Veteran scientists that have worked decades in their respective fields will likely tell you that astrology doesn’t work. Believers in astrology as something that has a direct effect in personal lives based on the horoscope say that it works. How does astrology work at all?
Before we can answer that question, we need to know what astrology is first. Astrology is the study and belief that stars and planetary alignments affect mood and personality. Personalities are also in the range of effect depending on where the person is born.
Astrologers also print horoscopes on newspapers personalized by birthdate. These are otherwise known as natal charts. Horoscopes like these make predictions in the daily lives of people and offer advice for them to live better lives. All of that is dependent on the astrological bodies that they study through their telescopes and charts.
With that in mind, how does astrology work? It depends a lot on what you mean by “work.” The National Science Foundation conducted a survey. It found that 41% of respondents find astrology to be “very scientific.”
Answering the question of “how does astrology work” is easier if we break it into two specific questions. First, does the position of astronomical bodies affect a person’s life? Second, can horoscopes make people feel better?
Both of these questions may seem very different, but they are answerable scientifically! The answer to the question “is astrology a science” is a no, it’s not a hard science. Below, we break down exactly how astrology works, so read on to find out!
How does astrology work scientifically?
Before we answer this question of “how does astrology work,” we need to distinguish astrology from astronomy. It’s a common mistake made between people discussing it to treat the two as interchangeable; they’re not. Their objectives are as different as their spelling.
Astrology is the belief that astronomical bodies like planets can affect your daily lives or personalities. Astronomy is a scientific study of celestial objects and the physics of the universe. You can look at the things you can ask from their practitioners for further distinction.
Fortune-telling through horoscopes is a thing you can ask for from an astrologer. Meanwhile, astronomers tell you how stars ignite into supernovas and black holes or how things travel through space. The short answer to the question of “how does astrology work” is “no.” It doesn’t work, at least not scientifically.
There’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that astrology’s predictions are 100% true and verifiable. Proof that astrology can accurately determine a person’s personality just by knowing their planetary signs is shaky at best. Any claim from astrology that planetary bodies have influence on people’s lives beyond basic weather is simply false.
A study conducted by Shawn Carlson tested 28 astrologers in predicting the future; one of astrology’s essential functions. Before the experiment started, he polished his methods. This was so other scientists would agree it was scientifically sound. The 28 respondent astrologers also agreed that the test was fair. Unfortunately, their predictions were no more accurate than random chance.
The answer to the question of “how does astrology work scientifically” is really no. It doesn’t work scientifically. No study has ever found the correlation between birth date and personality or intelligence. Peter Hartmann and his colleagues know; they attempted that study.
Does the position of astronomical bodies affect a person’s life?
So how does astrology affect our lives? Do astronomical positions affect our lives? The answer to the latter is, in fact, yes. Sun positions relative to Earth actually cause our seasons. Anybody shovelling snow off their driveway when they’d rather be at the beach will say astronomical bodies affect our lives.
Solar flares exude electromagnetic energy that disrupts our satellites and power grids. Moons cause tides, so the moon directly affects a fisherman’s life and livelihood. Sunlight is quite literally the planet’s main source of energy; the second it stops shining is the second we die.
Astronomical bodies affect our daily lives greatly and will do so for so long as life breathes across the universe. Bodies like those and their positioning can quite literally determine whether there is life or not on a planet. That was certainly the case with Earth.
If Earth wasn’t in exactly the perfect position relative to the sun, it would have been too hot or cold. Without the moon in the right position, life could not have thrived on Earth. For life to happen anyway without those conditions, that life needs to be hyper-adapted to the inevitably harsh conditions.
Imagine an Earth as hot as Venus or as cold as Pluto. Venus averages 470 degrees Celsius, 10 times hotter than the deserts of our present Earth. Pluto averages -240 degrees Celsius, about 6 times colder than the South Pole during Winter. Then try to think of the kind of skin you’d need to not burn alive or instantly freeze to death.
Fundamentally, astronomical positions will affect our lives. There’s no way around it. Whether they affect anything beyond our lives and tell our futures is another question entirely.
Can horoscopes make people feel better?
Can horoscopes make people feel better? Yes, absolutely! However, that’s because of a well-known psychological effect called the Placebo Effect. Placebos are things that look like the real thing, but really aren’t.
Hence, the Placebo Effect happens when a belief in a method that’s useless in fact actually makes a person feel better. For example, this happens if someone says they’re sick and you give them a placebo medicine and they get better. This is why some doctors test the effectiveness of a drug by giving some people the real drug and others a placebo.
When this happens, it was really the belief that the person feels better that did the work, not the placebo itself. This is why doctors do placebo experiments; experimental drugs have to prove that they’re better than a placebo. Placebo methods are scientific and verified to work, given a control group taking placebos.
To illustrate, take a group of ten people who are sick with something. Give them each a pill and tell them it’s a powerful new drug that will cure the illness. However, those pills aren’t actually powerful new drugs; they’re just placebos.
Meanwhile, take another group of ten sick people and give them the actual drug. Then see who feels better over time. If it’s the group of people who actually took the drug, it works. However, if it’s the control group who took placebos, the drug doesn’t work well enough.
The Placebo Effect applies to people who believe in astrology as something that works. It does work to a certain extent, provided you believe in it. They’ll read their horoscope and feel better or try pseudo-scientific treatments like crystals. Feeling better after is the result of their belief that it worked, not the result of the horoscope or the crystals.
How does astrology affect our lives?
As to the question of “how does astrology affect us,” science suggests that the effect may be more psychological. All of the above suggests that astrology’s effect relies on the psychology of the person who believes in it. There’s no scientific evidence that astrology works whether or not you believe in it. So astrology only really affects us psychologically.
That’s the answer to how astrology works and how it affects our lives. It affects us psychologically through the Placebo Effect. Astrology doesn’t work scientifically. There’s no evidence that it does any more accurately than random chance predictions or behavioral changes. In essence, you could sum it up as just astrology relying on getting lucky with the predictions.
Astrology therefore only really affects your life as much as you allow it to affect you. If you believe in astrology and keep a crystal trove, then you’re using the Placebo Effect to make yourself feel better. No knocking it here; that can actually work! So if it works, then it worked for you at that moment.
However, whether it has a real effect on your life beyond random chance predictions is already soundly debunked. Unfortunate as it is to hear, astrology only works for so long as the Placebo Effect can work. Keep that in mind and you can enjoy astrology! All while not letting it dominate your life to a point where you make all your decisions from it, of course.