Sign of a bad company

By Phil Plait | February 5, 2009 10:14 am

So a company in Austria has created an uproar because it tried to hire workers who were born under a specific star sign.

Uh, whut?

Evidently, they think that people born under the signs of Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries, and Leo are the best workers; something about being an animal, I guess. Hmmm… do banks hire Tauruses when the markets turn down? Too bad Ursa Major isn’t a zodiacal constellation.

Here’s the company’s actual defense of this travesty of reality:

A statistical study indicated that almost all of our best employees across Austria have one of the five star signs.

Mind you, this is from an insurance company which should, in theory and in practice, understand statistics. I’d love to see that study of theirs.

The funniest part of this, though, is the brouhaha that ensued after the company advertised its desire for astrologically-based employees:

It was followed by a wave of protests from equality groups and led to an investigation by the country’s anti-discrimination authorities.

Equality groups? Anti-discrimination? Because of the time of year you were born?

Has anybody protested this practice because it’s, y’know, dumb?

Oh, which graphic to use? Decisions, decisions. OK, why not both?

The stupid, it burns

Yeah, that feels about right.

Tip o’ the wizard cap to BABloggee Spencer Cunningham.


Comments (77)

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  1. Spencer

    I actually felt the heat from my head when I saw the headline alone. Imagine how I felt reading the article.

  2. Please, I check my horoscope regularly. This week’s make me wish I were a Leo.

  3. Luis

    Well, I was born under Pisces, but I was conceived under Taurus by parents who are Aquarius and Capricorn. Furthermore, I got my BA under Cancer and my PhD under Gemini. Let us not forget the fact that I met the love of my life under Saggitarius, and she is a Virgo herself. No plans for a wedding yet, but if it happens, I’ll see to it that we get marriend under Aries.

    I only need a few more important life landmarks to complete the whole zodiac. Then they won’t have any excuse not to hire me.

  4. molzim

    Well I’m a sagittarius and I’m at work reading this post. Maybe they have a point. :)

  5. Shoeshine Boy

    “Too bad Ursa Major isn’t a zodiacal constellation.”

    Forget the whole Bear, the Big Dipper is an adequate constellation for Wall Street.

  6. Maybe they are just trying to save money on birthday lunches. By limiting birthdays to a subset of the year, they can more efficiently combine the lunches.

    Or they could be crazy.

  7. I wonder if you could get away with seeking to employ only intelligent folk who have no patience for woo? Seemingly not, if the woo is religion, but what if it’s non-religious woo?

    Kind of puts another perspective on the old line, “What’s your sign?”

    Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t complain, because I’m a Taurus. Maybe I should be pushing for everybody to believe this, especially in these diffifult economic times.

    Glen D

  8. Terry

    You just know there was a moment in this company’s history where two people looking at an HR report said “Great idea, Phil: let’s superimpose that over the zodiac.” Sometimes you can pinpoint the *exact* moment that stupid enters a company.

  9. Todd W.

    So, now is that based on the standard division of signs as the stars and planets were ages ago, or does it take into account the shifting of the celestial bodies over the years?

    Oh, and protesting against stupidity is a futile effort. There will always be stupid.

  10. Surely Gemini work twice as hard as anybody else?

  11. Todd W.

    @Pieter Kok

    Surely Gemini work twice as hard as anybody else?

    They also make twice as many mistakes and goof off twice as much.

  12. Actually they may not be completely nuts. A recent study has shown that children born in certain months are statistically taller than their peers, is it not worth investigating if their study is showing a correlation between competance/attitude/aptitude against time of year of birth.

    I agree that the whole starsign correlation is bonkers but is it possible that a groups performance differs depending on birthdates? Surely as skeptics we shuld investigate further before dismissing the idea?

  13. Tomas

    well, truth to be told, I always thought the Austrian a bit crazy … I really like how they try to be “green” but their aversion to nuclear energy is totally unreasonable.

