Contemporary Humbug, Part 1 of 5: Astrology and Modern Prophecy

William J. Bennett, William Cook, Ronald Herzman, Joseph Adelson, and Steven Tigner explore “humbug”—social fascinations such as astrology, modern prophecy, the occult, psychobabble, popular psychology, self-help, and the human potential movement. In each program, the discussion examines cultural precedents, the historical and contemporary vocabularies of “humbug,” and the relationship of “humbug” to American social values and ideologies. The scholars discuss the origins of the term “humbug” from its uses by Dickens and P. T. Barnum. They trace the evolution of astrology from the first century and discuss the social roles of prophets from biblical times to today.

At the time of this interview, Adelson was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1978–79) and co-director of the Psychological Clinic at the University of Michigan.  Bennett was director of the Center. Cook was professor history and Herzman was professor of English, both at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Tigner was professor of philosophy at the University of Toledo.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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