AGAINST: Zodiac Signs
May 17, 2021
According to a Pew Research Center poll, almost 30 percent of American adults believe in astrology. Additionally, the General Social Survey found that 34 percent of Americans consider astrology to be very or sort of scientific. This is particularly strange given the lack of scientific backing to this. Just to clarify, we have no problem with people who believe in astrology. We view it as a hobby that some people are interested in while others aren’t. We would never look down on someone for participating in this hobby. But, there are some tangible issues with horoscopes and astrology that must be addressed.
To begin with, horoscopes can contribute to some unwanted prejudices laid on those which are deemed incompatible. For example, while this is an extreme case, a cancer who believes in astrology may not be fair or as lenient to a gemini when making friends, but may be too forgiving to a pisces who is deemed compatible. It seems unfair that someone may be judged simply because of the month they were born before they have a chance to share their personality or interests. This type of prejudice can misguide people into making bad decisions because they are influenced by astrology rather than common sense or chemistry. The same applies for romantic relationships. Going into any type of interaction with someone with a preconceived notion of who they are or how they behave will have a negative impact on trying to remain unbiased and open in these circumstances. As such, astrology can increase prejudice against certain people simply because of when they were born, and influence behavior towards them or thoughts about them.
There is some toss-up with the definition of astrology, but it’s generally defined as the belief that the constellations and stars have an effect on someone’s personality or events happening in your life. However, there is simply no scientific evidence to support astrology. The 12 zodiac signs are based on the 12 constellations that the Earth passes by in its year long rotation. For example, if you were born in late June to late July, your zodiac sign is Cancer. Now, it already doesn’t make sense that all the people in the world who were born during these days would be classified under the same personality descriptions and the same horoscope advice. However, if you completely ignore that line of reasoning, your given zodiac signs probably aren’t even right because of the precession of the earth.
Ancient astrologers, like the Babylonians and the Greeks, established the dates for each zodiac by looking at how long the sun took to travel through the signs of each zodiac. However, the ancient Babylonians and Greeks didn’t know that the Earth wobbles, or goes through a precession, because of the gravitational attraction of the moon on Earth’s equatorial bulge. The wobble for one year doesn’t mean much, but over time, like 25,800 years, the intersection between the celestial equator and the ecliptic has moved west by about 36 degrees, meaning that the signs have moved one whole month. So astrologers have been using the wrong criteria for such a long time. However, some can obviously say that everyone can just move their zodiac signs to the next month. But astrology still fails even without scientific backing.
For example, in 1985, 30 of the best astrologers in Europe and America participated in a study done by Shawn Carlson. The astrologers had to match one of the three personality descriptions to 116 different people without meeting them in person. The astrologers got it right one-third of the time, which would’ve been just as good as if they guessed them randomly. In the rest of his study, published as Nature, he concluded that the success of some astrologers was a result of cold reading, which is being able to work off the body language and reactions of their customers during their meetings. Therefore, astrology really has no scientific basis, and it simply makes no logical sense.
Generally speaking therefore, as long as astrology remains a fun hobby, there should be no issues. However, its when it becomes obsessive and taken seriously where problems arise for everyone involved.