Good post right now over at Skeptico, where he tries to corner some astrology believer who, typically, generally plays dodgeball with every hard question Skeptico throws at him. In the comments section, someone (not a believer) pointed out Astro.com, which touts itself as “the best (computer-generated) horoscopes world-wide.” Naturally, they don’t explain the way in which computer-generated horoscopes are any different than any other, or what methodologies they use to reach their conclusions. But as the Skeptico post and subsequent comments thread makes clear (for all those who didn’t already figure it out), this shite’s all made up anyway.
So for the hell of it I went over and entered my personal information to be “surprised by the clarity and depth of these comprehensive and accurate interpretations.” I entered everything except the hour of my birth, which I don’t actually know. This is what was spat out for my daily reading:
Weak, transient effect: It is unfortunate that this influence is so brief, because it gives you such a pleasant sense of well-being. Today during the day you feel very warm and friendly to the people around you, and you are willing to offer emotional or physical support to anyone who needs it. You are generous and giving. People will warm to you, and you should get from others exactly what you give, that is, warmth and affection. You are likely to attract basically happy and positive people with whom you will have an enjoyable time. This is not the result of a “Pollyanna” view of reality that refuses to recognize trouble and pain in the world, but of a real sense of belonging and oneness with others. In a very important sense you feel that helping others helps you. On another level this influence indicates a concern with the general welfare.
Um, so basically I’m a nice person who tries to be nice and get along with everyone around me. Well, yes, but I fail to see how I needed astrology to tell me that. This is, of course, a wholly generic “reading” that can and does apply to most people in most life circumstances. But because of the Forer Effect, the woo crowd who actually believe this drivel will think this assessment applies uniquely to them, and will dutifully be amazed and surprised. Perhaps they’ve had a fight with their spouse, or have been sassed by the kids, or are feeling underappreciated at work. So they hear the stars tell them they’re really, really nice, and they’re relieved! And they tell everyone, “I don’t care what you say, I just know astrology works.”
This is elementary psychological manipulation; there’s not even any level of sophistication or finesse to it. It’s feel-good pabulum for the drive-thru, instant-gratification culture. How sad it is that there are so many people lacking in basic self-esteem that they will grasp things like this only to hear the most trite, greeting-card level personal compliments to get them through the day.
Go on, head on over to Astro.com and try yourself, and see how accurate their assessment is of you.