Posted by on Oct 5, 2010 in Interesting Facts | 2 comments

One third of Americans believe in Astrology, which suggests that the position of the stars at your birth provide insight into your personality and even the course of your life. Any regular readers ought to know I tend to stick with the scientific process when it comes to wishy-washy information, so it’s no particular surprise to me that any scientific testing of astrology fails to produce any significant results.

Let’s take a look at one specific test. (McGrew & McFall, 1990) In an effort to be as fair as possible to the astrologers, the experimenters asked for a list of personal information that they would need to succeed. Twenty-three profiles were gathered for a mix of “average American” 30-year-olds which included facts on hobbies, family, health, travel, and answers to the 61 questions chosen by the Indiana Federation of Astrologers.

The test was for 6 professional astrologers, offered by the IFA to have “superior ability”, to match these profiles with the star charts corresponding to the precise time and place of birth. They could also record their confidence in each match. The study also had one control subject, not an astrologer, to have a go at matching.

Despite making every effort to meet the astrologer’s wishes, then best result was matching only 3 out of 23 test cases. On average, the astrologers were 73.5% confident in their correctness. In this study, the “random guy” non-astrologer tied for the best with 3 matches. So the core belief of astrology, that the star chart from birth can influence a person’s character, didn’t reveal itself here.

After these results were published, the IFA, which was consulted all along and agreed to the test on their conditions, denounced the findings. No other objective test I’ve found has produced any results significantly better than what could be obtained randomly. One interesting study compared over 2000 pairs of twins to their (identical) birth charts, and again no correlation was found.

Astrology is a creative art that survives through anecdotes and faith. Just like any other psychic claims, when the cold hard facts are recorded and studied, all the claims crumble. While horoscopes are generally rather harmless, I am rather irked by the thousands of self-proclaimed astrologers who earn their living by lying to the public, and sometimes earn a pretty penny by preying on the desperate and vulnerable.

That said, we do owe a tip-of-the-hat to astrology, for it was these people who “played science” 600 years ago that went on to create the true sciences beginning with Astronomy. You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor using 600 year old methods, would you? (oh, wait, some people do that too!)

Hey, I just read my horoscope for today:

Be aggressive and forceful when it comes to exerting your will, Aquarius. Let others know that you won’t be a pushover. Your opinions are extremely important, and they need to be heard by the people who matter the most. Have faith that whatever you say has the power to come true, especially when you enlist the help of those around you. Opportunity lies in joining hands with others.

You heard it here first. What I’ve said is extremely important! Join together people! Spread the word!