  14. Hmm

    I’ve wondered about things like this myself, and often wondered if there’s any truth to it. Not the star sign itself obviously, but the time of year in which people are born.

    Where I live, for example, the school year / grade you get put in is based on the year you’re born in, so you can have someone born in january and someone born in august (or whatever) in the same school year (I was going to type january and december but that doesn’t sound right, there might be a cutoff date, I can’t remember).

    So from that I got to figurin’ that maybe there’s an “optimum” age for entering school or whatever, like those born earlier in the year are better suited to the school year they get put into than those born later but stuck into the same school year, so they get on better, get better grades, and generally better workers, and those born later in the year don’t cope so well, lose interest etc…
    Probably nothing to it but something interesting to study I guess.

    That’s what I assumed when I read about it, anyway. That the “statistics” they’re talking about are related to age / birth date, not to some mystical star / planet power or whatever the hell it is astrologers claim.

  15. Mang

    The Ophiuchians should sue for being left out.

    Did anyone read the 21 signs of the zodiac?

  16. molzim

    @ Hmmm:

    You should read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is fascinating and right along the lines of what you are saying.

  17. featheredfrog

    Choosing a graphic, I kind of like the third panel:

  18. Daniel

    Was George Hreb the model for the bottom graphic?

  19. I wonder what happens when the court asks for that statistical analysis…

    To be fair, it would be interesting to know if seasonal climate differences during gestation have any influence (through the mother’s hormones) on the child’s brain (i.e. personality) that could be detected and shown to statistically vary depending on the birth date, with a repeating pattern over a yearly cycle. This would obviously be limited to a climatically consistent geographical region, as opposed to the global generalization used in astrology.

  20. Quiet Desperation

    I tried for years to get hired as a wet nurse, but they insist on only hiring women. Genderists!!!

  21. Lazze

    [quote]Evidently, they think that people born under the signs of Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries, and Leo are the best workers; something about being an animal[/quote]

    Well – im Aries, and believe me; Nobody would call me a workaholic, not even remotely 😉

    This practise has been going on for years in Denmark in various companies. I don’t know if their policy has been so rigorous as this example seems, but it has been shown quite a lot on TV in various management programs. apparently the general public finds this procedure ok, but I have decided for myself, that if I ever encounter this in a job interview, I’ll be out of the door faster than they can say zodiacal constellation…

  22. Sili

    Well, it *is* discrimanatory. And there are laws about that. No law against being stupid, I fear.

    If not, I guess I can freely decided not to hire people who refuse to work Christmas and Ramadan. Or just people who were married on a Saturday. Or people with unibrows – I really really hate unibrows.

  23. Jumblepudding

    I’m a lazy Aries. I’m supposed to be working now. Oh, the sweet irony if the company that I work for hired me because of my birthday. Maybe I dawdle more efficiently.

  24. Corey S.

    They should be allowed to hire whoever they want. The market will punish their stupidity eventually.

  25. Adrian Lopez

    Equality groups? Anti-discrimination? Because of the time of year you were born?

    Is it any less silly or arbitrary than discriminating against women, or people of a certain color? Is it any less discriminatory? Is it any less unrelated to a person’s ability to do his or her job?

    Hardly seems like a fair criticism on your part.

  26. SeanDudeMan

    I don’t think it was a criticism, more a statement of a sense of befuddlement.

  27. molzim

    Oh Corey, what an objectivist thing to say. I must admit that I agree for the most part.

  28. AnthonyK

    Oooooh Phil, who was born under a snarky starsign then?

  29. CryoTank

    I’m austrian and I’m a Leo, maybe I should apply…

    This is retarded….not that we didn’t already have enough woo-related BS here to worry about.
    Magically vitalised water, the roman catholic church and their new bishop in Linz, a holocaust denier btw, homoeopathy, and now this.
    This old geezer, Mr. Grander, the inventor of the vitalised water, even received a SCIENTIFIC AWARD from the Ministry of Science for his woo, even though he, as he stated, got the idea from “above”. Oooh, how scientific.

