What’s Your Sign?


What’s Your Sign?

            My sign is that of Capricorn and universetoday.com informs me that my sign is represented by the Mountain Sea-Goat. This sign is based the Sumerian god of wisdom and water who has the upper body of a mountain goat, and the tail of a fish. Capricorns are associated with the element Earth. Do you know your sign? Many likely do, and upon delving deeper we can uncover the basis for astrology, our zodiac signs, and why this ancient practice still holds influence over people from many different walks-of-life. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary astrology is defined as: “the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects.” What this means is that the alignment of certain constellations, stars, and planets during the time of your birth will forever influence your personality and your life events. This is where zodiac signs are derived from, universetoday.com tells us that it is 12 constellations in particular, that correspond to the 12 different months. The concept of the zodiac originated in Babylon in the 2nd millennium B.C., where the 12 zodiac symbols were associated with the four elements (Earth, Wind, Water and Fire). Astrology asserts that the signs represent certain characteristics of human behavior and personality traits within the people born under them.

One piece of evidence used in support of the legitimacy of astrology can be found in a video of Dr. Michael Shermer and astrologer Jeffery Armstrong,. Dr. Shermer is a science historian and founder of Skeptic magazine. Jeffery Armstrong is the founder of his online curriculum Vedic Academy of Science and Arts which according to his website “offers a large curriculum of ancient wisdom for modern times.” According to a blog post by Donald Kraig, a member of the magik and astrology community, the video of Dr. Shermer’s experiment went as follows. Armstrong was instructed to give nine readings and would only be provided the dates, time, place of birth and whether the subjects were male or female. After Armstrong analyzed the charts, Dr. Shermer recorded Armstrong giving three-minute readings. Armstrong had no direct interaction with any of the subjects. Armstrong watched the videos from a separate room as his readings were played for all participants. What was ultimately revealed was that Armstrong’s success rate for seven of the nine people was only as low as 66% and as high as 89%, which the blog poster detailing this experiment felt was, “far above chance or coincidence.” However, a double-blind study conducted by physicist Shawn Carlson of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory published in Nature magazine in 1985 revealed conflicting results. Groups of volunteers were asked to fill out the California Personality Inventory, a standard psychologists’ questionnaire that uses broad, general, and descriptive terms much like that needed to cast a horoscope reading. Astrologers from the National Council for Geocosmic Research constructed horoscopes for the volunteers. Then, 28 different astrologers, each selected by the Geocosmic Council were each provided one horoscope and three personality profiles. Only one of these profiles actually belonged to the subject of the horoscope. They were charged with interpreting the horoscope and correctly selecting which of the three subject profiles it matched. The 28 astrologers originally stated that they would score higher than 50% correct however, their scores were only 34% in 116 trials.

With such conflicting results why are there still so many people who, rather than read their horoscopes for fun or look up the zodiac sign of themselves and their partner, actually pay money to have their horoscopes read, genuinely believing in the practice? What it could be is the charisma and confidence of astrologers within that community and the way they misrepresent themselves to those who seek them out. For example, Jeffery Armstrong is described on his website as an award-winning poet and best-selling author who’s “humour and humanity take audiences on an incredible journey.” His website also touts his 15 years of success in Silicon Valley as an executive with no other official job titles or education associated with his supposed expertise aside from 40 years of what appears to be a self-taught journey into relationships, philosophy, and teaching of the Vedas (ancient Indian astrology). Those who trust in the knowledge of someone like Jeffery Armstrong are likely misinterpreting him as an “expert” without critically evaluating if he has met the criteria associated with that of an expert. Aside from this the cognitive contribution associated with this belief system could be that of terror management. The appeal in astrology and relying on “experts” such as Armstrong are influenced by the fear of the uncertain and insecure future and by believing in astrology and the zodiac people may feel that they are better equipped for the unknowns that lie ahead of them.

