IDing Astrology

By Phil Plait | June 21, 2008 9:30 am

I am at TAM and exhausted. I’ll post about it later. Until then…

This video is pretty funny.

It’s obviously making fun of ID and Expelled, of course. But astrology is a lot more accurate than ID: it’s right 1/12th of the time.

Fun fact: this movie was made by features a guy who is the boyfriend of a friend of mine I met through my nephew, and is also a friend of Penn’s. COINCIDENCE?*

Tip o’ the orrery to BABloggee Javier Pazos.



*Yes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Astronomy, Humor, Science

Comments (72)

  1. “Since I’m a cancer I’m naturally crabby.” hilarious.

  2. Those damn astronomers, always trying to deny the Age of Aquarius or the end of the Mayan Long Count!

  3. madge

    LM(Taurian*)AO!
    *guess that means I am never gonna cut it! Can I switch signs? Maybe if I bribe a an official I can change my date of birth so I can become a Sagittarian Scientist (would save me having to worry about gaining my degree to get there…hell 78% is pretty good odds!)

  4. Yoo

    “There are no coincidences; everything happens for a reason.” :P

  5. Good one, Phil!
    I laughed outright at “I’m a Cancer, so I’m naturally crabby.”

    Here’s a list of things to be sure to do in Vegas:
    – Eat a TAMale while
    – Playing the TAMbourine and
    – Wearing your TAM-O’-Shanter,
    – Remember to TAMper with TAMmany Hall,
    – TAMely TAMp on the TAMoxifen before TAMmy takes it,
    – And say “Next year in TAMpa!” as you leave…

    Ok, I’m done now…
    :grin:
    Rich in Charlottesville

  6. FnH

    “it’s right 1/12th of the time”?
    Maybe when an astrologer is guessing your sign, but the predictions are chosen from a larger set of possibilities.

  7. “Astrology got me my wife. And it got me my second wife too.”
    ROTFL.

    What is that strange few frames of zoom on the front of the film?

  8. His_Steveness

    That was genius. I love the “miracle of birth” lady.

    By the way, I was born in the sign of Sagittarius. Or as I like to call it, the Tea Kettle.

  9. themadlolscientist

    =LOL= On those extremely rare occasions when people ask me what my sign is, I tell them it’s Ophiuchus. That never fails to shut ‘em up.

    Well, almost never. A neighbor of mine who barely knows his ass from a hole in the ground claims Ophiuchus as his sign based on his actual birthday. When I gave him my famous line, he said excitedly, “Oh! When’s your birthday?”

  10. andyo

    The Japanese believe in something less implausible (superficially) and complicated than astrology, which is personality based on blood type. People with A-type blood are meticulous and almost obsessive-compulsive, while B-type are laid-back and easy-going. They also have their ideas for O and AB types, but I don’t remember exactly what those were about. This seems much more imbued into their culture than astrology is in ours, and it’s why you’ll rarely see a Japanese person’s public profile without stating their blood type.

    Thing is of course this is bunk, and I believe it’s probably an misconception of the Type A and B personality theory that was lost in translation, and which also lacks scientific merit.

    The curious thing is that they all swear by it, and from some anecdotal evidence (I work with many Japanese and I always ask them about this) it seems on the surface that it’s somewhat true (statistically most of them conform to this). So I wonder how possible it is that they believe in this so hard that since they are kids they are constantly reminded their blood type and how those people should be behaving, and this in turn shapes more or less their own behavior. I mean, this belief is everywhere over there.

  11. andyo

    Hmm, according to Wikipedia (and when aren’t they right!) the blood-type thing is older than the psychology theory, so these psychologists might have taken a page or two out of a discredited Japanese pseudoscience only that the Japanese thing was resurrected in the 70’s. Interesting.

  12. I seem to remember there was a diet book (one of hundreds of the darn things) that advocated tailoring diet according to blood type. This at least has the ring of plausibility, though I have no idea how much evidence backs it up, if any.

