Astrologers Guess Zodiac Signs – Debunked

Astrologers Guess Zodiac Signs – Debunked

“Uh, me? Okay. I’m a Sagittarius, which probably tells you
way more than you need to know.” “Yes, it tells us that you participate in
the mass cultural delusion that the sun’s apparent position relativity to arbitrarily
defined constellations at the time of your birth somehow affects your personality.” “My name is Ray Couture. I’m a professional astrologer.” [Me doing Sheldon’s face, Leonard replying]
“And how long have you been an astrologer?” “Between 45 and 50 years.” “Have you ever done anything like this?” “Erh, not in a group setting, but wherever
I am I look at someone and say ‘are you a Pisces?’ And sometimes they say ‘yeah’ and sometimes
they say ‘none of your business’.” “Alright, let’s get everyone lined up
– they’re going to stand behind you.” Between the months of February and March,
2018, the channel Cut published a series of videos in which astrologers attempted to guess
the zodiac signs of twelve strangers. The astrologers were Ray Couture and Shakera,
and they both managed to correctly guess four out of the possible twelve. “Alright, raise your hand if he got you
correct.” “Go ahead turn around.” “I’m afraid, but sure.” “That’s not too bad.” “Who was the most obvious?” “I don’t know, none of them apparently.” “Alright, raise your hand if she got you
right.” “Mmm… I knew it, I knew it! I knew… I knew you was a Pisces, girl! I knew you was a Libra! And I knew you was a Leo! And I knew you were a Gemini.” Now some believers in astrology have calculated
that since there’s twelve zodiac signs (that is, twelve possible outcomes), and twelve
people (that is, twelve trials), the chances of correctly guessing at least 4 out of the
12 twelve is a measly 1.38%… and that therefore, we can reasonably conclude that there’s
at least some truth to astrology. The problem, however, and as anyone with even
a rudimentary understanding of psychology and deception will tell you, is that Ray and
Shakera were cheating… they were throwing loaded dice. This , is “Astrologers Guess Zodiac Signs
– Debunked”. Whenever I touch pseudo-scientific nonsense,
such as tarot cards, channeling, homeopathy, crystals, mediumship, and astrology, someone,
at some point, almost always asks me “Why bother?” If people are deriving comfort from it, then
why shatter their illusion? Now my answer depends on the specific drivel
being pedestalled, but in general it’s because “Beliefs inform actions and actions have
consequences.” Not only does astrology (in this case) erode
critical thinking and promote credulity, it also has all the hallmarks of racism… seriously,
it encourages believers to categorise people not according to the content of their character
but by the month in which they were born… “I think you’re a Leo because you’re
a little aggressive – that’s exactly what she is too.” “Can I see your profile? Oh, okay, you’re Scorpio.” “Why Scorpio?” “What makes me a Scorpio to you?” “The Intensity.” “I’ve just noticed that Aquarius I’ve
come in contact with are very draining; they’re very attention-seeking; they’re very suffocating. It’s very ironic that they’re the air
sign, because they literally… I can’t breathe. Thank you for getting out of my way.” Just as it’s unfounded and reprehensible
to assert that someone is aggressive, intense, or attention-seeking due to the colour of
their skin, so too is it unfounded and reprehensible to assert that someone is aggressive, intense,
or attention-seeking due to the date on which they were born. This simply isn’t acceptable… in fact,
it’s despicable! Or to emphasis this point in a less-potent
way, here’s how Richard Dawkins put it: “Day in, day out, astrological horoscopes
get far more newspaper column inches than science. Amusingly, it falls foul of our modern taboo
against lazy stereotyping. How would we react if a newspaper published
a daily column that read something like this: Germans – it is in your nature to be hardworking
and methodical, which should serve you well at work today. In your personal relationships, especially
this evening, you will need to curb your natural tendency to obey orders. Chinese – inscrutability has many advantages,
but it may be your undoing today. British – your stiff upper lip may serve you
well in business dealings, but try to relax and let yourself go in your social life. And so on through twelve national stereotypes. Of course, the astrology columns are not as
offensive as that, but we should ask ourselves exactly where the difference lies… both
are guilty of facile discrimination, dividing humanity up into exclusive groups based on
no evidence.” Anyhow, let’s get back on track. If there’s a miniscule 1.38% chance of someone
rolling twelve 12-sided dice and correctly guessing at least four of the rolls, then
isn’t it more plausible to assume that there’s some truth to astrology, rather than that
Ray and Shakera simply got lucky? The answer, is that so long as the methodology
was rigorous and peer reviewed by a reputable journal (that is, that the dice were fair),
then “yes”, but as alluded to earlier, this wasn’t the case. Ray and Shakera threw loaded dice, and the
study (due to it being made primarily for entertainment purposes) was abysmal! First off, while there’s no scientific evidence
for the astrological assertion that there’s a relationship between celestial events and
human personalities, there’s plenty of evidence that links human personalities, allergies,
and disorders to the month (and particularly the season) in which someone was born. To give just a few examples, studies have
found that autumn babies are three times more likely than summer babies to have an allergy
to milk and eggs; that spring and summer babies are significantly more likely to have an optimistic
outlook; and that January babies are considerably more likely to suffer from schizophrenia,
bipolar affective disorder, and recurrent depressive disorder. And so by simply asking a few seemingly irrelevant
