Astrology

Friday 9th October 2015

I've always assumed that Astrology is complete rubbish, but I've never actually paid any attention to it. So I thought I'd do some experiments to see if it stands up to any kind of close examination. Here are the results of my experiment.

 

1. Does my star sign match my personality?

I am apparently a Sagittarius. I assumed this meant that I have four legs and I'm good at archery, but here are a list of traits of Sagittarians according to six different websites.

I asked Kat to score how many she thinks apply to me, I'll leave it up to you to decide which she chose.

Website #1 Website #2 Website #3 Website #4 Website #5 Website #6
  • kind-hearted
  • open-minded
  • enthusiastic
  • quick wit
  • thirst for knowledge
  • mental acuity
  • strong
  • stubborn
  • loves finer things in life
  • appreciates beauty
  • feelings buried deep
  • generous
  • enthusiastic
  • passionate
  • adventurous
  • direct
  • performs well under pressure
  • unemotional
  • generous
  • dependable
  • down to earth
  • patient
  • independent
  • persistent
  • high-energy
  • eager
  • idealist
  • passionate about justice
  • equality-promoting
  • practically grounded
  • creative
  • reasonable
  • perceptive
  • sensitive
  • compassionate
  • self-doubting
Score: 6 Score: 3 Score: 3 Score: 3 Score: 2 Score: 4

 

In fact, only three of these are traits for Sagittarius, the ones in the columns with the dark backgrounds. #2 and #4 are Taurus and #6 is Pisces. So on average 61% of the Sagittarius traits match, against 55% of the traits for the other signs. Not a great start, but it's a small sample size so I'm not sure we can read too much into it.

You'll note though that are is some degree of consistency between the traits for Sagittarius: enthusiastic and passionate both appear on two different lists, and generous appears in both of the Taurus lists.

Result: inconclusive

 

2. Do these personality traits agree with other people?

I know three people who share my birthday, so they should share these Sagittarius traits too. I emailed them a list of these traits and asked their partners to tick the ones that applied. I didn't tell them what it was for. Only one replied (fair enough, it was an odd request): Mr H matched 72% of the Sagittarius traits and 33% of the non-Sagittarius traits, which is a much stronger match than me.

Result: promising

 

 

2. Do my horoscopes agree with each other?

This seems like a fairly basic expectation of a horoscope. If they're predicting my future, they should at least agree on what that future is. I Googled horoscopes, opened the top six websites and found today's text for Sagittarius. I've summarised them into bullet points:

  • horoscope.com - You'll get an angry call from someone far away
  • Yahoo! - You're able to work more quickly and efficiently.
  • cainer.com - What's positive, this weekend, may well be possible, if you believe!
  • horoscopes.co.uk - Together with someone close, you could be planning for the future.
  • Elle - You could blow a situation way out of proportion
  • Daily Mirror - Today you will recognise when someone is feeding you false leads.

There's 0% consistency between these, there's not one common theme among them without stretching the words to breaking point.

I've also just noticed that Russell Grant provided the predictions for both Yahoo and the Mirror website, which don't even match up to each other.

Result: fail

 

 

3. Does my daily horoscope predict my day?

If they really are true, then I should be able to see correlations between what my horoscope predicts and what actually happens in my day.

In the examples above for today, I would argue that the last one about being fed false leads does make sense! But that means if it's false it's true then it's false and we're in some kind of mind-melting paradox.

I'm giving Yahoo Russell a chance to predict my future. Here are my predictions for a week, and my experiences:

Friday

  • Russell predicts: You're able to work more quickly and efficiently.
  • My day: No, I spent most of the day elbow-deep in a database and hardly achieved anything.

Saturday

  • Russell predicts: You'll be asked to make a personal sacrifice for a loved one. 
  • My day: I agreed to go to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch, does that count?

Sunday

  • Russell predicts: People are receptive to your particular brand of genius. 
  • My day: Thanks for the compliment, but no.

Monday

  • Russell predicts: You're determined to reach your goal, even if it means going above and beyond the call of duty.
  • My day: This doesn't sound like my Monday, can you be a bit more specific please?

Tuesday

  • Russel predicts: Your income is steadily improving, although you might not see a discernible change yet.
  • My day: The first part is true, but I have noticed it.

Wednesday

  • Russel predicts: Attending a religious, educational or cultural gathering will put you on the path to romance. 
  • My day: Ooh! But no.

Thursday

  • Russel predicts: A financial shortage is putting a crimp in your social life.
  • My day: Utterly wrong, today I calculated that we're debt-free for the first time in 20 years!

Result: fail

 

Summary

And there you have it. Unsurprisingly this isn't the first ever scientific study into astrology, this study from 2003 found that astrological effects for 110 variables were not detectable in 2,101 time twins born 5 minutes apart. [...] The effect
size due to astrology was measured as 0.00 ± 0.03. I'm not sure what the units are there, but I don't think it matters much.

But I doubt it's going to change anyone's mind either.

What star sign are you, and has a prediction ever come true? Leave a comment below.

 

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