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Sep 24 2006

Astrogenericus

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.

3 comments

  1. 1
    tracieh

    Here’s what I got (and I knew my time to the minute):”Tonight you should be careful because the energies of this influence are quite discordant and could create trouble in your personal life. The problem is that you are rather emotionally excitable and easily irritated or angered now. With other people you are far less tolerant of individual quirks, and little things irritate you. You may also be in such a contentious mood that no outside aggravation is needed to set you off. Be wary of arguing just for the sake of arguing. But on the other hand, if you feel real anger, you should release the energy; don’t hold it in. Your domestic scene may not be very peaceful under this influence, but try to remain calm, no matter how difficult it is. Relations with women may be especially difficult.”I guess if I was in a really good mood I might wonder about this. But it’s basically saying I’ll be irritable tonight.I don’t know if this helps?-th***

  2. 2
    Martin

    Well, it’s certainly general enough that it could apply to most anyone who gets it (like all “readings”). Let’s have a look at what it says: You’re feeling cranky today, and you’re likely to go off on someone if you don’t simmer down. Now think: setting aside the fact that today (9/24) is a Sunday, how many people reading this “computer generated” result will be reading it after a long, hard, aggravating day at work where they feel like they just can’t take any more of so-and-so’s crap? Maybe close to half? And if anyone brings their work-related stress home with them, which so many people commonly do, of course their “domestic scene may not be very peaceful”. I love the little inserted detail about “relations with women”. If a man reads this, it will automatically refer to wives or girlfriends. If a woman, then either their mothers or daughters.So again, another brilliant, down-to-the-minute-of-your-birth personality assessment from the stars…that could apply to most everyone! Fun!

  3. 3
    Tracie Harris

    Also, if I don’t get upset–well, it’s because my horoscope warned me, right? So, I worked to stay happy and calm because I knew the stars were working against me.

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