With my birthday in the first week of October, my horoscope tells me that I should be fair-minded and balanced; courageous but indecisive. It may even describe my physical characteristics. According to one 19th Century astrologer, Raphael, I should be a “rather elegant in person, [with] a round beautiful face, ruddy in youth, but very plain featured and inclined to eruptions, that disfigure the face when old,”. I would be offended – until I realise that Zac Effron and Gwen Stefani supposedly have the same traits.
Needless to say, scientific studies have long debunked such predictions. Although one psychological study in the 1970s found that certain star signs can correlate with certain personality traits, later scientists concluded that this almost certainly reflected the power of expectations. If we grow up hearing that we will be just and fair, stubborn or passionate, then we act the script. Crucially, the scientists found that people who know nothing of their horoscope fail to match its predictions.
The specific forecasts of horoscopes may be wrong, but there is a grain of truth; over the last few years, scientists have begun to notice that the month of your birth really can predict your fate.