It’s been a year since this first appeared (September 21, 2005). I wonder if the “academy” is still open or what are they studying there….
This I learned from Eric:
For those few remaining stubborn hold-outs who still cannot read Serbo-Croatian, here’s a quick translation:
Institute for Astrological Research and Education “Johannes Kepler” recently opened in Belgrade. The goals of the Institute are to support the research in astrology, academic approach to astrology, and to aid astrologers and astrology in gaining social status.
The Institute is not a part of the University system, as officially confirmed by the Ministry of Education, but although astrology is still not accepted as a science, there are international standards in this discipline drawn by the International Astrology Organization, and the Institute’s syllabus was written according to these standards.
The graduates of the Institute will receive a Certificate in Natal Astrology, Diploma of Astrology-Consulting and Diploma of Astrology-Lecturer, after which the students may choose specialization abroad. Annual tuition fee is 500 Euros.
Some contend that the large popularity of astrology in Serbia is mainly the result of the economic crisis and poor education and that there is nothing there to teach, but graduated astrologers may find jobs in Serbia more easily than some other kinds of experts.
What is really interesting are the reader’s comments. There are, so far, only 21 comments. Of those, one is by an astrologer pretending it is a science, and one is a feeble attempt at a defense of astrology. The rest are either outrage or mockery. Many lament the (ab)use of Kepler’s name for it.
One writes: “It’s not that is is not yet accepted as science – it will never be accepted. Popularity of astrology and similiar pseudoscience is due to the tolerance towards various frauds of this kind.”
Another: “Ah, everything in the country is functioning so perfectly, only this academy was missing…”.
Another: “Next step is the Medical School of Charms”.
One, after an outrage, seriously wonders “Can graduates apply to the National Bureau for Employment?”.
Several point out that astrology and other pseudoscience are much more popular in the West, e.g., “Fine, Europe is slowly coming to us….”.
One asks “I’d like to know who opened this kind of institution and who approved of its founding?”
Another suggests opening schools for tin-rolling and cauldron-making as those crafts are more honest and useful.
“Why is some “graduated individual” going to tell me how Pluto on the other side of the Sun at the moment of my birth, THROUGH THE SUN, affected me so much that this has to be studied at an academy, while nobody is studying the effects of the lightbulb above the table when I emerged into the light of day?”
One writes a satire and ends:”But now I am starting to believe my horoscope. Just yesterday it said that ‘nothing important is going to happen today’ and, really, nothing important happened, so this means they are starting to guess correctly…”
One describes the phenomenon of “online” Universities, aka diploma-mills in the West and concludes that compared to that, a little fun horoscope with morning coffee is not nearly as harmful. He is hoping that the academy will at least teach the frauds to write their horoscopes with less vulgarity.
One is insulted they used Kepler’s name and compares astrology to card games (not Tarot, but poker!) and cooking, i.e, something that cannot ever be defined as science. Then he asserts that the building of the academy is fraudulent and asks if the inspectors will intervene (interesting that it is assumed reasonable that the state has the power to intervene against anti-social fraud!).
Another commenter mocks the current Serbian climate: “If we can’t help ourselves, perhaps stars will!”
I understand that the educational system in Serbia has made a nose-dive during a decade of wars, sanctions and Milosevic. The good teachers are gone. Kids are on drugs and bring guns to school. The school system I remember was one of the best in the world. Now it is nowhere near, though it is still way ahead of the US public schools. Even with bad teachers and discipline problems, Serbian kids still get eight years of biology, eight years of physics and eight years of chemistry before they graduate from high school, as compared to one year of each here. And there is still much educational capital retained in people older than eighteen. After all, the popular outcry defended Darwin from being challenged in Serban schools last year:
Update: A reader sent me a link to this marvellous webpage: Teorija Evolucije. It is in Serbo-Croatian and it is an excellent resource. It contains an explanation of what evolution is and how it works with numerous nifty examples, a point-by-point debunking of creationist talking points, and excellent links to English-language pages, e.g., Talkorigins, Tree of Life, etc. Go take a look even if you do not speak the language as it is well organized and pretty.