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Astrology

By Wolf
Posted on: 4/18/2002

A few thoughts about the invalidity of astrology, perpetual motion, and pseudoscience in general.


Hi, fellow skeptics:

I’d like to make two comments about astrology. You may be aware of this, but since astrology was formulated thousands of years ago, precession of the Earth has caused the signs of the Zodiac to be shifted back one sign. For example if you are a Libran, you were really born when the Sun was in the constellation of Virgo. When astrologers say the Sun is in Virgo, it is really in Leo (and so on).

Another inaccuracy of astrology is the recently-discovered planets. When astrology began, only seven “planets” were known — Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. This worked out rather neatly for the ancients — the Sun was the ruling planet of Leo and the Moon ruled Cancer, leaving five planets to fill the remaining ten signs; each planet was assigned to two Zodiacal signs. When Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered, they were arbitrarily “shoved” into three signs and the previous planet got “kicked out”.

As if this weren’t enough chicanery, wouldn’t this have rendered their predictions inaccurate? For example, if someone had a “chart” done a week before Pluto was discovered, wouldn’t it be totally wrong because it did not take into account Pluto’s “planetary influence?” Also, all ancient astrological “readings” would have been inaccurate because these three planets were still in our solar system but the ancients weren’t aware of that.

Moving to another area, it seems that the work of John “Perpetual Motion” Keely is being kept alive on the Internet. Heck, this guy died about 100 years ago but there are some websites proclaiming this guy was ahead of his time, misunderstood, unjustly persecuted, etc. His modern-day counterpart seems to be Joe Newman who claims that tests conducted on his own “energy machines” weren’t conducted properly. I’m sure you are aware of both these folks.

If I may offer my own opinion here, I would like to state two reasons why I think people find the “pseudosciences” appealing.

1) It gives people a sense of security. It is nice to think that when we die, the good folks will be rewarded accordingly and all the evil-doers will get their just desserts. Or when someone dies, it is not the end and you can really talk to them on the “other side”. Or if you have a cancer diagnosis, it is pretty gloomy to hear what the doctor’s prognosis is. So, sadly, the charlatans offer a pleasant, optimistic alternative.

2) Pseudoscience is much easier to understand. No need studying physics, calculus, chemistry, and so on. It is a lot less effort to read a “fluff” pseudo-explanation than a detailed scientific text. So, people can often be attracted to the meaningless buzz-words of the charlatans; “crystalline energy vibrations,” “astral plane,” etc.

Okay (gee I can go on and on), thanks for paying attention and keep up the good work of your website.

See ya.

— WOLF


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