The fault in our stars
The constant objective of the human race is to find patterns to make sense of the intricate world around them. From Newton probing why the apple fell to an entire nation trying to understand what in holy hell is up in the state of Tamil Nadu, we are all just searching for meaning. When we don’t find it, we look for miracles.
From the loneliness anxiety which makes certain people conjure UFOs in the air to the divine connection that propels some folk into guru-dom, the interest in the extraordinary fails to die down. It’s not surprising then that the charm of the unknown future gave birth to the ‘science’ of Astrology.
The quotes might betray a sense of irony but a 2004 AP High Court verdict actually allowed Astrology as a subject in UGC Universities. The argument justifying its credentials as a research subject began thus,
Since Astrology is partly based upon study of movement of sun, earth, planets and other celestial bodies, it is a study of science at least to some extent.
Chacha Chaudhary boasted of more scientific logic than that.
Don’t get me wrong. I would absolutely love if horoscopes were gospel and crystal balls were actually mirrors installed along 4-dimensional space-time. But my friend Logic isn’t too keen. Logic doesn’t have a lot of friends due to, among other things, his use of the Latin language - sometimes shouting ad hominem, muttering ‘straw man’ or the stilted ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’. But Logic is (almost) always right.
However, if one sounds even remotely dismissive of astrology, its teeming entourage of bhakts would retort with any of the following:
Astrology is accurate. It’s just that one in a few thousand astrologers really know the art.
What’s the difficult part if the formulas are so clearly laid out? Nobody answers that.
OR you can’t be skeptical since the reason behind astrology may only be understood in the future
a.k.a the argument to kill all other arguments — obviously everything stands a chance of being proven in the future so you cannot dismiss it now. *claps*
OR the oft-repeated ‘but this astrologer I know predicted an unlikely event ONCE’.
Well, these days, if you tell a couple who have come for astrological help that they may have issues or inform a youngster that he will suffer from physical ailments after turning 30, that’s more probability than astrology.
Then there is this divide within the Astrology community (mafia?) over whether the time of conception should be considered or the time of birth. I read this morning that Caesarians have begun to dominate the delivery landscape. So, basically, if time of birth determines our future, your misfortune might have something to do with the silly gynaecologist. If the time of conception is to be considered, 99.9% of the predictions made till date were flukes, and it puts everything back into question.
I am somebody who used to pick up fights with anyone who remotely tried to justify Astrology. However, I have begun to realise the futility of debate since human tendency to fall prey to astrologers is here to stay. Human beings are averse to regret and tend to make irrational choices to minimise this regret. So, when ‘professional’ astrologers tell them not to take a particular job or marry a particular person, the path of least regret is usually to agree. Little do we understand the power of self-fulfilling prophecies.
It’s true that life within the realms of physics is rather mundane. Most of us are drawn by the power of the supernatural and the metaphysical — religion, a benevolent God, astrology, clairvoyants, telekineses and the quest for immortality. One can only hope that belief could stay within the boundaries of sanity. However, it might not be a stretch to say that quest for the metaphysical will sustain till the end of the human race.
That’s a lot of time. Hopefully.