- Good news for rational, level-headed Virgoans everywhere:
just as you might have predicted, scientists have found astrology to be
- Its central claim - that our human characteristics are
moulded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of our
birth - appears to have been debunked once and for all and beyond doubt
by the most thorough scientific study ever made into it.
- For several decades, researchers tracked more than 2,000
people - most of them born within minutes of each other. According to astrology,
the subject should have had very similar traits.
- Starry eyed: Grant
- The babies were originally recruited as part of a medical
study begun in London in 1958 into how the circumstances of birth can affect
future health. More than 2,000 babies born in early March that year were
registered and their development monitored at regular intervals.
- Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics,
including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability,
IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading - all of which
astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.
- The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities
between the "time twins", however. They reported in the current
issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies: "The test conditions
could hardly have been more conducive to success . . . but the results
are uniformly negative."
- Analysis of the research was carried out by Geoffrey
Dean, a scientist and former astrologer based in Perth, Australia, and
Ivan Kelly, a psychologist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
- Dr Dean said the results undermined the claims of astrologers,
who typically work with birth data far less precise than that used in the
study. "They sometimes argue that times of birth just a minute apart
can make all the difference by altering what they call the 'house cusps',"
he said. "But in their work, they are happy to take whatever time
they can get from a client."
- The findings caused alarm and anger in astrological circles
yesterday. Roy Gillett, the president of the Astrological Association of
Great Britain, said the study's findings should be treated "with extreme
caution" and accused Dr Dean of seeking to "discredit astrology".
- Frank McGillion, a consultant to the Southampton-based
Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology, said of the newly published
work: "It is simplistic and highly selective and does not cover all
of the research." He added that he would lodge a complaint with the
editors of the journal.
- Astrologers have for centuries claimed to be able to
extract deep insights into the personality and destiny of people using
nothing more than the details of the time and place of birth.
- Astrology has been growing in popularity. Surveys suggest
that a majority of people in Britain believe in it, compared with only
13 per cent 50 years ago. The Association of Professional Astrologers claims
that 80 per cent of Britons read star columns, and psychological studies
have found that 60 per cent regularly read their horoscopes.
- Despite the scepticism of scientists, astrology has grown
to be a huge worldwide business, spawning thousands of telephone lines,
internet sites and horoscope columns in newspapers and magazines.
- It seems that no sector of society is immune to its attraction.
A recent survey found that a third of science students subscribed to some
aspects of astrology, while some supposedly hard-headed businessmen now
support a thriving market in "financial astrology" - paying for
predictions of trends such as the rise and fall of the stock market. Astrology
supplements have been known to increase newspaper circulation figures and
papers are prepared to pay huge sums to the most popular stargazers.
- Some of the most popular figures in the field, such as
Russell Grant, Mystic Meg and Shelley von Strunckel, can earn £600,000
or more a year.
- A single profitable astrology website can be worth as
much as £50 million.
- When the Daily Mail discovered that its expert on the
zodiac, Jonathan Cainer, was about to leave the newspaper in 1999, it reportedly
offered him a £1 million salary and a £1 million bonus to stay.
He still preferred the offer at the Daily Express: no salary but all the
money from his telephone lines.
- The time-twins study is only the start of the bad news
for astrologers, however. Dr Dean and Prof Kelly also sought to determine
whether stargazers could match a birth chart to the personality profile
of a person among a random selection.
- They reviewed the evidence from more than 40 studies
involving over 700 astrologers, but found the results turned out no better
- The success rate did not improve even when astrologers
were given all the information they asked for and were confident they had
made the right choice.
- Dr Dean said the consistency of the findings weighed
heavily against astrology.
- "It has no acceptable mechanism, its principles
are invalid and it has failed hundreds of tests," he said. "But
no hint of these problems will be found in astrology books which, in effect,
are exercises in deception."
- Dr Dean is ready for a torrent of criticism. He said:
"I'm probably the most hated person in astrology because I'm regarded
as a turncoat."
- © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003.
- From Hilda Zahn Spagna
- Regarding the 8/17/03 article ASTROLOGERS FAIL
TO PREDICT, which discusses a scientific study done of 2,000 babies, my
response to this is the same as to all the other "scientific studies"
to which we are exposed daily: if it works for me, I don't care what the
- As a retired mainframe computer programmer, I
remember that our motto was "whatever works." The technical
manuals were very often wrong.
- Every discipline has its limitations. All M.
D.'s are not great diagnosticians, all studies are not well designed, and
most are skewed by the expectations of those who do the study and the desiresof
those who fund it.
- I take those things which work for me and forget