Astrology in retrograde

By Phil Plait | October 3, 2008 10:30 am

I was called by MSNBC reporter Helen Popkin yesterday because she was doing an article on astrology. And she stumped me with a simple question: "Have you heard," she asked "about the idea that electronics tend to fail when Mercury is in retrograde?"

Uh. What?

I hadn’t heard of this little piece of nonsense, but according to Ms. Popkin, sure enough, some astrologers say that technology tends to fail more when Mercury is in retrograde — that is, when its apparent motion in the sky switches from an eastward direction to westward. Since, astrologically, Mercury controls communication and technology, when it’s in retrograde things get screwed up. That’s why Hubble is malfunctioning, and why the LHC is having woes.

Yeeeeeeah. Oooooookay.

So for the next half hour we chatted technology, we chatted Mercury, we chatted astrology. You can guess how I feel about all this astrology stuff.

Or you can read about it. The article she wrote is online. It’s a fluffy humor piece, not really meant to sway people either way. I smiled a lot while reading it, even though astrologers makes me want to stick my head in the microwave.

So, does Mercury have anything to do with tech bugs here on Earth? I’m guessing… no. Duh. I wonder if these astrologers ever set up a study looking at various technology failures, correlating them with Mercury’s apparent motion. They’d also need to do control studies where tech has been very successful at the same time… not to mention when tech has failed when Mercury is prograde (the opposite direction of retrograde), and when tech is successful then, too.

Yeah. I’m sure they have. Astrologers are all about the accurate science.

So you know what’s next. Wait for it… wait for it…

The stupid, it burns

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Astronomy, Debunking, Humor

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