The Zodiac

The Skinny on Astrology

I was born on March 26th. That make me an Aries according to Western Sun Astrology. I was also born in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Accordingly, because of the positions of the stars and planets at the time of my birth, I have certain characteristics. For example, according to the Chinese Zodiac, a person born in the Year of the Dog displays the following characteristics:

People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people’s confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues. Dog people make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.(source)

Or, if you subscribe to the Western Zodiac, an Aries has the following characteristics:

The Aries person seeks adventure and has unusually high energy level. Pioneering, Aries will be the first to take a risk. There were no doubt, a lot of Aries day traders when that first became popular for example.

The sunsign Aries is considered by their peers to be a courageous leader, not afraid to take risks, will often feel confident that “They know better”. Aries always seems to have a quick grasp of essence of most any situation, BUT aries does not often hang around to closely examine the details. However, give fiery Aries a cause, or a good reason to fight for something, a problem to solve, or a fresh new idea to ponder, and you will find this dynamic personality rises to the cause.

Aries is also a very dynamic person and can easily draw attention to themselves when they enter a room. Make no mistake, an Aries person will be on of the first to risk their life to save yours, and also the first to get really mad at you for putting yourself at risk in the first place! (source)

Wow; all this, and more, can be figured out from the time of my birth? Do you really think so? I don’t, and I don’t understand how any rational person can believe in astrology. I can’t even TYPE astrology – my fingers keep typing “astronomy” and I have to go back and fix it.

And yet, a persistent belief in astrology thrives today. It’s couched under the term “entertainment” today, but that doesn’t stop people from looking for meaning in their horoscope. I’m blogging this because my Facebook wall is filled with friends sharing their daily horoscope. When pressed, my friends hem and haw about whether they believe or not. Their very responses and their unwillingness to deny or confirm tells me all I need to know – they believe.

So how can people believe in astrology in today’s day and age? Let’s discuss a couple of those reasons:

The Ancients Knew More Than Us

There has been an increase in the past couple of decades that humanity has missed some awesome “truth” from the ancients as we advance. This stems from a kind of Frankenstein complex that we possess. Our technology is outstripping our morality. We’re too sure of ourselves. We too easily dismiss the ancient wisdoms.

There is always a grain of truth to these statements. It is true that most of our medicines come from plants and bio-matter. Our ancestors used those same plants to cure ailments. But not necessarily with a greater degree of success. Yes, chewing the bark of a tree could cure a headache. Yes, using leeches can help wounds from festering. No, there is no evidence that the ancients had a cure for cancer, or could live for 900 years.

Still, this surety that we have lost something vital as we progress leads to a belief in all sorts of pseudo-scientific doctrines, including homeopathic healing and astrology.

Aries

Aries

Too Much Science to Understand

The modern man can’t explain how a television works, or how a telephone works. He accepts it on faith – it may as well be magic. He has no idea why it works, or how it works – it just does. More and more today it requires extremely specialized knowledge to understand even the basic concepts of the technology we use. This leads to a backlash to “simpler” times. It’s evident even in my parents – you know who I mean – the ones who walked 5 miles in snow to get to school. The ones who used to go get a tankful of gas for a dollar and a nickel bought them a real Cherry Coke. They remember when you could work on a car with common household garage tools. They remember when you could open the back of your television and replace a bad tube.

Things were SIMPLER back then. So they must have been better. Therefore, it stands to reason that astrology has some validity to it.  For the critical thinkers in the audience, maybe you can tell me which logical fallacy this argument is.  🙂

A Need for Something Greater than Ourselves

This is part of being human. It’s the reason why religions exist. Mankind struggles with the idea that this is it. We’re born, we live, we die. We struggle with the notion that maybe there IS no meaning to it all – other than what we choose to apply in the brief span of our lives. Out of all the animals on the planet, only the human knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one day he will die.

This knowledge creates a “fight or flight” reflex that, left uncontrolled, would quickly burn us our and lead to an early demise. We deal with it though our belief in Gods, afterlife, and a “Cosmic Plan.” We’re greater than the sum of our parts and an external entity or force guides us throughout lives for a greater purpose.

So, it’s easy to understand how comforting it is to believe that there is some point to it all, and we can unveil that plan if only we learn to read the signs properly.

The Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac

The Problem

The problem with astrology is that it cannot, and has never been, accurate. Horoscopes are deliberately vague so they can apply to anyone. Heck – read the same horoscope from two different sources on the same day and they will be completely different. There is no force being exerted on me from the stars and planets that affects my fortune and personality through life. If that were true, every person born on March 26th would have the same luck, the same personality traits, and the same fortune.

We know this is not true. How then, can astrology be correct. Heck – let’ stake another look at my Ares description:

[Aries] tends to have more then it’s fair share o good heath, very vigorous with a strong constitution. Being one to be impatient, ever ready for the next challenge, Aries simply does not have the time to be sick. They have incredible powers of recovery, and when ill, they do not stay ill long. When they are ill it seems to mostly be headaches and fevers, but seem to “burn off” in no time. Interesting because they are a fire sign. They have lots of stamina and appear to live off of adrenalin.

Hmm. I have cancer. Yes, I beat it. I suppose I could argue that, as an Aries, my super strong constitution allowed me to beat this disease (so far). I did seem to recover very fast from such bad health.

But wait – that’s just rationalizing, isn’t it? I twisted the facts of my situation to fit the horoscope. After all – if I REALLY had a strong constitution why did I even get the cancer in the first place?  And that’s how astrology works, people. The predictions are so vague that they are designed, deliberately, to force us to create a “matching pattern” in our mind to fit the facts. This is called the Forer Effect, named after psychologist Bertram Forer who demonstrated how people will believe that vaguely worded personality “profiles” (which could apply to anybody) were accurate, custom-tailored profiles just for them.

Astrology is a joke; it’s not even entertainment. It’s dangerous. It encourages people to stop thinking for themselves. It suggests that no matter what we do it’s all been planned out, so why try at all.

Don’t buy into it, people. It’s not real.

I think the late Carl Sagan explains all this nicely. Watch, and enjoy.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why is Astrology More Popular Than Cancer? « The Binary Biker - February 22, 2010

    […] stories, and insights that I gather while dealing with my cancer.  Recently, I also blogged about The Skinny On Astrology, why I feel there is still, even in today’s world, a persistent belief in […]

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