The Truth In The Stars

What do the stars say about your future? The study and use of astrology has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. It begin as what many called “magical consciousness”, where there was believed to be “a blending, or overlapping, between one’s sense of self and the world outside.” (AstrologyClub.org) For many, their beliefs contribute to the way they interact and view their world.Even though this ‘reading of the stars’ has been around since long before our generations, it is still widely used and in some cases worshiped today. There are many people who live their lives all based off their astrological sign, fortunes of the stars, or even zodiac years and symbols. But is there any real evidence that any of this is even remotely true and not just make believe?

To begin, we better take a quick look at why people even believe in things like astrology and zodiac signs. It is said that 33% of Americans believe in astrology today, which equals out to around 104,940,000 people. Thats a lot of people for one country. (Huffington Post, 2016) Many people like to take comfort in a power larger then themselves. This is the reason for a lot of the appeal that individuals find in fortunes, it comes as a comfort to know that ones life is pre-determined, or there is a larger plan. Not to mention, some of the predictions are awfully enticing from time to time. Unfortunately though, astrology can be a profitable business, and some see the deception that is being sold within these books. Matthew Remski states “At worst, (astrology) it capitalizes upon every cognitive bias we have to serve magical thinking and the power imbalances of unacknowledged projection and transference.” (Matthew Remski, 2016)

AJ Agrawal writes that “it works in the same way as the movements of the moon control the tides of the oceans of the world. For example, Mars is the planet of passion. And Jupiter is the lucky star.” (2016) Astrology is classified as a pseudo science, and some believe that that alone serves as evidence that it’s all true. Though, I can not stand by that. The fact that astrology is considered a branch of science, does not mean all it’s predictions and theories cannot be false. There are though, countless reports of individuals claiming that what they read in their morning horoscope has come true throughout their day, and although the coincidences are fascinating, they do not serve as solid evidence. More often than not, these predictions coming true are the direct work of ‘the self fulfilling prophecy,’ which occurs “due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.” (Study.com/psychology) Individuals so strongly believe that it will happen, so they subconscious create it for themselves, or seek out situations where it might occur naturally that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s important to remember that the volume of accounts and stories from people claiming their horoscopes have come true does not make it fact. 1000 people could claim that the earth is flat while one claims it’s round. Does that mean that the earth is flat because the majority says or believes it is? Simply put, no. This soon begins a logical fallacy, in which one believes that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. “My fortune said that I appear to be a bit too lazy, and my job performance would really improve with a bit more effort.” When the individuals increases their effort at work, then comes to find that their job performance did increase, it serves as proof for them that the horoscopes are true, even though in reality, they determined their own outcome.

On a more psychological side, many studies have found that certain months correlate positively with specific mental diseases. “ Some scientists noticed that schizophrenics were more likely than others to have February birthdays, then for bipolar disorder – winter and early spring birthdays have it worst.” (Ben Y Hayden Ph.D.) While this is fascinating, it is also known that many of these disorders are strongly linked to genetics, so regardless of which month one was born into, their chances of getting that particular mental illness are probably very similar. Now when depression is examined, there is no doubt that the winter months are connected, but that does not mean it’s because of the seasonal astrology. Winter is colder, darker and people go out less. Physical activity is also often decreased in these months, and people tend to hide away indoors. All these factors of winter can directly link to ones level of depression, often showing steady increases.

Many people base their everyday actions and events off their astrological predictions, and for many it provides comfort, stability and at the very least, mild entertainment. In most cases, the belief in astrology is not harmful and can actually have positive effects on peoples lives. And although there is no concrete evidence that astrology actually works, it has been used for hundreds of years, and will likely continue on for many more. It is human nature to want to feel looked after and protected, and for many that comes in the form of a higher power, lifting the weight of our shoulders of having to make all our decisions. While this is not true for everyone, and in this blog I am largely addressing those who swear by their daily horoscopes, it still goes to show that there is a large percentage of people who truly believe. Whether one wants to argue that it’s all based on faith and positive belief, or actual science, the fact of the matter is, there is no real answer to the validity go astrology as of today. So believe what you want to believe about astrology, as long as it makes you happy.

http://study.com/academy/lesson/self-fulfilling-prophecies-in-psychology-definition-examples.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aj-agrawal/are-there-any-truths-to-z_b_10141966.html

https://cosmicnavigator.com/blog/gahl-sasson/astrology/the-zodiac-and-the-truth-behind-astrology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-decision-tree/201107/science-confirms-astrology

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cartesian-circle

http://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/why-do-we-still-believe-in-astrology

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4 thoughts on “The Truth In The Stars

  1. I have always had a love/hate relationship with things like these. In my youth I was quite against them because I thought they gave people false hope and false information. As I aged I begin to understand them for entertainment reasons. But today I respect them as a comfort mechanism. They are something simple that can work towards answering something large and complex, and with rising depression and anxiety rates any sort of comfort is appreciated.

    I found this article that explored how various cognitive disorders tend to gravitate towards the paranormal for answers of some sort, or for comfort. It might bring in some interesting insights to the research you’ve already completed.

    Sharps, M. J., Matthews, J., & Asten, J. (2006). Cognition and belief in paranormal phenomena: Gestalt/Feature-intensive processing theory and tendencies toward ADHD, depression, and dissociation. The Journal of Psychology, 140(6), 579-590. doi:10.3200/JRLP.140.6.579-590

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  2. Interesting post! I have always been a bit weary to accept horoscopes found in small news papers or fortune cookies. They’re all so general, and as you said, they can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, I would like to hone in on something else you mentioned: belief. Belief is a strange thing because it can carry powerful influence. For example, alcoholics anonymous programs suggest the welcoming of spirituality during the road to recovery. It is suggested that those who believe in a higher power are more likely to succeed. This success isn’t attributed to God or some other higher power, but in the individual’s responsibility to their own belief. To clarify, individual’s report that it is easier to abstain from their damaging habits if they have a spiritual belief system in place. It is as if they would not only be letting themselves down but also an external figure. This seems to create some accountability within the person and can facilitate success. In conclusion, belief can be a powerful thing; one that science has touched on with the placebo/nocebo effects, but might not fully understand just yet.

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  3. The understanding I have regarding horoscopes is that they tend to be general and vague enough that they can apply to anyone reading them as the individual can just “fill in the blanks” and make the prediction apply to their personal situation. I was curious to read my own horoscope after reading this to see if it could be made applicable to my life (this was kind of fun for me as I don’t ever read horoscopes)

    Here’s what my horoscope was for today according to the Globe and Mail

    “Life is not a zero-sum game: other people don’t have to lose so you can win. Your task today is to find creative ways to further your own material ambitions while helping others get what they need as well. Co-operation is essential.”

    What I find interesting about this is it didn’t actually make any predictions… just gave advice. I think if I thought heard enough it could be applicable.. I do have to work on a group project so co-operation may be relevant there, but all in all I can definitely see the vagueness of the advice and how anyone could skew it to make sense to them.

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