The Barnum Effect – Why Do People Believe In Horoscopes?

The Barnum Effect – Why Do People Believe In Horoscopes?


Astrology is one of the world’s oldest natural sciences. From the dawn of time, humans have looked
up at the stars and wondered about the future. Cities have been built and wars fought from
starry information handed out by cryptic astrologers. But are we naïve to believe in the alignment
of the stars to predict our future? Is this really a science? Perhaps we should take more responsibility
for our actions rather than believing it was all in the stars. Are we simply too afraid of the future to
put behind these ancient practices? Are astrology, crystal-balls, and tarot cards
simply explanations for what appears random and scary? Let’s find out, in this episode of the Infographics
show – The Barnum Effect – Why do people believe in horoscopes? The Barnum Effect, coined in 1956 by psychologist
Paul Meehl, is an everyday psychological phenomenon whereby people believe that advice based on
supernatural or quasi-scientific knowledge is specific to them, when in actual fact,
it is generic information that could apply to anyone. We, as humble human beings, are generally
predisposed to believe vague yet positive descriptions of our personality, especially
if the descriptions foreshadow desirable future events. The Barnum Effect explains why millions of
people subscribe to astrology, fortune telling, tarot cards, and online personality tests
each and every day. The term Barnum Effect comes from the “a
sucker is born every minute” phrase widely attributed to the American showman PT Barnum. Barnum, born on July 5th, 1891, is fondly
remembered for promoting outlandish hoaxes and for founding the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He travelled the world collecting human oddities,
or freaks, to be exhibited for a fee. He introduced the world to General Tom Thumb,
The Four-Legged Girl, Pinhead, The Siamese Twins, The Living Torso, and, let’s not
forget The Wild Men of Borneo. Barnum, who was also an author, publisher
and philanthropist, may not have been responsible for the “sucker born every minute” phrase
at all. In fact, it is unlikely that a businessman
as successful as Barnum would actually mutter such words. Why would he publically insult his client
base? It is more plausible that the actual “sucker”
quote came from rival businessman, David Hannum, who had been one-upped by Barnum in exhibiting
a fake giant in New York. Hannum was in possession of a model of a fake
giant that Barnum wanted to buy from him to exhibit. Hannum wouldn’t sell the fake giant, and
Barnum went on to build his own fake that he exhibited with great success. Hannum was probably referring to Barnum’s
business model of aggressively promoting and displaying hoaxes, including the fake giant
scam, when he uttered the sentence “a sucker is born every minute.” Since living in caves, humans have come to
believe in astrology. We all seek some kind of order or sense for
the random events that happen in our lives. Since the beginning of time, we have been
scared of the future and have felt vulnerable to the chaotic disorder of everyday life. We need to travel back 4,000 years to look
at the first organized system of astrology that arose during the Babylonian age during
the 2nd millennium. The Babylonians were the first to describe
the 12 zodiac signs. The Egyptians refined this system, before
the Greeks took ahold of it and shaped it into its modern form. During Alexander the Great’s conquest of
Asia, the Greeks were introduced to the cryptic cosmological systems of Syria, Babylon, and
Persia, and made them their own. In the modern world, astrology is just as
popular with almost all magazines and newspapers having astrological sections. Thousands of websites are devoted to telling
our fortunes, and according to a study, 58 percent of Americans between the ages of 18
and 24 believe astrology is scientific. In fact, the same study suggested that skepticism
of astrology is on the decrease. Why is this? Well, astrology may excuse us for our less
positive traits or actions. We can blame being late for a meeting on the
Full Moon in Aquarius, or justify splitting with an unsuitable romantic partner because
our star signs unfortunately clashed. Horoscopes are convenient everyday distractions
that make us feel good about the world around us. Let’s take a look at personality descriptions
of one of the star signs at random, say, Capricorn. “Capricorn women have a cool, standoffish
charm. Elegant and glacial, they may seem unapproachable. Actually, this is a mask to hide their vulnerability.” Here the first group of adjectives, “standoffish”,
“elegant”, “unapproachable”, and “glacial,” are the types of words one might use to describe
a movie-star or model – and who doesn’t want to be described as a movie star? The description goes on to explain, “Actually,
this is a mask to hide their vulnerability.” So what is happening here? The description does a complete 180, and discredits
what it has already told us, leaving us confused in the mix and in a position to cherry-pick
those attributes we would rather have. The description moves on to “Capricorns
are afraid of losing face.” Well who really isn’t afraid of losing face? They “fear criticism.” Again who out there actually enjoys being
criticized? And concludes with the totally generic – “she
expects the best from her children.” Moms of the world, please raise your hands,
those of you who expect the worst from your children. No hands raised? Right. While most of us realize that reading and
believing your horoscope is a little, let’s say, naïve, can astrology and astronomy actually
be dangerous? Well if you happened to have been a child
born in pre-Columbian Maya culture right up to the Spanish conquest in the 17th century,
your fate could well have been determined by the stars. The Mayan religion blended several aspects
of nature, astronomy, and rituals. They developed calendars around the stars
and the planets, and built astronomical buildings where they practiced human sacrifice rituals. They used a number of methods including heart
extraction, shooting with arrows, and the placing of the sacrificial live body into
a ball for a ritual reenactment of the Mesoamerican ballgame, followed swiftly by mandatory disembowelment. Nope. You won’t see that in your Marie Claire
horoscope. Statistics show that over 90% of Americans
know their star sign and as many as 50% read their horoscopes, but it is not really clear
how many actually believe what they read. Perhaps horoscopes are consumed more as entertainment
nowadays, with a group of hard-core fixed believers in the minority. So, what do you think? Do you believe in your horoscope? Can we really tell our future from the stars? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called What if The Whole World Suddenly Went Blind? Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

