American Way

James Randi --- Wizard ((no email))
Thu, 8 Dec 1994 09:21:00 -0500

I recently suggested that geller-hotline readers might wish to express dismay to the
editors of American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines, about
the fact that it runs a monthy astrological horoscope. An inventive person
designated that posting as, "Randi versus American Airlines" and reported
that they were going to "pay no attention" to the e-mail that they reported
had inundated their system as a result of that suggestion. That was not
true, in common with most of the ravings of that person. Now I've heard
from John Ostdick, Editor in Chief of American Way, who writes that

. . . I take all feedback from readers seriously, and I am
aware of your feelings about the Horoscope.

He then reports on his view of the matter:

The Horoscope column is intended as entertainment, nothing
more, nothing less. It generates hundreds of letters a
year in mail, four to one positive, and consistently rates
among our most-read features in readership surveys.

So there it is. The editor of American Way runs a column based upon belief
in a medieval notion, a dangerous, irrational, pseudoscientific belief
adopted by many who often lend it validity BECAUSE IT APPEARS IN SUCH
PUBLICATIONS, and he does so not because it has any value whatsoever, but
because it brings in letters. That appears to be the standard for inclusion
in American Way, and it is not an acceptable ethical standard.

I travel a lot. One-third of my time is spent in other locations to which I
fly. I fly on some twenty different airlines, American among them. I've
put in over 120,000 miles on American alone in the past nine years, a figure
which will leave them yawning, of course. Well, my travel agent has now
been informed that I'll not fly American in the future. (A tolerant smile
from American Way.) Perhaps some of you out there who are insulted by being
treated like juveniles or cretins might care to follow my lead. After all,
other airlines with more respect for the passenger and less for mail volume,
fly to those same airports. Those smiles and yawns might give way to an
expression that even resembles a responsible thought crossing the mind of an
editor. Frankly, I doubt it, but nowadays, anything is possible.

Mail volume! That's the bottom line! The hell with Mind Rot. That's not
my responsibility. Give 'em all the candy they want.

I'll do a bit of calling about and find out whether other airlines also
think they're also dealing with ignorant passengers and run horoscopes in
their publications. I'll let you know. I have an unreliable report that
American Way will be featuring a "Letters to Santa Claus from Adults" column
and a page devoted to "Tooth Fairy Philosophy." But I'll never know,
because I'm not going to be flying American Airlines any more.

Are you?
James Randi.

(A copy of this posting has been sent to Mr. Ostdick, who can be reached at


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