Beliefnet
Oh My Stars

matthew currie astrology colo gorillaA team of researchers have recently determined that chimps and orangutans have personalities: individual variable traits like extroversion and neurosis and such. Of course this should come as no surprise, not only given that apes are close relatives of ours… but if you’ve ever know many cats or dogs or parrots, you already know that animals in general tend to have “personalities.”

So why was this recent study so noteworthy? A “personality” is a ridiculously hard thing to measure, weigh, or dissect in a scientific, objective way. You can’t bomb a person with accelerated particles or spray them with Luminol to detect their personality either (but you might get a clue from doing so how well they deal with being sprayed or irradiated by jerks in lab coats). And now that we’ve established that Bongo is more agreeable than Bobo…what exactly does one DO with this information?

The modern science of psychology is over a century old. Millions have studied it, billions have been spent on research, and we all seem to think we have personalities… yet there is no consensus. Show me a psychiatrist with a firm professional opinion as to why you have a personality, and I’ll show you two who disagree. That doesn’t necessarily dismiss psychiatry as a whole, but remember this next time you hear a skeptic argue against astrology based on the “personality.” Your skeptic friend probably has a personality too… but until you’ve been shown the graphs, feel free to believe otherwise.

This is why, when it comes to defending astrology (and holy cow, have I done that a few times), I prefer to stick to something more observable than just personality-based observations. I prefer predictive work, like “holy cow is your career going to be messed up in the next month or two (looking at you, Kanye).

Put another way: I can’t tell you WHY, exactly, that “Sun square Mars and Jupiter” made your ex a huge jerk… but at least I can see that potential there. Of course, you already knew that… so shouldn’t you have seen me about this a lot earlier?

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