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Good articleAstrology has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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July 11, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
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January 2, 2014Good article nomineeListed
Current status: Good article
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Welcome to Wikipedia's Astrology article. This represents the work of many contributors and much negotiation to find consensus for an accurate and complete representation of the topic. Newcomers to Wikipedia and this article may find that it's easy to commit a faux pas. That's OK — everybody does it! You'll find a list of a few common ones you might try to avoid here. The sections of the WP:NPOV that apply directly to this article are:

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The Arbitration Committee has issued several principles which may be helpful to editors of this and other articles when dealing with subjects and categories related to "pseudoscience".


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Fronting the pseudoscientific aspect of astrology[edit]

It seems to me that the fact that this is a pseudoscience is burried too far down. I have tried to introduce it quite early, but my edits have been reverted by User:FreeKnowledgeCreator. The approach I took was the same you find it articles such as phrenology, Feng shui, homeopathy, and reiki. You will see that two of them start by saying the it is a pseudoscience, as I did with astrology. The others say it in the next sentence or very soon after.

In his reversion, User:FreeKnowledgeCreator claims that "we need to start by explaining its specific features, not a feature it shares in common with many other things." This doesn't pan out. Such a claim precludes introductions like "The Invisible Man is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells", which are obviously ubiquitous. Moreover, the revision simply replaces "a pseudoscience" with "the study", which itself is a feature shared in common with many other things. Any argument that the study is then modified by the of prepositional phrase is matched by the argument about the phrase following pseudoscience.--Brett (talk) 20:09, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

