Well, I’ll be darned like a sock. Astrologers are at least partially right; a new scientific study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Comprehensive Psychology shows it turns out people actually ARE influenced by the day of their birth. The article, “Astrology as a culturally transmitted heuristic scheme for understanding seasonality effects: a response to Genovese (2014)” is the work of Dr. Mark A. Hamilton, a professor of communications at the University of Connecticut. In sum, it says that there are measurable seasonal effects on people based on when they were born, and astrology developed as a way for cultures to “explain” these observed aggregate effects. Astrological aspects therefore “function as a proxy for personality variables” even though “distant star clusters do not exert mystical effects on earthly events.”
Here’s the abstract, with some parts I highlighted:
“Astrology is a popular and resilient heuristic scheme for making sense of complex patterns in nature. Astrological heuristics are conveyed through communication in print and online media. Recent research found that the ecliptic longitude of sun signs predicts the frequency of celebrities-per-sign. A subsequent critique, however, attributed this large positive effect to methodological artifacts. The present study puts the alleged artifact hypotheses to an empirical test. One of the artifact hypotheses was sharply rejected, and no empirical support could be found for the second. Causal modeling indicated that although relative age in school (comparative maturity) increased the number of celebrities-per-sign, this effect on fame was largely mediated by ecliptic longitude sequence (ELS) and two other seasonal birth heuristics—wetness of sign (determined by astrological elements) and brightness of sign (determined by sign duality). Birth during depth of season, calculated from quality of sign, also increased celebrities-per-sign. The analysis found strong support for a mediation model with astrological aspects acting as personality proxies, although further research is needed to replicate these effects on celebrity.”
How can this be?
It is comparable to how mediaeval doctors thought oranges cured some sicknesses because of the humoral properties of the fruit. It was actually the vitamin C that was doing the trick, but the fact that doctors were wrong about the cause does not negate their observation of the effect. To dismiss evidence based on an incorrect assumption in the causal explanation is the “fallacy fallacy” – which is the presumption that if an argument contains a logical fallacy, then the entire proposition is axiomatically wrong.
Now, please excuse me while I call Madame Zelda and consult with her about my transiting Venus.