What is Astrology?

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  • 0:01 Astronomy Is Tied to Astrology
  • 0:33 What Is Astrology?
  • 2:37 Michel de Nostredame
  • 3:15 The Problem with Astrology
  • 4:54 James Randi
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will teach you about astrology, tell you if it's the same thing as astronomy, why or why not, and discuss the reasons astrology is so good at predicting so many different things. I predict that you might enjoy this lesson.

Astronomy Is Tied to Astrology

Long ago, people would look up at the night sky in awe. Frankly, not much has changed in that respect. We still look up at the sky in awe. What was different back then was that a lot more people believed that the motions of things like the moon, sun, and other planets and stars affected everything from their personal lives, to the health of a nation and the entire world.

As a result, astronomy, the study of celestial bodies and the universe, began less for scientific pursuits and more because of astrology.

What Is Astrology?

Astrology is a superstitious belief that things like the motions, positions, and relations of the planets, the moon, and sun can be used as a way to interpret or predict human characteristics, affairs, and activities.

It is a pseudoscience - something that pretends to obey the rules of science and scientific principles. Astrology resulted from our need to explain the complex world around us in simple ways. Unfortunately, the world and universe are very complex and quite difficult to understand.

Again, astronomy is a science that depends on objective and rational evidence; astrology does not. The difference is not subtle and is very important.

An astronomer uses very advanced math and science to interpret celestial events for objective scientific pursuits. An astrologer uses interpretations of celestial events in order to try and gain information into human endeavors.

A comparison to blackjack is in order here. An astronomer is a card counter, someone who uses math to beat the casino. Relatively speaking, an astrologer is like a blackjack player who rubs a lucky rabbit's foot prior to deciding whether to hit or stand.

However, it used to be that ancient astrologers were akin to ancient astronomers. This occurred for many reasons.

First, some ancient cultures could not write down their astronomical observations to find fault with their astrological predictions by looking back and reviewing their work. Others simply did not want to find fault, due to their civilization's religious or cultural needs. Further still, other ancient people did not have advanced mathematical or scientific abilities to objectively gauge astronomical events and separate them from the subjective whims of the human mind that lend erroneous credence to astrology.

Michele de Nostredame

One very famous 'seer' who used a form of astrology was Michel de Nostredame, aka Nostradamus. He is famous for writing his quatrains, which are supposed to predict all sorts of things. Believe it or not, many of this specific astrologer's quatrains have actually come true. But only after the fact. He was that good.

This happens because these quatrains are so vague in their wording or so general in their scope that it's hard to interpret them. As a result, even a single quatrain is bound to predict something, somewhere, even multiple times.

The Problem with Astrology

The information astrologers put forth - information that supposedly is gleaned from their view of celestial events - is extremely faulty precisely because it is not scientific and is subjective.

First, so called 'astrological forecasts' are almost always painted with broad brushes. This is done in order to try and hit at least one correct 'prediction' on the head while simultaneously avoiding not predicting anything at all. The reason such a strategy works is because humans love to remember the correct 'predictions,' despite their actual scarcity. This is why psychics also make a living.

Furthermore, when using broad statements, the words can be interpreted to mean any number of events occurring after the fact, events that are almost always subject to the interpretation of the reader's own experiences. The believing reader often times subconsciously tries to purposefully fit experiences into the astrological interpretation, while a more objective observer would find no such connection.

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