A lot of people think astrology is a science. Too many, in fact. A recent study by the National Science Foundation reported that 50 percent of young people believe astrology is a science.
A number so high that it led to people repeating the study out of disbelief, because, surely, astrology had been confused with astronomy. Pick up any newspaper, and you’re likely to find an astrology section that purports to have divined what you can expect in your life over the coming week, but not you specifically.
Rather, people born at the same time as you. But, what about twins? Two people born under the same conditions, mere minutes apart would have the same forecast, but their lives turn out significantly different.
In 2012, an article in the “New York Post” reported that Lady Gaga was consulting with her “spiritual team” because of her concern over planetary alignments that might disrupt her world tour.
Sounds like typical Aries behavior to me, but then again Hitler was an Aries too. The methods by which astrologers ply their trade looks and sounds scientific.
Record keeping, math, observation and star charts, but push hard enough and sooner or later you find the unknown variable in the astrological equation: the element that is unknown or defined by faith-based terminology.
Take the time to consider that neither the University of Nevada, Reno, nor any other institution, offers courses in astrology, alchemy or divination. A Yahoo questioner asked, “Why do they ignore those things?
Is it a giant conspiracy by scientists or university staff?” Because, quite obviously, if your mythology is ignored by academia it must be a conspiracy to suppress your “truth.”
If courses in astrology were offered, it would only be a matter of time before students begin wandering over the Quad with dowsing widgets amidst the jingling sound of their talismans and Zodiac necklaces.
While I can appreciate offering advice on emotional coping or stress reduction, to attribute such things to the movements of astronomical bodies is not only whimsical, but devalues human agency.
Horoscopes define your emotional spectrum for you, control how you feel and how you react. Sort of like a celestial North Korea, to borrow a Christopher Hitchens line. You’re not creative because you’re not an Aquarius.
You’re not loyal because you’re not a Leo. Jupiter is moving into a new alignment, and that is why you’re so bitchy. It all sounds rather Orwellian. You owe it to yourself to be defined by the qualities of your character, not made-up happenstance.
We’re all better people without identifiers. “I’m a black, gay Libra.” No thanks. I’d rather know your name and judge you based upon what you have to say than these human constructed labels.
The reason why this non-science has held on for so long is baffling, especially in a culture where generalization and stereotyping are anathema to our modern sensibilities.
It judges people based upon how they were born, not who they are or what they say. Try looking up a horoscope and substituting the various astrological signs with racial designators or political movements, which isn’t so different from astrology anyhow.
“Hispanics, your willingness to yaddayadda,” or “National Socialists, your energies might be better spent on suchitysuch.” We’ve all heard believers say things like, “I just don’t like Scorpios.” Not that you dislike certain personalities or certain people, but a giant category of people.
Try using “Jews” in place of Scorpios and see how comfortable that makes you feel. The careless use of generalities and vague advice should be evidence enough of astrology’s fallaciousness, let alone the absurd amount of hubris required to subscribe to a belief so self-centered that it puts humans at the center of the cosmos.
It seems so convincing, but alas, astrology is just telling us what we want to hear. Astrology plays upon the human desire to feel connected to the universe in a way that expands beyond the scope of our tiny lives. I get that, I do.
There are real, scientific avenues to go about feeling more connected to the universe. The atoms that make up our bodies were forged in the stars. When we look at the stars and the vastness of space, we tend to marginalize ourselves and think that we’re inconsequential.
But we shouldn’t. We should feel big because we are made of stars. Carl Sagan said that there were two ways to view the stars: As they really are and how we might wish them to be.
No matter how much “horoscopers,” the true believers of astrology, stamp their feet and insist that their sign are representative of their personalities, it won’t ever be true. When I confront faithful “horoscopers”, specifically those on campus, they respond with a shrug of the shoulders and a knowing smile.
A surrender, a subtle acknowledgement that they understand astrology is made up and probably something they should have left behind in high school. I try not to judge, but I can’t help it. Academics should know better.
Brian McLelland studies English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.