questions someone can subtly coax a great deal of information. For instance, if I ask “Do you have any
allergies?” and within your answer you reveal that you’re lactose intolerant, then I can
infer from this that there’s a slightly higher chance that you were born in autumn…
and if I combine such insights with clues given by your physical appearance, body language,
reactions and microexpressions, then I stand a much higher chance of correctly guessing
your star sign… In fact, as a quick side-note, here’s Ray
changing his mind precisely due to a reaction. “I’ll go with Virgo.” “Okay.” “Changing that to Libra.” “Why.” “He accepted it too fast – I have to watch
how people act too.” And this actually brings us perfectly to cold
reading… which is the name given to an array of techniques (which include the aforementioned)
that enables the ‘reader’ to subtly obtain information and create the illusion that they
know much more about the person they’re ‘reading’ than they actually do. But before I expose the astrologer’s cold
reading, I want to lay a few more things on the table. The first is that if you’re seriously interested
in the techniques used by charlatans and illusionists, and want to know more than what’s currently
on screen, then I highly recommend that you check out Holy Koolaid’s series on the topic
(because it’s damn awesome). And if you still want more after that, then
be sure to digest the works of the one and only James Randi and outstanding illusionist
Derren Brown. And speaking of Derren, here’s a question
which pertains to one of his feats: what are the chances of him correctly guessing the
profession of a random stranger on the street? For brevity and argument’s sake, let’s
be extremely conservative and assume that there’s only one-hundred professions, and
that therefore he stands just a 1% chance (which, by the way, is already less likely
than fair dice guessing at least 4 out of 12 people’s star signs). “Do you know who I am? What I do?” “No.” “No, great, but I think I can tell you what
you do for a living. Look at me, it’s… uh, it’s people, it’s
PR, it’s marketing… it’s that kind of thing?” “Yeah.” “Is that what you do?” “Yes.” And now let’s ask what the chances are of
him correctly guessing 4 out of 12 stranger’s professions… the answer is an incredibly
implausible .000004%! Or in other words, pretty much impossible! “You look for people’s skills, you put them
in positions, it’s some sort of head-hunting – is that right?” “Yes.” “Recruitment, that kind of thing? What do you do?” “I’m a recruitment consultant.” […] “It’s fasion… is it a shop? Specificaly denim, yeah? You were selling jeans – is that right? You were doing that but you haven’t done it
for a while? Until you recently came out of that job. Is that right?” “Yes, absolutely right… oh my god!” Now if Derren asserted that he achieved this
miraculous result due to tarot cards, astrology, mediumship, channelling, or any other method,
would it be logical to simply accept his claim? No… unless Derren was to provide objective,
repeatable evidence of correlation, we wouldn’t be able to infer causation, and so we’d
have to conclude that while he used some method to achieve his result, it isn’t the one
he’s told us. Luckily, however, Derren is awesomely upfront
about most of his techniques, and has clearly stated and explained numerous times that he
uses cold reading: “Open your eyes. Take this guy… his walk, the gum-chewing,
the long coat. He’s confident, street-wise attached. He’s protective of his girlfriend, so he’s
aware of the danger around him. His hair tells me he’s not in the forces,
so I’d say he’s a journalist […] Work mates. The woman on the left, she’s wearing night
time gear at lunch time and has conservative hair and makeup, and so it’s only a work outfit. The rose means she’s gregarious, so these
two work in the PR end of high street fashion.” Anyhow, so how many examples do I have of
Ray and Shakera cold reading? Well, I have plenty of Ray (which I’ll show
you in just a moment), but none of Shakera because she didn’t actually cold read. Rather, she simply relied on the participants
giving away their sign. You see, while I don’t know exactly how
Cut selected their participants, it’s obvious that many of them already believed in astrology
and so either consciously or unconsciously wanted the astrologers to succeed, and because
of this they played up to their zodiac sign. “You got it right… you absolutely got
it right, because I like, gave you fucking attitude.” “Yeah you gave me attitude, and I was like
yeah.” “I gave it away when I said I was better
than you. You were like oh Gemini.” “No, you gave it away when you said you
don’t like to go out or do anything fun.” “I know, I gave you the wrong impression
when you asked me if I’m driven.” And further evidence of this can be seen by
how many of them immediately gave the astrologers an excuse for failing to guess their sign:
“So you got me wrong, but my mother is a Virgo and we’re very close. So you might be feeling her presence.” “It could be because you’re a Cancer and
you carry a moon with you, and you carry your mother with you.” Well done Ray, nice repackaging. “You’re very warm and when you don’t
feel good, you get a little needy and so you call mom.” “And that’s why the girls run away. Hahaha.” Alright, calm down… someone might notice. “I can not believe you were cancer!” “Well, you were kind of going on the right
track when you were talking about sex drive and everything – should’ve just paid attention
to the six.” “And the nine!” “Hahaha.” “That’s good… that’s a good one.” “I’m an Aries and you guessed me as a
Taurus.” “Yes, I guessed you as a Taurus.” “I was born April 19th, so I’m at the
cusp.” “So if it’s near the cusp from Aries to
Taurus you’ll have Taurus qualities as well as Aries qualities, and so that turns out
to be your problem.” Her problem? [Leanards face] Give me a break. Now as if the fact that the astrologers got
