Anti-Science

Why You Should Not Use CareerBuilder.com

Lots of people emailed me a ridiculous article on CNN’s site about what your zodiac sign says about your job. Because journalism is dead, CNN allows an advertiser (in this case, CareerBuilder.com) to hire a bonehead (in this case, Rachel Zupeck) to write an “article” that is really just a platform for promoting the business. Well guess what, CareerBuilder.com? Now thousands of rational people know you support bullshit, and will instead use Craigslist the next time they need a new job. Suck it.

I’m going to link to the article, but first, I’d like to propose a fun game. CareerBuilder (CB) issued a survey, took the results, and confused correlation and causation. In other words, if the survey showed that slightly more people who are Virgos like to surf for porn at work, CB decided that must mean these people like to get pervy on the clock because they are Virgos. Never mind that all those people may have something else in common that is the actual cause of their porn-habit, like, say, not getting enough hugs from Dad as a kid.

So anyway, the results were split up by zodiac sign and then vomited into this “article.” I’ve taken the key career traits of each sign, removed the name of the sign, mixed them up, and printed them after the jump. Read through, and then comment below with the description you think matches you, along with what your sign really is. Then, you can click through to the article to see how close you were. Come back and tell us how you did. Be honest! It’s more fun that way.

  1. Most XXX affirmed working in government, construction, hotel/recreation and education, according to the survey. As assertive, outspoken, confident and dynamic people, those choice professions should speak well to their characters.
  2. XXX’s need a profession that keeps them motivated and interested — no two days at work should be the same. XXX from the survey reported working such jobs as art/design/architecture, nursing and personal care, sales, law enforcement, firefighting and machine operation — all of which are right up XXX’s alley.
  3. Independent, humane, innovative, unconventional and visionary are all adjectives that describe XXX. Jobs suited for these character traits include astronomy, photography, aviation and computer technology. XXXs who responded to the survey reported holding jobs in sales, military, engineering, mechanics, food preparation, facilities management and transportation.
  4. XXX are diplomatic and sociable — they need human interaction in order to be happy in a career. They are also easy-going, cooperative and are able to reach a compromise easily. Taking all of these factors into consideration, XXX from the survey are on course as they work in government, social work, advertising, machine operation, law enforcement, firefighting, sales and education.
  5. XXX are spiritual, positive and ethical; they also love to travel and learn new skills. Editing/writing, marketing/public relations, entertainment, hotel/recreation, IT and military, the careers reported in the survey, are all fitting for XXX.
  6. XXX are persistent, responsible and dogmatic; they thrive in positions of power and where you can apply your common sense. XXX reported working in art/design/architecture, nursing, science, IT, sales, farming and food preparation, which are all fitting to this zodiac.
  7. XXX are empathetic, caring, unselfish and spiritual, which combine well with healing or compassionate professions like health care, social work or philanthropy. XXX in the survey are on the right track, reporting working in such careers as social work, personal care, IT and facilities management.
  8. XXX are reliable, practical and honest; they are methodical and work well in teams. Additionally, these folks like jobs that deal with artistic or extravagant things. Compatible professions include jobs in finance, accounting and interior design. Nursing, engineering, law, marketing, public relations and higher education also fit the bill for jobs attuned to XXX — good thing those are jobs they reported in the survey.
  9. XXX are energetic, kindhearted, imaginative and protective. Their personalities usually fare well in law, psychology, teaching or nursing. Survey respondents said they worked in government, legal services, advertising, higher education, machine operation, transportation and military, all of which are in line with XXX personality traits.
  10. Analytical, intuitive and resourceful, XXX are drawn to mystery and all things complex and abnormal. Occupations well-matched to this personality are in science, investigation or politics. XXX from the survey said they work in such careers as legal services, engineering, science, education, construction and skilled trades.
  11. XXX are detail-oriented with a passion for knowledge and meaning. Careers that require accuracy and research are well-suited to these folks. Some professions XXX reported in the survey included social work, sales, editing/writing and food preparation.
  12. XXX have a true lust for power and leadership. They are confident, optimistic and charismatic — they have no problem winning people over with their charm. Government, legal services, art/design/architecture, engineering, entertainment, real estate and education, are all areas suited for XXX; luckily those are the professions reported in the survey, too.

