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Does astrology hurt society?



University of Virginia


Does astrology hurt society?

Why it might be time to put away those horoscopes

Coke Matthews


For those who don't know, astrology is the study of the relative motion of planets and how they affect or determine human affairs. Think horoscopes and zodiac signs. While they may appear harmless at surface level, the net impact on society is certainly more complicated. To begin, as most (hopefully) know, astrology operates on a level completely averse to actual science. By accepting that horoscopes and the influence of planetary alignment are true, even though the scientific community openly rejects the notion, one is ultimately deterred from genuine science and its study. Acceptance of pseudoscience as a replacement for actual science is a slippery slope. When it comes to our policy on climate change and fracking, for example, being able to objectively look at material from a scientific perspective is vital.

Most don't know but President Reagan and his wife Nancy were deeply interested in astrology, especially after the assassination attempt on his life. During his presidency, they even hired astrologist Joan Quigley, for astrological advice where she was claimed to have helped determine whether or not some decisions were favorable with the President's horoscope. If this is true, and the president of our country, or anyone in a position of power for that matter, relies on an astrologist to shape their decisions, how can we expect our nation’s issues to be accurately addressed? As humanity moves forward and faces upcoming problems affecting our longevity (i.e. exponential population growth), I believe the only way to truly solve them is with a heavy reliance on actual problem solving and logic rooted in science. Needless to say, astrology is not the solution.

A more nuanced slight against astrology is that it promotes prejudices that are ultimately detrimental for society. By judging a person based solely on their birth-month and then using that information to decide whether or not you would be compatible with them or utterly hate each other, one is exercising a prejudice rooted entirely in something we have no control of. We are taught to love people of all color, sexuality, size, etc. for who they are, so why would it make sense to judge those by whether or not they were born in June?

All of this considered, the biggest flaw in astrology that I’ve found, is its correlation with fatalism. Fatalism is “the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable". Because the premise of astrology is that the alignment of celestial bodies determines our daily lives and personalities, it is suggested that the decisions we make cannot change what is destined. The problem with this is when faced with real challenges, the best way to solve them most likely is to rely on critical thinking and grit. Relying on astrology and foregoing freewill drastically reduces the ability to think critically and undermines the importance of solving our future problems. In this sense, astrology can lead to a complacency with our world that can prove to be dangerous. Carl Sagan sums this up when talking about why astrology has survived: “It seems to lend a cosmic significance to the routine of our daily lives. It pretends to satisfy our longing to feel personally connected with the Universe. Astrology suggests a dangerous fatalism. If our lives are controlled by a set of traffic signals in the sky, why try to change anything?”.

While I recognize that there are some positives to astrology, as horoscopes can provide people with confidence and generic, yet good advice, I truly believe the negatives heavily outweigh these minor positives. Even worse, recent surveys have determined that almost half of Americans, believe astrology is a science, and one half of 300 million is just way too high a number.