Heaven forfend! NASA rearranges the stars — and the traits of our leaders


The cosmos has been realigned with the introduction of a new star signal. So what does it indicate for the horoscopes of the people today managing the nation?

(Impression: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

NASA has thrown astrology followers into full and utter disarray after asserting a brand name new 13th star sign: Ophiuchus, the snake bearer.

The unveiling of this new indicator has meant hundreds of thousands of people’s horoscopes have transformed with the calendar change.

As NASA points out in a frank put up that also rebukes astrology as unscientific and compares examining horoscopes to reading “fantasy stories”, the place agency says the Zodiac system was designed by the Babylonians around 3000 a long time back. At the time, the Babylonians recorded constellations and split them into 12 to in good shape their calendar. In accomplishing so, they left poor Ophiuchus out.

If you include the 13th constellation to the mix, it clashes with the other constellations and the entire Zodiac program turns into an (even greater) shambles. So blame the Babylonians and not NASA, I guess.

But the serious concern is… what does this signify for our esteemed countrywide leader’s horoscopes?

Scott Morrison (Might 13)

Nothing variations for Primary Minister Scott Morrison, who stays a Taurus even with the Zodiac revolt. It is fitting since Tauruses are identified for getting painfully stubborn, as properly as stoic and identified.

You could say Morrison has been fairly stubborn about cheering on the Sharkies and throwing again beers at the footy, inspite of the total, you know, global pandemic likely on. You’d think he’d learnt from the very last time he absconded to Hawaii while the full region was burning.

You could also say he’s been alternatively stubborn about not admitting any fault when it will come to the sports activities rorts saga or remaining devout to fossil fuels.

Anthony Albanese (March 2)

Thanks to the Zodiac shift, Labor leader Anthony Albanese has been stripped of the “dreamer status” attributed to the Pisces star indication and gifted the rebellious streak of an Aquarius.

Evidently, there’s a deep perception of justice and fairness in all Aquarians. You could attract some parallels right here: Albanese grew up in community housing and has been a prolonged-standing member of the union motion.

Aquariuses are also acknowledged for staying important loners — which may describe why he missing the 2013 Labor ballot to Invoice Shorten, a single of the most unpopular Labor leaders in Australian historical past.

A rapid Google research and you are going to even discover Albanese talking about how lonely it is in the nation’s cash. “There is not a accumulating put exactly where people today have a drink immediately after operate,” Albanese advised Guardian Australia. “They can get very isolated in these corridors.”

Adam Bandt (March 11)

For Greens Chief Adam Bandt it’s as soon as a Pisces, always a Pisces.

Pisces are recognised for becoming imaginative, passionate and empathetic. Bandt’s formidable Environmentally friendly New Deal certain speaks to this, with the Greens saying expense in renewable energy and a dedication to zero emissions can create tons of new positions.

Bandt will sadly have to desire on when it arrives to acquiring the Coalition on board, who can not even honour the Paris Settlement with out making some evident loophole like carryover local weather credits.

Pauline Hanson (May well 27)

The 1 Nation leader was once dubbed a Gemini, viewed as the social butterfly of the Zodiacs, as perfectly as smart and adaptable. It’s an sick-in good shape for Hanson, who struggles to string a sentence jointly, and has been barking the exact same previous illogical racist rhetoric for decades.

She’s now been downgraded to a Taurus, which would make far more perception. What other Zodiac signal could be so stubbornly fully commited to pursuing minorities and race-baiting susceptible communities on breakfast television year immediately after yr?

Peter Dutton (November 18)

Houses Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was a tricky-minded and secretive Scorpio, and now he’s a diplomatic and open up-minded Libra. Undoubtedly NASA has bought it erroneous?

Dutton, who not long ago experimented with to press for more durable rules to strip lookup refugees and take out their phones, does not seem to crave the fairness supposedly wanted by Libras.

What’s truthful about locking refugees in hotel rooms, some of whom have been detained for seven yrs with no concept of when they’ll be freed? Or extending the ready time for spouse visas to two decades and then allegedly intervening to make it possible for your mates to get au pairs?

Gladys Berejiklian (September 22)

The NSW Leading was a hardworking and dependable Virgo, but beneath the Zodiac shift she’s now a charming and honest Libra. It is also lousy Berejiklian has been not too long ago been embroiled in allegations of rorting.

As Crikey‘s Ga Wilkins documented, Berejiklian signed off on $12 million for an update for the Coogee Surf Daily life Preserving Club, a new skate park in Ryde and a Bondi Seashore playground — all in councils that hadn’t been merged and in seats held by Liberal MPs.

