Cow-orker pitches astrology/moon crap on company's electronic BB. How should I react?

A fellow cow-orker posted this on my company’s electronic bulletin board today:

This is only an excerpt … there’s more crap about how the moon was full yesterday (April 1) and was stationed in the sign of Aries … [more astrological mumbo jumbo] … and that this means it’s a good time to … [more astrological mumbo jumbo]. She then pitches her services as an astrological consultant. (It’s O.K., BTW, to offer services in the “Employee Announcement” section of the company’s electronic bulletin board.)

I should point out that I work for an international medical organization, full of doctors and nurses (although I am neither) who are generally keen on knowing the scientific basis for any claims. Simply put, we’re skeptics.

Or most of us are, I thought until now. I’m tempted to reply to her post with a bunch of questions asking her to provide scientific proof of her astrological/moon effect claims. And I might even be able to do so in a polite tone instead of one dripping of sarcasm.

Or maybe I should just ignore it, but that would go against the SD credo (fightin’ ignorance and all). So … advice anyone?

Don’t sweat it. There are probably people posting their cars for sale, all of which are in “excellent condition.”

Nail 'er to the wall. Politely of course.

I apologize for the hijack, but WTF is up with people typing “cow-orker” instead of “co-worker”? I’m seeing this more and more, and I have no idea if it is just a widespread typo or whether it is some sort of new insult (comparing one’s fellow employees to bovines, apparently).


It’s netlore from one of the urban legends sites or groups. Someone once typed “cow-orker” for “co-worker” and it caught on. Usually used to refer to someone you work with who spreads or believes in an urban legend. Mildly pejorative.

If it bothers you that much, you should become a shut-in. You can stop working and live in your parents basement for the rest of your life.

It was either a practical joke (it was April Fool’s Day) or serious but either way it doesn’t matter. It didn’t affect your life. It didn’t cause you to be fired. It didn’t even make you read it. You continued reading so you could spread your nasty thoughts about it here. Woo, I am impressed. Maybe you should become a shut-in anyway.

Actually, I’ve found that doctors and nurses are quite likely to believe in something, whether it be God, or astrology, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, simpy becase of the nature of their work. If you asked around, I bet almost all of your colleagues could tell you about at least one patient that should have died but didn’t. The one who by all the laws of science and reason and logic should be pushing up daisies instead of pushing his grandkids on the swings. Sometimes people just die, and sometimes they just live, and we can’t explain it. Being in daily contact with that sort of thing tends to make health-care professionals believers.

Besides, tearing into her for her ad and attacking her beliefs when neither hurt you or anyone else will only make you look like an asshole. Do you really want to look like an asshole in front of all your coworkers?

It’s really easy. Tell him that due to the precession of the Earth, all the constellations no longer line up with their months. Like the constelletion Scorpius is now comes out in the summer. So if there were any relation between their mumblejumble and reality in the times of Babaylon, it’s now all off.

Until you can show that a belief in astrology is ignorance, what is there to fight? It’s just your opinion against hers. My advice is to ignore it unless you have iron-clad evidence that astrology is bunk.


Actually, I’ve found that doctors and nurses are quite likely to believe in something, whether it be God, or astrology, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, simply because of the nature of their work.
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I think it’s the nature of being human.

Sometimes I wonder if people with very easy, or very horrible, lives (e.g. not grounded in reality, overwhelmed by reality) are the most likely to go for this nonsense… and then I meet a dozen people in a row who are both entirely ordinary and nonchalantly hokum believers.

Spiff - if the BBS is for open postings, then she can do what she likes. If posters are supposed to represent the organization, then you might want to snitch.

Example: It’s okay for a doctor to claim a patient is “The worst nut job of all nut jobs I’ve seen” over coffee in the break room. It would be rather serious to note this opinion on the chart.

Well, there’s a difference between “fighting ignorance” and “beating ignorant people up” (verbally or physically). Ask for cites, but don’t go in with guns blazing. It sounds like this person posted something to the employee board that’s within the bounds of reason; just because other people have said much the same thing with all the scientific foundation a weekend seminar on a mountaintop can provide doesn’t necessarily mean your co-worker is a complete nincompoop.

