I get emails

The volume of comments I have to deep-six has increased, and I’m not sure whether it’s because the moon is full or because the volume of traffic has increased over time. Either way, I thought I’d put up two that were especially striking.

Here’s a comment from “The Knot Specialist” whose website is, unsurprisingly, private. Kerissa (gravitar is a female, and she signed the attempted contribution) is commenting on my post “NYT goes soft on astrology” She thinks that I am criticizing newspaper columns on astrology when I actually linked to a paper in Nature that was a double-blind test of the readings of professional astrologers. (They failed.) This is like my posts on theology being criticized because I am not going after the Most Sophisticated Types of Theology. My own comments are in bold.

To wit:

The Knot Specialist

I respect and honor each person’s free will and the accompanying tangents of thought that may spring up in the process, but in this day and age of technology, when one can gather enough information to confirm what they want to be true, I find it terribly sad how many people decide to cement their confirmation bias. I find it sadder still when those same people pass it along like Mono.

(“like Mono” — get it? No? OK: 1) cause the group of tweens that always start the outbreak never seem to know where they got it; and 2) serious cases of Mono have led to terrible, life-changing outcomes. It’s the perfect example here.

I have no intention of raining on your parade [Passive-aggressive; of course she does!], but when WP suggested I check out the astrology tag on this feed, sadly, this was at the top of the results page.

My first reaction was to roll my eyes, shake my head, and move on. But, I don’t believe in coincidences, only synchronicities. OOOOoooooh, yeah, I said that. [I’m sorry for you.]

See, I haven’t been on WP very long, haven’t posted anything or even finished my page, so WP’s suggestion of astrology has no obvious cause. Yet there it was and here this was.

So here I am. Aloha.

I didn’t read your entire post, only the parts where you weren’t referencing someone else’s opinion, research, or – excuse me – bullshit. So it didn’t take me long to get to the comments section.

I don’t have a problem with people who have differing opinions, beliefs, sexual preferences, sexual genitalia, political views, etc., etc. I have a problem with people who don’t do their homework and then proceed to spread, sorry, bullshit. Not just about astrology, I mean half-assed, televangelist-worthy bullshit about anything. But since you brought it up…

If you did your homework you’d know that most serious astrologers think newspaper horoscopes are like a G rated movie (cute, but not really at the top of an adult’s list of Must Sees).

That’s not to say that non-horoscope writing astrologers hate on those that fill the Culture section with 2 sentence entertainment-only prophecies. No, no, the astrology community is a hugely diverse group. You know what has a lot to do with that? No, silly, not voo-doo. [Yes, they are a diverse community, but they’re all peddling bullshit.]

Well, a little voo-doo, but I’m guessing mostly in Louisiana.

The melting pot of astrology is largely due to the sheer volume of it. Did you know that there are dozens of different schools of astrology, from all over the world. There’s traditional, Evolutionary (my fave), Hellinistic, Jyotish, Chinese, Psychological, Esoteric, Neo-classical, Predictive – and that’s only a few of the many. [Again: all bullshit. The motions and positions of stars and planets have no influence on your personality or life.]

You say astrology is harmful…harmful how? Because it what? It “tricks people” into believing something that makes them smile or gives them the motivation or whatever other push they needed to help themselves or find a solution? You’re right, happiness and motivation and reasons to not give up are the real causes of harm in this otherwise perfect plane of existence. [Yes, it tricks people into giving astrologers money for fake predictions. It may give the credulous a useful opportunity to talk to someone, but if you really want to help someone, go into therapy rather than astrology. Oh, I forgot: therapy takes training.]

I just threw up a little in my mouth. But I’m okay. No harm done.

I could point you to an endless amount of places that would blow any of the shit in this post out of the water…but I don’t plan to. [Curious that she can’t even name one site that verifies any form of astrology.]

Although it is objectively, thoroughly, and continuously well-researched, [and continuously disproven] I’m not trying to project my opinion *cough*KNOWLEDGE*cough* of astrology and other topics of a similar nature on you because I respect your right to your confirmation biases and the void that they create.

Rock on with your biases.

