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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Day I Met The Zodiac Killer

What is Astrology?

   According to Google, it is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.




   Speaking of Google, the usage of astrology today is completely different than it was two decades ago. It used to be passed around in magazines, newspapers and books in grocery store check-out lines. Knowing your sign could ultimately lead you to the person you are "supposed" to spend the rest of your life with. When women would ask their girlfriends about their new flame, it was on the list of questions. "What is his sign?"

   Today, the internet is flooded with the symbols of the Zodiac. Chances are very high that if you have a Facebook account, you already know what type of person you are supposed to be, based on the positions of nuclear explosions... billions of galaxies away. When it is phrased like this, it sounds unrealistic. Do not be alarmed. I am not writing this post to prove astrology is not real. Knowing what I know now, I would be lying to you if I did. 

   I was shocked on my first day of physics when our professor told us what we were about to explore. At twenty-seven, I was the oldest person without a doctorate in the classroom. I enjoyed the initial transition from the Navy, and was actually really excited to be a student again. This time was different. I was going to take notes and ace every test. I was skeptical and optimistic, at the same time. 



As I was wrestling my notebook from by backpack, I heard: 
"Hello. My name is Dr. Murphy. Today we are going to learn about Astrology."



   Initially, it did not register with the majority of the class. Astronomy and astrology are so close in namesake, coupled with the fact that nobody thought they were going to be learning about horoscopes in an institution of higher education.

But... he proceeded: 
"Who here believes in Astrology? Horoscopes? ...Anyone?"

 
 Now, we can all see the skeptics, believers and the shocked.

Only the truly committed five (or six) raised their hands. Everyone else appeared to be either shell-shocked, or in disbelief. I was a mixture of both.

I knew there were more spiritual beings in the crowd, it was only a matter of time before we get to the bottom of this.


    "Alright, this is what we are going to do. I am going to call the numbers one through five. One, means you do not believe at all. Two, means you are leaning towards one. Three will mean that you do not know either way. Four, means you are leaning towards believing. And finally, five will be for people who believe in astrology, without a doubt. Raise your hand when your respective number is called."

   I remembered where we were. We were in a science class. So when he called out the number one, my hand was up with about seven other hands. Two, the score was four.  Three, ten hands. Four, three hands. There was thirty-eight students in this classroom. Twelve students went all-in on astrology on the first day of a science class. How do I remember this? Like I said, I was taking notes. I was serious about this. Looking through my notes now, I notice that one person didn't even raise his hands. Some people are cowards.




   The professor revealed twelve folders (This was before NASA created the 13th Zodiac Sign). He started coming around and asking us for our respective sign. As he was doing this, he told everyone not to talk or look at anyone else's paper. This being the first day of class, everyone was on their best behavior. He got to my desk and I said "Aries." He handed me a copy of what appeared to be a full paged (8.5x11") horoscope. This was more of a description based upon my birthday, and not necessarily a specific days fortune.

   It made all of the usual claims, here are some examples:

You aren't afraid to do something that you think is right, even if everyone else is against you.

If you need something you won't say it because you don't ever want to seem needy.

Despite how self-assured you seem on the outside, you are always afraid you are being judged.

You do not always manage your anger well, but people close to you know that you mean well.

You try to have a good day because you know when you are angry you can shut the whole world out.

You get the point.

I got caught up on my sign... I was starting to get a little convinced that this was written about me. These horoscopes are pretty close sometimes.

Finally, we all finished reading. It was time for a new vote.  This was the voting:

1 Do not Believe in Astrology           0 People
2 Pretty sure it's not real                    4 People
3 Do not have enough information    5 People
4 Kind of believe in it                       10 people
5 Believe in Astrology                      19 People



"It appears as though people have changed their views a little bit!" Dr. Murphy exclaimed

It didn't feel right going with one after I identified with the horoscope I was provided. I raised my hand for two. I was slowly being convinced that it was real. I kind of wanted it to be real.

He asked a gentlemen sitting in the front, a Capricorn, if he would mind reading his horoscope out loud. What happened next, was a plot twist that nobody saw coming. As he was reading it, about three lines in.... we realized it was the same as ours. But wait, he didn't have Aries. 

We had all been reading the same horoscope.

   Our opinions were changed with no more than a faded copy of a horoscope. All because it had a certain word that we identified with at the top of it. Influenced by the reactions and beliefs of our peers, I shifted my own philosophies closer to the people around me. The thoughts and wisdom that it had taken my entire life to gather, I started to abandon. Why? All because of the writings of an unknown source.

   On the first day of class, our professor had shown us why the scientific method was so important.
   We didn't prove astrology was real or fake. We proved that horoscopes can be misleading. They can be written by anyone, and are typically written in a fashion that only really summarizes common human behaviors.

   I should have voted a three. I have no evidence to suggest it is fake or real. I just know that humans have the capacity to lie, to be creative, to hope, to look up at the stars. We must dream.
   If we aren't applying an objective method of reasoning into our beliefs, and challenging them... we will never know if our ideas hold up to scrutiny.




What are some beliefs or philosophies you have the you struggle to validate?
Please comment below.

-submitted by Chris Hensley

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