I guess the real question is she really worth the effort? Will replying to her in any fashion really accomplish anything? Granted it would probably be fun to tear her apart and trash her beliefs in a public forum, but it is the company BBS and I don’t about you but there are just something I don’t want my coworkers or employer to see. Wanton cruelty directed at annoying twits being one of them. Besides, she doesn’t need your help to look foolish, she’s done a perfectly good job of that just by posting that drivel to begin with. I think you can rest assured that the other skeptics in the company read her announcement and were as amazed as you were that this woman was not only able to dress herself and drive to work but also managed to operate a PC well enough to post to the BBS.

Sorry Davebear, but reasonable people everywhere agree that those who make claims ought to cite evidence backing up their claims.

It’s not up to me to prove that the positions of planets with stars many light years away from earth at the time of a person’s birth have an effect throughout said person’s entire life. (Ponder to think how absurd that premise is.) And if I mention that there is no credible proof to that effect, then I am acting reasonably and rationally.

Analogy time. The guy in the office next to me says that he’s affected by the “mental rays” of Celine Dion everytime he sees her on the telly. Maybe he can read her thoughts or maybe he sees into her past lives … I dunno. Should I just uncritically accept this as fact, or should I ask him to provide evidence for this?

Surely, the proof is on him to prove that he’s experiencing something that no one else ever has experienced (or at least admited to!) and for which there is no existing knowlege of the way things worrk in this world to explain this effect.

And BTW, study after study after study shows that astrology is bunk. I don’t know what you mean when you say “iron-clad” in your context. Would every credible study so far ever conducted count?

Therefore, it is not “my opinion against hers” as you said. I’ve got evidence, she does not.

The question in my OP was … how ought I (or should I even bother to) present this evidence?

If we stay on the topic of this OP, then this thread will not be moved to Great Debates.

Okay, to stick strictly to the topic of the OP, you should not respond the ad at all. You have nothing to gain, really, and potentially a fair bit to lose.

Demanding proof for her beliefs won’t change her mind or that of anyone else who believes in astrology, so you’d be wasting your time on that count. You have no intention of using her services, so you wouldn’t be protecting yourself from a rip-off. So what would you gain, besides the smug sense of taking a loony down a few notches? Not a damn thing.

However, by questioning someones personal beliefs, especially in a sarcastic manner, on a public bulletin board you stand to lose the respect and goodwill of your co-workers. Yes, a lot of them probably think this woman is silly or misguided, but you’re likely to come off as a jerk. People are going to side with the misguided but sincere over the jerk most of the time.

Besides, this lady’s not hurting you or anyone else. She honestly thinks she’s helping people and maybe making a little extra money. What’s wrong with that?

Oh, yes, and being sarcastic about someone’s beliefs on a company-based BB could potentially put you in line for a harassment suit. The brass, always being mindful of potential lawsuits, will probably reprimand you for such a post, regardless of whether or not she files a suit.

Contact the administrator of the BB and have the content deleted. I mean, surely the company doesn’t espouse such views, right?

Very good point. I think I’ve made up my mind!


I would place a curse on her.

Cite? I’ll settle for one of those credible studies. Unless you’ve got one, and it proves you’re right, it is still a matter of opinion. I’ve never seen such a conclusive study. The ones I’ve seen all end with something like, “there is no conclusive proof that astrology works…”. That doesn’t prove a damn thing.

I’d really like to see a conclusive, credible study, because then I could consider the question closed. Until then, I’ll consider astrology in the same category as, say, acupunture, which was poo-poo’d by “reasonable people everywhere (meaning Western civilization)”, until they recently decided that maybe it does work. It’s called keeping an open mind, and it’s critical to avoiding ignorance. Neither one makes sense, to me, but I’ve seen no proof they don’t work.

Analogy time; three quarters of the world (just making up a number, there) believe they’re going to heaven and you’re going to hell. Are they unreasonable? Do you ask them for evidence? Every one of them?

Your analogy was way off base. The person who posted the ad isn’t one lone kook (and I don’t appreciate you talking to me like I am). There are millions of people who believe in astrology, and it’s been around for millenia. Are they all kooks?

I’ve seen no scientific evidence that it works, but if it’s a scam, it’s the best one ever invented. And, how would you propose it be tested? I can’t devise a reasonable test protocol for it. Can you?