Stephen Hawking is probably the only theoretical physicist who could do Amex ads. He's so smart that most of us probably aren't quite sure what he's famous for.
In January Hawking got to pooh-pooh some of Einstein's theories while giving the Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture for the Center for Philosophy and Foundation of Science, in New Delhi. More interestingly, he got to discredit astrology. "When it was discovered that the Earth was not the center of the universe, astrology became impossible," Hawking said, adding that it was not provable through scientific theory.
The Grand High Egghead doesn't realize that astrology fans don't need the Earth to be the center of the universe. They need themselves to be. Astrology is sometimes astonishingly accurate and sometimes as wrong as an old white woman rapping, but the important thing to me is that it's about me. So I like astrology, and other pseudosciences, sciences and quite a few religions. In fact I like anything that intrigues me at the moment. I'm a situational believer.
So I don't take it personally that Stephen Hawking dismisses astrology. I'm impressed that he even addressed it at all. It's like the surgeon general addressing whether kissing a boo-boo makes it better. Hawking might have done so only because he was in India where, the Associat-ed Press says, astrology is quite popular (and look where it got them!).
I would like to see Hawking seriously address other subjects that are classified in bookstores as "occult," "new age" and "alternative" only because no one dared put up a sign that said "crackpot." (Note: I'm an avid fan of all things crackpot, so don't write me any "new age is totally valid" letters or I'll come over while you're at yoga class and feng shui your house so that your chi flows right into the wall.) Since he's not around, I will deliver his speech. He's on a voice modulator; how will anyone know the difference?
"Now that I've covered astrology, I'd like to move on to the scientific validity of some new-age concepts. While crystals have not proven to have any healing properties, we have data that suggest candles of various colors do attract certain energies, but don't use those birthday candles that keep lighting again after you blow them out, because the energies then feel jerked around and might break your stereo.
"Channeling has proven totally bogus; its practitioners are really just the Rich Littles of the spiritualist community. Chakras were thought to be proven as fact when they appeared on an X-ray. This was soon exposed as a cleverly Photoshopped hoax when it was noted that one of the Chakras appeared between the Bread Basket and the Butterflies in the Stomach, which are not organs at all but components of Milton Bradley's Operation, 'the goofy game for dopey doctors.'
"Surrounding yourself with white light is beneficial, especially if those lights are on a stage and you're getting paid like I am right now. As for karma, the most widely believed of all theoretical principles, there is scientific data that what goes around comes around, but it's mostly planets.
"Moving on, science also has concluded that sticking pins in a voodoo doll causes no suffering to the intended victim. Conversely, there is statistical data to support that sticking pins directly into the person will produce the desired results, so it's not a total wash.
"There is no evidence that guardian angels exist, though accident statistics suggest that if they do exist, they are a bunch of slackers. Virgin births are a scientific possibility, though archeological research shows that there were no turkey basters Before the Common Era, so The Big One is probably a bit of a reach.
"There is no proof of a deity. Much as archeologists have rooted around for work orders for the universe, none have been produced. I did say, in my book "A Brief History of Time," that the wonders of the universe presage 'the mind of God,' but there's no telling how that mind works or which God we're talking about. (There are hundreds, not, as my colleague Dr. Sagan would have said, 'billions and billions.' Potheads exaggerate.) In light of this, it might be better not to believe in a single deity but find a few that seem to perform well and spread your faith around, kind of like a mutual fund.
"Join me next time when science will answer questions about fairies, extraterrestrials and whether wearing rose quartz beads from Walgreens aroud your wrists will bring you true love. Until then, good luck, and gods bless."