    And feeling discriminated because you’re not in the chosen woo-circle? Well tough. Should have used your brain then.
    To be honest, I don’t even know which months correspond to most of the zodiac signs. That’s how much I care about it *evilgrin*

    I agree with you on the nuclear subject. Austria is surrounded by countries that have nuclear power plants. Won’t make a difference. Chernobyl aside, it’s safer and much cleaner than e.g. burning coal. All because a bunch of hippies constantly cause fear among the populace…

    More of this and I’m moving somewhere…uhm….rational. dunno. Norway maybe 😉

  30. jphysics

    Huh. Leaving aside the fact that Aquarius is a human sign, not an animal, wasn’t there a recent study that said those born in the winter were slower/stupider/less advanced than their peers born in other months? Which means that two of those signs would actually be behind the curve. Hmmm…

  31. Mang

    @CryoTank – please read the 21 signs of the Zodiac. The astrological signs are somewhat arbitrary, they don’t agree with the constellations or the planets and have not allowed for precession. There are also influences from non-existant bodies (e.g. Lilith).

  32. MadScientist

    It would be interesting to see if the company could be prosecuted for unlawful discrimination; that wouldn’t be the case in the USA or Australia, but maybe Austria has much broader anti-discrimination laws – I hope not; I wouldn’t want someone suing me for discrimination on the basis of competence. Personally I wouldn’t worry at all – a company run by such idiots (probably Taurus – they’re all bull you know) can’t last long.

  33. Chaos

    Actually the anti-discrimination thing is (sort of) *because* they think astrology is BS – it ain´t actionable discrimination if they discriminate along the line of legitimate criteria, say hiring only people who already have experience in the field. Astrology is nonsense, so hiring along zodiac lines is arbitrary discrimination.

  34. Mang

    @Stuart – you may have something. I recall reading studies about the correllation of height and success (or perceived success).

    @Corey – I’d like to believe that the market would punish them eventually for that. It’s more likely it’s such a small influence that the market will punish (or reward) them for something else and dwarf the effect.

    Hmmm … I wonder if what the signs of their top execs are and if it’s enforced at that level …. not

  35. My favorite line from an astronomy class:

    Astrology. Is. Bunk.

    Okay, one of my favorites. But that graphic you have is pretty classic.

    And even if there IS a correlation with birth month and work ethic, correlation does NOT imply causation! Hiring based on birth month, regardless of the astrology nonsense, could probably be ruled as discriminatory. And probably bad statistical analysis.

  36. jphysics, humans aren’t animals? :)

  37. CryoTank

    Phew, I nearly thought there you were going to try to lure me into this Astrology bunk.
    Of course I know how Astrology works or rather, how it doesn’t, and that it’s based on long obsolete observations. The earth’s precession takes care of that.
    I just meant to say that for me it is quite irrelevant what kind of influence the sings are supposed to have. If there is anything out there influencing on us down here on earth, then it’s the Sun and the Moon. The other planets can’t overcome them.
    As for the stars, well, a nice GRB firing directly at us would certainly take care of the future 😉

  38. # Todd W. Says:
    @Pieter Kok
    Surely Gemini work twice as hard as anybody else?
    They also make twice as many mistakes and goof off twice as much.

    But wouldn’t they (we?) be better at multi-tasking?



  39. Todd W.

    @John Paradox

    But wouldn’t they (we?) be better at multi-tasking?

    Perhaps, but I think they (you) would be of two minds about it.

  40. If you want to know more about the “study”, you can ask the company directly:
    (This information stems from a reader of my german blog entry on this topic.)

  41. Mang

    @CryroTank (1) don’t drink the koolaid and (2) don’t go into the tent :)

    Besides, now you can ask about their true sign and confuse them all.

  42. I wholeheartedly agree that this is the stupidest thing I’ve heard…. But only because I’m a Libra and therefore not on the list.

