5.19.2005

The How Of It - Part One

"Skeptic; skep┬Ětic, also scep┬Ětic (skptk) n.
1. One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions. "


Storytime.

About four years into my study of astrology, I was living in Brooklyn. I was still completely skeptical about astro at the time; as I have mentioned elsewhere, my less-than-honorable intent at the time was a better understanding of what drew people to astrology (the better to exploit it - and them - for financial gain). While I had read quite a few books on the subject, and knew well what I considered to be its dogma, I had not yet embarked on any real human test.

I was looking for a bit of extra cash, so I started working for Miss Cleo, the imperious psychic-slash-hotline with a West Indian accent who seemed to dominate late-night television commericals at that time. I was completely convinced that she was full of it - and still am - but that hardly mattered. I presumed correctly that the job would be more about talking to people who wanted to hear some kind of answer, irregardless of being psychic. And for the record, I am not and have never been psychic (see my hypocrisy here).

So, I settled down late at night with the astro books open and my new phone headset on. Because I had the opportunity to ask for their date of birth ("you're 18 or older, right?"), I began using astrology even though I was supposed to be doing Tarot. For me, the logic was simple: at some point, it was likely that most people who would call a psychic hotline would also have examined their Zodiac signs, and therefore I would only confirm the beliefs they had already developed about themselves by covertly talking to them based on their astrological signs. Hence, I would seem psychic without having to be.

Yes, it was calculating. But I did get the opportunity to talk to some people that really needed to be talked to. I mean lonely, lost, or hopeless people who were just frantic for some kind of direction or human contact. So, although I hated the job with a passion and gave it up after 3 months, I don't really feel bad about the deception inherent in the hotline itself, and in pretending to be psychic. I never told people what to do, just gave them a way to think about it in a different light.

Anyhow, back to the point.

I tracked the callers, getting names and addresses, and so on so that the esteemed Miss Cleo's corporate thugs could assail them with junk mail later. I didn't want to, but I had to if I wanted to get paid in full. Beside these listings I would put the birthdates that they gave me, and their Sun Sign. I would also note how the call went, in terms of the person's response. This was not required and entirely empirical, but I was also using this experience to see for myself what astrologically-based conversation worked and what did not.

I was not always careful with the birthdates. After all, if astrology was basically a bunch of B.S., then actually getting it right didn't matter much. And every so often, I would get people who would tell me that I was completely off base. I figured that was to be expected, too.

Then one day day I looked back through my listings, and noticed the first of those bad calls. It was a man, born in mid-June. Beside it, I had typed: "Taurus." I remember him quite well, because he told me - laughingly - that I was full of it (but in other terms). It was an accusation that I had quietly agreed with at the time. There was just one problem.

Mid-June is Gemini, not Taurus.

So I started going down the list. Bad call...check the birthdate. Double check the signs. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Good call, check the birthdate and the sign...correct. I was looking at a track of rights and wrongs that clearly corresponded to whether or not I was using the right or wrong sign. Either the people I had talked to had all been influenced by astrology (or most, there were a handful of deviations), or I had just stumbled into the biggest coincidence of my young life, or...if I really wanted to go onto a flight of fancy...astrology actually worked.

Being cynical, I went with the first option, the concept of subconscious psychological influence. But that conclusion had a glaring fallacy as well. There many things people deeply believe about astrology that are not true or do not adhere to the astrological format I was using. Not only are there plenty of warped theories, but there are also alternate astrological forms such as Chinese, Vedic, or Sidereal astrology. These beliefs, too, would have had as much influence over their "subconscious psychology," but they do not operate on the same foundation as Western astrology. And remember, I was supposed to be doing Tarot, so its not like they knew I was subtly faking it with astrology instead.

In short, they would all have had to be influenced the subject of Western astrology (at least as it pertained to them). Again, that would require a startling coincidence, though not quite as large of one I mentioned before, due largely to astro's pervasive cultural influence. Nevertheless, this was the first time I began to grow skeptical of my own skepticism. The idea that astrology was bunk was a generally accepted conclusion, and yet I was suddenly faced with a reason to doubt that this conclusion was foregone.

I was not yet convinced, however.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home