Astrology is perhaps the oldest science in the world. While many regard it today as a pseudoscience without much value, there was a time in the ancient world when almost every culture on every continent believed in its value. The fact that the Mayans, as well as the Greeks, practiced the ancient art of star divination says something; seeing as there wasn’t a lot of interaction between the Americas and other parts of the world, one might wonder how they all got into astrology in the first place. Why didn’t they all get into badminton or tennis, for example?
Fortunately, being convinced that astrology exists doesn’t require an act of faith. At least not entirely. It involves studying the planetary motions and seeing how events on earth unfold according to how certain planetary patterns emerge. Nowadays, scientists are putting most of their attention on subjects like physics and astronomy while ignoring the subject altogether. Meanwhile, many studies on astrology are also being ignored completely in the media and academic circles. A lot of scientists cite how inaccurate the Sun sign readings are in newspapers, but most astrologers will tell you the Sun sign is only a small portion of a person’s horoscope (they most often look at the Ascendant, or Rising Sign, or Moon placement as bigger parts of a person’s personality). At the same time, a lot of people, especially women under 40, are hardcore believers in astrology, so it begs the question why scientists haven’t been looking at the whole thing a little harder, especially if a large section of society is into it.
Have they been missing something? These 15 cases might suggest to you why many regard astrology to be a neglected area of research.
15 The Astral Twins
Critics of astrology sometimes argue that if astrology works, then people born by separate mothers at the same time and location should be virtually identical in their life happenings. As it turns out, there are some cases where this has happened, although the people aren’t always exactly the same. Maybe seconds or even milliseconds matter in this regard. At any rate, some astrological researchers sometimes point to a case in Toronto, Canada where a man was working at a company with someone who was born at the same time and place as him. The coincidences between their lives, as it turned out, were almost creepy. It turns out they both worked at arm orderly rooms in World War II, had wives that were both born in February, and both owned the same model automobile. In total, they had 10 areas where they saw striking resemblances between their lives.
14 King George III’s Parallel Life
King George III was born on the same day and in the same location as John Hemming on June 4, 1738 at 7:38 a.m. Hemming’s father died at the same time and on the same day that George II, George III’s father, died and George III ascended to the throne of England. Hemming and George III also married on the same day on September 8, 1861, and they both had the same number of children, all of whom were of the same gender make-up. The two also died on the same day, January 29, 1820, very close to the same hour. This is all a series of remarkable and eerie coincidences, except that George III was king, while Hemming was a businessman, so we can’t say their lives were completely identical.
13 Skeptic Magazine
In 2000, Skeptic Magazine editor Mike Shermer decided to put astrologers to the test and debunk the profession once and for all. Answering his invite to come on his show, Exploring the Unknown, was Jeffrey Armstrong, a Hindu/Vedic Astrologer. Hindu Astrology is a type of sidereal astrology used widely in India. In the early stages of the control study, Armstrong was allowed to meet with the people whose charts he was reading face to face. But in the second part, Armstrong had to read the charts cold without seeing the people at all. A very interesting thing happened when this occurred: Armstrong turned out to be right about 77 percent of the time (105 out of 137 statements) when he had the right charts for the people. When Shermer decided to switch the charts around so that Armstrong was reading the wrong charts for these people, his accuracy on their personalities and major life events fell to between 21 and 38 percent. Shermer, a difficult-to-convince skeptic, later admitted the results of the study were “statistically significant.” Anyone can watch the study on Youtube.
12 Dangerous Tuesdays?
An interesting feature of astrology on all continents has been that the major seven planets often govern days of the week. These are days when the planets are said to be particularly active and strong in their influence on human events. Traditionally, according to the Greek and Roman societies, Sunday is ruled the Sun, as its name reflects, while Moon rules Monday. Mars rules Tuesday (also known as Mardi in French, “day of Mars”). And so on for the rest of the days of the week. The interesting one to look at is Mars, which, in astrology, is related to many negative things, like war, explosions, accidents, arguments, and terrorism. Interesting to note is that many national and international catastrophes have happened on this day, including 9/11, the Columbine shootings, and the Challenger shuttle crash of 1986. While many tragedies haven’t occurred on Tuesdays, such as the JFK assassination, Tuesday is believed by many astrologers, based on years of research, to be an inauspicious time for travel and other potentially dangerous tasks. Obviously, further research on crime and terrorism is needed to determine if this is really the case or mere coincidence.
