What Do Skeptics Say About Astrology?
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 Astrology Zine by Michael Star

What Do Skeptics of Astrology Say? Part 1.

Skeptics often say that horoscope readings are so "general" they could apply to anyone; and that people will look for what they want to see and ignore what isn't true for them, thus deluding themselves that the horoscope is "accurate".

I would agree that people do have a tendency to see only what they want to see; but I would definitely disagree with the claim that horoscopes are so "general" that they could apply to anyone. This suspicion would most likely be eliminated if the skeptic actually looked at a real horoscope done by a competent professional astrologer, using his unique time and place of birth.


No two people have the same horoscope chart, and an interpretation of that individual chart would be different from any other person's, although some parts might be similar because people ARE similar in some ways, but are quite different in other ways.

If you and a friend who was born in a different month or year got a real horoscope reading done for each of you, then read your own, and then traded readings and read the other's, you would see a big difference in them. You would agree that the one done for you using your birth data is far more appropriate for you than the one done for your friend. They might have some parts similar, because you might BE similar in some ways - which was what might have attracted you to each other! But most parts would be as different in what they describe, as you two are different from each other.

Some people jump to conclusions like this "too general" one after looking only at the sun-sign "horoscope columns" they see in the newspapers, but not actually studying astrology or even seeing a real horoscope reading based on their own time and place of birth. They conclude that since there are only twelve "signs" and there are about six billion people on earth, then each of those twelve daily "horoscopes" would have to apply to about half a billion people! How could this be true, unless the horoscopes were written in such "general" terms that they could apply to many millions of people?

A "Sun Sign" horoscope forecast IS pretty "general", but it is not a real horoscope. No one asked for your time and place of birth, so it was not created just for you. It is only meant to be "for entertainment only" (and many astrologers would not want to be associated with the kinds of so-called "horoscopes" you see in newspaper columns). I have even heard from one or two people in the newspaper business that sometimes a fake "horoscope column" may be written by some staff member who is not even a real astrologer.

Be suspicious when there is no mention of the name of the astrologer who wrote the sun-sign horoscope forecasts, or if the author's name looks like some made-up pseudonym for someone who is a writer but not a real astrologer. A real astrologer who writes these columns will want to protect his or her reputation, so they are not likely to be "faked" horoscopes when his or her name appears beside them. The most popular syndicated newspaper horoscope columns in North America have been written by Sidney Omarr and Jean Dixon and a few other famous astrologers, and they were not fakes. Neither are most of the currently famous authors of Internet horoscope columns who use their own names in the byline, such as Linda Black, Susan Miller, Rob Brezny, and Eugenia Last in North America, and Jonathan Cainer in England.

Since the astrologer cannot ask each reader for his individual birth data, a sun sign horoscope column has to be based only on the assumption that a person was born within a certain one-month period during the year when the Sun was traveling through a certain Sign, and that limited information is only sufficient to create a very "general" kind of forecast.

But it is not a real horoscope forecast, for without knowing which degree of the zodiac and sign the Sun (AND the Moon and all the Planets) actually occupied at your time of birth, no astrologer can produce a really accurate, detailed, and useful forecast or personality analysis for you. Without at least the day, month, and year of birth being known, a real horoscope of any kind cannot be cast. The most complete horoscope readings require knowledge of the town or place of birth and the hour and minute of birth as well.

So these sun sign "horoscope" columns are quite a different thing than a real horoscope reading based on a real horoscope chart (sometimes called a "birth chart"). Actually, the word "horoscope" usually refers to the birth chart, a kind of "map" of the positions of the Sun and Moon and Planets as they appeared over a certain place at a certain time. Your horoscope cannot be the same as anyone else's, unless you could actually be born in the same place at the same time! Even identical twins have slightly different horoscopes, since they are never born at exactly the same time - usually several minutes, or sometimes even hours, apart. Their Ascendant will not be at the same degree, and may often be in the next or previous Sign.

I know a pair of identical twins in my home town who were born with a different Ascendant sign (also known as the Rising Sign). Although they are identical in their DNA and physical bodies, the one with Leo Rising wore her hair long and shaggy, like a lion's mane; while the one with Virgo Rising cut her hair short and conservatively. Just looking at their hair style was a clue that the long-haired twin had her Ascendant in Leo; and then to see the horoscope of the other twin with Virgo Rising was enough to guess that she was the younger one by at least a few minutes (or even up to two hours), since Virgo always rises after Leo.

