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Friday, September 4, 2009

Does Astrology Really Work?

(Also see the W-Witch, the Shroud, and the Theomatics study papers for info. on other "supranormal" subjects.)

There are many ways of proving that astrology does not work at all. We will examine some of them in this paper.

There is a simple, easy way of proving that, for those of us who believe the Bible is the word of God, we should avoid astrology like a deadly disease (whether it works or not). We will examine that, too.

In the January 22, 1980 issue of the National Enquirer there was an article and a test devised by some of the leading astrologers in the world. Yes, I know how ludicrous some of the stuff in this magazine is, but bear with me. Here is that article:

"Astrology really works!

"In a remarkable, first-of-its-kind study commissioned by The ENQUIRER, an astounding 91 per cent of 240 randomly selected persons proved that their personality is determined by their astrological sign.

"This study shows that there is a power here beyond the realm of current science. It shows that the date you're born does affect the kind of personality you'll have,' declared Dr. Robert Alsofrom, a confirmed skeptic of astrology until after seeing the stunning results.

"Dr. Alsofrom was one of three independent experts who supervised the test along with noted astrologers Frederick Davies and Shawn Robbins.

"For the test, the two astrologers listed a group of personality traits that are associated with each of the 12 signs of the zodiac. Then the three prominent consultants developed 12 statements - one for each sign - based on these traits.

"The consultants were Dr. Harold Voth, senior psychiatrist at the Menninger Foundation; Dr. Marvin Ziporyn, psychiatric adviser to the Illinois Department of Corrections, and Dr. Alsofrom, psychologist and crisis intervention police instructor in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"In the study, people were picked at random and asked their birth date. Twenty persons for each zodiac sign were then given the test.

"They were told to choose one of the 12 statements that best describes their own personality. Astrology was never mentioned and they were not told the point of the test so that they would not be influenced.[1]

"Prior to the study, Dr. Voth, who teaches psychiatry at the University of Kansas, told The ENQUIRER: `If astrology has anything to do with determining personality, you'll find that a large percentage of Virgos, for example, will mark the Virgo statement. This would be true if astrology is valid.'

"Incredibly, more than 90 percent picked the statement that belonged to their zodiac sign. In fact, all 20 Virgos and 20 Geminis marked the correct statement.


"'The results are amazing,' said Dr. Alsofrom. `When I helped put this test together, I would've bet $1,000 to $1 that you would have never gotten these results. I've been an opponent of astrology for 30 years.

"'I have a very strong hunch that other respected scientists are going to carry out further tests. And they will find, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that astrology really does work.

"'This test certainly indicates that your astrological sign affects what kind of personality you'll have.' "

Now, the point is, the Enquirer included a copy of the test that was used and invited its readers to test it out. On a separate page it provided the answer key. The test should work. It actually is a very good test to compare a person's real personality with the one that astrology says a person with his birth date should have. Since I was a teacher for many years, I decided to take the challenge and try the test on my 12 to 14-year-old students. I gave the test, exactly as it appeared in the Enquirer, to a total of 337 different students (over a period of 7 years). I read the Enquirer article to them and invited them to take the test. Almost invariably the entire class agreed to take the test. (Only three students refused to take the test after I had explained that this test in no way involves one with practicing astrology, but merely shows whether it really could work or not.)

Here is a copy of the test as printed in the Enquirer. (Remember these are placed in a randomly mixed order - #1, for example, is not the first sign of the Zodiac):

1. ________ I am a perfectionist, paying attention to small, important details that others often forget. I hate to let a job go until it is finished properly by my standards. Others may find me critical, but I am more critical of myself than of them.

2. _______ I am an "easy touch" and would rather help people than make a lot of money. I enjoy daydreaming and usually get good results by trusting my intuition and following my hunches.

3. _______ I am very interested in all the creative arts, like writing, art and music. I like to settle arguments between my friends. I'm good at this, because I can see both sides of an issue.

4. _______ I am very good at business and making money, and I like taking charge and leading. I have my sensitive, emotional side, but I show this only to those closest to me. In public, I prefer to remain cool and collected at all times.