11 The Mars Effect
Michael Gauquelin was a French statistician who set out to figure out if astrology was real in the middle of the 1900s. When he started to look into the matter further, he became convinced that astrology was in fact true. Most of his studies into the issue revolved around how Mars is often placed in key places in horoscopes of professional athletes. For example, if Mars is placed in the tenth house (that is, if you are Virgo rising and Mars is in Gemini, the tenth house from the first), then there’s an increased chance of someone becoming a pro athlete. Some skeptics of his work criticized Gauquelin’s ideas, which were initially laid out in 1955 in his book Influence of the Stars, claiming he selected athletes that already had these placements to support his argument. Gauquelin, however, sampled over 2088 athlete champions for the study, which was quite a large sample even by today's standards. To this day, the controversy surrounding his research is still swirling.
10 Nostradamus’ Predictions
Perhaps the name that comes most frequently to people’s minds when you talk about astrology is that of Nostradamus, the French seer from the 1500s. Nostradamus and his famed quatrains are now the stuff of legend, mainly due to the belief of many that he predicted many major events in history long before they happened. Nostradamus’ quatrains are often a little vague, though, leaving some skeptical about what he meant (rarely, does he use exact names or places). For example, in one quatrain that is sometimes thought to predict 9/11, Nostradamus writes: “Forty and five degrees, the sky shall burn / To the great new city shall the fire draw nigh.” Some believe the four and five degrees part of this poem gives us the latitude of New York City, which is 40.5 degrees. The “new city” is perhaps “New York City” minus the “York.” Such predictions lead some to an unshakeable belief in astrology.
9 Serial Killers
A recent Unsolved Mysteries aired a segment on astrology, in which an astrologer by the name of Carolyn Reynolds was asked to identify the horoscopes of four serial killers out of a total of 20 astrological charts given to her. Without knowing anything about the people or their charts, Reynolds was able to tell the viewers who the serial killers most likely were. These individuals included such infamous names as Jeffrey Dahmer, the Son of Sam, David "The Night Stalker" Ramirez, and Ed Kemper. All four of her predictions proved to be correct. A more comprehensive research study on how astrologers are able to identify serial killers has also been started with the Astrological Research Journal, an academic journal committed to studying astrology. A book by another astrologer, Edna Rowland, is also written on the subject, called Destined for Murder: Profiles of Six Serial Killers With Astrological Commentary.
8 Mental Illness
After studying 400 horoscopes and using the scientific method, Dr. Mitchell Gibson, a psychiatrist, discovered that he could easily predict whether someone had mental illness based on his or her horoscope. Gibson found that an average person has an average of three markers, or indicators, of depression in a horoscope, while a person with clinical depression generally has 10 or so of these markers. Gibson claims that virtually any person can easily predict such problems in a horoscope even with only a little training (often a person will have multiple influences of Saturn on their moon and other psychological factors, for example). The people in his study were diagnosed according to a gold standard of psychiatric diagnostic criteria. In his book, Signs of Mental Illness: An Astrological and Psychiatric Breakthrough, Gibson also details how to diagnose depression, anxiety, addictive disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder using astrological charts.
7 Gravity of Planets
In a book called The Scientific Proof of Astrology, Percy Seymour, a former lecturer at Plymouth University, says that the gravity of the planets changes the way fetuses develop in the womb, a clear-cut case, he says, for the existence of astrology. Seymour states that the planetary magnetism of the sun, moon, mercury, and other planets at different times of the year alter how the brain develops in people. For example, it was found that football players with the 1991-1992 English football team were much more likely to be born between September and November, a time when the geomagnetism makes them more oriented perhaps to football. Fast bowlers, according to another study, usually are born between January and June, another example of the theory working. Seymour, however, has faced a lot of opposition for his views from other astronomers and scientists.
6 Marriage Matchmaking
Carl Jung, among the most famous psychologists of the twentieth century, was an ardent believer in astrology. For his views that looked to the stars for guidance, he often found himself at odds with his friend, Sigmund Freud, who tried to persuade Jung out of pursuing the subject completely. Jung's views were based largely on the study of how long his participants' marriages lasted and how the stars aligned with the married couple’s charts. Jung collected and studied 483 astrological charts for the study and found that long-lasting marriages had astrological placements that were three times better or more ideal than random chance. The planetary patterns that were least conducive to a good marriage, according to the theories of many leading astrologers, happened less frequently. Jung calculated the odds of his study producing results like this to be extremely small— about 1 in 62,500,000.
