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We are your source for Daily Love Horoscopes Find out what's in store for your sign each week! In other words this rigorous and sensitive test found no evidence whatsoever that signs are valid. Interestingly, a weak but statistically significant link between sun sign delineations and extraversion scores was reported in by Mayo, White and Eysenck Social Psychology , , advance notice of which was hailed by astrologers as "possibly the most important development for astrology in this century" Phenomena , 1. The effect disappeared when people unfamilar with sun signs were tested, so it had a simple explanation -- prior knowledge of astrology.

Ask Sagittarians who are supposedly sociable and outgoing whether they like going to parties, and their answer might be tipped by astrology in favour of yes rather than no. When combined with the results of national opinion polls the results suggest that roughly 1 person in 4 not only believes in astrology but also believes in it sufficiently to measurably shift their self-image in the corresponding direction.

In , after surveying published studies and making his own tests using data collected with the help of AA members, the psychologist Michael Startup reached this firm conclusion:. Subsequent studies have amply supported this conclusion, for example see Suitbert Ertel's illuminating study in Sachs's Astrology File on this website under Sun Signs.

Sun signs whether delineations or forecasts are now the most highly disconfirmed claim in astrology. The British astrologer Judith Bennett overcomes this problem rather ingeniously by telling people whose sun sign does not fit to simply choose another that does Sex Signs page xxv. But most astrologers seem unable to admit that sun signs are invalid.

The disagreement among astrologers continues For example in Charles and Suzi Harvey claimed that Sun-Moon sign combinations are the "heart and soul of your story I am personally still convinced that, given more sensitive and imaginative tests, confirmation of the reality of sun-sign typologies, and the signs generally, will be obtained.

Which is equivalent to saying "trust me. For example, consider this sobering US view of testimonials in medicine:. Testimonials about sun signs are no different. These statistics are from UK and US surveys reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for a summary see Skeptical Inquirer , 16, We have of course already seen how problematic sun signs are in the minds of astrologers. And no wonder, when a single forecast in a newspaper can influence more people than can a lifetime of counselling practice.

By the Faculty of Astrological Studies had added to its code of ethics the following anti-forecasting clause: "I undertake not to use my Diploma qualification [DFAstrolS] in connection with Sunsign forecasting for the media. But despite these band-aids from the bastions of astrological education, in in the Astrological Journal the sun sign controversy flared up again, repeating exactly the same issues that had been debated twenty years previously.

Dennis Elwell summarised the situation as follows, ending with an eloquent plea for action:. The response was "Live and let live. Can you imagine the medical profession being indifferent to quacks in its midst? It would have been appropriate if the recently formed association for professional astrologers had grasped this nettle, but alas. It is time to fight astrology's corner. The failure to be vigilant has made astrology an easy target for hijacking by various vested interests, and the failure to represent its unique vision of reality with sufficient force and understanding has offered a soft underbelly to its enemies.

Subsequent letters Astrological Journal May through November confirmed that nothing had changed in twenty years. Over sun sign forecasts and delineations there was the same violent disagreement, even the same call for a Government Health Warning, but this time it was made worse by an evident blind eye for research results. Elwell's plea for action was ignored. Some examples:. We need less sun-sign astrology, not more. In fact the same violent disagreement becomes evident everywhere the matter is raised.

For example, three years later, in response to the AFAN forum "that sun-sign astrology provides helpful information to the general public", one astrologer in Hawaii felt that:. The feedback I get is that everybody reads my columnms and finds them to be quite accurate. If we want astrology and astrologers to be respected, we have to stop peddling these half-baked, half-truth fortune cookies to an increasingly skeptical public. We cannot have it both ways. Where we came in: More disagreement in the AJ Two years later, when the Astrological Journal 's new editor Robin Heath noted that sun signs were both "our greatest sign of astrology's acceptance Dennis Elwell kicked off by reinforcing his previous arguments to make it quite clear where the responsibility for regaining respect lay:.

It is difficult to see, at this late stage, how the damage can be undone. There is a crying need to make the general public more astrologically literate We are ready to complain when science trivializes and misrepresents us, but are strangely silent when the trivialization and misrepresentation comes from within our own ranks. Others in the same issue supported Elwell. Veteran astrologer Sheila Geddes feels that those who "lend their names to sun sign columns are prostituting astrology" page Valerie Jeffery says "as long as astrologers who should know better keep churning out these columns, we will have to put up with misrepresentation" page But others disagreed with Elwell.

