Why do we still believe in astrology?
Every few months you have an explanation for everything amiss in your life, especially pertaining to technology. Mercury in retrograde has became the default explanation of what's wrong with our world. One astrology-based consultant lists what not to do when this cosmic trickster is dancing in reverse: Don't start a new job. Don't close a deal. Avoid traveling. Don't buy anything.
Such astrological theorizing is the New Age equivalent to conspiracy theorists that believe Obama is coming for their guns: stock up on rations, barricade your doors and hide in the dark. Certainly this sort of advice is extreme, however; there must be something to astrology, right?
Interestingly, Mercury's retrograde is an illusion. The planet's rotation slows down and gives the appearance of moving backwards, while in reality it's still soldiering on, just at a slower speed. This optical trick is a perfect metaphor for what astrology does to our brains: it gives order to a seemingly random universe. That doesn't meant it's real, however.
The last time Mercury was messing with us, I noticed two different Facebook friends discussing recent break-ups. At the moment I was in a heart-wrenching tussle myself; it seemed so gratifying to assign the blame to a distant nemesis in the sky. Yet I also observed that three other friends started relationships and were quite happy. While the above consultant might wag his finger I realized that I was simply gravitating towards others in the same state of mind I was in. Ignoring conflicting evidence is making other people's lives a part of my reality, not accepting that things are always in flux, planets be damned.
While most people (I know) who read daily horoscopes treat them as nothing more than cute fodder, others are more manipulative (and manipulated). A music producer friend, for example, missed getting a record deal with a Hawaiian singer not because he wasn't qualified, but because the artist consulted a planetary map and decided he could not step into a studio that month. People's imaginary yearnings often have real economic, emotional and social consequences.
Matthew Remski's recent article on his time practicing Vedic astrology put this neurological trend into perspective. As he writes,
Astrology's confluence of romance, intuition, nostalgic longing and archetype-driven poetry is so not worth the epistemological bullshit it costs. At best, it is a rich engine for psychic exploration. At worst, it capitalizes upon every cognitive bias we have to serve magical thinking and the power imbalances of unacknowledged projection and transference. Between these two extremes, it provides thin gruel for a burning world.
Human beings are by nature reactive. If we were proactive animals, global warming, for one, would not be a contested topic today. A broader range of Americans would be taking steps to counteract the trend. It's a paralyzing conundrum: those who believe in an invisible deity responsible for the planet's well-being refuse to 'believe' that our planet is getting warmer because they cannot 'see' it. How can we really pick the invisible things we don't believe in, or worse, only give faith to those for which there is absolutely no evidence of?
Such is the same in astrological idealizing. We pick out trends that fit our narrative only after they've occurred. Then we write them into the story. False guestimates are forgotten, or excused as some further plot destined by the stars. A Vedic astrologer might help you pick the 'best date' for your wedding, but if the marriage dissolves into a divorce, well, that too becomes part of the 'plan.'
Our ancestors developed pattern recognition as a survival technique. An ear at one end of the bush and tail at the other meant run. If you planted a seed in spring, then by fall you'd harvest the bounty. Today our planet rarely demands of us such pressing needs, and so that cognitive trend is exploited by charlatans using clichéd rhetoric to neatly knit the fabric of existence to tell a story we want to be told.
After suffering my first heartbreak in my early twenties, I consulted one such astrologer-psychic to make sense of my life. I knew going in the advertised ten-dollar charge would not hold. She needed the night to consult her dreams after looking over my chart, which of course cost $125. I begrudgingly ran to the ATM in hopes that an answer would magically appear in her somnolent inbox.
I returned the next day to find out that someone was trying to manipulate me. Who was it, she asked? No one. I had no enemies at the time of my life, a trend I try my best to maintain. There must be someone, she replied. Nope. Ok, in any case, she was going to give me a series of baths that I must take for the next six nights to rid myself of that dark karma I'd been carrying. Total cost: $700.
