Eclipses Should Be Celebrations of Science, Not Pseudoscience

Narayana Montúfar, covering the astrological “impact” of Monday’s solar eclipse for Women’s Health:

So, what makes the Great American Eclipse of April 8, 2024 so special? Ancient astronomers — who, by the way, were also astrologers — believed that the geographical area where any eclipse was visible would energetically feel its effects the most.

Astrology fans like to say it’s all just harmless fun, but they also love to wave their hands and pretend their pseudoscience is even vaguely related to the hard science of astronomy. It’s a genuine travesty that the two words in English are so similar. I stumbled across this story earlier in the week and it’s been irritating me like a piece of popcorn stuck in my teeth ever since. Astrologers horning in on the excitement about the eclipse is scientific sacrilege.

Actual science is the great accomplishment of mankind. The antidote to ignorance, superstition, religious zealotry, and nonsensical beliefs in general. An eclipse exemplifies, to even the lay-est of laypeople, just how advanced modern science is. We were informed by astronomers, years in advance, exactly when and exactly where the eclipse would occur — down to the second, down to the meter — and everyone in the path of totality could literally see how exactly right those predictive calculations were. We should be celebrating and emphasizing this to laypeople, because these same scientists are the same people who’ve been telling us for decades that we’re destroying our climate with carbon emissions.

So here’s my “by the way” retort to Montúfar’s aside: how many astronomers today — not in “ancient” times — are also astrologers? Spoiler: the answer is fucking zero.

Thursday, 11 April 2024