Report on Astrology-Schizophrenia Study

Introduction

On 22 March 2022, Pumpkin Person posted on my behalf a solicitation for volunteers to complete a survey where they ranked supposed personality descriptions of people born under astrological zodiac signs by their similarity to the imagined personality of someone experiencing Schneider’s first-rank symptoms of schizophrenia. Thank you, PP! The survey is no longer available, but if I gain access to a sufficiently large and properly responding sample of volunteers, I might reopen it or study this hypothesis again with a different method. Note that the volunteers were not informed that these personality descriptions were borrowed from astrology, nor what the survey was intended to study, although I expect that at least some of them figured those out.

I doubt that the alignment of celestial bodies causally influences individual differences in human temperament, but could the stargazers have gotten something right by coincidence? This study was intended to test my hypothesis that astrological knowledge might reflect nascent, semi-conscious knowledge of the fact that a person’s risk of eventually developing schizophrenia varies based on their month of birth. Statistical studies have found that this risk follows an approximately sinusoidal curve with a period of one year. Compared to the baseline of June, relative risk ranges from about 1.1 in February and March to 0.85 in August and September, a difference of about 30% between peak and trough. [1] This is thought to be caused by maternal vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight in the coldest months, and perhaps also by prenatal exposure to certain seasonal infections. [2] [3]

Methodology

My first task was to define my null and alternative hypotheses:

H0: There is no positive relationship between: (1) the similarity of characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia to supposed personality traits of an individual born under a zodiac sign; (2) the risk that someone born under that sign will eventually develop schizophrenia.

H1: There is a positive relationship between (1) and (2).

From there, I mapped out the following research program:

  1. Rank zodiac signs by schizophrenia risk: starting with Pisces, since it most overlaps the highest-risk month of March; and ending with Virgo, which most overlaps the lowest-risk month of September. Note that each zodiac sign partially overlaps two months, so I determined schizophrenia risk for each sign by consulting Figure 1 in [1] for the schizophrenia risk of the month with which that sign shares the most days, e.g., Capricorn spans from December 21 to January 20, so it’s linked to January. This shift should be too small to affect the overall results much. A problem is that I couldn’t always discern the slight differences in Figure 1, the source I was using for this ranking. I decided on the following ordering, from highest to lowest expected risk, and did so before receiving any survey responses so as to prevent researcher bias: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, Taurus, Aries, Sagittarius, Gemini, Scorpio, Cancer, Libra, Leo, Virgo.
  2. Present volunteers with: (1) a description of Schneider’s first-rank symptoms of schizophrenia; (2) descriptions of supposed personality traits of persons born under certain zodiac signs, all from the same source which was not created for the purpose of this study, and without selectively presenting only some of those traits. For this source, I chose [4]. Ask volunteers to rank those personality descriptions from greatest to least resemblance to the schizophrenia symptoms. Personality descriptions are presented in a random order for each participant, to reduce possible bias from order, e.g., less-attentive respondents tending to give lower numbers to options which appear earlier.
  3. Calculate each zodiac sign’s schizophrenia rating as the average rank of schizophrenia resemblance which volunteers assigned to it, from 1 (highest) to 12 (lowest).
  4. Calculate the rank-order correlation between zodiac signs’ schizophrenia risks from step 1 and volunteer-rated schizophrenia similarity ratings of zodiac signs from steps 2 and 3.
  5. Calculate a p-value for the correlation found in step 4. Because the alternative hypothesis H1 seems unlikely, not to mention that any research pertaining to astrology will have to overcome especial skepticism, the significance threshold was set beforehand at (p < 0.01), well below the usual (p < 0.05). Incidentally, I advocate for (p < 0.000001) to become the standard significance threshold in academia, but under the presumption that professional academics are, or should be, more able to recruit a large and high-quality sample than is an independent amateur researcher such as myself, so I did not hold myself to that standard here.

Results

My prior concerns, expressed in the previous sentence, about poor quality and quantity of responses were vindicated. While about 60 people started the survey, only 10 completed it, and of these: 5 responded as instructed; 4 gave faulty responses by leaving one or more ratings blank and/or assigning the same ranking to multiple personality descriptions; and 1 was an obvious troll, whose ‘name’ was a racial slur and who assigned the same ranking to every description. This atrocious audience engagement may reflect that the survey required substantial reading, totaling about 1700 words for the instructions, schizophrenia symptoms, and personality descriptions, as well as laborious judgment to rank every sign. If I repeat this experiment, I will almost certainly do so with a shorter and easier survey.

Because these data were so exiguous and suspect, I calculated the rank-order correlation, as discussed in step 4 under Methodology, for each of several different amalgamations of the responses. First, I calculated it with only the 5 fully correct responses. Then, I calculated it again, including the 4 faulty responses by interpolating missing rankings and reassigning reused rankings with a random number generator. In each case, if there was one or more tie(s) in the month rankings, I calculated the rank-order correlation for each possible tiebreak, e.g., if Capricorn and Aquarius were tied, I would calculate it once with Capricorn above Aquarius and once with Aquarius above Capricorn.

None of these rank-order correlations were remotely significant even at p < 0.05, and a fortiori not significant at p < 0.01. Ah well. You win some, you lose some, and I lost this one; at least, perhaps, until I try again with a better sample.

