Anti-Science

RIP, Cosmic Muffin

I wonder, is there an expectation of honesty and balance in the obituary section of your local newspaper? I don’t mean that the writer should insert something along the lines of, “His neighbors, however, claim there is no evidence that he ever was kind to small children judging by his reactions to kids playing on his lawn.” But should an obituary state something like, “Harry was well-adjusted, considering his body harbored the soul of a dead Martian.”

My thoughts are inspired by this obituary for Darrel Martinie published today in the Boston Globe. Darrel was an astrologer — the official state astrologer of Massachusetts, apparently — who was better known as the “Cosmic Muffin,” so named by a local rock station DJ. It’s an interesting — if brief and uncritical — look at the life of a fraud. A few key quotes:

“Let’s face it, when you’re talking to a client you don’t want to say, `In four years you’ll get a divorce,’ ” he told the Globe in 1978. “You say, `In four years you’ll come into a stressful period in your relationship.’ “

Unsaid: “Let’s face it, when you’re talking to a client, you don’t want to get into specifics because those may turn out to be wrong. You give them generalities and they fill in the blanks themselves.”

“Darrell every now and then took a little bit of the artist’s license,” Boesel [his wife] said. “He used to claim he was 38 years old, and this was after we had been together for 27 years.”

Unsaid: “Darrell was a liar.”

In the 1978 interview, he said his first meeting with an astrology group left him cold.

“I thought the people were absolutely stupid,” he said.

Unsaid: “Absolutely stupid, and ripe for the picking. So I decided to go ahead and scam the hell out of them.”

He added that “sun sign columns are garbage. . . . The idea that people fall into 12 categories and those categories can be interpreted as personal forecasts is ludicrous.”

“See, it’s more like there are a couple dozen categories, and THOSE categories can be interpreted as personal forecasts. Duh.”

Although Mr. Martinie’s broadcast persona could be playful and irreverent, the moments before he went on the air in radio or television could be brutal. He often was sick to his stomach.

Guilt?

Okay, I’m glad I got that out of my system. I just hope that when I die, no snarky blogger takes it upon herself to rebut my obit. I swear, I really do give four pints of blood every other Wednesday!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

Related Articles

7 Comments

  1. Without getting into all of the other issues surrounding Astrology, and I agree up front (based on the info provided in this blog post) that this guy sounds like a hack, astrology is NOT personal. If someone tells you that you neatly fit into one of 12 prefab personality profiles (like, oh, I dunno, any given commercial horoscope or "What's Your Sign Design"), RUN, don't walk, and hold on tightly to your wallet. This guy did have the correct idea that you're giving a forecast of astrological "conditions", not absolute for-sure things that will happen.

    And even skeptics can agree, I trust, that more scientific pursuits like the NOAA or the Weather Channel forecast atmospheric conditions all the time that may not come to pass. Does this make them frauds? Hardly. But unless they have the photo evidence that the rain is in fact falling over your home, they tend to speak in terms of "% chance" and the like. Astrologically speaking (again, in a highly general way – I am not an astrologer), it is better to say that "the week of July 31 looks like it could be very good for you", with the express understanding that this information is a) entertainment ONLY (RUN from anyone who says otherwise) and b) really up to you as to how you'll act on it.

    DISCLOSURE: My mother is a retired professional astrologer. She didn't pull any of the stuff this other guy did, which makes her a rare breed, methinks.

  2. Silly Rebecca! There's no need to donate a whole four pints when you could just take out a drop of your blood and dilute it in 100 parts of water then repeat the dilution 30 times with vigorous shaking.

    It's funny how astrology is so much like religion: there's only one correct astrologer on the planet, but no two astrologers agree on who it is. (Mainly because they always seem to nominate themselves for some reason. I wonder why.)

    For my money, the only horoscopes worth reading are the ones in The Onion. ;)

  3. From "Detiorata" off a National Lampoon record:

    "Therefore, make peace with your God,

    Whatever you concieve him to be;

    Hairy Thunderer…or Cosmic Muffin."

    The song remains the same.

  4. "Cosmic Muffin". Isn't that the lost Chapter of Douglas Adams' HGTU?

    Anyway, good one Rebecca. Sometimes, you can tell more from a person by what they don't say.

    Of course, I try to be completely honest with what I say. So, I'll never be called a liar, but I'll probably never get promoted either. *sigh*

Leave a Reply

Close