100 Comments

  • Chad MackenDeez says:

    It's based in egoism cause people love hearing good things about themselves.

  • BoomMoob says:

    Bullshit. There is no god. No astrology. One makes their future and luck by their hard work. You can never pray to a mythical creature every second like a spineless fuck and expect a change in life. Common sense

  • OfficialDaddys2 says:

    Star with name SX RS24035-592403 told me I will be successful in life 🙂 🙂

  • Mauri QHD says:

    what the vid wont tell you, is that the simpler answer is
    "because ppl are dumb"

  • Snidebark says:

    I’ve always felt that many of those who believe in horoscopes do so because they feel unfulfilled in life and want something to blame instead of accepting responsibility for their shortcomings. They’re often the same credulous people who think they find validity in superstitions, including religion.

  • Study of Gaming says:

    Anyone else see Edgar Allan Poe instead of Barnum?

  • Jamario Robinson says:

    All horoscopes are the same.. Just worded different 💯

  • Ayush Bakshi says:

    Because they are stupid.

  • Armani Versace says:

    I don’t believe in horoscopes I just like to see what they think Scorpios are like. I don’t believe in horoscopes I just like astrology

  • SmellsLikeCurry says:

    My mother in law believes this crap ugh

  • luke yeahyeah says:

    Horoscopes are fun reads nothing more

  • Aussa Villa says:

    Because they're stupid

  • animesh singhal says:

    Indian astrology is older than any other…

  • CL88able says:

    The horoscopes I only read very uncommonly and when I did. There actually was quite fitting stuff in them. I do not believe them to be completely true and I don't follow them that much. Although I do find myself having those moments where I ask from myself "What does my horoscope sign have to say for me this month?" it is just one more thing in my life that doesn't impact my life majorly just one thing in the background where I have to say to it "Damn that hit the spot"

  • illyounotme says:

    I have a theory about horoscopes. That it isn't really about the stars influencing you but the stars marking time/place when you hit certain developmental stages which then influence your personality.