So why did I take 20 minutes that I’ll never get back to write this lengthy bit which you may have already tuned out of so you can start thinking of – what are they called – burns? That you could whip back at me? I think of it as my own little PSA [Prostate-specific antigen????]; doing a little to help the lot.

By the way, don’t waste your time with that burn thing, if that’s what you really are thinking of. I meant it when I said that my first response was to just move on and I won’t be baited into a back and forth about something like this. I know what’s real for me and that’s enough.  [Ah, the frequent assertion that “what is real for me” is “real”. That’s what religious people say, too.]

That said, you’re welcome to email me directly to discuss, if you were, say, interested in some objective information and personal experience. [I’ve read enough about astrology, thank you. She doesn’t want a back-and-forth; she wants to tell me why I’m wrong. No, thank you.]

To me? Your post is an example of how social media and the Opining Operatives that feed there can be harmful and obstruct people’s freedom of choice.

It’s like this: wen you represent a poorly researched and marshmallow-filled post like this in a way that implies you know what you’re talking about, when you clearly don’t, you potentially cause harm to someone looking for answers. [Translation: I’m hurting the pocketbooks of professional astrologers and woo-peddlers]

Like, say, someone who followed WP’s suggestion and clicked on that tag for astrology and found this.

Someone who is not a person well-versed in the ENTIRETY (good, bad, ugly, and awesome) of astrology, like me. [LOL]

This post drips with the acid of shaming and I wouldn’t be surprised if that questioning soul, sensitive to such acid, is shamed into not doing more research than just your post; shamed into letting you and your fellow skeptics and this string of half-assed assumptions decide for him or her whether it’s something that speaks to them or not.

You don’t have the right to THEIR opinion. [Yes, but I have a right to give my opinion, which is apparently an opinion you don’t like because you know SO MUCH about astrology.]

To be clear: I’m not here to defend astrology and I’m not offended by your comments about it because I honor and respect your right to your personal opinions.

I’m here to remind you that people have the right to decide for themselves – not just about astrology, about anything. [What kind of nonsense is this? Have I ever forced my opinion on anyone, saying, “You must believe this or else”?]

Go ahead, say what you want, but don’t say it as if you KNOW when you don’t. Leave a door that readers feel comfortable walking through to do their own research. Leave their rights to them. [I will criticize astrological bullshit as much as I want, thank you, and I know more about it than you think, and more than was evinced in my post.]

Basically: Dude, do your homework or stick to things you could actually be an expert about because a passionate opinion does not an expert make. [She’s very close to being a Sophisticated Theologian® here. She apparently knows tests by skeptics that show that astrology works, though she can’t be arsed to cite any.]

And finally, make good choices founded in respect for others and their rights. Maybe you don’t believe in Karma, but she believes in you. [Wow! A Deepity!]



And evolution hater Raegan commenting on my post “More email from evolution-haters.” The “about me” page on his website (I’ve omitted it) notes that he is home-schooled and 12 years old.


why do you think evolution is true? I want to know cause i can prove that evolution is not true are wold is to complex for evolution to be true PS not trying to hate telling the truth and I love your kittens!!!

I think Raegan needs to go to public school. I won’t go after him because he’s so young, but I feel sorry for him and all his ilk who are denied the chance to learn the truth about biology.



  1. Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I’ll pose to Kerissa my standard question: Please briefly explain the mechanism by which the constellations affect our personalities at the moment of our birth.

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Whatever is the mechanism, the mother’s womb must act as a shield from it before birth. Amazing.

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Logically, the significant date ought to be the date of conception. As you point out, the moment of birth is just the moment when the baby transitions from being inside the mother to outside. If the mother’s abdomen is enough to shield the baby from the effects of the planets and stars, then so should be the walls of the building in which the baby is born

        Furthermore, I’m not really sure that “moment” adequately describes what happens. I have no children and I have no memory of the only human birth I have witnessed but I bet it takes more than a moment. The moment of my birth is recorded as 2.15am but I reckon that is actually the moment at which the midwife looked at her watch after all the important stuff was already done.

        • Posted March 21, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          Correct on the timing! Having witnessed the process.

