Life · Psychology

A Fool is Born Every Minute…

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. ~Albert Einstein~

Human beings are by their very nature, curious. The only difference being our level of curiosity, and our objects and subjects of curiosity. Astrology and the horoscopes have always held my curiosity as well as millions of  people throughout the ages, and through civilisations. The dailies,for as long as I can remember, always carried a section that had the day’s horoscope. I read them religiously and told myself I didn’t believe them,yet when things went a certain way, I’d find myself thinking ‘hmmmm…and my horoscope did predict this was bound to happen!

I could never tell what the difference was between astrology and the horoscope. Don’t fall asleep, seriously.This has relevance, I swear it does 🙂 Astrology centers on the belief that planetary positions directly impact our lives, depending on their positions during your birth.

Horoscopesimage courtesy of

The future can be foretold depending on the position of the Sun,Moon and the planets.However, astrology is considered a pseudoscience, or rather, a set of beliefs that have somehow over the years been somehow regarded as based on science, yet they have no scientific backing. The Horoscope stems from astrology and is basically a chart diagram that makes predictions using astrology. I won’t bore you with the details, I can hardly grasp them all 😀

scorpio-characteristics.pngimage courtesy

Now, why do people believe in Astrology and the Horoscope? Most often than not, the horoscopes are perceived to be true, but vague generalisations that are supposedly  derived just for you such that they sound very real and convincing. The funny thing is, we tend to believe these predictions. Don’t worry or  beat yourself  up about it. Its not your fault. You can heap the blame on the Barnum or the Forer effect.

The Bar-what-now? I hear you ask. The Barnum effect has puzzled psychologists for decades. The effect refers to when people believe in a derived set of predictions. The predictions are very close to each personality description. The descriptions are supposedly tailored for each person, yet when you look closely, are vague enough to be spread across many personality traits. The name originated from a sneaky fellow, a showman  and circus owner- P.T Barnum,who said that ‘A fool is born every minute.’ He convinced people that his circus had something for everyone,yet he had limited acts in his circus. The thing is, they all believed him and flocked there, making Barnum one very happy dude, and his pockets well lined!

Barnumimage courtesy of

We love hearing good things about ourselves. Lately on social media,especially Facebook, there have been a rise in sites that make predictions about you based on your profile. A prediction will read something like “You are strongly independent , fiercely loyal and you are well liked by your friends.” The prediction reads like that for thousands of others, but we feel good about the predictions and fall for them hook,line and sinker-the Barnum effect at work.

Psychics, Tarot readers and Palmists are examples of the areas where the Barnum effect comes in.It is obvious through the evidence that the descriptions are vague, yet we still enjoy the attention and believe the predictions anyway. We don’t have many of these prediction readers in Kenya that the local mwananchi has access to. What we do have is some unscrupulous religious leaders who play on their congregations’ psychology.  We have all seen those. Enough said. Religion is a touchy subject, but you do catch the drift.

The human brain is an intrigue. It is very complex, yet very simplistic in nature. A twist here and there lends you very gullible. Now, there is one thing I am not sure whether to believe in or not. It probably is that sneaky fellow Barnum back from the dead to taunt me 🙂 The Zodiac signs. Their order is: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Sagittariusimage courtesy of

 I am a Sagittarius. Half man,half beast, with bow and arrow pointed heavenwards..probably an indication of my aspirations to be divine? I kid. Then again, not. The personality traits given for each Zodiac sign are so on point, it must be true. The Barnum effect be damned! I know people whose personality traits are exactly what their Zodiac signs say they are. Coincidence? Fact? Barnum effect? Naaaaah! There has to be something. Go on, dig a little.Then dig some more. Let me know. Remember, the important thing is to keep questioning. Nothing is always as it seems. As some quarters say, open your third eye. Nature is full of mysteries. A fool is born every minute.If you are that fool, don’t die a fool.

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