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Astrology & Aishwarya Rai
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Post Astrology & Aishwarya Rai 
Noted in headlines today that "Bride and Prejudice" star Aishwarya Rai is engaged to be married to another Bollywood film star, Abhishek Bachchan. If you've never seen "Bride", rent it. A very enjoyable, visually delicious production in the lavish style of contemporary Indian cinema.

I was surprised to read that much of the speculation regarding this relationship involved very serious astrological analysis. For a nation that is admired worldwide for its technological expertise and achievement, this shocked me a bit.

Can anyone out there tell me what basis intelligent people have to believe that the position of constellations have a dramatic effect on their personalities and lives? Yes, I know that the relative positions of planets somehow effects tidal patterns, etc, but there is a physical explanation for that. As for the stars, I've heard no such claims. Help me-I'm stumped!

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I get a kick out of astrology. I admit it. I don't pretend it's defensible or logical or True, but I like to read my horoscope and monthly forecasts and all that. Call it a guilty pleasure.

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Oh, Dora, I don't doubt that there is generally no harm and likely some benefit to the advice given. "Consider all financial decisions carefully today" or "Listen closely to your lover's feelings this week" are bits of advice that could benefit anybody. I'm talking about the deep stuff, like people seriously believing that a relationship is doomed because of the relative birthdates of the couple, hesitating to take a job because of some interpretation of a generic warning, or things of that nature.

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There have been more scientific studies disproving the influence of the planets over people's lives and personalities than you can shake a stick at. There was a British study that started in 1958 and tracked the personality development of several hundred people that were all born at the same time (The famous "Time Twin" study). The result showed absolutely no common factors or trends, and a remarkable amount of devience from the Astrological implications of their births.

Of course, science has very little to do with what people believe.

After all, millions of otherwise intelligent people believe that prayer can help heal people, a practice that has also been scientifically disproven. For example, this recent study on intercessory prayer, which was conducted on a sampling of heart patients:

The end result was that there was no statistical difference between those who were being prayed for and those who were not.
(The weird thing about this study: the people who thought that they were being prayed for actually had more complications than those who were told that there was no one praying for them.)

Inconvenient things like science and facts aren't going to stop people who want to Believe things.

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Post My Question Was Serious 
The reason I posed the question was my limited knowledge of the influence of moon phases, etc on tidal actions, behavior of animals, etc. I can see a certain logic to the thought that things like barometric pressures, etc could have "domino effect" influences on other things. I know that it is well established, for instance, that barometric pressure has profound effect on the behavior of fish. I'm just throwing this out there on the possibility that there is some other unnoted correlation- i.e. when the stars are displayed in a certain position of the sky, the planet is also in a particular phase of its orbit, so it could have physical side effects that could explain the origin of the belief system.

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