Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flowerly Words, Horoscopes, and the Culture of Magical Belief

The other day I had a piece published in the Globe and Mail about the shortcomings of Canada's Food Guide.

Hearteningly, the piece was hugely popular, meaning the public seems to actually care about the Guide which to me at least, offers hope that when it's next revised, Canada will be watching rather carefully which in turn might influence both the process and the outcome.

During the day I received an email pointing out to me that my piece was the most popular piece in the paper. I asked how that person knew and they pointed me to a ranking posted on the paper's website sidebar.

I had a peek at that same sidebar yesterday morning.

Want to know what the most popular piece in the paper was?

The horoscope.

Papers still publish horoscopes?

No doubt horoscopes alone aren't to blame, but is it any wonder that Dr. Oz can have a show promising miracles with flowery words if magical belief and thinking is popular enough not only for the public to read about it, but for reputable newspapers to publish and enable it as if both normal and real?