Even if I had the money at the time in my life, I would not have paid. This is certainly at the more extreme end of astrologically-inclined moneymaking, but the entire system does everything it can to remove us from being present with our situation. Instead of dealing with our own insecurities, fears and uncertainties, we turn to the cosmos for a reason. And there is certainly no dearth of folk ready to offer one up.
Perhaps the best response I've heard to this mindset was given by actor/writer Seth Macfarlane last week. Having discussed the random nature of the universe in his new show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Maher asked him how he replies when someone says to him, 'You know, everything happens for a reason.' Without missing a beat, Macfarlane replied, "This was not the coffee that I ordered."
Image: Jule Berlin/shutterstock.com
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A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
- The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
- The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Is the Magnetic Field Reversing?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e3e0b16dac3b05dab808a4ddf04d198b"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/51usJ74pPP8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"
"The Yellow Sands", 1888, John Reinhard Weguelin; source: Wikimedia Commons<h3>Naked revolution</h3><p>Yet long before anyone knew about beach fashion, naturism was trendy. Bathing naked in the sea was going on in England as early as 1840. However, during the reign of Queen Victoria, this pleasure was outlawed. But it popped up again among the conservative Germans. In 1898, the first Naturist Club was founded in Essen and in 1900 the Wandering Birds group (<em>Wandervögel</em>) was scouring the country for uninhabited places and naked sunbathing. In the same year, Heinrich Pudor wrote <em>The C</em><em>ult of </em><em>the </em><em>Nud</em><em>e</em>, winning the hearts of contemporary supporters of naturism.</p><p>In the 1920s, on the back of this, members of the Movement for Natural Healing (<em>Naturheilbewegung</em>) organized naked sunbathing for the improvement of health. Persuaded by Pudor's theory of the healing properties of the sun and wind, which could be absorbed through the skin, they launched the naked revolution.</p><p>Pudor's book became the naturists' manifesto and soon after, not far from Hamburg, the Free Body Culture (<em>Freikörperkultur</em>, or FKK) movement was founded. This spread through other German centres and brought together thousands of people. The FKK still operates under the same name today.</p><p>The cult of the naked body even wrote itself into the ideology of fascist Germany, which advocated a pure, Aryan race. But in 1933, Hermann Göring issued an order that defined nudity as "the greatest threat to the German soul" and, with that, criminalized naturist organizations. But this wasn't the end of the movement. The naturists went underground, continuing their activities under the guise of improving physical fitness.</p><p>In 1936, the idea was even floated of having a naturist display to open the Berlin Olympic Games. It was quickly dropped. Despite this, in 1939 the naturists managed to organize their own Games in the Swiss village of Thielle.</p>
Would you ever have sex with a robot?
- In 2016, "Harmony", the world's first AI sex robot was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix.
- According to 2020 survey data, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. This is an increase from a survey conducted in 2017.
- Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries.