5. ______ I like to finish whatever I start, and my strong, determined personality makes me succeed. I can be jealous, but as a mate, I am very passionate.

6. ______ I like to create with words, either in writing or in speech and may sometimes monopolize conversations. However, my friends find me witty and interesting, if a bit fickle. I am usually logical and cool but change moods quickly and frequently.

7. ______ Family is very important to me, and I want to have children. I feel happiest when I am home with my family, pets and plants, and when I spend time cooking and decorating my home.

8. ______ My mind is filled with new ideas, and I like to invent things. I feel that I am in control of my life and running it in an organized, efficient manner. I like to learn and have a good memory for facts.

9. ______ I am very happy and cheerful, and I like making others happy. I am openly emotional and usually optimistic. I want my mate to cater to my every whim, but I am warm and generous in return.

10. _____ Once I make up my mind, I don't like to change it. I can be stubborn, especially when I know I am right, but I am too easygoing and quiet to get into arguments over anything.

11. _____ I am so enthusiastic about life that I am active at something all the time. I usually have five things going at once. If a project interests me, I will work long, hard hours on it. I love to talk and talk quickly, and I sometimes exaggerate.

12. _____ My love of the outdoors and outdoor sports shows me to be a person who hates being tied down or restricted in any way. Freedom is what I need, and animals, travel and humor are the things I love.

I carefully explained any terms any student wasn't sure of. After everyone had ample time to study the 12 choices, I had each student write on a sheet of paper: (1) his birthdate, (2) his choice of personalities that was closest to his own, and (3) whether he was familiar with astrology and/or what sign he was born under and what he thought that meant. I thought that if this test were given to most college students, for example, the results might be what the Enquirer claimed since most of them would know their own "signs" and what they were supposed to mean and would, consciously or unconsciously, select those. Junior High students, however, were less likely to know this than the average college student. So if I didn't count the few that actually knew what their "sign" meant, the rest would give a fair test.

There were very few who said they actually knew what their sign was supposed to mean. (In fact, there were surprisingly few who said they even knew what their sign was supposed to be.) So I had to eliminate only a handful of responses. Of the remaining 337 responses there were 28 which had the "correct" answers. Obviously this is nowhere near the 91% claimed by the Enquirer. But does it still show that astrology works?

Well, if you asked the average astrologer, he'd convince you that it does. In fact, judging by the methods normally used, he would probably tell you that he had conducted his own personal survey of people who had taken a test testing the accuracy of astrology. And without telling you how many people had participated (at least not how many had guessed wrong), he would probably say something like this: "Of the 31 people I surveyed who had taken this authoritative test, 28 were absolutely correct in selecting their personalities as they match their astrological signs! That's over 90% of all test participants that I surveyed!"

But when we look at the overall picture we see that only 28 out of a total of 337 actually guessed right. We need to know that by the law of averages a certain number have to guess right. For example, if I asked people to guess the number I am thinking of and gave them only two choices, then, on the average, one out of every 2 people would guess it right! And about 165 to 172 people out of 337 would actually guess the number I was thinking of. Would this mean about 168 people had ESP or supernatural mental powers? Of course not! That's just the number who should be able to guess the number according to the law of averages.

Now, what if I gave them 12 choices (as in the astrology test above) instead of 2? How many would guess the number then? Why about one out of every twelve would guess it. And how many would that be? In that case only about 24 to 30 (out of 337) would guess the right number according to the law of averages.

So we can see that 28 correct responses out of the 337 people who didn't know what their "sign" actually meant is exactly what we would expect if astrology did not work at all! That is the same number correct we would get if we asked 337 blindfolded people to pick one of the twelve personality descriptions without even seeing or hearing them first!

So the astrologer-devised test published in the Enquirer really proves beyond a doubt that astrology is absolutely worthless!

