Daniel S. Griffin


24 July 2017 - Berkeley

I received an astrology lesson in yoga today that left me wondering whether there is more than meets the eye.

Now, don’t get me confused. I will loudly decry superstition and magic.

Rather, I’m pondering what sort of organizational/conceptual, and so effective, advantages that might accrue when people have and use terms. Terms like “fep”, “wug”, and “zav” bucket reality, even artificially, (or cleave nature at artificial joints) and yet return some advantage. I’m slightly motivated by some of Lombrozo’s work re explanations, but I’m just getting into it and hesitate to make any hypotheses.

It seems like epicycles* within astrology, while serving no causal predictive value, may help users grapple with their reality. I hope this is in no way seen as a claim of any mechanism of action for astrology in itself. Rather, a mechanism for belief in and use of astrology (perhaps with effects visible alongside evident confirmation/desirability biases).

Scientific terms may be more useful, but tests against true-believers may be frustrated by their granularity in description & so perception.

Disclaimer: It is entirely possible someone has researched this and my minimal efforts to find it were insufficient. ‘Tis pure speculation.

* Here I mean the layers of perfectly ambiguous descriptions in a horoscope that can be used to label particulars.

See also: slithy-toves and squeegees

Original storming on Twitter.