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Excerpts from
The Woolly-Thinker's Guide to Rhetoric

Abstract -- Satirical guide for astrologers by philosophers. Excerpts from the Butterflies and Wheels website that will be of value to all astrologers, especially those who find logic and science confusing. Includes a guide for woolly thinkers and a dictionary of fashionable terms.

Rhetoric is the art of persuading people that your opinions are more important than facts and critical thinking. Rhetoric is therefore an important skill for astrologers who believe that astrology works. The following excerpts from the Butterflies and Wheels website will be of value to all astrologers, especially those who find logic and science confusing.

The Butterflies and Wheels website is run by British philosophers, is aimed at fighting fashionable nonsense (eg the idea that truth is unimportant or that science is no different from any other belief), and is named after ideas wrongly seen as so inconsequential that their discussion would be like breaking a butterfly upon a wheel.

Visit to see the full Guide and numerous comments, articles, and links of interest to critical thinkers.

Excerpts from
The Woolly-Thinker's Guide to Rhetoric

Be dismissive
Brush people off, especially if they know something you don't. Say things like "Where did you read that, in the TV Guide?"

Claiming is Succeeding
Blur the distinction between claiming to make your case and actually making it. If anyone notices, act surprised and wounded.

Define words in your own special way
Define truth, for example, as hegemonic discourse, or monoculturalism, or Eurocentrism. Define education as privilege. Define science as an arbitrary game, or a social construct.

Develop sudden hearing loss
When your opponent makes a good point, a crushing argument, an incontrovertible case, simply fail to hear. Talk a bit louder.

Do a Procrustes
Make the evidence fit your case. If it doesn't fit, keep pushing and hammering and chopping until it does. No one will notice.

Fly under the radar
Use words that are pejorative to one group and the opposite to the other. "Science" and "scientist" are good for this.

Imply things
Be careful not to be explicit, otherwise your errors will be obvious.

Pretend to be amused
Pretend to find the other person hilariously ineffectual. Disguise the tremor in your voice and the bulging veins on your forehead.

Repeat yourself
If your ideas are weak, keep repeating them. This will convince everyone they must be true, otherwise they wouldn't keep hearing about them.

Use hoorah and boo words
Hoorah words: heart, feeling, spiritual, holistic, instinct.
Boo words: intellect, cold, analytical.

Use obscurity
Generate such a tangled clot of verbiage that opponents cannot be sure you haven't said something profound. As in the preceding sentence.

Vigilance is crucial
(This item added by the astrology-and-science website)
Never let up. Pile the rhetoric higher and deeper. Even a momentary lapse can be dangerous as in the following example by astrologer Neil Spencer in The Guardian 19 August 2003: "Astrology is not a science but a symbolic, allusive language, and ... [should be left] to those for whom it is intended: philosophers, poets and lovers." But philosophers might not agree. Or as Butterfiies and Wheels said, "Oh That Old Ploy."

Related excerpts from
Butterfly and Wheels' Fashionable Dictionary

Accuracy. Foolish, Platonic notion that we can get our facts straight.
Bigot. Someone who strongly believes something we don't believe.
Catastrophe. What occurs when asked to explain our ideas clearly.
Empiricism. Absurd notion that observation and measurement are useful,
Enlightenment. Age of. A big mistake but postmodernism will fix it.
Evidence. Best ignored in case it conflicts with our ideas.
Measurement. Futile activity by scientists with nothing better to do.
Mystery. Is beautiful, so the more obscure everything is, the better.
Profound. What to call gibberish after we just published it.
Quantum. A great metaphor for ideas that no one understands.
Reductionism. Reducing something we like to something we don't.
Spiritual. What to call an implausible belief to make it feel good.
Truth. An old-fashioned word, like button-hook, no longer needed.
Zen. The best way to do things. Like just let it happen, man.

Visit to see the full Dictionary.

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