Daniel Andrews (July 6)

The Victorian premier was beforehand characterised as a Cancer, the bitch of all Zodiac signs. Now he’s been redeemed as a Gemini, producing him quickly, witty and a bit erratic. You’ll be happy to know that Geminis are also known for obtaining “on the beers”.

Despite all his faults (see: the red shirts scandal), Andrews has managed to attract a swathe of diehard Dan followers, with #IstandwithDan trending on Twitter yesterday, in spite of Victoria’s COVID-19 cases achieving the maximum they’ve ever been.

So it’s possible NASA got it right soon after all.





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Coronavirus, ‘Plandemic’ and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking


The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral. Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times. The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations.

The video is rife with misinformation and conspiracy theories. Many high-quality fact-checks and debunkings have been published by reputable outlets such as Science, Politifact and FactCheck.

As scholars who research how to counter science misinformation and conspiracy theories, we believe there is also value in exposing the rhetorical techniques used in “Plandemic.” As we outline in our Conspiracy Theory Handbook and How to Spot COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, there are seven distinctive traits of conspiratorial thinking. “Plandemic” offers textbook examples of them all.

Learning these traits can help you spot the red flags of a baseless conspiracy theory and hopefully build up some resistance to being taken in by this kind of thinking. This is an important skill given the current surge of pandemic-fueled conspiracy theories.

1. Contradictory beliefs

Conspiracy theorists are so committed to disbelieving an official account, it doesn’t matter if their belief system is internally contradictory. The “Plandemic” video advances two false origin stories for the coronavirus. It argues that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab in Wuhan – but also argues that everybody already has the coronavirus from previous vaccinations, and wearing masks activates it. Believing both causes is mutually inconsistent.

2. Overriding suspicion

Conspiracy theorists are overwhelmingly suspicious toward the official account. That means any scientific evidence that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory must be faked.

But if you think the scientific data is faked, that leads down the rabbit hole of believing that any scientific organization publishing or endorsing research consistent with the “official account” must be in on the conspiracy. For COVID-19, this includes the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, Anthony Fauci… basically, any group or person who actually knows anything about science must be part of the conspiracy.

3. Nefarious intent

In a conspiracy theory, the conspirators are assumed to have evil motives. In the case of “Plandemic,” there’s no limit to the nefarious intent. The video suggests scientists including Anthony Fauci engineered the COVID-19 pandemic, a plot which involves killing hundreds of thousands of people so far for potentially billions of dollars of profit.

4. Conviction something’s wrong

Conspiracy theorists may occasionally abandon specific ideas when they become untenable. But those revisions tend not to change their overall conclusion that “something must be wrong” and that the official account is based on deception.

When “Plandemic” filmmaker Mikki Willis was asked if he really believed COVID-19 was intentionally started for profit, his response was “I don’t know, to be clear, if it’s an intentional or naturally occurring situation. I have no idea.”

He has no idea. All he knows for sure is something must be wrong: “It’s too fishy.”

5. Persecuted victim

Conspiracy theorists think of themselves as the victims of organized persecution. “Plandemic” further ratchets up the persecuted victimhood by characterizing the entire world population as victims of a vast deception, which is disseminated by the media and even ourselves as unwitting accomplices.

At the same time, conspiracy theorists see themselves as brave heroes taking on the villainous conspirators.

6. Immunity to evidence

It’s so hard to change a conspiracy theorist’s mind because their theories are self-sealing. Even absence of evidence for a theory becomes evidence for the theory: The reason there’s no proof of the conspiracy is because the conspirators did such a good job covering it up.

7. Reinterpreting randomness

Conspiracy theorists see patterns everywhere – they’re all about connecting the dots. Random events are reinterpreted as being caused by the conspiracy and woven into a broader, interconnected pattern. Any connections are imbued with sinister meaning.

For example, the “Plandemic” video suggestively points to the U.S. National Institutes of Health funding that has gone to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. This is despite the fact that the lab is just one of many international collaborators on a project that sought to examine the risk of future viruses emerging from wildlife.

Critical thinking is the antidote

As we explore in our Conspiracy Theory Handbook, there are a variety of strategies you can use in response to conspiracy theories.

One approach is to inoculate yourself and your social networks by identifying and calling out the traits of conspiratorial thinking. Another approach is to “cognitively empower” people, by encouraging them to think analytically. The antidote to conspiratorial thinking is critical thinking, which involves healthy skepticism of official accounts while carefully considering available evidence.

Understanding and revealing the techniques of conspiracy theorists is key to inoculating yourself and others from being misled, especially when we are most vulnerable: in times of crises and uncertainty.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

Authors: John Cook – Research Assistant Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University | Sander van der Linden – Director, Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, University of Cambridge | Stephan Lewandowsky – Chair of Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol | Ullrich Ecker – Associate Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Western Australia



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