Monday, 24 January 2011

Wouldn’t it be great if… we did away with Horoscopes?

Now that the Christmas decorations are back in the attic and the champagne hangover is a hazy memory, writers of all publications are singing the dawn of a new year, forecasting absolute rubbish for all those whose daily lives are guided by none other than the media’s interpretation of the star sign under which they were born. How on earth horoscopes merit pages in national newspapers and magazines is beyond me. Graduates from the Politician’s School of Fraudulent Activity, horoscope writers can’t seriously believe in the twaddle that they write. Have you ever noticed that you’re experiencing the same financial woes as every twelfth person you know? Nope, thought not. Call me a cynic (who isn’t these days?) but I, for the sake of human intellectual development, hope to god that there’s not a single soul on earth who reads their horoscope with any illusions of grandeur any more.

January is a perilous time for reading horoscopes. Not only are they everywhere but they also purport to tell you what’s in store for the next twelve months (‘What’s in the stars for your zodiac sign this year’). Not content with giving you monthly or weekly updates, you get a nice little rundown of your life for the next year in about 100 words. Comprehensively well-informed by the movements of Venus, this year I can expect to be mischievous in August under my Taurean star sign. Never one to doubt, and in the name of research, I read on. Big mistake. Apparently, due to my love of good food, 2011 will be the year that I contract throat inflammation and laryngitis. I inform my boyfriend, who reminds me that he is also Taurus, and we foresee a period during which our throats are both so swollen that communication becomes impossible. This would be fine by me, if it wasn’t for that burning ball of perennial optimism, otherwise known as the Sun, expanding my ‘professional options’ at around the same time. Goodness knows the calamity that might ensue.

Thankfully, most sane people are aware that this is, of course, complete nonsense. I don’t dispute that star signs are derived from the zodiac, which is fundamentally an elliptic coordinate system. What I resent is that the popularised personality guessing-games that have become associated with the signs of the zodiac and perpetrated by the media distort the scientific basis of this branch of astrology. I wish some of the things that are written would come true, but there is no factual support for the accuracy of horoscopes and therefore no good reason why you should waste valuable minutes of your life reading them. There is no element of truth involved in horoscopes and I know this for certain, given that the star sign I fall under actually varies from publication to publication. I call myself a Taurus, but in actual fact, my May 21st birthday is on the cusp, so I could really be Gemini. In the past this has led to sad and fairly deranged attempts to assimilate the best parts of each horoscope in order to fashion a perfect life for myself. This practice proved to be as pathetically futile as it sounds, but it does demonstrate the ridiculousness of the horoscope as a medium of pseudo-ontology.

I have often wondered how upstanding publications get away with publishing such psycho-babble. The best answer I have come up with so far is that horoscopes are written for the period ahead, and nobody I know actually goes back and reviews their week/month/year to check for horoscope correlation and anomalous results. Thus the miraculously incorrect prediction goes unnoticed, forgotten and unaccountable. Can you imagine the shock of your personality functioning in a way that the stars didn’t dictate? There is a pervading sense that horoscopes are just a bit of fun, but I can’t help but see their presence as a sign that they are still in demand, as if people would rather read a fictitious story about a life that they will probably never lead, written by someone who they will probably never meet.

We should do away with horoscopes because they are a fallacy. My career prospects don’t look good because Mystic Meg decided that Mars is in conflict with Jupiter, if anything, they look good because I’m writing this column. Luck isn’t pre-destined, we have to fight for it, and horoscopes are symbolic of the pervading complacency that plagues our society. I’d probably be willing to bet money on ending this year free from laryngitis and if my ‘professional options’ (sounds ominous) expand, then it’ll be because I went to an interview of some description. If you do still read and believe in horoscopes, then I hope the stars spell out a nice narrative for you. If you happen to be Libra, you have the pleasure of looking forward to some ‘weird health complaints’ and any Sagittarians should watch out for their ubiquitous ‘expanding waistlines’. Happy New Year!

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