Oh, here is the answer code for the above personality/zodiac test: 1. Virgo (Aug. 22-Sept. 22) 2. Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20) 3. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) 4. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) 5. Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) 6. Gemini (May 21-June 21) 7. Cancer (June 22-July 21) 8. Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19) 9. Leo (July 22-Aug. 21) 10. Taurus (April 20-May 20) 11. Aries (March 21-April 19) 12. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21).[2]


Of course, astrology has been shot down by proper scientific testing before and since. A good example may be found in the March 1986 issue of Science 86, p. 8. Here is what the article in this respected science magazine says:

"BERKELEY, CAL. - Astrology just flunked one of its toughest tests ever. Shawn Carlson, a graduate student in physics at the University of California, has shown that astrologers cannot divine someone's personality from knowledge of planetary positions.

"In his study, 116 adults returned a standard personality test that assesses traits such as sociability and dominance. Carlson sent personality profiles of three subjects, plus a natal chart for one of them, to each of two dozen astrologers recommended by members of the San Francisco chapter of the National Council for Geocosmic Research, a group specializing in astrology.

"The test was for the astrologers to choose the personality profile that best matched the natal chart, or horoscope. Carlson and the astrologers had agreed that picking the right profile half the time would mean that the astrologers had some ability to accurately describe a person's character.

"But the astrologers were able to match the natal chart with the personality profile in just one out of three cases—no better than chance [the law of averages].


"'Astrology was given every reasonable chance to succeed,' Carlson wrote in the journal Nature. `It failed.'"
Another revealing article in this respected science magazine may be found on pp. 80, 82 of the June 1984 issue of Science 84.

"Astrology's appeal to the human spirit is undeniable. If the heavens themselves shape our destiny, then we are somehow at one with the universe, and the universe somehow cares. We matter. Many believers, in fact, say they first experienced astrology as a kind of quasi-RELIGIOUS revelation: They suddenly knew it was true.

"Alas, that does not make it true. Over the last decade or so, scientists have tested the predictions of astrology in a variety of ways, with results that are best summed up in the title of a 1977 book by Anthony Standen, Forget Your Sun Sign. The book is just one shot in a barrage of scientific tests and critiques recently summarized and published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

"To begin with, according to the society's report, the sun's path through the zodiac, the belt of astrological constellations, is not quite what popular horoscopes would have us believe. It turns out that the spinning Earth is like a child's toy top: It wobbles. Being huge, it wobbles in immense, 25,000-year sweeps. This makes the sun's position along the zodiac drift farther and farther from its astrological schedule every year. After more than 2,000 years of astrology, the discrepancy is almost one full constellation.

"In late June, for example, when the sun is supposed to be in the constellation of Cancer according to traditional astrology, it is actually one constellation over, in Gemini. Gemini is really Taurus, Taurus is Aries, and so on. Thus most horoscopes that you read in the newspaper or get from astrologers apply to a completely different sign from the one assigned to your birthday.

"There are some astrologers, of course, who know their astronomy and reckon by the correct position of the sun. Even so, the general tenets and predictions of the discipline have not held up well under scientific scrutiny.[3]

"Economists James Barth of George Washington University and James Bennett of George Mason University examined the horoscopes of men who reenlisted in the Marine corps between 1962 and 1970. Signs ruled by Venus, the planet of love and beauty, were just as common as signs ruled by Mars, the planet of war.

"Psychologist Bernie Silverman, formerly at Michigan State University, asked astrologers to predict compatible and incompatible astrological signs. Then he looked at the records of the 2,978 couples who got married and of the 478 couples who got divorced in Michigan in 1967 and 1968. Incompatible signs got married - and divorced - as often as the compatible ones.

"Astronomer Roger Culver of Colorado State University decided to test the influence of the stars on people's physical characteristics. His analysis of 22 measurements - everything from biceps to bust size to baldness - on each of 300 volunteers turned up no correlation with astrological factors at all.

"None of this fazes the professional astrologers, however. They maintain that these simple, one dimensional tests of sun signs or planetary influences will always yield random results, because each individual's horoscope in fact depends upon a whole complex range of factors. [4]

"Fair enough. But consider the results of French statistician Michel Gauquelin, a man who has been putting astrology to the test for more than 20 years.

