Why Do I Still Rant About Astrology?

A few years ago I filmed a vlog ranting about Astrology being nonsense and I’m now revisiting the subject, not because something has changed (it’s still bullshit), but because I think I understand my anger a bit better.

A discussion arose in work concerning the most annoying unfounded beliefs that people have. Antivaxxers are by far the most despised category, costing the lives of thousands of children worldwide. In third place were climate change deniers. Obviously, climate change affects us all, but I feel confident (maybe unfoundedly so) that the momentum towards renewable energy and sustainable development cannot be derailed.

The silver medal of my annoyance goes to people who believe in astrology, and my friends asked me why these people annoy me so much. I had to think about it, but I think my resurgent hate against astrology is because it absolves people of personal responsibility.

Astrology memes have been fairly popular on social media for a few years, but lately I’ve seen a lot more bullshit trying to justify what is happening in the world by turning to astrology.

I’ve seen several popular social media accounts post how the terrible things that happened in August were due to Mercury being retrograde, and you know what? Fuck that. We don’t absolve racist, Nazi sympathizers, and ineffective warmongering orange leaders by saying they’re a consequence of planetary positions in the sky. Absolutely not.

The world is not the shiny shimmering place we might hope, and it’s our responsibility to change it. People blaming planets (or fate or divine providence) are just taking the shortcut of “not my monkeys, not my circus”. Unfortunately it’s everyone’s circus! Cassius is right. The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves.

But since this is a science blog let me give you a nugget of science regarding this retrograde Mercury.

Retrograde means moving backwards. If you believe in astrology, you have to believe that planets move backwards and forwards. That’s because astrology requires the Earth to be at the centre of the universe and (since in reality it isn’t) planets make weird trajectories in the sky.

When you say Mercury is in retrograde you are really saying, “The smallest planet orbiting the Earth has stopped and decided to move backwards for a bit before stopping and moving forwards again.” So I hope you know how stupid you sound.