  43. AnthonyK

    Speaking as one of the only 12 personality types to exist, I am very worried that this is the thin end of the wedge. I am a Leo so I am arrogant, vain, and spendthrift. If this sort of thing becomes commonplace then jobs in caring professions, so often low-paid, will be permanentlly denied me: my ambitions to do something useful to society lie in ruins.
    Lawyer, rock star, or televison personality are my lot in life now – so thanks a lot Austrian rationalists.

  44. JT

    Stuart Greig Says:

    Actually they may not be completely nuts. A recent study has shown that children born in certain months are statistically taller than their peers, is it not worth investigating if their study is showing a correlation between competance/attitude/aptitude against time of year of birth.

    The story you linked to doesn’t give much in the way of details regarding the study, so I may be completely off base, but the first question I would be inclined to ask would be if this study was conducted during Spring.

    +1 skeptic point to the first person to post my reason for suspecting that it was.

  45. Philip from Australia

    Yea… I’ve always thought astrology was a load of rubbish.

    But then again, I’m an Aquarian, and Aquarians think astrology os a load of rubbish.



  46. JM

    Well I’m a Capricorn/Aquarius, born on the CUSP, which must mean I’m twice as good as the Best of these other Signs. I couldn’t be happier because somewhere along my career path I’m sure to meet some half-wit recruiter, manager, HR expert who will lap up this stuff. The next resume I send out I’ll be including my horoscope.

  47. Charlie Foxtrot

    What a load of CRUD! This company surely can’t be publicly listed on a Stock Exchange otherwise there’d be investors deserting it in droves, I would hope. You have no idea how annoyed I get at seeing the horoscope still in the paper each day, but no decent science events coverage!

    But then, I am a Cancer… and we are always skeptical and snippy…

  48. AnthonyK

    Actually, how about combining the two – newspapers science horoscopes:

    Astronomers (~8000BC – present): As the constellations align you will be plagued by dimwits fearing catastrophes. Tuessay is a good day for radio telescopes, but bewars solar flares on Mars in the latter part of the week. GC1930 explodes as a massive supernova destroying several planets with evolved life, but the light will not reach us for 2312 million years. Phil Plait will be annoyed by a pseudo-scientist spouting nonsense…

  49. In Oz employees aren’t allowed to ask for your birth date* so this would probably be counted under anti-discrimination laws in Oz.

    *Many recruiters have “DOB” on application forms but you can’t be forced to fill it in.

  50. Stupid astrologers don’t even know that I am an Ophiuchus.

  51. Corey S.

    @ Mang: That’s a fair point. But I still think the business will fail eventually, because it’s clearly run by morons. They’ll probably blow all their profits on energy stones or chakra wheels or some other BS.

  52. thew

    The freakonomics guys already showed that the time of year one is born (i.e. sun sign) has a statistically significant impact on how good a soccer play they turn out to be. Something similar could be at play here.

  53. Grump

    @Corey: Well of course the market will punish them!

    I guess all those anti-discrimination laws are really quite redundant. After all, if a company is going to be stupid enough not to hire women or black people for anything more than menial jobs, surely this will show up in their bottom line? Same with asstrology-based hiring practices.

    Forgive the sarcasm, but I’m an atheist, so I have difficulty believing in The Market and its profit^w prophet Adam Smith.

  54. Ad Hominid

    New slogan (lifted from elsewhere in insurance biz:

    Superstition, so dumb a caveman would believe it.

  55. quasidog

    Man … you guys reckon this is bad … with 12 types … in Japan its all about blood type … so there are basically only 4 types ;p

    .. and I thought the Japanese were smart.

  56. quasidog

    I am sick of the word ‘discrimination’. I am tired of people using it as some sort of instant bad word. Discrimination in itself is a useful tool. People who tout ‘anti-discrimination’ like its some sort of religion piss me off. I have the right to discriminate against anything I choose.