"Gauquelin examined zodiacal signs, moon signs, planet signs, mid-heaven signs, and ascendant signs for 15,560 successful professionals belonging to 10 different occupations in five European countries. He studied birthdates ranging from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. Result: Correlations between profession and astrological influences were no better than random chance [the law of averages]. (Some early - and widely publicized - hints of a connection between sports champions and Mars turned out to be an astronomical error on Gauquelin's part.)

"Is there a zodiacal heredity effect, a tendency for children to be influenced by the signs of their parents? Not according to Gauquelin's study of 3,923 pairs of parents and children.

"And yet, for all that, people still take a great deal of comfort in their horoscopes. They find an eerie accuracy in the charts, an uncanny insight into their lives. Astrology works, they say, and how can this be unless it is true?

"Indeed it does work - but only because believers want to believe and because we are all very human and complex people, outgoing in one situation and shy in another, selfish at one moment and generous at the next. Given a description of almost anyone, we can usually see something of ourselves.

"Gauquelin once put out a newspaper ad offering free personalized horoscopes. To the 150 people who answered, he sent the same information, and asked how well the interpretation fit. Some 94 percent said they recognized themselves.

"It was the horoscope of mass murderer Dr. Marcel Petiot."

James Randi has been well known for exposing fraud and trickery for many years. Being a professional magician himself, The Amazing Randi, he is aware of the many forms of trickery used in convincing others that the impossible is true. In his excellent book, Flim-Flam, he discusses some of his experiences with astrology:

"By far, the oldest of the claptrap philosophies of mankind is astrology. In the United States alone there are more than twenty thousand practicing astrologers casting horoscopes and taking the money of literally millions of credulous believers. But there is probably no other major delusion that is more easily examined and shown to be totally without any logical basis. Thus, its hold on the public is all the more remarkable. This can only be understood when we realize just how vague and universal are the declarations it makes and notice that the average, uncritical observer [unknowingly] resorts to the most foolish rationalizations to excuse its failure to predict and to define.

"Accepting the claims of astrology is much like accepting the laws pertaining to property rights and slavery set up over three thousand years ago by the rulers of Babylon, and using their theories of medicine as well, for that is when the rules that are still used by modern astrologers today were devised....


"It has become almost impossible to attend a social gathering without being asked your astrological sign. I always ask the questioner to guess, and the guesses are quite funny. I'm always given two or three alternatives, then asked which is correct. If I answer, `Try -----,' it is immediately discovered that my outward character fits that sign. I counter by saying that I only suggested that my questioner try that sign, and another is chosen. And so on. Second-guessing is a popular pastime, it seems. (For some reason, I'm not very popular at these parties.)

"It is one thing to argue that astrology is not a rational belief, and another to show that it does not work. The former is fairly easy to demonstrate.

"For example, in the unlikely and long-sought event that the sun, moon and all the planets lined up in a straight line to combine their gravitational pulls, the effect on the human body would be nullified if the person merely sat down from a standing position! Lowering the body a distance of twenty-five inches would bring it closer to the gravitational center of the earth and neutralize all effects of the other heavenly bodies that we are told have such influence! [5]

"If we consider the scale of the universe, we begin to see just how ridiculous belief in astrology can be. Astronomers measure distances in their business in terms of the speed of light. The basic unit is the light-year, or the distance light travels in one year. Since light travels some 186,000 miles in a second, a light-year's equivalent in miles is rather unwieldy. To say that the star Sirius is 51,000,000,000,000 miles away is a bit awkward; its astronomical distance of 8.7 light-years is much easier.

"Similarly, light-speed units provide some idea of the distance involved within the solar system. Look up at the moon. What do you see? You see the moon as it was about 1.3 seconds ago. In other words, it is 1.3 light-seconds away; that's how long it took the moonlight you see to reach the earth. The sun is about 8.3 light-minutes away from Earth, and Pluto 5.6 light-hours. Some stars that we see in the night sky aren't really `there' at all; we see the light they emitted anywhere from a few years to several thousand years ago. Astrology would have us believe that if, at the moment of birth, the sun is aligned with a set of stars that aren't even `there' as we see them, one's future or character will be different from what it would be if the sun were aligned with another set of not-there stars. Is this not irrational?

