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Apr 28 2014

OB-GYN Defends Astrology. Badly.

Christiane Northrup is an OB-GYN who believes in astrology and self-help woo of all types. And in a post on her website, she attempts to defend her belief in astrology by tossing a tasty word salad full of catchphrases and illogical claims.

When someone asks me why astrology plays such an important role in my life, I know they don’t see astrology the way I do. Astrology connects us to the universe—to the whole. It helps us make meaning out of seemingly meaningless events, especially the ones that test our resolve. It imbues the universe with the magic that our souls crave.

Is your bullshit meter topping out yet? Just wait.

So when someone questions my belief in astrology, I reply with some questions of my own: “Do you believe in the phases of the moon? Do you believe in the seasons?” And then I add, “Because astrology is about aligning with the forces that rule the moon, the tides, and the turning of the planets, and then finding your unique place within this system based on how the planets were lined up at the moment of your birth.”

Phrases like “aligning with the forces” and “finding your unique place” are just gibberish, nonsense phrases that sound profound when they mean nothing at all.

Astrology is simply a tool—it has no power other than what you give it. It’s like checking the weather forecast to see if you should pack a raincoat.

Well, it would be if astrology could actually predict things accurately. But it can’t. It’s more like pawing through some goat entrails to see if you should pack a raincoat.

Astrology gives you a roadmap for the journey of your soul. It’s designed to help you maximize access to your soul’s original blueprint. From time to time, I will look at someone’s chart with them. Invariably, the first thing he or she asks is, “Is it bad?” There aren’t any “bad” charts. Every chart has its challenges and its gifts.

More bullshit phrases: “a roadmap for the journey of your soul” that will “maximize access to your soul’s original blueprint.” I don’t understand how people can utter things like this without a bit of shame.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    karmacat

    Dr. Northrup seems to be struggling with the idea that she is meaningless speck in this vast universe. Although seeing babies being born is incredible. It is easier to see meaning in the world when you see a baby being born. Hmm. I just don’t know what to make of this person.

  2. 2
    Doug Little

    “Do you believe in the phases of the moon? Do you believe in the seasons?” And then I add, “Because astrology is about aligning with the forces that rule the moon, the tides, and the turning of the planets, and then finding your unique place within this system based on how the planets were lined up at the moment of your birth.”

    Astrology is aligned with gravity? It’s a pretty simple calculation that shows the gravitational effects of the planets are insignificant compared to the moon.

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    Mmmmmmmmm, goat entrails…

    Hungry now….

  4. 4
    colnago80

    Gee, a physician screwier then Michael Egnor and Ben Carson.

  5. 5
    Kevin Kehres

    I admit it: I check the horoscope every day.

    However…what I do is jump around until I find a horoscope I like. Because the one “assigned” to me is usually bass-ackwards.

    Today, I am a Taurus. Lately, though, the better horoscopes have been for Gemini.

    Why should I let the mere fact of my birth date interfere with a good horoscope?

  6. 6
    eric

    @2 – yep.

    Phil Plait wrote a piece (a while ago now) debunking astrology in a fairly elegant manner. For one half of the article, he assumed astrological forces didn’t fall off with distance. He showed the system couldn’t work if that was the case; astrologers would be getting the astrological influences all wrong. Then, for the other half, he assumed the opposite – that astrological influnces do fall off with distance – and showed that the system wouldn’t work if that was the case, either.

  7. 7
    Kevin Kehres

    @2…actually, yes. The modern horoscopist (horoscoper?) will tell you with a straight face that your entire life’s history is pre-ordained at birth by the gravitational pull of the star clusters above your head at the moment of your birth.

    Never mind that the gravitational force of the obstetrician exerted a slight larger pull at the time.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    tsig

    I’m sure that astrology will “maximize access to your wallet.”

  10. 10
    ajb47

    What the hell does it mean to “believe in the phases of the moon”? Or “the seasons”?

  11. 11
    wscott

    It imbues the universe with the magic that our souls crave.

    Sadly, I think this is the key passage. A lot of people really REALLY want magic to exist, because they feel the universe is stale and boring without magic. Sadly, no amount of evidence is going to convince them otherwise. I think that’s why belief in astrology is so high among Millenials, even among “nones” – they’ve rejected existing religions, but they’re desperate to find some sort of higher meaning in something.

