Traits are not written in the stars

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am

For thousands of years, people have come up with ways to check character traits, such as the Chinese and western zodiacs. But I wonder how effective these methods are.

Many people believe in horoscopes, and follow them closely in newspapers every day. The writers of these life predictions assume people of the same zodiac sign share identical personality traits. But surely this is impossible.

In 19th-century Europe, people's characters were determined by the shapes and sizes of their skulls and their facial features. It was believed these methods could help identify criminals, but the practice mislabelled innocent people.

People should realise that the only way to know what someone's like is to talk to them and get to know them. Trusting generalised zodiac predictions is nearly as foolish as assuming someone is a criminal just because their face is unsymmetrical.

Janice Kwong Sze-hor

From the Editor

Thanks for the letter, Janice. You've touched on a really interesting part of human nature - the need to make sense of things. Nowadays, very few astrologers or phrenologists - people that look at the shapes of heads and facial features - would tell you their work was absolutely right. In other words, they talk in generalisations.

Most astrologers would also tell you that your character - as far as astrology is concerned - is special because it is influenced by the exact position of the planets at the exact time of your birth according to where you were born. Horoscopes in newspapers are broad and general because they only take into consideration one placement - that of the sun - in a person's charts, when the moon and all the planets in the solar system are thought to have an influence.

Judging anyone on their outward appearances is a mistake. As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. What is more important is what the person makes of themselves and their lives - and that is not written in the stars or the bumps on their heads.

Susan, Editor