Why Is Astrology Pseudoscience

As a result, it is considered pseudoscience.

What exactly is astrology? What makes you think it’s a hoax?

Astrology is a fascinating subject. It has fled to the one area that protects it from rational criticism after enduring decades of scientific probing: mysticism. It may surprise us to hear that a technique of divination devised thousands of years ago in the Levant is still alive and well in this day of genetic sequencing and powerful telescopes. Astrologers are reporting better business than normal in the middle of our pandemic. Whether or whether it is true, it is unquestionably beneficial, and many current astrology users agree. They profess to be unconcerned about whether it is scientific or not, and many even state that they do not believe in it. They simply find it beneficial.

This astrology is a difficult universe to grasp your head around. I’m sure I’ve only seen a sliver of it throughout my studies. Astrology is built on a basic premise: what happens above, happens below. Astrologers claim that the positions of various celestial bodies (planets, moons, and asteroids) at the time of our birth reveal profound truths about who we are and what will happen to us. Some think that these celestial bodies actually cause events on Earth through some unknown mechanism; others, particularly in our modern age, reject this notion and instead perceive the sky as a reflection. They claim that through understanding astrology’s language, we can see a reflection of who we are and what our future may hold.

Before we go into the sort of incontrovertible “secular theology” that astrology has evolved into, let’s take a look at the scientific wringer it’s been through since the 1950s. Indeed, a plethora of studies examining particular event forecasts, Zodiac sign compatibilities and occupational inclinations, and astrologers’ abilities to match astrological profiles to individuals have had disastrous consequences for the profession’s credibility. (This review article and this website have a partial summary.) And, if the heavenly spheres do cause things on Earth, as early astrology proponents believed, no known force could account for the effect due to the distances involved.

After getting over their injured egos, honest scientists confronted with a mountain of evidence against their hypothesis would try to refine it, research it more, and possibly replace it with a better one. However, astrologists have chosen to ignore or dismiss this data. They’ve resorted to hand-waving, saying that they don’t know what it all means yet, but astrology works, and we’ll figure it out one day. Their reaction to a 1990 research perfectly exemplifies their aversion to course corrections. The Indiana Federation of Astrologers worked closely with the researchers to design their study. The Federation even checked the lead researcher’s birth chart, which shows where each celestial body was in the sky at the moment of his birth, to make sure he was a good guy.

The experiment was simple: six astrologers were given 23 birth charts and were asked to match them to 23 people who had images and answers to a lengthy questionnaire created by the Federation. What’s the end result? From zero to three correct matches were produced by each astrologer (the average was one). When confronted with this decision, the Federation twisted itself into a pretzel to explain itself, eventually saying that “astrology may not always produce quantifiable outcomes, but it still works.”

Because of astrologers’ lack of concern, Paul Thagard, a philosopher of science, declared astrology a pseudoscience in 1978. It wasn’t because its origins were illogical: after all, chemistry arose from alchemy. It wasn’t because of a lack of mechanism: continental drift existed long before plate tectonics was established as a possible explanation. It was because its residents had largely refused to confront the consequences of their actions. Over a lengthy period of time, it had made less development than rival theories such as psychology. It may have begun as a protoscience (a “science in the making”), but it quickly devolved into an unpromising endeavor before earning the label of pseudoscience.

For many modern astrology enthusiasts, though, all of this is a pointless debate. They claim that astrology has no scientific pretensions. It’s a tool for self-reflection. However, there are issues there as well.

My birth chart was created for free using a popular astrology program (I know, it’s not the same as consulting an astrologer). Some of the sections were spot-on, while others were ludicrously inappropriate, and the over 5,000-word article was riddled with inconsistencies. I was both an intense traditionalist and a natural rebel, a clever academic with a serious demeanor and an intuitive psychic with a strong believe in the unknown.

Barnum statements are named after P.T. Barnum, the creator of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, who is famed for purportedly declaring “there’s a sucker born every minute.” These Barnum assertions work like a charm! I’ve provided the identical bogus astrological personality description to high school kids who thought they were getting a horoscope based on their Zodiac sign on several occasions, and almost every single one of them raised their hand when I asked if they recognized themselves in the text. When I told them to check out their neighbors’ horoscopes, they found they had all received the same SMS, it was chaos.

I can see how modern-day astrology appeals to people. It has become associated with the ever-popular self-help movement by emphasizing on self-reflection. It gives a sense of community to the social beings that make up its fandom, and it can seem empowering for minority who have been repressed by long-standing institutions. In reality, evidence suggests that people who are drawn to astrology are religiously inclined but not associated with a major denomination. An esoteric, decentralized system like astrology can readily satisfy the craving for spirituality and significance. And, before we condemn all of its adherents as scientifically uneducated, surveys suggest that astrology is most appealing to persons with a basic understanding of science. Indeed, astrology shares many of the characteristics of science: it makes predictions, does calculations, and works with systems and structures.

When astrology provides good descriptions of oneself, even those who are dubious of it may begin to warm up to it. Our brain’s inherent wiring for perceiving patterns and agents even when there are none reinforces this attractiveness for pseudoscience. The forecasts of astrology can give the illusion of control in times of extreme stress. For some people, not knowing what the future contains is unbearable. Even if astrology forecasts poor events, it provides a solid foundation on which to build.

However, there are less imaginative approaches to dealing with ambiguity. Professor Kate Sweeny of the University of California, Riverside’s Department of Psychology researches this phenomena and sent me two recommendations via email. “We’ve discovered evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness practice in managing with uncertainty,” she says. Meditating or doing something like gardening that requires us to focus on the present now can help to relieve stress caused by worrying about the future. Similarly, being “in the zone” might be advantageous if we engage in an enjoyable, demanding activity that allows us to track our progress toward a goal. This experience is created with the help of video games. The illusion of control that comes with astrological reading can be relatively harmless, but it is not always so. If you pass up a fantastic opportunity because of something your horoscope stated that day, or if you pursue a risky possibility because of it, your life may be steered in the wrong path. Unfortunately, I can picture someone deferring life-saving surgery due to a gloomy reading from the stars.

If we are to reject the allure of magical thinking, we must submit ourselves to “not knowing,” a crucial scientific lesson that some of us may be better suited to grasp. “I don’t know what will happen, and that’s OK,” you can say. It stifles irrational thoughts. Of course, astrology enthusiasts may not consider “as above, so below” to be an excessive viewpoint. Carl Sagan is best known for popularizing the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The problem comes when a pseudoscience retreats to the wishy-washy world of unknowable mysticism after being poked and prodded by scientific fingers. There are no unusual claims in that cosmos, where planets have been endowed with an underlying mythology by some odd divine force. It is possible to achieve anything.

Message to take home:

– Astrology is a pseudoscience since it has made no progress and refuses to acknowledge a substantial amount of important scientific research.

– Many modern astrology aficionados regard it as a tool for introspection rather than a science, in part because its forecasts might offer them a false sense of control during times of stress.

– Mindfulness meditation and engaging in things that put you “in the zone” are more grounded ways of dealing with uncertainty.

Is astrology backed up by science?

After attempting and failing to show the reality of astrological beliefs, scientific investigations including astrology have come to a halt. So yet, there have been no reported occurrences of astrology assisting in a scientific breakthrough.