Is Astrology Bunk?

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH HALE

ASTROLOGERS, it could be argued, should have seen it coming.

A study has been published which challenges the central tenet of their faith - that our character traits are moulded by the influence of the sun, moon and planets at the time of our birth.

The findings of the scientists could be bad news for those who make their living out of stargazing.

With millions of devotees from schoolgirls to stockbrokers, horoscopes have become big business. Indeed, high- profile astrologers such as Russell Grant and Mystic Meg can expect to rake in more than [pounds sterling]600,000 a year from predicting the future.

But scientists now say what sceptics have long suspected - that horoscopes are nothing more than 'exercises in deception'.

In a wide-ranging scientific study, researchers claim to have proved beyond doubt that there is no similarity in character between people born within minutes of each other. Researchers tracked more than 2,000 people born at about the same time - all under the sign of Pisces.

Astrology dictates they would turn out to be kind, sensitive, selfless and intuitive, but subject to escapism and idealism, prone to secrecy and easily led.

As it was, they could have been born under Leo, Scorpio or Cancer for all the difference it made to their life.

Subjects were originally recruited as part of a medical study begun in London in 1958 into how the circumstances of birth can affect future health.

A group of 2,101 babies born in early March - on average 4.8 minutes apart - were registered and their development was monitored at age 11, 16 and 23.

Researchers then examined more than 100 different characteristics - including whether the subjects married, what they did for a living, how sociable they were, how aggressive, and what their anxiety levels were like.

They also looked at traits such as IQ level and reading ability along with physical characteristics. Such traits are among those astrologers claim can be predicted by birth charts.

The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between the 'time twins'.

The results of the study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, were analysed by scientist Dr Geoffrey Dean - himself a former astrologer - and Ivan Kelly, a psychologist based at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

'The test conditions could hardly have been more conducive to success . .

. but the results are uniformly negative,' the scientists reported.

Dr Dean said the results undermined the claims of astrologers, who often work with birth data far less precise than that used in the study.

'They sometimes argue that time of birth just a minute apart can make all the difference,' he said. 'But in their work, they are happy to take whatever time then can get from a client.' The scientists also reviewed several studies to discover whether astrologers could match a birth chart to the personality profile of a person among a random selection.

Despite looking at work involving more than 700 astrologers, the results turned out no better than guesswork. …