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\"Horoscopes are Bogus but They Work\" (Demo, Podcast)

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Voice Over • Podcasting


Believing that heavenly bodies could impose their power on humanity, people have lent fateful meaning to moons, planets, and the position of stars.

But what explains why so many are drawn to horoscopes?

Discover that and more on the podcast, \"The Pleasure of Finding Things Out\".

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Vocal Characteristics



Voice Age

Young Adult (18-35)


Canadian (West), North American


Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
horoscopes are bogus, but they work. I've written something for you. An analysis of your personality. Listen carefully and note how many accurately describe you. You tend to be critical of yourself. Mhm. You need other people to like you. You have a great deal of unused potential. While you have some personality weaknesses, you compensate for them. You tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you doubt you've made the right decision. You prefer a certain amount of change and are dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept other statements without satisfactory proof. Mm. You have found it unwise to be honest and revealing yourself to others. At times you were extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you're introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Mhm security is one of your major goals in life. Mhm Believing that heavenly bodies could impose their power on humanity, people have lent fateful meaning two moons planets and the position of stars using the tropical zodiac. Western astrology figures that the sun, moon and planets, if analyzed correctly, can tell you about yourself This is a gross simplification, just the first layer. We often hear of the sun signs like Leo, Aries or Gemini, plucking predictions from a newspaper to help guide our work week. But there are planets to consider, which is why some might recall hearing of mercury, the planet of communication. Being in retrograde, though few know that Jupiter is the planet of luck or that Mars is the planet of passion. Even fewer might know of the 12 houses, which governs such things as our health, our subconscious and our partnerships. Elements are also assigned to the major signs and houses, and those fraught with internal conflict might be on the cusp of two Zodiac signs the fabric of their DNA confused, beset between beginnings and ends. And while reading any to newspaper horoscopes might result in competing predictions, different lucky numbers and ideas that don't align, we often can't help but find that sometimes they're right as well. If we don't really believe in astrologically predicted personality traits, we undeniably see a bit of ourselves hidden away in them. And despite repeated studies proving inconsistencies with horoscopes and astrologers, astrology is more popular than ever. That list of characteristics I read about you before. Well, over 70 years ago, Bertram Forer gave a similar list to 39 of his students, who noted how relevant and accurate the descriptions were. They were shocked at how well the traits reflected their characteristics. At the time, they didn't know they'd received an identical list. What's most interesting is that despite their differences in age, sex, life experiences, beliefs, despite any factor at all, each student felt the characteristic spoke to them personally. But what explains how these bright students felt drawn to these statements to feel these statements expressed their hidden Selves. As it turns out, writing nebulous descriptions enables people to cherry pick the attributes that fit them. Best to say that at times you're extroverted while at other times you are reserved provides the option for the extremes as well as the middle ground. Even those that consider themselves sociable have moments where they've been a bit wary, unsure or reserved more often than not. From that wiggly hazy description, we will conjure up the notion that befits us, which in a way comes down to how clever we are at pattern association and how easy it is to lean into our own vanity. We've all had times of doubt unsure. If we've made the right decision, we might fall in some choices for weeks, months or even years. So when given a notion like you found it unwise to be frank in revealing yourself to others, well, you can likely recall an event when speaking your true heart lead to an unsatisfying, perhaps painful, conclusion. This sense of purposefully vague personality traits Feeling Tailored is known as the Pollyanna principle. The tendency for people to more readily agree with remember and focus on pleasant items and events. It was used to great effect during P. T. Barnum's Day, when soothsayers, palm readers and fortune tellers would peddle paranormal gifts instead of skepticism, people would internalize and interpret the vague predictions in a manner that best spoke to them. This also explains why, when given a set of horoscopes and asked to choose which one best describes them, people are unable to differentiate between their astrological sign and any other for that given day because it's intentional. Part of what made forest test so useful beforehand was that he'd given the class of personality test and told them that the traits were bespoke, tailored to their exact person. Sure, the vagaries weren't meant to identify the students. They were written to speak to their inner desires. They played off common worries. How people hope to be perceived. This is why, in times of stress, people often turn to astrology to the words and predictions of others. They help us cope. They help us find a path. They focus our energies so we can move away from instability. The current resurgence of astrology has been directly linked to the troubling woes of debt, current political strife, our inability to afford housing, of a seemingly ignored looming environmental crisis and of global wealth inequality. And that's the compelling reason why people turn to pseudoscience and predictions because, surprisingly, if we believe in them, they can be effective. And this this is the pleasure of finding things out.