The stars are in high demand, especially at the turn of the year. The number of people who believe in horoscopes is increasing rather than decreasing. There are psychological reasons for this – for some, it may be relationships, and for others, it may be winning in a live casino.
One thing in advance, even if it may seem confusing at first at this point: Yes, stars and planets influence all of our destinies.
However, in a simultaneously more complex and much simpler way than astrologers would have us believe: If the mechanics of the universe, that of the solar system were not exactly as they are, we would not exist. And if one day the sun feels like changing and turns into a red giant star, this will fundamentally affect the fate of the beings living on Earth.
But when “the stars” are consulted again these days on questions such as “Will 2017 be just as rotten?” or “Will he finally leave his wife for my sake?” The same applies as in previous millennia: What is claimed is at best literature, often harmless entertainment, at worst – rarely – dangerous nonsense. In Japan, for example, unfavorable horoscopes are said to have led to greatly increased abortion rates on at least one occasion.
To illustrate, a few simple facts. Anyone celebrating their birthday these days is under the zodiac sign of Capricorn. This zodiac sign contains about 26 to 30 stars, depending on the system used. Its main star, Delta Capricorni, is about 39 light years away from us, making it the closest of them to Earth. The most distant point of the constellation is Tau Capricorni, actually a cluster of at least two, possibly even three stars. Tau Capricorni is about 1140 light-years away.
HARDWORKING AND CONSCIENTIOUS
To view the constellation of Capricorn as a cohesive unit that has significance for the fate of individual people is roughly like looking for points in Bad Nauheim, Oslo, Stockholm and 23 other places somewhere in between from Frankfurt and then declaring them to be a “constellation” whose totality has something to do with the personalities and futures of Frankfurt residents born in a certain time period. Of course this comparison lags, because first of all the “constellation” Capricorn is still incomparably more complex spatially, and secondly all its components move in truth all the time.
Nevertheless, there are people – millions and millions of people – who believe that “Capricorns” are, for example, “hard-working, patient and realistic”. Which is funny again when you know that Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie and Janis Joplin, for example, were Capricorns.
Nevertheless, if statistics are to be trusted, this superstition has become rather more popular again in recent times. According to various surveys, just under a quarter of Germans – more women than men, incidentally – believe that “the stars influence our lives.” However, only two percent are hardcore astrology believers.
In the U.S., it’s even worse: there, the number of people who consider astrology “completely unscientific” is apparently falling. In 2010 it was still 66 percent, in 2012 only just over half of the population. Reason is not having an easy time of it here either.
WHAT IT CAN TELL YOU
A historical study, published in “Nature” in 1985 , has shown beyond doubt and with the active participation of astrologers that astrologers – contrary to their own predictions – cannot make any valid statements about the personality of a test person based on the date of birth beyond chance. Although the author Shawn Carlson had implemented all wishes of astrologers regarding the study design and the evaluation. Of course there are still astrologers who doubt the results until today .
Conversely, test persons are not able to find out from a number of astrological personality profiles the one created for them. The French psychologist and astrologer Michel Gauquelin showed this particularly clearly in the late sixties: He sent 150 test subjects an allegedly personal horoscope and asked them how much the text applied to them personally. More than 90 percent of them found themselves in it. In fact, the text was a real horoscope created by an astrologer – but the one for the date of birth of the French serial killer Marcel Petiot.
THE CORE BELIEF
This brings us to the core of belief in astrology reading: the predictions and statements made there are so vague that they almost always feel half-right. And we humans believe, if it is not too nasty, almost every nonsense we are told about ourselves. There is even a scientific name for this fact: “Barnum effect”, named after, no joke, the famous ringmaster .
The most beautiful experimental evidence for the effect was provided by the US psychologist Bertram Forer as early as 1948. He presented students with the alleged result of a personality test they had previously completed and had them rate on a scale of one for “not at all” to five for “very well” how well the result described themselves. The students gave an average of more than 4.2 points. In fact, all the subjects had read the same “test score.” Forer had composed it from set pieces that he had taken from a magazine horoscope.