M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Posts Tagged ‘npr

The Twitter Snowball Effect, the Zodiac and NPR

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Update, Saturday, Jan. 15, 1:40 p.m. ET: At the bottom, I’ve appended a response from a Minnesota Planetarium Society board member.

Twitter has resounded with the news this week that there’s now a 13th sign of the Zodiac, called Ophiuchus. Regardless how you feel about astrology itself, it’s easy to demonstrate that the “news” is bunkum — a textbook product of what I call the Twitter Snowball Effect.

Tracing the story back, we find that the excitement was sparked Thursday by items in Time.com’s NewsFeed and the Huffington Post, which reported that “astronomers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society” had found that because of the moon’s gravitational pull on Earth, the alignment of the stars was pushed by about a month.

With the Minnesota Planetarium Society as the only attribution, the items printed the new Zodiac, which slotted Ophiuchus into late autumn between Scorpio and Sagittarius (and transformed me from a Cancer into a Gemini).

In fact, the Minnesota Planetarium Society said no such thing.

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Written by Alex

January 14, 2011 at 11:15 am