Monday, February 19, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign...

OK, maybe this isn't "blockin' out the scenery," but it sure is "breakin' my mind"! [1] I was just sitting here peacefully listening to Rachel Maddow's Air America Radio show from last Friday (I listen by podcast, so I'm always one weekday behind). In the course of discussing who did and didn't vote against the recent anti-Iraq War resolution in the House, Rachel mentioned that the Washington Post website, which she uses to check congressional vote roll calls, offers readers the ability to display votes sorted by astrological sign! Huh?!? Well, I had to see it for myself, and sure 'nuff:

Alright, I don't know whether to be more discouraged by the idea that people who care enough about politics to look up vote totals actually want to know about legislators' signs, or by the fact that WaPo would cater to their bizarre superstition. Either way, I think I have to make this a short post, so I can go pour cool water over my steaming brain....

[1] If this reference is too ancient/obscure for you, look here.

UPDATE: I e-mailed PZ Myers, Rationalist-in-Chief at Pharyngula, about this and he very flatteringly linked to this entry. A couple of commenters noted that the intention was just to have some lighthearted fun and attract readers to the (admittedly very cool) Votes Database. Well, that makes me feel better... but only a little bit better. I used to be firmly in the it's-harmless-fun-as-long-as-you-don't-believe-it camp regarding astrology and such, but I'm increasingly concerned that even such benign bemusement gives aid and comfort to the all-too-numerous inhabitants of the demon-haunted world we live in.

Besides, are astrology believers really the voters we want to be enabling?


Anonymous said...

Where on the Wapo web site do you find this option? Looking just now, under Politics I found a link to "Votes Database", but there I see no option to group by atrological sign.


Bill Dauphin said...


When you select a particular measure (by HR or title under Explore the Database->Recent Votes), you'll find the Vote Totals table, and there's a tab bar that allows you to choose "By party, By state/territory, By region, By boomer status, By gender, By astrological sign."

Happily (I think), that last choice is intended to be lighthearted, it turns out.


Greg said...

Thank you, Bill. I see that now. Funny.


Anonymous said...

So... did they find any correlation between astrological signs and votes? It would be interesting to know. If so, it's something to consider. If not, then we can go ahead and make fun of them.