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Is Astrology False? Yes. Does it Matter? Skeptical Inquirer Consults the Chart

June 17, 2016

Astrology has been disproved time and again through decades of vast and comprehensive studies, and yet its adherents remain unfazed. In Skeptical Inquirer, Geoffrey Dean builds upon his already-exhaustive research from thirty years ago to show that despite astrology having been thoroughly discredited, for many it still appears to them to have validity.

Dean and colleagues have for forty years been poring over every available controlled study on astrology, some of truly sweeping scope (including one set of 30,000 people and 300,000 points of data), all of which failed to show any truth to the claims of astrology. Nonetheless, defenders of the practice remain stalwart. “Their books, classes, and conferences are not built on evidence but on opinions based on opinions based on opinions, thus perpetuating the seeing of faces in clouds,” writes Dean. “Millennia have not wearied them.”

The reason has less to do with astrology’s predictive powers and more to do with the simple human need for meaning. “To many people, astrology is a wonderful thing: a complex and beautiful construct that draws their attention to the heavens, making them feel they are an important part of the universe.” Dean concludes that “astrology does not need to be true in order to seem to work.”

Also in the July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer: Physicist Sadri Hassani dispels the often intentional misreading of Einstein’s E=mc2 equation, abused by the purveyors of pseudoscience to support false ideas of “mystical energy” and the existence of the soul—ideas that Hassani says must be “vigorously and publicly rebutted.” Hassani writes that the word energy has now acquired “a mystical halo comparable to words such as holism, consciousness, natural, and wholesome.” But he insists, “No connection exists between the soul-matter equivalence of mysticism and the energy-mass equivalence of relativity.”

PLUS: Benjamin Radford dissects the conspiracy mongering of Donald Trump; Joe Nickell investigates the mysteries of Jesse James; Matthew Nisbet warns of the partisan divide over Zika virus fears; Massimo Pigliucci and Russ Dobler visit a CUNY art exhibit inspired by Skeptical Inquirer, and much more.

This issue of Skeptical Inquirer is available on newsstands and in the Apple, Google, and Amazon app stores. For more information, visit http://www.csicop.org/si.