Another prominent community from which believers in astrology come from seem to stem from those who are in fact scientific and academically motivated. When looking at the American Federation of Astrologers (AFA) website there is something of a mission statement in which they state that the AFA was established to, “encourage the study of all scientific methods of astrology,” and whose, “mission is education, research, cooperation, progress.” Additionally, “The challenges facing people today are greater than at any other time in the history of mankind…Astrologers recognize these conditions and want to participate in helping others to successfully meet the challenges of life…and our principal purpose is to serve you!” This is a group of people who wish to provide the world with knowledge to make it a better place for everyone. Now, there is some evidence that the people who are a part of the AFA have undergone cognitive dissonance. Their mission statement could be seen as an indicator of one of the first elements of cognitive dissonance, which is that of a deeply held conviction resulting in behavioral consequences. I’m not sure we can reliably state that these consequences are demonstrated on their website, but I do think that a mission statement which links astrology to combating the great challenges of modern man certainly demonstrates a belief held with deep conviction. Additionally, the members of this group meet another element of cognitive dissonance; social support. Such support propels their deeply held convictions forward as well as aiding in cognitive bias where all members of this group are saying and believing in the same things.


Astrology began in a time when myth was used to understand our place in the universe, but has since been confronted by scientific evidence which challenges the validity of such beliefs. In order to sustain belief in astrology, adherents rely on the un-scrutinized word of “experts” almost displaying a willful ignorance of their lack of credentials which points to cognitive dissonance as they are so tied to their belief that it is overriding their desire to think critically. Furthermore, believer’s drive to manage their terror or fear of the uncontrolled future causes them to make seemingly frantic and un-researched decisions as to whom and what they will place their trust so long as their feelings of dread are managed. Finally, there are also astrology believers who feel that it will provide mankind with the knowledge and tools to better navigate a difficult and troubling world who also seem to feel a sense of responsibility in harnessing and providing that knowledge to others. In summary, the belief in astrology does not appear to come from the unbiased scientific search for truth, but from internally motivated individuals seeking to either quell fear or guide others.


Works Cited

Carlson, S. (1983). Double-blind Test of Astrology. escholarship.org. Retrieved from: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0b40b045

History of Astrology. American Federation of Astrologers. Retrieved from: https://www.astrologers.com/about/history/

Kraig, D. (2009). An Astounding Proof of Astrology. Llewellyn.com. Retrieved from: https://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2009/10/an-astounding-proof-of-astrology/

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Astrology. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from:

VASA/Jeffery Armstrong. Jefferyarmstrong.com. Retrieved from: https://www.jeffreyarmstrong.com/about-jeffrey-armstrong-vasa/

Williams, M. (2015). Zodiac Signs and Their Dates. Universetoday.com. Retrieved from: https://www.universetoday.com/38076/zodiac-signs-and-their-dates/

Zecharia Sitchin and Our Alien Anecestors

Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010) studied Economics at the University of London and was best known for his fringe theories on the origins of Earth and man-kinds celestial ancestry (alien ancestry). According to his official website, www.sitchin.com, he is “one of few scholars able to read and interpret ancient Sumerian and Akkadian clay tablets.” His interpretations and theories were compiled into his seven books known as The Earth Chronicles. In his first novel, The 12th Planet and its sequels Sitchin claims there is a 12th planet beyond Neptune known as Nibiru that reaches our inner solar system once every 3,600 years. According to Sitchin, an advanced race of human-like extraterrestrials called the Anunnaki live on Nibiru and are the missing link in Homo sapiens evolution. There have been no new postings on Sitchins official webpage since 2017 but some 4,126 people follow the Zecharia Sitchin Facebook page which continues to make posts to this day. Additionally, Sitchin’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into almost 20 languages so his influence is certainly noteworthy. The belief in Zecharia Sitchin and what he professed is important because it attempts to provide an answer to some of humanities timeless questions, namely, “Why are we here?” and “How did we come to be here?” However, his explanations provide an extraordinary answer because they contradict our current knowledge regarding our solar system and the celestial bodies found therein and cannot be scientifically proven nor disproven as the only evidence is based upon subjective interpretations.

