The psychology of using fear of the unkown for business- Astrology


I must say I am less than a devout Hindu. Anyway, I am not your average cow worshipping Hindu. When I see a cow on the street my first thought is that if it was in my state it would have ended up on the plate. Anyway, what kind of cow worshipping person would let the creature roam out on the streets all by itself scavenging food from garbage bins.

But I did believe for a long time in one thing- Astrology, like many or most in my part of the world. Why does a person believe in Astrology? One, it is part fun to know your future and mostly because of the fear of the unknown. Life can often throw up big surprises, you might become rich overnight or you can lose your fortune or even a limb if not your life when you least expect it.

Nowhere is this belief more evident than in marriages, when by a series of computations people check out whether a couple is compatible or not. Factors range from having staggered cycles of fortune and misfortune for the partners so that the unit as a whole will have a stable life. There are around 9 other factors ranging from sex to having progeny and all this is measured by the position of your stars and computed out to come to an overall compatibility scale ranging from zero to ten. Zero signifying no compatibility and ten the highest compatibility. So scientific… yet what are they based upon? The influence the stars and planets have upon you. Agreed that they could have some influence but what if a comet were to pass through all your well laid out planets and stars, would it not affect your computation? The answer is nobody knows.

Most of the arranged marriages with all their astrological blessings end up in divorces. A science that can’t even predict whether something will last should not be used to compute the more intricate things in a relationship. But even with so much data against astrology people still stick to it and forego better matches based on the more rational factors such as financial security, social standing and family values to believe in hearsay and superstition. In spite of knowing first hand the disasters of listening to such a sham, people still go behind it. What could be the reason?

The biggest reason of course is the fear of the unknown. If you don’t see the astrological compatibility, and the marriage goes bad what then? At least if you checked the stars you could rest assured that you had done everything that was humanly possible and things still did not pan out. The reason to some extent is also the lack of a scientific study into the correlation between astrological predictions and actual life outcomes. Most people don’t know how these computations are arrived at. Many even don’t know that there are 10 parameters on which these things are measured leave alone how they work towards achieving the results.

Imagine if the whole thing was a hoax. In spite of knowing that it is not foolproof people have not shunned it. If anything, it has got more followers today than maybe a century earlier. Its hold on people seems to grow even as its error rates climb up. What a wonderful business based on nothing but lies. If you understand this properly you can even sell products or even dreams and quality would be the last thing to worry about. The business model is not based on providing quality product or service but is based on a fundamental human psychology, fear of the unknown.

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About sarin

Sarin has worked as a product manager for some big telecom companies and is a prolific blogger
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