    Ophiuchus! I love it…

  13. MattGS

    This is so incredibly funny.

    “Does astronomy kill people? You know what, that’s for you to decide. But yes.”

    For a moment I wasn’t even sure if I was watching Expelled or a parody. Marvellous!

  14. Guinness Stout

    “madge
    *guess that means I am never gonna cut it! Can I switch signs? Maybe if I bribe a an official I can change my date of birth so I can become a Sagittarian Scientist…”

    You shouldn’t need to bribe anyone. Where was it? I think it was New York (though that might be incorrect because it was some time ago) where it became legal for a man to use a woman’s restroom if he “feels” that he is in fact a woman…but with male “hardware”. And in other places, you can request to have your gender legally changed if you don’t think the one you have fits you. So why couldn’t you get your birthday legally changed to suit the “sign” you feel more comfortable with?

  15. JLPR

    xD ROFL I just couldnt stop laughing when I saw this video, but I have saw some real videos about astrology and they are all like these.

  16. spibbles

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA THAT IS THE BEST VIDEO EVER!!! Everybody’s got just the right tone; the arguments are delightfully repulsive…bravo! I want to see more like this!

  17. KC

    themadlolscientist:

    There’s a song called “Existential Blues” by Tom “T-Bone” Stankus which has the following verse:

    “A girl with psychic powers
    Said ‘T-Bone, what’s your sign?’
    I blinked and told her neon.
    I thought I’d blow her mind.”

    As for myself, I was born beneath the sign “Delivery Room.”

  18. KC

    By the way, I didn’t find the video funny. Not one little bit. This is for two reasons:

    1. I’ve encountered astrology enthusiasts who weren’t that far removed from those “interviewed” in the spoof.

    2. The Discovery Channel would probably run the entire thing as-is, and ask to expand it to a full hour.

  19. quasidog

    Debunking astrology! More, more ! There just isn’t enough.

    Mainstream creationism may be scientifically ignorant, pareidolia is always a laugh, but astrology, oh my pet hate. I am always amazed at how deeply it permeates our society but rarely gets a good solid debunking. Yeah, there are plenty of sites debunking it and such, but in general, a lot of people gloss over the fact that so many people believe in its power, or are at least a little curious.

    It is in every newspaper, women’s magazine, lots of morning TV shows, radio shows, and when you go out to a pub, and meet some girl, it’s not too long before one of them asks you what your star sign is. There are even TV advertisments targeting kids to ring up and check if their starsign is compatible with their girlfriend or boyfriend, and then encouraged to dump them if they are not. Sure its just silly kid stuff, but kids are impressionable, and if not corrected early, may grow up believing it to actually work. People have lost lots of money or had relationship problems due to this stuff. I reckon it is far more serious a cultural problem than it is made out to be.

    It is far more common in my experience than religious dogma, various forms of anti-science, and belief that aliens have visited Earth. I even know an proud Athiest that actually has his star chart made up every year. .. ;/

    I would love to see more debunking of astrology focused primarily on the casual use and affect it has on common society.

    PS.. I have read your debunking of it Phil ;p It is just good to see it get a mention.

  20. KC

    Good luck. The church has tried debunking astrology for centuries, and wound up being infected by it for a time.

    Part of the problem is that it confuses the clock with the event. The Nile rises at a certain time, the last frost is past when such and such constellation is in the sky, and so on. This means that it seems to work, in a broad sense. The flaw is that it assumes these events are influenced by those astronomical markers.

    And, of course, the ancient reasoning was that if astronomical phenomena could influence the flooding of the Nile and the seasons, then it should influence other events as well. And if you dare to delve into the matter deeper, it looks as though they tried to explain how the theory didn’t hold up by incorporating the movement of the visible planets and the Greek theory of four elements.

    But it persists, despite the railings of preachers and scientists, despite the fact that it doesn’t work. When we finally colonize Alpha Centauri, I fully expect someone to fret about how they’re going to cast a horoscope.