Please stop trying to fix problems that do not exist. The lead is fine as it is. Anyone reading it can see that astrology is considered pseudoscience. The first sentence of the lead ("Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events") is clearly written; your preferred version ("Astrology is a pseudoscience, the goal of which is to find a means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of celestial objects") is needlessly contorted. It is not even properly accurate, as astrologers believe they already do have a "means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events", as opposed to believing that they need to find such a means. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 00:18, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
@FreeKnowledgeCreator:Your excuses keep shifting. I disagree that there is no problem. If someone reads the first paragraph only, which is not unlikely, there is nothing at all there to suggest that this is a pseudoscience. That's a problem. It's a problem recognized and dealt with on other pages related to pseudoscience. It should be dealt with here too.--Brett (talk) 17:27, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
If I recall correctly, the approach of "burying the lead" in this article comes from a decision by Second Quantization (possibly while bringing the article to WP:GA status?) with the idea of seeing whether believers could be drawn in to read a bit more of the article instead of having a knee-jerk rejection that would lead them to stop reading entirely. Plausibly, it could also reduce the amount of effort required by editors to maintain the article. It might be possible by now to see if this approach has been more effective at correcting misinformation, although I'm not sure what data we could use to test that.
Since it's a pretty important question, if data for an analysis isn't available one approach would be for Wikipedians to run a study ourselves, or else find some scientists who study Wikipedia and might be interested in finding out. This sounds like something that Doc James might be interested in, or he might know how to either do it or find someone to do it. (Despite this not inherently being a medical topic, the issue itself is of course very relevant to certain parts of the medical topic area.) It might also be that there are already analogous studies addressing the question in the psychological literature that we could use to make a judgement. Sunrise (talk) 16:14, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Hum, an interesting question User:Sunrise, "Does calling out a pseudoscience lower in the lead result in greater or less engagement / vandalism?"
Once could take all pseudoscience article, see which are in what format, than look at both vandalism and the number of subsequent headings opened (the second being a marker of engagement).
One would both need to take into account variations in readership and quality between the two types of articles as I image those both affect the amount people read / vandalism. Could be an interesting study. However I do not think I have the ability to take it on. Will keep it in mind if I come across a student looking for a project :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:22, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, I missed these updates when I replied. I agree that it is an emperical question as to what works. Unless we can turn up some data, though, I think we should follow the conventional wisdom: don't bury the lede.--Brett (talk) 17:31, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
Leads are intended to be written as summaries that can stand in themselves, per WP:LEAD: "The lead serves as an introduction to the article and a summary of its most important contents." Worrying that people will read only part of the lead, and therefore not realize that astrology is considered pseudoscience, is an utterly baseless concern. That concern might possibly make sense if the article's lead were unusually long, but it isn't - it consists of only two reasonably short paragraphs. So we should simply follow the relevant guideline.
I note that Brett simply ignored my point that his proposed wording is not factually accurate. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 21:55, 2 March 2019 (UTC)
The accuracy of the claim @FreeKnowledgeCreator: makes about a particular wording is not relevant to the discussion about whether to mention pseudoscience in the first few sentences. In the guidelines about the lead, it says specifically that "the notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences," not somewhere down near the bottom of the second paragraph. Moreover, "the emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic," and the fact that this is a pseudoscience is really important. If we can agree that the characterization should be more prominent, then we can work on finding appropriate wording.--Brett (talk) 12:59, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
After reading this talk page I think that the lede should mention PS. Other fringe articles do. See Acupuncture or any of the titles in this.--Akrasia25 (talk) 12:26, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
The lead does mention this, just further down, after its explanation of what Astrology is. Explaining what a thing is before people's attitudes to it is standard narrative order and gives readers a handle on why attitudes have formed this way. It is very hard, also, to allow anyone to make up their own minds when you have stamped an opinion on the subject in the first sentence. It is normal to describe a thing before stamping opinions on it. Britmax (talk) 12:44, 5 March 2019 (UTC)
Again, "the notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences," not somewhere down near the bottom of the second paragraph. As Akrasia25 says, have a look at other pages. See, for example, alchemy or ancient astronauts.--Brett (talk) 02:54, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
PS is not an opinion, it is a fact about Astrology as every study has proven. It is as important to put in the first sentence. Whatever your opinions are about Astrology, the lede without this says that you can determine the course of human events thru the stars --Akrasia25 (talk) 13:04, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
@FreeKnowledgeCreator:: As you have pointed out, the lead must contain the most important information. The fact that Astrology is a pseudoscience is essential. User:Brett talked about "reading only the first paragraph", and indeed, in my smartphone only the first paragraph appears before the index, so the rest is indeed buried. Elizandro max (talk) 14:44, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Following the example of "X is a (genre) (thing) that Y," "Astrology is the pseudoscientific study of the yadayadayada..." would be the best phrasing.
"Astrology is a pseudoscience, the goal of which is..." would be like saying "Star Wars is science fiction, presented in movie format, about..."
Or, following the example of alchemy, something along the lines of "Astrology was a protoscientific study of celestial objects that became a pseudoscientific means of divining information..." Ian.thomson (talk) 18:29, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
I completely agree. That is where I started. But then User:FreeKnowledgeCreator reverted the edit with the comment that this implies a non-existent scientific study thereof. The argument strikes me as silly, but rather than argue, I tried to adjust the wording. The goalposts keep moving though.--Brett (talk) 19:10, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
The science would be astronomy. Ian.thomson (talk) 19:11, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
Again, I agree. But, their argument goes, that's not the scientific study of divining the future.--Brett (talk) 19:18, 9 March 2019 (UTC)
The most important thing about Astrology is that it is PS. It is completely part of the 'definition' or essence about it that horoscopes are on the same page as the cartoons. The rest of its definition follows after that. Also, we are writing an encyclopedia of truth and we should not be afraid that someone will try to vandalize it. WP has many tools and editors and page protections to prevent that from happening. It might be interesting to see if vandalism happens less if we bury the lede but it would not change my opinion that PS should in some way be in the first sentence. I really can not understand why some editors want to argue this discussion on the Astrology page when less clear situations exist on other PS topics. And finally I agree with Brett that the goalposts are changing. What about something like what ian.thomson suggested "Astrology was a protoscientific study of celestial objects that became a pseudoscientific means of divining information..." --Akrasia25 (talk) 03:45, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

There’s probably a due weight issue in comparing this article to acupuncture. The pseudoscience mention in the acu article gets a bump because (as it claims to be a medical treatment), lots of doctors take the time to publish reports stating that it’s a PS bag of crap. Astrology is more concerned with what color shoes you ought to wear when you go out to day and as such, is crapped on by scientific publications from a height far closer to ground level. I don’t think a comparison of alt-med articles is a reason to bring this article “in line”. A case by case analysis is due. If there’s really a massive preponderance of sources discussing the pseudoscientific nature of this subject, then it probably belongs further up in the lead. If sources focus more on the historical aspects, then those should take precedence. I recently brought up the article shamanism as an example, in which pseudoscience isn’t really mentioned, despite there being lots of it associated with the practice. The reason for this is that is isn’t discussed in scientific terms that much. Perhsps when glassy eyed crystal chuckers work out a way to market it within the medical community and end up poisoning people, then we’ll start calling that pseudoscience too. Edaham (talk) 05:35, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

