A lot of people think  astrology is a science. Too many, in fact.  A recent  study by the National Science Foundation reported that 50 percent of young people believe astrology is a science.

A number so high   that it led   to people   repeating   the study   out of   disbelief,   because,   surely, astrology had been confused with astronomy. Pick up   any newspaper, and you’re likely   to find an astrology section that   purports to have divined what   you can expect in your life over   the coming week, but not you   specifically.

Rather, people born   at the same time as you. But, what about twins? Two people   born under the same conditions,   mere minutes apart would have   the same forecast, but their lives   turn out significantly different.

In 2012, an article in the “New   York Post” reported that Lady   Gaga was consulting with her   “spiritual team” because of her   concern over planetary alignments that might disrupt her world tour.

Sounds like typical   Aries behavior to me, but then   again Hitler was an Aries too.   The methods by which   astrologers ply their trade looks   and sounds scientific.

Record   keeping, math, observation   and star charts, but push hard   enough and sooner or later you   find the unknown variable in the   astrological equation: the element that is unknown or defined   by faith-based terminology.

Take   the time to consider that neither   the University of Nevada, Reno,   nor any other institution, offers   courses in astrology, alchemy or   divination.   A Yahoo questioner asked,   “Why do they ignore those   things?

Is it a giant conspiracy   by scientists or university staff?”   Because, quite obviously, if   your mythology is ignored   by academia it must be a   conspiracy to suppress your   “truth.”

If courses in astrology   were offered, it would only be a   matter of time before students   begin wandering over the Quad   with dowsing widgets amidst the   jingling sound of their talismans   and Zodiac necklaces.

While I can appreciate offering   advice on emotional coping or   stress reduction, to attribute   such things to the movements   of astronomical bodies is not   only whimsical, but devalues   human agency.

Horoscopes   define your emotional spectrum   for you, control how you feel   and how you react. Sort of like a   celestial North Korea, to borrow   a Christopher Hitchens line.   You’re not creative because   you’re not an Aquarius.

You’re not   loyal because you’re not a Leo.   Jupiter is moving into a new   alignment, and that is why   you’re so bitchy. It all sounds   rather Orwellian. You owe it to   yourself to be defined by the   qualities of your character, not   made-up happenstance.

We’re   all better people without identifiers. “I’m a black, gay Libra.”   No thanks. I’d rather know your   name and judge you based   upon what you have to say   than these human constructed   labels.

The reason why this non-science has held on for so   long is baffling, especially in a   culture where generalization   and stereotyping are anathema   to our modern sensibilities.

It   judges people based upon how   they were born, not who they are   or what they say. Try looking up   a horoscope and substituting the   various astrological signs with   racial designators or political   movements, which isn’t so different from astrology anyhow.

“Hispanics, your willingness   to yaddayadda,” or “National   Socialists, your energies might   be better spent on suchitysuch.”   We’ve all heard believers say things   like, “I just don’t like Scorpios.”   Not that you dislike certain   personalities or certain people,   but a giant category of people.

Try   using “Jews” in place of Scorpios   and see how comfortable that   makes you feel. The careless use   of generalities and vague advice   should be evidence enough of   astrology’s fallaciousness, let alone   the absurd amount of hubris   required to subscribe to a belief so   self-centered that it puts humans   at the center of the cosmos.

It seems so convincing, but alas,   astrology is just telling us what   we want to hear. Astrology plays   upon the human desire to feel   connected to the universe in a way   that expands beyond the scope of   our tiny lives. I get that, I do.

There   are real, scientific avenues to go   about feeling more connected   to the universe. The atoms that   make up our bodies were forged   in the stars. When we look at the   stars and the vastness of space, we   tend to marginalize ourselves and   think that we’re inconsequential.

But we shouldn’t. We should feel   big because we are made of stars.   Carl Sagan said that there were   two ways to view the stars: As they   really are and how we might wish   them to be.

No matter how much   “horoscopers,” the true believers   of astrology, stamp their feet and   insist that their sign are representative of their personalities, it   won’t ever be true.   When I confront faithful   “horoscopers”, specifically   those on campus, they respond   with a shrug of the shoulders   and a knowing smile.

A surrender, a subtle acknowledgement   that they understand astrology is made up and probably   something they should have   left behind in high school. I try   not to judge, but I can’t help it. Academics should know better.

Brian McLelland studies English. He can be reached at sself@sagebrush.unr.edu.