Mavis Klein says that "a very good case can be made for the primacy of sun signs in categorizing people Anthonly Owen says that "to attack sun sign astrology is in fact to attack all astrology, as it is based on exactly the same principles" page Paul Mayo says that the boost to astrology's popularity due to sun signs was a huge plus, so Elwell's letter "still leaves me with the feeling that our attention is inadvertently being misdirected.

But apart from agreeing with Elwell after all, Mayo presented no suggestions on how this miracle might be achieved. Later, guest editor Prudence Jones raised the same questions about validity as we had in the s, pointing out that signs remain a particularly sticky problem for astrologers, let alone for outsiders:. Do they do so in fact, or is this wishful thinking?

Some astrologers justify the signs taking, usually without explanation, the Sun in the signs as their exemplar as shorthand for seasonal characteristics. But this implies that their order should be reversed in the southern hemisphere, which seldom happens. And what, in any case, of horoscopes for equatorial latitudes, whereseasonal change is minimal, but where, of course, astrology was invented? But perhaps the most radical and thought-provoking view came from Bernard Eccles, President of the Astrological Lodge of London and also a newspaper astrologer, who pointed out that 1 the sun-as-character concept did not exist before the s, 2 it was introduced in the s by Alan Leo, and 3 it has been accepted ever since by every astrology textbook:.

It completely disregards the world-view which held from classical times through until the seventeenth century, which was that Man stood on top of the Earth but below the stars, while God was above all.

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Instead, it suggests that Man is at the centre of all things The Sun-sign philosophy of Alan Leo has given astrology what it needed to survive and to grow through the twentieth century. As astrologers and astrology enter the new millenium, it IS the future. Such a view may or may not be right, but the absolute disagreement among astrologers clearly remains. In short, a quarter-century of debate has achieved absolutely nothing. Cynics might see this as par for the course.

Richard Dawkins's attack on astrology The views in the previous section had been sparked by Richard Dawkins's attack on astrology "The real romance in the stars", Independent on Sunday London 31 December pages , which among other things argued that "astrology [especially sun sign astrology] is neither harmless nor fun, and that we should fight it seriously as an enemy of truth" page The article with four added footnotes was reprinted in Astrological Journal 38 3 , , May-June , with a two-page introduction by AA President Nick Campion, who noted that the attack "stunned the astrologers who saw it.

There have been a number of sceptical criticisms of astrology Yet Dawkins' unremitting assault was notable partly on account of its length, partly on account of the stature of its author. The points made by Richard Dawkins can be summarised as follows. Nearly all are relevant to sun signs:. Dawkins's article led to a flood of letters to the Independent , which in many ways are more interesting. The flood began on the following Sunday 7 January page The editor of the Independent introduced them as follows: "Astrology: fact or fraud? When Professor Richard Dawkins attacked astrology as an "aesthetic affront" [page 17 rightmost column near top] and an "enemy of truth" [page 18 second column from end] in these pages last week he provoked one of our biggest postbags.

Readers wrote in large numbers to challenge his arguments and his evidence -- and his conclusion that professional astrologers should be jailed for fraud. The points raised by each letter provide an interesting cross-section of views from an educated British public, and can be summarised as follows one line per letter.

Most of them are relevant to sun signs, and most of them find fault with Dawkins's arguments but this might of course merely reflect the editor's selection bias :. Much of it reads like satire, eg "Taurus -- wear loud tasteless colours, and buy a venomous pet such as a rattlesnake", "Virgo -- investments are likely to sink without trace especially if your stock-broker is Aries, Gemini or Pisces". The flood of letters continued but the next issue 14 January had room for only two, albeit perhaps the most insightful two of all.

The first asked how supposedly rational people can become so upset by such trivia. Will reports of babies starving by the thousand prompt "a similar surge of purple-faced spluttering public outrage? Sadly, I doubt that it will. Such as "The hoary old advice that you should not reject astrology until you can prove it is false the same goes for Father Christmas , that it is close-minded to take a firm negative stance but open-minded to take an equally firm positive stance , or that it is rude and intolerant to take issue with people's convictions, however absurd -- all these predictable, yet depressing, responses say something about the intellectual climate in which we live.

As we shall see, our armchair invitation was in effect designed to inspire proper open-mindedness and critical thinking. The bottom line We have seen how the astrological community remains sharply divided over sun sign columns. In effect the disagreement is about whether using actual sun signs as opposed to simply making it up makes a difference to the validity of forecasts and delineations.