    Bigotry and hate against people however are not things I condone. Big difference.

  57. David

    Dear Phil,

    I am a long time reader of your blog. I enjoy every article and now I decided to leave my first comment on this blog.
    First: I am from Italy but I have been studying and living in Austria for more than 6 years. I study astronomy and I am finishing my master thesis on asteroseismology. Here in Austria the situation concerning pseudo-science is REALLY bad. You have no idea! Astrology is just the peak of the iceberg.

    See, here in Austria we have the so called Donau-University Krems. At this “university” you can study, e.g. Feng-Shui, chinese astrology, Quantum Theory of Feng-Shui etc. These subject are taught, please sit down for this, by an astrologer and two guys with faked PhD degrees.
    We also have a semi–private, semi–academic institution called the WIFI, which is offering courses (mainly in the field of economics) for the public – either resulting in an academic degree, or, in most cases, a certificate for successfully passing the final exam (i.e. to show at job interviews). However, there are also courses in animal telepathy, ghost-healing, Touch for Health, homeopathie, AND astrology (to become a certified astrologer so to speak).

    As soon as the WIFI made this course public the student representatives of astronomy (including me), the ÖGAA (austrian company for astronomy and astrophysics) and the whole Institue For Astronomy said: enough is enough. And we protested! A group of nearly 50 people raised a hue and cry in front of the WIFI, and guess what! It actually brought something, because from this day on, the WIFI Vienna doesn’t offer any astrology courses any more.

    Our action helped a tiny little bit to improve the situation. (If you have access to the “Science” magazine than you can look it up here. The article is entitled “Star Wars” )

    But now to the point why I write this long comment:
    You said, and I quote:
    “The funniest part of this, though, is the brouhaha that ensued after the company advertised its desire for astrologically-based employees:

    It was followed by a wave of protests from equality groups and led to an investigation by the country’s anti-discrimination authorities.

    Equality groups? Anti-discrimination? Because of the time of year you were born?”

    HELL YEAH!! What kind of question is that? Every human being is equal. No one should be discriminated because of his sex, his race, his language, his believes, political viws, etc. And, this is at least my opinion also includes his date of birth! I strongly support an investigation of the anti-discrimantion authorities, because such a behaviour by this company, simply cannot be tolerated! It’s already bad enough that there is such a company, but doing nothing against this and therefore legitimizing this action, would be suicide for this, already shattered, country.

    Do you really expect “ordinary” people to protest against something you can study at an “university”?
    Please tell me what you think of this.

  58. James

    @Quasidog: 99.9% of the time people are using the legal definition of discrimination, which can be regarded as ‘arbitrary discrimination unrelated to job performance’ and legions of lawyers and judges are continualy refining that definition, with juries of your peers making the final judgement call.

    you are reffering to the word in it’s 0.1% use of ’empirical discrimination’

    The meaning of words changes with time and culture, I once got beaten up for using the word ‘redundant’ in it’s pre-layoff, engineering function.

  59. James

    at the time I just did not understand what the other guy’s problem was….

  60. CryoTank

    It all boils down to political correctness I guess. Then again, I think PC equals BS. Our lovely scociety allows one side to discriminate against the other, but not the other way round (religion, anyone?)

    The japanese are smart but so are we “mere” westeners. But they also rely heavily on “ancient” wisdom. No wonder the woo-woo keeps getting worse.
    If it’s good for the ancient civilisations of China and Japan, it must be good for us backward westeners.

    Or so I heard…D’oh

    (my head already hurts from banging it on the table)

  61. James

    Latest update:

    It seems that it is an idea so stupid that no-one has written a law to ban it, so the court has upheld the position of the company.

    Hopefully this scandal will put wheels in motion to get it banned. Religious discrimination is not tolerated in the EU, and Astrology *is* a religion.

  62. Gonzo

    I have the right to discriminate against anything I choose.