"With some 250,000,000,000 stars in our own particular galaxy that surrounds us, and about 100,000,000,000 other galaxies available to influence us, it seems that a possible 25,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000 stars enter into our fortunes. For a bit of flavor, throw in a few hundred asteroids (minor planets) that are part of our solar system but not part of astrology. The possibilities are endless.

"Using wishful thinking and a set of invented zodiacal signs as guides, early theorists came up with astrology - or more correctly, astrologies, for the various races developed not only their own mythical figures but also their own rules. At this point, as in the case of so many other bogus theories, a bit of simple logic applies: If the basic idea is the same, yet more than one system arises, each giving different results in accordance with different, mutually incompatible rules, then either all the systems are false or only one is correct. [6] The former is more likely, since astrology simply does not work, despite the believers' constant acceptance and verification of its efficiency. Ben Franklin said it well: `Quacks are the greatest liars in the world, except their patients.'

"We are told that the most important general astrological influence is the position of the sun in the zodiac (the set of twelve constellations girdling the sky) at the moment of birth. Thus, an examination of this claim alone should teach us something about the degree of rationality and the general quality of astrological theory.

"One of the obvious questions that comes to mind concerning the influence of this `birth sign' on the character and future of each person arises when we consider those born on exactly the same day, at the same hour, and (another important consideration in astrology) in the same geographical location. Would not these persons have very similar horoscopes - indeed, identical horoscopes - and therefore the same future and personality? Not necessarily, say the astrologers. We are told that the exact time of birth (meaning within several minutes) can make a great difference, because the `ascendant sign' (the one rising on the horizon at the moment of birth), as well as the position of the moon in the zodiac band of twelve astrological signs, can be very important. But, we counter, what of twins, who are certainly born at nearly the same time and assuredly in the same location? There is a handy explanation for any discrepancy here, too. It is said that in such cases there is a shift in the heavenly bodies during the short period of time separating the two births.

"But when astrology `experts' seek to explain away any dissimilar characteristics of twins with this `change of ascendant and/or moon position' malarkey, is this not merely fitting the facts to the theory? I maintain that it is. Similarities in character and fortune are ascribed to similarities in horoscope details, and dissimilarities are attributed to even the most minor discrepancies among the charts. It is a procedure that satisfies uncritical observers but not skeptics.

"The biggest rub of all, however, occurs with the all-important and most powerful of influences, the `birth-sign' designation. There are two general classes of astrology being followed today: `Sidereal' astrology and `Tropical' astrology. The first deals with the actual constellation in which the sun is located at the moment of birth. The second handles the sector, a 30-degree-wide slice of the zodiac. This division became necessary, you see, because constellations such as Virgo, which bulges beyond the confines of that allotted 30 degrees, and Libra, which occupies only half the allotted area, create a situation in which mythical figures were hanging over everywhere, and so someone had to `draw the line.' Some constellations are barely within the traditional 16-degree-wide band of the zodiac, while the Man-Killing-a-Snake-or-Dragon (take your choice) is on the zodiac but not used. Ever hear of anyone born under the sign of Ophiuchus? Early Greek zodiacs were very awkward, with thirteen signs including the Pleiades, but the latter was dropped to make things neater.

"In spite of the clumsy solutions to these problems in dividing the not-so- cooperative heavens, a glaring defect remains which is not generally known to the public. Were you born on August 7, for example? Astrologers tell us that this is smack dab in the middle of the sign of Leo, which extends from July 23 to August 22. Thus, one born on this happy day is certainly a classic Leo, correct? Wrong. You were actually born while the sun was in Cancer. Similarly, April 7, which is said to be a strong Aries, is actually in Pisces. Is something fishy becoming evident? Besides Pisces, that is?


"In any case, the stars in a constellation are very unlikely to be close to one another. They are nearly always widely separated, only appearing to be close in the same way that the windshield wiper on your car might appear to be wiping the car ahead or the traffic light two blocks away.

