Astrology isn’t science, but your horoscope is more real than you think


people talk a lot of [ __ ] about


Eli's death I think it's a bunch of bull

and they've got a point we came up with

astrology ages ago back when science

meant looking up at the stars and making

up stories astrology is in science but

it is something lots of people identify

with and used to explain their feelings

their issues their relationships and

astrology may even be more than that

once upon a time astrology was really

useful for science and maybe science

could still learn a lot from astrology

even if you think it's [ __ ]

once upon a time astrologers were

scientists the ancient Babylonians were

clever enough to notice that Stars moved

in patterns and they seem to affect

daily life the moon seemed to control

everything from the tides to women's

periods it also just got really hot

outside when the Sun was in a

constellation that looked like a crab

well sort of like a crab maybe the

Babylonians figured they could resolve

the chaos on earth they understood the

Stars better so they started collecting

data and using that data to tell stories

they actually became really good at

predicting things like eclipses of

course they thought eclipses were omens

and they only cared about predicting

them so they could protect their Kings

from the angry gods side note if the

ancient Babylonians wanted to trick a

God out of killing their king they'd

hide the king a point if a king in his

place then sacrificed the fake King the

real King survived every time we think

the truth though is that the ancient

Babylonians were doing incredible

astronomy for their time astrology was

driving scientific discovery and this

was just the beginning

2,000 years later ancient people in

Greece and maybe India discovered the

earth revolves like a gyroscope this

movement is called precession and it

happens incredibly slowly but astrology

required such precise observations these

people were able to notice that the

earth is in fact revolving on a cycle

that takes tens of thousands of years to

complete the fact that they noticed this

is pretty incredible

a lot of these astrologers probably

understood astronomy better than most of

us do stay and the discovery of

precession changed astrology to Western

astrology started correlating Sun signs

to the seasons instead of to the Stars

it's white your Sun Sign is tied to the

time of year you were born that means if

you were born in the beginning of summer

you'd be a cancer regardless of where

the crab constellation actually is in

the sky astrology had evolved with

science but astrology had a problem


astrology was all built around the idea

that the Sun planets and all the stars

revolved around Earth and as science

started suggesting otherwise the

astrologers made a bad bet and doubled


astrologers started ignoring science

enter the scientific revolution with new

tools like telescopes scientists were

redefining the way we understood the

universe but not everyone was on board

for years Europe's last official court

astrologer tried to defend astrology it

didn't go well it got so bad he started

openly predicting the deaths of former

friends scientists made him a public

laughingstock to convince the rest of

Europe that astrology wasn't real

science around the same time a college

student named Isaac Newton went to the

local fair and picked up an astrology

book it didn't make sense to him but he

wanted to understand it better so he

started studying mathematics and

eventually discovered that physics could

explain the connections between earth

and the stars far better than astrology

ever could astrology lost

today astrology is still something

scientists like to make fun of but

astrology is still a popular way to

understand the universe more than 40% of

Americans think astrology is at least

sort of scientific but astrologers

themselves aren't very good at

explaining how one astrologer tried to

tell me that quantum entanglement could

explain astrology astrology is

especially well-suited to the way we

communicate on the internet from memes

to horoscopes to personality quizzes

astrology has taken over web culture

it's also taking over the apps on your

phone that's pandu goulart co-founder of

co star a new social astrology app

coaster takes a NASA doodle on stars and

planets and turns them into personalized

predictions based on algorithms tuned by

professional astrologers goulart says it

doesn't actually matter if people

believe in astrology the better question

she says is whether it helps people

costar was really popular from the

moment it launched rising to one of the

most popular lifestyle apps in the App


it's a download rates of nearly a

thousand and our Google art has a theory

about why versions of themselves but

using astrology they're having really

earnest conversations about who they are

and what kinds of people they love and

which kind of people break their hearts

and why they're having a like emotional

hard time having even a language to talk

about these things with it just gives

people a way to do that people don't

love astrology because it's scientific

they love it because it's a powerful

social tool but maybe astrology can

describe more than our emotional

well-being and how we relate to others

actually some scientists are trying to

figure out exactly how much of astrology

is grounded in physical reality and

they're doing some legitimate research

dr. Russell Foster is a circadian

neuroscientist at the University of

Oxford and he says there's something

about astrology that is actually pretty

scientific at its basic level astrology

is saying that when you're born will

influence your biology Foster has spent

years studying how the seasons affect

who you are it's one of astrology's core

ideas and he says there's real science

to back it up

for instance schizophrenia is more

common for people born during January

February and March seasonal affective

disorder is more common among people

born in March in April it could be

changes in your mother's physiology

depending upon when you were conceived

or the sort of signals that the mother

gave you after birth as a result of

feeding on breast milk there is

absolutely a statistical impact of when

you were born on a whole range of our

different parameters

when you're born can affect everything

from your lifespan to your height and

weight your birth season can influence

your personality and even your

likelihood of developing an eating

disorder or mental illness astrologers

have always believed some version of

that the stars and our bodies all follow

natural rhythms and actually that idea

has made astrology an important medical

tool for century this story starts

around 500 years ago astrology and

medicine had a long marriage that's

doctor learned Casal a philosophy of

science lecturer at the University of


Cassell studies from the earliest

surviving medical case books written

around the year 1600 medical records

written by doctors using astrology at

the time lots of doctors didn't actually

write things down they would simply

treat patients on the spot based on

their most obvious symptoms but doctors

who used astrology did things

differently they had to draw

astrological charts and in the process

they were done lots of information about

the patient and they used all that

information to make medical predictions

sort of like doctors do today they could

use strategy as a diagnostic to try to

work out how the timing of feel

nostalgia the art of prognostication is

what doctors do medical predictions

based on astrology

probably didn't lead to the best health

outcomes the medical astrology alleged

some of the earliest surviving medical

journals which methodically tracked

patient symptoms and that's a practice

central to modern medicine and Cassell

says there's another practice modern

doctors might want to take from those

medical astrologers the 17th century

doctors could sell studies treated

patients using remarkable amounts of

information from bodily functions to

family histories to the positions of the

stars today modern medicine is also

learning to embrace complexity that's

especially true in what's called

individualized medicine where doctors

study their patients down to the genetic

level to design treatments for them

specifically as we move into individual

medicine I think there are lessons

that it can learn from an older kind of

medicine can actually say the complex

number of factors that contribute to any

single person's health and whatever

illnesses they may suffer from rather

than these blanket correlations your

sunshine or whether Mercury's in

retrograde won't actually affect you but

that doesn't mean astrology has no value

astrology can tell us a lot about how

natural rhythms affect our health it can

help us reflect on our relationships and

on the way we make decisions and for

what it's worth you can help people feel

connected with ancient history in the

universe astrology isn't science but

maybe that's the wrong way to think

about it