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Not really. You could simply factor that in, that the stars count also during pregnancy, i.e. difference between being a cell-clump during Lion versus during Libra. Of course it’s arrant nonsense, but if were to accept the premise you could get around that problem.

    • Minus
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always wondered how they deal with induced labor

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        They pay more for the induction to happen at an auspicious conjunction.

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I had an aunt that waited to be induced 7/7/77- for luck. I don’t consider my cousin especially lucky however.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            Ah, well. Did your aunt raise him in a pyramid-shaped room in a pyramidal house?

            • Mark R.
              Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

              She didn’t…that’s probably why the luck didn’t transfer. 😉

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      And even without a mechanism, the empirical data are moot at best.

      • eric
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        Oh no – if someone could reproducibly predict specific and difficult-to-predict things about the future (“tomorrow, Bob will win the lottery”), using only access to star charts etc., then that would be something important to investigate indeed. Science is very often (IMO) a search for a mechanism for an observed phenomena. A working astrology could fit that research heuristic…if it worked. But it doesn’t, and not-working is what makes it moot.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      You’re all wrong. I was born (prematurely) in December and I’m a typical Sagittarius! 😀

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Probably the same mechanism that sets biorhythms in motion (remember them?)



  2. merilee
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Re: Raegan, not to mention the opportunity to learn how to spell…

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      I feel for young Reagan, 12 and home schooled. Not a promising start in life.
      If you want to know why an author that wrote ‘Why Evolution is True’ thinks evolution is true, it might be an idea to read that book before you ask him that question.

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Then again, his parents might not let him. :/


        • Zetopan
          Posted March 23, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          “Then again, his parents might not let him.”

          +1000 on that. It is quite rare for any creationist to reach their preferred state of willful ignorance without parental assistance. Every creationist that I have personally talked to has cited parental directions influencing their views. For example, multiple creationists have told me that they did not pursue a college education because their parents were against it. Most creationist cannot even think for themselves so they rely of group think for directions.

  3. mallardbrad
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Once again, JAC, you are SO CORRRECT on so many levels! Another question to ask: which calendar do the astrologers use? Julian? Gregorian? Hebrew? Chinese? Islamic? So much nonsense. What is also interesting is that some of us have no idea of our real birth date.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      What is also interesting is that some of us have no idea of our real birth date.

      Where is that “list of things programmers get wrong about names” – which I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before. In addition to names, the author also addresses some other common “person-identifying parameters”
      Here it is – noting the 2010 posting date. A few snippets :

      I have lived in Japan for several years, programming in a professional capacity, and I have broken many systems by the simple expedient of being introduced into them.
      People’s names do not change.
      People’s names change, but only at a certain enumerated set of events.(Including, being given a name.)
      People’s names are written in ASCII.
      People’s names are written in any single character set.
      People’s names are all mapped in Unicode code points.

      And specifically relevant to DoB :

      People’s names are assigned at birth.
      OK, maybe not at birth, but at least pretty close to birth.
      Alright, alright, within a year or so of birth.
      Five years?
      You’re kidding me, right?

      There is a recurring set of headlines here about “Refugee from X poses as minor when looks like they are over 20.” And one of the underlaying assumptions in there is that someone would actually know, or be interested in, their birth date. Then, events uproot them and their square peg is hammered into a round hole of a society where your DoB is on practically every form you interact with the government through. It’s like asking someone to be classified by … all their grandparent’s given names. If you didn’t grow up in Iceland, you probably don’t know all your grandparent’s given names (I only found out my paternal grandfather’s given name at his funeral – he was always just “Karl”, which was nothing to do with his name.)

  4. GBJames
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The world is drowning in stupidity.

    But perhaps there is hope for Raegan if somehow he can find a copy of The Illustrated Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True or maybe Why Evolution is True if he’s ready for a more “grown up” book.

  5. Roo
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    You know, I have been side eyeing the phrase “Do your homework” for awhile now, and I think it has officially jumped the shark. I think it started as a fair response to people who opined about things with no factual basis – urban legends, old wives tales, and that kind of thing – but we have long since transitioned to an online world where people are much more likely to have done a ton of research on their topic of interest, and the problem is a myriad of questionable or outright bogus sources. I have noticed as of late that “do your homework” often means “Read the 20 esoteric blogs that validate my opinion, become familiar with their manner of in-group speak and lexicon, and if you still don’t agree, that’s proof that you don’t know enough about it yet.”

