The Shape of Time (Part 2)

Second-stage Greer-probing at Urban Future.

Tangentially related — Greer asks: Why don’t astronomical observatories sell horoscopes? (It’s his distinctive version of prog. trolling).

August 20, 2013admin 10 Comments »
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10 Responses to this entry

  • Discipline Says:

    This is excellent.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 20th, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    For the record, if I owned an observatory, I would make it start selling horoscopes.

    This may be related to my idea that the fool deserves to be parted from his dollar. In any case, he will be, the only question is whether it will be to you or not.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 20th, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • popfop Says:

    Off topic: but did you see this article from the NYT?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/world/asia/chinas-new-leadership-takes-hard-line-in-secret-memo.html?_r=1&

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The big missing ingredient in these (Western) discussions of Xi Jinping’s declarations is the Neo-Confucian tide, which is the most significant medium term development in China’s political culture (and more widely). A liberal/socialist spectrum doesn’t really capture what is going on in this respect. There is no prospect of a serious Maoist reversion, but there are meaningful questions about the compatibility of the Chinese traditional revival with techno-economic dynamization. The precedent of the Little Dragon economies is promising, but the mainland legacy (Ming and Qing) is less encouraging. One key indicator will be the historical interpretation of the Song, in which commercial openness, inventiveness, and Confucian cultural flourishing fused in the country’s most unambiguous Golden Age.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 20th, 2013 at 1:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Callowman Says:

    A cosmologist friend once suggested to me that, in today’s tech landscape, the clever charlatan would promote broadband astrology. “The insights of ordinary astrology are great, but now that we’re capable of analyzing the full spectrum of celestial light, not just the visible band, what wonders our senses can behold …”

    I don’t have the stomach for it, but for the right man there’s probably a fortune to be made there.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 20th, 2013 at 7:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Lure of the Void. The future of mankind is in space privateering. Really.

    We need to go up.

    I like Broadband Astrology. I’m definitely going with Ultraviolet. It’s me all over.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 21st, 2013 at 12:56 am Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    In his book “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field,” Nobel chemist Kary Mullis says that he began to think about astrology after three consecutive strangers had correctly classified him as a Capricorn –

    “Three for three of one in twelve – 1 out of 1,728. That’s the probability of three consecutive people independently announcing your sign correctly.
    I was convinced that it was not a matter of chance. Those people were observing my behavior and making a reasonable estimate of my sun sign. If people can really do that from a little bit of information, then astrology is worth investigating.”

    His own investigations lead him to conclude that –

    “… all men are definitely not created equal. They are divided into a complex array of different types that can at least be sorted out, if not partially understood, by looking at the positions of the planets in the sky at the site and time of their birth. Preposterous, but it is true, and it is scientifically accessible.”

    He also mentions the non-random distribution of birthdays among various professions. For instance, studies have found that successful applicants to medical school do not come equally from each month but cluster around Gemini-Cancer. More biochemists are born in Sagittarius and there’s also a non-random distribution for lawyers.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Astrological sign corresponds to season of birth (and conception) in the annual cycle, so it could pick up on a pattern without indicating that astral influences were effective. For instance, average temperature during early months of infancy, age in school year, or similar factors might quite plausibly have statistically-detectable effects. If time terms were used, rather than constellation names, the whole business might look a lot less mystifying.

    [Reply]

    John Hannon Reply:

    Quite so, although Mullis does point out that the late June, Gemini-Cancer clustering of medical students occurs in both the northern hemisphere and Australia, which seems to rule out a seasonal explanation in that particular case.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    The school year has already been determined to be important to athletes. At age 5-6, a year of growth is a huge fraction, and the older students have a big advantage when it comes to sports, enough that varsity athletes cluster strongly against the age cut-off.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 21st, 2013 at 11:32 am Reply | Quote

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