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But regardless of the answer, the bottom line is this: if half the astrological community peddles what the other half sees as nonsense, and the latter does nothing about it, then astrology becomes a sitting duck. The Canadian astrologer Donna Van Toen puts it this way:. Of course they do, because we've trivialized it for them already. But we keep on doing those columns. Because they pay If we want to be seen as credible, maybe we have to quit displaying our work in incredible places.

Which is easy to say. In Sperling op cit counted 11 syndicated daily columns, 22 weekly and 6 monthly sun sign columns in English-speaking North America. The return to the Syndicate was probably the same, so it had an easy zero-risk way of making money for virtually no work. Similarly in the UK. Today the return to astrologers from a newspaper column-plus-phone-line can corrupt absolutely. According to various reports summarised in Astrology , 62 2 , , over , calls a year are logged by Sydney Omarr's phoneline in the USA, and over , calls a year by Mystic Meg's in the UK.

If each sign needs up to say 20 lines to cope with demand, then these figures can be multiplied by or more. Either way, the reputed annual income of half a million pounds each for top column astrologers Russell Grant, Jonathan Cainer and Shelley von Strunkel seems plausible Sara Villiers, "Born with stars in their eyes", Scotland on Sunday , 21 January , page 9. For such sums maybe you too would happily sell astrology down the river. And even if not, the newspaper which takes a similar cut surely will. The Sunday Times for 29 December page 8 carried a league table of the most successful newspaper promotions during The top ten included a sun sign supplement by The Mail on Sunday , which added , to the circulation, and a twin feature on astrology and on diet in the Sunday Express , which added , The easy money to be made makes one thing certain -- if the demand exists then someone will meet it.

Sun sign columns and their minders are not going to go away. Consequently it seems inappropriate to complain, as Nicholas Campion does, about "the general unthinking hostility to astrology from the liberal, educated establishment as witnessed in the quality papers", by which he means Dawkins-like attacks Transit [Astrological Association Newsletter], March page 5 , when astrologers have only themselves to blame. An educated person does not have to be unthinking to be hostile to perceived nonsense.

To be sure, in the UK the view of astrology as nonsense is reinforced by the Radio Authority broadcasting guidelines on horoscopes, which state "Horoscopes and other forms of divination should neither be presented in a serious manner nor purport to give listeners important or essential advice regarding the future" paragraph 1. On which point Campion comments:. Experience shows that, under present circumstances, astrology can never be presented on television on its own terms, unless as sun sign astrology, and then the assumption is that it is entertainment" ibid page 6.

Given that Campion is not only President of the Astrological Association but also a sun sign columnist with phone-lines which in itself represents a dramatic U-turn since the days of Roger Elliot , he could hardly take any other view. But when astrologers make no attempt to correct their own self-trivialisation, or to pay attention to the results of controlled studies, it could be argued that such "censorship" is entirely justified. It all comes back to sun sign columns. In other words, from the astrologers' point of view, if this "unthinking hostility" is to be overcome, if astrology's "soft underbelly" is to be defended, if this "tawdry sideshow" and "trivialisation by astrologers" are to be accepted, and if this "censorship" is to be removed, then their first priority is to decide what they have repeatedly failed to decide, namely whether the statements made in sun sign books and columns are valid or just nonsense.

Either way, this does not deny Eccles' view that they are the future. Accordingly, in response to Elwell's call for action, but without taking sides, we extend the following archair invitation [made in and no longer open] to all readers:. Our invitation to readers is not to prove or disprove pet ideas about sun signs, but merely to devise a test that will show whether those ideas are right or wrong.

If, as Charles Harvey claims, "sensitive and imaginative tests" will confirm the reality of sun signs, then what are those tests? If, as John Addey claimed, sun signs are an "elegant fiction", then what tests will demonstrate it? If, as Nicholas Campion implies, there is something in dial-a-horoscopes, then what tests would confirm or refute it?

These are honest questions that demand honest answers. It is time to stand and be counted. So, without asking anyone whether for or against to take sides, our invitation to you is:. Our invitation is to devise tests, not to perform tests, so nobody need leave their armchair. It is not another prize contest, so there are no winners and no losers. Our aim is merely to generate acceptable tests.

