10/04/2006

Munnabhai tips to deal with astrologer nuts.

Probably the best way to deal with astrologers is to do what Munnabhai did. Ridicule them in public by asking them to "predict" whats going to happen in the next one hour. I think Bollywood will be doing a great social service if they can get rid of peoples superstitions. Its really a shame that astrologers are able to feed themselves on peoples financial and emotional insecurities even in todays age. They will put hyenas and vultures to utter shame :)

Though astrology probably had its origins in questions related to astronomy, it is no science. Neither do they have good definitions nor do they propose experiments nor do they have empirical data. I guess if Aryabhatta were alive today, he might revoke his Indian citizenship to protest such a degraded form of astronomy.

If you dont have the balls to deal with astrologers in public, here are some tips to deal with them in private.

  • Try to extract precise statements from them and ask them for precise definitions. Astrology is full of mumbo-jumbo as far as I can tell. Realise that loose statements which can be interpreted as one likes are its plus points. One astrologer told my parents that I will become "famous" later in my life. Its about time for my midlife crisis to approach and I am still wondering why most of the humanity doesnt know me! Another example, when they ask you for your birth time, ask them what exactly is birth time ? Is it the first appearance of a child from its mothers vagina ? Is it the time when the child is completely out ? Is it the geometric mean of these two times ? What if the child is born out of C-section ? What if the child is born premature and in an incubator for a while ? At this point, if that guy is not a dumbo, he will realize that you are being a difficult person. He will start throwing shit like:
Well, its okay even if its not that accurate. As long as its within a range, it should not matter.
Well, this is quite opposite to what many astrologers will tell. Whenever they are questioned about their predictions, their usual reply is that they didnt get enough accurate data to begin with. Or that you did not follow their advice exactly. Or that you did not do the poojas he asked you to do at a temple he recommended! (Yeah, these guys have a very well established referral program with comissions). Some might try to use some crude epsilon-delta argument from freshman calculus to convince you that their predictions are robust enough and that an epsilon variation in "birth time" will only produce a delta change in their predictions :) Well, your task is to pester them into telling you what the epsilon-delta is! You wouldnt want to travel in an airlines which will drop you off at Delhi instead of Chennai because they are in a delta neighbourhood for some delta, would you ?

  • The prime reason in my opinion that astrologers get away with any bullshit is that there is no concept of accountabiliy in this field. If a doctor doesnt diagnose you correctly, his/her medical license is revoked. If your automotive safety system doesnt work as advertised, you sue the company. If your purchase item is not satisfactory, you return it. From these example, we see that there is no reason to be accountable as far as astrology is concerned. If Murli Manohar Joshi really thinks astrology is science, I would strongly urge him to make it accountable as well. Lets have a system where an astrologer can be sued if their "predictions" dont come out right. Lets have a money back guarantee (with 1500% interest) if they mumbo-jumbo doesnt work. Lets stone them in public :)

At a time when people listen to what Bollywood movies say rather then their sensibilities and rationality, at a time when sweet sewage is considered holy water and allah's miracle, at a time when hindu idols "drink" milk and images of mary appear on a highway, at a time when our scientists at ISRO have to visit dharmasthala before a shuttle launch to boost their confidence, I think the only hope is the film industry. The concluding astrology-trashing scene in Lage Raho is what is much needed in todays times.

I hope I am doing my bit to "foster" scientific temper as enshrined in our Constitution, Article 51A (h) which reads:

[FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES of every citizen of India is:] to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform

1 comment:

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