2019-02-20
Shutterstock.com

Astrology's basic premise is that heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, planets, and constellations will have influence over or are correlated with earthly events. For many people across the globe, astrology is a fun way to learn more about their personality traits and predict outcomes of situations. Some people use astrology to generate expectations about future events and people's personalities, much like scientific ideas generate expectations.

In some ways, astrology may seem scientific. It uses scientific knowledge about heavenly bodies, as well as scientific sounding tools, like star charts. Using these charts, one can come up with your horoscope. Horoscopes are an astrologer’s foretelling of a person’s life based on the relative positions of stars and planets. With these tools, though, is astrology really a scientific way to answer questions?

Does astrology really work?

Astrology uses a set of rules about the relative positions and movements of heavenly bodies to generate predictions and explanations for events on Earth and human personality traits. For example, some forms of astrology predict that a person born just after the spring equinox is particularly likely to become an entrepreneur.

The scientific community at large does not believe astrology is anything more than pseudoscience. Astrology has been rejected by the scientific community as having no explanatory power for describing the universe.

Some claim that astrology is supported by evidence, but typically only find experiences of people who feel that astrology has worked for them. Scientific testing has found no evidence to support the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions.

There have been many studies conducted that repeatedly prove that astrology doesn't hold up. The most famous test was headed by Shawn Carlson and included a committee of scientists and a committee of astrologers. It led to the conclusion that natal astrology performed no better than chance. Astrologer and psychologist Michel Gauquelin claimed to have found statistical support for "the Mars effect" in the birth dates of athletes, but it could not be replicated in further studies.

Due to this, astrology is regarded as pseudoscience. Simply put, there is proposed way in which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on earth in the way astrologers say they do that does not contradict well-understood, basic aspects of biology and physics.

Those who continue to have faith in astrology have been characterized as doing so "in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary". Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson commented on astrological belief, saying that "part of knowing how to think is knowing how the laws of nature shape the world around us. Without that knowledge, without that capacity to think, you can easily become a victim of people who seek to take advantage of you".

Can your birth month effect your personality?

A Japanese study found that people born December through February have lower agreeableness. A Swedish study found that for women with February through April birthdays are more likely to have an increased novelty-seeking behavior. Another study reported that summer-born males are less conscientious.

At first glance many believe studies like these would support astrology. However, adjacent signs often have opposing, or at least unrelated, personalities, while science says that adjacent birth months are similar. Science doesn't believe it's the stars that are causing these changes in traits. Rather, it's the stuff on earth that is the culprit.

The study of your birth month affecting your personality started when some scientists noticed that schizophrenics were more likely than others to have January through March birthdays. It wasn't a huge effect, but it was statistically significant nonetheless.

Scientists later found the same for bipoloar disorder, where winter and early spring birthdays have the worst. They also noticed that incidence of these diseases was particularly low for people who were born in late summer and early fall. Likelihood of suicidal thoughts appears to be strongest for April through June birthdays. Dyslexia may be strongest in the summer babies.

When scientists started seeing these discoveries, they decided to check what happened to those that lived at the southern hemisphere. They found that these effects are reversed there. Since the seasons are reversed below the equator, they have started to discover that the weather is more likely the cause of these traits. So many things vary with the season such as disease levels, temperature, diet, activity level, amount of pollen in the air, school attendance and consequent disease exposure. While this isn’t yet all set in stone, it further shows that what astrology claims doesn’t match up with actual scientific studies.

Birth months can have an effect on your personality, but not in the way that astrology claims it does. It should be a cause for concern if anyone tries to make an important life decisions based on entirely unreliable astrological predictions. For instance, people may decide for or against a potential marriage partner based on astrological sign. This happens quite often in India. Some may make rash financial decisions based on predicted good fortune.

Astrology can be a fun idea to learn about, but in the end there is no scientific data that proves any of its claims are valid. If you choose to read your horoscope, remember that it should only be used for entertainment. Science does not back up what the stars are supposedly telling us.


more from beliefnet and our partners