Birth Chart Analysis
The O Pine

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© 2002 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

However, the use of hot, dense, gassy, and distant objects may be a pretty good metaphor for much of humanity.

Usually dismissed by intellectuals as a novelty act best suited to parting carnival-goers from their money and entertaining the superstitious in the morning paper, yet even in this age of supreme reason astrology has a strong grip on the imagination of the Western world. What is it about the notion that the stars can tell us about ourselves that rings so deep within our core? Why do we seek answers from above for questions from within?

A better question might be whether we should ask the stars. Mankind has been seeking these answers for millenia; surely there is a track record for the stars of some kind. Surely they are skilled at answering our basic queries all these long years. And indeed, though many regard astrology as simply a string of overgeneralizations and lucky guesses, much like fortune cookies only longer, there still is enough there that we see in our own lives to keep us coming back.

The author's birth chart: June 4, 1974, 11:11 am, Wakefield, Mass. (Gemini)

The alternate birth chart: September 10, 1957, 3:10 pm, Long Beach, Calif. (Virgo)
But how much is there really? It's high time to check the report card of the stars. How are they doing? Do they know what they're talking about? If our lives were a midterm exam, what would their GPA be?

The answer is within reach; the stars can be graded. We used AstroMart Software to plot this author's birth chart. They offer free birth charts along with nice diagrams (which we've reprinted here), and their program was given three cows by Tucows Software Library. We then took their interpretation of the birth chart and turned it into a quiz, and we had this six-page quiz completed by this author, his younger brother, and his friend of 15 years. Since people are well-known to associate themselves with positive characteristics and disassociate themselves with negative characteristics, this inclusion of two outside perspectives counterbalanced the author's tendency to flatter himself. The responses to this quiz was the basis for our percentage scores and astrological grading.

To keep it interesting, we also pulled the birth chart of a volunteer who is 17 years older and was born 3,000 miles away. We also set its analysis as a quiz and had it filled out by the same participants -- without them knowing which one was which! This way, our analyzers were forced to fill out two quizzes, without knowing which one was the author's, reducing the chances of bias.

Our expectation was that the planets in the signs (including the Sun sign, which is the one that is checked in the daily horoscope) might have some validity -- it struck us as not inconceivable that a baby that developed primarily in the winter might have real differences from one that developed in the summer. But as to the rest? It seemed unlikely that they would prove accurate at all. Further, the alternate chart should prove totally wrong.

That, as it turns out, was not entirely correct.

The real birth chart had 234 characteristics identified; the alternate had 259. For each characteristic, the author, his brother, and his friend answered yes, no, or not applicable. Not applicable was to be used when the question was too vague to answer accurately, or could not be understood, or was somehow not relevant. Those characteristics marked N/A were removed from the scoring, so percentages of yes versus no are derived strictly from those characteristics specifically answered yes or no. As a general rule of thumb, approximately 10% of characteristics ended up being marked N/A.

The results were unexpected. By the author's reckoning, his birth chart was 65% correct, scoring a D. However, the alternate birth chart was close behind at 62% correct! Both scores were higher than expected; the alternate birth chart especially so. But the plot thickens: the brother and friend only agreed with 54% and 58%, respectively, for the author's real birth chart, and a substantially higher 65% and 67% for the alternate birth chart! Taking the average, the author's real birth chart only garnered 59% -- an F -- while the alternate birth chart scored 65%!

Our theory about the planets in the signs being more accurate than other aspects of the chart proved to be as valid as last year's state fair ticket. Out of six quizzes, not once did the planets prove the most accurate, and in fact came dead last for the author's birth chart, on average. No single section of the birth charts proved dominant, ranging from 55% to 69%, never even breaking out of a D+.

Results of the Quizzes

Author's Birth Chart
Planets In the Signs60%51%57%56%
Planets In the Houses74%63%71%69%
Houses In the Signs64%54%54%57%
Interplanetary Aspects67%53%55%58%
Alternate Birth Chart
Planets In the Signs63%66%70%66%
Planets In the Houses58%68%57%61%
Houses In the Signs56%55%54%55%
Interplanetary Aspects64%67%73%68%

On the whole, these charts suggest three lessons to be learned:

First, the accuracy of the astrological birth chart is highly questionable. A 59% is not even a passing score. Predictions that can barely muster better than half right are of no more use than a random coin toss. Even taking the author's quiz alone, by far the most generous, offers no better than a D with 65%.

Second, the applicability of the astrological birth chart to an individual is highly questionable. By all rights the alternate birth chart should have been a mishmash of ridiculous nonsense when applied to the author, but it ended up scoring better by the reckoning of the brother and friend, and only a couple of percentage points behind by the author's own reckoning. This suggests that the overgeneralization criticism frequently leveled on astrology has merit.

Third, judging from his consistently higher scoring, the author thinks quite well of himself.

Astrology had a chance to knock us out with proof of its reliability in predicting human characteristics, but instead astrology took it on the chin. So far it would seem that the stars don't know us that well after all.