The Science Explorer Logo

Explainer: Is There Any Science Behind Astrology?

A hospital in Argentina is reportedly using astrology to help treat some mental health conditions.

| 2 min read

Looking at the star signs from a scientific standpoint.

A hospital in Argentina is reportedly using astrology to help treat some mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, by giving patients an understanding of their astrological personalities. The guidance is given based on the patient’s sign — whether he or she is an Aries, Taurus, or so forth — and the leading astrologist develops a star chart for each patient.

Unsurprisingly, the astrology workshop is being met with criticism over its scientific validity.

Diego Andrés Golombek, a professor at the University of Quilmes in Argentina, told Quartz, “Astrology can be harmless, of course, unless it gives directions and instructions into how to proceed with, for example, an illness or medical treatment.”

SEE ALSO: 6 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Science on the Internet

“And, indeed, having such a program organized by a hospital leads into the completely false assumption that astrology might have some kind of scientific background which, of course, it completely lacks. I am horrified by this prospect!”

So, based on the evidence (or lack thereof), is there any real science to support astrology?

There are a few foundational ways to evaluate whether a concept is scientific, and the University of California, Berkeley’s Understanding Science website lays out a “Science checklist.”

1. Does astrology use testable ideas?

For something to have a true scientific basis, it has to encompass testable ideas. However, as Understanding Science explains, “Some expectations generated by astrology are so general that any outcome could be interpreted as fitting the expectations; if treated this way, astrology is not testable.”

2. Does it rely on evidence?

There haven’t been many studies that investigate the science behind astrology, but of the few that have, the results have failed to support the validity of astrological views. For instance, a study tested the accuracy of astrological charts in describing the personality traits of 193 study participants, and the results indicated that the scores were at a level consistent with chance.

So far, it can’t be said that astrology relies on replicable scientific evidence — and replicability is a must for an idea to prove itself as valid.

3. Does it attempt to explain the natural world?

Yes, astrology’s basic premise is that the sun, moon, planets, and constellations have an effect on humans and earthly events. Further, it uses a set of rules about the relative positions and movements of the stars and planets to predict and explain worldly events and human personality.

However, as Understanding Science explains, “Although astrologers seek to explain the natural world, they don't usually attempt to critically evaluate whether those explanations are valid — and this is a key part of science.”

Plus, astrology doesn’t lead to ongoing research, which is another key part of science.

So, unfortunately for everyone who swears their daily horoscope is always on point or blames their stubbornness on being a Scorpio or a Taurus, it appears that there’s not much scientific evidence to back those claims. Until then, astrology will have to remain in the realm of pseudoscience.

You should read this next: Science Explainer: Why GMOs Aren’t Harmful to Your Health

Related Content