    For example when and where you were born will set up as a toddler when you might take your first steps and start walking. Will it be indoors or outside? Taking your first steps tryting to chase butterflies will likely have a very different effect upon a child's personality compared to being stuck indoors for those first steps.

    Not saying it is perfect, especially now days when where you are born is not necessarily where you live your entire life. But back when horoscopes came into fashion people tended to stay close to where they were born. The influence of hitting different developmental marks during different seasons could influence personalities enough to make horoscopes seem to fit reasonably close enough for many people to believe in them.

  • Scarlet Letter says:

    I believe that stars are really fun to oggle, and that the zodiac is a good intermediate jumping off point after you've gotten a firm grasp of finding and using your hemisphere's navigational constellations.

  • David Murphy says:

    I'm a rational sceptic whose epistemology it grounded in pragmatic methodological naturalism. Typical Libra really.

  • Pure Glee says:

    Omg, people actually believe so much in astrology 😂

  • AAron Thom says:

    The Spanish conquest was in the 16th century, not the 17th. Shitty, non facts as per usual

  • Oscar says:

    where’s the sometimes option

  • Dabi hyacinthum Inferno says:

    Horoscope is magic not science.

  • Gnug215 says:

    Many people also believe the earth is flat. The fact that so many believe in astrology used to worry and rub me the wrong way. Not so much anymore.

  • Ivan Nenadovic says:

    You cant compare all those shitty daily, weekly etc. horoscopes that are written in magazines that have nothing to do with real astrology and a full detailed natal chart.

    Natal chart predictions are not really predictions but more like general guidelines for better life.

  • 2020 Chevy Mustang says:

    I never knew I could use this to my advantage. Every minute, a fool is born. I like that.

  • Barış E. says:

    Did the ''S'' sounds only bother me? I think there is something wrong with the audio.

  • A. Efendi says:

    this is his greatest show!

  • ShawnChua says:

    Tbh it makes me want to commit suicide sometimes…

  • Jackson Purtell says:

    Unsubscribing to your channel, and a big dislike

    If the majority believes it than maybe it’s true…

    There is trillions upon trillions of things in science we haven’t proved yet… who are you to say that science won’t prove astrology or even ghosts real in the next few decades or even centuries…

    There are many ancient beliefs that are ridiculous today such as the sun god ejaculating the Egyptians into existence, however, astrology has stood the test of time and was used in almost every culture in every country and still is used today…

    This video is extremely biased to the fact of “present science” and no matter how many diagrams you pull up the majority of people believe in astrology and there is too many coincidences relating to specific people for it to be completely ignored by the scientific community

  • Zachary Dansby says:

    Was that the Ishtar Gate?

  • TheRealTaco says:

    Only watching this because my girlfriend is all about this stuff…

  • m&m 's says:

    The Greatest Showman…. Anyone?

  • Siddharth Kansal says:

    astrology is not a science

  • james evarts says:

    SDAF

  • Isaiah James says:

    This man just said astrology is fake and people will still believe it

  • Izzi Victorio says:

    Astrology isn't a science and I don't believe it's a science. I would describe myself as a beginners in astrology. I can read your natal chart, tell you things base on your sun, moon and rising, but I still can't draw up a chart. Astrology is more than your sun signs. I believe it's like a religion more than a science.

  • deisisase says:

    I'm one of the few Americans that DOESN'T know their star sign; I've been trying to figure that out though– by eye!

  • Khyro Sound says:

    I felt the information that wasn’t given in this video was very manipulating. I would take to me to long to type up my rebuttal for the video

  • Kapi Kapilesh says:

    Yo! But Indian Vedic astrology works completely different from wester system! You must give it a look, and you will understand why

  • Simonne says:

    Astrology is not about sun signs. Astrology is about learning to read a chart and understand how it affects you. The definition of a Capricorn sun is very basic. I appreciate you showing the philosophical argument of believing in non-scientific, non-tangible events vs demanding scientific proof for the validity of something, but please do your research on astrology. It's so much more than basic predictions you read in magazine columns every month.

