Demystify: Astrology

Astrology is the study of the correlation between celestial and earthly events. Curiously, we still do not know the true causation… or maybe we do, but haven’t connected the dots.

To set the record straight, I had been a sceptic my whole life. I was someone who believed in Karma, that our fate is in our hands, that all people are good on the whole. And many such naïve opinions that crashed when I went through an existential crisis two years ago… still dreaming to be a superhero someday though.

Then, I sort of “phoenixed” and saw everything in a new light. Now that you got some context, here’s how I saw Astrology in a new light.

If you came here looking to quench your thirst for Horrorscopes, then you are at the wrong place. But, if you are just looking for self awareness from an arguably decent source, then you can check this place out -> Birthday signs. And if you like to participate, share your experience and we can have a consensus on it -> Fill me.

Be a sweetheart and reply back if you agree with it. Comment with Slam, if you think it’s eerily correct about your personality – OR – Comment with Sham, if you think it’s completely bogus. Future predictions is just for entertainment, focus is the personality. Merci! ˆ_ˆ

In any case, welcome to an open-minded discussion on Astrology. Now, whether you’re a rationalist who is absolutely sceptic about it. Or, you’re a believer who is absolutely sure about its merits. Or, if you’re just curious and find the lack of data, disturbing…

Welcome to an open discussion. These are my opinions and inferences.

This march I was on a road trip around Rajasthan with my family. We visited a lot forts in Jaipur, Amer, Jodhpur, Ajmer and Pushkar. It’s a lovely experience, 10/10 would recommend. In the tour of Amer, we came across an Astrologer whose lineage has been Astrologers for the royal family( According to the guide ). He looked like someone invested in both science and religion, with a giant vermillion tilak and glasses, he sat opposite a counter with his laptop. One by one he asked us to give our birthday, birth time and place of birth before judging our palms. His computer created a birth chart with the data and he gave his inferences about us based on all of this. I don’t know if he somehow took all our social media data in the span of a few seconds to judge us, highly unlikely… with their slow internet ofcourse.

To be concise, he was quite accurate and detailed about each one of us. He described our personality to us in plain colours. The chances of this being fluke reduced with every person he described well before even a conversation. And it wasn’t all just positive happy talk that would put us in false gratifying satisfaction, it had everything in the spectrum from good to bad. Talking vainly about me, I was told about my reserved nature. Which is pretty obvious, but he went further and described accurately how I am not actually shy but I prefer to talk about things that interest me or when I need to. Which is pretty damn accurate. Then I was told about my anxiety, “Bugs in the brains” as he described it, he told me how my mind is constantly thinking about random shit and imagining all the time( Helps as a writer ). And also, how I falter to finish personal projects, I hop between projects as I get bored too soon. Procrastination. Hell, I procrastinated 3 weeks to finish this post. On the positive spectrum, he told me I am innovative and I have the potential for great inventions, given I gain the needed self discipline and platform. Finally, I was advised to focus on self awareness and when I asked him how. The answer put me in an uneasy shock. He said, meditate. And, also he told me how I am averse to relationships. That I run away from women and they run after me, that felt nice… But, even though I have avoided relationships for years now, I really don’t think any woman’s running after me. Strolling at best. So, I’ll cut a point for that. He talked a lot more but this para is long as it is. Overall I’d give him a 9/10 for his inferences on my personality.

Getting so many personal traits right got me really curious and uncomfortable. One or two might have been a coincidence, but an array was peculiar. Prediction of my future is obviously up for debate as it might differ substantially and it creates a paradox ( If I follow it, I am consciously working on making it true. If I don’t, I am consciously working the opposite. ). So, I don’t even consider the future prediction as a parameter to judge. But, describing a person correctly without ever knowing them, just by their birthday, city of birth and palm…

is it a trick or trait?

