Debunking astrology: Is it real?

Morgan Grindy

For some, the study of astrology is an entire belief system. Others say it’s completely delusional. Astrology may not be something that everyone can believe in or trust, but we can agree that some people are obsessed with it.

Astrology is defined as, “the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world” according to Google dictionary.

The basic idea of the theory is that the positions and movements of stars, our moon, and the planets influence our moods, daily life, and most significantly they help define who we are. Andrew Fraknoi, from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, says “The basis of astrology is disarmingly simple: a person’s character and destiny can be understood from the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets among the pattern of the stars at the moment of his or her birth. Interpreting the location of these bodies using a chart called the horoscope, astrologers claim they can predict and explain the course of life and to help people with decisions of great import.”

Fraknoi additionally states that “The details of the precise origins of astrology are lost in antiquity, but astrology is at least thousands of years old and appears in different forms in many cultures. It arose at a time when humankind’s view of the world was dominated by magic and superstition, when the need to get some grasp on the patterns of nature was often a matter of life-and-death.”

Astrology’s origins come from long ago when science was far less developed, so the theory has a large attachment to spiritual beliefs; created to provide definitions and answers to life.

Astrology followers understand how elaborate the theory is. Different signs supposedly affect different aspects of your life, whether it’s the way you interact with other people, how you think or how you will naturally react to various situations. Even though it’s become a very elaborate and detailed idea, a majority of people often question its credibility and defend their misbelief with the lack of scientific evidence that tells us it is real. In an article published by the Smithsonian discussing the possible truths of astrology, they referenced a poll taken in 2009, saying “26 percent of Americans believe in astrology; that’s more people than believe in witches.” However, the Smithsonian stated that more people believe in ghosts and UFOs than astrology.

Those who believe in astrology are often influenced by the particular accuracy it has to their daily lives and who they identify as. The information generally comes from newspaper columns, magazines or apps on your phone that provide daily horoscopes and other character-defining traits that each “sign” might experience or relate to. Sometimes broad, sometimes specific; regardless astrology still has a relatively large following.

It’s important to look at the other side of the story, the science behind it. Randall Milstein, an instructor at Oregon State University, teaches classes on Astronomy. Astronomy is different from astrology, as it’s defined as “the branch of science which deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole,” according to Google dictionary. Milstein talks about astrology to his students briefly in his classes, mostly to explain how it is scientifically false and to debunk the theory.

Astrology is entertainment; nothing about it is factual, can be empirically proven and it does not obey the laws of physics or critical thinking,” Milstein said. ”Astrology was a precursor to astronomy only in that ancient people were looking at the sky and making observations of the positions of objects they saw. But the arbitrary envisioning of shapes in the sky and suggesting they have some barring on the random date of someone’s birth is a flight of fantasy, superstition, delusion, and the ancient models of how people thought the Universe worked.”

The belief in astrology has a large hole in it; the undecided. The most wide-spread opinion on astrology is that people don’t know if it’s real or not. Considering the lack of scientific proof towards the idea, astrology boils down to just being a belief system with spiritual connections. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be totally and completely obsessed with it!

 

Photo by Farzad Mohsenvand (via unsplash.com)