to see the participants, ask them question, and analyse their reactions wasn’t enough
to invalidate the study (which it is), the fact that many of the participants wanted
the astrologers to succeed is the nail in the coffin. Game over. But since I haven’t yet delivered on my
promise of exposing Ray’s cold reading, here’re just a few examples: “Do you have
any advice to him being an Aquarius?” “Yeah, he’s in the middle of an eclipse. For the last four or five months struggling
with this whole process of how you’re gonna deal with this.” “He’s not wrong. Hahaha.” Seems personal right? But it’s not – it’s a Barnum statement. Almost everyone has been struggling with something
over the last four or five months… be it their health, their job, a relationship, or
their financial situation. It seems like Ray said something specific
and personal, but he didn’t. “Didn’t you have difficulties until you
was about 18 feeling worthless or not valuable?” “Yeah.” Now that’s a classic Barnum statement… I mean, who didn’t feel worthless as a teenager? “It was in college? You ran into somebody? Who told you how great you really are?” “Yeah.” And who didn’t have someone tell them that’s
they’re valuable? “Well, when I know what time and so forth
I can really figure this out, but you know, just the sun sign is a little hard.” That a boy Ray, tell her that you know this
information because you correlated her time of birth with celestial bodies, rather than
that you simply made a demographically-tailored Barnum statement. “I met my bioloigcal mum when I was 19.” “Ah.” “Oh my god, yeah.” “And she said I love you.” “Yeah… hahaha. I’m stunned right now.” Wow, how did he know that? Who’d known that a mother who’s never
seen her child still loves her child? Look, I mean no offense to any of the participants
(and I mean that), but this really gets under my skin – charlatans exploiting the credulity
of others to promote their services and elevate their ego triggers the fuck out of me… but
that’s a topic for another time. “How tall are you?” “6’1″ “Are you an artist?” “I am.” Wow… [wow] what a guess! I thought he was a brick layer… I mean, that scarf screams brick-layer, don’t
you think? “You pick up a newspaper article or somebody
hands you something to proofread, first thing you see is what’s wrong with it?” “Yeah, I’d say so.” Yeah Ray, he just told you that he’s an
artist – and you can tell from his appearance that he pays attention to detail… come on
Sir, even Shakera could’ve figured that out. And, your grandmother was really really important
in your life?” “Yeah….” And here we have yet another Barnum statement. Most people consider at least one of their
grandmothers to be important, and if the young lady had said “no” then Ray could’ve
simply flipped his meaning by saying “Ah, that’s where the importance comes in. She wasn’t there for you”, and hence,
this still would’ve felt like a hit. “Yeah…” “Extremely important, she took care of you.” “Yeah, yeah.” “You had to get what you needed from her
because it wasn’t coming from mom and pop.” “Yeah.” “Hahaha.” Now if you look at young lady’s expression
when she says “yes” it’s obvious that her grandmother means a great deal to her,
and therefore, it’s likely that her grandmother is at least somewhat of a parental figure…
again, it seems like a hit, but all Ray has done is used a Barnum statement and then capitalised
on her reaction. “So what time were you born?” “Uh, 6:15 a.m.” “6:15, morning, Taurus,
sun just came up… (mumbles).” “There’s some unfinished business that’s
been sitting around for a while. You’re actually thinking of school again.” So, despite Ray making out that he’s made
that inference from the time and date of her birth, he actually made it from the fact she
literally just told him a few moments ago that she didn’t go to college (“Where
did you go to school?” “I did not go to college”) and he’s
made the reasonable assumption that someone who’s quit education would consider going
back. He’s repacked information and made a highly
probably guess… “So let me see your hands. So you’re an independent thinker.” “Yeah, haha.” Gee… who would’ve guessed that a transsexual
is an independent thinker? Of course they are… it takes tremendous
courage to be who you are when your society doesn’t entirely accept you. Also, who doesn’t consider themselves to
be an independent thinker? Yet again, Barnum statement. “What’s your birthday?” “December 24th.” “So you’ve already gone through… I won’t call it a near-death experience,
you were hanging on the edges for a while, about three years ago maybe four? You did the right thing. You had to do the right thing.” “Is he referring to your divorce?” “I think so.” “Wow!” Okay, this is the last one, because I can
only take so much bullshit. If you remove the metaphorical fluff, all
Ray’s said is that she went through a traumatic time several years ago, and yet the audience
reacted as if he somehow knew all about her divorce… he didn’t. And what’s more, who didn’t go through
a traumatic event several years ago? And, again, who didn’t experience turmoil
as a teenager? Anyhow, before I wrap up, and on a completely
different note, if you’re interested in podcasts and you’re a science-enthusiast,
then please check out the Here and How Podcast, which is hosted by myself, Rachel Oates, and
Thomas Westbrook, and if you enjoy it then please consider rating us on iTunes – it
really helps out. As always, thank you kindly for the view,
and an extra special thank you to my wonderful patrons and those of you who’ve donated
via PayPal. Slowly but surely we are together making the
world a more rational place! Thank you. “Here’s the thing, if you want a clumsy
tool to divide the population in to distinct groups so that you can make predictions, racism
is way better than astrology! In fact, if you remember nothing else from
this gig – if you wake up and everything has thump out of your head, remember just
that fragment, even out of context, where I went, racism is way better than astrology!”

