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  • Astrology is one of the world's oldest natural

  • sciences.

  • From the dawn of time, humans have looked up at the stars and wondered about the future.

  • Cities have been built and wars fought from starry information handed out by cryptic astrologers.

  • But are we naïve to believe in the alignment of the stars to predict our future?

  • Is this really a science?

  • Perhaps we should take more responsibility for our actions rather than believing it was

  • all in the stars.

  • Are we simply too afraid of the future to put behind these ancient practices?

  • Are astrology, crystal-balls, and tarot cards simply explanations for what appears random

  • and scary?

  • Let's find out, in this episode of the Infographics showThe Barnum EffectWhy do people

  • believe in horoscopes?

  • The Barnum Effect, coined in 1956 by psychologist Paul Meehl, is an everyday psychological phenomenon

  • whereby people believe that advice based on supernatural or quasi-scientific knowledge

  • is specific to them, when in actual fact, it is generic information that could apply

  • to anyone.

  • We, as humble human beings, are generally predisposed to believe vague yet positive

  • descriptions of our personality, especially if the descriptions foreshadow desirable future

  • events.

  • The Barnum Effect explains why millions of people subscribe to astrology, fortune telling,

  • tarot cards, and online personality tests each and every day.

  • The term Barnum Effect comes from the “a sucker is born every minutephrase widely

  • attributed to the American showman PT Barnum.

  • Barnum, born on July 5th, 1891, is fondly remembered for promoting outlandish hoaxes

  • and for founding the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

  • He travelled the world collecting human oddities, or freaks, to be exhibited for a fee.

  • He introduced the world to General Tom Thumb, The Four-Legged Girl, Pinhead, The Siamese

  • Twins, The Living Torso, and, let's not forget The Wild Men of Borneo.

  • Barnum, who was also an author, publisher and philanthropist, may not have been responsible

  • for thesucker born every minutephrase at all.

  • In fact, it is unlikely that a businessman as successful as Barnum would actually mutter

  • such words.

  • Why would he publically insult his client base?

  • It is more plausible that the actualsuckerquote came from rival businessman, David Hannum,

  • who had been one-upped by Barnum in exhibiting a fake giant in New York.

  • Hannum was in possession of a model of a fake giant that Barnum wanted to buy from him to

  • exhibit.

  • Hannum wouldn't sell the fake giant, and Barnum went on to build his own fake that

  • he exhibited with great success.

  • Hannum was probably referring to Barnum's business model of aggressively promoting and

  • displaying hoaxes, including the fake giant scam, when he uttered the sentence “a sucker

  • is born every minute.”

  • Since living in caves, humans have come to believe in astrology.

  • We all seek some kind of order or sense for the random events that happen in our lives.

  • Since the beginning of time, we have been scared of the future and have felt vulnerable

  • to the chaotic disorder of everyday life.

  • We need to travel back 4,000 years to look at the first organized system of astrology

  • that arose during the Babylonian age during the 2nd millennium.

  • The Babylonians were the first to describe the 12 zodiac signs.

  • The Egyptians refined this system, before the Greeks took ahold of it and shaped it

  • into its modern form.

  • During Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia, the Greeks were introduced to the cryptic

  • cosmological systems of Syria, Babylon, and Persia, and made them their own.

  • In the modern world, astrology is just as popular with almost all magazines and newspapers

  • having astrological sections.

  • Thousands of websites are devoted to telling our fortunes, and according to a study, 58

  • percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 believe astrology is scientific.

  • In fact, the same study suggested that skepticism of astrology is on the decrease.

  • Why is this?

  • Well, astrology may excuse us for our less positive traits or actions.

  • We can blame being late for a meeting on the Full Moon in Aquarius, or justify splitting

  • with an unsuitable romantic partner because our star signs unfortunately clashed.

  • Horoscopes are convenient everyday distractions that make us feel good about the world around

  • us.

  • Let's take a look at personality descriptions of one of the star signs at random, say, Capricorn.

  • Capricorn women have a cool, standoffish charm.

  • Elegant and glacial, they may seem unapproachable.

  • Actually, this is a mask to hide their vulnerability.”

  • Here the first group of adjectives, “standoffish”, “elegant”, “unapproachable”, andglacial,”

  • are the types of words one might use to describe a movie-star or modeland who doesn't

  • want to be described as a movie star?

  • The description goes on to explain, “Actually, this is a mask to hide their vulnerability.”

  • So what is happening here?

  • The description does a complete 180, and discredits what it has already told us, leaving us confused

  • in the mix and in a position to cherry-pick those attributes we would rather have.

  • The description moves on toCapricorns are afraid of losing face.”

  • Well who really isn't afraid of losing face?

  • Theyfear criticism.”

  • Again who out there actually enjoys being criticized?

  • And concludes with the totally generic - “she expects the best from her children.”

  • Moms of the world, please raise your hands, those of you who expect the worst from your

  • children.

  • No hands raised?

  • Right.

  • While most of us realize that reading and believing your horoscope is a little, let's

  • say, naïve, can astrology and astronomy actually be dangerous?

  • Well if you happened to have been a child born in pre-Columbian Maya culture right up

  • to the Spanish conquest in the 17th century, your fate could well have been determined

  • by the stars.

  • The Mayan religion blended several aspects of nature, astronomy, and rituals.

  • They developed calendars around the stars and the planets, and built astronomical buildings

  • where they practiced human sacrifice rituals.

  • They used a number of methods including heart extraction, shooting with arrows, and the

  • placing of the sacrificial live body into a ball for a ritual reenactment of the Mesoamerican

  • ballgame, followed swiftly by mandatory disembowelment.

  • Nope.

  • You won't see that in your Marie Claire horoscope.

  • Statistics show that over 90% of Americans know their star sign and as many as 50% read

  • their horoscopes, but it is not really clear how many actually believe what they read.

  • Perhaps horoscopes are consumed more as entertainment nowadays, with a group of hard-core fixed

  • believers in the minority.

  • So, what do you think?

  • Do you believe in your horoscope?

  • Can we really tell our future from the stars?

  • Let us know in the comments!

  • Also, be sure to check out our other video called What if The Whole World Suddenly Went

  • Blind?

  • Thanks for watching, and, as always, don't forget to like, share, and subscribe.

  • See you next time!

Astrology is one of the world's oldest natural

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B1 US astrology sucker effect star born giant

The Barnum Effect - Why Do People Believe In Horoscopes?

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    Samuel posted on 2018/04/21
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