How do sceptics view astrology?
“How do sceptics view astrology?” A question I first answered on Quora.
An interesting question. Probably a better one would be to ask is, what do sceptics actually know about astrology to pass judgement on it? Or, why do sceptics get so fired up over it?
If you are an astrologer and answering questions on Quora you are likely to come across people who consider it their duty to rubbish astrology wherever they can – and by association may even try to run you down with it.
As one person recently put it to me: Astrology is “literally just a game emotionally immature adults play to make themselves think their lives are more meaningful than they actually are.”
If you get to have an exchange with any sceptic of astrology, and I’ve had a few, the chances are the exchange may start off in a fairly reasonable manner – and hopefully continue along that path. But don’t be surprised if it soon deteriorates and the sceptic begins talking to you as if you’re some lower lifeform to themselves in the exchange. After all you’ll be the one that is meant to be “emotionally immature.”
Their supposed reasoning mind can soon go out the window as their prejudice begins to kick in. It can get personal and nasty pretty quickly. I’ve been insulted, threatened and called all kinds of vulgar names in such exchanges on Quora – some I wouldn’t ever wish to repeat.
I’ll wager most sceptics, probably all, have never studied the subject. Certainly not to be in a position to actually know what they are talking about. Usually they draw on others opinion, often from the scientific community (people who likewise have never studied astrology but are religiously opposed to it) to get across their position.
Their astrology source (if they have a source that is) is invariably pop astrology. It’s accessible to everyone and it doesn’t take much effort to know your way around the newspaper “stars.”
Also, the wider public believe the stars in the media IS astrology – rather than the excuse for astrology that it actually is. It means that sceptics of astrology also don’t really have to work that hard, on knowing the subject, to appear impressive to some people.
Yes, astrology really can be an emotive topic. But why? One is obliged to ask what’s behind it all. Why is it so controversial?
If my topic of interest was answering questions on modern art, let’s say, I expect I could attract a bit of controversy but I’d be surprised if it got in anyway as heated or vindictive as the artform of astrology can and does – maybe it does.
If you ask why the sceptic is challenging astrology, and astrologers, the answer often given is because for them, “there is no evidence for it,” and they believe “astrologers are all charlatans” (I was reminded of this again very recently) who are “preying on a gullible public.”
If this mythology was true, that would make their intentions (at least) sound like a worthy cause…
However, with the attitude and language some of them use, I doubt they really care if gullible Jo Public visited an astrologer today or ever – and I’ll bet they have never met one of these gullibles. And if they have, I bet it wasn’t a professional astrologer that the person went to see. Need we remind ourselves that, more to the pity, anyone can set themselves up as an astrologer at this time.
To my mind this sceptic explanation doesn’t really cut it. It’s not enough to merit getting all steamed up about. I mean if astrology is all a bunch of hooey superstition why bother? Would they be chasing people who believe in a flat Earth, with the same passion? I doubt it!
A little aside…
James Randi needs no introduction to astrologers who have been around the block a few times.
In a reply to a computer science student (intellectualising about astrology and pseudoscience), he told him; “I don’t believe in astrology because I’m a Sagittarius, and we’re very hard to convince of anything!”
Well typical of Randi, master of reason and deception, he wasn’t a Sagittarian, he was another fire sign, a Leo. If you’re really familiar with astrology though, just take a look at what actually is in Sagittarius – and like a bolt in a crossbow for his Gemini ascendant. Talk about Freudian slip… :0)
A big reason why astrology is so controversial – as I see it…
You don’t need to be the voice of reason or come from a materialistic or scientific perspective to be opposed to astrology; Christians are still taught that astrology is bad for their spiritual health.
I’d suggest though the Church does provide us with a clue as to what the fuss is really all about.
It is not true, by the way, that the Roman Church has always opposed astrology. Back in mediaeval times astrology was taught in Catholic schools and colleges. Astrology was used to predict the seasons for agricultural purposes, and widely used in medicine too.
But the Church did/does vehemently oppose astrology being used to predict the lives of people. The Church would say that God decides on the lives of people. Anyone practicing that sort of astrology at that time could be shut down.
There’s the clue… The opposition to astrology is really not about evidence and charlatans, it’s what it implies.
Coming forward, and leaving God out of this; bottom line, the controversy comes down to who is in control of my destiny – “is it me or the planets!?” – or “stars” in the vernacular. That’s the real nub of it, I believe. That’s why people get hot under the collar.
And you know what… If I thought that astrology was all about planets, or stars, controlling my life, or anyone’s life, I’d be distancing myself from it too. But, for me, that is not the way it works…
I follow the modern perspective that invokes correlation, and Time as the glue that holds things together – but that’s for another question.