We have of course invited ourselves to respond to our own invitation. Guidelines Hypotheses to be tested. Regardless of your attitude to sun signs, you are invited to devise a test for each of the following hypotheses:. You are welcome to use your own definitions of "valid" and "ethical.

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Your tests should cover all twelve signs, and should include enough detail to allow anyone to carry them out without further instructions. Your tests should of course be feasible, eg they should not involve samples too huge to be reasonably collected. To make sure your tests are not misinterpreted, please specify the results you would accept as disconfirming the hypothesis. Example targets.

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Appended are examples of the sort of sun sign material that your tests should be aimed at. Deadline and Length. The deadline for replies is 31 January Length is up to you but we prefer no more than two pages. Where to send your reply Please send your reply to [two addresses were given, one in the UK, the other in Australia, including fax and email] whichever is easiest.

We want your ideas We want your ideas regardless of whether you support or oppose sun sign columns. Now if daily experience has convinced you that sun signs are valid, you cannot logically claim that validation tests are impossible. Nevertheless if you feel that testing is feasible, but are not able to say specifically how, we would welcome a statement of your position.

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Of course if validation tests acceptable to astrologers cannot be devised then the case for sun sign forecasts and delineations other than as trivial entertainment would seem to collapse. Sun sign columns: Response to an invitation. An expanded version is on this website under Sun Signs. Disagreeing on Compatibility.

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Russell Grant Sunday Mirror magazine , listed first , whose "guide to love lust and emotional disasters reveals all", vs Mystic Meg News of the World magazine , listed second in italics , who helps you find "love, compatibility, passion", both 7 January What magazines do, books can do better. Only a Cancerian can find the right words and manner to calm another. Crab 1: There you go, diving into one of your inky moods again.

Crab 2: I had a sad childhood, nobody cares. Crab 1: But you refuse to talk about it. Crab 2: People are cold and cruel. Crab 1: My mother ignored me. Crab 2: Don't cry, do you want your hanky back? In nature, water softens air, creating a moist fog, the right atmosphere for the mysterious alchemy capable of transmuting dreams into rainbow-streaked realities. There's no end to the wonders and marvels they might conceive and create together.

History The start of sun sign forecasts in newspapers Popular astrology forecasts had existed in almanacs and books long before they appeared in newspapers. This was followed a month later by the corresponding "Were you born in October" 5 October page 21 , then a week later by a new weekly article "What the stars foretell for this week" 12 October page 19 , which was introduced by the editor as follows: "The Sunday Express has received so many letters from readers concerning the recent extraordinary predictions of Mr R.

Its first two appearances were accompanied by this cautious editorial disclaimer: "If you believe that the planets exercise an influence on your destiny -- well, here's all about it, by an astrologer. Some of their other findings are no less relevant today even though they relate to war-time conditions: On levels of belief: "The DEPTH of belief ranges all the way from occasional humorous interest to fanaticism. In Elliot's own words: "A number of leading Association figures Gown, Astrological Journal Autumn , In his defence, Elliot felt that no firm line could be drawn between popular and serious astrology.

Harvey stressed that: "Sun sign [delineation] astrology For example, in the same issue the editor Zach Matthews merely commented: "Can a presentation of it [astrology] to the general public as naively simple to the point of laughable absurdity accomplish anything worthwhile for the public, professional astrologers or for astrology?

Validity Enter empiricism: Our prize competitions Whatever we may think of sun signs, testable claims are often made "Aquarians favour the unusual", "the 22nd sees you keeping a rendezvous with your gynaecologist" , so their truth or falsity is an empirical matter to be established by research, not proclaimed by fiat or simply ignored. We described the background to the prize as follows: "Signs are astrology's most popular and universal concept.

For example on 12 October the editor of the Sunday Express announced: "Mr Naylor, who has a world-wide reputation as a seer, has been uncannily and extraordinarily accurate in the few articles already published in the Sunday Express. Naylor himself commented: "My prediction last week was based on a very simple observation. The issue of 20 September noted that "Seldom has any article provoked so much interest" page 22 , and then gave a selection of readers' letters, of which the following is typical: "Congratulations to the brains responsible for expressing so decisively the fallacies of astrology.

Harwood, which said: "Like other astrologers, I have made my mistakes Their own sun sign and syndication are given in : Bernice Bede Osol Scorpio, papers. Avoid people of questionable repute. Know where to look for romance and you'll find it. Among the winners was this one: Gemini.

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