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This means they are all the more likely to fall for claims of higher powers or of special insight. The "illusion of control" also works in favour of these memes.

Stress is reduced when control over a situation is increased -- and if real control is not possible, an illusion of control will do. Many experiments have shown the power of this illusion." (1999:183-184)

In many cases we could of course argue that some memes spread because people are gullible. But nobody designed astrology to suit gullible people. Instead, countless astrology memes competed out there in the marketplace, and the most successful ones (the ones with the best tricks, namely a Barnum reading plus a pseudo explanation based on astrology plus a suggestion to read your horoscope every day, hanging together as a sun sign memeplex) kept getting copied and ended up as the most are cheryl burke and chad dating prevalent astrology we have today.

Recall that the focus here is not astrology, or people, but replication. We do not have to like or agree with the memeplex, all that matters is that we talk about it and thus pass it on.

From the memeplex's point of view, any publicity is good publicity, so believers and debunkers are equally welcome. It is here that we can see a memetic explanation for astrology's longevity.

Imagine two memes.

The first is a statement "Leos are generous." The second is a belief "I believe Leos are generous." The question is, which meme will fare better in the competition to get into as are dating magazine many brains, books, and television programmes as possible? A statement will be passed on only if it is relevant, which may occur only rarely. But people (especially if influential like parents or church leaders) will press their beliefs on others regardless of relevance.

In this way some memeplexes, true or false, important or trivial, will survive better than others.

We can now see why astrology has lasted so long, and has perceived value, despite disconfirmation of its claims. It survives falls from grace because so much publicity is already out there. It survives and is believed for the same reasons that a religion survives and is believed -- by rewarding belief and punishing disbelief. Compatible memes are accepted, incompatible memes are rejected. Validity (as opposed to perceived validity) and the explanations of truth covered in Part 2 have nothing to do with it.

But astrology and divination memeplexes do more than survive. "They exert phenomenal power in modern society and are responsible for the movements of vast amounts of money. They shape the way we think about ourselves and, perhaps more importantly, they cause many people to believe things that are demonstrably false. Anything that can do all this deserves to be understood" (Blackmore 1999:184).

Addey JM (1976). Harmonics in Astrology: An Introductory Textbook to the New Understanding of an Old Science. Cambridge Circle, Green Bay WI.

Alcock JE (1981). A psychological perspective. Pergamon, Oxford.

Alcock JE (2003).

Give the null hypothesis a chance: reasons to remain doubtful about the existence of psi.

Journal of Consciousness Studies 10, 29-50.

Beyerstein B (1987).

Behavioural and Brain Science, 10, 571-572.

Blackmore S (1999). Oxford Universoty Press, Oxford.

Blackmore S (2002). In M Shermer (ed) The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara CA, pages 652-663. A concise and most readable overview with 36 references.

Boerenkamp HG (1988).

A Study of Paranormal Impressions of Psychics. CIP-Gegevens Koninklijke, The Haag. Based on his PhD thesis, University of Utrecht, 1988.

Also published in various issues of the European Journal of Parapsychology from 1983 through 1987. In a remarkable study lasting five asian and american dating edicate years, the author monitored a total of more than 130 readings by twelve of the Netherland's top psychics, and then rated their accuracy against matched groups of non-psychics who were given the same task as the psychics. Typically each reading involved 60-90 statements spread over personality (35%), general circumstances including occupation (25%), relationships (15%), and physical matters such as health (25%), much the same as for a typical astrology reading. Nearly 10,000 statements were obtained, and there was no appreciable difference in hit rate between psychics and non-psychics, which would seem to deny that psychic ability (or at least claimed psychic ability) could play a role in astrology.

Carter CEO (1968).

First published in 1928.

Cotterell MM (1988). Astrogenetics: The New Theory. Brooks, Hill, Robinson and Co, Saltash [UK].

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