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Can Astrology Really Predict the Future? An Experimental Test

Author: Peggy LaCerra, Ph.D.

Many people believe that astrology actually predicts the future. But does it? In this experiment, we'll put astrology to the test, and explore the relationship between what we believe happens and what actually happens in our lives.

Problem:

Is there any scientific evidence in support of astrology as a valid and accurate predictive system?

Materials:

  • The horoscope section of a newspaper; it can be from any date EXCEPT two day’s prior to the day you run the experiment.
  • Paper, pens and/or pencils.
  • Poster board
  • Glue

Procedure:

  1. Make a key for the zodiac signs by writing the names of twelve different signs on a piece of paper in two rows of six, so that each sign is uniquely paired with another one of the signs.
  2. Cut out of the newspaper the horoscope for each of the zodiac signs, being certain to lightly write the correct name for the horoscope on the back and then cut off the name of the real sign on the front.
  3. Glue each one to a piece of paper and write the name of its "partner sign" on the top of each page. Glue each of the horoscopes to a poster board.
  4. You can run your subjects one at a time, or in a group. Try to recruit a minimum of 30 subjects. Give each subject a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and ask them to write down, at the tope of the page, the percentage of credibility they assign to astrology, with 0% meaning none at all and 100% meaning complete credibility.
  5. Then ask your subject to reflect on the kind of day that they experienced the day before yesterday and some of the key events (they don’t need to write any of this down.
  6. Finally, ask them to read their “horoscope for the day before yesterday” off of the poster board and report the percent accuracy with which the horoscope captured the events of their day, with 0% meaning “not at all accurate” and 100% meaning “completely accurate”.
  7. Collect the data sheets and separate them into two piles: Those that assigned 0% to 50% credibility to horoscopes (the ‘No to Moderate Belief’ group, and those that assigned 51% to 100% credibility to horoscopes (the ‘Moderate to Complete Belief group.
  8. For each group, calculate the average assigned accuracy of the horoscope. Create a bar graph depicting the percent assigned accuracy of a fraudulent horoscope for those who believe strongly in astrology versus those who don’t believe strongly in astrology.
  9. Discuss your results in terms of scientific validity and individual beliefs. Did this experiment test the validity of horoscopes? What percentage of your subjects are ‘believers’? Discuss the reasons why people might continue to believe in astrology or another belief system despite the evidence to suggest that it is invalid.
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