Was it a con or legit art beyond my current comprehension? Was I wrong to believe it is all fake and misleading when I was young? How much of it is science? And how much of it is blind faith? Can it be understood and proved or are we too naïve to comprehend it in absolute?

I decide to keep my prejudice in a box and open my mind, analyse what I can and make sense of this “Mystic Art”.

My understanding of Astrology from my reasearch:

  • Definition of AstrologyAstrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events.
  • I exclusively use this definition. I am considering all other forms of divination (Tarot cards etc.) as moot for this discussion. This is my interpretation of the topic and my views aren’t set in stone. And, (civil) discussion is key to better understanding.
  • Astrology, at its core, is an agnostic view. It is an attempt to search for divine through an objective look at the sky. It has one foot in science and the other in theology. One hand in rationale and the other in fanaticism.

My analogy to comprehend it is, Business Intelligence. Corporates use collective data to:

  • Describe the current state of affairs.
  • Predict the future based on the data and state of affairs.

Alright let’s initiate the discussion! A theory/opinion will be shot, and I’ll assess it with a proponent and an opponent view. Like a typical agnost, I am neutral AF.

  • Astrology is a pseudoscience due to the lack of scientific validity or explanatory power.
    • Proponent – The field is highly divisive, even among its academics. Due to the lack of a unifying theory and practice, it has become lackadaisical and out dated. It has lacked research to parallel the industrial growth. Thus, it has fallen behind to be able to prove its credentials.
    • Opponent – Though it has lost relevance, the core of true astrology is the precursor to astronomy. It was highly regarded in the academic field until the dawn of 17th century by greats such as Galileo Galilei, who himself served as an astrologer in the royal court. At its core, it was regarded as the study of the celestial to make better decisions in weather, environment, war etc. Although it is out of mainstream science, it still has relevance with correlative methods.
  • Horoscopes. They describe individuals and their life events based on the position of the sun at the time of their birth categorized into 12 signs.
    • Opponent – It is a hoax. A sham. It applies Forer/Barnum effect [1] to charm individuals into a false sense of divination by getting vague approximations correct. Forer is a common psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them but that are, in fact, vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people[4].
    • Proponent – It is not the complete form of astrology. It is 1/10th part of it if anything. It disregards the movement and position of all the other celestial bodies other than the sun. The sun, moon, planets and stars together, allegedly, shape the earthly events. Thus, accurate readings need complete data and we can imagine the quality of inference with 1/10th of the data.

Check out the video to get an idea of how it works[2].

  • Astrology is a form of divination to foretell the future.
    • Opponent – Astrologers have been unable to prove credence in their methods in experiments in the modern age. In modern history, it was found to be comprehensively faulty in its predictions. Its occasional accuracy can be judged as coincidence at best.
    • Proponent – It was originally used to predict nature patterns by reading the stars. Evidently it started to be used to describe personality, career paths and future. Foretelling future is always going to be paradoxical in nature. But importantly, it wasn’t meant to be absolute but rather approximation based on the current path of events and thus treated with caution. It is like inferencing, from current data set of sales, to predict the sales in the next month/year. It relies heavily on the quality of obtained data and the quality of the one inferring from the data. 

Thus to conclude, It is not an exact science. Nor is it a fanatic religion. It’s an ancient attempt of stubborn scholars, refusing change, to search for the divine by interpreting the observable sky. I have only scratched the surface and haven’t gotten down to read the massive books/vedas on Astrology/Jyotish. But, It could have been more scientifically valid if its academics were open to change and research. It could have been at least on par with Data science. I won’t be pursuing any further research on this topic at least until it peaks my interest again.

Like all of my queries, I looked towards Google, Wikipedia and Reddit for answers.

Reddit: Explain Like I’m 5 is a great place to begin understanding a topic IMO.

[1] ELI5: Where did the strange idea of astrological signs effecting someone’s personality come from?

[2] ELI5: Astrology

Wikipedia:

[3] Astrology

[4] Barnum/Forer Effect

 

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