At CSICOP: Why millennials and liberals turn to astrology

Astrology Signs Chart From Sturt Vyse at CSICOP:

One of the most noteworthy aspects of belief in astrology is that it is more often embraced by liberals, which places it in the company of the anti-GMO and anti-vaccination movements (Vyse 2015). A 2009 Pew Research Center study found that people who described themselves as liberal were almost twice as likely to say they believe in astrology than self-described conservatives: 30 percent of liberals compared to 16 percent of conservatives (Liu 2009). Similarly, a 2015 study using data from the General Social Survey data of the National Opinion Research Survey at the University of Chicago found that conservatives were more likely to endorse the statement, “we trust too much in science and not enough in religious faith,” and liberals were more likely to have consulted their daily horoscope or astrological profile (DellaPosta, Shi, and Macy 2015, 1482–1483).

According to the Pew study, belief is also more likely to be a youthful phenomenon, with the youngest age group, 18-to-29-year-olds, having a 30 percent belief rate and belief decreasing with each increasing age bracket… More.

Vyse provides a helpful survey of a robust data set that shows that, ever since astrology ceased to be regarded as a science*, it has found a home mainly among people who are not orthodox religious believers. He also provides evidence that interest in astrology is more prevalent among those undergoing life crises who wish they had more control over events. Plus:

The foregoing summary provides a few hints as to why astrology might be surging at the moment. First, it is a youthful movement, and another recent Pew Research Study shows that Millennials are less religious than older generations but not less spiritual. In answer to the question, “Religion is very important,” only 41 percent of Millennials said yes, in comparison to 59 percent of Baby Boomers.

Second, two factors are very likely combining to make astrology more appealing at the moment—liberalism and a need for control. Astrology has a stronger appeal for liberals than conservatives, and in the United States, since November of 2016, the liberal world has been rocked. If ever there was a time when liberals might be looking for a compensatory sense of control, now is it. Conservatives are feeling better, but even if the tables were turned, the Pew survey data suggests they would be more likely to take refuge in religion rather than astrology or other forms of spirituality.

At the risk of setting the cat among the pigeons here, is it possible that belief in superstitions contributes to, and is not merely the result of, political misfortunes? There is a long history of that kind of thing.

* At one time, astrology was considered a science for the perfectly good reason that the heavenly bodies were considered to be bigger and more powerful than Earth. Why would it not be reasonable to believe that they influenced or even controlled events here (as the sun does)? To believe otherwise would be counterintuitive and would require some explanation. Well, the counterintuitive thesis turned out to be correct but the psychological needs cited by Vyse persisted. And not usually among the people some pundits would expect.

See also: Does post-modern naturalism lead to a rise in superstition?

Occult gaining ground among “sciencey liberals”

Skepticism is largely wasted on “skeptics”: Astrology division