5 Oysters and the Tides
Frank Brown, a biologist at Northwestern University, discovered one day that oysters from the beaches of Connecticut many miles away opened and closed with regularity each day, like a clock. Brown soon discovered that even though these oysters were far away from their home, they were opening and closing in synchrony to the tide on the Connecticut shore. This finding suggested to Brown that the oysters were responding to some sort of geomagnetic stimulus from the moon, which pulls the tide back and forth every day. A lot of astrologers point out this study to help support their arguments that everyone is affected by the planets, especially the moon in this case. Brown also proved that potatoes, rats, and fiddler crabs are all influenced mentally and physically by the movement of the moon. Other researchers have also found that gamma rays, X-rays, and weak radio waves influence the minds and internal clocks of animals, similar to the oyster study.
4 Solar Storms
Solar flares occur when parts of the sun create high waves of electrical radiation. These waves of heat and electricity are so strong and powerful that they often create disturbances in radio frequencies and power line transmissions on earth. Some researchers believe the flares drastically affect the geomagnetism of the earth, which all in turn influences how people think and behave. If radios are affected by solar flares, then why wouldn’t people’s minds, you might wonder? Beyond this, some scientists have noticed health effects on people from solar flares. For example, solar storms have sometimes been shown to coincide with heart trouble and lung disease, which is interesting. Traditional astrology holds that the heart area, as well as health in general, is ruled by the Sun. Afflictions to the Sun by Saturn or Mars are sometimes thought to cause heart trouble or other ailments, for example. A recent study by the Astrology Research Journal showed that certain transits of the Sun in a horoscope coincide with an increase of accidents and injuries. Astrologers might counsel their clients to stay indoors and not try risky actions during some of these transits.
3 The Stock Market
It might surprise some people that a small percentage of traders, maybe about 10 percent, currently use the stars to forecast when stocks will rise and fall. Currently, a few companies in the US, usually ones who offer a stock market prediction newsletter for a fee, are entirely devoted to this enterprise and swear that the stars help in predicting market changes on their websites. For example, Saturn and Jupiter oppositions, such as when Saturn sits 180 degrees in the sky from Jupiter, is often considered a time to sell because it is believed it indicates a bearish move in the market, at least for a few months. One legendary trader in the early 1900s, W.D. Gann, professed that he used astrology to help create his remarkable market timing feats. Also a Freemason of the Scottish Rite Order, Gann also stated that he used ancient mathematics and geometry to figure out where stock prices would go each week.
2 Sydney Omar
“I refer to it as the world’s worst-kept secret that President Reagan relies on astrology.” That’s what astrologer Sidney Omar, Reagan’s personal astrologer, told the public when it was discovered that Reagan was relying heavily on astrology to make decisions as president. The revelation was met with mockery from some media people, but it was amazing to some that Omar later informed everyone that both President Nixon and Henry Kissinger also were “gung ho” on astrology and that Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt also looked to the stars for guidance even amidst their busy lives as presidents. When the revelations about Reagan’s fixation with astrology became well known, many newspapers also reported that Reagan had delayed his inauguration as a California governor for nine minutes until it was 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 2, 1967 to get an auspicious astrological time for starting his new position. Reagan was also reported by the press to have signed a treaty in 1987 with Gorbachev over medium-range nuclear missiles on a time determined by an astrologer.
1 Saturn and Mars
Many astrologers will warn about certain transits when you talk to them. In the case of Reagan in the last example, if he had started his inauguration nine minutes prior, he would have started his political office when Saturn and Mars were both in opposite signs on the horizon. The sign rising would have been Pisces sidereal. Omar probably believed that this time was potentially dangerous, as Saturn and Mars oppositions in astrology typically are considered perilous, especially if you are doing something dangerous when the opposition is rising on the eastern horizon. If you are skeptical of this, you might want to consider that Saturn and Mars oppositions have often coincided with some terrible events in history, including the Iraq War of 2003, Columbine, the Challenger crash, the Columbia crash, and the Boston Marathon Bombings. More recently, the terrorism in the last year in Brussels occurred when Saturn and Mars were in a close conjunction, which is considered by many astrologers to also be a bit of a dangerous time. People with non-dangerous horoscopes might expect to only stub their toe or get into an argument during these times, but a person with a scary chart might have to be more cautious, according to astrological lore.