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Astrology: Wrong but still predictive?

  1. Jul 24, 2010 #1
    The idea that the stars and planets affect peoples lives in the classical sense is plain lunacy of course.

    However, bear with me a moment - Is it completely insane to suggest that the time of year that someone was born might have an effect on their overall nature and outlook on life?

    I'm a Capricorn - we're famous for being miserable, introverted sods. In my case, I was born during one of the foulest, coldest, darkest and longest winters of the last century. So it's hardly surprising, is it?

    I would love to see a serious comparison study of zodiac sign against personality type. I bet there's a genuine correlation.
     
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  3. Jul 25, 2010 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    Have you tried to find any?
     
  4. Jul 26, 2010 #3

    cronxeh

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    I notice the correlation in personalities, for sure. Often in a group of friends I can tell what 'sign' someone is just by listening to them talk, their facial features, their personality and things that interest them. Is it laughable to assume someone's personality based on the arrangements of stars in the sky? Perhaps. But at the same time, I can't explain why I am inexplicably attracted to someone until I find out their sign, and sure enough, god dangit all to hell its another Aquarius :mad:
     
  5. Jul 26, 2010 #4
    Re: A vote for Astrology

    lol.
     
  6. Jul 26, 2010 #5

    mgb_phys

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    There is a strong correlation between time of year you are born and sporting ability - but it is due to school admission policy not the stars.

    Be born in the correct month and you get to be the oldest in the class, so you are biggest and strongest and do best in sports - so you get picked for teams and encouraged.
    Which month depends on how your school system works.
     
  7. Jul 27, 2010 #6
    Re: A vote for Astrology

    I think this is a psychological question in reference to the climatic influence on personality/behavior. Coincidentally this week in my psych class we are covering social psychology. We were examining the influences of human aggression. The environment does influence behavior...one example is that higher temperatures increases the frequency of agression, hostile thoughts and feelings of hostility. We are also studying developmental psychology this week and I'm not really sure how much of our personality is formed in early infancy, or what sort of effect the climate would have on an infant's mental state and development -- but it would be interesting to find out! I think this would really appeal to the nature vs. nurture question.

    I just wanted to note that I 100% despise astrology and zodiac and planets moving into houses and all of that jazz, but I find the psychological aspect of your query very interesting. I might ask my professor what she thinks :tongue2:
     
  8. Jul 27, 2010 #7

    Gokul43201

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    If this were the case, then one would expect personality traits - as predicted by Zodiac signs - undergo a continuous transition through the months. After all, January's weather is most like December's and February's and very little like June's or July's (unless you live near the Equator). So is a Capricorn's personality predicted to be very similar to that of a Sagittarius and very dissimilar to that of say, a Cancer (and so on)?

    Also, January's weather in N America/Europe is not at all like January's weather in S America/Australia - but your Zodiac sign does not depend on the hemisphere you are born in. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that if there is some observed predictive power to Zodiac (I would be very surprised if there was), it can not be related to weather.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  9. Jul 27, 2010 #8

    ZapperZ

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    When you "suggest" something, it HAS to be based on either empirical correlation or a plausible underlying mechanism to justify the cause-and-effect.

    The rest of your opening post contains neither. I can make a number of "suggestions" regarding this topic as well, without providing any kind of justification. So what makes your suggestion any better than mine? Simply based on tastes?

    Zz.
     
  10. Jul 27, 2010 #9
    Re: A vote for Astrology

    Well, as ridiculous as astrology already is, the icing on the cake is the zodiac signs have changed. Your real sign is the next one over from the one you think it is. That's why I think it's hilarious that people get tattoos of the wrong zodiac sign.
    It's not winter everywhere at the same time. The southern hemisphere is getting summer during that time. Or do the capricorns in the southern hemisphere not count?
     
  11. Jul 27, 2010 #10

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    If you're born during the winter, that doesn't mean you live in a perpetual state of winter. Is the two extra months of winter that I've lived in compared to someone born in the spring really supposed to be the deciding factor in my personality?

    The fact that personality can clearly be molded by your environment means that your personality isn't even formed during your first couple months of life
     
  12. Jul 27, 2010 #11
    Re: A vote for Astrology

    Another problem is you don't suddenly become alive the moment you're born. You were alive 9 months prior to your birth. Why would the stars affect you when you're born, but not before you're born? Is the uterus an impenetrable shield against the effects of the stars? Those effects can pass through concrete and steel, which the hospital is made of, but it can't pass through a thin layer of flesh? And if it can't pass through a uterus, how does it pass through my head to get into my brain to change my personality? It can go through bone, but not through the soft tissue of a woman's abdomen?
     
  13. Jul 27, 2010 #12

    Ich

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    I agree. If there's a causal connection, it should depend strongly on latitude. But most likely, you'll have a strong bias in the western world as those people generally know what they're supposed to be like. Such a study has to be done very carefully.
     
  14. Jul 27, 2010 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    The only justification for keeping a thread like this open, is to provide an opportunity to show experimental evidence supporting the claim. So it is appropriate to post papers showing a correlation between the month of birth, and personality traits. It is not appropriate to speculate on the possibility of such evidence without providing any.

    Accordingly, please limit the discussion to specific evidence like that linked below, and mainstream concepts and principles. As for any possible correlation between potential dob personality factors, and astrological claims, a casual comparison between the two is fine; with the understanding that correlation does not imply causation.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/y26h6482q143t1jq/
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  15. Jul 27, 2010 #14

    Evo

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    Haven't they gone out on a limb with "month of birth"? This is limited to Switzerland. Were the conditions for the months of birth the same for all picked for this study? How does this compare to other areas of the world? Why would they say "months" instead of more scientifically specifying temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, amount of sunlight, rain, snow, pollen count, mold spores, living conditions, history of violence and suicide in the family, etc...?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  16. Jul 27, 2010 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    links?
     
