by Sara Pierce

For thousands of years, people have widely accepted the extraordinary belief that is astrology. Astrology is the correlation of matching traits and life events to the position of the sun and astronomical objects upon the exact time of your birth[i]. Many different types of astrology exist, dependent on the individual culture in which it develops. Though used extensively in ancient times beginning with the Babylonians, it is still often practiced today in an attempt to predict the future or understand one’s self and interpersonal relationships more effectively. Analyzing one’s natal chart, a chart outlining the position of all the astronomical objects in the solar system at the time of a person’s birth, reveals your personal astrological signs[ii]. These signs are a tangible description that astrologists use to correlate with traits or circumstances.

It is easy for confirmation bias to play a role in studying astrology. Descriptions tend to be general and could be applied in many different ways with people, which makes it easier for a hit to be experienced rather than a miss. Astrologists and those who follow it tend to embrace and internalize the descriptions in a way that fits them best. Any cognitive dissonance that may arise through descriptions that don’t seem to fit can be solved by pointing to the alternative astrological signs that a person holds, other than the standard sun sign. Astrology may also establish a false sense of control in its claims of being able to properly interpret ourselves and our surroundings. Although there is little factual basis for astrology, it is easy to get caught up in this false sense.

Despite a lack of a known mechanism of action that doesn’t contradict basic scientific principles, it has been argued that a lack of a proper mechanism does not necessarily act as a justification for dismissal[iii]. Lodestone compasses were used successfully for centuries before Earth’s geomagnetic field was understood. Despite an understood mechanism of action for so long, these compasses were relied upon for navigation. Though this can be considered a valid point in favor of astrology, the argument falls apart when one looks at the results of experimental testing to see if astrology can be considered truly reliable. One such experiment was carried out by Shawn Carlson in the early 1980s[iv]. In this double-blind experiment, highly esteemed astrologers were tested to see if they could correctly assign the proper natal chart to a subject based on their respective personality traits. Specifically, these astrologists were being examined to see if they could correctly assign the individual natal chart at a significantly higher rate than by chance alone. The results of this study showed that respected astrologists failed to succeed at assigning the correct chart to the subject at a rate higher than chance. Not only is there an unknown mechanism of action by which astrology operates, but it is highly unlikely that there is a mechanism at all to be discovered.

Because of its deeply rich history, the use of astrology has been observed all over the world. Regardless of cultural background, the belief that the time of one’s birth has a role in who you are has connected people in all walks of life. While evidence has been shown that astrology does not work in interpreting the world around us, it still is heavily engrained in modern culture. Perhaps one of the reasons why astrology still continues is because of an appeal to tradition. Because this field has lasted for so long, people are willing to more readily accept its claims without much scrutiny. Because it is such a widely accepted phenomenon, astrology is frequented in the media, notably used as a placeholder for quickly explaining the character’s personality. The portrayal of astrology within various forms of media exposes developing generations to a modernized take on an ancient belief. The commonplace use of astrological archetypes and the widespread appreciation of the belief have contributed to its continual popularity.

In short, astrology continues to exist despite a lack of working evidence. Because the traits of the astrological signs are so generalized, it is not difficult for almost anybody to connect an easily dismissible belief into their personal life. Even though astrologists accept that this phenomenon does not have a known mechanism of action and has been shown to be no better than chance, they still argue in saying that there is a causational relationship between one’s natal chart and their destined personality. With such a dedicated international following, no matter how varying from culture to culture, astrology has remained ever present throughout history.







20 thoughts on “Astrology

  1. Even in the United States, regardless of your belief system or religion, many people at least dabble in astrology. Looking at an app, for example, of your daily readings is a common method of entertainment. I promise if you asked a room full of people what sign they were, majority would know. Even though I don’t believe in the concept as a whole, looking at my sign attributes and some daily messages; I have found some truth. I might look at it for fun to see how much I relate, however, I will not be using astrology to determine who I will marry or what I should do that day.

    • Hi Lillian,
      I think this is so true! Even people who don’t believe in astrology are often interested in hearing what their horoscope says. In this way, I think astrology is really unique as an extraordinary belief.

  2. I enjoyed reading this post and found it especially interesting because I myself have been very interested and enthralled by astrology and my sign. I have definitely fallen victim to confirmation bias in this aspect and have identified with pretty broad statements about my sign, while I have ignored other statements that do not apply. I like how you pointed out that astrology is common across the world and other cultures, which goes to show its strength and attraction for many types of people.

  3. I found this post interesting because I do look at my horoscope and follow my astrology sign often. I think that it was very important that you put confirmation bias in this blog because that is a majority of the reason that people believe in their horoscopes and astrology sign. I don’t think that many people who read their horoscopes say “that doesn’t apply to me.” or “that’s not true.” about their sign.

  4. Astrology is my guilty pleasure! Growing up, my mother swore it was the Devil’s work (yes, she was THAT kinda mom…), but my aunt was super into it so I often utilized her as my personal astrologist. I fell for all the same things everyone does, which is to believe the parts relevant to me and falling for broad statements that could apply anywhere. However, despite knowing that there is absolutely no basis, I still read my horoscope and ask people, “What’s your sign?”, if for nothing else but for the fun of it.

    • I actually have a grandmother who draws out peoples charts for a living. Shes an astrologer by trade essentially, though she also does tarot and several other related things. It’s definitely very elaborate and fascinating if for nothing more than the sheer detail that goes into what the various aspects of a persons chart mean and the many different combinations you can get. I’ve bugged her several times about going over my chart just to see (she has one for everyone in our family), but I think she can smell a skeptic a mile away. Also, I’m an Aries!

