Internet Science Technology

Why Is Vice Media Pushing The Pseudoscience Of Astrology?

In a short report for the BBC earlier this year the freelance journalist Alexandra Jones examined the internet-driven revival of the pseudoscience of astrology and the psychological and financial harm it has caused to some emotionally vulnerable people who have relied on so-called horoscopes for their life choices, noting that:

…over the past few years, more and more websites, particularly those aimed at young women, have started publishing them. In 2015, Broadly – VICE’s women-focused offering – launched in the US and UK, with a dedicated horoscopes’ section.

Indeed, the aggressively millennial Vice Media seems to have wholeheartedly embraced the cult of astrology going so far as to attack those who criticise the pseudoscientific claims made by its enthusiasts in the most blatantly dishonest manner:

Over the past two to three years, astrology has shifted from being a niche interest to a major point of enthusiasm for many women and queer people. Broadly, VICE’s channel geared towards women and the LGBTQ community, gets a huge amount of traffic from astrological features and horoscopes. Other media platforms for women have noticeably ramped up astrology content from filler to the forefront.

But not everyone is onboard. …straight men seem to be frequently apathetic or averse to astrology.

If you’re a straight man with a lot of female friends, you probably tolerate astrology… There are obviously women and LGBTQ people who feel similarly, but why is this attitude so prevalent among straight men in particular? Is it because astrology is generally seen as a “women’s” interest?

The idea that astrology is generally seen as a LGBTQ or female obsession and therefore any antipathy to it must be driven by misogyny among “straight men” is all sorts of ridiculous. And all sorts of insulting to several demographics. Most men and women are cynical about horoscopes because rational adults don’t believe in magic or magical thinking. The sort of magical thinking that makes people doubt quantifiable facts and promotes an environment in which the cynical, the dishonest or the irrational can deny global climate change or question the reality of human beings landing on the Moon. Vice Media is playing to that kind audience when it promotes astrology and other elements of the “psychic” industry, purposefully targeting marginalised groups or isolated individuals with outright quackery in order to boost its profits.

About a year ago, a group of us at VICE sat in a conference room for one of those “no bad ideas” brainstorms. We were all proud of the site’s daily and monthly horoscopes and their growing readership, and we wanted to figure out what could come next. We ignored practicality for a moment—obviously, it was Pisces season—and dreamed up something entirely new.

…we started to build the astrology app we all wished we had.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce our sweet little Gemini baby: Astro Guide, an astrology app that goes beyond your daily horoscopes to give you cosmic insights that enables you to better your life and your relationships.

In many ways the editorial staff at Vice seem to be a sort of anarchic left-libertarian equivalent of the contrarian right-libertarians at Spiked Online, both groups holding equally suspect views on science and both seeking to attract the attention of the younger members of Generation Z at a time of societal and cultural confusion in North America and Europe.

6 comments on “Why Is Vice Media Pushing The Pseudoscience Of Astrology?

  1. Wee Jim

    As the Spikers began as members of a Marxist party, it’d be interesting to see what will become of VICE.
    Perhaps an astrologer could tell us.

  2. Vice media’s business model is collapsing. It has never made a profit and is worth only a small fraction of what it used to. I believe that Disney has written off its investment in Vice. So I’m guessing that it’s anything to bring in customers/readers.

    • It has always been built on a bluff and some its in-house culture strayed perilously close to that the of the alt-right crowd (albeit with a liberal veneer). If it had concentrated on its core reading/podcast audience and built that base instead of trying to be some hipster TV network and so on it would be in a far better position now.

      As is, trying to find online advertising revenue for a “big” media company when Facebook and Google and a handful of others dominate the market was always going to be a near impossible task. Go small, think big would have been a better option. They believed their own PR. Always fatal.

  3. Another bizarre website that I’ve wondered about would be Everyday Feminism- sometimes I wonder if the is psy-war from today’s misogynists.

    That said, in The North America (Canada, US, Mexico and at least some of Central America) the stereotype that women are obsessed with astrology is a biggie- I don’t know if that’s the case in Europe or not. I’ve run into it repeatedly in just about every job that didn’t involve manual labor, and many many times debating with a man I disagreed with. I was accused of just thinking that because some astrologer said so. Worse at an indigent clinic during the Bush years when I was underemployed and trying to get a certain problem diagnosed- I had a sneering sexist doctor conflate my claims of having a family history of a certain condition with believing that due to a horoscope.

    Horoscopes are part of magazines like Cosmopolitan. They only women I ever knew to actually buy it was the women in my college dorm reading it: Horoscopes, pop-psychology, weird sex and romance “tips” as a sort of joke. This was one of those 4-7 to a room college dorm scenes, and everyone would laugh over it until our sides were sore as a break from studying.

  4. Carravach Vetchy

    The Van Allen Belt has made sure that no human has ever stood on the surface of the moon. Climate Change is a scam. 300 years ago they were hanging people who said that the world was a globe.

    I reckon you’d be a staunch ‘Flat Earther’ back in the day Madirín Rua.

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