  17. Jul 27, 2010 #16

    turbo

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    I think that he is saying that when a child is "just" too young to get into elementary school, (s)he gets an additional year to mature before joining the process. Not an unremarkable result.

    In Texas, parents sometimes hold back their kids academically in elementary schools to keep their High School football eligibility open as long as possible. Sick!!!
     
  18. Jul 27, 2010 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    All specific claims as such require a link. I understand why it makes sense, but we don't know that:

    1). This has been established as a fact [there is good evidence to support the claim]
    2). The reason suggested for the first claim has strong supporting evidence.
    3). Whether there are any competing theories.

    We allow a little latitude here and there, but this is a specific claim that apparently has been studied, so we need to see some links.
     
  19. Jul 27, 2010 #18

    turbo

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  20. Jul 27, 2010 #19

    mgb_phys

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    I thought I read it in freakonomics or lewis Page, the claim was that it didn't correlate with pro athletes (because relatively few school athletes go pro) but it did work for politicians and 'captains of industry' - apparently being the biggest bully in kindergarten continues.

    The link I can find is a guy in australia http://www.springer.com/statistics/stats+life+sci/book/978-3-642-10747-4.
    He also claims it works for Europe/USA with school year starting in Sept and Australia starting in jan.
     
  21. Jul 28, 2010 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: A vote for Astrology

    Sorry, no exceptions.

    A good numbers of posts have been deleted as they were off topic or were responding to an inappropriate argument. Just to make it as clear as possible: We do not consider personal theories here. We have the Independent Research Forum for that. Again, the only reason for keeping a thread like this open is to provide opportunity for supporting evidence to be posted.

    It should be noted that in the deleted discussion, the point was made that summers and winters are reversed according to lattitude - the southern and northern hemispheres have opposite seasons. So any seasonal dependence for personality traits is seemingly irrelevant. However, I think this depends on the history of astrology. Was it developed and applied mainly in the N. hemisphere? If so, then given the admission that the basis for astrological principles is false, the idea that it is still predictive within its domain, could be explored.

    The point is not to argue that astrological predictions are right or wrong; it is to ask if any evidence exists suggesting that there is a correlation between personality traits, and the month of one's birth.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  22. Jul 29, 2010 #21

    Ivan Seeking

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    Off-topic posts were again deleted. Each off-topic post from here on will result in an infraction.

    If you are not going to respect the guidelines, then you are not welcome here.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  23. Jul 29, 2010 #22
    I originally raised this topic as an idle thought.

    However the furore it caused has prompted me to take a look at what the A*s actually say rather than my vague assumption that it would be something based on seasons.

    Apparently they split the year up into quite small slices of roughly a month each and describe four personality types (earth, air, fire and water of course)
    However, instead of cycling through these four in a seasonal manner as I would have expected, they cycle through them month by month, repeating the cycle three times in a year.

    Of course, this completely blows my theory out of the water. there's no hope that such a system would have a seasonal correlation.
    So I'm officially retracting the topic.

    Please talk among yourselves if you like.
     
  24. Jul 29, 2010 #23
    Problem of psychologically motivated selection of observations leading to false correlation and hypothesis.

    I always notice the number 454 (at the minimum rate of once per day) when I look at the watch, internet or anything that flashes numbers... it was the user ID my ex used who I dumped very heartlessly. Coincidence? Haunting? Karma? I prefer my explanation, heartless b**ch that I am.. :D
     
  25. Jul 30, 2010 #24

    Ivan Seeking

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    Unfortunately, I think the key point has been missed. The op asked the question:

    While we all agree that the positions of the planets could have no conceivable effect on personality, what is not clear to me is this: Is there any possibility that the astrological personality traits find their origins in observations of human behavior; which was then incorrectly attributed to the stars? Or, were these predictions derived, in principle, directly from some abstract interpretation of the stars, with no basis is actual observations? Assuming that we don't know, is there any evidence that they are predictive?

    Are astrologically predicted personality traits [from so-called serious astrologers] specific enough to be tested for accuracy? If so, can they be falsified using standard psychological profiles? It has never been clear to me if the most basic claims about personality can be falsified.
     
  26. Jul 30, 2010 #25
    My implication was, the question even arises because of a faulty method we use to observe behavior. We tend to 'look out' for things that we expect, and unconsciously not take note of counter observations. Eg. I probably look at the watch all time time. However, I take notes only when its 454, leading to the idle conjecture that every time I look at a numeric display, I see the same numbers.

    Well let's consider the problems one would need to tackle to answer such OP's question. The first problem is to define what a 'personality type' (PT) is. Then we have to have years of observations to make sure our definition is 'correct'. The psychologists who should actually work on this are more interested in making money by hypothesizing deliberate controversial claims about human sexuality.

    After (If) we have agree upon PT, then we need to design the most comprehensive protocol for collecting data on each PT. After that, its just simple stats to test correlation and hypothesis.

    And you must recall the vagueness of most predictions. The astrologers deliberately use ambiguous terminology to make statements as general as possible. Its never 'you will meet your Chinese boss', but 'You will see the colors of the dragons from the East'. What is the measure of truth here? How do we show a prediction and observation are factually correlated?

    These particular reasons have already discredited this field and no serious academic would want to touch this. I know some studies were carried out by some European (German) social scientists (late 80's and early 90's) who found that predictions were correct over 80% of the time for a particular astrologer. Later, other scientists found evidence of manipulation of data and that the original scientists had accepted financial supported by the astrologer.

    And the big question here still is: How do we define the extents of a personality type? You can imagine very well that a 'personality' is not a stationary phenomenon. The $\mathfrak{L}^p$ norm won't help us here...
     
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