While I’ve sometimes questioned your overall commitment to education, your columnists and editorials frequently stress the importance of education and how important it is to us as individuals, a community, and a country. If that’s truly how you feel, then I have a suggestion for you – please stop printing horoscopes.
Clearly over the last few years your paper has gotten physically smaller. As the Internet and Craigslist have bit into your revenue, you’ve had to make hard decisions about what stays and what goes, and I assume you painfully agonize over what gets printed in the limited amount of space you have left for articles. Yet in both Saturday and Sunday’s paper you devoted about 260 square centimeters to horoscopes. (In comparison, you devoted almost exactly the same amount of space in Saturday’s paper to the horrific school shooting in Brazil and considerably less to the story about the Juno spacecraft.) This prominent endorsement of pseudoscience seems to be at odds with your stance on the importance of education.
Now I know some people will argue that this is political correctness run amuck, that horoscopes are simply a form of entertainment and therefore should be left alone. I could perhaps even agree with those folks except for one small problem, survey (pdf) after survey show that about one-fourth of Americans believe in Astrology.
To be effective citizens, Americans need to understand what science is – and what it isn’t. By continuing to use your valuable and increasingly limited newsprint space to print horoscopes, you are enabling (and, in fact, encouraging) a belief in pseudoscience and are helping create a less scientifically literate population. This needs to stop.
So here’s my proposal. Stop printing horoscopes each day in your paper and instead devote that 260 square centimeters to science. Each day you could run an article looking at the science behind the headlines. (Surely there’s no shortage of material: earthquakes, tsunamis, climate change, energy production, energy consumption, health care – to name just a few.) Now, I know that 260 square centimeters is not really enough to explain such complex issues, but it is enough to write an introduction to the issue, and then at the end of the article you could link to your website which could take a more in-depth look at the issue (perhaps including multimedia and links to other sources). You would be modeling for our students the importance of science and what lifelong learning looks like.
Dan Haley’s editorial in Sunday’s paper said, in relation to a different topic,
We consider it part of our responsibility, part of the newspaper being a good citizen.Shouldn’t supporting a scientifically literate population be part of your responsibility to the citizens of Colorado as well?