12 March 2011

Why the f@ck are astrologers being asked for their opinion on Japan’s earthquake?

The UK’s Daily Mail has an article on the Japan earthquake and tsunami filed under ‘Science and Technology’. So to get the facts, naturally they sought out and interviewed seismologists, geologists, science writers, and astrologers. That’s right, astrologers, not astronomers. Because astrology is obviously a scientific discipline, like homeopathy.

In the interest of so-called journalistic objectivity, media factories like the Daily Mail and the ABC engage in ‘he-said-she-said’ reporting regardless of the competence and qualifications of those they choose to interview. This is an all too common media gimmick cynically used to create a ‘debate’ on matters where the facts are already well-established and accepted by all intelligent, informed, rational people (who can be incredibly knowledgeable on the relevant subject). Controversy sells papers and grabs eyeballs. We see this rotten trick being pulled on the evolution-vs-creationism issue, where media outlets give equal time and page space to both legitimate science and religious bollocks. “Teach the controversy” is really a euphemism for “give lies the same consideration as facts”. Ditto for vaccine safety, where the fact-deprived sputterings of anti-vaccination paranoiacs are given the same weight as statements from doctors and medical scientists.

When it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff, the media often prefer not to discriminate. Why, that’s the consumer's job! Too bad if they happen to lack the education or critical thinking skills to tell shit from gold.

I’m not going to dignify the astrologers’ delusional ravings about earthquake-causing ‘supermoons’ with a critique. For gold, not shit, read Evelyn Mervine’s highly informative Skepchick post on what really causes earthquakes, and why Japan gets so many of them. It’s even got pretty pictures and colourful maps. The best bit: not one mention of a fucking supermoon.


Hat tip to Martin at Furious Purpose.

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