"Astrology is more concerned with what color shoes you ought to wear when you go out to day and as such..." Seriously? Are you folks too young to remember Nancy Reagan consulting astrologers to help her husband make decisions as US president? Read about it here. If only Wikipedia was available back then. Stop kidding yourself. Many use it to determine who they will date/marry, where to live, etc. "Pseudoscience" belongs in the FIRST sentence. At worst the second. Perhaps move the last sentence of the lead to follow the first sentence as: "Astrology is recognized by the scientific community as a pseudoscience—a belief that is presented as scientific without reasonable evidence." RobP (talk) 14:43, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
you’re probably right. The article should still be based on the availability of its own sources thought, not squared up with other articles. I am a bit young for the Nancy story. I was around, but I’d have been young at the time. Great story. Really amazing. Edaham (talk) 16:30, 10 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Waaaiitt... Regarding this implies a non-existent scientific study thereof -- by that reasoning parapsychology is not really the pseudoscience form of psychology, except insofar as they both study the mind, but parapsychology is definitely pseudoscience nonetheless. What's the legitimate science for parapsychology? If it's psychology, then astronomy is the scientific study for which astrology is the pseudoscience, both studying the stars. Pseudoscience doesn't have to be the incorrect form of some other science, it can be bad science in isolation.
"Predicting the future" is divination in general, not specifically astrology. And predicting the future with astrology was just judicial astrology, which was just as often used to assign post-hob meaning to past events instead of predicting future ones. Medical astrology is a pseudoscientific medical practice, Natal astrology is a pseudoscientific psychology practice, and both were probably more common historically than judicial astrology. Ian.thomson (talk) 13:03, 11 March 2019 (UTC)

The majority of comments here support putting it in the first sentence. Only Britmax and FreeKnowledgeCreator seem to be against this. They have offered arguments against particular wording, but those seem to have been overcome. Their main claim seems to now be that it doesn't need to be there. Others have offered good reasons for why it does, including the fact that what shows up on a phone is just the first paragraph by default. Unless some stronger arguments against putting it in the first sentence are presented, I think they should accept that it's useful and stop reverting useful edits.--Brett (talk) 20:38, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Edits are never useful if they introduce factual inaccuracies. I see no point in objecting to a wording that does not introduce a factual inaccuracy. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 21:11, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
Then why did you revert Akrasia25's most recent change?--Brett (talk) 22:54, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
The reason was given in the edit summary. In addition to the reason given there, my opinion is that Akrasia25's edit added poorly-worded text and contorted language to the article. However, I no longer care. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:58, 12 March 2019 (UTC)
ok Brett. I think that is a clear go ahead to add PS to the lede. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:00, 12 March 2019 (UTC)

Done.--Brett (talk) 00:02, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

On the authority of an IP with one edit to their name who might possibly be you. Britmax (talk) 14:46, 13 March 2019 (UTC)
That was me doing it away from my PC and not Brett. I couldn't log in where I was as I have a complicated PW. There is now only one editor that does not want PS to be in the lede. I think that we have consensus now.--Akrasia25 (talk) 14:58, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

Can anyone provide any evidence or any reference where it is claimed that astrology is a science? Personally, I have never seen any. If such evidence or reference is lacking then astrology cannot be labelled as a pseudoscience.

Although there are undeniable important mathematical and astronomical elements at play that are indeed "scientific", astrology is primarily a form of divination AKA "a divinatory art". Being an art form, it cannot be labelled a science or a pseudoscience. That being the case, to begin to define an art form based on a scientific qualitative evaluation is not immediately relevant to the definition of the craft under scrutiny, regardless of whether it is able or not to produce anything of value in any way, shape or form.

The same approach to defining any other art form would immediately disqualify the definition.

For example, since there are undeniable important mathematical elements to music and since some musicians and/or computers are able to produce some music on that basis, music could be defined as follows:

"Music is a pseudoscience that claims to effect certain emotional changes in people by means of the application of various frequencies to the sense of hearing. For example, although the action of scratching horsetails with catguts -- an action known by practitioners as playing string instruments -- frequently manages to cause emotional reactions such as joy or sadness as evidenced by facial expressions such as smiles or tears, there is no scientific evidence and no neurological mechanisms capable of explaining the phenomenon. Moreover, such emotional reactions are not replicable in the subjects studied at all time." Although such definition of music would not be altogether wrong it would fail to define what music truly is.