    It’s become like faith healing – the proof that you sufficiently understand a topic and have done the required research is that you agree with whoever is espousing it. Any disagreement is simply proof that you have not researched it in enough depth – there is literally no path left open to valid disagreement in such a framing.

    • BJ
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      “You know, I have been side eyeing the phrase ‘Do your homework’ for awhile now, and I think it has officially jumped the shark.”

      Other common variations: “look into it” and the social justice favorite “it’s not my job to educate you!”

      • Roo
        Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        I give people credit that “It’s not my job to educate you” basically takes the sentiment “I have no idea how to defend my position” and turns it into a morally self-righteous stance. Whoever came up with that is a true lawyer.

    • Sastra
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      “Do your homework” is often code for “ignore mainstream experts.”

      Every view, no matter how wrong, has authorities who support that view. The virtue of the scientific system is that it encourages dissent. That way, a consensus means something, it was the result of a serious battle involving various factions picking apart the claims of the other side.

      What the astrology advocate is advocating is a system where each individual finds what seems true for them, followed by a hands off attitude to dissent. That’s great for preferences, lifestyles, and tastes. But it’s not fostering a shared progress towards truth; it’s a recipe for division.

      They can’t understand how saying “you’re wrong” can bring people together.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        “Do your homework” is a favourite of the anti-vaxxers and the anti-fluoride crowd too.

        For many the fact that they’ve done so much “research” into their particular subject is part of the problem of course. After spending years convincing yourself that astrology is real, it’s pretty difficult to admit that it was all a waste of time and you were wrong. Kerissa attacks Jerry for his confirmation bias when actually she is the one with the confirmation bias.

      • Roo
        Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        “Do your homework” is often code for “ignore mainstream experts.”

        I’ve been trying to give the benefit of the doubt on this one but at this point, yeah, I concur. That’s how it seems to be used the majority of the time these days.

  6. Roger
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Okay, he said “complex” but he didn’t say “Darwinian” so I think there is still hope for the world.

  7. Mark
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    The increase in emails might be because that guy at Discovery is obsessing about you, and negatively mentions you in almost everything he writes over there.

  8. Terry Sheldon
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Just for the record, in your Dear Reader’s context, PSA=Public Service Announcement. However, prostate-specific antigen would probably have been closer to the truth!

  9. BJ
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    (emphasis mine) “You say astrology is harmful…harmful how? Because it what? It ‘tricks people’ into believing something that makes them smile or gives them the motivation or whatever other push they needed to help themselves or find a solution? You’re right, happiness and motivation and reasons to not give up are the real causes of harm in this otherwise perfect plane of existence.”

    Or to do other, terribly things, like make enormous life changes (e.g. quitting a job, moving, a million other things), break up with partners and friends, etc. It’s not all happiness and flowers. Plus, there are other, non-bullshit ways to help people smile and give them motivation (or “…whatever other push they need to help themselves or find a solution” or maybe even stop believing in BS).

    “I could point you to an endless amount of places that would blow any of the shit in this post out of the water…but I don’t plan to.”

    She admits to spending twenty (!) minutes on this email, but the one thing she won’t do is provide the amazing research that demonstrates astrology to be true. Curious indeed!

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      The “I could cite xxxx number of places on the internet that refutes you” SIWOTI trope is so common it’s hardly worth reading.

      Don’t (ever) tell me that. Just provide the citations. Now. Or go away with your blustering BS.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I simply cannot get through that first one. Some of the most boorish style of writing I can’t stand. It would not matter what the subject was about or the point not being made it is just bad. It seems to be one of those people who just can’t stop impressing herself.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    That poor 12-year-old’s parents are dooming hir to a life of misspelling by hanging that handle on hir. Spell it like The Gipper’s last name, or spell it like Lear’s middle daughter — your choice! — but hie thee to an accredited school, young Raegan [sic]!

  12. Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Raegan (however spelled) is probably not too young to read Why Evolution is True, though possibly too uneducated.