      • Ashton-
        Yes, to the part about smelling a skeptic. I always was told that if I didn’t 100% believe, I wouldn’t be able to see what the stars had for me. She had a book all about different signs and their relationship compatibility, so any time I was talking to a boy in high school, I would always call her and tell her his birthday to see if i should keep talking to him or not, based on our compatibility. Looking back, none of that ever shook out the way the books said.

    • Hey Grace,
      I completely agree that it is a guilty pleasure. To me, it is something that is fun. It seems like everyone knows their zodiac sign (I am a cancer) and while it may not be true, I think it is still fun to know. I think it gives people a sense of identity in some way.

      • It is definitely a guilty pleasure for so many people!! My sister is so into it and think majority of people are , i always here people say ‘whats your sign” “my sign is this”, and while its all fun and entertaining,some people take it way too far and truely think the stars have control over their fate. I have heard people say things like “He is a leo I am an aries, we are incompatible” and then when they end up breaking up they say oh well its because our signs dont match. However it could just be a self fulfilling prophecy. if you put it in your mind that your relationship is already doomed because of your signs, your relationship actually might not stand because of the way you act. A famous philosopher once said “i think therefore I am” in other words what you think will happen will certainly happen because of the way situations are handled and the mentality of a circumstance

  5. I really liked reading this post because I had very little knowledge of astrology previously. I see more ads and apps offering free horoscopes for different signs than I can count. On very popular social media outlets like Facebook, instagram, snapchat, and twitter they are very frequently advertised. I have never really given them much credit but i do find it fun to sometimes go on and see what they have to say for my sign!

  6. Sara,
    I enjoyed your post. A lot of the topics we discuss are relevant because they can cause harm to people in serious ways. I personally feel like astrology is fairly harmless. Do you have the same belief or have you seen any ways astrology has caused harm?

    • I feel like astrology can be harmless! But i think people make it harmful to them. I say this because i know alot of people who will only date certain people based on their sign, or they will break up with someone because their horoscope tells them that they need to get rid of something toxic in their life etc. and when such vague claims control specific and important aspects of peoples lives i think that is when it becomes harmful

  7. Astrology is definitely a popular trend now-a-days. As you said in your post, it seems that a big mechanism in believing in astrology is confirmation bias. People look at the descriptions of their signs or their horoscope and personalize those general statements to fit them best. I stopped following my horoscope and disconnected from astrology actually when I noticed my personality is nothing like my sign. I then realized that the people curating horoscopes or making predictions about people’s personalities based on when they were born were almost just taking a shot in the dark. However, I don’t see any harm in subscribing to astrology or following your horoscope. It seems like just a fun hobby to look into.

  8. Sara, I really liked reading about your topic for your post! I think astrology is something that a lot of people want to believe in, because in a way it makes the world make more sense to them. I thought your point about confirmation bias playing a role in astrology is huge. People will look for the things that will confirm what they are needing to make sense of the world around them.

  9. I always loved reading my horoscope when I was younger and trying to figure out what it might mean for me. As I got older and learned more about astrology, I figured out that it was not a sounds science and more of an extraordinary belief. Though I still get a kick out of reading my horoscope, I now know hot generalized they are and how it could apply to anyone reading it. I find it interesting that almost every culture believes in something like it. There must be something about it that draws people into it.

  10. I must say, I have had my fair encounters with believing in astrological things. I used to have an app on my phone that gave me my horoscope every single day. Sometimes, they would be freakishly accurate, but like you said, usually they mention very general things that most people fit into. There would be days where it was completely off, but a part of me would still wait and hope it was going to happen. It most definitely was a sense of control thing for me, as it is for many. It is also just fun and exiting for some to see such things as a possible predictor or a validation or something that could happen. I think the possibility behind it all draws people in. It just sounds so cool, that things in our lives are based on the stars. I mean I find that to be enticing.

  11. It always surprises me how people confuse astrology with astronomy. One is a legitimate science and one is utter nonsense, yet they are very similar in name and what they involve (stars). I think a lot of the beliefs in astrology stem from confusion that it is an actual science. The use of very general statements that apply to nearly everyone also allows a believer to continually fall for beliefs in something like a horoscope. The hits will always outweigh the misses, and it is easy to overlook the fact that these statements could be about anyone. We all know our zodiac sign, which shows that this is a popular cultural field, but it is insane to believe the star are controlling your life.

  12. Personally I never understood the appeal of astrology, but I know a lot of people who are really into it. I’ve heard some people not want to date another person because of their astrological sign because their signs don’t fit well together or the other person’s sign gives them personality traits that they don’t like. To me it’s ridiculous to think that someone actually bases life choices off of their horoscope especially since there is no real evidence in it. I think people have such a fascination with it, because the world is so unpredictable so they use things like horoscopes to give them a sense of control and eventually they believe that so hard that they unknowingly make themselves fit in to the description of certain star signs.

  13. Thanks a lot for providing individuals with an extraordinarily brilliant opportunity to read articles and blog posts from here. It really is very nice and also stuffed with a good time for me. And of course, I am just actually amazed with your awesome ideas you serve. Some two points on this page are without a doubt the most impressive we have all had. Also, read my latest bog here: Why Millennials are Drawn Towards Astrology?

Comments are closed.