"A book somewhat facetiously titled Astrology for Adults, and described as `a must' by the Fort Worth Press, contains numerous statements that reveal much about the tactics of those who push astrology. The following passage is typical of their Catch-22 technique.

"`Pisces is the sign of both the highest types and the dregs of humanity. Neptune, the deceptive also the planet of high ideals. Occasionally, you may find that one of your descriptions [obtained from your horoscope] does not seem to refer to you at all but may instead resemble a person or persons intimately in your life. Neptune in Gemini can give mental fantasies and confusion, or it can add the superlative qualities of genius to the mind. Pluto is the planet of crime and its opposite, that is, work for the benefit of all humanity. Saturn in Aquarius can cause accidents to the lower leg or ankles, cancer of the lymph glands or strokes...colds and dental troubles are the most common of Saturn's health defects.'

"From this and mountains of other evidence, it is apparent that, logically, astrology should not work. Couple with this the mathematical/physical fact that the gravitational influence of the physician's body as he assists childbirth has far greater effect on the baby being born than the entire gravitational field of the planet Mars, and we cannot accept astrology from a philosophical point of view either. But, as with all such notions, the most important question is: Does it work?

"Early in 1978 I had an ideal opportunity to test a pet theory of mine. The chance arose when a radio station in Winnipeg, Canada, phoned and asked me to do an interview via telephone from my home in New Jersey. I agreed, but suggested a novel approach. I instructed the host to advertise on the show that he would have an `astro-graphologist' available by phone the following week, and to tell listeners to send in samples of handwriting and their birthdates. The following week he called me while on the air and referred to three listeners he had standing by on the telephone to hear their analyses. They were asked, at the conclusion, to rate the `readings' from one to ten. My real identity was not given; I was identified by a fictitious name, sort of a nom de charlatan. I was hugely successful, getting accuracy ratings of nine, ten, and ten. This changed to straight tens when the first listener noted that I had said he `disliked hard work' when in fact, he insisted, he was a laborer and thus accustomed to hard work. `But,' I countered, `I said you disliked hard work.' `True,' he replied. `I guess you're right. I don't really like it.' and he changed my score to ten.

"The amazing thing about this episode is that I did not have the handwriting samples or the birthdates; and I read, word for word, three readings that had been given months before in Las Vegas by Sidney Omarr, one of the best-paid and most reliable astrologers in the United States, on `The Merv Griffin Show' for three members of that television program's audience. And these readings, for three other people, months and thousands of miles apart, were accepted and scored as 100 percent accurate!


"Many years ago, when two friends of mine in Montreal, Canada, started a newspaper called Midnight, I was asked to write an astrological column for it. Had I any notion of what that newspaper would become, I'd have run away screaming. As it was, I agreed to give it a try, seeing the chance to conduct an excellent experiment at the same time. I went out and bought an astrology magazine, clipped a few pages of daily forecasts at random, mixed them in a hat, and pasted them up in any old fashion. With the name Zo-ran [Zodiac-Randi?] at the top of the column, it went to press.

"Several weeks later I watched in dismay as two office workers at the corner soda fountain eagerly scanned my fake column for their individual prognostications. They squealed with delight on seeing their future so well laid out, and in response to my query said that Zo-ran had been `right smack on' last week. I did not identify myself as Zo-ran; I was only seventeen at the time, and not very scholarly-looking. Reaction in the mail to the column had been quite interesting, too, and sufficient for me to decide that many people will accept and rationalize almost any pronouncement made by someone they believe to be an authority with mystic powers. At that point, Zo-ran hung up his scissors, put away the paste pot, and went out of business. ....

"Even the scientific efforts that have been launched in an attempt to legitimize astrology have foundered. They are also prohibitively expensive and difficult to carry out. Recent attempts to test a `Mars Effect' have shown that the Red Planet is just that, and not a magic influence that reaches across space to influence our lives. The Mars Effect was supposed to have been confirmed during investigations of the claim that prominent athletes were more apt to be born when that planet was influencing their sign. Careful tests have failed to support any such claim, though fancy excuses have been plentiful. But more money will go into similar projects. There are plenty of sponsors of such idiocy waiting." - pp. 55-63, Flim-Flam, 1982 (Seventh printing, 1987).

