Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It’s in the stars?

I've been naughty again. In fact I told a lie. I deliberately told someone something that I knew to be untrue.

I've been lying to astrologers.

Last week I was surfing the web when I saw a link that offered a free personal horoscope. Now of course I know that astrology is nonsense. It’s based on rubbish and produces nothing but rubbish.

However, just as an experiment, and as it was free, I thought I would see what happened. Off I went to the web site of an astrologer called Jenna who claims to be a Professional Astrologer, Psychic-Born, a Tarot Card Reader and a Numerologist.

Her web site asks for just your first name, email address, date of birth, sex, whether you’re happily married and if you’re employed. That’s all she needs.

A couple of hours later I got an email from “Jenna” saying she was working hard on my horoscope and that I should expect it within a couple of days. Two days later it arrived.

So how did I lie? Where was my wicked deception? My guilty secret is that I did this twice. The first time I gave Jenna’s web site my correct personal details and the second time I lied about everything. I changed sex, cut 10 years off my age and changed my birthday completely as well as my marital and employment status.

And how did the results compare? Both were about 2,500 words long and were virtually identical. The clever thing about this web site is that the “readings” I was given weren’t exactly the same. The sentence order was different but the message was exactly the same. Both said that I was going to live through “an event of great astrological importance”, that I was soon to be “in a rare astrological Transit which will not occur again in your skies before a very long time” and that if I “do not act in a very decisive manner concerning this period then it is extremely likely that all of these important opportunities will simply pass you by”.

[You can see one "reading" here and the other here.]

Of course this is the usual self-fulfilling claptrap you get from astrologers. Vague predictions about opportunities, challenges and life-changing events. Isn’t it curious how not a single astrologer specifically predicted 9/11, any earthquake or my cat dying last week?

What do I, sorry both of me, need to do to take this “decisive action”? That’s simple. All I have to do is give Jenna US$60 and she’ll give me a complete analysis. This, of course, is what the whole thing is about. You get a free teaser and then have to cough up real money if you have taken the bait.

Let’s be frank about this nonsense. First of all Jenna isn’t human, she’s a computer. The wonderful thing about the internet is that once they’ve been set up computers can perform many mindless things without any human intervention. Use sites like Amazon and eBay and you’ll have virtually no contact with any real people. Jenna’s site is the same. You give it some details and it assembles some standard sentences in semi-random order and emails them to you. It then sends the many later emails to encourage you to part with your cash.

The only difference between human astrologers and computerised ones is the efficiency with which they try and deceive you. Astrology is silly at best, abusive at worst.

1 comment:

Michael Meadon said...

Great post! And I hope you will continue to participate in the Carnival of the Africans (we've been a rather South African dominated affair...).

If you'd like to host an edition, by the way, let me know.