Precognition has always fascinated man. That power of knowing what will happen and harnessing it to live with the insight of hindsight. From reading tea leaves to fingerprints and stars to numbers, mankind has pretty much stretched the limit of wishful thinking. Countless attempts to provide proofs that such knowledge exists range from seeing prophesies in texts to peudo scientific claptrap. India has perfected this into an art form with an abundance of babas and fakirs and what nots with their own “brand” that followers claim to be the true one. There isn’t the least attempt to apply any critical thinking, and attempts to ask too many questions can lead to anger. It is almost like people want that reassurance, even suspecting it is meaningless, because it brings comfort. The only good thing about it is that it is probably a better choice than drinking away troubles and about as useful. We have elected ministers gracing the walls of various Ashrams and this can mean anything from looking away as lands get encroached and party trick miracles to adamant refusals to believe rape victims of exploiting gurus. Other ministers have been known to promote bogus objects that are little better than gift items for far more money by promising great health, wealth and etc. The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, an anti-superstition organization has time and again challenged these bogus practices by bringing in the spirit of critical inquiry (and downright criticism) and has led to embarrassment for the astrologers when bright futures were predicted on the horoscope of a child dead within hours of birth. Other challenges include predicting poll results (which could possibly be done with available political insight as well?), asking for astrologers to participate in double blind studies on the effectiveness of astrology or plain old making a point with kundali (horoscope) burning events. It wasn’t funny when Dabholkar got killed though. And that is the crux of the issue. Most of the religious cults and business babas are big money, thug power and with tremendous political backing (useful for votes). While the common man is scandalized by irreverence, the scams couldn’t last without organized brainwashing and sometimes pretty severe retaliations as Sanal Edamaruku discovered when he found the church hounding him after he exposed that the “miraculous water” seeping trough the feet of an idol of Jesus was actually drainage water being pulled by capillary action (in other words, normal seepage, except that here was an idol involved). There are many cults determined to counter any rationalist movements that threaten their control over the masses through gibberish. Hindu Janjagruti Samiti is another example of such an organization. Their website is a revelation in invented hate propaganda, and a campaign to fight the anti-superstition bill. And it is high time people asked for their brains back. You mean planets floating around in the sky decide my life, and I’m the idiot working hard to make it how I want? Try again. Harder. Don’t tell me about the moon influencing tides being an example. The moon may influence tides all it wants, but my plumbing isn’t affected by it. I have yet to have a day for stronger water flow on the full moon and regardless of what’s happening inside anyone else’s heads, believe me, I don’t have blood and brains sloshing around inside waiting to lean toward the side of my head where the moon is. Everything is packed and in position like it should be, thank you very much. I see all this belief and wonder how education is limited to books, and not applied to anything it has not been recommended for. Let’s do a quick exercise. Remember your life. Great. Did you remember EVERYTHING? Obviously not. You remembered stuff that stuck in your memory. What happened to the rest? What about that lunch you had exactly 10 years ago? What was the menu? Chances are, you will not remember. Astrological miracles are like that, as are personality profiles and other forecasts. Most of them are vague enough to fit in with most people, who in glorious self-centered bliss imagine that they are the only ones who fit the bill so perfectly. Obviously, the words are designed to feel good. Therefore, Mr. Astrologer is credible. Huh? And what of those silly goof ups he foretold, or read in your behaviour? Well…. you don’t really find them remarkable do you? So like that lunch 10 years ago, they’re gone…. somewhere in the bottomless storehouse of the brain, not to be reclaimed in all likelihood. So now what? Perfectly credible Mr. Astrologer has a very high rate of accuracy to boot. The final selling point is of course in his unshakable belief in your value as a person. The qualities you see in yourself being reflected in his words…… Do you honestly have ANY clue on how many people think of themselves as analytical, thoughtful, reclusive, expressive, mysterious, capable of making friends with anyone, etc? Even if loner and magnetic were used in the same list of description, chances are every human on earth has experienced both moods and remembers experiencing them when reminded by those words. Voila! The description fits like a glove. Spare me! Forecasts are an even enlightening experience. An all-in-one chance to flatter, guide and secure unending belief. “Today is an excellent time to throw a party if you’re inclined” variety. Heh. Really? If I am inclined, I will throw the party and enjoy myself and credit goes to astrologer for predicting that I will enjoy myself if I throw a party? Success is yours providing you persevere and remain wary of careless mistakes. How can one be wary of careless mistakes? You will save money if you can avoid those impulsive purchases. No! What a miracle! Failed prediction? Something must have gone wrong! Well…..obviously, no? Apparently not. The mistake is in some elaborate calamity or unnoticed danger in the stars – not something as mundane as a chappie taking a risk that didn’t work out. I have yet to find a prediction that has a clearly defined circumstance of failure and still comes true (except for my very famous political predictions, but they are based on analysis of news, not stars). For those who wish to convert me, indulge me. Find me an astrologer who will make 10 predictions with very clear definitions of success, and let’s explore how many actually come true. I’m not interested in the 10 outstanding successes of a 20 year career. Show me the results of 10 consecutive predictions and then we’ll talk.