Then we have the reports of a German study in 1991 and again in 1992:

"Early in 1991 the Association for Scientific Research into the Parasciences in Germany gathered 152 predictions by 27 astrologers. They then evaluated them at the year's end. Wetterauer Zeitung reported that 103 of the predictions `were completely wrong.' For instance, astrologers predicted an atomic disaster and a cure for AIDS during 1991. The 14 prognoses that came true were simply general statements. Others were too vague to be judged for accuracy, while some even contradicted one another. On the other hand, all astrologers had said nothing about several momentous events of 1991. `If just one of the astrologers had known what he was doing,' commented the manager of the association, `he would, for instance, have seen Gorbachev's resignation in advance or the decline of the Soviet Union.'" - Awake!, 8 June 1992, p. 29.

Early in 1992 the same scientific association conducted the study again, this time for 50 predictions from astrologers all over the world:

"`Whereas in 1991 vague prognoses were able to record at least partial successes,' reports the Suddeutsche Zeitung, `this time the predictions do not contain even one bulls-eye.' Predictions for 1992 included the re-election of George Bush and the destruction of the White House by fire." - Awake!, 8 July 1993.

They did not include the disastrous fire at Buckingham Palace, the much publicized break-up of royal families (Prince Charles and Diana; Prince Andrew and "Fergie"), nor any other notable event of 1992!

Again, in 1996, the German newspaper Die Zeit reported that 44 astrologers in the Netherlands recently submitted voluntarily to a test prepared by the Dutch Society of Skeptics. The astrologers were given two lists. One contained the place and date of birth of seven persons. The second provided abundant personal information about each of the seven individuals. The astrologers were asked to match each person on the first list with his respective description on the second list by using their alleged skills with astrology. The results: Half the astrologers did not even get one correct answer, and no one was able to match more than three correctly. Previous experiments had yielded similar results, but the astrologers claimed that they had been supplied with the wrong information. In this case, however, the terms of the test were set by the astrologers themselves. - see Awake! 8 May, 1996, p. 29.

So, in spite of absolute proof that astrology cannot and does not work, we find a huge number of people who continue to believe in it. In fact, sadly to say, I found that after proving to my students (by taking the astrologer-developed test described at the beginning of this paper) that astrology does not work, those who had believed in astrology before the test continued to believe. And what's worse, those who hadn't had a strong opinion before but, by the law of averages (one out of every 12), had guessed right on the test sometimes became believers in spite of the overall results.

This overpowering compulsion to look for anything that will give a reason to believe in (or continue to believe in) a "magical" system that has been conclusively proven wrong may be illustrated by 2 examples concerning events of such earth-shattering importance that all "competent" astrologers should have easily predicted (and forcefully proclaimed) them if there is even the slightest degree of astrological influence by the stars!

The first example concerns the beginning of the most destructive, tragic war to ever involve this planet—World War II.

"A group of leading English astrologers in 1939 [the very year WWII broke out in Europe] ... assured their followers that, according to astrological signs, no war was imminent."

In spite of this slight oversight (England was devastated by the worst destruction ever poured out upon her) these leading astrologers were quickly forgiven and astrology prospered more than ever in England.

The second example of people so desperately wanting to believe in this easy, magical method for decision-making that they will overlook and forgive anything was reported in the 8 August 1981 AWAKE! magazine, p. 16:

"The infatuation many have with horoscopy [astrology], as with gambling, can blind followers to its failures. In this regard, Eric Russell, in Astrology and Prediction, discusses an `appalling flood' that had been predicted by most European astrologers and contemporaries of Nostradamus. They agreed that all the planets would be in conjunction in the watery sign of Pisces - an infallible indication that the known world must be destroyed by water.... Some few fundamentalists [Christians - not astrologers] argued that this could not possibly be true for had not God set the rainbow in the sky as promise that never again would the floodgates of heaven be opened?... Ship builders made immense profits as those who could afford it chartered every available craft in the ports.' The world waited, but nothing happened.

