The Fault in Our Stars: Should You Believe in Astrology?
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Long before AI based weather models were used to predict rain and drought, astrology was used to predict the future for centuries. Kings believed that by seeking the insights of astrologers, they could gain a better understanding of the cosmic forces at play and make more informed decisions.
Over a period of time, astrology moved beyond the confines of royal courts and today it is manifested in the form of horoscope reports in newspapers, matchmaking and people’s attribution of personality traits based on sun signs. Global astrology industry is on the rise partly because of the pandemic and mental health issues faced by people. Technology has also played as a catalyst. Based on AI and machine learning, astrology services have become more accessible for younger people.
I have had a mixed personal experience with astrology. When I was in class 12?? my mother took me to an astrologer. She was really worried about my academic performance because my grades had fallen and the likelihood of me getting into a decent college were getting slimmer.
The astrologer went through my horoscope and asked me to chant a mantra 3 times every day and made me wear two rings, one for prosperity and one to negate the effects of a particular planet. After a year I got admission into one of the top engineering colleges.
Six years later, we again went to the same astrologer. This time, my mother wanted me to take his blessings and guidance so that I could make the right career choice. He told me I should pursue a degree in MBA and not even think of writing the civil services examination, which I felt was my true calling. This time I did not listen to his advice and went on to clear the civil services exam in my second attempt.
Various arguments are put forward to question astrology's scientific authenticity. These arguments include the generic nature of predictions and the tendency to focus on the few accurate ones while disregarding the numerous incorrect predictions. Critics also highlight the significant distance of celestial objects from humans and their minimal physical influence on us as per the laws of physics. However, it would be unfair to completely dismiss astrology based solely on these factors.
We often turn to astrologers when we face challenges in life. An astrologer offers us three things i.e. comfort by listening to us without judgement and giving a reasoning to why something bad is happening, predictability by explaining the planetary charts and what can be expected in the future and promise that the situation would get better if certain steps are followed. These three elements can certainly assist individuals in navigating challenging times with relative ease, even if the predictions do not turn out to be entirely accurate.
The belief that date of birth and celestial objects determine key parts of someone's personality has always been popular but the recent trend of younger people flocking to astrologers may come as a surprise. Despite scepticism from the scientific community, there has been increased interest of younger people in astrology recently.
They are reaching out to astrologers for help on issues such as career guidance, matters of wealth, love life and matchmaking. It is ironical because on one hand millennials and GenZ seem to be less attracted towards organised religion and rituals and enshrine the principles of logic and rationality, on the other hand they are seeking solace and certainty in life through astrology.
Seeking comfort, predictability, and hope for a brighter future is an inherent human trait. During prosperous times, it is simple to disregard astrology as a means to avoid confronting problems directly and relying on others to solve them. However, in times of crisis, individuals are willing to find solace and comfort from any source that provides relief. Therefore, an individual’s belief in astrology will be based on their unique life experiences. It is important, though, to exercise caution and avoid falling into superstition or being taken advantage of by unethical practitioners.
It is crucial to emphasize that in challenging situations, there is no replacement for personal effort. It often takes considerable time and perseverance for things to improve; they rarely get better on their own. Even astrologers acknowledge that during difficult phases, one must exert additional effort to achieve desired outcomes. Once an individual has given their best, they have no choice but to have faith in the guidance of their chosen deity or guru.
(Ravi Singh is an author and an IRS officer. All views expressed in this article are personal)