The Annunaki arrived on Earth 450,000 years ago looking for minerals, namely gold which they began mining in Africa. When Anunnaki miners became displeased with working conditions it was decided that Anunnaki genes and Homo erectus genes would be engineered to create slaves to replace the miners, thus resulting in Homo sapiens, or man-kind as we know it. The evidence sited in support of this belief can be found through a link on the Facebook page which takes you to a website called, enkispeaks.com. There we see evidence quoted from his first book which included varies statements pertaining to Sumerian space maps which showed planets which would have been beyond their ability to detect. “Sumerians lacked telescopes and couldn’t see Uranus’ and Neptune’s orbits the route maps (from Nibiru to Earth) show. Nibirandictated maps prove they had astronomical info Sumerians, on their own, didn’t. The maps accurately detail the entire Earth from space, a perspective impossible for ancient Sumerians on their own.” (Sitchin 275) This map was discovered on a clay tablet in the ruins of the Royal Library at Nineva. Additionally, on Sitchin’s official website there is an article pertaining to an article published in Science magazine by Mathieu Ossendrijver in January 2016 which discusses a 350-50 BCE Babylonian cuneiform tablet that accurately details the position of Jupiter based on geometrical calculations. This article is offered as evidence for the planetary knowledge of ancient civilizations that they were not expected to have, so it therefore is assumed to have come from the Anunnaki. In opposition to these beliefs we see experts such as Dr. Michael S. Heiser who holds a Ph.D in the Hebrew Bible and Semetic Languages posing critical questions to Sitchin regarding his interpretations of the Sumerian texts. Heiser asserts that while Anunnaki is indeed found in Sumerian Literature (182 times, according to Heiser) there is no mention of a connection between them and Nibiru, or a 12th planet. Heiser also questions Sitchin’s reasoning for interpreting Sumerian words such as “naphal” to mean fire, or rockets which leads to an interpretation of the word “Nephilim” to mean “people of the fiery rockets.” Heiser asserts that his interpretation of this word is without accurate explanation nor is there a single, ancient text where naphal has that meaning.

Zecharia Sitchin’s lack of a formal education in Semitic Studies likely led to an inaccurate and therefore misinformed reading of the Sumerian texts. One could argue he suffered from confirmation bias as he moved through the literature distorting the meaning of certain words in an ignorant effort to fit his beliefs. Furthermore, we see a section on Sitchin’s official website discussing a Washington Post article from November 2017 wherein the senior scientist of NASA, David Morrison, PH.D states that Nibiru is not real and that there is no 10th planet. The author of the website responds with a red herring stating that, “he [Morrison] just wants to get on with his real work and not worry about answering questions.” This in no way addresses Morrison’s statement nor does it provide evidence that argues against it.

My first introduction to Zecharia Sitchin and his books was through my parents who are both dis-fellowshipped Jehovah’s Witnesses. After leaving “the truth” my parents were in search of a new truth that answered the big questions that their previous faith no longer did. However anecdotal I imagine many previously religious people who are no longer sure of their belief in a traditional God could find themselves drawn to the appearance of science in Sitchin’s books. As more secular voices are made heard through the internet there is an increasing availability for confirmation bias among belief communities, as well as increased access to “bad science” with no guide posts for truth. Sitchin’s theories are appealing to those who now seek a more “scientific” answer to questions that were previously answered by religion. Moreso, Sitchin relies on texts such as the Bible (Genesis) which may be an added comfort to new believers as it is already familiar. Furthermore, Sitchin’s books being translated into over 20 languages bridges communication gaps and widens the base of believers to extend beyond a single region or language.

Even after Sitchin’s death in 2010 “scientific evidence” for his books was still being shared on his website up until 2017 and many other scholars have written about his work and have added their own supportive evidence as seen through the Zecharia Sitchin Facebook page. This ongoing dialogue could provide believers with comfort and assurance that what they’ve put stock in is continually “proven” and discussed by those seen as experts, even to this day.


Works Cited:

E. (2013). Evidence Validates Sumerian Tales of “Gods” from Nibiru. Enkispeaks.com.

Retrieved from: http://enkispeaks.com/evidence-validates-sumerian-story-of-gods-from-nibiru/

Sitchin, J. & Sitchin, Z. (n.d). The Official Website of Zecharia Sitchin.

Retrieved from:  http://www.sitchin.com/

Sitchin, Z. (2007). The 12th Planet. New York, New York. HarperCollins.

Smith, J. (2010). The 12th Planet and Zecharia Sitchin. Rationalskepticism.org.

Retrieved from: