Texas Students Test Astrology Predictions

Article excerpt

One of the most popular forms of fortunetelling is astrology, and almost every newspaper has an astrology column. How accurate are these astrological predictions for any given day? Could you pick the prediction for your sign after you already know what kind of day you've had? To answer this question high school science students from Desoto, Texas, helped JR. SKEPTIC test the predictions from an astrology column from one of the most widely read newspapers in the U.S. Students were given a list of predictions for the previous day for all astrological signs. They were asked to pick the prediction that best matched the experiences they actually had on that day. Over a two-week period, 64 students made a total of 246 tries to pick their own astrological reading from the list.

Astrological predictions were prepared by rewriting them by replacing the mention of which sign they were by a code. They were then mixed up and emailed to the student's science teacher so nobody at the test site knew which prediction matched which astrological sign. This coded labeling made the study double blind"--an important precaution in a scientific test--so that nobody could cheat either on purpose or by accident by giving away the answer.

Each time a student successfully picked their own astrological sign, it was considered a "hit." There were 21 hits out of the 246 tries and 225 misses. This is 1 hit for every 11.7 tries, very close to what you would get by chance, which is 1 hit for each 12 tries. …