    Not if you’re in charge of hiring people you don’t, at least not in the United States.

  63. Gary Ansorge

    “Mommy, why do we name girls Faith, Hope or Charity but not boys? Isn’t that discrimination?”

    I expect a really savvy job seeker, analyzing and finding such hiring practices in a company, might lie about their astrological sign, just to get hired. What the heck, people lie about degrees/education all the time,,,wonder if that would be grounds for termination?

    I guess I was born under the sign of the Skeptic,,,you know, the well balanced Libra,,,slipping on a banana peel.(Well balanced my patootie)

    Then of course, we should also disallow hiring based on an arbitrary score on an IQ test,,,because that’s discriminating against stupid people,,,

    One of the problems for Chinese scientists is an abject respect for authority,ie, one does not criticize/challenge an elder/respected scientist. That would not be respectful. I wonder how they manage to keep up with us (skeptics) at all.

    Asian cultures are OLD and steeped in magical thinking. Magical thinking is also a great source of art. Thus we have Asian silliness bleeding into Western culture and think we’re being “respectful” of their uniqueness when we’re really just pandering to their particular variety of WOO.

    It is a PC assumption that the scientific method was a creation of sanctimonious white males. Actually, it was (most recently) a creation of a Persian (probably Sufi) philosopher in the 11th century(or there about) and as I recall, Persians are BROWN,,,

    Political correctness is our buzz word for expressing what the majority claims to be the “right way”. Had we been possessed of the Asian way of overweening respect for authority, we’d still be sailing within sight of land, ’cause as the majority knows, we would otherwise fall off the edge of the flat world,,,

    (I really shouldn’t start these posts until AFTER I’ve finished my first 32 ozs of coffee),,,

    GAry 7

  64. quasidog

    @ James @ Cryotank

    Yeah I am aware. I also am not a fan of political correctness. I would not be using figures like 99.9% or 0.1% either. The way I see it its a little more broad. It’s just a stupid catch phrase these days. I am aware of it’s more legal sense and the importance it plays in ‘real’ discrimination cases. I just get tired of everyone else raping the word and trying to make it fit into every argument they make. For so many people, if you just disagree with a point of view you get labeled with ‘discrimination’ , like tis a bad thing. Yes it can be deemed as discrimination, but not always, and discrimination is a good thing in alot of cases. I rekon though that thoughtless people just like to use the word to help force an argument, even if there is room for disagreement, or even , *gasp* discrimination.

    I don’t let yobbos and drunkards into my house, because I discriminate against who comes into my house. But politically correct fools would cry about that use that sort of discrimination as a bad thing. Political correctness is a disease.

    My comment about the Japanese was tongue in cheek to :) I love Japan. I am studying the language and have friends that live there. It was a joke. I know about there woo-woo hehe.

  65. quasidog
  66. CryoTank

    I thought as much about the japanese part. I also love Japan and the culture, history, language and especially the food :) That’s why I also studied the language for a while, but stopped for lack of uhm people to talk to ha ha.

    You’re right of course about PC and especially the argument of discrimination being overly abused by all sorts of people to stifle criticism.
    Quick example: I live in Austria and we have the so called ‘Verbotsgesetz’ that prohibits Nazi activity and holocaust denial among other things. Rightly so, but it can easily be misused. Dare to argue for example that integration of some groups of foreigners didn’t work as the left wingers had said and that instead these tend to stay among themselves, not caring about their new home country….oh boy, you’re obviously a xenophobic rightwinger! Oh, you say that the jewish culture is not to your liking or think Israel is pushing it too far? You’re a Nazi!
    The pool folks in the UK are now having this with Islam.

    Uhm…I digress. This topic was about astrology 😀

  67. quasidog

    Yeah I agree. All that is a misuse of political correctness. To actually be arrested for being a holocaust denier is an abuse. It is just plain stupid. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. If it sounds stupid then ignore it. Arresting people for talking abut it just has the reverse effect. Some may think, “what are they so sensitive about? are they trying to cover something up ?” I can see the value of banning Naziism itself, but you can’t ban people talking about it. It is stupid.

