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Does astrology work (is personality correlated with the positions of celestial bodies at birth)?

There are two levels at which astrology is purported to work. At a weaker level, it's purely a prop an astrologer uses to lubricate thinking and discussion about one's personality and future. At a stronger level, it is a scientific hypothesis, where personality traits are correlated with the positions of celestial bodies at birth. The latter continues to receive skepticism in the scientific community, who believe the theory is both implausible and unfalsifiable.

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Experts In Astrology

Dayne Rudhyar    Pioneer in Modern Astrology
Astrology has always been, basically, a religion founded upon the daily, monthly, and yearly ritual performed by stars, Moon, and Sun. ... Astrology, when used at the level of the individual person, is actually a particular application of the Mystery concept. We should never forget that modern science, with all its sophisticated instruments, gives us only the image of the universe our modern consciousness is able to picture.
01 Jan 1980    Source

Liz Greene    Pioneer in Modern Astrology
If [...] you approach reality as being the [subtle] connections, links, resonances, or correspondences between things, then, yes, these patterns are real. But there is no way that they can be measured in a quantifiable sense, according to instruments of so-called reality. When you ask me that, the whole problem is that I don’t know what you mean by real. Or, rather, I do know what you mean, but if Richard Dawkins asked, "Is it real?" he would mean something quite different by "real" than I do.
14 Aug 2001    Source

Percy Seymour    Astrologer, Former Astronomer Lecturer
The whole solar system is playing a symphony on the Earth's magnetic field. We are all genetically tuned to receive a different set of melodies from this symphony.
16 May 2004    Source

Experts In Science

Carl Sagan    Astronomy Professor, Writer, Emmy Award Winner
It also turns out that astrologers cannot even agree among themselves on what a given horoscope means. In careful tests, they are unable to predict the character and future of people they knew nothing about except their time and place of birth.
01 Jan 1980    Source

Richard Dawkins    Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, Atheism Activist
If the methods of Astrologers were really shown to be valid it would be a fact of signal importance for science. Under such circumstances astrology should be taken seriously indeed. But if - as all indications agree - there is not a smidgen of validity in any of the things that astrologers so profitably do, this, too, should be taken seriously and not indulgently trivialised. We should learn to see the debauching of science for profit as a crime.
01 Dec 1995    Source

Karl Kruszelnicki    Scientific Journalist
But most importantly, none of the detailed statistical studies that have looked at astrology have found any merit in it. For example, a psychologist from Michigan State University, Bernard Silverman, looked at 2,978 married couples and 478 couples who divorced. He found absolutely no correlation between which couples divorced, and which couples were born under alleged "incompatible" signs.
16 Dec 2004    Source

Paul Z. Myers    Biology Professor
It's 2008 — I think astrology has been dead for a few centuries. But OK, it's been shown to be worthless again. A large study of thousands of "time twins" — people who were born at the same time — has concluded that there are no correspondence between them.
24 Apr 2008    Source

Experts In Philosophy

Ayn Rand    Philosopher, Novelist
[T]oday we see the spectacle of old Marxists blessing, aiding and abetting the young hoodlums [of the New Left] (who are their products and heirs) who proclaim the superiority of feelings over reason, of faith over knowledge, of leisure over production, of spiritual concerns over material comforts, of primitive nature over technology, of astrology over science, of drugs over consciousness.
01 Jan 1971    Source

Austin Cline    Philosopher
In astrology, however, claims are often framed in an unusually negative manner. The aim of experiments is not to find data which a theory can explain; instead, the aim of experiments is to find data which cannot be explained. The conclusion is then drawn that, in the absence of any scientific explanation, the results must be attributed to something supernatural or spiritual.
01 Jan 2008    Source

Robert Todd Carroll    Philosophy Professor
The Forer effect [a.k.a. Barnum effect] refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people. Psychologist Bertram R. Forer (1914-2000) found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.
01 Jan 2009    Source


Wikipedia    World's Largest Encyclopedia
Studies have repeatedly failed to demonstrate statistically significant relationships between astrological predictions and operationally-defined outcomes. ... When testing for cognitive, behavioral, physical and other variables, one study of astrological "time twins" showed that human characteristics are not molded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of birth.
27 Apr 2009    Source


Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      MTC      23 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Disagree
Obviously not. The whole idea is nonsense.

