## Tautology!

I suspect, though, that Larry Moran would consider this an appropriate textbook in an astronomy course. . .

h/t: A tweet from Dr. Brooke Magnanti via Matthew Cobb.

1. BigBob
Posted May 18, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

“Free e tips at Dummies.com”
That’s appropriate.

2. jaxkayaker
Posted May 18, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

I suspect he doesn’t think it’s appropriate, but given his absolutism on academic freedom, he would probably permit it. I disagree with him that academic freedom should be absolute. I’m a college instructor. I’ve taught human A&P courses. Should I be able to show porn for the reproduction chapter? Or give a personal demonstration of masturbation in lab?

• PSF
Posted May 19, 2013 at 2:04 am | Permalink

Only if you’re a hot female.

3. Alexandra M
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

I recently had it explained to me (in condescending tones) that the value of astronomy was as a “map of the human mind.” Which I thought was as useful as a map of Middle Earth for getting to the grocery store. Apparently my anger is “blocking” me and preventing me from understanding the “metaphor.”

• Diane G.
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

I’m sure you meant to type ‘astrology?’

• Alex Shuffell
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

The metaphor is that the universe has spent he last 13.8 billion years evolving just for us (because we’re all insecure egomaniacs and need this reinforced), and by reading the universe we can tell you that the number 4 is lucky, you will meet someone wearing the colour yellow and you may even have to make a choice in the future.

4. Owlglass
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

Alternatively, a typo. A missing “is” between Astrology and Dummies.

I also like the line below.
“Rae Orion ‒  Professional Astrologer”

Sounds totally legit and inspiring confidence.

• Mark Joseph
Posted May 18, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

You beat me to it. Back when I was still teaching sunday school I said exactly that–that the “is” was missing from the title of that book.

5. Alexandra M
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

“Rae Orion, Professional Astrologer”

Do you think that’s a made-up name?

• Draken
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

I can see it in the stars.

6. Barbara Knox
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

To pick a nit, not all astrology fans are dumb, so it’s not a tautology. I knew a couple in Mensa who were serious astrologers. Perhaps it should be “Astrology for the Deluded” or “Astrology for Ignorami”.

• Pete Cockerell
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

I think it depends on your definitions. It seems to me that if you do take astrology seriously, then you’re (by definition) a dummy, no matter what your IQ is.

Also, Alexandra@3, I assume you meant astrology?

• Alexandra M
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

You’re right. Interesting brain glitch. I wonder if the problem is that I hardly ever type the word “astrology” in a sentence? And embarrassing for somebody who 25 years ago was haranguing the local bookstore for putting astrology books in the science section!

• Diane G.
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

• David Duncan
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

Is it a tautology? Not all dummies believe in astrology.

7. ploubere
Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

A redundant title, to study astrology already means you’re a dummy.

• Diane G.
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

Thus the post title…

8. Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

I love watching others poking a sleeping bear or tiptoeing around the crok pond. You just never know what you’re gonna’ get to experience next.

It’s very exciting stuff.

9. Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

Ouch!

…though, to be sure, it could have been (but I’m sure it isn’t) a legitimate book. A similar “Society for Creative Anachronisms for Dummies” book, or a “Star Trek Fandom for Dummies” book would seem reasonable. But something tells me that that’s not exactly what this one is like….

b&

10. Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

Moran’s focus is more on outsiders having the power to direct university policy, rather than having absolute academic freedom. The incidents related recently, however, involved students voicing complaints/seeking help outside the university. Does he expect students to just use the university procedure, especially if it fails them? Does he expect them to shut their mouths once they are outside the hallowed halls? Universities are not closed social/legal systems. If they were, they would stink to high heavens from stagnation and privilege.

He cited an example of someone trying to shut down his website by pressuring authorities at his university. I can’t for the life of me see how that situation compares with the ones on the discussion table. His site has nothing to do with his university and therefore is none of the university’s business unless if he breaks a law.

Colour me completely confounded.

• Greg Esres
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

“Colour me completely confounded.”

I think that often those with liberal inclinations tend to bend over backwards to protect speech they disagree with in order to demonstrate their bona fides. “See, I’m not partisan, I’m principled. Watch me defend this Nazi march.”

• Mark Joseph
Posted May 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

Precisely because the principle is what’s important. If we deny the nazis the right to free speech, we lower ourselves to their level. There are better ways of fighting ignorance, bigotry, and hatred than by attempting to stifle those who air it, especially in the modern world, where their stupidity can be aired for all to see, and repeated until they become laughingstocks (see Ted Haggard, or Ray Comfort’s banana video for examples). Remember that movie where Harry Truman says (I’m quoting from memory) something like “the founder of the KKK must have been Jewish; who else could get you guys to pay \$16.95 for a white sheet?” Or, to change illustrations somewhat abruptly, Pee Wee Reese went and put his arm around Jackie Robinson out near second base; he didn’t try to get a law passed stating that racist assholes could no longer write death threats.

