Monday, January 17, 2011

Paradigm Shiftyness

Yay, today my philosophy of science course discussed paradigm shifts. So fun.

After class a student asked me whether the news of the discovery of a 13th zodiac sign counts as a paradigm shift.

Me: Huh? A 13th zodiac sign?

Student: Oh yes, it was the Babylonians who discovered the zodiac, but the north star has shifted since Babylonian times. So now the line that is where the zodiac is includes an additional constellation that people didn't realize was actually in the zodiac line before this.

Me: Huh? Do you mean declination? You know the axis of rotation of the earth wobbles...

Student: Oh yes, that's it, and this is so freaking me out. And my mom is freaked out, too, because she says she's been a Cancer her whole life but she was mistaken and didn't even know it!

Me: And you think this is a scientific paradigm shift?

Student: It has to be! And we're living through it! It changes our whole outlook, you know? On life and stuff?

Me: And it's scientific?

Student: Totally. And I just don't know what to think about my sign and my personality now. I mean, who am I really?

Me: So what sort of scientist made this discovery? A historian? An archaeologist?

Student: This is totally huge. It was all over facebook.

Me: Huh?

I'm trying to figure out if I flubbed this one. Was there any better response than saying "Huh?" over and over. I tend to think not.

I found this on the ABC news website:
An astrological controversy erupted online Thursday after a newspaper article erroneously suggested that the dates that determine the Zodiac signs had shifted by about a month, throwing millions of believers into self-doubt and panic.
"Erroneously?" How can a NEWS site make a claim one way or the other about an astrological claim being right OR wrong? Hello? There is no truth value to claims that have no referent?

And I just don't know what to say about this being "all over" facebook. My facebook newsfeed includes these items: Quebecois winter humor, a recipe for tortilla soup with plenty of friendly commentary on tasty variations, pictures of kids, pictures of ski tracks in the snow, pictures of kids in the snow, a feminist rant (Dear Pandora, I don't appreciate the ad, followed by the Plan B Pill ad, followed by an ad with a giant cupcake...I don't like what your trying to say. Go screw yourself Pandora), a recommendation for independent theater, lots of fine art photography, and more than one person commenting on today's XKCD on string theory.

So as an antidote to frustrating thoughts about astrology and its "millions of believers," here you go:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HAHAHHAHAA! WOW! It's interesting that a student would bother a professor about something like that. I do indeed pity my friends who have tattoos of their zodiac signs and are now confused about something that never really meant anything I wonder why do we insist on categorizing ourselves into personality types.....whether it's zodiac signs, cliques, even faculty of study. Instead we should be expanding our thoughts reading blogs lol