“A grandiose proof of the deplorable subjectivity of men – as a result of which they refer everything to themselves and all thought returns in a straight line to themselves – is given to us by astrology, which refers the course of the great celestial bodies to the poor Self, just as he relates the comets in the sky to the actions of earthly trickery. However, this occurs at all times and has already occurred in the most remote”.
I begin my column with this quote to the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. An abuse, as I resort to the famous thinker to disguise my mediocre writing in alleged erudition. Be clear, my dear reader, if you are influenced by horoscopes, or know how to observe Jupiter in Scorpio, you are already warned, I am an incompetent copywriter, take my text as a joke, do not be offended and forgive me.
Review the predictions, some, perhaps, have warned you of the risk of encountering an ignoble text contaminating your search for useful reading. Beware, use my arguments to exercise your ability to refute, from now on strengthen your faith, which here will be outraged.
Objectively astrology has been waning in strength and relevance. In the early modern age, doctors made surgical decisions influenced by interpretations of messages encoded by celestial bodies, today astrology is not in any medical class. Disease, famine and agricultural losses were explained by comet damage. No one even blamed a meteor shower for the epidemic we faced.
By the way, Covid-19 was the lost opportunity for astrologers to demonstrate competence: the disease was already making victims in 2019, a year in which they did not consider it while predicting 2020. While a lot of weird therapies, some even official ones, pop up against SARS -CoV-2, astrology did not take advantage of the moment of denying proper sanitary practices to institute astral maps, with prevention tips in hospital protocols of questionable quality.
But it is not just in sickness and in health that astrology fails. There are political failures. During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), Bohemian General von Waldstein made war decisions on the advice of an Italian astrologer. The advising did not prevent his fall from grace, until he was assassinated by fellow soldiers.
In turn, the beginning of World War II was marked by the despair of Great Britain, oppressed by the expressive military advances of the Nazi enemy. Stunned, the British employed the astrologer Louis de Wohl with intelligence to try to unlock the secrets of the German force. The eccentric employee erroneously said that astrology guided Hitler’s offensives.
The course of the war changed, England was victorious, its intelligence service created one of the first computing machines, and it never bothered again with the opinions of astrologers. Planetary positions also do not explain the personality differences between fraternal twins, born under the same configuration as the zodiacal warhead.
So what is left for astrology to still fascinate? The answer to this question says a lot about our primate brain and its essential expression, human behavior. There are several explanations in complementary theories.
For those with modest scientific understanding, the elaborate concepts of astrology gleam attractively. This explanation has in its name a sarcastic connotation: the hypothesis of superficial knowledge. Others cling to the supposed power of the stars because they believe that metaphysical actions clarify the mysteries of life. In other words, they find in the stars a way to remedy their spiritual need, without integrating themselves into traditional religions.
However, these two ways of explaining devotion to astrology require a passive follower. This is not always the case, astrologers and their clients have a long-standing struggle against conventional science. They forge arguments to secure the creed, without confirmation and without experience. That’s why the horoscope is present in this newspaper and resists, even though the editorial staff is in favor of science. This belief is established, although it remains a primitive superstition, which relapses into fatalism and narcissism.
I’m aggressive because my sign is y, I’m sloppy because my ascendant is z, but I can be loving and objective because such a star rules anything. Under these constructions, emotional problems become descriptions, which brings encouragement. If something went wrong it’s the fault of the planetary arrangements. Those who disagree with the uncertainties and ambiguities of the world have information that travels light years at their disposal to resolve their anxieties.
Some people recognize themselves in generalized descriptions, a cognitive bias recognized as the Barnum-or Forer effect. Examples of “Barnumian” phrases are: “you have great potential, but you haven’t used it to your advantage yet”. “Something you want will happen soon, as soon as you have the deserved and dreamed reward.” “You tend to be very self-critical.” “Sometimes you have serious doubts if you made the right decision.”
This is the recipe for composing the horoscope predictions and the personality descriptions agreed with the signs of the Zodiac. They sound like accurate, personified phrases, but they can be said to anyone, so they lack personal relevance. Anyone who considers words like these to be accurate believes that the methods of composing them are equally accurate. Furthermore, these mottos are almost always pleasing. Therefore, those who read them feel improvements in self-esteem, even if only momentarily.
Believing in astrology means defending and maintaining self-conceptions. And one of the biggest reasons for believing in superstition is the desire to control the uncontrollable, including the course of events and the reasons for their actions.
Philip Ball. “DOCTOR OF THE DEMON: PARACELSUS AND THE WORLD OF MAGIC AND RENAISSANCE SCIENCE”, [s.d.].
Arthur Schopenhauer. “The art of growing old”, [s.d.].
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Bauer, Martin, e John Durant. “Belief in Astrology: a social-psychological analysis”. Culture and Cosmos 1 . https://doi.org/10.46472/CC.0101.0211.
Fichten, Catherine S., e Betty Sunerton. “Popular Horoscopes and the ‘Barnum Effect’”. The Journal of Psychology 114, no 1 : 123–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1983.9915405.
Frederich Schiller. “The Thirty Years War.Book II”., [s.d.].
Winter, P. R.J. “Libra Rising: Hitler, Astrology and British Intelligence, 1940–43 1”. Intelligence and National Security 21, no. 3 (June 2006): 394–415. https://doi.org/10.1080/02684520600750653.