Did you pick your favorite? Now go see how you did.

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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73 Comments

  1. Well, surprise, surprise, astrology fails once more. I’d say I was a 10 on Rebecca’s list, supposedly making me a Scorpio.

    Nope, Gemini here. But then I’ve always wondered if I was adopted and if my parents dont know when I was really born cos I’ve never been able to get those damn Horoscopes to fit me.

  2. I’m closest to #8 or #3, and I’m a Pisces. I guessed correctly that Pisces was #7 – which just goes to show that knowledge of astronomy can bias astronomical readings (either positively or negatively).

  3. @muddgirl: Yes, good point and one that I considered making in the post — funny how people tend to know the traits of their astrological sign, and if they are introduced to them at the early age, I think it’s no surprise that they might tend to (unconsciously) adapt their personality to fit it. I think Richard Wiseman mentions that effect in the first chapter of Quirkology.

  4. I’m a #10 with influence from #6 and I’m a scorpio – now to test…
    —–
    It looks like CareerBuilder’s astrologer was right. It’s all true! That’s solid (anecdotal) evidence that you can’t deny (except you can). So, there, skeptics!

  5. I always get my astrology info from Weird AL.

    Taurus
    You will never find true happiness – what you gonna do, cry about it?
    The stars predict tomorrow you’ll wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and then go back to sleep

    For those still in denial of Al’s genius, I give you:

    Now you may find it inconceivable or at the very least a bit unlikely
    that the relative position of the planets and the stars could have
    a special deep significance or meaning that exclusively applies to only you,
    but let me give you my assurance that these forecasts and predictions
    are all based on solid, scientific, documented evidence, so you would have
    to be some kind of moron not to realize that every single one of them is absolutely true.

    From “Your Horoscope for Today”, by “Weird Al” Yankovic

    I am a Hedge

  6. And once again, our Ophiucan brothers and sisters are left out! I guess that the collected hobos, tramps, and bums fall under that sign, since all of the others seem to have careers fit for them?

    Shiftless and lazy, Ophiucans are well suited to a life of inactivity and mooching. Ideal careers include panhandling, plasma donation, and charity newspaper sales. Survey respondents reported a higher-than-average skill at grift and confidence tricks, so if they could put down the hooch for long enough, Ophiucans might make excellent marketing execs and elected officials!

  7. Holy crap, you’re right!! My daddie didn’t hug me enough as a kid… Maybe now I can stop going to porntube when I should be working and start working on improving the muscles in my LEFT arm… Why, oh WHY did I have to be born a Virgo?!?!?!

  8. I picked #11 because I like to think of myself as “detail oriented with a passion for knowledge and meaning.”

    My sun sign is Capricorn, which is what most people think of as their “sign” – apparently, my moon was in Scorpio, which caused the co-worker who wanted to do my horoscope, oh, so many years ago, to become even more fascinated with me. She was cute, but, sadly, a lesbian, so we were never more than friends.

    And, yes, I’m a skeptic and atheist. I just happen to know more than I think I should about astrology.

    Annnnnd the evidence that I don’t really know that much about astrology is that, according to the article on CNN, the description I chose is for those with a sun-sign of Virgo. Heh.

  9. The description which best fits me turned out to be Scorpio. Strangely, according to my birth certificate, I’m Sagittarius. Yet I’m nothing like the Sagittarians the article describes. Why did my parents wait a month to report my birth and falsify the date? What dark secrets were they trying to conceal???

  10. I pegged mine.

    BUT, I have spent a number of years in the Pagan community where astrology is almost gospel, and could pretty much tell which sign each description was without peeking… they were pretty cookie-cutter for anyone who’s worked with them before.

