What Happened When I Tried To Get My Scientist Dad Into Astrology

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
"So, Houston won the World Series. Was there anything astrological about that?" I'm on the phone with my dad, a retired chemist, Navy veteran, and all around great guy. He is not a horoscope-reader.
More accurately, he's a proud skeptic of all things spiritual. When I showed him the protective shungite crystal I keep at my desk, he scoffed and told me shungite is about 98% carbon. When I tried telling him about ghosts in our house, he told me that was just the house settling. Sure, trying to get him to believe in anything remotely mystical would seem like talking to a brick wall, but I wanted to give it one more try.
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So, I sent him his weekly horoscope and some general info about his sign, Aquarius. A few days later, I gave him a call and asked for his honest opinion on astrology. For the record, the Astrotwins do not write these Refinery29 horoscopes with septuagenarian dads from Delaware in mind. So, sure, he probably wouldn't relate to everything, but I knew he'd have something to say about it, anyway.
Sure enough, my dad clearly did his homework, and he reported back that he happily accepted the positive aspects of his sign. ("My ruling element is air. That’s pretty useful, actually.") And, in the way that so many dads can, he reminded me not to take anything, but specifically the matters of the stars, too seriously.
My dad won't be getting his birth chart read any time soon, but he may text me with a question about Mercury from time to time. (Whether he's being sarcastic or not, I'll never know.) Ahead, read my scientist dad's thoughts on the probability of compatibility, his theory about the point of astrology, and more.
On his weekly horoscope:
"For one thing, I don’t work anymore, so all those comments are out the window. And there’s this thing about a coworker crush. Well, the last time I had a crush on a coworker was your mom. So, so much for that... And then this weekend, [it says], 'Turn your living room into a dance floor.' I don’t think that’s going to happen. I actually read this a couple of times. And every time I looked at it seemed like it related to me less and less."
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On his relationship with his sign:
"This goes back a ways now, I guess to the '60s, when that Broadway show Hair had the big show-stopping song about 'the Age of Aquarius.' I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. But I happened to realize, 'Oh, that’s my sign. Hey, I’m an aquarius.' I think that was when it kind of dawned on me, but it doesn’t make much difference to me."
On the mysteries of astrological compatibility:
"If you tried to do an analysis of what the chances are, just by pure numbers, a probability calculation of the possibility of two people being air signs — or both being fire, earth, water, that sort of thing — what is the probability that that would be the case? My guess is that chances are pretty high. If you took all the Geminis and all the Libras and all the Aquarians and added them all up, I think there would end up being a pretty good chance that their partner is going to be the same element."
On planetary transits:
[Reading from his weekly 'scope] "'Venus pounces into Scorpio in your 10th house of prestige and amps up your high pro glow until December 1.' The amount of that sentence I understand is quite small. What does Scorpio have to do with me?"
On the greater purpose of astrology:
"The thing about horoscopes is they’re so broad that, usually, you can find some characteristic in there that applies to you, and that’s the hook. They'll list three, four, six characteristics, and if you can find one or two in there [that you relate to], maybe that’s the hook for you to start looking at this stuff more seriously.
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"It seems to me that human beings, in general, really insist on being guided by some other supernatural kind of force or influence. I don’t know why it’s necessary. It also helps human beings believe that they’re elevated over other sorts of beings, like animals, although I happen to think that many animals are much smarter than humans."
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