I recently wrote a persuasive essay about astrology for University and some of you asked me to share it - the style and structure is obviously a bit more formal than usual but I hope you like it!
Many people follow their daily newspaper horoscopes or identify with the traits associated with their personal “zodiac sign”. It is fascinating and reassuring to think that we are part of a higher plan or divine order – that the cosmos is not random and meaningless, but, in fact, magical, and that astrologers are capable of predicting fate by observing the movements of celestial bodies. However, astrology is not considered a science anymore and many write it off as pseudoscience, a scheme or even the devil’s work. Even though astrology can barely be proven right at this point, how much credibility does it deserve at all? Considering the depth and precision of astrology, it should not be dismissed and needs to be researched more professionally.
Astrology is often labeled “new age” or seen as a type of modern women’s magazine trend. However, astrology has a longer history and a wider body of research than some might assume. It is actually the first and oldest study of humankind, dating back to the Babylonians, and has been practiced for around 4,000 years. There are several major astrological organizations, schools, federations, and colleges, including, for example, the Kepler College in Washington, which has the authority to granting AA, BA and MA degrees (Kepler). The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung studied astrology extensively and related it to his theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Astrologer Stephen Arroyo explained why this study is easily dismissed nowadays, when he said that “Modern man’s feeling of separation from the natural world and lack of identity with the cosmos explains why (since this is the cultural zeitgeist now) astrology has to be “proven” before many people will accept it as a valid science or art.” (Arroyo 5) The reputation of astrology has fluctuated over the centuries, but it has been studied and practiced for all these years nonetheless.
Most often criticized about astrology is the notion that 8 billion people could be neatly classified into 12 personality types based on the zodiac sign, which is seen as being too vague and therefore inaccurate. However, in professional astrology someone’s zodiac sign is but a small fraction of who they are, making this study more complex than most people know. A horoscope is actually a map of the positions of celestial bodies at the exact time and place of someone’s birth. Considering the ten main celestial bodies, which can be placed within any of twelve signs and any of the twelve so-called houses (which are based on the diurnal rotation of the earth around its axis), there would be 1,440 possible basic horoscope combinations. Calculated to the degree and in consideration of all mathematical relations to each other, the exact planetary positions have not repeated themselves yet since the beginning of human history, as recorded (Currey). The only way for two people to share the same chart is to be born at the same minute and the same place on earth – as happens with twins delivered by c-section. Being an identical twin born by Cesarean myself, I can speak from personal experience and say that my sister and I share the same basic personality traits and life experiences and have continued to develop in the same way and experience events of the same archetypal or symbolic nature even after having moved to opposite ends of the country. (My professor also pointed out to me that this could be related to genetics, which is a good point)
A common argument brought up to deem astrology as false is claiming it to be an incorrect system. Those who attack astrology often lack expertise about the field themselves to make reasonable claims. Dismissal of astrology is often based on uneducated assumptions than can easily be falsified. One of the implications include that the earth has shifted in the last thousands of years, which makes its relative position to the constellations of stars now incorrect. According to this theory, everyone would actually be the sign associated with the month before the one they have been identifying with. However, the signs have not shifted and will never shift, because they are not calculated based on the actual positions of the stars. The western tropical zodiac is based on the seasons and every zodiac sign is actually a 30° division of the ecliptic, which the earth passes through on its annual orbit around the sun. The orbit has not changed and therefore, the signs are still correct today, which makes this argument invalid. Another argument states that, since the solar system has been proven to be heliocentric, the geocentric calculations of astrology are no longer correct. Considering, however, that these calculations are based on the place on earth – exact latitude and longitude – that the individual was born in, astrology is not geocentric but is and always has been “human-centric”, relating the celestial bodies to the birth place of a person.
Those who refuse to accept astrology as a science often point out that experiments cannot prove its validity. As with any social science, which works with psychological variables and subjective experience, the data is not entirely quantitative, but solid evidence has been gathered in the past nonetheless. Those who do end up conducting astrological experiments are often psychologists and other scientists who receive funds, but usually do not have substantial knowledge of astrology (Currey). Whether it is the lack of knowledge or even a bias of specifically trying to disprove astrology, there are a lot of problems that come with astrological experiments not being conducted by actual astrologers or with the help of those. This was clearly illustrated in the Carlson Double Blind Astrology test, which reportedly concluded that astrologers’ ability to match horoscopes with the results of psychological tests were no better than chance. However, since having been analyzed recently, the data was actually proven to be in support of astrology and falsely evaluated in the first place (Currey). In another experiment, Vernon Clark’s Blind Test, a control group of psychologists and social workers matched birth charts to people with the expected accuracy of 50%, indicating pure chance. The astrologers, however, could match 65% of charts correctly, the odds of which are 1 in ten thousand (Currey) – these same results have been reproduced in a series of the same tests. Even though the accuracy of 65% may not seem that high, it should be pointed out that planetary alignments show potentials that astrologers only understand fully in conversation with the client, just like a psychologist does not understand their client completely from their psychological case file. These results illustrate that astrology cannot merely be explained by chance.
In conclusion, astrology is more professional, specific, and scientifically verifiable than often given credit for, which is why already existing data should be reviewed and more attention should be given to this field, which could potentially lead to a broader understanding of the human experience on a cosmic scale. Although we are not able to prove astrology for certain at this point in scientific development, a dismissal of it could lead to us missing out on many great discoveries and preventing scientific progress, especially now with the rise of quantum physics and modern cosmology.
BibliographyArroyo, Stephen. Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements: An Energy Approach to Astrology & Its Use in the Counseling Arts. Sebastopol: CRCS Publications, 1975. Print.
Currey, Robert. Why it's no longer acceptable to claim astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis. 12 June 2015. Web. 14 July. 2015. <http://www.astrologer.com/tests/basisofastrology.htm>.
Kepler College. Was your degree program accredited? Web. 17 July. 2015. <http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/program/faq/9-faq-general-information/142-are-you-accredited>.