From a column by someone who sometimes take it seriously:
The belief in astrology has also been the subject of academic study. A 1997 article entitled “Belief in Astrology: A Social-Psychological Analysis” by researchers Martin Bauer and John Durant used 1988 British survey data to test a number of hypotheses that might explain why certain people are more likely to check their star charts than others. Among the likeliest contenders: first, the level of structure and detail implicit in astrology appeals to people with “intermediate” levels of scientific knowledge (because they like the theory and the process, if not the rigor required to disprove it); second, a belief in astrology reflects “metaphysical unrest” most present in those with religious backgrounds who have since moved away from organized religion; and third, astrological belief is more prevalent among those with an, ah, “authoritarian character.” I can’t speak for everyone, but on a personal level: OK, fair enough.
Bauer and Durant found strong support for hypotheses one and two—belief in astrology coincides with scientific interest and education up to a point, but then drops off among those inclined to true scientific rigor, and it does indeed occur more frequently among those, as the authors put it, “alive to religion” but not currently involved in a religious community—but, somewhat surprisingly according to previous literature, none for three. Some believers in astrology might happen to be authoritarian, but there are a number of other traits that predict belief more significantly. Frequent horoscope readers are more likely to be women, for one, and single, and in search of a greater sense of control (none of which are factors that have ever lent much credibility to any practice whose enthusiasts are defined by them).
That sounds about right. “Moved away from organized religion” probably means New Age in most cases.
Astrology, as a determinist theory of life, was at one time a reasonable scientific hypothesis: The larger and more powerful heavenly bodies, we were told, had an inescapable influence on events on humble Earth. And it was true, they did. Except for one thing: The influence turned out to be limited to critical gravitational effects such as Jupiter’s minesweeping of asteroids. These other bodies did not control such matters as whether the Queen had a son or a daughter or who would win the upcoming battle or what the next harvest would be like, which was the sort of thing most people wanted to know about centuries ago.
And then when people go far enough along the path of skepticism, they and up believing in multiverses in which not only can anything be true, but everything is.
Skepticism should be taken in small doses at the right times. – O’Leary for News