Skepticism

Bad Chart Thursday: Astrology

Sorry I missed posting last week, but Mercury was in retrograde . . . or something . . . in my thermometer.

You have probably heard about the recent rise in people believing that astrology is at least somewhat scientific. A recent study by the National Science Foundation found that the percentage of people who recognize that astrology has no scientific basis dropped from 62% in 2010 to 55% in 2012.

So, of course, as a good skeptic, I was immediately suspicious of Big Astronomy. They can’t keep hiding The Truth from the people. We’re figuring it out!

I mean, sure, the exact force in play that would enable planets to affect us individually isn’t clear. We know that astrologers do not distinguish among planets in terms of the effects they have on us. They are all treated equally, rather than some having more effect than others based on mass and distance. This in turn means that all bodies in the universe should affect us equally, including the ones we don’t know about and can’t chart.

But AHA! That only explains why sometimes astrology gets things wrong. It explains away the misses. But if this is the case, how do we know when it’s right and when it’s wrong? With all the different, often contradictory astrologies out there, which is even the “right” one? Not even getting into the myriad detail differences among and within systems, there are the two broader claims to sort out–whether astrology predicts the future or whether it simply tells us about ourselves.

Many astrologers themselves pretty much ruled out the prediction theory based on the overwhelming failure rate, shifting to the latter concept, that astrology merely provides deep insight into who we are based on the time and location of our birth. So let’s ignore the studies demonstrating that astrology does not do better than chance at predicting similar traits among “time twins” (people born in the same hospital at the same time) because obviously, they just used the “wrong” astrologers or astrologies in these studies, amiright?

So again, how do we tell which one is the right one? Is it just the one that tells us what we want to hear? That we have many strengths that are generic enough for us all to have them at some point or another and that even our weaknesses are secretly strengths? But they all do that, so that brings me back to square one.

So I decided it was time to do a comparison test and have my chart done by a few different astrology websites to see which one was more accurate. (I know, I know. I should pay REAL astrologers to cold read me and astound me with their insight by paraphrasing the information I’ve given them and expanding on it in obvious directions, but I don’t have the money or time for that kind of accuracy right now. And I’m sure that many of the 45% of people who believe that astrology has at least some scientific basis have also formed this belief from free resources out there.)

I expected to find contradictions between the different chart interpretations, and I did, but what was even more interesting was that individual interpretations contradicted themselves.

For example, from astro-software.com, I found that I have a “flexible mind” but that I am also “inflexible, rigid.” They also said of me: “She likes home, habits, comfort and her little world” and “likes long voyages, things foreign . . . jobs that involve travel, moving about a lot.” I am “irascible and sometimes violent . . . [and have] marital disputes” but I also have a “love-and-friendship marriage. Unproblematic, quiet relationship. A few hiccups, but nothing really serious.”

The list goes on, but I think you get the picture. Maybe this particular website is just terrible.

But I found the same internal contradictions in my chart interpretations from the other sites. Astro.cafeastrology.com, for example, tells me that I am “not as prone to the kinds of ups and downs that plague those with challenging aspects between the Sun and Moon,” but later, my “moodiness can baffle others” and my “moods are very changeable, and this can be quite obvious to others.” I have an “attachment to all that is safe” and am “a little leery of change,” but I also “thrive on change and variety.”

I will spare you the endless examples I found in every single chart interpretation and instead present an astrological chart based on my own readings, but before you think that this is just a narcissistic, self-absorbed exercise (who would ever think that about astrology?), I challenge you not to see yourself depicted in this chart.

That’s right. My gift to you. An EERILY ACCURATE astrological chart about your inner psyche.

Bad Chart Astrology.final2

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

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4 Comments

  1. The charts aren’t contradictory, you’re just not reading them right.
    >I found that I have a “flexible mind” but that I am also “inflexible, rigid.”
    Squishy brain, hard skull.
    >“She likes home, habits, comfort and her little world” and “likes long voyages, things foreign . . . jobs that involve travel, moving about a lot.”
    You live in a boat.
    >I am “irascible and sometimes violent . . . [and have] marital disputes” but I also have a “love-and-friendship marriage. Unproblematic, quiet relationship. A few hiccups, but nothing really serious.”
    This is just a typo, “marital” should read “martial”. You and your spouse have a great time together invading other countries (hence the boat.)
    > I am “not as prone to the kinds of ups and downs that plague those with challenging aspects between the Sun and Moon,” but later, my “moodiness can baffle others” and my “moods are very changeable, and this can be quite obvious to others.”
    Your moods are changeable, just not in an up-and-down direction, rather in a side-to-side direction. You don’t quickly shift from exuberantly hugging people to falling asleep, as this would be an up-to-down change. However, you do quickly shift from sleep to depression (both ‘down’), or from hugging people to shooting at them (both ‘up’, and consistent with your penchant for invasion.)
    > I have an “attachment to all that is safe” and am “a little leery of change,” but I also “thrive on change and variety.”
    You don’t like change, but it is good for you. Your loving and observant spouse has noticed this, which is why your boat sails to a new country to invade every few weeks.

    As you see, with a little careful reading, it all makes an interlocking coherent whole.

    In the meantime, I’ve just decided to move to a landlocked country.

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