(photo credit: Cosmopolitan magazine)
“What’s your sign?” Based on where your birthday falls in the calendar year, you are considered one of the following twelve signs: Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, or Leo. Within each sign, there are certain characteristics that each one apparently possesses. It seems that the following of horoscopes is becoming more and more popular. Books have and are still being written about this subject, breaking down each sign’s history, love matches, faults, future occupations…the list goes on. Popular newspapers, such as The New York Times, dedicate a small section to monthly horoscopes. Entertainment magazines and clothing stores take social trends and turn them into something (material or otherwise) that they can profit from. That being said, magazines like Cosmopolitan and clothing stores like Urban Outfitters have profited by their zodiac columns and apparel. If there wasn’t a phenomenon surrounding the (maybe) science of astrology, then why are these companies spending money on producing such content/products? What makes this notion so attractive (and believable) to a society? The foundation of the zodiac is based on astrology: the belief that celestial positioning affects human tendencies and natural occurrences. This abstract concept does include scientific elements, such as studying the orbits of planets, stars, the sun, and the moon. But is there any credible backing that solidifies astrology a spot amongst other “actual” sciences like chemistry, biology, and physics?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of science is basically acquiring knowledge of the various aspects of the world through conducting experiments. Taking this definition and applying it to astrology diminishes its credibility. Yes, astrology aims to explain affairs that occur in the world, but the explanations are usually broad and so could mean that the results of the experiments can be manipulated to prove that is fit the hypothesis or expectation, (Understanding Science). Providing inclusive generalizations as to why people behave in such-and-such a way is hardly reliable. In fact, it comes off more like guess work. From Tuesday’s (August 30th’s) lecture, Andrew talked about what science is. He said that science, broadly, is: a systematic collection of data through observation and experiments, the development of theories to organize and explain all of this, and the use of professional institutions and norms such as peer review to subject claims to scrutiny and thus develop reliable knowledge. Although some astrologists use star charts to validate their advice or readings, there can be no conclusive relationship as to why a positioning of a star or a planet being in retrograde means that a particular zodiac sign will be temperamental, or passive, or intellectual. As far as I’ve researched, there is no university that offers a course studying astrology. It may be incorporated within a myth and mythologies course, but that doesn’t validate astrology as a science. It actually weakens the argument because we know that folktales are not real. There is no hard evidence that myths or astrology is reliable in the information it presents. But living in a world that has long since evolved from believing in myths like those in Homer’s Odyssey, it’s incredible that yet there is still a following for this theoretical concept.
It is universally known that nature (one’s surroundings) and nurture (how one was raised) are the underlying influences of the “why’s” and the “what’s” of one’s life. For example, my sign is a Scorpio, which means, amongst other things, that I’m “obsessive.” Admittedly, I can be obsessive, especially when it comes to my work for my classes. But my two best friends are a Capricorn and Leo and I’ve seen them obsess over their work as well. Anyone can be obsessive over something that they’re passionate about, so to use such words to classify someone seems impractical and not scientific, especially because emotions and moods are relative and based on context. I think what it comes down to is that astrology, for the masses, is a form of entertainment. It’s alluring, not for its scientific backing, but because it’s another way to unofficially classify people; to feel like one is part of a greater group. The columns are entertaining to read, because if by chance the advice or summary is relatable to your life, it’s creepily exciting.
This is a link to a USCI Berkeley page that explains how they came to the conclusion as to why astrology, is in fact, not an actual science. Also, for your enjoyment, here are a few links to some Buzzed quizzes that tell you what movie you should watch or what character you are based on your sign…