    Also, whether it’s projection or my perverse nature, I’ve always been enamoured with the descriptions of my Scorpio nature and thought they actually describe me, though I think it’s either by generalisation or coincidence rather than some magical mystical influence of the heavenly spheres.

  11. On the list, I’d call myself a 6. But I’m no Capricorn.

    However, my cat was born on the cusp of being a Capricorn! I’d personally like to thank Rebecca for showing me that astrology does in fact work!

  12. I might have been a 6 if it weren’t for the word “dogmatic”. 10 and 11 seemed ok. I’m apparently a 12 though. So good job, losers. FAIL.

    PS.. Does “food preparation” in number 11 seem out of nowhere to anyone else?

  13. I can confirm that there is absolutely no correlation between what sounds like me (Aquarius, Gemini, Virgo) and my astrological sign (Libra) … On the other hand, my astrological symbol matches my profession, so there must be “some truth to it”, right?

  14. I can relate to parts of all of those descriptions. I mean who doesn’t want a “profession that keeps them motivated and interested”. I’ll have the boring monotonous job to go please with a glass of milk and white bread. I guess I am Pan-astrologic and can’t be pinned down…what-ever. By the way, officially I am a Sagittarius but I prefer to think of myself as a Clevelander. Growing up in Ohio had more influence on me and my attitudes than did astrology. As for the survey I should be in “Editing/writing, marketing/public relations, entertainment, hotel/recreation, IT and military”. I teach and therefore write lectures but PR I don’t think so…I don’t care what others think. Military…right. LOAD of crap.

    Thanks RW for some fun for me this AM. Now off to deal with whinning students and why vaccines are important.

  15. I was closest to Scorpio but am a Cancer. Several were about as close – the descriptions are vague enough that you can see some “part of you” in almost any of them. I actually use something like this when I’m teaching about the scientific method and do a survey where students try to pick their personality types from unlabeled zodiac sign descriptions. Generally, about 6 to 10 percent guess correctly. As someone noted, some are pretty aware of the “classic” sign descriptions and can pick them out so actually the results are a little skewed in the favour of positives. Still not very impressive. ;)

  16. My Virgo ass has been demoted to Aquarius…argh! How can fortune telling fail me AGAIN? I put so much faith in you, astrology, and you continue to let me down! Eventually I’ll have to just shunt you aside like I did with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, God, and the imaginary friend I had in second grade named Lelia…

  17. Actually, they are not confusing causation and correlation any more than is often done in science. Zodiac sign happens at birth, and therefore happens before career, so to assume that Zodiac sign influences career is not unreasonable. To give a counterexample, you need something that might cause both, but instead you give something (hugs from dad) that comes after birth and Zodiac sign. Why should dad hug a Virgo less? This counterexample is unclear to me.

    Rather, I would refute their claims by questioning whether or not they found statistical significance (some signs are bound to tick one box more than another sign, simply by chance, but careful analysis is needed to determine if the results mean anything). The other problem they likely had may be what is known as the problem of multiple comparisons (essentially, the more questions you ask, the more likely you are to get an answer that suits you, and forget it if you don’t have a real, a priori hypothesis). Careful corrections are needed for this as well. Unfortunately, I can’t find the data on the Careerbuilder site, so I can’t say. I think this is silly myself, but lots of silly things have turned out to be true, so I would not jump to criticize them until I saw the numbers.

  18. I knew that I wouldn’t get the right one. Pisces was bound to have “spiritual” in the description. In fact, of the three I thought were somewhat correct, none were less than three months away from my birthday.

  19. Isn’t that interesting, I have qualities that at least 6 of these signs have. OMG! That means my mother was giving birth for 6 months, no wonder she blames me for everything that happened to her afterward.
    I thought no.’s 3,4,5,7,8 and 9 had the same qualities as me, although I did pick 5 as me. And as it turns out, that’s Libra and I am a Libra. Does this sort of thing work in other non-western astrologies?
    BTW Why isn’t there a sign for the unemployed, homemakers, etc… ?

