Monday, November 03, 2003

Sanskrit Boy enters Valhalla

Thanks to a Marmotic comment I happened upon, Ryan's Lair, a blog at least sometimes devoted to Buddhology, now enters the blogroll. I'm hoping to steal some knowledge from this dude, who's a doctoral candidate at Harvard (not, as he is at pains to say, the Divinity School). My own Buddhological formation, given that my Master's is in the vague subject area of "Religion and Culture," is still woefully inadequate. Any and all help accepted.

Here's a sample from Ryan's site:


The humor in the news this morning is unrelenting. Check out this piece from the Telegraph. The article's headline is:

"Astrologers fail to predict proof they are wrong"

Five points for the straightforwardness of British headlines! Oh, and the article is mildly interesting as well- the data in the study goes back as far as 1958. The quoted reaction from the astrology community was rather muted: Roy Gillett, president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, wants us to treat the results "with extreme caution", and says that the leading researcher wants to "discredit astrology."

Well, of course Dr. Dean wants to discredit astrology. Everyone who hopes for progress in the corpus of human knowledge, who longs for a citizenry trained in the methods of science and the discipline of rational thought, would love to see astrology and other sundry psuedo-sciences and superstitions vanish from the earth.

Of course, there is something tenacious about astrology (and about religion, for that matter), that will render it practically immune to the flaming volleys of scientific discourse. This is why studies like Dr. Dean's will really have no impact- they are rational discourses aimed at people who have sincere, meaningful, emotional attachments to irrational, poetic imagery and narrative. I'd be willing to wager that when reason and emotion collide in untrained, unreflective people, emotion will usually win.

I'll add that this is also true of trained, reflective people.

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