Sometimes Smart People Fall For Old School Tricks
The idea of knowing your future is a powerful thing. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to know what lies ahead for them in life, relationships, in work, and more? When making an important life decision knowing the unknown could be immensely helpful. And it’s because of those reasons that astrology took hold of peoples fascination centuries ago, and still today remains a billion dollar industry. You see astrology everywhere you look practically… Large sections in book stores, the newspaper horoscopes, and all over the Internet. Everyone you ask is sure to know what their astrological sign is. But where did this all originate and does it really work?
Right off the bat, let’s get it out of the way. Sorry to be the one to inform you if you do in fact believe in astrology, but it is not real and does not work. Astrology is fake and sends my skeptic geiger counter off like it was at Chernobyl. There is no scientific proof or evidence that there is any correlation between the time you were born and where the moon, planets, and stars were aligned in the sky predetermining your lifes path. Astrology is a pseudoscience, no different than cryptozoology, and is not performed by scientists using science but rather con men using something I’ve discussed before known as the Barnum Effect. As to where it originated, among Indo-European peoples, astrology has been dated all the way back to 3000 BC, with its roots in calendrical systems used to predict the changing of seasons and to aid in interpreting celestial cycles as signs of divine communications.
Until around the 17th century, astrology was considered scholarly tradition and mainstream, and it helped drive the development of astronomy. It was commonly accepted in political and cultural circles, and some of its concepts were used in other traditional studies, such as alchemy, meteorology and medicine. However, by the end of the 17th century emerging scientific concepts in astronomy, such as heliocentrism, were irrevocably undermining the theoretical basis of astrology, which subsequently lost all its academic standing and became a joke among scientists. It wasn’t until the last 100 years or so that it regained a broader consumer popularity by influence of mass media resulting in a renewed limelight.
So How Does Astrology Work?
We’re not going to get into the literal “how to” of astrology and its basis of how it claims to work because quite frankly, i don’t give a fuck about it. The “how to” is a modern day astrologer trying to convince you what they say is the truth, and science has already showed it’s wrong, so the background to what they are doing is irrelevant. They very well may believe what they are saying, but that doesn’t make it truth. What we are going to get into though is the psychology behind astronomy and a reading. As I mentioned earlier, it’s all based on the Barnum Effect. The Barnum Effect, named after the legendary showman PT Barnum, in a nutshell combines the ideas “We have something for everyone” and “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Using generalized statements, no different than someone pretending to talk with the dead, astrologers will try and hone in on a subject with rapid fire questions looking for hits and misses. When they hit, the questions become more specific. Because someone willingly visiting an astrologer wants it to work and believes in it, they are going to be more open to when the person giving the reading is wrong, and after it is over tend to only remember when the reader got things right. Also, many of the statements are so vague or generalized that just about anyone can relate in one way or another so to the subject getting the reading feels like it was personal.
Years ago back in the late 80’s, the great James Randi offered $100,000 on television to any psychic or astrologer who could back up and prove the alleged pseudoscience astrology. A dude who accepted the challenge was given the birth information of a dozen different people and then told to cast their charts. Afterwards he had to interview each person without knowing who they were and match them up with with the horoscope he had given. He got none of them correct. To this date no one has ever claimed the prize, which Randi has now upped to $1,000,000. You would think that if this was real, someone would have claimed that in the last 25 years or so. I suppose that is like wondering why all psychics aren’t filthy rich from lottery winnings. hmmm…
Another thing Randi did was come up with a way to demonstrate how the con of a horoscope works. He took a college class, and told them he was coming up with a personality profile for each specific student that works by the students simply giving their birthdate and a sentence about themselves to him. The next day he passes out the exact same generalized profile to all of the students and asks by raise of hand how close it is to their actual personality. Most responded saying it was pretty close, at which point he had one of the students read their profile aloud and the rest of the class is stunned when they realize they all have the same one. He says the results are usually the same with a majority of the classes saying it is an accurate portrayal of them. It’s quite a thought provoking demonstration.
So Here’s The Thing…
Now it’s fine if people want to play around and read about their horoscope in a newspaper I suppose, but making important life decisions in regards to relationship, personal, financial, or medical issues all based on information obtained through an astrologer is just wrong on so many different levels. Allowing a perfect stranger to take your money without any knowledge of you or your situation and then make decisions for you based on a 6000 year old mythology because it’s “in the stars” is just straight up bat shit crazy yo! For an astronomer to do that is unethical, irresponsible, and flat out immoral. There’s no other way around it.
Ponder this… If you were to take two different people both born at the exact same time on the exact same date, one in North America, and the other in China, you are not going to have the same personality types in both individuals even though according to astrology they should. Their personalities are going to be based on their personal upbringing, culture, and life experiences which would would be very different. The idea that someone is predestined for something based on the planets is ridiculous. The only effect the planets have would be a gravitational pull, and the king of that would be the sun, which doesn’t play as much into astrology. So what the fuck?
When it comes to a reading, a trick astrologers like to use is to say something general, then say the word “but”, and then follow it with a contradiction. Something like, “You’re a generous person, but sometimes selfish.” or, “You an introvert, but sometimes show extrovert personality traits.” and, “You are easy going, but sometimes are tense. ” Well yeah, who isn’t? That describes almost the entire population. Hell, a person can’t even go to two different astrologers and get similar readings. I would know this because I tried.
In my preparing for this article I visited two different astrologers and got readings on what lies ahead for me. One told me that good health was in my future, the other told me to watch out for disease. The first one told me to stay away from Sagittarius folks, the other told me to embrace them. If it were a science, both readings would be identical. You’re most likely wondering why I waited until the end of this article to bring this up. The truth is, I was going to write more about those experiences but they ended up being such a joke spending any more of my time writing about them is just one second more than necessary. Neither were accurate and they did nothing but contradict each other, which is just the perfect way to sum this whole thing up. Nothing could demonstrate this more effectively than that, and I always prefer to go out on a high. Use some common sense and live by the old adage that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is… Most likely it’s just someone trying to make a quick buck.
What do you think? We’d love to hear you sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!