  12. 12
    Sastra

    I don’t understand how people can utter things like this without a bit of shame.

    What, ashamed about their faith? Nobody should ever have to apologize for ANY spiritual belief. This sort of thing is the sign of a sensitive, insightful, deep thinker who seeks below the surface of things. If you don’t share this particular faith tradition, then please show respect for those who do. Blah blah blah and so forth.

    I’ve been around people who have uttered the same and worse (fairies, anyone?) … and they trot it out with the attitude that anyone who tries to shame them or even counter any of it simply demonstrates how superior it is to be open-minded. They don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a fact claim and the value of the person who believes it. At least, not when it’s convenient.

  13. 13
    sigurd jorsalfar

    There aren’t any ‘bad’ charts. So if a bus is going to run you over next week, does astrology classify that as a ‘challenge’ or a ‘gift’?

  14. 14
    dugglebogey

    If my forces are out of alignment, can I go to Firestone for that?

  15. 15
    Modusoperandi

    Oh yeah? Well my horoscope said that I “would have a new and exciting experience”. Then I got hit by a bus. Checkmate, rationalism!

  16. 16
    Modusoperandi

    Ah hah! Sigurd Jorsalfar agrees with me. Even before I wrote it. You’re non-astrologerism can’t answer that!

  17. 17
    Taz

    I check my horoscope occasionally, but only from the Onion:

    Aries – Your last hope of finding true and unconditional love ends this week when your ideal mate is executed by the State of Texas for unspeakable crimes against humanity.
    Taurus – This week’s revelations will be especially mortifying for you, seeing as you’ve been insisting for years that that life is not some sort of big pie-eating contest.
    Gemini – When the moment of truth you’ve been praying for all these years will finally arrives, you’ll reject it out of hand rather than admit that it’s all been the cat’s fault.
    Cancer – You’ll suddenly be torn away from your friends and cast out of the only home you’ve ever known by the authorities, who insist your sentence is over and you’re free to go.
    Leo – Just as you’ve always suspected, it is in fact a felony to use your particular method of “getting girls.”
    Virgo – Next week will be a time of magical romance and unending joy for you, thanks to your boundless talent for self-delusion.
    Libra- You’re going to need a lot of epsom salts and lip balm this week. No, honestly, you can trust us. This isn’t like the time with the horse laxatives.
    Scorpio – Someday you might learn that it is indeed possible to take a fun thing too far, but not before next week’s experimentation with autoerotic asphyxiation.
    Sagittarius Your combined proclivities towards paranoia and depression combine when you start to think a race of alien lizard-people are controlling life’s lowest echelons from behind the scenes.
    Capricorn – In a wacky horoscopic mixup, you’ll encounter a mysterious stranger who takes you on a journey over water just as you’re trying to start new projects at work.
    Aquarius – Keep extra apples and bandages around the house next week, as your lover seems to be going through a William Tell phase.
    Pisces – There will be nothing you can do to avert the disaster of next week, although there will be plenty that a reasonably bright and competent person could do.

  18. 18
    sigurd jorsalfar

    Modus, when do I NOT agree with you?

    I was going to wish you a speedy recovery from your bus mishap. Then I read your chart. But don’t worry, who doesn’t love a challenge?

  19. 19
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    It’s more like pawing through some goat entrails to see if you should pack a raincoat.

    I don’t know about a raincoat, but if I were going to be pawing through goat entrails I’d probably want to pack a pair of gloves.

  20. 20
    NitricAcid

    The reason she can say this crap without shame is that it pays the bills.

  21. 21
    Abby Normal

    I remember the point at which I became convinced that belief in astrology was chiefly the result of confirmation bias. I was twelve years old and visiting with my grandmother. We were playing Gin Rummy with a couple of her friends when the topic of astrology came up. Her neighbor from across the street swore up and down that the horoscope in the local paper was 100% accurate for her every day. We found this difficult to believe and ribbed her about it a bit. She was a good sport but remained insistent, the paper was never wrong.

    So we grabbed a copy of the paper and read the horoscope. As we read aloud, her confident expression slipped into confusion. She said she’d already read today’s paper and what we were reading wasn’t hers had said. The mystery was quickly solved when we asked her where she got the paper. Her son would drop it off when he stopped by to check on her each morning. It didn’t take long to figure out the paper he was dropping off was the one he’d read the previous evening. For years she had been reading the horoscope for the wrong day.