"Russell continues: `The quicker-thinking astrologers congratulated Christianity for the strength of its prayers in turning aside the calamity while others perhaps looked for another profession. [There were simply no events that could even be `interpreted' as a `flood' overwhelming the earth in that year; so even the vaguest, most symbolism-finding of astrologists were in trouble.] But while there were a few weeks of embarrassment for the astrologers of Europe, the whole incident had been forgotten within a month or so and astrologers were again accepting invitations to cast the horoscope of this infant prince or that republic.'"

Probably nothing can reach such people who believe what they want to believe in spite of any and all actual proof to the contrary. The same, of course, applies to religious belief. You would think, if a person claims to believe strongly that the Bible is the word of God, that clearly stated principles found in the word of God would be all that is needed to change a contrary belief in his mind. But this is rarely so.

For example, astrology is clearly condemned in the Bible. But you can point out these scriptures to diehard astrology "worshippers" who also claim to believe the Bible, and they will most often ignore it or rationalize it away.

"[Astrology] is essentially the same as astromancy, divination by stars." - Universal Standard Encyclopedia, 1955, Vol. 2, p. 471.

"as·trol·o·gy .... divination that treats of the supposed influences of the stars upon human affairs and of foretelling terrestial events by their positions and aspects" - Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1962, Merriam-Webster.

"There shall not be found among you any one who...practices divination.... For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD [Jehovah]" - Deut. 18:10-12, RSV. Cf. Is. 47:10-13.

"Only one nation in all the ancient world stood resolutely against the ubiquitous practice of astrology --- the fiercely independent Hebrews. .... Logically, astrology and Christianity were totally irreconcilable, as are Judaism and astrology, but an accommodation of sorts was finally worked out. For a while, when astrological influence sank in Europe it thrived among the Arabs who reintroduced it after the fervor of the early Christian purists was tempered." - p. 19, Myths of the Space Age, Cohen, 1965.

And who were among these "early Christian purists" who strongly and successfully resisted astrology and other forms of divination? Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Christian Fathers of the first two centuries (at least)

"My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered." - The Didache, Chapter 3.

Why even "Saint" Constantine in the 4th century and "Saint" Augustine in the early 5th century would not tolerate it:

"`Saint' Augustine ... rejected the `false and noxious opinions' of astrologers." - from Augustine's The City of God, Book V, Chapters 7-9, (as quoted on p. 3 in The Watchtower of 1 September, 1996).

"After the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity, he had all the astrologers in Constantinople whipped and run out of town". - p. 19, Cohen.

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1. The average person would obviously know that a test asking for your birth date and having you compare your personality to one of 12 others (personality descriptions which are quite familiar to astrology fans) is a test of astrology.

2. "Cusp days," the first and last day listed for each "sign," may be a day off, especially during leap years (as in 1980) or the year following a leap year

3. When I "corrected" the results of my personal testing of 337 students (above) by changing the "sign" of their birthdates (by one "sign" as modern astronomers tell us) to the one they were actually born under, the results were still those expected by the Law of Averages: only one out of 12 correct.

4. But this is exactly what the vast majority of "horoscopes" throughout the world do - especially all those found in daily newspapers. They base their descriptions and predictions on the single (and by far most powerful and important) factor of birthdate. If this cannot be relied on for a reasonably accurate description, then nothing in astrology can!

5. The slightest variations in altitude of birthplace, then, would cause a great influence on individuals by this most influential planet of all. This factor alone (if there is any real influence by heavenly bodies) should completely overshadow the infinitesimal influence of other planets and stars. And yet it is not even considered by astrologers!

6. Each one of these different systems of astrology will give very different descriptions and predictions for the very same birth moment. Since they contradict each other, only one could possibly be true (and most likely none of them). But the vast throngs who believe in each system are equally loyal to their own system. Therefore, absolute faith, loyalty, and numbers of adherents mean absolutely nothing in determining truth in the area of astrology (as in religion itself). Those who want to believe will believe in spite of any proof to the contrary - no matter how conclusive and absolute.