  21. MikeinJapan

    @andyo

    Discredited NAZI pseudoscience in fact! But yes, that whole idea has been thoroughly discredited, but still… you can’t let something like logic get in the way of your beliefs, right? lawl. Regular Astrology is also extremely popular here. It might have something to do with city lights obscuring the night sky everywhere except maybe in some deep mountain valley. I can literally see 4 stars at night here (and I’m in the booooooooooonies).

    Video was hilarious, especially the last guy.

  22. Nicole

    LOL! That whole thing was so funny. I can’t pick a favorite part, expect maybe “astronomy is like AIDS.” WTF??

    Does astronomy kill people? Actually… I remember hearing the sad story of an astronomer who was working on a telescope dome in Arizona, and the dome started moving and killed him. At the VLA they have become very, very, very cautious about locking the telescopes down when anyone has to work on them. But I digress…

    Debunking astrology? Precession. ‘Nuff said.

  23. IBY

    I can only think of one way they can use the excuse of astronomy killing people, which is: astronomy led to people exploring space, which killed a few people, ergo, astronomy killed them.

  24. Nemo

    andyo:

    it seems on the surface that it’s somewhat true

    Confirmation bias.

    quasidog: I didn’t understand how you could say that astrology “permeates our society”, until I saw the word “pub”. I guess things are different in your corner of the world. :) Here in the U.S., the astrology craze seems to have peaked in the 70’s. No one has ever asked me for my sign. I admit, there are still a lot of astrology columns in the papers, but my impression is that few people really get worked up about it — it’s more like knitting.

    Religion in the U.S., on the other hand…

  25. Noam

    “Being a cancer I’m naturally crabby” was probably the funniest line in this movie! But the entire thing was mildly amusing. Why only mildly? Because I couldn’t stop thinking that someone might see this on youtube and actually TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!!!!!! Then we would be truly buggered!

  26. andyo

    Nemo:

    I never believed in it, and it doesn’t work with me (I wasn’t born nor raised in Japan), but yet it does seem to me that the ones who believe in it actually behave as they believe they should. I actually try to see opposite behavior but more often than not I end up agreeing that this or that type A guy is an uptight bastard or that B-girl is easy-going. What I think it’s also possible though is that it’s just chance, cause the great majority of Japanese are only either A or B.

    If not chance, I think it’s more than confirmation bias, they are so sure they should be behaving in some way and they’re being told practically since they are able to understand words, that they end up doing it.

    Of course it’s not a scientific theory, but I think it’s plausible.

  27. Samantha Vimes

    :) Yes, I love telling people I’m an Ophicius when I’m asked about my Zodiac sign. It always makes them curious and I explain to them how a 13th constellation was thrown out because 12 is so much easier to divide and systemize. I *hope* some of them would think about it and realize that shows how meaningless it is.

  28. Blaidd Drwg

    IMHO, about the only thing that would have made this better would be if the last scene, where the poor astrologer is standing dejected, would be if the camera had zoomed out to reveal that he was standing in a crop circle…

  29. Thomas Siefert

    Astrology is a load of nonsense, but then again that’s something a Taurus like me would typically say….

  30. KC

    Samantha Vines:

    In the interest of historical accuracy, the astronomical boundaries of the constellations were revised in 1930 by Eugene Delporte. This, of course, means that the argument that the Sun, Moon, and planets pass through more than twelve constellations isn’t valid – and an astrologer can pounce on that.

    Another surprisingly weak argument is, oddly enough, the precession of equinoxes. Astrologers know this. Tropical Astrologers believe that the zodiac divisions laid down in Roman times reflect that point in the season rather than the actual constellation. This is the astrology most people mean when they say “astrology.” Sidereal Astrologers claim that you must take the precession of equinoxes into account. It’s a point of debate in the astrology community.

