Friday, March 4, 2011

Reading The Stars (Entirely Wrong)

I've been a little reluctant to tackle astrology as a topic here. Scientifically, there's really nothing in it, and the fact that the zodiac everyone's been using turned out to have been a month off and missing a 13th sign didn't exactly help matters. Nor did the ensuing debates over whether the 'new' zodiac was actually new or not, whether only certain age groups should use it, or whether it would ever catch on. Never mind that the altered signs were based on thousands of years of alterations in Earth's position to the sun, and that such positions aren't really up for debate.

At the same time, it's not like it's really hurting anything in the grand scheme of things. It's a fun little thing in the newspaper, it provides something of a mental center for some people, sometimes couples even hook up partially due to having 'compatible' signs. I'm not overly inclined to dump on that.

However, I do enjoys me the stupid people stories.

For today's stupid people story, we have to first bring up another astrology staple, the birth chart. A birth chart maps out the positions of the stars on your time and place of birth. From that, you are supposedly supposed to have your life path predicted.

Apparently, you can get your birth chart here, using the old, fuddy-duddy 12-sign setup. Just for kicks, I did mine. It said, among other things:

Venus in Pisces

Very sentimental. He is easily moved. He is melancholic, romantic. When he loves, it is the most generous of loves.

Weaknesses: risky and confused loves, insane hopes.

Anyone that actually knows me has just busted a gut.

Pluto in Scorpio

Great sexual activity.

Flattery will get you nowhere, birth chart.

-64 Square Moon - Mars

He is very emotional and is driven to do things by his emotions. He does not think things over or through in a given situation. He is irascible and sometimes violent. Marital disputes.

Marital disputes require the presence of marital.

In any case. On to the stupid, originally pulled out of Discarded Science by John Grant. In April 1968, French statistician Michel Gauquelin ran an ad in Ici-Paris for a free horoscope reading. He got 500 replies. Each and every respondent received the exact same birth chart, that of a man named Marcel Petoit. Gauquelin then waited to see what kind of responses he'd get.

94% of those who responded said the chart, including phrases like "instinctive warmth", "adaptable", "organised", "bathed in a sea of sensitivity", "total devotion to others", "altruistic sacrifices", and "endowed with a moral sense which is comforting", fit them to a T. Moreover, when the chart was shown to friends and family, 90% of them agreed as well. If you'd like to see an online version of Petoit's chart, head here.

This would be a good time to mention that Marcel Petoit was beheaded in 1946 for killing 27 people, though he claimed 63. He would sell people an escape route from World War 2 to Argentina, then kill them and steal their stuff.

On the other hand, you never know. Perhaps Gauquelin only got responses from serial killers-for-profit. After all, the online chart does mention being "unconventional" with "a highly profitable career" and "a commanding presence, which instills confidence and wins trust", though not without "constant moral slippage towards excessive aggressiveness".

No comments: