Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zodiacs: Just Fun & Games

We often need a reason to things going on in our lives and around us. It is only natural, as we have the cognitive ability to understand cause and effect. These set abilities have developed over time and now our reasons fall more into the category that provides empirical evidence. It was not like this always there was a time when people believed in many pseudo-logics with none or little evidence. So much so that ancient human thought that volcanoes, floods and eclipse are caused by the wrath of God(s). However, as our knowledge and understanding of the world around us improved we shrugged off the old ideas ... So no more human or animal sacrifice to appease the God(s), wrath, at least in the mainstream. Yeyy?

Yet some things remained. However, harmless though, Zodiac signs have no logical argument to support its workings. Zodiacs are some personality stereotypes that are based on the location of constellations relative to the sun during the month of a person's birth. It is pretty much saying that location of Sun, Moon and Constellations have the ability to dictate who you are as a person and what happens in your life. Now, how it "works"? Or I should say how you are sorted in your zodiac. I fall under the category of Aries zodiac. Meaning, based on the astrology's zodiac model, during the month of my birth the location of Aries constellation in the sky was tracing the same path as the Sun. 

Fun fact, we can't see that constellation of the zodiac in the month assigned to it because its location will be eclipsed by the Sun and well we can't see stars during the day. However, you can see it the best when the earth is on the opposite side of its orbit relative to that position. That will not be after six months as earth orbit is elliptical. For instance, Aries is best visible during the month of December. 

When I first got curious about how astrology works, I found the information on it. At that point, being a person of STEM academics, I needed to know the logic. Well, there was none. It is clear that zodiac system, or for that matters Astrology (not Astronomy), is not science. Astrology is not subjected to critique by other scientists, it is not based on evidence and the conclusions are incontestable/not falsifiable. 

Still, the enthusiasm with zodiacs is almost universal. Why does it seem to work? Why do we identify with the given traits? Well because they are pretty vague. It is one of those one size fits all. This point is best illustrated by James Randy's experiment on zodiacs. Watch it here.  This experiment is based on Guaquelin’s Horoscope ExperimentIn this experiment, they take birth date details of a group of people. After that, they provided them with their personalized personality traits. Each participant has to review the traits they receive. The result was surprisingly accurate, 94% of participants claimed their traits were in accordance with their personality. There was just one catch; the personalized traits given to all the participants were same. This effect is called the Burnum effect. 

The Burnum effect is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to register high accuracy to the personality traits that they suppose is oriented specifically to them. However, in fact, the traits are vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. The truth is such traits have something to offer to everyone. Read a Psychology Today's article on the Burnum Effect here.

If you think that it somehow still works and your designated sign is working well for you. I have a bad news, the signs that we follow now are outdated. Due to a phenomenon called axial precession, the earth wobbles on its axis, in a 26, 000 years cycle (read here). This changes the relative position of the sun and constellation. So, technically that makes me Pisces.  But the changes were never made in the field of astrology and it worked out alright. Well, it worked vaguely enough ... in light of Burnum effect or it never really worked. 

In the end, it is fun and entertaining to read your zodiac with your friends for a good time. However, I recognize the obsession of zodiacs is all over the world. Each newspaper has a dedicated section for the Zodiac. Why are we still doing this beyond logic, but I wouldn't bet my fortune on that. 

What's your Zodiac Sign? Do you follow with conviction or is it just fun and games? Feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section below. 

This concludes my A to Z 2017. Woohooo! 
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    1. I'm a Leo, whatever the really means. My birthday is actually a day of immense celebration in India (not because it's my birthday but because of the day). I think the Zodiac is similar to religion for some people - it gives them something to blame when something goes wrong. Thought provoking post.

    2. Well I am Libra, but technically I don't know. I hate the concept of Zodiac because it lacks logic. It was good to read the debunking. More power to you, buddy! :)
      And I guess the challenge is concluded?
      Cheers on making it!

    3. zodiac is my z word too, I'm an aquarius but I don't really believe in the personality assessment or the horoscope of aquarius but I like the idea that people have things in common even if it's zodiac signs.

      have a lovely day.

      ~ my Z post - Zodiac ~

    4. I don't follow Zodiacs. At the same time, I know a lot of my friends and family do. It is a bit cringe-worthy, to be true.
      Whatever floats their boats.
      I like your analysis and your inquisitiveness.

    5. I do follow zodiac, whenever I get time...but I have my own special way...I do read the daily predictions from the news paper. But I read it for all the signs. Then whichever prediction is the best for the day, I tell myself, this is my sign!!! What a waste of time! Now with this, you must have guessed that I am a Sagittarius!
      Congratulations for completing the challenge!
      Lets keep in touch in future as well!
      Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
      Collage Of Life

    6. You mean I can't blame my perfectionist tendencies on being a Virgo? Oh bother! Great way to end the alphabet.

    7. I'm an Aries too, but then the only horoscope I read in the one in The Onion. So that's how far that goes. :) I've enjoyed your posts and getting to know.

    8. I'm a Leo. I just follow it for fun. Sometimes it seems to be pretty good, especially when describing attributes to those people born in those months. As for the predictions, not so much. :-)

    9. Interesting post. I'm a Leo. I can't say I follow or believe in star signs but once in a blue moon I'll read one for the "entertainment" value of it. But I certainly don't give any weight to what I'm reading.

    10. Loved your explanation of the Burnum Effect.

      I find those newspaper horoscopes good for a laugh.

      Ophiuchus: those who are born under the sign of the Snake-Bearer will have a more solid understanding of the Scientific Method and can determine their own path through life. Lucky numbers for today: your own phone number, should Opportunity call.

      I've also blogged about the Zodiac, but from a purely scientific angle, including mentioning precession.

      Her Grace, Heidi from Romance Spinners

    11. I am Aquarian by Sun sign and a Capricorn by moon sign. I like zodiacs as long as it says nice things about me :P
      Thanks for sharing

      Thank you for regularly dropping by my blog. Congrats on finishing the A to Z Challenge. Every post was wonderful

      A to Z Reflections: Looking Back In Time