A SCHEME OF HEAVEN by Alexander Boxer


The History of Astrology and the Search for Our Destiny in Data
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A data scientist takes a deep dive into astrology.

Interest in astrology has been escalating in recent years, gaining wider cultural acceptance in relation to forecasting pursuits that range from politics to finance while continuing as an enduring preoccupation involving love and romance. Boxer argues that while it may still be frowned upon in most scientific circles, as a forecasting indicator, it’s perhaps no less reliable than more traditional mathematical formulas relating to fields such as economics. Throughout the book, the author brings an open-minded perspective, balancing his genuine interest and curiosity with rigorous analysis of historical and scientific data. “I want to give astrology a treatment that’s open and fair,” he writes. “Unlike many others who have a scientific background, I’ve never felt a particular animus toward astrology. On the contrary, its taboo status as the arch-pseudoscience makes it all the more delicious to think about.” Boxer investigates how astrology has evolved through the ages and focuses extensively on the algorithmic formulas intrinsic to numerical charts and diagrams from the ancient world. He reviews the work of scientific minds such as Ptolemy and Copernicus and considers how the subject has been applied to literary works by Dante, Shakespeare, and others. He also reviews key moments in history when astrological forecasting was useful, including the assassination of Julius Caesar and the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Ultimately, the author’s far-reaching exploration of the subject lands him at an enlightened conclusion. “It may not be ‘cosmic sympathy,’ but there is an undeniable power in astrology to reveal the surprising ways in which everything, and all of us, are connected to each other across time and space,” he writes. While Boxer’s diligent research may serve to advance the subject’s relevancy, his expansive data analysis makes for fairly arduous reading, and the data-averse will find it somewhat grueling.

A solid book on the history and science of astrology that will appeal more to academics in the field than general readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-393-63484-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019