This is how ridiculous the Wikipedia definition of astrology sounds. I am not suggesting to throw away whatever scientists may or may not have to say on the matter. I am merely pointing out that the scientific perspective on astrology is as irrelevant as any other scientific perspective on any other art form.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2403:6200:8856:265e:d37:1bc2:f78b:ce58 (talkcontribs)

If you read the Wiki article for pseudoscience, this topic EXACTLY fits the description. Any belief system attempting to pass as scientific without being scientific. I know of no common claims that the study of music or practice of musicians is scientific. RobP (talk) 17:11, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Please provide a reference claiming that astrology is: A/ a belief system and B/ a science. Here is the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of astrology: "type of divination that involves the forecasting of earthly and human events through the observation and interpretation of the fixed stars, the Sun, the Moon, and the planets." And: "Astrology is a method of predicting mundane events based upon the assumption that the celestial bodies—particularly the planets and the stars considered in their arbitrary combinations or configurations (called constellations)—in some way either determine or indicate changes in the sublunar world. The theoretical basis for this assumption lies historically in Hellenistic philosophy and radically distinguishes astrology from the celestial omina (“omens”) that were first categorized and cataloged in ancient Mesopotamia." Nowhere does it mention the words "belief" or "science". However, it mentions the words "divination", "method" and "philosophy".

For reference, here is the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of divination: "the practice of determining the hidden significance or cause of events, sometimes foretelling the future, by various natural, psychological, and other techniques. Found in all civilizations, both ancient and modern, it is encountered most frequently in contemporary mass society in the form of horoscopes, astrology, crystal gazing, tarot cards, and the Ouija board."

Again, no mention of science anywhere to be seen.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2403:6200:8856:265e:d37:1bc2:f78b:ce58 (talkcontribs)

Hello IP. please read the banner on top of this talk page. Also, please read the article itself. You seem to have read only the introduction. You can also take a look at Astrology and science. --McSly (talk) 17:30, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

I am well aware of the content of the whole article. I am also well aware of the article "Astrology and Science" which is nothing more than an appeal to authority. I have provided respectable references defining astrology as a method of divination. Where are your references defining astrology as a science?

To point to a Wiki article on pseudoscience in order to support the definition of astrology presented here is self-referential and totally irrelevant unless astrology is first referenced as a science by a reputable secondary source that is, so far, nowhere to be seen.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2403:6200:8856:265e:d37:1bc2:f78b:ce58 (talkcontribs)

Hello again. Please sign your posts by adding ~~~~ so threads are easier to follow. The point of the banner on top of this page is to avoid lengthy and sterile discussions on subjects that have already been settled. That banner specifically addresses and provides an answer to your request. --McSly (talk) 18:31, 18 May 2019 (UTC)

Dear Mr McSly. I will not sign my post unless wikipedians post under their real names.

I am here to attempt to improve the article which, unless I am mistaken, is the raison d'être of Wikipedia "The encyclopedia anyone can edit" and of the talk pages. Any discussion will indeed remain sterile if one party is sure to be in a privileged relationship with the "truth" -- whatever that may mean from an epistemological point of view -- particularly when that party claims to have settled the "truth" once and for all.

The title of this section is "Fronting the pseudoscientific aspect of astrology" so I think I am in the right place.

By all known accounts, astrology is primarily defined as a method of divination. That being the case, the article should start with that definition. I provided a reputable reference in support of that definition ([1]). Indeed, the very references used by Wikipedians also define astrology as a a method of divination without any mention or claim of "a belief system attempting to pass as a science". See here, here and here. The last link points to "The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy" where astrology is defined under the heading "Philosophy of Science": "As a philosophy, astrology is related to ancient cosmology and Ptolemaic astronomy, but it is mainly known as a divinatory art..." So, it seems that even your own references disagree with the assertion that astrology claims to be a science in any way, shape or form.

To define astrology primarily as a pseudoscience without first referencing any claim that astrology attempts to pass as scientific is inaccurate. It seems wikipedians have missed that crucial step. That being the case, the article should provide at least one solid reference defining astrology as a "belief system attempting to pass as a science". That being done, wikipedians are welcome to include counterclaims challenging that notion by quoting various opinions, including that of scientists further down the article.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2403:6200:8856:40c0:e527:b190:196e:1ad4 (talkcontribs)

Not signing your posts is disruptive. I will ask for you to be prevented from editing the project at all unless you sign your posts. Thanks. -Donald, the Trump. wooF 16:44, 20 May 2019 (UTC)
Let me point anyone thinking Astrologuy should not be defined as a pseudoscience to look at the Astrology and science article. RobP (talk) 17:37, 23 May 2019 (UTC)
IP, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy literally uses Astrology as the litmus test for what defines pseudoscience because: "Astrology, rightly taken by Popper as an unusually clear example of a pseudoscience, has in fact been tested and thoroughly refuted (Culver and Ianna 1988; Carlson 1985)." Most notable of source. Unequivocal deceleration that astrology is a pseudoscience. Your error in reasoning was in thinking that pretending to be a science is the definition of a pseudoscience. This is not the case, as many pseudosciences proudly declare their antithesis to science. The linked article is a great treaties on how we might define a pseudoscience Dkriegls (talk to me!) 19:25, 23 May 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica - Ultimate Reference Suite (c) 2015