From homemade dildos to Harmony, the AI sex robot<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f7451615568e74c6a839f04329c9902"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-cN8sJz50Ng?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>"...amid an economic crisis, with restaurants and retailers closing their doors and larger companies laying off and furloughing employees, the sex tech industry is booming."</em><br></p><p>A Bustle <a href="https://www.bustle.com/wellness/the-sex-tech-industry-is-booming-amid-economic-crisis-22819801" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">article</a> published in April 2020, weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, explored the drastic boost in the sex tech industry. According to the research, <a href="https://www.dameproducts.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dame Products</a> (a popular sex toy retailer) experienced a 30 percent increase in sales between the months of February to April, and popular sexual wellness brand <a href="https://unboundbabes.com/?utm_source=%7Bsource%7D&utm_medium=%7Bmedium%7D&utm_keyword=unbound%20babes&utm_matchtype=e&device=c&utm_campaign=%7Bcampaign%7D&utm_adgroup=%7Badgroup%7D&gclid=CjwKCAjw1v_0BRAkEiwALFkj5qYbdEwANUjCdRkCeVZ2HZzHjcGmpYbsOXYcMcNneLc2nySvrbaalBoChEsQAvD_BwE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Unbound</a> reported selling twice as many toys as normal in this period.</p><p>While the new coronavirus was crashing the economy in other ways, the sex tech industry was one of the few that actually saw improvements, likely due to people all over the world being advised, encouraged, and in some instances forced to stay at home.</p><p>Something similar happened in 2008, <a href="https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/08/23/the-great-recession-is-a-turn-on-for-the-sex-toy-industry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">during the recession</a>: the sex toy industry was one of the only industries at the time that didn't gravely suffer. </p><p><strong>The evolution of sex tech from stone dildos to artificial intelligence.</strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/what-is-the-history-of-sex-toys-from-stone-to-silicone-and-beyond/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The history of sex toys</a> is quite interesting. A 28,000-year-old siltstone dildo was uncovered in Germany in 2005. Luxury bronze dildos have also been found in China that are at least 2,000 years old.</p><p>Aside from various materials being shaped into dildos, there has always been an interest in how to advance sex technology, even before it involved actual technology at all.</p><ul><li>The 1700s: Steam-powered vibrators (such as the Manipulator).</li><li>The 1800s—1900s: The invention of the first electric vibrator (the Pulsoson) and "beauty tools" being used for sexual satisfaction (such as the Polar Cub massager)</li><li>The 1920s—1940s: The introduction of hand-held massagers (the Andis Vibrator) and compact devices (such as the Oster Stim-U-Lax)</li><li>The 1940s—1960s: Japan introduced the "Cadillac of Vibrators" (The Hitachi Magic Wand), which eventually made it's way to America.</li><li>1965: The invention of silicone, which most modern sex toys are made of.</li><li>The 1980s—1990s: The invention of the rabbit-style vibrator, made more popular with one of the first showings of a sex toy on television ("Sex and the City"). </li><li>The 2000s: Visual porn website Pornhub launched and sex toys became increasingly popular. Erotic literature also became more common and popular, with "50 Shades of Grey" and others like it. </li><li>The 2010s and beyond: Sex toys and technology start to blend, and the world's first internet-controlled sex toy was launched in 2010 by Lovense.</li></ul><p>In 2016, "Harmony", <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cN8sJz50Ng" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the world's first AI sex robot</a> was designed by a tech firm called Realbotix. </p>
From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.
Credit: Willyam Bradberry on Shutterstock<p>In 2020, more than one in five Americans (22 percent) say they would consider having sex with a robot. <a href="https://today.yougov.com/topics/science/articles-reports/2020/03/19/2020-both-men-and-women-are-more-likely-consider-h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">YouGov conducted a study</a> in February 2020 that compared results from a similar study from 2017.<br></p><p>According to the results, 6 percent more people in 2020 are comfortable with the idea of having sex with a robot than in 2017.</p><p>YouGov points out that the increase in consideration is particularly significant among American adults between the ages of 18-34 years old. Additionally, how people feel about having sex with a robot has also changed. In 2020, 27 percent of Americans said they would consider it cheating if they had a partner who had sex with a robot during the relationship, compared to the 32 percent reported in 2017.</p><p><strong>"If you had a partner who had sex with a robot, would you consider it cheating?"</strong></p><p>The results from this interesting study also reveal that many people (42 percent) believe having sex with a robot is safer than having sex with a human stranger.</p><p>Robots (and robotic tech) already play a vital role in speeding up manufacturing, packaging, and processing across various industries. From television shows to real-life applications, artificial intelligence is becoming more and more popular in all areas of human life.</p><p>According to YouGov, "a <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/amazon-plans-high-end-echo-ramps-up-work-on-alexa-home-robot" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a> report outlining Amazon's plans for an Alexa-powered robot that follows and helps you around the home may redefine how these machines service humans in the near future." </p>