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    These email posts are very amusing, and many other things. A fun diversion- even in Mass Quantities like Kerissa’s. The thought process in that essay seems like what I imagine finding meaning in the scattered pebbles on a beach during a dream would be like.

    I’ll just add that Wikipedia claims that Behe’s children are all homeschooled. I forgot how many.

  14. E.A. Blair
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    For me, the conversation-stopper on astrology is how was the “influence” of Uranus accounted for prior to 1781, or Neptune prior to 1846 or Pluto prior to 1930?

    There’s lots more – For that matter, what about the cis-Neptunian objects? Do Ceres, Vesta, Pallas & Juno count? Jupiter and Saturn both have moons big enough to be planets – what about them? Does Pluto’s reclassification as a dwarf planet change its astronomical significance? Speaking of dwarf planets, what about Haumea Makemake and Eris? Finally, there’s the Ophiucus problem.

  15. A C Harper
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I respect and honor each person’s free will

    Off to a poor start. I doubt she respects an evil person’s free will (evil in her eyes, of course) and nobody has free will anyway. Especially if you believe that the position of celestial objects influences your path through life.

    • JP415
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes! It’s like a Facebook executive saying, “We respect your privacy” or an Amazon spokesperson saying, “We value the contributions of our workers” or nonsense like that. When people begin with those kinds of blanket disclaimers, they’re trying to bamboozle you with some kind of insincere sophistry.

  16. Sastra
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    On the plus side, Raegan loves your kittens!

    • XCellKen
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      But what about the ducks ???

  17. Posted March 20, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Let’s summarize the paragraphs of the astrologer-person. The numbers will be off since some are single sentences & I don’t count those.
    1. Criticizes limited points of view and confirmation bias. But her whole posting is confirmation bias for her ‘data’, made especially powerful and unassailable because she describes no data.
    2. A mononucleosis analogy for some reason.
    3. Passive aggressive.
    4. Woo.
    5, 6, 7. Nothing here.
    8. Proudly claims she skipped the bit about the research data in Jerry’s post. That is why she won’t address it!
    9, 10, 11. Various caveats and deflections.
    12. There are lots of astrologers and different kinds of astrology! (Question: which one is the ‘right’ one?).
    13. Astrology is harmless. (So??)
    14, etc. Goes on to claim there is lots of research that shows this works. Does not describe any of it.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      2. A mononucleosis analogy for some reason.

      I was wondering what the dread disease was. WTF?
      It seems to be a new (? or trans-Atlantic) name for glandular fever, with it’s reputation as “the kissing disease”. Sounds like another person with an unhealthy interest in their children’s sex lives.
      The only person I can remember who suffered from glandular fever … would have chewed up and spat out Lil’Miss Astrologer, in between sips of her pint.

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes, USA term for UK glandular fever (I am pretty sure).

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      The Knot Specialist has some real issues, considering how empty of usable content her post is.

      So the question I have is simple: what is her sign? Which alignment produces that kind of muddle?

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        Well, all one can say she really appears a knot specialist, her ideas appear one big knot.

        • Zetopan
          Posted March 23, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          “… her ideas appear one big [NOT]”

          In response to anything rational.

  18. loren russell
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    PSA here is Public Service Announcement. not that it matters.

  19. Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I wonder where those people throw up who don’t specify “in my mouth?” Can anybody help me with this?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Also she references “sexual genitalia” – there must be other types of genitals unknown to me.

      • merilee
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        I did wonder about that/those…

    • Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      She may have acid reflux. . With that the person sometimes has acid come up from the stomach into the mouth, then swallows it.

      I have personal knowledge. Has a bitter taste. Proton pump inhibitors help.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        TMI. Kerissa is employing a saying that dates back to Dodgeball or Will & Grace or even earlier. It means essentially “I am disgusted” & it’s not literal.

        You might know all that of course – it’s difficult to know.

    • XCellKen
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      …thru the nose ???

  20. Ray Little
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Kerissa takes the smug award, doesn’t she? I’m surprised at Raegan (12 yo), though. I would have thought home-schooling parents would lean harder on grammar and on putting the capitals and periods in the right place. It’s the kind of thing they’re fussy about — RULES — since they don’t really grasp more substantial aspects of what they’re teaching.

