In a staggering act of ignorance, the writers at ABC brighten our lives by informing us that “astrologists predict the visual treat, which will be visible just above the horizon around sunrise, will influence the behaviour and emotions of those on Earth.” I don’t think so, skeezicks. What we do know is that some shoddy news organizations will negatively influence the ability of a whole lot of people to think straight.

The story’s writer, Monique Ross, elaborates on the planetary grouping, which provides the opportunity to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in the same area of sky. She quotes astronomer Fred Watson from the Anglo-Australian Observatory on the conjunction itself.

But then she couldn’t leave well enough alone. Adding to the ridiculous opening line, she then quotes two astrologers. “The line-up of the planets will make people a little more emotional than usual,” says astrologer Sarah Kulkins. “The effect of this planetary line-up has been slowly felt by many over the past few months and by the end of May people should be starting to slowly feel better.”

Astrologer Douglas Parker chimes in with even spicier insight. “The Venus and Mars together in the sky indicates people born around this time will have a strong sexual magnetism and a strongly sensual nature,” he says. “Jupiter and Venus together indicates people born around this time will have film-star mannerisms, be extremely popular and have considerable artistic ability.”

Does anyone who is older than 6 or have an independently functioning mind take this stuff seriously? Anyone who can think straight at all and has even the vaguest notions of physics knows that the cup of Starbucks coffee on your desk has more gravitational influence on you than any of those planets — they’re just too far away (if you’re confused, see the Inverse-square law). And there are no mystical, supernatural forces that magically act on you with “vibrations,” “warmth,” or “feelings.” Stupid, ignorant, childish, fairy-tale nonsense — nothing more.

In the 12th century, astrology still had a fair amount of credibility. Not so for about the past 900 years. How about we do a little bleeding with leeches to see if we can clear up that cancer? Drill into your head with a trepanning blade to reduce that headache of yours? Copy texts on parchment with quill pens? Get out there in the fields and get some work done with that new, greatest of all inventions, the wheelbarrow?

You have to admit, if we had newspapers running stories about cutting holes in people’s heads to relieve their headaches, that would get people’s attention!

Congratulations, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, on this month’s shame award. Richly deserved.

Here’s a link to the story, in case you want to see the horror with your own eyes:


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