When a skeptic has based his opinion on only a superficial examination of those so-called "horoscopes" in the newspaper columns, he is assuming they are the same thing as the kind of horoscope reading (horoscope interpretation) that is done by a professional astrologer for an individual client. Since they are not the same, the skeptic's conclusions will be in error because they were based on an erroneous assumption. If he saw a real horoscope reading based on his individual time and place of birth, he would probably not be able to make that same assumption that HIS horoscope reading is "so general that it could apply to anyone".

Coming to such a hasty conclusion about the entire subject of Astrology, based on exposure to only a small and limited aspect of the whole body of knowledge and its many forms of practice (such as sun sign horoscope columns), would be like drawing conclusions about the validity of the entire practice of medicine after only being exposed to a few minutes of talk about general health topics by a doctor during an "infomercial" or an entertainment television show or a news program.

If the skeptic actually read a good textbook on Astrology, he would learn that the Sign the Sun was in at his time of birth is only one of many factors an astrologer looks at to interpret his unique personal horoscope chart. Besides the Sun, there are the Moon and eight Planets (not counting Earth), and they could all be in different Signs.

And there are twelve "Houses" as well as twelve Signs, and the Sun and Moon and Planets could all be in different Houses too. Even if a Planet is in the same Sign as another, it might be in a different House (the next or previous one). Twins will have most or all of the Planets in the same Signs and at nearly the same degree of those Signs (but not the Moon nor Midheaven nor Ascendant) - but if born several minutes or hours apart, they could have some or all of those Planets in a different set of Houses.

An astrologer also looks at certain "aspects" (angles) each of these makes to the others, and there are hundreds of possible combinations of aspects alone, not to mention the thousands of combinations of the Sun and Moon and each Planet in a particular Sign and a particular House. For each Planet in one of the twelve Signs, it could also be in one of twelve Houses, as could the Sun and Moon. And there are two other significant items in a horoscope, two "Points" called the Ascendant and Midheaven, and they can be in any Sign as well, and form aspects (angles) to the Sun and Moon and each Planet. The possible combinations are endless, and thus no two horoscopes are ever exactly the same.

The probability of all the heavenly bodies ever coming into the exact same alignment with each other again is close to zero, and thus the chance of two people ever being born with the exact same horoscope is also close to zero. In other words... there have been more uniquely different horoscope charts mapped by those heavenly bodies than there have been human beings born - throughout the entire history of mankind!

Since no two individuals will have identical horoscope charts, the interpretation of their horsocope charts will not be identical either. If, say, the Sun was in Aries for one person and also in Aries for the other person, then the interpretation of that factor may be the same, but if one had the Moon in Taurus and the other had the Moon in Leo, the interpretation of that factor would be quite different. And so on for each of the hundreds of factors that are examined to fully interpret an individual's horoscope chart. We are complex beings, and so are our horoscopes. We can be the same in some ways, but completely different in other aspects of our characters and personalities, not to mention our unconscious motivations and hidden drives and fears.

So perhaps you can see how horoscope readings are not really "general". Even when two people have the Sun in the same Sign in their horoscope chart, they may not necessarily share all the same traits indicated by the Sun being in, say, Aries - for not all "Arians" are alike. They may have the Sun in a different "degree" of Aries (there are 30 degrees in each Sign), and they may have the Sun in a different House even when it is in the same Sign as the other Aries person. And the Sun in their horoscope chart might be forming aspects to different Planets or the Moon, and the type of aspect may be different even if it is to the same Planet (such as a 90-degree "square" aspect instead of a 120-degree "trine" aspect).

Perhaps all this will lead you to the (correct) conclusion that an individual horoscope chart is very complex and not "too general" - and so is the interpretation of that horoscope chart. We may try to look only at certain parts of the horoscope chart, such as what Sign the Sun was in; and might perhaps find that this indicates certain things which could apply to one person and also to another in a general way; but that does not mean that if we look at some other parts of the horoscope we will not find many things which would NOT apply to that other person, even when one part does.

All blondes have the same general hair color, but that does not imply that they are alike in any other way - and those stereotypical "blonde jokes" we used to hear were not true for all blondes, and probably not true for most of them. And all people with Sun in Sagittarius do not have the Moon in Sagittarius too - in fact, 11 out of 12 do not.

That all horoscopes are alike is simply not true.

(This is Part 1 of a continuing series about Skeptics. In the second part of the series, we'll look at an example of how a skeptic of Astrology can come to a false conclusion and go on saying that Astrology is "bunk" or "fake" to others - by NOT using a real horoscope to "prove" his point.)

 Click for Part 2   ©2001 by  Michael Star

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