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Why You Shouldn’t Hitch Your Wagon to Predictions for the Year of the Horse

Travelers Today       By    Ken Stone

Updated: Jan 31, 2014 07:56 AM EST

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year of the horse, chinese new year, Prophesies, Forecasts
Year of the Horse 2014
Graphic depiction of the Chinese Year of the Horse, which begins Jan. 31 — or Feb. 4 under a different system.(Photo : eWallpaper)

The only safe prediction for the Year of the Horse beginning Jan. 31 (or Feb. 4 if you're a stickler) is that Google will feature an animated rocking horse.

In fact, Asian country users saw that on their Google homepage Thursday. Americans have to wait.

But if you're a stickler for reason, you might Google "Chinese astrology skeptics" and click "I'm Feeling Lucky."

Up pops the Skeptic's Dictionary, which dismisses astrology - the basis for Chinese New Year forecasts - as "probably the most widely practiced superstition and most popular Tooth Fairy science in the world today."

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If you're not among the billions riding the Year of the Horse craze, you're in luck!

Here are five reasons why Chinese astrology isn't a good bet for things like picking a Super Bowl winner (sorry, Broncos fans).

1, The Chinese lunisolar calendar has changed more often than Lady Gaga's costumes.

Math Professor Helmer Aslaksen of the National University of Singapore documented how the Jesuits in 1645 forced a change in the Chinese calendar "to demonstrate their superiority over the Chinese and Muslim astronomers."

Their work led to inclusion of fake leap months in the calendar.

"Fake leap months is still causing controversy in the Chinese calendar," Aslaksen wrote in a seven-page treatise. "Up until the early 1990s all Chinese calendars had the wrong leap month for 2033!"

2. Millions of Chinese women swear in vain by a pregnancy calendar.

Legend has it that a 900-year-old astrological chart was unearthed from a royal tomb.

The chart invites you to plug in the mom's age, month of conception and see if the baby-to-be will be pink (a girl) or blue (a boy).

But according to a skeptics' message board, "The real odds of this chart are 50 percent - the same as all the other outside-the-genetic-laboratory sex selection techniques."

3. Chinese born in the "wrong" year face social and economic hardship.

"Perhaps the worst case of the discriminatory zodiac phenomenon is that of the 'Fire Horse Women,' meaning women born in the Year of the Horse, when Fire is the dominant element," says the RationalWiki. 

Horse personalities, the site says, are usually thought to be independent and outgoing, "but under the Fire element this turns to unruliness and arrogance. Girls born under this combination are believed to be particularly unlucky, and to bring ruin on their family, as well as their husband (if they are able to find one)."

Birth rates reportedly dropped dramatically in China, Korea and Japan in the last Fire Horse year, leading to higher abortion rates, and "evidence indicating increased rates of female infanticide."

4. Christians are urged against placing their faith in Horse forecasts

An evangelical site is critical of the belief that "the animal ruling a person's birth year exercises a profound influence on his or her life."

Even if those born in the Year of the Horse are deemed "cheerful, popular, and love to compliment others," the site says, "these religious horoscopes ... are dangerous superstitions."

The Bible condemns the practice of astrology (Isaiah 47:12-13). Depending on the translation, Christians are snarkily warned to ignore such Babylonian beliefs: "Let now the astrologers, the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from the things that shall come upon thee."

5. And if you take the Year of the Horse literally, count on newspapers making a comeback!

You'll do well if your business involves wood or fire, according to Canadian Feng Shui expert Paul Ng. This includes lumber companies, agriculture and media companies. Yes, he included dead-tree media among them.

Forecasts beg the obvious - especially on how the superwealthy will do.

The "intelligence firm" Wealth-X says with hyperspecificity: "The Chinese private jet market for [the super-rich] will grow by 30 percent in 2014."

That might be a flying leap of faith but Professor Aslaksen, in his "fake leap month" analysis, noted that not even the learned Jesuits are safe from overreach.

Their plan backfired, he wrote.

"The appearance of fake leap months in the calendar was one of the reasons why they were thrown into jail in 1664."

© 2014 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
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