Neil Spencer in The Observer
Thanks to Richard Dawkins I have just acquired a new title. It’s official: I am an ‘Enemy of Reason’, a wily opponent of rationalism interviewed (in my capacity as The Observer magazine’s astrologer) by Dawkins for a new two-part TV documentary. In the first programme, he attempts to debunk alternative medicine, in the other to rubbish the ideas of astrologers, channellers and other so-called ‘New Age’ types.
Evidently hoping to prove astrologers are know-nothings, Dawkins’ interview started with a lengthy grilling about astronomy – the precession of the equinoxes, sidereal and tropical zodiacs, Kuiper Belt objects. There was the usual objection to astrology dividing people into 12 Sun signs, and my usual reply: that’s eight more than the Myers-Briggs personality test used by commerce. Actually, astrology’s basic personality types number 1,728.
On we went through genes versus soul, dark matter, forecasting ‘trivial’ horse races, astrology’s antiquity. Dawkins thinks anything pre-Enlightenment is ‘primitive’. As primitive as a gothic cathedral or a Plato text then. Am I bothered by Dawkins calling me names? Not really. I’m in some esteemed company – Resurgence publisher Satish Kumar, and Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal Homeopathic Hospital (and the Queen’s physician) – also fall under Dawkins’ stony disapproval.