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Tarot cards formerly were used only by Gypsy or fake - Gypsy fortunetellers; they were not an article of commerce, were not easy to find. Today they are as easy to buy as liquor during prohibition, and also books on their "interpretation." Reading the Tarot is taken with deep seriousness by a dismaying number of people - having the Hanging Man turn up can cause great anguish.

b) Back - to - nature cults: I do not mean nudist resorts or "liberated" beaches. The growing realization that human bodies are not obscene is a sane, healthy counter trend in our crazy culture. By back - to - nature cults I mean people who band together to "return to the land" to grow their own food without pesticides, without artificial fertilizers, without power machinery, self - reliant in all ways ... but with no comprehension that a spading fork implies coal mines, iron ore, blast furnaces, steel mills, factories, etc., that any building more complex than a log cabin or a sod house implies a building - materials industry, etc.

If all of us tried to go back - to - nature, most of us would starve rather quickly. These back - to - nature freaks can't do arithmetic.

c) The collapse of basic education - no need to repeat.

d) Natal horological astrology - Baseline: fifty - odd years ago astrology was commonly regarded as a ridiculous former superstition, one all but a tiny minority had outgrown. It is now the orthodoxy of many, possibly a majority. This pathological change parallels the decay of public education.

Stipulated: Ancient astrologers were scientists in being able to predict certain aspects of descriptive astronomy such as eclipses, positions of the sun, moon, and naked - eye planets, etc. Whether or not they believed the fortunetelling they supplied to their kings, patrons, or clients is irrelevant. The test of a science is its ability to predict; in the cited phenomena the Chaldean priests (for example) performed remarkable feats of prediction with handcrafted naked - eye instruments.

It has long been known that Sol is the heat engine that controls our weather. Recently, with the discovery of solar wind, the Van Allen belts, et al., we have become aware of previously unsuspected variables affecting us and our weather, and successful predictions are being made empirically - no satisfactory theory.

"What sign were you born under?" - I don't recall having heard that question until sometime after World War Two. Today it is almost impossible to attend a social gathering (including parties made up almost solely of university staff and spouses) without being asked that question or hearing it asked of someone else.

Today natal horological astrology is so widely accepted that those who believe in it take it for granted that anyone they meet believes in it, too - if you don't, you're some sort of a nut. I don't know what percentage of the population believe in natal horological astrology (sorry about that clumsy expression but I wish to limit this precisely to the notion that the exact time, date, latitude, and longitude of your birth and the pattern of the Sun, Moon, and planets with respect to the Zodiac at that exact time all constitute a factor affecting your life comparable in importance to your genetic inheritance and your rearing and education) - I don't know the percentage of True Believers but it is high enough that newspaper editors will omit any feature or secondary news rather than leave out the daily horoscope.

Or possibly more important than heredity and environment in the minds of True Believers since it is seriously alleged that this natal heavenly pattern affects every day of your life - good days for new business ventures - a bad day to start a trip - and so forth, endlessly.

The test of a science is its capacity to make correct predictions. Possibly the most respected astrologer in America is a lady who not only has her daily column in most of the largest newspapers but also annually publishes predictions for the coming year.

For ten years I clipped her annual predictions, filed them. She is highly recommended and I think she is sincere; I intended to give her every possible benefit of doubt.

I hold in my hand her predictions for 1974 dated Sunday January 13, 1974:

Here are some highlights: " .. . Nixon ... will ride out the Watergate storm ... will survive both the impeachment ordeal and the pressures to resign ... will go down in history as a great president ... will fix the responsibility for Pearl Harbor" (vindicating Kimmel and Short).. . "in... 1978 ... the cure for cancer will be acknowledged by the medical world.. . end the long search." (1974) "The dollar will be enormously strengthened as the balance of payments reflects the self - sufficiency in oil production." "The trouble in Ireland will continue to be a tragic situation until 1978." (Italics added - R.A.H.) "Willy Brandt" (will be reelected) "and be in office for quite some time to come. He will go on to fantastic recognition about the middle of 1978." (On 6 May 1974 Brandt resigned during a spy scandal.) She makes many other predictions either too far in the future to check or too vaguely worded. I have omitted her many predictions about Gerald Ford because they all depend on his serving out the term as vice president.

You can check the above in the files of most large newspapers.

e) & 1) - no comment needed.

g) & h) need no comment except to note that they are overlapping but not identical categories - and I should add "People who allow their children to watch television several hours a day." (Television, like the automobile, is a development widely predicted... but its major consequences never predicted.)

i) The return of creationism - If it suits you to believe that Yahweh created the universe in the fashion related in Genesis, I won't argue it. But I don't have to respect your belief and I do not think that legislation requiring that the Biblical version be included in public school textbooks is either constitutional or fair. How about Ormuzd? Ouranos? Odin? There is an unnumbered throng of religions, each with its creation myth - all different. Shall one of them be taught as having the status of a scientific hypothesis merely because the members of the religion subscribing to it can drum up a majority at the polis, or organize a pressure group at a state capital? This is tyranny by the mob inflicted on minorities in defiance of the Bill of Rights. Revelation has no place in a science textbook; it belongs under religious studies. Cosmogony is the most difficult and least satisfactory branch of astronomy; cosmologists would be the first to agree. But, damn it; they're trying! - on the evidence as it becomes available, by logical methodology, and their hypotheses are constantly subjected to pitiless criticism by their informed equals.

They should not have to surrender time on their platform, space in their textbooks, to purveyors of ancient myths supported only by a claim of "divine revelation."

If almost everyone believed in Yahweh and Genesis, and less than one in a million U.S. citizens believe in Brahma the Creator, it would not change the constitutional aspect. Neither belongs in a science textbook in a tax - supported school. But if Yahweh is there, Brahma should be. And how about that Eskimo Creator with the unusually unsavory methods? We have a large number of Eskimo citizens.

j) The return of witchcraft - It used to be assumed that Southern California had almost a monopoly on cults. No longer. (Cult vs. religion - I am indebted to L. Sprague de Camp for this definition of the difference. A "religion" is a faith one is born into; a "cult" is a faith an adult joins voluntarily. "Cult" is often used as a slur by a member of an older faith to disparage a newer faith. But this quickly leads to contradictions. In the 1st century A.D. the Christians were an upstart cult both to the Sanhedrin and to the Roman priests.

"Cult" is also used as a slur on a faith with "weird ideas" and "weird practices." But this can cause you to bite your tail even more quickly than the other. "Weird" by whose standards?