  20. I’ve done a preliminary meta-analysis of our comments. If we do not include the 3 or so people who had intimate knowledge of astrology and were able to peg themselves based on descriptions, we get a hit/miss ratio of about 3/32 = .09375. If we include people with the inside knowledge, we get 6/35= .1714.

    Based on pure chance, we would expect a hit ratio of 1/12 =.08333.
    Someone better call Randi, these guys must be onto something!

  21. I guessed correctly.

    (I read my own horrorscope (sp intentional) daily just for a laugh, and my sign tends to contain certain elements that persist throughout astrological chatter.)

    (That, and the process of eliminating any statement about being “kindhearted,” “energetic,” “gregarious,” or any of that other fluffy crap generally gives away my sign rather quickly.)

  22. I was supposed to be a Virgo. I was always taught that I was actually a Taurus.

    However, due to the movement of the earth’s axis since 2000 years ago when the astrological charts were made, the sun actually rose in Gemini.

    So, you know.

    Derp!

  23. @Chew- The analysis did not take account of the precession of the earth’s axis over the last 2000 odd years. BUT neither do those durn astrologists (no surprise), so I feel the analysis is still valid.

  24. @Kimbo Jones:
    I actually know this (as my dose of woo was astrological in nature when I was a kid….15 mutha-f’n years ago….it’s easy to grow out of this if you have a brain):

    According to the arbitrary rules of the game, the person would be in the new sign, but they would also have traits of both, being born during the ‘cusp’.

    When I mock a pseudo-science, I make sure it’s a pseudo-science I know well!

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put some knitting-needles in my eyeballs for 10 minutes to poke the mental-stink out of my brain.

  25. I was sent this page by a friend, because I’m one of those freaky cusp people. On the rare occasions where I check my horoscope (Dirty habit, but Free Will Astrology makes me chuckle), I’ll browse the Capricorn and the Aquarius sections and pick whichever one boosts my ego more.

    That being said, with two to choose from, Career Builder nonetheless pegged me as a Scorpio.

  26. after carefully reading them all i think #’s 2,10, & 11 fit me best (since none of them really fit me, or anyone, perfectly or even mostly well). if i was forced to pick only one i think i’d pick #2.

    #2=gemini
    #10= scorpio (good character from farscape)
    #11=virgo

    according the the astrology dates i’m am and always have been an aquarius. seeing how it takes three other signs to add up to one aquarius that can only mean that aquarius is the best sign and will one day rule the UNIVERSE!! MWAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

  27. @Some Canadian Skeptic: So that’s why astrology’s not working for anyone! :)

    Where did you get that information about the “sign adjustments”, by the way? I’m curious to read about that for my own masochism. I’d like to know what sign I’m “supposed to be” so that sign can be nothing like me, too.

    @Some Canadian Skeptic: Aaah, good to know. But I think I framed my original question a little weird – so each person would be considered a cuspie and they would be the same “sign”? So there wouldn’t be any kind of garbage where they are 2 different signs and therefore 2 different types of people despite being born on the same day?

  28. @ Kimbo Jones

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_aquarius
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precession_of_the_equinoxes

    Incidentally, there have been some (Admittedly crackpot) theories that suggest that this precession of the equinoxes is an underlying current in much of western mythology. The beginning of the age of Aries (roughly) coincides witht the rise of Judaism, and more specifically the age of Moses. For this reason, to this day a big, integral part of ceremony is the blowing of the (Surprise) rams horn. The second age, which began around 0 BC, was Pisces, and we can all think of a famous fisherman around that time.