    What actually matters is *does it work as advertised.* It doesn’t. Astrologers are keen to cast horoscopes to show why an event occurred. To date I don’t know a single one who is documented as predicting the 2004 Tsunami, 9/11, etc., in advance.

  31. KC

    Nemo:

    Like interest in a lot of paranormal junk, interest in astrology waxes and wains. A few years ago I saw, at a WalMart check out, the book “Astrology for Dummies.” I came close to taking a picture of it and sending it to Randi as an example of truth in advertising (but that’s snide and inaccurate, for while astrology is a bad theory, some otherwise intelligent people have been sucked into it to varying degrees, some only to the extent of how they plant their garden). It may or may not be on the upswing again.

    These things seem to crop up when there’s disillusionment with established institutions. We may be faced with an upsurge in astrology.

  32. As an A-positive Aquarius born on the eve of the Tet Offensive as the Year of the Goat was drawing to a close to make way for the Year of the Monkey, I loved that video.

    “Martin Luther, and the burning of the books…Marx…and the rebellion against Marx…”

    Random Historical Nonsense Guy was my favorite. He looked so earnest. I also like Starry-Eyed Hippie Chick, ’cause she was cute. And I probably know just enough about Astrology to have a coversation with her.

    “Does astronomy kill people?” Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done some ill-advised stargazing while driving…

  33. I thought it was hysterical how they wove the domestic terror attacks of 9/11 into that! There is nothing more funny that you could add in a spoof on evolution! It’s just so appropriate and meaningful. Well done!!!!!!

  34. Drama

    hahaha! I love the “shock” image parodies: Hitler, Abu Ghraib, 9/11. Too great (and sadly, too accurate)!

  35. IBY

    I can only think of one way they can use the excuse of astronomy killing people, which is: astronomy led to people exploring space, which killed a few people, ergo, astronomy killed them. :) nice logic, eh?

  36. Deepak

    Do we really need to do this? Should astronomy and science grow or get recognized by making fun of ID and astrology? Why can’t we just let those fields thrive as it is? I havent seen an astrologer making fun of science. Then why do scientist with so much education behind them always enjoy making fun of other fields like astrology. Are we pulling ourselves up or down? or do we do this to hide our failure to find answers to the basic questions about the universe?

    Let us take it that astrology is a complete nonsense, meaningless and has no truth. Isnt the String Theory, M Theory, Parallel Universe, Wormholes are also big time nonsense? 10 dimensions? Who has seen it? Where is the evidence and proof ? All kind of nonsense under the Chapter ‘Science’ is ok but not ‘Astrology’.

    Lets get real and get behind the true science and not behind this unwanted debate about ID or Astrology.

  37. Deepak, comparing string theory to astrology only demonstrates your complete lack of knowledge about the former, I’m afraid.

    WOT: Dr Who was brilliant again last night, and to think that the whole episode was carried by Donna. The nay-sayers to this season will have to eat their hats soon…

  38. JackC

    How very odd that I happened to be watching Cosmos regarding Astrology at the moment I chose to view this. Coincidence? I think not.

    Also – Ophiucus as a sign! I love it. I hate it when my lack of creativity shows – I always just said “Yield” when asked that question!

    JC

  39. If an alien from a distant star visited Earth, would its daily life be influenced by its own “star sign” from its native system, or by our local heavenly bodies, taking into account the Earth date on which the alien was born? If the latter, how should we account for the invalidity of simultaneity, as described in relativity? Would this alien be reading the horoscopes in our own newspapers, or getting its own journals shipped in from home just in case?

    I think we should be told.

  40. quasidog

    @ Nemo .. ‘quasidog: I didn’t understand how you could say that astrology “permeates our society”, until I saw the word “pub”. I guess things are different in your corner of the world.’

    My corner of the world is Australia. So yeah .. we don’t have the religious extremism problem to the extent you do, but we sure do have a lot of astrology. Not a day goes by where I do not encounter it in some form.

  41. Nemo

    Deepak: Everything an astrologer does makes fun of science.