  • Kush Coma says:

    I had a feeling Horoscopes were a means of boosting that 'feeling good' energy.

  • doumacacpan says:

    Bố đéo tin

  • Andrii Shekhirev says:

    Might be nit-picking here, but I've a problem with the very first line of the video – astrology is not a science, as in "systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe", because it doesn't offer properly testable explanations and predictions. It might be called a "study", but certainly not a "natural science".

  • Jakob Buck says:

    Scorpio squad

  • OddEyeCircles says:

    i know that its pseudo science but its kinda fun sometimes. shouldnt be taken that seriously. constellations are fun to observe though.

  • Cheers says:

    58% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are idiots.

  • EpicMU1030 says:

    He actually died on April 7th, 1891 and was born on July 5th, 1810

  • Dr Doc says:

    So we are going to ignore that the greeks used science from south Pacific

  • vsabay gaming says:

    is that really Barnum from the greatest showman or someone else?

  • Zarrar Legree says:

    this guy is such a NAG and he is probably a Capricorn himself

  • Salam Gueye says:

    my wallet is like an onion each time i open it i cry

  • Aaron Weber says:

    Pot program journal qpxoqy past other express management garden.

  • Icexcold Xperzion says:

    This question “do you believe your Horoscope?” is like do you believe the Bible was written by god and everything in it is perfect and should be followed by law.

    It’s a bunch of made up bs that was created by a human and deceived humans that were to naive. Now which one am I talking about a Horoscopes or the Bible.

    The answer is both.

  • Bishnu Akash says:

    *Laughs in Atheist*

  • Allan Reyes says:

    Isn't this THE GREATEST SHOWMAN?

  • CreeperLadMC says:

    ‘58% of Americans believe Horoscopes are scientific.’
    America is doomed

  • Destiny Mugo says:

    I want to know who the voice behind the video is.

  • Lana Jig-maker says:

    Apparently i'm an Aries. Someone tried to tell me about me based on that. It didn't matter then, or now. Meh.

  • sam_donuts says:

    this video is so biased. you can't discuss horoscopes without talking about the science behind birth charts. no one person is one of the 12 signs only

  • Austin Ocampo says:

    wow this was not well done

  • Daft Moonz says:

    You have a good voice and MIC.

  • Fer.Jr__ says:

    I'm a Taurus in the horoscope but some of the stuff is true and some are not

  • Rayy. 808 says:

    “Is this even a science?”😂😂😂😂😂

  • Haridev V K says:

    Horoscopes are first used by Indians before mayan culture and continue to exist without any problem.

  • Ashlee Betriss Balmores says:

    Barnum is like P.T Barnum from The Greatest Showman movie

  • Thembi Mpahane says:

    P.T BarnuM,The greatest showman

  • Antonis8 says:

    Because the average IQ is not enough

  • King 11k says:

    I believe it has reason to be believed, but I don’t have full belief in it. Let’s take the Greek and Chinese zodiacs. One is based on the time of year, the other being a 12 year cycle, something that is less zodiac being needed to be interpreted and more about when you are born. It is likely that the time of year and the year you are born will have an effect on you that distinguishes you from someone who has a separation within 12 years. It’s not like being born in the same zodiac makes you the same, but the pattern is definitely there due to environmental factors. For example, I don’t know of any major holiday in August, leading to Leo like myself to grow up loving the attention and care that comes with a birthday that isn’t interrupted by another event like Christmas. Contract with Capricorn having the massive holidays that are Christmas and new year. Less attention on them leading up to/after the birthday due to other events. I’m not going to say it’s a definitive science, but it certainly has some grounds in logic. Not sure how effective the horoscope is when it comes to magazines though.

  • Euros says:

    its hard to look at these the same way after homestuck….

