Do Horoscopes All Say the Same Thing?
An empirical look at the Zodiac through word-frequency analysis.
Here’s my horoscope for July 3, 2015, according to my hometown newspaper:
This is the perfect day to come up with a new approach on how to deal with shared property, taxes, debt, or inheritances. You're full of inventive ideas and you're eager!
Debt! Eager! Spot on: I am eager to be out of debt. The mention of “inventive ideas” looks like an uncanny reference to the Aspen Ideas Festival, where I just heard a talk by data-journalist David McCandless. Incredible. But McCandless has dashed my hopes for finding some kind of logic in the universe via the pages of the Post-Dispatch. Through word-frequency analysis of 22,000 Yahoo horoscopes over the course of a year in 2010, McCandless has confirmed what I and many of my fellow Scorpios have probably long suspected: Horoscopes really say basically the same thing.
There are exceptions to the overlaps, though. The words in red are the unique ones that appeared in the top 50 words for each sign. “Charm” stands out in Leo horoscopes; it will surprise none of my friends or coworkers to learn that “talking” is unique to my astrological sign.
In presenting these findings, McCandless also used what he learned to make a meta-prediction of what your average horoscope might say on any given day in the future. So whether you’re a Pisces on November 11, 2015, or a Libra on February 2, 2525, this one’s for you:
Whatever the situation or secret moment, enjoy everything a lot. Family and friends matter. Keep making love. The world is life, fun, and energy. Maybe hard. Or easy. Change your mind and a better move comes along.
And I guess taxes are important, too.