  42. Davidmabus, you’re such a Christian.

    “Blasphemer” AND “atheist”? How does that work?

  43. davidlpf

    That is the thrid time I have seen that same message from mr mabus at skepchik and here.

  44. davidlpf

    ok I forget to mention pzs and there here is under a different name.

  45. DLC

    Hmm… If i can, I’ll pick a sign of a constellation that isn’t visible in the northern hemisphere, where Astrology seems to have gotten it’s start.

  46. Thomas Siefert

    For a scary ride just google: davidmabus

  47. davidlpf

    21 pages of google results and counting.

  48. Captain Obvious

    Those scam artists insist that Mind and Matter act in ways that show *each other*.

    They claim that particular configurations of matter correlate with particular kinds of mind.

    They lie!

    Correlation between matter and mind can’t be the case within a body, among many bodies, or throughout the universe ( as astrology would indicate ).

    Mind doesn’t exist.

    Behaviour exists, but “spirit” or “free will”?

    The liars will stop at nothing to delude the whole world, and should be put down, so that matter can rule itself without their ignorance and new age religions.

  49. Benjamin

    Ummm….Phil, you’re exhausted because you were out to all hours watching P&T and being the social butterfly that you are. I still hadn’t adjusted from EST to PST so after learning that the boobs at Rub’s BBQ weren’t giving away free desserts as per the ticket stub, I scurried back to my bed and am now home to a still rainy Columbus, IN.

    By the way it was nice meeting you and I’m sorry that no name hack Tyson stole all of your ideas.

    Benjamin

    P.S. Don’t forget to follow up on the GIANT GLOWING CROSS OF DOOM. Thanks!

  50. Mark Hansen

    @davidmabus:
    It’s time to:
    1) Use more drugs
    2) Use less drugs
    3) Use prescribed drugs correctly
    4) Use a doctor to prescribe drugs correctly
    Please select whichever choice is most appropriate.

    @deepak
    It’s called humour. Just because it was put together by scientician-type people doesn’t mean it has to be humourless. And as for letting something as ridiculous as ID thrive, I’ll have to assume you were joking.

  51. This is a test, since I got Firefox 3

    If it gets through I will post my further thoughts later,

  52. Helioprogenus

    Let me just say that I’m impressed by how hot that red headed chick is. She’s Earth shatteringly beautiful, but sadly, I’m probably not her sign. Seriously though, if she’s so satirically rational, wow, I’d really like to meet her. Maybe we can discuss the Ekpyrotic theory over a cup of increasingly entropic coffee.

  53. You mean decreasingly entropic coffee… ;-)

  54. JamesTCA

    “I’m a Cancer so naturally I’m crabby.”

    LOL

  55. quasidog

    I laughed at that too. I laughed more that I have encountered a very similar line from an ex girlfriend. I am a Cancer also, but she said that was why I was ‘in my shell’ ….. she was dead serious.

  56. George Kopeliadis

    There is no much fuss about astrology and much less about ID or creationism here in Greece and in Europe in general (I think). Whenever astrology comes to public debate it is under the prism that there are people exploited by astrologists taking as fact that astrology is a non scientific game. This doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t talking about it or take in consideration it’s sayings.

  57. KC

    There’s not that much fuss about astrology here, either. It lurks beneath the surface. From my limited observation it’s the same in Europe. Most people’s interest is a perverse habit of checking their horoscope in the newspaper. Some by these astrology magazines. Others almanacs for planting by the moon signs. Very few actually get a horoscope cast.

    As a case in point, note that so far I was the only one here to mention that there exists Tropical and Sidereal Astrology and why the precession of equinoxes argument doesn’t work and how the astronomical boundaries of the constellations changed in 1930. If there were a great fuss about astrology, then these things would be common knowledge.

  58. Darth Robo

    A virtual beer for Mark Hansen!

