Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ophiuchus frenzy also got to me

I wrote the following on January 14. I didn't post it back then because I felt the need to apologize first.

So, I was in the student lounge Friday morning, January 14, 10 a.m., when I overheard one guy tell another,
"Yo, you know what your sign is?"
"Duh, I do."
"Well, what is it?"
"Not anymore."
"Whaddaya men 'not any more'?"
"Your birthday's is November 30, right? The International Astronomy thingy is saying your sign's now Ophiuchus"
"What the hell is that?"

I immediately Googled "Zodiac" and saw the news story, already dead and buried by then, unfold before my eyes.

The previous Sunday, Parke Krunkle of the Minnesota Planetarium Society was interviewed by his local newspaper, the respectable Star Tribune, on the subject of Astrology. Krunkle said that the Earth's inclination has changed over the centuries (which is also speculated to be the reason why leap years got invented so late in the game). This means, he said, that for some of the birthdates which people have been assigning the sign "Piscis" for the past 200 years, they should actually have the sign "Aquarius".

With that, the paper had the "catchy headline" it needed, and the "Astrology is wrong, but not in the way detractors think" article went on to become quite the popular conversation topic. The Star Tribune has since ammended its article by replacing its introduction with 11 paragraphs detailing just how popular it became on the Internet (but we're getting to that).

Three days and several calculations later, NBC-2 published the "new" dates for astrological sign, for all the signs, according to modern astronomy. This list went viral on the internet as several read-quick-and-stupidly bloggers started freaking out and publishing "New Zodiac", "Signs change" and –

alt="Heckler: What have you got against bloggers?
Me: (pointing to something off-panel) Not you, other stupid bloggers
Heckler: Oh alri– wait, what?"

Moving right along, on Thursday night, ABC-7 aired an interview with a local astronomer, who echoed what Krunkle had said. Of course, by this point, the phenomenom had already become international (Argentina, France, Peru, Switzerland; all dated Wednesday, January 13)

Naturally, the thing exploded the following day. Friday became the day of "the media operation to debunk the whole thing" (source). Ironically, I read the whole story in one go by starting with Heather B's article first.

But that didn't stop the men in the student lounge.

"What about you? What's your sign?"
"Virgo; September 14."
"Sorry, man. You lost your virgosity. (chuckles)"

Oh well, there go 2 hours of my life I'm not getting back.