    It was actually detailed well in the first 1/2 hour of the movie “Zeitgeist”, but after these correlations are brought up, the rest of the movie slips into a conspiracy theory.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-594683847743189197

  29. A little bit of 2, 3, 5, 8, mostly 8, and a bit of a bunch of others as well. 8 makes me a Taurus, but my birthdate falls in what is claimed to be the Sagittarius time frame. I always knew I must be a Tauran, what with the giant horns, three fingered hands, shamanic abilities, and cow-like appearance. FOR THE HORDE!

  30. On the list I am a 3. In reality, I’m a capricorn, According to CNN, an aquarius is what I am supposed to be, close I suppose. They also mention that capricorns and aquarians are most likely to earn $35,000 or less annually. Well, I am at the opposite end of that income scale unless they meant net income after taxes and child support.

  31. @Some Canadian Skeptic: Yeah, I also have no life, have all kinds of tech just laying around the my apartment and work in a techie industry (web development). It’s a quadfecta of nerddom! BUWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    @Kimbo Jones: Well that’s just great, now I have to live up to some obscene level of expectation with all my further internet interactions! I can’t handle the pressure! *SNIF* I’m gonna go bitch-slap a night elf now.

  32. OK, I picked #2 which is:

    XXX’s need a profession that keeps them motivated and interested — no two days at work should be the same. XXX from the survey reported working such jobs as art/design/architecture, nursing and personal care, sales, law enforcement, firefighting and machine operation — all of which are right up XXX’s alley.

    This sounded like me because I am a graphic artist and web designer. Also, I get bored easily and need new stuff to do all the time. I would make a lousy assembly line worker.

    My sign is Virgo which was #10 on the list. I picked Gemini which is my fruitcake sister’s sign. This proves two things:
    1. Astrology is crap
    2. Astrology is stinky crap

    Thank You :)

  33. Oh gawd! I’m a Gemini and always thought I was a Sagittarius. Explains my split personality? Astrology is worse than crap. It is used to extort money from the gullible, to enrich the criminal and to provide excuses for the deluded

  34. So, I think I’ll go with 10 as being most accurate for me. 5 was tempting, and specifically mentioned IT, which is what I actually do, but I think 10’s description of my personality was closer.

    I’m actually a Virgo, my birthday being September 6. So, the survey says… Virgo is 11! So, yeah, no. “Passion for knowledge and meaning” works, but none of the rest of that description fits.

    Suck it, astrology!

  35. As usual with astrological predictions, most of them apply to me (8/12 mention at least one of science/education/astronomy explicitly). The exceptions are Cancer and Leo.

    My birthday is July 31 – Leo according to astrologers, in reality Cancer.

  36. 3 out of those 12 “predictions” are even remotely close to what I think of myself. I’m a Sagittarius, and neither of them were.

    That’s how lousy those predictions are. (They are also incredibly general.)

  37. I hate that I actually picked my own sign, however that was only because there was no: “XXXX tends to slack off, but is an absolute master of “making himself look busy” whilst surfing pornography, sneaking snacks into a clean environment and researching animal husbandry.”

  38. @TimidAtheist:

    Astrology is worse than crap. It is used to extort money from the gullible, to enrich the criminal and to provide excuses for the deluded

    I think you’ve confused astrology with roman catholicism.

    I am a Hedge

  39. Settled on the Scorpio one, actually Gemini. Of course, I’m one of those people who knows more about astrology than anyone has a good reason to know, so I knew before hand what sign I was picking and which one would actually be the “right” answer. What really got me about this whole thing was that one of their examples of a career requiring “accuracy and research” was food preparation. And looking back, I notice that food prep also provides “a position of power where you can apply your common sense”. What are we talking about here? The power to serve a pube-burger to the guy who never tips? The common sense to not use the day-old egg salad even though it smells ok? I would have thought they’d do better flattering the mark (Leos make great astronauts! Geminis are 10% more likely than any other sign to become Supreme Leader of the World!), but maybe that’s why I’m not a horoscope writer. That and that annoying penchant for honesty that I haven’t managed to kick yet.

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