    • merilee
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Ya mean Roolz? 🤓

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Maybe they can’t spell and don’t know any better, bless their hearts.

      Or maybe that’s just the way they spell their son’s name. Then again it’s quite common to see variants of a standard (or even a non-standard) name to make it unique or by simple fancy.

  21. Filippo
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    For some reason I am contemplating logorrhea: “pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness that is characteristic especially of the manic phase of bipolar disorder.” (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Incoherent is the operative term indeed.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Logorrhea can be due to any number of reasons, including but not limited to schizophrenia,temporal lobe epilepsy, dementia and other pathological conditions; or it could be situational, due to a flow of words, like the spillover from a damn, after a period of linguistic deprivation.

      Actually, I find logorrhea quite interesting. It goes without saying that many writers are prone to logorrhea. If they’re good, we usually call them “prolific.” I was recently looking at St. Augustine of Hippo. I’d say that he was a logorrheic if there ever was one.

      I once knew, a writer who was profoundly logorrheic and profoundly scatological, also obsessed with nudibranchs. Lordy lord. He considered himself a genius. After reading just a bit of his writing, I certainly did feel like vomiting and not in my mouth, and not figuratively, either.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        Re the vomiting, for a period of time, I don’t know why, but I developed a hypersensitivity to certain sounds, including language, and there was a logorrheic poet who’d written a rather long poem that many praised but that I particularly despised. The poem was published in a magazine and she read it on the air when she was a guest on a poetry show. Whether I read it or heard it,I would develop nausea and start to retch. There was certainly truth in the saying that something is so bad that it makes you throw up.

  22. Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Kerissa. Doesn’t read the parts about the studies refuting astrology. Refuses to provide citation for her (kick ass!!!!!!!!) data.

    Not very data-driven is she?

    Not worth one’s time — except for comic relief.

  23. Posted March 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    This idea did NOT originate with me. Not sure where I read it:

    If astrology were true, there would be birth date correlations with, among other things:

    Personal preferences
    Tastes in music and art
    Political party affiliation
    Mate choice

    Etc., etc.

    Of course, none of this is seen.

    It just BS, as you said, Jerry.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      I remember when I was a pre-internet kiddo reading of a correlation between Mars & famed warriors/soldiers with data taken from an encyclopaedia, by a pro-astrologer. Turned out he was picking individuals that made his case & using weightings in his data that got a nice bump where he wanted it to be.

      I is indirect correlations for some traits due to seasonal effects or ones real age when enrolled in a school – there being a 12 month spread in age within any given school year. In UK education the children born in September have an advantage on children born in August because they have nearly a whole extra year to grow and develop. This is exacerbated in the early stages of puberty when children can shoot up in a single year.


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        PS Kerissa, should you read this, that thing above is a link – takes one to a… S O U R C E [only the BBC, but if you were worth the effort I’d put up sciencey sources with tables & shit for you to ignore.]

      • Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        There are many studies on seasonsl birth and how the person is affected, and the differences between the seasons. This is all correlation and causation is to a large extent unknown. There is plenty of speculation about causation.
        Astrologers speculates that differences were caused by the stars and planets.

        I have not mentioned them myself because these studies have nothing to do with astrology and should not be associated with astrology.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted March 20, 2019 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          This bit here: “I have not mentioned them myself because these studies have nothing to do with astrology and should not be associated with astrology.” reads as if you’re passively scolding me for mentioning spurious correlations. Is that what you’re doing?

          • Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            Yes. Passive aggressive. You caught me. I confess.

            But I had no choice. I was born in June. We are all passive aggressive. No one knows why.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

              I don’t think it’s to do with your June quip – I think you are a “sun is over the yardarm” kinda guy or you missed your afternoon nap. 🙂

              • Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

                Well, I did not miss my nap.

  24. davelenny
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Kerissa: next time, more evidence and fewer words, please.

