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A con called astrology

Astrology is not a science because no physical evidence or natural laws support its notion that planets affect individuals, writes Lalit Mohan.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2007 21:16 IST

Many years ago, I was involved with the launch of a magazine in the Gulf. Apart from features, some syndicated material had also been subscribed to.

This included a weekly astrology column. Due to postal delay, this column did not arrive in time for the publication deadline and we were forced to look around for alternatives.

Someone had old issues of the now defunct magazine, Eve’s Weekly. It had a page devoted to Zodiac forecasts. So we tore out the pages, changed the ‘weekends’ according to West Asia observance and served it up as our weekly forecast and advice from a learned astrologer. The column was an instant success.

When the pre-ordered stuff actually arrived, we decided to shelve it and persist with our recycled version. If I had any doubts about its acceptability, they were set aside when, one day, a reader asked me to tell him the name of our soothsayer because he wanted to consult him on some matter.

Actually, we needn’t have worried. Because there is no better basis for arriving at astrological forecasts, either. There is no empirical research to back predictions. Fortune-tellers ignore all new astronomical discoveries, including that of a 13th cluster in the Zodiac band which lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius, and is named Ochiopus. They overlook the fact that, because of a wobble in the Earth’s spin, dates of all Zodiac formations have shifted from what they were when they were first noticed 2,600 years ago, and that they were never equal in their spread, and instead varied from six days of Scorpius to 45 days of Virgo.

The astral space is changing, but that makes no difference to the business of star gazing. Celestial bodies that do not even exist (Rahu and Ketu), carry more weight. It is one of the oldest con tricks in the world. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, has this citation on Astrology: “It proposes that people’s lives are predestined by the precise arrangement of planets at their birth. Astrology is not a science because no physical evidence or natural laws support its notion that planets affect individuals. Tests disprove its claim of predictive powers. Although not a science, Astrology provides entertainment to many people.”