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October 28, 2015

Astro-Logic.

Chris Lexow/Flickr

As I met this person only moments ago and he’s just made his first impression on me, I begin to squirm uncomfortably in my seat.

I’ve got to know his sign, I think, as something he’s just said has given him more form and identity than just another strange face in the world. A perspective or preference, a specificity of character, and I am curious to know how the planets may have contributed.

“I’m sorry, when’s your birthday?”

And the music stops. Suddenly the topic of conversation is irrelevant, and I am the idiot, or at least a desperate fool following blind faith down a path of pigeonholing people within some preposterous paradigm. F*ck, I wish I were somebody else.

But I am not somebody else. I am me, and Me was probably never fully skeptical about astrology, but instead “agnostic” about it. Indifferent, uncaring and wholly unknowing until I fell in love with a girl who is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met.

I knew I couldn’t diagnose her faith as symptomatic of stupidity, as every one of her other contributions proved otherwise; hence, I was simply open, and would frankly be lying if I said I didn’t eventually begin to observe patterns of evidence.

I’ve heard “Science-ologists” (those who believe that science can prove all) label all things “New Age” as part of some “anti-science” movement, which is as ignorant as labeling “pro-black” as equal to anti-white. No intelligent “New Age person” would critique science as not knowing anything. We just don’t believe it knows everything.

While skeptics group things like astrology in with yoga, psychics and theism, none of these things are actually interrelated beyond social association. And while I surely fit the stereotype, I can concede the potential to call bullsh*t on some of them some of the time.

Storefront psychics appear in every city, and they want your money. I do believe some of them somewhere may have intuitive powers, but most probably don’t, and they are running a business.

Organized religion has shown itself to be one of the most hypocritical paradigms in the world. Both indirectly and directly the cause of murdering members of the other “gangs,” it has been obviously motivated by power, control and even simple financial gain. Ironically, I think religion has been the greatest cause for skepticism in the world today (similar to the uninformed hacks of the astrology world—newspaper horoscopes and idiots who verbally generalize at parties—that give it a bad rap). There is plenty of reason to suspect dishonesty in theistic groups.

But where is the motive for astrology? Should more people “convert,” do the 37 astrologers across the nation stand to score big? Neither my closest friends nor I have ever invested one dollar in it. Is astrology some group with opposition, à la Christians/Muslims, which could suddenly gain power in numbers, bringing with it some set of commandments that would increase its controllers’ power?

Astrology has been around for centuries, so if it was, at its inception, all made up nonsense, one can’t help but ask: Why?

Is it so people can have “something to believe in?” Weaker-minded souls who require an explanation for everything, while skeptics are brave enough to accept that all things just are the way they are, incidentally and arbitrarily. But this calls back to the aforementioned broad stroke. Astrology is not like religion, so while it might offer a partial explanation for something(s), it would be quite the stretch to consider it any source of peace of mind. As a matter of fact, knowledge of one’s chart could just as easily be a source of stress in over-consideration of factors others are unconcerned with. Awareness alone is incomplete therapy at best.

One argument I’ve often heard from skeptics is how absurd it is to believe that everyone born in the same sign could possibly have the same personality. Agreed, and all this argument proves is that these people have no idea what they’re talking about (at least most atheists have done some research).

Nowhere in astrological theory does it say that one’s birthday is the only determining factor of character. First, there are other elements of one’s “chart” that come from time and place of birth. Second, and more importantly, astrology does not hold itself as mutually exclusive to psychology, genetics, or life experience. Everything is relevant when constructing the multi-faceted miracle that is a person.

“If your parents are abusive, you’re going to be f***ed up, no matter what.”

Agreed again, but does every abuse victim, even those from the same household, share the same personality? Sure, anyone can become an a**hole, but astrology offers us tendency and etiology. While an Aquarius a**hole is probably a result of intellectual impatience and emotional unavailability, a Leo a**hole is more likely a prideful egomaniac. Understanding this difference can be at worst interesting, at best an informative tool in relationships.

There seem to be two components to the skeptic. One is an egocentric omniscience allotted to our five human senses. That which I cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel does not exist: “Science-ology.” Of course we cannot prove this perspective wrong, though neither can they prove it right. Curiously, they feel this truth results in their victory in debate.

Skeptics acknowledge that our physiologies adapt to living in particular parts of the globe. They agree the sun affects us, because we can feel and see it on our skin; also that gravity is an unseen force from beyond that impacts us more than any other in the universe. However, they cannot conceive how planetary alignment, albeit a similar distance away, could possibly affect our mental frequencies upon entrance to the world. Fine.

The second part of the skeptic is an ironic follower-mentality that shuts them off to the unknown. While they hold that being an Atheist is evidence of autonomous thought, it could just as easily mean the opposite. While the literal masses are devout Christians, these are not the masses of the group most skeptics exist in. (Reminiscent of the hilarious joke in the movie, Superbad, when McLovin gets a fake ID with the name, Mohammed, on it, defending: “Mohammed is the most common name in the world!”)

Within the world of educated, white urbanites there is nothing radically progressive or minority about being a skeptic. Of course this doesn’t make them necessarily wrong; however, they do contradict themselves in their claim of perspective being one that requires scientific proof.

Nothing about psychological theories, such as the Oedipus Complex or “abandonment issues” can be scientifically proven, yet most skeptics fully accept their validity. Why? It is something “their group” has been exposed to for their entire lives? They were never asked late in adolescence, or God forbid even later, to actually open their minds and reconsider some paradigm they’ve been conditioned to.

Unlike 50 years ago, Psychology is acceptable to intellectuals of our generation, and isn’t it naïve to believe there is not another paradigm that will become more acceptable 50 years from now?

Skeptics spend decades of their lives observing said psychological theories in action, but then refute one broad astrological stroke and write off the entire paradigm as fabricated. It reminds me of when people go for just a few acupuncture treatments, don’t get desired results, and denounce the entire medicine. Meanwhile we’ve all heard of failed surgeries and instances of ineffective medication, yet no one ever thinks, “Modern medicine doesn’t work.” Such an acceptance is nearly the exact definition of “mindlessness.”

I cannot prove astrology is real any more than its doubters can prove it fake. I honestly don’t have any dog in the fight, nor interest in converting subscribers. My only interest is in my own freedom of speech without being ridiculed by the uninformed.

Ironically, it makes me feel how astrology hacks probably make skeptics feel when they box them into some over-simplified stereotype that doesn’t fit them. They react by denouncing the entire philosophy because of its poorest students, though both parties know equally little about it.

The astrology skeptic is at best pretentious, at worst stupid—identical to the hacks he resents. The entire cycle is akin to that of racism, fueled by both parties’ over-generalizations and emotional responses to isolated instances.

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Relephant Read:

For Skeptics: the #1 Reason to Believe in Astrology.

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Author: David Foster

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: followtheseinstructions/Flickr // Chris Lexow/Flickr

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David Foster