  25. Kahlil Jabroni
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    E.A.Blair already mentioned it, but I urge any interested readers to join the movement to help Ophiuchus attain its rightful place as one of the 13 signs of the zodiac. I have often felt that I was born about 2 weeks too late: I should have been an Ophiuchun. Or Ophiuchan. Ophiuchusan.

  26. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    So no evidence but does not want to look at the evidence scientsist have, massive use of selection bias in reflexive defense there. Which is why it is annoying that she tainted my joke about the selection bias on coincidence that is the ‘synchronicity of the web’.

    But the robust, double-blind test that show astrology fails suffices, I don’t know that the comment on US psychological “therapy” [?] is any better since that is very much tantamount to placebo too. “RCTs about the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders are generally of moderate quality; they indicate the superiority of CBT but the results cannot, as yet, be considered robust. There is evidence of a non-negligible treatment effect of psychological placebos used as control conditions in research studies. This effect should be considered when designing and interpreting the results of randomized controlled trials about the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions.” [ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311105/ ; the psychological placebo was controlled against placement on a waiting list.]

    Raegan: “wold is to complex for evolution to be true”.

    I am not sure this is helpful, but here goes. Ask yourself, how is the world “too complex”? For starters, others can simply claim that in their opinion the world is not so. That would be putting opinion against opinion – game over.

    But in factual terms, evolution is simply the basic biological process of change in populations over generations. It is both very simple (small) change in any given generation, but can also accumulate to be as complex (large) result as we see over geological time (many generations).

    A little bit like how mountain chains grow from flatter land when tectonic plates collide.

    That was not evidence that evolution is an observed fact. Such evidence are, say, our
    (so far) unfailing ability to order species lineages into descendants from common ancestors exactly like genealogies. (“Change in populations over generations”, remember.)

    But it was evidence that “too complex” is not a correct description.

  27. Taz
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Raegan, I don’t know if you’re reading these comments, but in case you are, you asked our host the question “why do you think evolution is true?” You realize this site is named after a book he wrote, right? It’s called “Why Evolution is True”. If you honestly want an answer to your question, why don’t you start there?

  28. eric
    Posted March 20, 2019 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Go ahead, say what you want, but don’t say it as if you KNOW when you don’t.

    This is another fallacy commonly used by sophisticated theologians (along with the ‘you haven’t read enough/looked at the right theology’): employing different standards for knowledge when their pet subject is the focus. Theologians and astronomers will happily use ‘know’ in reference to conclusions developed from empiricism and induction – despite it’s philosophically provisional and ultimately uncertain nature – but when it comes to saying “we know your theology/belief is wrong,” they’ll ratchet back what counts as knowledge, and suddenly only absolute certainty qualifies for the label ‘know.’

    Kerissa, we know astrology doesn’t work the same way we know telepathy doesn’t work or faith healing doesn’t work: through empiricism and induction. This knowledge is always, in theory, provisional and subject to revision should new evidence arise. However, those caveats are true of pretty much every ‘know’ statement people make about the world. Example: ‘I know the sun will rise tomorrow’ has the same caveats. Since we don’t feel the need to include those caveats for any other ‘know’ statement, the only reason to include them here would be because you are biased in favor of astrology and want to carve out exceptional treatment for it.


    I forget which astronomer/cosmologist said this, but a nice article I read a long while back made these points (I’m significantly summarizing):
    1. Either an astronomical bodies’ influence on Earth and people is related to it’s mass and distance, or it isn’t.
    1a. If it is, then the moon would be a much stronger (many, many orders of magnitude) influence on us than any other astrological body.
    1b. If it isn’t, then every star, planet, heck even dust mote in the universe would be important.
    Since astrology claims neither is the case, it must be wrong.

    • Posted March 21, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Aye, but you are missing the astrological points of the stars! It’s magic! Cause and effect are not required!

    • Posted March 21, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I’ve tried something similar. The answer I got was “unknown force”, like electromagnetism but with a different “charge”. (I’ll leave the refutation of that view to the reader.)

  29. Posted March 21, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I think Kerissa is not worth anyone’s attention. You know, some people just cannot be fixed. I feel sad for Raegan, and wondering how lightly some parents decide to homeschool. I am not saying that it is always a wrong decision, but it is a great responsibility.

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