Curious how many of my friends are scientifically minded, yet still believe in astrology. But heck, I believe in faeries, so who am I to talk?
Here’s the way I’m going to answer this:
1. Carl is totally right and we should publicize way more science and way less crappy predictive horoscopes that are glorified anonymous cold reads. I actually just finished reading the book that this quote is from.
2. In the context of the book, the marketing of astrology (when he wrote this book, this was the height of the Psychic Friends Network & Miss Cleo & all that) is the fraud that he is referring to. Someone is making a profit (either a newspaper or a magazine or a 900-number) and because it is called “entertainment” there is no scientific standard that it is held to. Furthermore, what he’s ACTUALLY talking about here, in context of the book, is not the fact that people read horoscopes, but that people (as in, not individuals, but the masses) believe them (and other unprovable things) at face value, but cannot do so for actual, proven science. That’s the discrepancy he’s speaking out against.
3. “Astrology” is more than “TAURUS: Contemplate domestic turmoil” — and to dismiss it as a whole is short-sighted, and dismissive of global culture and history. While not exactly “religion” on its own, astrology is an important part of a belief system to many, and to some, serves a similar purpose.
4. Science is dismissive of astrology and the zodiac, and experiments that are done are typically done poorly, without proper controls or with a very small group tested against. What is normally tested is how effective the same cold-read is to a group of people of a mix of signs/birthdays. That doesn’t disprove the zodiac to me.
5. The truth is, I can’t give a science-minded answer to WHY the zodiac makes sense to me. It’s a pseudoscience and a hobby, and I find that studying the unique characteristics of the zodiac signs has taught me a lot about people, relationships and personality types, as well as understanding my own inherent traits, quirks and flaws. I imagine that if it were studied differently, we might find better answers, and more satisfying ones. Look at phrenology — we used to believe that you could figure out a person’s personality type by the shape of his or her skull. ie, If you have a lump on this part of your head, you’re psychotic. But did that pseudoscience not lead to studying the parts of the brain and modern neurology?
Believing in faeries is just ridiculous though. ;)
You know what no one who believes in astrology has ever been able to properly explain to me? HOW DOES IT WORK? How does the (totally subjective) perception of patterns in giant flaming balls of gas unfathomable distances from Earth affect our lives? HOW?
There are uncountable ways in all cultures of attempting to divine what sort of person you are and why you do the things you do and what is going to happen to you in the future. But I think that being brought up around all this silly superstitious nonsense is honestly doing us more harm than good. Instead of accepting that people are people and everyone has reasons and excuses (sometimes not very good ones) for doing the things they do and thinking and acting the way they do and that all those reasons are subjective and personal, we’re chalking them up to outside forces. I don’t want to hear “I’m stubborn because I’m a Taurus”, that’s bullshit. You’re stubborn because you’re you and that’s part of you and if you’re okay with it, own that. Be your own beautiful unique bloody snowflake and stop chalking up the things that are beautiful and terrible about yourself and your personality to mysticism.
There are not “woman” things or “man” things or “Aquarius” things or “Type O Negative” things. There are people things. Everyone has the potential to be miserable or pleasant. Everyone can be stubborn or flighty or giving or selfish. You can be all those things in a single day, never mind your whole lifetime. Do you really want to tell me that you’re so simple you can be summed up by a few pages in some book someone made up (that doesn’t even agree with what other people have made up)? Do you really want to leave the defining of your self to another person making pretty pictures on star charts?
Be you, whatever that you is. Own yourself. Be responsible for who you are. Don’t make your birthday or your blood type or your eye colour or whatever be the thing that makes you you. Of course you’re going to see a little of yourself in any of those definitions, but the reality is, so is everyone else. And don’t give someone else money to tell you who you are, I guarantee they can’t.
Programmable androids excepted, of course.
Here’s my question: If, we, as science-minded individuals, discover that there is a corollary, or even a SUSPICION of a corollary that a majority of Tauruses are stubborn, should we NOT try to figure out why? I agree that it’s poor science to assume automatic causation, but isn’t it equally foolish to ignore the possibility?
You mention men and women, and say there are not “man” things and “women” things, but cis men and cis women (please excuse me for oversimplifying and being binary here) DO have chemical and biological differences and it was studying these differences that taught us about estrogen, testosterone, etc. If we had not pursued the question of “why ARE men and women different?” we would still be told we were suffering from “hysteria” any time a male doctor didn’t understand that females don’t function exactly like males do. The pseudoscience became real science when we kept digging.
The difference here, in my opinion, is that we can’t keep digging. We can’t quantify personality traits. So far, we have no way to measure “stubbornness” to compare the trait in a Taurus vs. a Capricorn. To the best of my knowledge, there is no MRI that reads a sense of kindness or fairness. We are forced to rely on what people tell us they feel, or by someone’s external judgement of others’ internal traits, and that’s unsuitable data. We can’t turn this pseudoscience into a science, because we don’t have the scientific construct to study it and either prove nor disprove it.
Do I believe that science will one day confirm the zodiac? Not really. But I believe it’s possible. I do know for certain that it’s not going to confirm, nor disprove it without more experiments. More tests. Better controls. Better data.
In the meantime, I *can* list all of the people that I know who are born within certain dates (thanks for the data, Facebook!) and study what traits they seem to share. I can ask myself, “why do I seem to always befriend Leos?” or “why do I seem to argue with Cancers” and “why have I dated so many Aries?” Is it conclusive? Of course not. But the process IS scientific, inasmuch as I am collecting data, studying it, and making hypotheses.
I feel like I should also point out that I don’t believe that we are chained to our personality types, nor do I believe that we can use them as an excuse for our behavior. I personally believe that the zodiac seems to suggest something like a starting point, a default which our life experience adds to and subtracts from. Also, all signs come with positive and negative traits, and we are certainly not sworn to uphold either. For instance, a Libra trait is a preoccupation with a sense of fairness. The positive side of that is that we tend to be very humanitarian and just, but the negative side of that same is jealousy (e.g.: “It’s NOT FAIR that so-and-so got that award and I didn’t! I deserve it just as much as he or she does!”) — I do see that weakness in myself and in my adult life, I have done a lot to correct and/or compensate for that negative trait. However, if not for studying the zodiac in the manner that I have, I might not have ever seen that particular flaw for what it was.