What is astrology based off of?

Astrology is generally defined as the belief that astronomical phenomena, such as stars high when you were born or the fact that Mercury is in retreat, have the power to influence the daily events of our lives and our personality traits. The ancients looked up to the sky for clues as to why things were happening in the material world around them. Astrology had its heyday in the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic period, a time that took place between the 3rd century BC. and the first century AD.

These ancient astrologers based their interpretations on centuries of observations recorded by the Mesopotamians who preceded them. They kept careful records of astronomical phenomena, looking for correlations between what was happening in the sky above them and the material world that surrounded them. The idea behind astrology is that stars and planets have some influence on human affairs and earth events. And horoscopes are an astrologer's prediction of a person's life based on the relative positions of stars and planets.

However, what is particularly interesting is the connection between astrology and authoritarianism, fascism and modern capitalism (remember that this happened after World War II and the Holocaust). To produce a more accurate reading, astrologers check what sign each planet was in at the time of birth. If “astrology” is false but its true stance seems paradoxical, well, maybe the paradox is what is attractive. Many astrologers will tell you that this form of astrology is so simplistic that it produces very limited results.

Anna Paustenbach, Nicholas editor at HarperOne, told me in an email that Nicholas is “at the forefront of a revival of astrology. However, the most interesting result is based on an idea proposed more than 50 years ago by the German sociologist Theodore Adorno. Although often regarded as a science throughout its history, astrology is today widely considered to be diametrically opposed to the findings and theories of modern Western science. In the same study, I was interested to see other explanations as to why some Europeans think astrology is scientific and others do not.

During the Enlightenment, intellectual sympathy for astrology faded, leaving only one popular follower supported by cheap almanacs. In a Eurobarometer survey on attitudes towards science and technology, half of the randomly selected respondents were asked how scientific they thought astrology was. Describing his attitude to astrology, Leffel recalled a phrase from Neil Gaiman's American Gods in which the main character, Shadow, wonders if a lightning in the sky came from a magic thunder bird “or simply an atmospheric discharge, or if the two ideas were, on some level, the same thing. Therefore, it should be a matter of concern if citizens make important life decisions based on totally unreliable astrological predictions.

In the 17th century, astronomy was established as the scientific term, and astrology referred to divinations and schemes for predicting human affairs. Astrology is the belief that the alignment of stars and planets affects the mood, personality and environment of each individual, depending on when he was born. This interpretation leaves too much room for maneuver for astrology to simply sound like affirmations of what people want to hear about themselves and think about the world. In research I conducted a few years ago, I tested the hypothesis that people are confused between astrology and astronomy, and this is what could explain the apparent widespread belief in the scientific state of astrology.

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Damian Pestano
Damian Pestano

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