Horoscopes All Say The Same Thing, As If You Needed Another Reason To Put Down The Paper And Live Your Life
Since it's 2015 and now we have real science to tell us that our lives are rather unconnected to the happenings of the stars, I already hoped that people had pretty much given up their bad horoscope habits by now. But if you're still struggling to kick a silly astrology dependency, I've got good (or bad?) news for you: linguistic analysis of horoscope texts suggests that horoscopes basically all say the same thing. According to an analysis of over 22,000 Yahoo horoscopes by data journalist David McCandless (via The Atlantic), their texts are not strongly differentiated by sign. In other words, horoscopes mostly repeat the same things over and over, although the people who have different signs are supposed to have essentially different personality types. Oops.
Check out the whole word cloud of the horoscope analysis (via Information is Beautiful) to visually confirm its results — horoscopes are just word salad, with a few pretty uninteresting exceptions. The words in red are ones that made the top 50 for that astrological sign, and only that astrological sign. But it stands to reason that we'd see some difference between horoscopes for different astrological signs, because there are by now pretty well-established stereotypes about the signs, and astrologers lazily parrot them in their material. The stereotypes just aren't based enough in fact to stay robust, hence the blending of lines between signs across thousands of horoscopes written over time.
The horoscope industry is actually alive and kicking, though, so don't expect them to take this lying down — either the people dishing out horoscopes for sometimes-huge amounts of money, or the people depending on them for a little guidance in an otherwise-tumultuous world. America's favorite astrologer, Susan Miller, attracts 6.5 million visitors to her website every month and has launched herself into the fashion elite via her self-made astrology career. Whatever it means for mercury to be in "retrograde," all hell seems to repeatedly break loose on social media over it, if only as a self-fulfilling prophesy. Investors in India use horoscopes to pick stocks. They might be losing money but, even worse, a horoscope-based matching industry in India also manages to prevent people born under certain signs from marrying who they'd otherwise marry.
However, there's a more charitable understanding of the situation. If horoscopes all say the same thing, then there's a sense in which they actually reflect something true about the world. Though you might wish to be a special snowflake, people are probably more alike than they are different, and they mostly want the same things out of their lives. If it takes a little bit of silly horoscoping to realize that you need a change in your life, or to find a new friend or job or partner, so be it. Just don't spend $700k on a psychic or something, for crying out loud — they'll just read the equivalent of a one-size-fits-all horoscope to you, take your money, and run. I still maintain that the best horoscope out there is a Weird Al song, though.
Image: michael spring/Fotolia, Giphy(2)