11. Posted May 18, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

Larry Moran wrote that he’s not an American, so he’s not concerned with the American constitution. Well since the whole point of the Ball State situation is that it’s a public school and the behavior in question is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he has anything to say about it at all.

12. Diana MacPherson
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

Ha ha yes I agree he probably would.

13. Diane G.
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

I always prefer [i]The Onion[/i]‘s horoscopes. Aquarius this week seems subtly aimed at us.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/your-horoscopes-week-of-may-14-2013,32419/

• Diana MacPherson
Posted May 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

I love the Onion horoscopes – they are my favourites!

• Mark Joseph
Posted May 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

Groovy.

I think the Sagittarius bears repeating in full: “To no avail, you will once again pray exactly 223 times for God to heal you of your lifelong obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

• Posted May 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

Now my mouth’s watering and I’m fresh out.

• Diane G.
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

14. Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

I see Larry Moran’s point as “teaching this ought not to be illegal”; for example I am legally free to teach my students that $\frac{d}{dx} e^x = (x e^{x-1}$. Of course I shouldn’t and if I did, I should be fired for incompetence.

15. Gabriel
Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

I have just magically obtained the book using my third eye (do not google “rae orion”, 4th result… it is a sin) and here is Rae Orion’s impressive bio:
“Rae Orion has been casting horoscopes since the Ford Administration, when she became the court astrologer for a metaphysical bookstore on the West Coast and began to prognosticate for strangers. She has taught astrology to high school students, social service professionals, friends, and relatives, and has written monthly horoscope columns and articles about astrology (among other topics) for ‘New Woman’ and other magazines. She lives in New York City.”

In the book Rae tells you that “Despite the title of this book, I assume that you’re no fool.” And he covers her rear: “My final assumption about you is simply that you have some sense; that you expect insight from astrology, not winning lottery numbers; that you understand that astrology isn’t about fate or even about luck. It’s about possibility, propensity, and potential. An old maxim, taught to every generation of astrologers, says it all: The stars impel, they do not compel”

She also provides extremely useful advice. i.e: You want to buy a computer? “Follow these three simple rules when buying a computer: 1. Make sure that Mercury, the planet of communication, isn’t retrograde. Okay, I know I keep mentioning this influence. It’s always important, but there are times — I admit it — when you can bend the rules. Not in this case, though. Do not — I repeat, do not — purchase a computer (or a car) when Mercury is spinning backward. 2. Make sure that Uranus and Mars aren’t doing anything unfortunate. High-tension squares, oppositions, and conjunctions, especially to Mercury or the Moon, are just the sort of thing you don’t want to see. 3. Check that the Moon isn’t void-of-course.”

• Pete Cockerell
Posted May 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

Do not — I repeat, do not — purchase a computer (or a car) when Mercury is spinning backward.

Does this person even know what retrograde planetary motion is, I wonder!

• Posted May 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

Don’t buy a Mercury that’s spinning backwards!

/@

• js
Posted May 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

I would love to have someone tell me something like not buying a computer when mercury is in retrograde.
I would reply – ‘Is that due to frame dragging?’.
The blank look would be worth it.

• bernardhurley
Posted May 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

So that’s why my computer doesn’t work. Damn! If I’d waited another week before buying it, it would work peerfectly.

• bric
Posted May 19, 2013 at 2:55 am | Permalink

Believe me, making sure Uranus isn’t doing anything unfortunate should be a daily preoccupation.
-bazinga-

16. Lord of the Shwhwing
Posted May 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

“Astrology for Dummies” must be something like “How to Talk Idiot for Idiots”…

17. ginger k
Posted May 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

They also publish a generic “Religion for Dummies” as well as “Islam for Dummies,” “Catholicism for Dummies,” “Buddhism for Dummies,” etc.

More tautologies!

• JohnnieCanuck
Posted May 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

What then are we to make of Atheism for Dummies written by Dale McGowan? See here.

18. kelskye
Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

I was in a bookstore yesterday where they had Neuro-Linguistic Programming For Dummies right next to Psychology For Dummies. Seems a bit odd that a series can put out both quackery and respectable content at the same time.

19. Hopalong Cassowary
Posted May 19, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

I once saw a title which was clearly meant as a parody: Village Idiocy for Dummies. I didn’t buy it because I’m already an expert.

20. schneideman
Posted May 20, 2013 at 3:00 am | Permalink

Isn’t that a truism?

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