    ;)

  59. Please don’t feed either the concern troll nor the insane troll.

    To those commenters who thought that “as a Cancer I’m naturally crabby” was the funniest line, as well as those who thought that the redhead was a hottie:
    I completely concur on both points!

    FUN FACT #2:
    The guy who made this video has a one man show where he dresses up as Jesus.

    Thanks Phil!

  60. It’s been two days since Phil updated, and there’s even a trolling anti-Randi freakshow. I’m fairly certain Phil has been assasinated.

    As for the troller, he accuses us of being a robot zombie. HELLO??? I would LOVE to be a robot zombie! The only thing cooler than a robot-zombie is a zombie-robot! Also, wolfman.

  61. «bønez_brigade»

    Several shots in that video appear to be taken at Griffith Park Observatory in L.A.

  62. scott

    is it just me or does the guy in the glasses with teh beard look like Kevin Smith??????

  63. azadirachta

    Yes, viewing this clip should convince anyone that Astrology is for quacks and kooks.
    That does not mean there are not serious deep-thinking people studying the subject.
    John Addey wrote the book Harmonics in Astrology, which gives a theory for a scientific basis of astrology based on wave theory, and
    offers an explanation for the statistically significant correlations found by Michel Gaugelin relating to professions and certain astrological correspondences associated with those professions.
    Astrology, looked at simply as Sun signs, is a joke, but more serious study has been done and the subject itself is certainly not a joke.
    Look up the work of John Nelson, a radio astronomer who’s work in the 1940’s and 50’s established a connection between shortwave radio blackouts and certain astrological configurations.
    http://www.solsticepoint.com/astrologersmemorial/nelson.html
    “Nelson had to make four forecasts every day–120 a month–for RCA. Once he discovered the importance of heliocentric aspects, his rate of accuracy for a given month often reached 90 percent or better. Although he found some correlation between geocentric planetary aspects and radio weather, it was the heliocentric aspects that allowed him to make such consistently accurate predictions of radio weather.”
    “Nelson found the strongest aspects to be those long familiar to astrologers–the conjunction, opposition, trine and square, derived from dividing 360 degrees by 1, 2. 3, and 4. Of almost equal strength, and of a generally benign nature, were the sextile, semisextile and inconjunct. He found that other multiples of 7.5 and 18 degrees could offer support and confirmation for the major. aspects, but alone could not predict either good or poor radio weather.”
    The dividing of the circle and use of fractional aspects (such as multiples of 18 degrees) is the basis of harmonic astrology.
    Not understanding a subject can clearly lead to ignorance of that subject.
    To simply pile on the fringe aspects of the astrological community, without checking out verifiable research, is not in keeping with the scientific method nor the open-mindedness needed for an objective look at the subject.

  64. azadirachta

    # KCon 22 Jun 2008 at 6:59 am
    To date I don’t know a single one who is documented as predicting the 2004 Tsunami, 9/11, etc., in advance.

    The Astrologer Robert Hand did predict 9/11. Look it up.

  65. Darth Robo

    >>>”The Astrologer Robert Hand did predict 9/11. Look it up.”

    Nope, Lynne Palmer was the only one who did.

    http://bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/other_stories/documents/02048780.htm

    Couldn’t have been luck, of course.

    In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.

  66. Some Canadian Skeptic, I believe you overlooked the coolness factor of robot zombie pirates. Riding cybernetic zombie whales.

  67. Harold,
    “Some Canadian Skeptic, I believe you overlooked the coolness factor of robot zombie pirates. Riding cybernetic zombie whales.”

    That’s just silly.

    Now if they were carrying vampire-guns, that might be different.

    FYI, a vampire-gun is not a gun used to shoot and kill vampires, nor is it a gun that vampires use. It’s a gun that shoots vampires out of the barrell.

    Very dangerous.

  68. JokeR

    Fun fact?

    Is’nt that a Dave Letterman gimmick? ;-)

  69. StevoR

    Well I just wish astronomy would replace astrology in our daily papers!

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