    I see your point.

    Also the terms ‘rightwing’ and ‘leftwing’ …. give me a break. I know they are political terms but for crying out loud… there are more than 2 sides to most issues. Most issues are complex and diverse. Right wing, left wing .. simple minded political correct terms abused mostly by aggressive people that really don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

    Grr. :)

  68. Curt Steinmetz

    This story has the obvious look and feel of a hoax. That should be obvious to anyone with any actual critical thinking skills.

  69. quasidog

    @ Curt Steinmetz .. so you are suggesting that if certain ones critically decide it is not a hoax .. they have flawed critical thinking abilities ? Are you suggesting your view is the correct way to critically think ?

    saying something has the look and feel of a hoax is not the same as doing some research and posting here the results that prove it’s a hoax. Otherwise its a guess either way, critical thinking or not. Really smart people use astrology in business to make financial decisions all the time. Really smart brokers do it in wall street daily. It’s not as common now but it still happens. If they believe that horoscopes can help them make money, would some not also believe that hiring people under a certain star sign that they believe would be favourable to the financial position of the company too ? When you reason it like that (or critically think about it in that way) is it such a far stretch of the imagination to believe some people in charge of certain companies would think this way? Being rich also does not mean you are smart either. There are many facets you could throw at this. Is that enough critical thinking? I could research it but I really couldn’t be bothered as I don’t care either way. If you find some data that proves it a hoax by all means post it, but I think most people here have sound critical thinking abilities.

    Bottom line I don’t know if it’s a hoax or not, and neither do you due to stating, “This story has the obvious look and feel of a hoax.” So we are both really guessing and most people making comments about it are too.

    I have seen people do stupid stuff in my local town like this before, so I am aware at how stupid people can be. I believe my critical thinking abilities are sound.

  70. Curt Steinmetz

    The story does not provide the name of the company, nor are any of the people “quoted” in the article named – and is generally devoid of the kind of information that would make the story amenable to independent verification.

    The online “Museum of Hoaxes” has already flagged this story as a probable hoax. They also provide a link to an online newspaper based in Salzburg – which has no mention of this “story”:

  71. quasidog

    fair enough .. I’m still not convinced either way .. both ways are equally likely

  72. Curt Steinmetz

    Quasidog – there is no reason to believe that this article is true, and yet you insist on saying you are “still not convinced either way”. What about the article do you find to be credible? The fact that it was published in the eminently reliable Daily Mail?

  73. Corey S.

    @ Grump: I’m an atheist as well, and I have no trouble ‘believing’ in the free market. More than any other institution, free markets are responsible for the incredible standard of living we experience today.

    Markets help to solve a significant information problem. No one person knows how to run an economy. One person barely knows enough to run their own lives. Planned economies don’t work because of this problem (they’re also horribly corrupt and evil and rely on coercion to stay in power). Read some Hayek and maybe you’ll get over your argument from personal incredulity.

  74. James

    @ Quasidog & Curt Steinmetz,

    I would agree but for one fact: many of the examples of ‘political correctness run mad’ have turned out to be poor journalism and outright fabrications by, I’m sorry, card carrying right-wing bigots.

    ‘Ba Ba rainbow sheep’ falls into this pit as does ‘Winterval’

    the recent Thatcher/Ross debacles have shown that in the eyes of some newspapers it is more acceptable to make a racist comment about a ‘darkie’ than it is to make a lewd one about a porn star.

  75. Curt Steinmetz

    I predict that years from now slack-jawed “critical thinkers” will be saying to each other, “Yeah, like, do you remember when that company, you know?, in Europe was, like, using Astrology to hire people? I mean isn’t that just so typical? I mean, you know?, people are just so stupid – I mean, people who believe in things and stuff, you know?”

    Curt Steinmetz


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