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Don’t Blame Your Problems on the Planets: Why Horoscopes Are Fake and Why We Feel Compelled to Believe Them

Veronica Mork, Millennials Staff Writer

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Horoscopes are the write ups about zodiac signs that seem to be scarily accurate. Largely popularized by magazines and newspapers, horoscopes are everywhere. But are horoscopes really accurate? Accourding to Huffington Post, 33% of Americans seem to think so.

Many people doubt their horoscope because of how vague each message is. Along with that, people have noticed that while their horoscope may seem accurate and explain the situation that they’re in, many other horoscopes that don’t match their sign seem to relate to them too.

“Anyone can create a horoscope.” Writes AJ Agrawal in a Huffpost blog. “As long as you know how the language works, you can make up any horoscope you like. And that’s why astrology has such a bad reputation. The horoscopes you see in the newspaper are not true to the zodiac because a reporter is sitting in a room writing anything that comes to mind.

If you read the same horoscope for a year and compare, you will see that in some cases they have copied and pasted a horoscope from a previous day. This is not astrology and this is not demonstrating a firm understanding of the zodiac.” While astronomy, the study of stars and their movements and placements in the sky is realistic and practical, astrology, the superstition without scientific evidence that has to do with zodiacs and horoscopes, is just that and nothing more – a superstition.

Dr. Chris French, a psychology professor at London’s Goldsmith College, says “Most days for most people is a mix of good things and bad things, and depending on how you buy into the system… if you’re told to expect something good that day, then anything good that happens that day is read as confirmation.” Desperate to fulfill their zodiac fortune so they can validate their horoscope and know what to expect next, people accept whatever evidence they are presented with.

By making horoscopes as vague as possible, the author creates a description that could match almost anyone.  A famous experiment done by psychologist Bertram Forerin 1948 included Forerin giving a group of students a personality test, which was followed by a description of their personality that they were told was based on their test results. The students were asked to rate how accurate they considered the description to be, on a scale of 0-5, 5 being spot on and 0 being completely wrong. What the students didn’t know was that they were all given the same description; the accuracy rating that the students gave was at an 4.26 average.”Pretty remarkable,” writes the Smithsonian Magazine, “unless all the students really were exactly the same. Forer’s observation was quickly dubbed the Forer effect and has often been replicated in other settings.”

This “self-validation” study shows that people are eager to put themselves into boxes and want to be able to predict what’s going to happen next in their life. Because horoscopes are said to predict the future and give you guidance on what coming next, people are quick to identify with whatever they can to get the answers and guidance they want.

The truth of the matter is not one person or object is in charge of your future but you, and no matter what any zodiac sign says, your features and personality are unique and hard to pin down with just your birth date and some fake fortunes.

“Margaret Hamilton, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin who found that people are more likely to believe favorable horoscopes, noted that people who are believers in astrology also tend to be more anxious or neurotic.” Writes Smithsonian. “Newspaper horoscopes, she said, offer a bit of comfort, a sort of seeing through the veil on a casual level.” While there are many theories on why people believe horoscopes so strongly, the idea of comfort in predicatibilty seems the most logical. Along with this, there is proof in the pattern-seeking nature of humans, the “everything happens for a reason” viewpoints, and the deep desire to be “part of the world” and have a specific place so they can fit in.

Horoscopes can be interesting to read and give you a sense of purpose, but not the most reliable to base or blame your problems and solutions on. If you base your entire personality on the time and day you were born, you should probably re-evaluate.

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Don’t Blame Your Problems on the Planets: Why Horoscopes Are Fake and Why We Feel Compelled to Believe Them