Your karma ran over my dogma

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2006

If it weren't for Yahoo!News, I sometimes wonder if there would be any Bad Astronomy news to report.

What is it this time? Your astrological sign is related to your car accident rate.

The study, which looked at 100,000 North American drivers' records from the past six years, puts Libras (born September 23-October 22) followed by Aquarians (January 20-February 18) as the worst offenders for tickets and accidents

I'm a Libra, as it turns out, and I have had one speeding ticket and one car accident in my life. Both were when I was young, and I can look back on both and say it was definitely the stupidity of youth and not the fact that I was born in September that had anything to do with it.

Anecdotes, of course, are not evidence, but the Yahoo!News article doesn't give any real references, so I can't follow up on this immediately. However, I do know that every study on astrology, when done correctly, shows that astrology simply doesn't work. It cannot predict trends any better than random chance.

Studies like this are notoriously difficult to do, because there are lots of factors that can influence the results. Did they account for weekends, holidays, weather? What was the actual range of dates used to study the accidents? Were they chosen in a way to minimize any systematic effects? How did they normalize the factors?

The insurance company who did the study doesn't have anything about it on their website, but I plan on forwarding this to my friend Ivan Kelly who has done extensive studies of astrology (again, see my astrology page for more). I'm sure he'll have some comments about it.

Tip o' the cap(ricorn) to the zillions of people who emailed me about this silliness.

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