This week, Venus formed an aspect with Mars, and The Globe and Mail announced that it will no longer run horoscopes in its print edition (except on Saturdays). We’re not sure whether those two events are related, or even what the first means, but it’s good news nonetheless.
The first newspaper horoscope appeared in a 1930 edition of Britain’s Sunday Express—it was an account of the young Princess Margaret’s future—and the feature became so popular that by the end of the decade, most British newspapers ran them. Horoscopes, with their generalized promises and vaguely personal tone (“Do something different today, dear Virgo…”), offered easy reassurance to a country rattled by one world war and on the brink of another. Readers took their star-sign forecasts seriously—some even based financial decisions on clusters of stars that might resemble a scorpion or a sea-goat if you squint hard enough.
Today, of course, horoscopes are a harmless diversion—it’s hard to believe anyone takes stock in their woolly prognostications. But even so, they have no place in newspapers. Besides their duty to tell the truth, which should preclude them from printing zodiacal nonsense, newspapers can hardly claim the authority to predict their readers’ futures when they have such a dismal record of predicting their own.
The elimination of horoscopes is perhaps the only positive to come out of the Globe’s recent money-saving slim-down, of which KenKen puzzles and Talking Points have also been unfortunate casualties (though editors are reconsidering the former). Sure, the move might be tough on the astrologer who writes them—but she can’t say she didn’t see it coming.