Illustration for article titled 40% of Americans say astrology is science. Or did they mean astronomy?

In a survey by the National Science Foundation, 40% of Americans said that they believed astrology was a science. But, is the issue not that Americans believe that horoscopes are scientifically defined, but that they simply misheard "astrology" as "astronomy"?


Unfortunately, probably not.

A small survey, as detailed below, posits that the problem was simply one of mixing up the terms for "astronomy" and "astrology", not confusion over the fundamentals. While the explanation is definitely more appealing than the alternative, it's probably not true.


Why? Before the question about astrology was asked, the interviewer had asked questions about attitudes towards science. Then they threw this out: "Now, for a new subject. Do you ever read a horoscope or your personal astrology report?"

Only after that asking about horoscopes did they ask about whether astrology was itself a science, making a mix-up with astronomy much less likely.

Image: Star making region, shot by the Hubble / NASA, ESA


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