The Intersection

USA Weekend Shills for Astrology

Go over to the Carpetbagger Report for the sad truth. USA Today itself has some good science writers; they must be aghast at this behavior by the weekend magazine. The most appalling thing is that the offending article ran under the banner of “science”….


  1. #1 coturnix
    January 16, 2006

    It is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, Age of Aquariuuuuuuus!

  2. #2 MrEphemeris
    January 16, 2006

    We Ophiuchians (Dec 4) can smell snake oil a lightyear away. It’s sad that some otherwise smart people don’t know the difference between astronomy and astrology, and even think astrology, ID and the rest are sciences. It’s really scary that they run a national newspaper.

  3. #3 John Thomas
    January 16, 2006

    Actually “Xena” isn’t called Xena and it doesn’t have “all the makings of a planet;” it’s got the most eccentric orbit of any body in the solar system, which is one reason it’s still awaiting AAS certification as a planet.
    However I can reliably predict that if you were born with Lila/2003UB313 conjunct your natal Sun you’re far out, man!

  4. #4 Inoculated Mind
    January 16, 2006

    I once wrote about astrology on a science page, but it was all about debunking it. Strangely I got some vitriolic responses from astrology afficionados, and some ‘waste of time’ emails from the more scientifically-minded. Astrology is a joke, its proponents, when they are not criticizing science from the outside, they are suggesting that their claims are scientific from the inside. Then they hide behind the term ‘holistic’ to say that you can never understand it, but somehow they do..?

    This is what we’re going to see from the astrology community with 2003UB313. First they are going to declare that based upon the Xena name, and the Xena story, that including it has amazingly solved a few glaring problems with their predictions (which before they would not admit) and that now the ‘science’ is so much better. Then the real name of 2003UB313 will be published, and some are going to switch how they figure out what this planetoid does in the astrology charts, based upon the new name, and some won’t and then some astrologer will sue NASA for ruining their personal chart because NASA demoted pluto from a planet to a Kuiper-belt planetoid in the process.
    And newspapers will continue to eat it up…

  5. #5 jeremy
    January 16, 2006

    man, I really cringe at the fact that this was pulished under the science section. whats next? a piece on elvis sightings??

  6. #6 Phil Plait
    January 16, 2006

    I just wrote about this myself. I’m amazed this slipped past the editor at USA Today.

  7. #7 Walter
    January 17, 2006

    Phil, I’m not sure this “slipped past” the USA Today editor. This was intentional. But I’m betting the science reporters at the newspaper are not too happy about it.

    Also, a personal plea to astronomers: If there is any dignity left in this world, please, please do not name a new planet after a character in a cheesy TV series.

  8. #8 Phil Plait
    January 17, 2006

    If it ever gets an official name, it won’t be Xena (any more than the other large objects will be Buffy and Santa). It’s just a nickname.

  9. #9 Phil Plait
    January 18, 2006

    I updated my blog– my contact at USA Today said that USA Weekend is unaffiliated with the newspaper. They are both owned by Gannett, but are otherwise unrelated.

  10. #10 Chris Mooney
    January 19, 2006

    Phil, good catch. The websites logos for USA weekend and USA Today are extremely similar, which I doubt is a coincidence. They also have the same address; 7950 Jones Branch Drive. McLean, VA. But I’ll accept that they’re editorially separate.

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