Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Astro-lol-ogy

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I’m a little behind on reading things from the internet – my Pocket list peaked at 119 unread items last week – so I’ve only just got around to reading this piece from io9 about how astrology isn’t as harmless as you think. Astrology is the decidedly non-scientific studies of the position of planets and stars to create horoscopes, rather than astronomy, which is the actual scientific study of celestial bodies. Despite this, around a third of Americans believe astrology to be a science and around a quarter of Americans believe their horoscopes.

The percentage of women believing in astrology is higher than men, which should be obvious to anyone who has read womens’ and mens’ magazines. Whilst I never read either, just about every womens’ magazine has a horoscope page in it.

As you may have guessed, I don’t believe in astrology. I do know my ‘star sign’, which is ‘Gemini’, but I don’t believe that this pre-disposes me to any particular behaviour.

I don’t know Christine’s star sign. I could easily work it out from her birthday, but why bother? I don’t need a fortune teller to tell me whether we’re compatible or not just because of when our birthdays fall – our marriage, and the fact that we’ve been in a happy relationship for almost five years now should be testament to that.

This quote, from a Discovery News article linked in io9′s piece, is particularly damning:

Both astrology and racial stereotypes are based on a framework of belief that basically says: “Without even meeting you, I believe something about you. I can expect this particular sort of behavior or trait (stubbornness, laziness, arrogance, etc.) from members of this particular group of people (Jews, blacks, Aries, Pisces, etc.). When an astrologer finds out a person’s astrological sign, he or she will bring to that experience a pre-existing list of assumptions (prejudices) about that person’s behavior, personality and character. In both cases, the prejudices will cause people to seek out and confirm their expectations.

If you believe that the alignments of the stars and planets have a fundamental effect on people’s behaviours and lifestyles, then you are making yourself prejudiced. Simple as. Astrology may seem like a bit of harmless fun, but if you take it too seriously it could affect your friendships and your relationships.

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