If astrology is introduced as "pseudoscience" in the opening statement, shouldn't every single religious belief? (talk) 10:40, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

Agreed. Go for it! RobP (talk) 14:31, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
Only those that claim to be scientific. Or rather, only those where we have reliable sources saying they are pseudosciences. Like astrology. --Hob Gadling (talk) 05:58, 14 May 2019 (UTC)
Claiming to be a science is not the definition of pseudoscience. As many pseudosciences actually declare their antithesis to science. This article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy discusses the demarcation in length. Religion as a category is separate from pseudoscience but a religious claim can and have been labeled as pseudoscience when they make demonstrably false causal claims, like faith healing or bullet proof underwear. But that tenant would labeled pseudoscience, not the entire religion. And Wikipedia would only label it as such when a notable source has done so first Dkriegls (talk to me!) 19:33, 23 May 2019 (UTC)

Hans Eysenck[edit]

Was there not a book by Hans Eysenck called "Astrology - Science or Superstition" doing a statistical analysis of astrology? This could be mentioned in the article. Vorbee (talk) 19:57, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Recent lead changes[edit]

When I noticed that there were citations and that Kapyidu's edit made the text closer to them, with the lead already mentioning pseudoscience, I of course welcomed them. On the other hand, I realize that the first sentence is often what is showned as short description by Google or on mobile devices (we also have the short description on Wikidata or in a template). An ideal scenario would be for the lead not to need citations but to be an accurate summary of the body (per WP:LEAD). But what often happens then is that drive by editors notice pseudoscience and want to remove it, especially if it's not followed by an obvious supporting citation, so there's always a tradeoff... So for now I agree with the restoration of the pseudoscience mention in the first sentence, but have also added a supporting citation. —PaleoNeonate – 00:17, 23 June 2019 (UTC)

Pseudoscience: Anachronistic / Non-Neutral Terminology[edit]

If it is a stated article policy to have a “Neutral point of view,” how is it possible to begin the article with the pejorative statement that Astrology is a pseudoscience? Even from the viewpoint of science, bias should be avoided. We all know this is a loaded term.

It is also an anachronism. Part of the corpus of knowledge under the category called "astrology" formed prior to the development of what is called a "scientific method," a method within which the term "pseudoscience" was coined and deployed against rival knowledge, and also prior to the Latin word for science. According to the Wikipedia article, the term pseudoscience originates in the 19th century. It is anachronistic to call something "pseudoscience" that did not purport to exemplify the scientific method or to be a science as we understand the meaning of this term in the modern period.

The original Latin word for science might have been synonymous with knowledge. Thus, during that time if a text or body of thought presented itself as knowledge, it might also be transliterated as "science" in the Latin. But in the modern usage, science refers, much differently, to a set of specific practices and a heavy reliance upon empiricism to form so called verifiable facts. Thus, "science" can no longer be synonymous with knowledge: it is only one form of knowing—or for some the belief of knowing. It is only a subset within the broader category of knowledge. So if astrology purported to be a science long ago, this was consistent with what the word meant then: knowledge--or system of knowledge--in that time. If it purports to be a science now, which is much less loosely defined, that is an entirely different story. It cannot fit into that paradigm. But where is the evidence that the thread of astrology that still persists into the present is trying to fit into that paradigm, a paradigm that has only existed in the last couple hundred years, when astrology has been around thousands of years before "science," being what we understand that term to mean in our time?

From the outside, it looks like the use of the pejorative is like beating a dead horse. And how does that reflect on the professionalism of the scientific community?

Barry.kozemko (talk) 00:16, 19 July 2019 (UTC)

If it is a stated article policy to have a "Neutral point of view" - The WP:NPOV policy is about faithfully representing reliable sources (WP:RS). Other policies include WP:FRINGE and WP:PSCI (clearly identifying when a topic is considered pseudoscientific). —PaleoNeonate – 06:08, 19 July 2019 (UTC)

Please add link to "See also"[edit]

I removed the following entry from the dab page The Astronomer because it doesn't belong there:

I intended to add it to the See also section of this article, but I will have to ask someone who can edit it to do that. I can't imagine that adding it would be controversial. Thanks. — (talk) 01:43, 1 August 2019 (UTC)