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Press and Pop Culture

Tarot Redux

Perhaps it was just a coincidence. Perhaps it was fated. Either way, The New York Times published a sort of “how-to” article on Tarot on, of all days, April 1: “How to Get Started With Tarot.” As the subtitle suggests with its invocation of “introspection,” and the first paragraph confirms, they were not suggesting Tarot […]

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Press and Pop Culture

“Rigor” or …?

In “Taylor Swift Is Bringing Us Back to Nature,” an opinion piece it the NY Times by the conservation scientist Jeff Opperman, reflects on the ways that Taylor Swift’s lyrics are foregrounding nature. In her two recent albums, we are told, Swift uses “nature-themed words” seven times more frequently than artists from a sampling of […]

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Press and Pop Culture

“Science Vs” — Celebrating Ignorance?

The podcast “Science Vs” promises to take “on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.” It covers a range of predictable, conspiracy tinged and fad issues and pressing issues, e.g., episodes on ancient aliens,[1] snake oils and essential oils, and bigfoot, intermingle with episodes […]

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Academia Press and Pop Culture

Astrology Handwringing (again)

The BBC has joined the growing number of articles that try to explain away rational and intellectual interest in astrology: “The Anxieties and Apps Fuelling the Astrology Boom.” In this case, the author does a better job distinguishing astrology from the dross we see in newspapers.[1] But the basic assumption that animates this article is, […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Why Fear Astrology?

A recent “The Morning” Newsletter from the NY Times suggested seven podcasts about science for those “trying to learn more about the wonders of science.” Among other pressing wonders of science, these podcasts will let us know “whether there’s any scientific basis to astrology.” Why is the press, science popularizers, and many scholars, whether scientists […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Telling time, or not

A friend who knows of my interest in sundials gave me fabulous little, pocket sundial. While it is nothing fancy, it recalls to my mind the 16th- and 17th-century sundials from Nuremberg. Sure, mine is not made of ivory and wasn’t fabricated by some famous artisan, but I can pretend. The best study on these […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Tarot, then, now, and tomorrow?

Tarot cards do not have a particularly long history. With some effort people trace their origins back to 15th-century Italy. But those origins seem to be more like playing cards than some form of divination. Tarot cards as a form of divination seem to be an 18th-century trend that exploded in the 19th and early […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Astrology: Bugbear of Science

A recent survey of the “Conceptions of Science in Byzantium” opens with a general comment about the term “science”, and by extension the concept “science”. The author roots “science” in the culturally specific values of any given moment, values that are “constantly developing and changing.” These values determine what was and what was not, or […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Newton Again, and Again, and Again

Two recent stories on Isaac Newton seem to point once again to our undying fascination with all things Newton. On the one hand, a pair of articles in The Guardian announce and then report on the auction of some partially burnt notes on measuring Egyptian pyramids. We are given a glimpse into the mind of […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Alexa’s Flat Earth Joke

It has been too long since I complained about a reference to the flat earth. Conveniently, Amazon ran an ad during the Super Bowl for their Alexa™ “smart speaker” that used the flat earth as a joke. The ad opens with Ellen DeGeneres asking her Alexa to turn the temperature down in the house as […]