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Of course, astrology has been rejected by the scientific community, including astronomers, who have concluded it has no scientific validity. Despite this, a scan of Instagram shows astrology is having a bit of a moment.

For some, the trove of Mercury memes, the memes poking fun at fire signs ie Aries, Sagittarius and Leo and the memes dedicated to analysing the inner workings of the Scorpio mind, are just part and parcel of the thing that has become internet humour. But is this the case for everyone? Could they be a gateway to a deeper dive into all things astrology for others? Back in the day, Mercury retrograde was one of the only astrological "rules" that Nick stuck to when writing horoscopes for the masses.

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Or, apart from a Cancer because that's me, so I know that one. When he responded to a horoscope writer position masquerading as a "creative writing" job ad on a classifieds website in , Nick had no background in astrology to speak of. And so it was that Nick started doing some research into astrology — but not necessarily to bridge the gaps in his knowledge. He explained: "The hard part was thinking of different stories and narratives [for each star sign] because I was writing so many — I was writing them in batches of dozens at a time, a couple of hundred words each, and I'd also do entire years for each sign sometimes.

I looked up guides online to find out what the characteristics for each sign were, and that would help me get the creative juices flowing [because] not repeating yourself was quite hard. When asked if anyone noticed his lack of astrological knowledge or background, Nick said it was actually the opposite.

If I wasn't making it up, someone else was going to be, so I was happy to be making money off it as a freelance writer," he said. So if Nick was not privy to any universal truths sent to him directly through the cosmos, why did people feel like his mass-produced musings were prepared just for them? The answer emerged 70 years ago. The question of why people read and sometimes believe their horoscopes is most often explained by psychologist Bertram Forer's influential study, The Fallacy of Personal Validation: A Classroom Demonstration of Gullibility.

The study saw Forer give each of his respondents a personality test, and later a description of their personality that they were told was based on the result of their test. But Forer had actually given each of them the same description, pulled together from newspaper horoscopes. The respondents were next asked to rate the description's accuracy out of five, with five being the most accurate.

The average score at the end of it all was 4. Forer's conclusion was that descriptions of personality like horoscopes function by giving you positive or negative statements that are vague enough that they can apply to a wide audience. For University of Wales Trinity Saint David's principal cosmology and culture lecturer Dr Nicholas Campion, it comes down to human nature — specifically our shared desire to connect to the cosmos.

Dr Campion explained: "[Astrology is] appealing because it counters the other view that we are all sort of atomised individuals living in some essentially meaningless, isolated universe. But the memes poking fun at Mercury retrograde and certain signs suggest this generation of social media users is rewriting the language of astrology to derive new meanings from it.

Search for astrology memes on Instagram, and you'll be met with ,, as well as countless accounts dedicated to creating and sharing them with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of followers. The reason more people are engaging in astrology probably has more to do with technology than anything else, Dr Campion said.

Instead of having to turn to the horoscope page in a women's magazine or go to an astrologer, if you want greater depth you can just go to Instagram," he said. Julia Kelley, who runs the astrology Instagram meme account Yourmomshoroscope, has amassed nearly 30, followers in about seven months. The year-old said millennials and generation Z have adapted and crafted lifestyles that revolve around constant connection, but that we're also in a time where people "feel overly depressed, anxious and isolated". Because of that, people are having conversations about mental health online and astrology has become a tool that helps people find themselves, she said.

But they stay for more, she said, because of astrology's ability to "provide explanations for things that happen outside of our control, and [because it] provides descriptions of emotions and character traits that may traditionally make us feel confused or isolated". Topics: science-and-technology , planets-and-asteroids , stars , astronomy-space , internet-culture , community-and-society , australia.

First posted August 09, If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC.

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