Monday, December 7, 2009

Paranormal Games

December 6, 2009

There has been an increasing amount of mail asking about what I call paranormal “games”. Things like Astrology, Palmistry, Phrenology, Tarot Cards, Ouija Boards, Crystal Balls, etc. I think it’s time to take a moment and look at these things with an objective eye.

Astrology: (“What’s your sign?)

In its simplest terms, “Astrology” refers to the influence of the stars and the cosmos on your life. The date of your birth determines your astrological sign, and there are twelve astrological signs which make up what is called the Zodiac. Over the years, the Zodiac has changed. Originally, there were thirteen (not twelve) signs of the Zodiac. The Zodiac was, originally, based on a lunar month: the time it takes for the Moon to revolve around the Earth. However, it was confusing as to what your astrological sign was because the Moon’s rotation about the Earth was actually slightly different than a calendar month and two people, born on the same day and month, in diffderent years, could actually be under two different astrological signs. So, to keep things organized, the Zodiac was reduced to twelve astrological signs.

People who dedicate themselves to “reading the Zodiac” (and there are many) create a plan for each sign of the Zodiac called a Horoscope. Many people who read the Zodiac try to determine the influence of the Sun the Stars and the Moon at the exact hour and location of a person’s birth.

There are millions and millions of people who believe in Astrology and follow their Horoscope. As long as I have been alive, Horoscope Magazines have sold very well and just about every daily newspaper carries a Horoscope column in which they indicate the good and the bad things associated with your astrological sign for that day.

In the dating scene, one of the most common questions asked in order to start a conversation with someone new is “What’s your sign?”

I have often been asked as to whether I believe in Astrology. Plainly, I do not believe in the magazine or newspaper horoscopes. How can one single set of predictions be good for millions of people? However, I do yield to the possibility of an influence of the cosmos at the time and place of your birth: Simply put, I do not know enough about astrology to know whether the position of the Sun the Stars and the Moon has any material effect on your life.

Palmistry: (Palm Reading)

Probably the oldest form of fortune telling is what is called Palmistry. We often associate Palmistry with Gypsy fortune tellers, but even in the Old Testament, there are references to your hands revealing your life.

The concept is that God (or a Supreme Being) controls the first making of a fist on a newborn’s hand and the creases that result from this are a window into the future life that newborn will have. Palmistry is the art of being able to read those creases on the hand and foretell that person’s future. A life-line; a success-line, etc.

One of the problems facing Palmists is that the creases on the hand change during a person’s lifetime. If you are right-handed, the Palmist will usually want to look at your left hand because it is used less than your right and, logically, will have fewer changes to the creases on the palm.

People who believe in fortune telling (and there are millions) will swear by the accuracy of the Palmist’s statements. I look at Palmistry more pragmatically: If there was even a fair degree of accuracy to a life line, every insurance company would want to see your hand before they sold you a life insurance policy. If there was a fair degree of accuracy to your success line, every College and every employer would want to look at your palm before working with you.

Phrenology: (Bumps and lumps on your head)

Phrenology, very popular in the 19th century, is the pseudo-science of reading the bumps on your head and is based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind: that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Phrenologists believed that the mind has a set of different mental faculties, with each particular faculty represented in a different area of the brain. These areas were believed to be proportional to a person's personality. It was believed that the cranial bone conformed in order to accommodate the different sizes of these particular areas of the brain in different individuals, so that a person's capacity for a given personality trait could be determined simply by measuring the area of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain.

No one, anywhere, has a perfectly smooth head, but today Phrenology is looked upon in most of the world as pure quackery.

Next week I’ll discuss Tarot Cards, Ouija Boards and Crystal Balls. If you have questions, please e-mail me at

No comments: