Quantcast

«

»

Sep 18 2013

If Astrology Were True

Kyle Hill asks an interesting question in the Skeptical Inquirer: What if astrology were true? It wouldn’t just mean that more people would check their horoscope every day to find out what their fate is, it would have enormous implications for human nature and, especially, psychology and sociology.

If astrology were true, society would fracture. Over time we would learn what days of the year gave rise to what kinds of people. Like parents who want their children to become professional hockey players, mothers would calculate conception and birthing times in order to give their son or daughter a particular star sign. Pharmaceutical companies would make a killing developing the drugs that allowed mothers to delay and control births more effectively. Being born into a specific astrological sign would create grand social rifts. Different schools would spring up as they did for different religions in twentieth century Ireland. Potential mates would need not only good looks but also descendants who shared the same sign. Libras and Aries would be the modern Capulets and Montagues.

Studies would be undertaken to establish the psychology determined by stars and planets. The zodiac would replace Myers Briggs. Modern descriptions of psychopathy would include “being a Gemini” as a defining symptom. The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual cites Mercury as much as it does brain chemistry in a world where astrology is true.

Political parties would also incorporate star signs. Candidates run on the basis of how compatible they are with Cancers and Leos—perhaps key demographics. The Speaker of the House would need to be in the astrological 10th House. And when faraway stars eventually shift enough to change star signs, revolutions follow. A new type of human would enter the mix every few centuries. The status quo would be forever challenged by the whims of gravity…

Forget the news, horoscopes are gospel when astrology is true. Dwindling science sections of newspapers are outright discontinued as the future-divining astrologers devour column space. Don’t worry about who you might meet or where your life is going, that is up to the wobble and wanderings of Mars, they say. And after any day’s reading, good or bad, our solar system will eventually replay that particular planetary configuration like a cosmic vinyl record. Your future is simplified. Every so often the planets will conspire to bring about the same set of outcomes from the infinitely possible ones. Hope you saved your horoscope from a few years back, you are going to receive (another) interesting business proposal once those planets realign.

As a teenager, I fell for Christianity but I never fell for astrology. I viewed it as utterly absurd from the first moment I heard of it. Everyone born during a particular period of time has the same personality traits and faces the same fate? Come on, no one actually believes that, do they? Unfortunately, yes. But it’s every bit as dumb as believing that everyone born in the “year of the dog” will have the same traits.

20 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
  2. 2
    tubi

    The zodiac would replace Myers Briggs.

    And no one would notice.

  3. 3
    aaronbaker

    Kind of tangential, but Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic has a fascinating chapter on the continuing respectability of astrology among the educated elite in England well into the 17th century (and so well into the Scientific Revolution). That respectability did begin to evaporate near the end of the century–but until then it was taken surprisingly seriously.

  4. 4
    John Pieret

    What if astrology were true?

    Sounds pretty much like what happens with untrue religion.

  5. 5
    Modusoperandi

    “As a teenager, I fell for Christianity but I never fell for astrology.”

    Well, of course a Libra would say that.

  6. 6
    Pieter B, FCD

    I used to ask friends getting into computerized astrology to cast charts for Ted Bundy, Charlie Manson, John Wayne Gacy and other notorious criminals without telling them who the birthdates belonged to. Hilarity ensued, for me anyway.

  7. 7
    unbound

    @2 – very true

  8. 8
    Alverant

    I found a book that gave two dense pages describing the traits of people born on every day of the year. It described my birthday as “the most creative day of the year” and I liked the sound of that enough to buy the book at a bargain book sale for $5. I figure it was worth that much to affirm my better qualities and ignore my flaws. :)

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    Don’t forget the implications for astronomy — it’s a purely geocentric model, with the Universe being a lot smaller than we know it to be. (Trick question: what would astrology say for people born on Mars? On a planet in the Hercules Cluster?)

  10. 10
    ThorGoLucky

    Those things could happen whether true or not, if it’s ingrained deeply enough in society. Like how karma is ingrained in some countries where inequity is the norm because both the obscenely rich and impoverished deserve their fate.

  11. 11
    Gregory in Seattle

    The solar house of your birth plays a minor part in “authentic” astrology. Far more important are the configurations of the planets at the moment of birth. Aspects occur only rarely, though, so what you would see is an explosion of births occurring when, say, Venus and Jupiter were in conjunction in Scorpio, or when Saturn and the Moon are trine to retrograde Mars.

  12. 12
    Moggie

    The status quo would be forever challenged by the whims of gravity…

    I don’t think there’s any room for whims in F = G(m1.m2) / r**2

  13. 13
    grumpyoldfart

    The astrologers would quickly learn the old Christian trick of interpretation. Like the Christians today, the astrologers of the future would do exactly what they wanted to do and then interpret their charts to fit their actions.

  14. 14
    abb3w

    Fun fact: the US General Social Survey data seems to indicate that considering astrology unscientific is weakly correlated to being a winter sign.

    (I suspect it’s a by-product of what exact age that kids start school….)

  15. 15
    some bastard on the net

    But it’s every bit as dumb as believing that everyone born in the “year of the dog” will have the same traits.

    Oh, yeah? Well, I was born in the year of the rabbit, and my allergy-ridden nose constantly twitches! Checkmate, skeptics!

  16. 16
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Having had my full chart done, I’m mostly amused at the results.

    Somewhat annoyed at people who take it way. too. seriously.

  17. 17
    francesc

    @12 Try the relativistic one, it has some more space in it
    @5 Is he a libra? That has to be the reason I read his posts
    Humankind changed a lot when a bunch of astronomers decided to getPluto out of planet’s list

  18. 18
    Gregory in Seattle

    @WMDKitty #16 – I made pocket money in college offering psychic “counseling” to other students, usually tarot readings and occasionally charts. I was a skeptical believer in such things back then, but income was income. Being the kind of person I am, I actually went out and learned the “authentic” stuff, not just the spend ten minutes reading a book level. Pure hokum, sure, but it was surprising how well advice like “Dump the abusive boyfriend and contact the police” and “Forego the party and study until 10 pm” is received when it comes from “science.”

  19. 19
    Gregory in Seattle

    Actually, I should have said “psychic” counseling: I think I gave pretty good advice even though the format was hogwash.

  20. 20
    cjcolucci

    Several years ago, a prominent supermarket tabloid, I forget which, ran an annual double-page center spread with predictions for the coming year from a noted psychic. I taped it to my office wall and crossed things off when they either came true or were definitively falsified. There were well over a hundred predicitions. By year’s end I scored 2-1/2 correct. The half was an somehwat ambiguous prediction for which I gave partial credit because on one possible reading it could be true.
    They stopped running the feature a few years later, but I’m guessing the track record had little to do with it.

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site