A reader writes:

There are a couple of positive aspects to horoscopes, biorhythms, etc.

1) Asking the question serves a purpose in itself. There's a lot of the same benefits here as we find in prayer. Part of the benefit is just the actual act of forming the question, people deciding that yes, I really have to wonder if I'm in the right job/relationship/apartment, etc. Once you ask that question, you acknowledge that it's something you are questioning, that you see room for improvement in.

2) It unconsciously taps into what you already know to be the truth. People often say that it's the reader picking up subtle hints from the readee and just bouncing it back to them. So yes, the readee is giving off signals, often as to exactly what they know the answer should be. They just need to hear it from someone.

I occasionally have readings, and I absolutely know there's nothing real, "magic," or supernatural going on; but, I do pay attention to my reaction to these fairly random bits of information. Like most people, I will latch on to the random bits that fit and let the others fall by the wayside. I am listening to what I want to hear, so I have to ask myself, "Why is it I'm wanting to hear just that; why does that strike a nerve and this doesn't?" Readings can give you a lot of insight into just what sort of answers you're looking for.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.