Some Thoughts on the Astrology of Skepticism

Personally, with my natal Sun in Virgo, I am a rather skeptical astrologer and only subscribe to astrological teachings that I have verified with actual case examples.  Unfortunately, there is much garbage published in astrology, usually based on fanciful theories that don’t hold up to careful scrutiny in the real world.  My own thinking is strongly influenced by modern science, although I believe there are fields of study where science has almost nothing to offer. Would you look to science to explain the meaning of Dante’s Inferno, for example?

With rare exceptions, most scientists are quite dogmatic and closed-minded when it comes to astrology.  They have been indoctrinated by their professors that astrology is a pseudoscience and accept this dogma without thinking and without investigating astrology in any depth.  The scientific studies I have read about astrology are usually based on simple-minded and erroneous hypotheses about what some scientist images astrologers are doing.  Hence, they study some ridiculous notion of astrology and find it wanting, as one might expect.  Garbage in, garbage out.

Two skeptics whom I admire for their intelligence and general open-mindedness are Michael Shermer and Carlos Gershenson Garcia.  As far as I can determine, both men reject astrology even though, to my knowledge, they have never undertaken any serious study of it.  Much hunch is that if they ever experimented with astrological techniques, they would be open enough to change some of their dogmatic prejudices against the celestial art.

Because I admire these two skeptical thinkers, I decided to look at their charts. Their dates of birth are available online but the times of birth are not, so I cast charts for Noon at their birthplaces and used solar sign houses.

A former fundamentalist Christian, Michael Shermer is the founder of The Skeptics Society and the editor of Skeptic magazine.  Michael was born on September 8, 1954,in Glendale, CA.  Here is his solar sign chart:

Michael Shermer, Noon positions, Solar Sign Houses. Time unknown.
Michael Shermer, Noon positions, Solar Sign Houses.  Time unknown.

Michael Shermer, Noon positions, Solar Sign Houses. Time unknown.

To assess someone’s manner of thinking, astrologers pay special attention to the planet Mercury and the 3rd House.

Mr. Shermer has Mercury in Libra, the sign of justice and balance.  People with Mercury in Libra typically have an innate sense of fairness and try to weigh issues from all sides before rendering an opinion.  As Libra is a sign of harmony and relationships, natives with Mercury in Libra are often drawn to elegant theorizing and mathematical symmetries.

The Golden Dawn assigned the first decan of Libra (where Shermer’s Mercury resides) to the Two of Swords:

The blindfold suggests a desire to be fair and unbiased in making a decision.  The evenly balanced swords pointing in opposite directions indicates a struggle to weigh all aspects of a situation. The suit of Swords is assigned to the element Air, and the individual swords often represent ideas.

Shermer’s Mercury is disposed by Venus which lies in Scorpio in the mental 3rd house where it conjoins Saturn, the planet of hard reality and skepticism par excellence.  Venus happens to rule the 9th house of publishing in this chart.  The ruler of the 3rd house is assertive Mars which lies in Capricorn, where Mars is exalted.  Capricorn is ruled by no-nonsense Saturn.

All-in-all Shermer’s chart appears to fit his life path of skepticism rather well.


Carlos Gershenson Garcia is a professor of computer sciences at UNAM in Mexico with expertise in cognition, artificial life, and self-organizing systems.  He offers an online course on scientific thinking at  Carlos was born on September 29, 1978.  Here is his solar sign chart:

Carlos Gershenson Garcia, Noon positions, Solar Sign Houses.  Time unknown.

Carlos Gershenson Garcia, Noon positions, Solar Sign Houses. Time unknown.

Interestingly, Gershenson’s Mercury also lies in the first decan of Libra, so what was said above about Shermer’s Mercury also applies to this chart.  Gershenson’s Mercury is disposed by Venus which also happens to lie in Scorpio where it conjoins Uranus (as opposed to Saturn in Shermer’s chart).  Astrologers have associated Uranus with modern science and especially with computers and advanced technology.  Scorpio often symbolizes research, and Gershenson is a researcher and head of the Department of Computer Sciences at UNAM in Mexico City.

Gershenson has Sagittarius on the cusp of his 3rd house in this chart and Neptune contained therein.  Neptune probably gives him some unusual interests, perhaps in spirituality or mysticism or similar philosophical pursuits.  Jupiter, ruler of the 3rd house, lies in the first decan of Leo.  This placement of Jupiter suggests that he takes great pride in displaying his intellectual prowess, most likely through publishing, lecturing and teaching.  Jupiter in Leo and ruling the 3rd creates an image of an intellectual leader with a dramatic flair.

It is a striking coincidence that both of these men have Jupiter as their lead planet (the first planet prior to the open space in the chart).  Astrologers relate Jupiter to insight through knowledge and use its placement in a natal chart to delineate where and how we look for wisdom and understanding.  Gershenson’s Jupiter is well placed in Leo where it suggests a bold and adventurous search for understanding.  Shermer’s Jupiter lies in Cancer where Jupiter is exalted.

I suspect that Gershenson is less a skeptic than is Shermer because he has Venus, ruling Mercury, conjunct Uranus, a planet of the unusual, innovative and far out.  With his natal Moon conjunct Saturn in Virgo, however, he is emotionally disposed toward skepticism.  Saturn conjunct Moon in Virgo will only feel emotionally satisfied with hard facts.

Gershenson has his Moon in Virgo whereas Shermer has his Sun in Virgo.  It is noteworthy that both these skeptical men of science have one of their Lights in earthy Virgo, a sign noted for its attention to detail and fondness for tangible evidence.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
This entry was posted in Astrology, Tarot and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Some Thoughts on the Astrology of Skepticism

  1. james says:

    the least likely sign to believe in astrology? virgo! that has been my theory, but who cares about that.. something about planets in the earth signs that has a more conservative slant and like what they can hold and see in a tangible or physical manner.
    thanks for the last 2 articles tony. we have had some interesting comments on science and astrology on skyscript that you might find interesting..
    there are more related comments on another thread i started here as well

  2. james says:

    the less fire in the chart, the more likely a stronger identification with the earth element as well. another astro theory of mine – unproven..

  3. Susan says:

    My thanks also for your discussion of astrology, science and scepticism; I feel a similar frustration with scientists whose curiosity about what is unknown, or not understood seems to disappear when confronted by astrology (and things like UFOs – which are, after all, only flying objects that can’t be identified!). I feel the same frustration with the whole 19th and 20th century warping of astrology by well-meaning but mostly misguided people, who tried to make astrology modern and respectable by giving it a new age, mystical and/or psychological overlay, and ended up losing or obscuring much of what makes astrology work.
    Another scientist prepared to examine and consider astrology in an open-minded way was the late Vic Mansfield, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Colgate University, New York, whose paper “An Astrophysicist’s Sympathetic and Critical View of Astrology”, delivered to the 1997 Cycles & Symbols Conference, in San Francisco, deserves to be much more widely known than it appears to be. Thankfully, Mr Mansfield’s family has kept his website online so the paper can be found here: along with other writings on synchronicity, Tibetan Buddhism, Jungian psychology and physics. His book “Synchronicity, Science and Soul-Making” has been in my library for many years (and I really must re-read it!).

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