Sunday, January 18, 2015


Some people think astrology is a science – here's why
Jul 02 2014,

["Astrology" vs. "Horoscopes", essentially]

According to the Wellcome Trust Monitor Survey, 21% of adults in Britain read their horoscopes "often" or "fairly often".

From the Wellcome Trust Monitor survey, we know that less than 10% [of the British] think horoscopes are "very" or "quite" scientific. And a similar proportion thinks the same across the European Union as a whole.

However, if we ask people whether they think astrology is scientific, we see a different picture. In a Eurobarometer survey of attitudes towards science and technology, a randomly selected half of respondents were asked how scientific they thought astrology was. The other half were asked the same question about horoscopes.

The results shows a surprising disparity in opinion. More than 25% think that astrology is "very scientific" compared to only 7% for horoscopes. 

In research I carried out a few years ago, I tested the hypothesis that people get confused between astrology and astronomy, and it is this that could account for widespread apparent belief in the scientific status of astrology. Even well-respected national newspapers have been known to make this mistake.

My survey also asked people how scientific they believed various activities to be. One of these was astronomy. Using a statistical technique known as regression analysis, I discovered, after adjusting for age, gender and education, that people who were particularly likely to think that astronomy was very scientific were also very likely to think the same about astrology. This points to semantic confusion about these terms among the general public.

This story is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).

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