Thoughts on the value, or lack thereof, of astrology.

  • #1
mrspeedybob
869
62
I recently came across the following quote...

Douglas Adams said:
“In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing the indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people.”

This was in a work of fiction. I'm not sure if the author meant it to be a thought provoking statement or not, but I found it to be so. Considering the existence and persistence of not only astrology but a whole host of other pseudo-sciences I have to wonder, why do they exist? Would humanity have evolved to embrace things like this if it did not serve some purpose?

Is it out of the realm of possibility that our ancestors were very aware of the sky, either consciously or unconsciously, and that human physiology has evolved to follow cycles that have the same periods as celestial movements and that therefore there is a correlation between celestial movements and human behavior. An obvious example of this is the correlation between the durations of the lunar cycle and a womans menstrual cycle. Less dramatic correlations might also exist that would only be evident under careful study, or through centuries of random trial and error that evolved into astrology.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
oliviajane
6
0


mrsspeedybob--it's a fun question to ponder. Obviously they didn't have scientific methods like we do today, so they went with what they had for making sense of the world. Given the fact that there are actually 13 astrological "signs" technically, if not more, and the fact that we pay attention to only 12 throws the entire thing off as a "science." Sure, they observed the stars--there's plenty in the archaeological record about it, down to star charts, and charts predicting the moon cycle, etc., etc. But they observed what they could see with the naked eye, what they found useful, etc.

The lunar cycle thing is affected by light. (as some Native populations actually use the moon light to regulate cycles, etc.) There isn't a direct scientific correlation between the two, though. But then, some populations don't do anything to regulate their cycle.

If anything, I would say the zodiac was a slightly more limp version of the chinese astological system, which much more closely correlates with personalities, etc.

It's just a thing we use to make sense of people; and it seems, ulitmately, it's something we use to pigeonhole people, just like most other religious systems and the like.

(And while I believe that, I find the whole thing no less cool.)
 
  • #3
Travis_King
886
34


Douglas Adams is an incredibly smart guy. Much of what he writes is, though satirical, very thought provoking. His science fiction / regular fiction tend to poke fun at society in little ways like this. You can enjoy the funny comments he makes and move on, or you can dig deeper into them; that is why I enjoy reading his stuff so much.

I think the fact that the zodiac signs are nearly a month off from what they were originally marked to be (i.e. Taurus isn't as prominent in the sky in May as it was a few thousand years ago) is somewhat telling of how useful it is. The things the signs "tell us" are generally true of everyone to some degree, because we are all, generally, pretty much the same.

Some people read deeply into it, but I think most people realize that it is just a tool to help us examine ourselves and eachother more closely. "My sign says I'm stubborn, let me think about my personality and see if it fits" etc.
 

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