Why Astrology is Not Real and is for Idiots

Astrology has been around for thousands of years, with its origins tracing back to ancient Mesopotamia. For just as long, it has been a controversial practice that many write off as pseudoscience. While entertaining and fun for some, there are many clear reasons why astrology should not be taken seriously in modern times.

Astrology Lacks Scientific Basis

Unlike astronomy, which is based on scientific study and facts, astrology has no factual scientific basis. Astrologers make predictions about personality, relationships, and the future based on the positions of celestial objects like planets and stars. However, there is no credible scientific evidence that celestial objects influence human events or people’s lives.

Vague Predictions

Astrological predictions tend to be extremely vague and generalized. Horoscopes are often so broad that nearly anyone could find a way to relate them to their own lives. Terms like “challenges” and “new opportunities” could apply to just about anyone on any given day. Good astrologers rely on this vagueness along with the Barnum effect, which causes people to latch onto specific details in generalized descriptions.

Different Systems Disagree

There are many systems of astrology that vary considerably. Western astrology uses the tropical zodiac, while Vedic astrology uses the sidereal zodiac. These systems divide the heavens into different signs. This disagreement means that a person’s sign can change based on the system, undermining the legitimacy of astrology.

Forer Effect

The Forer effect or Barnum effect describes how people will rate vague personality descriptions as highly accurate for themselves. Astrology relies on the Forer effect to make people think astrological readings are true of them personally. In reality, the descriptions are generalized enough to apply to nearly anyone.

Influence of Time and Location of Birth

Astrology claims that the positions of celestial objects at the time and location of a person’s birth shape their personality and destiny. However, it’s ludicrous to think time and place of birth can influence things like personality traits and relationships. Twins born just minutes apart can have very different lives despite their nearly identical astrology charts.

Confirmation Bias

Those who believe in astrology often exhibit confirmation bias, focusing on hits and ignoring misses. For example, they may latch onto a horoscope passage that seems relevant and ignore many other passages that are vague or irrelevant. People remember the hits and forget the many misses.

Lack of Predictive Power

While astrologers make bold predictions, astrology has failed scientific tests of its predictive power time and time again. Astrologers who claim to predict the future, relationships, or personality traits perform no better than chance when scientifically studied.

For these reasons and many more, astrology simply cannot be considered a science or taken seriously by critical thinkers. At best, it is a pseudoscience that provides entertainment value only. At worst, it is an anti-intellectual practice that can mislead gullible people. Those who buy into astrology tend to be those who lack basic scientific literacy.

So in summary, astrology is not real and those who seriously buy into it are demonstrating a lack of scientific understanding. It should be considered nothing more than an ancient superstition that some cling to for entertainment purposes. But it certainly should not be considered a legitimate guide for making life decisions or understanding oneself or others.

References

Dean, G. (n.d.). Astrology. In The Skeptic’s Dictionary. Retrieved from [link]

Fraknoi, A. (2019, February 11). Astrology Does Not Work and Never Worked. Astronomy Magazine. Retrieved from [link]

Mayo, J., White, O., & Eysenck, H.J. (1978). An empirical study of the relation between astrological factors and personality. Journal of Social Psychology, 105, 229-236.

Popper, K. (1952). Conjectures and Refutations. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Sagan, C. (1996). The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House.

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. (n.d.). Position Statement on Astrology. Retrieved from [link]

Thagard, P.R. (1978). Why astrology is a pseudoscience. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 1, 223-234.

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