As the world prepares to enter the decade of the 1980s, The Washington Post retrogresses to the days of ancient Babylon. Of all the topics imaginable, what did Weekend select for its cover story for the last issue of the 1970s but an article entitled "Searching the Stars for Clues as to What's in Store for 1980" [December 28] . . . There does not seem to be a single phrase warning that this is not "news," of fact, or lofty editorial opinion; in truth, it is nothing more than a 20th-century verision of pre-medieval superstition. The article has the same scientific and intellectual validity as palmistry, voodoo, alchemy or witchcraft. It is pure occult pseudoscience, based on mysticism not merely predating the space era but even the Newtonian era, the Copernican era and even the Socratic era!
Aside from being a university administrator, I also happen to be a professional astronomer and a vocal critic of the charlatanry known as astrology . . . Make no mistake about it. Astrology has absolutely no scientific basis whatsoever. Rather, it is a remnant of supersitions from the days before organized religion and well before modern science. Neither theoretically based nor observationally verifiable, it literally belongs in the genre with numerology and magic . . .
Of course, The Post and a number of other newspapers regularly carry astrology columns. Even though this may be intellectually offensive, it perhaps makes business sense, given the wide-scale public interest. But it is a different matter to have a major article about the subjects displayed prominently and uncritically . . .
As we enter the 1980s, it might be worth remembering Shakespeare's admonition: The fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves . . . Our staff Druid says his sacred oaks warn Professor Berendzen to ponder what befell Shakespeare's Caesar after he sneered at the stars and pooh-poohed the portents.