Science and Religion — 24 September 2010

Every morning when I get to work, I switch on my lumbering laptop and make myself a coffee. With tears streaming down my face and into the hot beverage from having been woken up, I check my Twitter feed. It is at about this time that a strong whiff of bullshit rips the fog from my brain and leaves me aghast and awakened, staring at the evil that is automated star sign tweets.

These tweets normally look something like this:

You can see the handwriting on the wall and know how busy you’… More for Capricorn http://twittascope.com/?sign=10

Of course, I never click the link, because I don’t really care for vandals who deface walls. However, I do have a question.

Do you have any idea how illogical this whole Horoscope thing is?

Also known as 'The Wheel Of Fortune'

Horoscopes ‘work’ in this way: You are assigned a star sign (Gemini, Taurus, what have you) according to the period of the year you were born in. There are twelve of these signs in all. What you read on magazines and newspapers, or in my case on Twitter, is someone’s interpretation of what the position of the Sun (and sometimes the stars, depending on who is doing the interpretation) and the period of your birth mean towards your life in the coming week, or day. They will tell you that you should wait before you make decisions, that you will meet someone new, that your fears are perfectly natural etc etc.

Now here’s my problem, if you haven’t seen it yet. How can when the date I was born on act upon the sun or stars and influence my life right now? I know the sun can kill us all instantly if it moves a little closer to Earth, but other than that, I fail to see how any celestial body affects my personal life. What I mean is, in the grand scheme of things, we are so insignificantly small that any large fluctuation in the Universe could affect us. But it’s not going to affect my job performance or the first impression I gave that hot chick in the lift!

I can not meet women today.

Secondly. These little nuggets of wisdom have a greater underlying problem. Ever heard of free will? Yes it’s even in the Bible, although in that case there’s a Divine Plan, which is a different kettle of fish completely. Yeah, free will dude! Do you mean to tell me that you won’t go to a doctor if you’re sick, because your horoscope warned you of intense personal turmoil? Or that how well you do in your job does not depend on what you do, but on how the stars behave that week? Are you just a puppet on admittedly very long strings?

Another thing. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. Population increases by 3 people per second. Do you think that all of the people born in a given month, week or a minute have the same destiny?

And by the way, aren’t you judging people just because of the date they were born in? Next time someone tells me “Of course you’re a Gemini, you’re so feisty and arrogant!” I’ll respond by saying

“Yes, and all black people are lazy, but Asians are good at math!”

That kind of broad sweeping statement simply can not be made, because it is untrue.

I call bullshit. Also "No to Taurus!"

Of course the biggest problem isn’t that people read this stuff. People read enough crap as it is, so this hasn’t dropped the standards. The problem is that people believe this to be scientific fact. However, as Karl Popper said, “a hypothesis or theory should be considered scientific if and only if it is falsifiableand of course we can’t prove that it wasn’t the sun and stars that led you to walk into a pole, smash your head open and meet your future wife who incidentally was the nurse who stitched you up. We can’t disprove it because there are too many variables, more than we can count, which is also why we can’t prove it. However, if you’re looking for a tasty morsel of wisdom, I suggest you leave horoscopes well enough alone, and reach out for a fortune cookie.

Where you get solid, practical advice from.

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About Author

My name is Mark and I'm a hyperactive child of the internet, a professional copywriter based in Malta, a great fan of entropy and a Grammar Nazi. I'm online for far more hours than is healthy. This blog is about stuff that interests or irritates me. Contact me here

(11) Readers Comments

  1. I disapprove.

    Check out the image of my icon! I was born in 1st july, under the star of cancer !

    Horoscopes lead me to this website..

    lolo

  2. What fascinates me is that not only will people readily believe that which cannot be verified, but they’ll also cheerfully refuse to believe that which can be. To stay in the space theme for the time being, one need only recall the recent “Galileo Was Wrong” conference.

    It would be nice if that nice Mr. Occam could release a Mach4 Fusion Excel about now.

  3. Sometime, though, horoscopes can be so extremely vague, generic and downright unspecifc that they cannot fail but come true! ‘Something exciting will happen to you this month’, ‘you will have relationship troubles’, ‘your financial situation may change’… um, ya think???

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why astrology is fake -- Topsy.com

  5. You have a point (especially regarding your last warning: never tease an armed midget…). I personally do not believe in horoscopes, but I do believe in astrology to a certain extent. I don’t think it determines my life, nor do I follow my star as blindly as a magi looking for a crib. What I mean is that I may be a Gemini, but I’m surely not what my horoscope section says. Other than that, very well written as always:)

  6. Two things. In order for two people to share a fatethey must be born on the same spot. Second….science is no longer causal. Its acausal enter quantum physics.

  7. Hey, first of, i also belive the stuff in the paper is moastly crap. But you have to look a little closer, at all the aspects in the night sky when you where born and the sky at that day. Also, the zodiac has nothing to do with free will. It tells you about yourself, and what could be a problem.

  8. zodiac is bs…no stars are gonna determine my personality or future….whoever believes in this crap is absolutely retarded

    • Or ignorant of the sheer scale of the universe at the very least.

  9. I love this post! Can’t agree more! I’m a Leo, born July 31st, but I have very few traits of the Leo zodiac. After gathering information on all 12 zodiac signs to see which one actually represents my personality, I noticed that I have less than 10 traits of the Leo zodiac sign, but 50+ of the Scorpio zodiac sign! Go figure. Also, I don’t get along with most people born under the Leo zodiac.

  10. With the introduction of the 13th planet (12 originally) and the 28th nakshatra (27 originally), then have I been able to draw the conclusion that not only are they lies, but also only money orientated. I have never been like my old sign and my new sign doesn’t relate to me at all. (Ascendant, sun, moon, mars, mercury all don’t). So stop telling me it’s because of your (whichever) planet because it’s not.

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