“What’s your sign?” That’s a question best left for entertainment purposes only and maybe the bar at the Regal Beagle. (Bonus old folks points if you even get that.) Scientifically, astrology is worthless. Other than for a wry chuckle there’s no actual application for astrology or horoscopes. They’re throwbacks from the days of pre-science, and even though astrology formed the foundations for modern-day astronomy (in that it got people studying the heavens and the locations of stars and planets before they had any idea what those points of light in the night sky actually are) there’s no evidence that the stars, planets, or moons can influence our actions, our fates, or our daily lives in any way whatsoever.
It might be fun to classify yourself as one sign or another but the truth is the way you think, feel and behave have much more to do with your nature and nuture than where the Sun was in the sky on the day you were born.
Maybe it sounds like making a fuss over nothing but since there’s a lot of people out there literally making a living off astrology and continuing a tradition of pseudo-science for their own personal financial gain – whether knowingly or not – I feel a little debunking of such misleading information has a place here on LITD.
“The intellectual foundations of astrology were swept away 300 years ago, and yet astrology is still taken seriously by a great many people.”
– Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Don’t believe me? That’s fine… but first get some information from some very well-respected scientists and researchers (who know a thing or three about actual astrophysics):
Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy long read on astrology: Astrology is Wrong.
Universe Today: Mars Can’t Influence You
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has an educational program for students (designed for grades 7-12) that debunks astrology
The Relatively Interesting website’s article on debunking astrology (actually very interesting!)
ADDED 6/25/14: Why Believing in Astrology is Not As Harmless As You Think by George Dvorsky on io9.com.
And for even more fun check out some videos I’ve compiled:
Neil deGrasse Tyson on astrology:
Famed skeptic James Randi’s classroom experiment on astrology:
Penn Jillette on astrology (language NSFW but quite on-point):
“Astrology is really first cousin to racism, because it judges people on how they were born and not on who they are.”
– Penn Jillette
DNews on Why Astrology Isn’t Real Science:
Richard Dawkins in Enemies of Reason:
“I believe astrology misleads the public, denies scientific progress, and belittles our Universe.There’s a far richer way of looking at the cosmos: astronomy.”
— Richard Dawkins
John Stossel’s report on astrology and “The Barnum Effect”:
As I find more I’ll share them here.
(Because that’s exactly what a Capricorn would do, right?)
And just to show I’m not a total party-pooper, here’s some general information on the Western zodiac and the dates and critters typically involved:
- Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16 (Old: Dec. 22 – Jan. 20)
- Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11 (Old: Jan. 21 – Feb. 19)
- Pisces: March 11-April 18 (Old: Feb. 20 – March 20)
- Aries: April 18-May 13 (Old: March 21 – April 20)
- Taurus: May 13-June 21 (Old: April 21 – May 21)
- Gemini: June 21-July 20 (Old: May 22 – June 21)
- Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10 (Old: June 22 – July 22)
- Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16 (Old: July 23 – Aug. 22)
- Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30 (Old: Aug. 23 – Sept. 21)
- Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23 (Old: Sept. 22 – October 22)
- Scorpio: Nov. 23-Dec. 17 (Old: Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)
- Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20 (Old: Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)
(Then of course there’s an xkcd comic that hits on what creator Randall Munroe calls “the Economic Argument”:)
Bottom line: astrology is NOT astronomy, even though the words may sound similar and may have meant the same thing to people hundreds of years ago. We have learned so much about our Universe in the centuries since then that the two are now as related as chemistry and alchemy.
“How happy are the astrologers if they tell one truth to a hundred lies, while other people lose all credibility if they tell one lie to a hundred truths.”
– Papal advisor Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540)
UPDATE Feb. 2014: Mother Jones has reported on a National Science Foundation poll that finds considerably less young Americans considering astrology as unscientific these days as compared to just a few years ago… actually, the least amount since the early 80s. That’s scary, for many reasons. Read it here.
UPDATE July 2020: If you’re concerned about your “star sign” changing because of those pesky science-types at NASA…don’t be. For more than a few reasons. Read more in this article from Phil Plait on SyFy and see NASA’s response to accusations of “changing the zodiac” here.
“NASA didn’t add in Ophiuchus, or change the zodiac, or anything like that. It’s been around this whole time, but it’s been ignored by astrologers. They’re the ones who should take the blame for all this, not actual, real scientists who don’t even think astrology is worth wrapping fish in anyway.”
— Phil Plait, the “Bad Astronomer”