11-Mar-87 10:37 MST
Sb: APal 03/10 Horoscope Disclaimer
By JOHN A. BOLT Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) -- Two Columbus newspapers, concerned about their credibility,
began this week telling readers that horoscope columns and astrology are bunk.
"The horoscope is intended for entertainment only. The predictions have no
reliable scientific basis," says the disclaimer that runs after Sidney Omarr's
column in the morning Columbus Enquirer and Jeane Dixon's column in the
afternoon Columbus Ledger.
The west Georgia city's newspapers may be the only ones in the country
currently running such a disclaimer, according to Tom Dorsey, agent for Ms.
Dixon, although he said it had been done in the past elsewhere.
"I think they're wrong and they're certainly not anywhere near the majority,"
Dorsey said in a telephone interview from his Los Angeles office.
"I don't think they're going to sway any of their readers."
Marquerite Vauclair, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles Times Syndicate, which
distributes Omarr's column, said scientists have not disproved astrology's
Jack Swift, managing editor of both newspapers, said the decision was made to
run the disclaimer after a local astronomer approached him with the idea.
Carole Rutland-Groce, who directs Patterson Planetarium for the Muscogee
County School District, said Monday she asked the newspapers to consider the
disclaimer because she was concerned about polls showing more than half of
teen-agers believe astrology.
The final blow came in astronomy class one day when a student asked, "How do
astronomers prepare horoscopes?'," she said in an interview.
Before beginning the disclaimer, Swift said, he gave editors two weeks to
consider the move.
"I had no idea whether people would be picketing the paper the next day or
whether readers would shrug it off," he said in a telephone interview from
He said Tuesday he had received little reaction to the move.
"We're in the business of trying to reflect reality as accurately as we can,"
"A lot of people read the horoscope and we think it's our responsibility to
readers that what's in the paper is believable," he said. The disclaimer "is our
way of saying that you can believe what's in the newspaper unless we tell you
it's not (believable)."
"Frankly it's professionally disturbing that so many people believe in junk,
bunk," he said, adding "there is a real problem with critical thinking among
The newspaper announced the policy Sunday, accompanied by a guest column by
Ms. Rutland-Groce that explained scientists' objections to astrology.
"The basic principle of astrology has been completely debunked by astronomy,"
she said. "Astronomy is a science -- the science of celestial bodies and their
magnitudes, motions and compositions.
"Astrological horoscopes were originally based on the belief that earth was
the center of the solar system.
"It isn't, of course."
The Columbus papers, owned by the Knight-Ridder Inc., have a combined
circulation of more than 58,000 and are distributed in west Georgia and east
Copyright 1987 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.