When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars, University affiliates can hope to enjoy a peaceful day in all aspects of love, career and relationships, says a report published in this week's Almanac. Well, not exactly. The four-page report, written by Molecular Biology Emeritus Professor Robert Davies and Astronomy and Astrophysics Professor Robert Koch, states that only 17 percent of those sampled at the University professed to some belief in astrology. The study also reports that only nine percent of the respondents said they make plans based on astrological predictions. And of all 561 responses used in the survey, only two respondents qualified as "true believers," or persons who said they believe in astrology and consistently plan and act on those beliefs. A questionnaire used in obtaining the report's statistics was published last fall in both the Almanac and The Daily Pennsylvanian. The survey was also administered to the second-year class of the Medical School, students in the General Honors course "Infectious Diseases," and three introductory level astronomy classes. The report offers breakdowns of the responses by age, ethnicity, religion, gender, position at the University, home school and education level. Of these, the report cites 31 to 40 year olds, blacks, Christians, males, staff members, employees of the Vet School, and those who have only a high school education as the groups showing the highest percentage of belief, although in no case did a majority in any category express belief. The authors of the survey said that they were surprised by many of its findings, including the number of 31 to 40-year-olds who professed a belief in astrology. "An explanation that is worthy of further investigation is that these people determined their beliefs during the '60s, when they were younger, when they were high school and college students," Davies said yesterday. "In the '60s there were all these sort of way out, avant-garde beliefs." The authors, "as scientists and citizens," listed two primary reasons for conducting the survey. First was the "common knowledge that in recent times certain national leaders did act on the basis of astrological predictions." But Koch would not confirm last night whether the "national leaders" mentioned in his study were former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy. "I think that's a plausible conclusion," Koch said. "But there may be others." "I don't want to tar anybody's name," he added. The second reason behind the study was to compare current beliefs at the University to a similar study conducted 20 years ago. But Koch said the study proved to be only marginally useful in gauging changes in student's beliefs in astrology. By comparing their data to a report conducted on graduate students at the University 20 years ago, Koch and Davies concluded that there was probably little change over two decades in graduate students' beliefs in astrology. These beliefs were held by a minority of graduate students in both studies. Other findings showed that University students show less belief in astrology than 1200 people contacted in a recent Gallup poll, which found that 25 percent of Americans surveyed believed "that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives."Comments powered by Disqus
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