Objections to Astrology
A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists
(The following statement first appeared in The Humanist of September/October 1975.)
Scientists in a variety of fields have
become concerned about the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world.
We, the undersigned--astronomers,
astrophysicists, and scientists in other fields--wish to caution the public against the unquestioning
acceptance of the predictions
and advice given privately and publicly by astrologers. Those who wish to believe in astrology should
realize that there is no
scientific foundation for its tenets.
In ancient times people believed in the predictions and advice of astrologers because astrology was part and parcel of
their magical world view.
They looked upon celestial objects as abodes or omens of the gods and, thus, intimately connected
with events here on earth; they had no concept
of the vast distances from the earth to the planets and stars. Now that these
distances can and have been calculated, we can see how infinitesimally
small are the gravitational and other effects produced
by the distant planets and the far more distant stars. It is simply a mistake to imagine
that the forces exerted by stars and
planets at the moment of birth can in any way shape our futures. Neither is it true that the position of
distant heavenly bodies
make certain days or periods more favorable to particular kinds of action, or that the sign under which one was born
one's compatibility or incompatibility with other people.
Why do people believe in astrology? In these uncertain times
long for the comfort of having guidance in making decisions. They would like to believe in a destiny predetermined by
astral forces beyond their
control. However, we must all face the world, and we must realize that our futures lie in ourselves,
and not in the stars.
One would imagine, in this day of widespread enlightenment and education, that it would be
unnecessary to debunk beliefs based on magic and superstition.
Yet, acceptance of astrology pervades modern society.
We are especially disturbed by the continued uncritical dissemination of astrological charts,
forecasts, and horoscopes
by the media and by otherwise reputable newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. This can only contribute to the
of irrationalism and obscurantism. We believe that the time has come to challenge directly, and forcefully, the
pretentious claims of astrological
It should be apparent that those individuals who continue to have
faith in astrology do so in spite of the fact that there is no
verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there
is strong evidence to the contrary.
(Affiliations, as of 1975, given
for identification only.)
Bart J. Bok, emeritus
Professor of Astronomy
University of Arizona
Lawrence E. Jerome
Santa Clara, California
Professor of Philosophy
SUNY at Buffalo
Signed by 183 others, including 18 Nobel Prizewinners