Intriguingly, Pisces and Aquarius were consistently ranked among the most schizophrenic signs, and Virgo among the least, all of which concord with my hypothesis. However, this is only one of practically infinitely many possible post hoc pseudo-confirmations, each of which could have happened by sheer chance, and thus it cannot be considered strong statistical evidence.

Because this study was a failure, this report’s purpose is more to present the hypothesis than the results I found. I call it a failure because of the deficient data, not because of the null result, as, from a proper scientific perspective, a null result is a success if the null hypothesis is true.

Additional Note

Different sources give slightly different tabulations of schizophrenia risk by birth month, but there is apparent agreement that risk is highest near the beginning of the year when the weather is coldest, and lowest about three-quarters of the way through the year when the weather is warmest. Would this reverse in the Southern Hemisphere, relative to the Northern?

References

[1] Effects of Family History and Place and Season of Birth on the Risk of Schizophrenia
(See Figure 1.)

[2] Seasonality and infectious disease in schizophrenia: the birth hypothesis revisited
(This study found that winter birth month predicted higher schizophrenia risk, but that rates of influenza and measles did not, which by exclusion supports the hypothesis that the causal factor here is vitamin D deficiency.)

[3] Season of Birth – Low Sunlight Exposure/Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher risk of schizophrenia

[4] Your guide to all 12 zodiac signs: Dates, symbols, compatibility (I mildly edited these descriptions to shorten them and make it less obvious that they were drawn from astrology. This source is one of many which I could have used.)

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Coronavirus

Author’s Note: This is a parody of “Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft, focusing on current events and countercurrents. Minor textual changes may have been made from previous versions shown to specific individuals or published in private-access-only journals. Implied viewpoints do not necessarily reflect the author’s true views. Any resemblance to fictional persons, places, or things may be entirely real. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Coronavirus… the crawling chaos… I am the last… I will tell the audient void…

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was years ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept political countercurrents that made leftoids picket in liberal and crowded places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of elections; the fraud claims lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.


And it was then that Coronavirus came out of Wuhan. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old influenza genome and looked like a chest cold. The Chinese government lost their shit when they saw him, yet would not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of the grave of SARS way back in 2002, and that he had borrowed genetic code from species not on the World Health Organization’s watchlists. Into the lands of civilisation came Coronavirus, swarthy, slender, and sinister, forcing the federal government into buying strange instruments of glass and metal and failing to find enough of them in their stockpile. They spoke much of the sciences – of epidemiology and immunology – and gave projections of death tolls which sent nothingburgers away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to get Coronavirus, and natural immunity. And where Coronavirus went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of corona doomsayers. Never before had the screams of leftoids been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid protesting in the small hours, that the shrieks of liberals might less horribly disturb the pale, underpaid nurses as gas prices hovered on six dollars gliding under inflation, and old people in nursing homes crumbling against a sickly sky.


I remember when Coronavirus came to my bedroom: the great, the old, the terrible bedroom of unnumbered crimes. My friend had given him to me, and due to the impelling fascination and allurement of natural immunity, I burned with eagerness to have my T-cells explore his uttermost mysteries. My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; that what glowies from the Centers for Disease Control had thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied symptoms none but Coronavirus dared cause, and that in the sputter of his sputum there was caused in men that which had never been caused before yet which resulted only in watery eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that those who got the new variant du jour of Coronavirus looked on symptoms which others saw not.


It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds to get into the hospital due to Coronavirus; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room. And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded nurses amidst ICU beds, and yellow evil faces peering from behind Huawei webcams. And I saw the hospital budget battling against mismanagement; against the waves of destruction from poorly installed computers; whirling, churning; struggling around the dimming RGB and cooling fans. Then the vaccines played amazingly around the arms of the spectators, and hair stood up on end whilst microchips more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted in their veins. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about “thromboembolisms” and “5Genocide,” Coronavirus drave us all out, down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted Skid Row. I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We sware to one another that our rights were exactly the same, and still alive; and when our will to refuse the jab began to fade we cursed Pfizer over and over again, and laughed at the fake studies they made.


I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we began to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary formations and seemed to know our destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and found the blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to shew where the tramways had run. And again we saw a National Guard vaccine convoy, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost on its side. When we gazed around the Internet, we could not find the third booster to be necessary, and noticed that the safety record of the second booster was ragged at the top. Then the United Nations-Homeland Security Mandatory Booster SWAT Team split us up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the open country, and presently felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for as we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish badge-glitter of evil feds. Trackless, inexplicable armored personnel carriers, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a paramilitary tactical unit all the blacker for its military surplus rifles and night-vision goggles. The column seemed very thin indeed as they plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the Bates boots footsteps in the green-litten snow were frightful, and I thought I had heard the reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half floated between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the untested vortex of the unimaginable.


Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the powers-that-be can tell. A sickened, sensitive Fauci writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of remote school, corpses of dead plazas with sores that were small businesses, charnel automatic checkout machines that read chip cards of the pallid customers and make their savings accounts low. Beyond the exteriors vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of poorly understood mRNA vaccines that rest on nameless freezers beneath Wal-Mart pharmacies and contain fizzy vacua which may be full of lead particles. And through this revolting graveyard of academia and public policy the muffled, maddening beating of slogans, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous cucks from inconceivable, unlighted subreddits beyond sense; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate soyboys; the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Coronavirus.

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