Last updated on May 23, 2022
Look, we’ve all done it at some point before. They both have to do with the stars, and they both start with “astro”, it’s understandable. But the two are totally different.
Astronomy is the scientific study of space, celestial bodies, and the physical universe. It was the first natural sciences to become truly sophisticated, in ancient Babylonia and Greece.
Astrology, on the other hand, is a pseudoscience that aims to predict human events by interpreting celestial bodies. There are two main branches of astrology, sidereal and tropical. Sidereal focuses more on the interpretation of fixed objects in the sky, while tropical is based on the Earth’s relationship with the Sun.
Now, astrology on its own is completely harmless. Astrology was developed to help predict things in people’s lives, which helped reassure people of the future. But the problem is, it’s not a science. It’s pseudoscience.
Is Pseudoscience Reliable?
Simple answer: no. A pseudoscience is a group of practices of beliefs that are presented as scientific but don’t stand up to the scientific method. Belief in astrology is oftentimes caused by confirmation bias. It’s called the Barnum Effect: the tendency to accept information as true, even if the information is so vague that it is useless. This effect is seen quite clearly when people read their horoscopes.
Horoscopes utilize astrology to form charts based on a birthday to make a statement about that person’s character or even future events. It can get pretty complex, with Sun signs, Moon signs, different houses, rising signs, and more. But even if we look at just the Sun sign, it’s very general.
For example, I was born at the end of October, making me a Scorpio. Most descriptions of Scorpios go a little like this, “Scorpios are prickly on the outside but once you earn their trust, are some of the most loyal people out there. They are mysterious and intuitive, as well as receptive and curious.”
So great, maybe some of that is true for me, but not all of it is. These types of descriptions can be misleading because there is no reason whatsoever that the day I was born should correlate to my personality. One of my friends is also a Scorpio and almost none of these apply to him.
Overall, if someone wants to study the stars for real, they should turn to astronomy, or astrophysics if they want to get extreme. However, astrology isn’t much more than a random way to make predictions.
So using, “What’s your sign?” as a pick-up line might work, but remember, finding the right person is almost never a science. In fact, calling astrology “science” is simply wrong.