  • Kira Almeida says:

    Well that was incredibly insensitive.

  • Spicy says:

    Happy birthday Barnum!!

  • Shannen Granger says:

    the greatest showman 🙂

  • Cesar Belloso says:

    I am extremely please about the information just shared. When I was 11, I read my sign, but even at that age, I could still reason that planeta and stars could not dictate our life: and all I read was too general. There is no truth here, Christ is the way, truth, and the life! He provides the perfect eternal love, it was His Choice for ever

  • BBB says:

    I think one way to "check" if astrology is accurate is to look at signs other than yours. See if they fits you. In my case, I admit they are generic but my sign does fit me the most.
    What do you think?

  • Moe Abdullah says:

    Well kids, moral of the story is zodiec signs and horoscopes are all bullshit

  • chlorifil boi says:

    I enjoy being criticised

  • your priend says:

    Stop reading shit and find a real professional astrologer. That will do the trick

  • Timothy Johnston says:

    "OMG. This newspaper totes gets me. I'm such a Pisces!" – morons

  • Kurt Semler says:

    If you believe the horoscope, you're a flat out moron that is a superstitious believer in literal magic. The pen setting next to you has more gravitational influence on you than the moon, or the Aquarias constillation. And people get offended about calling thier beliefs bullshit when I can mathematically prove it. It's basic high school physics. Furthermore, the Horoscope and Zodiac are based on a (now outmoded by 500 years), geocentric model of the Universe.

  • Patrica Dyson says:

    Just for fun…

  • Mawande Sosibo says:

    thank you for opening my eyes

  • AJboi100 says:

    Barnum forehead is huge

  • cutie boy cute says:

    Its beleave what u wanna beleave but i think its real

  • Yes Dergen says:

    Astrology is not scientific people, it’s all a big lie really.

  • Bailey Watson says:

    Why tf would positions of stars determine my future, does anyone really believe in this bs?

  • TheMasked Artist says:

    I've literally seen friendships end over these horoscopes.
    Why do people do this?

  • Hannah G says:

    what study says 58% of 18-24 yr olds believe that??? show me the carfax

  • The Infographics Show says:

    Do you believe in horoscopes? Does reading a favorable one make your day and vice versa?

  • 8bitkron1k says:

    Unless you've actually studied astrology in depth you shouldn't be able to come to any conclusion about the issue.

    I was a skeptic about astrology but I saw how much it applied to my life and others.

    Do your own Natal chart.

    Come back.

    Then tell me it's bullshit.

  • Nomz says:

    Yeah, he lost me as immediately as he said it's a science lol

  • Jonathan Mejia says:

    wait wait it wasn’t the mayas that did the killing it was the azteca.

  • Adish Ravindran says:

    Can you guys do a video on Myers-Briggs personality tests?

  • Uniqxe_ikay Yt says:

    If you read about your horoscope you will see that it will be a lot like your personality so that why you should at least look into it

  • Tyler Rhoades says:

    Astrology and Mathematics were introduced to the modern world together. It is extremely complicated. Everyone just assumes it's bogus without doing any research or looking back at previous research studies.

  • Brendan says:

    It’s fine to look at them casually, but I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who actually makes life decisions based on them

  • מאור לבבי says:

    Astrology is a pagan barbaric hoax

  • GE NE says:

    Anyone who believes horoscopes are nut heads 🤷‍♂️its just a placebo effect

  • Dario Wirtha says:

    Astrology is discriminating. Just 12 animals? No turtle sign? No koala sign?

  • Casey Portnell says:

    I don’t Believe In Horoscopes. They said things that are not true in my family.

  • Johnny Matos says:

    What's funny is how people regard constellations as entities or objects, when the starts "in" them are not related at all…

  • Unicorn Lady (formerly archiecook55) says:

    Sometimes I find that horoscope stuff fun to look at but I don't actually believe in it.

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