Astrology is the fatally-flawed idea that the location and movement of stars and planets influence our lives here on earth. It’s the epitome of a NON-scientific idea that has been discarded centuries ago. No scientist studies it. However, a recent survey shows almost all population segments, especially young people, mistakingly think this field is considered “scientific”. Are we failing in science education or are pop cultural influences to blame for this disturbing development?
I believe in a lot of astrology.” So commented pop megastar Katy Perry in a recent GQ interview. She also said she sees everything through a “spiritual lens”…and that she believes in aliens.
According to data from the National Science Foundation’s just-released 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study, Americans are moving in Perry’s direction. In particular, the NSF reports that the percentage of Americans who think astrology is “not at all scientific” declined from 62 percent in 2010 to just 55 percent in 2012 (the last year for which data is available). As a result, NSF reports that Americans are apparently less skeptical of astrology than they have been at any time since 1983.
So, this is not good. Most people think of astrology as sounding VERY sciencey – stars, planets, formulas, charts, etc. Those features are iconically “science”-oriented. Sadly, the public learns ideas about science from pop culture – TV, movies, stereotypes and visual tropes. Those are rarely accurate. Sounding sciencey is not actually proper practice of science. It’s typically trying really hard to look like it but it abysmally fails.
The truth is, astrology is just about as fake science as you can get. It’s more like a religion, based in long rejected natural beliefs and replaced by the scientific study of ASTRONOMY.
ASTRO-logy vs ASTRO-nomy. (Maybe I should call myself a geonomer instead of geologist!)
There is a HUGE cavernous difference between these two fields. Of course, astrology – reading charts, getting your fortune predicted, and such, has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to new agey celebrities who subscribe to such things and are happy to endorse them. Uncertain times and people who rely on the whims of fortune tend to use superstitious beliefs as a means of feeling in control. The entertainment industry is rather steeped in pseudoscientific beliefs. They sound good but there is no substance under the hood.
Belief in astrology rises and falls across time. In a way, some who spend money on it may find it useful to assess their life choices and major decisions. But, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend reasoning and asking advice from people who really are experts in the subject you are concerned with – finances, medicine, relationships and the like. Is astrology belief harmful? Not usually life threatening, just expensive, but making decisions based on nonsense is really not a sound way to move ahead in the world.
Educators who are disturbed by this trend (and all of you should be) might make a point to describe the clear DIFFERENCE between astrology and astronomy to kids. It’s a good story and, because this topic is popular, kids will probably listen.