15 Replies to “Astrologers Guess Zodiac Signs – Debunked”

  1. The biggest mistake people make is perceiving astrology as an exact science, when it does not claim to be. There is no hard evidence to prove or debunk astrology except that it sounds dumb/crazy. Before criticising something you really should do more research or not comment on it at all, there are actual valid reasons why astrology is fake and these are not it. The discrimination point is laughable, as horoscopes do not represent real astrology and there is more to it than the 12 zodiac signs.

  2. Damn their bullshiting skills got me muta-hard, would be nice to see james randi violate these charlatans live on air along with their gullable cult followers…

  3. I was expecting a step-by-step debunking of how these astrologers "cheated" but instead you decided to rant about how bullshit astrology is and highlighted the moments AFTER the astrologers made their guesses. Your closest thing to evidence was your idea that the participants played out their zodiac sign because they wanted the astrologers to guess their sign, and though that may be true, that doesn't mean the astrologers were cheating. The only way they can cheat, in my opinion, is if this whole thing was a set up, which is possible because, as you said, this video was made for entertainment purposes. However, we don't know and I was expecting you to uncover evidence that backs that up, but you didn't. So hey, great rant, but your proof is flawed.

  4. Ok, I was in a in a very busy restaurant in Santa Monica, Ca in the mid 70's, a man stood up and pointed at people at many different tables and told various ppl what sign they were. I sat a good 20 ft away from him, he said I am a Virgo, absolutely correct, and out of the 20 or so ppl he addressed he was 100% accurate, not one mistake. I am a huge skeptic on spiritual claims and the supernatural, not sure how this guy did this, but he was damn good at it. I suppose he was good at reading ppls body language.

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