ENGL 100 Astrology


Put on your skeptics hat, write at least one four to five sentence paragraph in response to each prompt question and upload your document. Include the prompt questions in your response. To help me more easily read your text, write your response in the color of your choice and leave a blank line before and after your paragraph.

Remember to copy the questions and include them in your response.

  1. Briefly explain the difference between astrology and astronomy.
  2. Because the Earth wobbles on its axis, a process called precession, the constellations have drastically changed position in the sky since the creation of astrology some 2,000 years ago. Today’s zodiac has shifted by one full sign compared to the original. Modern astrology has not adjusted the zodiac to account for this shift. Explain how this fact questions the validity of astrology.
  3. Explain why the position of the planets at the time of one’s birth (or at any time, for that matter) could have no physical affect on a person through gravity or light.
  4. In your own words, define the Barnum effect, which astrologers rely on to convince people horoscopes are accurate.
  5. Explain how astrologers use the following three simple tricks to create a horoscope most people will be convinced applies to them personally, even though the horoscope could apply to anyone.
    • Horoscopes make general, vague statements.
    • Horoscopes say something, then take it back.
    • Horoscopes rely on the reader to inflate hits and forget misses.

Give specific examples from the Barnum Effect horoscope from the Penn & Teller “Astrology” episode: You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

  1. In your own words, define each of the following informal logical fallacies and explain how each may be used to convince people of the effectiveness of astrology.
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