Why Not . . . Ignore Horoscopes?
In a world with more questions and uncertainties than answers, as a child and young adult, I became quite intrigued by my horoscope. Never intrigued enough to go to fortune teller or an astrologist, but curious enough to always look at my sign in the newspaper or magazines whenever a tough situation arose in my life. Sadly I admit, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming month’s issue to see what my horoscope would reveal. Looking back, I realize how silly and childish I was behaving, but at the time I thought what could it hurt? Why not? After all, if it boosted my confidence . . . wait right there. And that’s when I knew I had to stop reading my horoscope.
If my confidence was based on a publication who didn’t even know my name, let alone when my birthday was, why was I giving it influence over my life? My one and only life? Similar to self-acceptance, self-confidence comes from within – not from what others project onto us. And this is when I began to take my power back. (Okay, a little melodramatic, but for such a silly topic, far too many people take it much too seriously and for much too long I was one of those people.)
First of all, our minds are powerful machines. Too often we don’t give the mind credit for all that it is capable of doing for us and let it rest idly while we rely on inaccurate means to make decisions for us. Viewing horoscopes and anything to do with astrology most definitely is an inaccurate means.
Making sound decisions throughout our lives requires experience, analysis and thus, critical thinking. To read horoscopes is to cast aside each of these. We are not thinking critically when we allow the words found in our horoscope to infiltrate our subconscious and provoke things to happen that may have otherwise been ignored.
While many of you may already be well aware that horoscopes are a waste of time, there are still many more who, admittedly or not, put weight and money toward some belief in what horoscopes have to share about the upcoming events in their lives. The business generated in the selling of books, inclusion of horoscopes in magazines and many other avenues is astronomical (pun intended), so there is a reason they want us all to believe in astrology – it’s making them money.
Here are just a few reasons why you may want to consider skipping the horoscope section in your newspaper today:
Generalizations Are Empty
Any research paper or critical analysis paper that is to be considered credible must share specific examples. Any witness giving testimony against a suspect must give specific evidence in order to convince a jury that a crime has taken place. Generalizations are similar to stereotypes, there are misconceptions based on far too little experience and exposure. And as we know, horoscopes have to appeal to a mass audience, so they have no choice but to generalize otherwise they are too easy to dismiss.
The Subconscious Pays Attention
While some may feel they can still read their horoscope and not be swayed, here is something to consider. What we believe affects how we behave in every aspect of our lives. And by being curious about our horoscopes, there alone is the hope that we are looking for something to either lift our spirits or give us hope. One way or the other, whether we are disappointed with what we read or elated by what we discovered, this information sits in the back of our minds and we tend to subconsciously fixate on it. Why not give your mind something invigorating and worthwhile to chew on? Remember those goals you have been working toward? Envision yourself achieving them and never erase it from your mind until you’ve achieved it and then you’ll realize the power of the mind is most definitely amazing. Respect your subconscious and it will treat you very well, unwisely dismiss it and you might regret it.
The Forer Effect
With the mention of generalization, a study was done in 1948 by Psychologist Bertram R. Forer which found that “people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.”
Here is how the study worked:
“Forer gave a personality test to his students, ignored their answers, and gave each student the above evaluation. He asked them to evaluate the evaluation from 0 to 5, with "5" meaning the recipient felt the evaluation was an "excellent" assessment and "4" meaning the assessment was "good." The class average evaluation was 4.26. That was in 1948. The test has been repeated hundreds of time with psychology students and the average is still around 4.2 out of 5, or 84% accurate.
In short, Forer convinced people he could successfully read their character. His accuracy amazed his subjects, though his personality analysis was taken from a newsstand astrology column and was presented to people without regard to their sun sign.”
Click here to learn more about the Forer Effect.
The Unknown is Frightening
Answers provide peace and give us each a sense of control. It is human to be fearful when we don’t know how things will work out, whether or not a risk on a new job or a new relationship will be worth it, or when our bank account will suddenly blossom, and the temptation of reading a horoscope that could possibly give us a heads up on what will happen can be, for the short term, comforting. However, the reality is, the business of horoscopes and astrology is based on knowing their consumers and in this case, understanding human nature.
Life can be uncertain and scary, but it can also be amazing and exhilarating. And knowing that your life will not resemble anyone else’s should be inspiration enough to know that there is not one horoscope that can predict the awesomeness that your life has in store for you. After all, you hold the reins, so nudge your life into a gallop and go about making the life you want to create a reality.
To read another study on the failings of astrology, click here.