0 Points      TZX      16 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Disagree
Exactly which way would distant objects affect such fine and complicated details such as a personality, especially in the ways prescribed by astrology? Everything there relies on magical categories, moment of birth, patterns of stars as seen from Earth; concepts of the human mind that do not exist in reality, and to claim otherwise would require a universe governed by the same magical categories, one we do not live in.

0 Points      blacktrance      10 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Disagree
Obviously not.

0 Points      the27th      26 May 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
no, of course not.

0 Points      Adam Atlas      05 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that celestial bodies' positions causally influence personality in any way, and most astrological readings, horoscopes, etc. are ordinary cold reading.

0 Points      shanna      28 Nov 2010      General Comment
i do believe that the personality traits are accurate but i don't believe that it really predicts one's future because its not even a 50/50 chance that another person will have the same thing as you. as for me i tried the horoscopes before and it made me miss my chance of doing big things

0 Points      OmnipotentRabbit      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Neutral
That is the thing, though. Most are ordinary cold reading, but not all. In countries where fraud is not as rampant, you can easily see why people believe in this line of thinking. Is it unproven for the most part, or even entirely? Surely. But that does not mean one should intrude on people's beliefs, particularly if what they aim for goes beyond the cold astrological readings and horoscopes one usually encounters.

0 Points      Adam Atlas      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
"But that does not mean one should intrude on people's beliefs"

That's irrelevant. This question is about whether or not it's true.

0 Points      OmnipotentRabbit      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Neutral
Then Neutral is fair enough. There's plenty of evidence against and plenty of people still supporting it (plus some personal experience on my part tipping the scales a bit). I side with neither, though I think disagreeing is perfectly justified.

1 Point      Benja      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
Have you heard of the concept of falsifiability? It really changed my thinking when I learnt about it. What it says, is that when choosing what theories to believe in, we should pick the ones that predict things that are highly vulnerable to being proven wrong.

Suppose I tell you "there's less oxygen at higher altitudes". When I say this, I'm leaving myself vulnerable, because the theory makes predictions, and if those predictions turn out to be wrong, so is my theory. The theory should predict that you'll find it difficult to breathe if you climb a tall mountain, that combustion should be slower up there, and if you fly a jet it won't be able to go past a certain altitude without its engine dying. A theory earns credibility in the same way the person making the theory does: by putting themselves on the line. Make predictions. Test the predictions. Are the predictions wrong? Then so is the theory.

In contrast, the problem with astrology, is that the theory is essentially invulnerable to being proven wrong. The theory makes predictions, sure. But when the predictions don't turn out as expected, there's always a reason the astrologers give as to why that's the case. So it's not that the theory is wrong per se, it's just that the theory hasn't earned credibility. The theory, and the proponents of the theory, don't put themselves on the line.

And here's the clincher: astrologers don't need to put themselves on the line. In astrology as it's widely conducted, there is no premium on predictions that more accurately align with the stars. What separates a good astrologer from a bad one is the brilliance with which they 1) make those predictions general enough to work across many if not most people 2) in the context of a particular person, tailor those predictions to that person.

0 Points      Clive      05 Mar 2009      Stance on Question: Disagree
I have to site Dr Karl from tripple J here, "Astrology is entertainment, Astronomy is science". And that is the truth.

0 Points      Lulu      04 Mar 2009      Stance on Question: Neutral
As a Gemini, i can relate to both sides of this debate!

0 Points      Benja      04 Mar 2009      General Comment
My dad was into astrology, and when I expressed my skepticism, he was like: "ah, that's typical for a Sagittarius". He would like mix and match western and Indian astrology until he would get an accurate match.