    We all had a good laugh, neighbor lady included. She was embarrassed and admitted that perhaps she’d been wrong. But she wouldn’t abandon her belief altogether, “There must be something going on for it to have been right so often.”

  22. 22
    Modusoperandi

    sigurd jorsalfar “Modus, when do I NOT agree with you?”
    You can’t. It’s impossible.

     
    “I was going to wish you a speedy recovery from your bus mishap.”
    I call it a “prohap”, due to my boundless optimism and also the pretty drugs they have me on at the moment. They break out the good stuff when your knees bend the wrong way. Wheee!

  23. 23
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Taz @17 beat me to it. The Onion’s horoscope is the only one worth reading. It’s just as much BS as the rest of them, but at least it’s funny.

  24. 24
    Doug Little

    Who wins when astrology and fortune cookies contradict one another?

  25. 25
    bushrat

    The sad part is that the babies she delivers feel the effects of her gravitational pull more that all the planets. Maybe astrology should telling people about the position of the doctors and nurses at the delivery. Born on April 28, with Nurse Betty in ascendancy but Dr Wellesly in retrograde.

  26. 26
    busterggi

    “Astrology is simply a tool—it has no power other than what you give it.”

    My astrology ran out of power decades ago and I haven’t been able to find batteries for it so I’ve been stuck relying on reality ever since.

  27. 27
    sigurd jorsalfar

    sigurd jorsalfar “Modus, when do I NOT agree with you?”
    You can’t. It’s impossible.

    Once again I totally agree with you. Another bullseye for astrology!

    I call it a “prohap”, due to my boundless optimism and also the pretty drugs they have me on at the moment. They break out the good stuff when your knees bend the wrong way. Wheee!

    I’m glad to hear you are enjoying your gift :-)

  28. 28
    Die Anyway

    I read the whole post AND the comments (yes, glutton for punishment). It’s sad to see so many in agreement with her. If my doctor so much as mentioned astrology (or homeopathy) I would be out of there in an instant.
    One commenter suggested we should look to God, not astrology. The author came back that it was God that made astrology work the way it does. Win-win. Sheesh!

  29. 29
    blf

    Who wins when astrology and fortune cookies contradict one another?

    Goat entrails.

  30. 30
    matty1

    My favourite horoscope read.

    On Tuesday you will be abducted by aliens who insert a probe in you
    On Wednesday the aliens take you again to retrieve the probe
    Then on Thursday, this time just for the hell of it

  31. 31
    robb

    reionize the electrons!

    http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/

  32. 32
    Doug Little

    blf @29,

    Well I guess the goat definitely doesn’t. Hey you could do game of Astrology, Fortune Cookie, Goat Entrails. Not sure how to represent these with hand gestures though.

  33. 33
    Doug Little

    bushrat @25,

    Ha, yes Feng Shui has more of an influence on the baby than the location of the planets.

  34. 34
    sigurd jorsalfar

    Oh, sure, goat entrails are pretty good I suppose. But what’s a vegetarian like me supposed to do?

  35. 35
    Ouabache

    Do you believe in the seasons?

    The way the weather has been lately I’m starting to have my doubts.

  36. 36
    Doug Little

    The way the weather has been lately I’m starting to have my doubts.

    Yes unfortunately we I am we have been locked into the shitty weather. Still waiting for Spring to spring.

  37. 37
    Nick Gotts

    It’s more like pawing through some goat entrails to see if you should pack a raincoat. – Ed

    Ha! Good one! But surely everyone knows you use chicken entrails in this case?

  38. 38
    JamesY2

    “Because astrology is about aligning with the forces that rule the moon, the tides, and the turning of the planets, and then finding your unique place within this system based on how the planets were lined up at the moment of your birth.”

    So… humans are like magnets, except using gravity instead of electron spin?

  39. 39
    caseloweraz

    Dr. Northrup: When someone asks me why astrology plays such an important role in my life, I know they don’t see astrology the way I do.

    That much is true.

    We know the stars are not eternal; they are born and they die, sometimes violently.

    Here’s a question for any astrologer: If the pattern of the stars exerts such a strong influence on our lives, should not astrology take account of changes caused by stars going missing?

    I’d better call that a rhetorical question since I doubt there are any astrologers here.

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