Exciting news for people who believe in science enough to want mass vaccination, but not enough to think horoscopes are made up: Utah’s Salt Lake county health department says there’s a big difference in vaccination rates depending on your Zodiac sign.
At least, that’s what officials found when they analysed anonymised data on 1.2million residents, providing a table of the least and most vaccinated star signs.
Now that Mercury is not in retrograde, we're just going to leave this here...
(and yes, this is based on data) pic.twitter.com/fOxBHaDPvY
— Salt Lake Health (@SaltLakeHealth) October 19, 2021
The results showed that Leos – apparently the most compassionate – were the most vaccinated, at 70%, closely followed by people with the Aquarius sign (67%). Scorpios (the most evil star sign, clearly) came last – only 46% were vaccinated, with Virgos (50%) coming in a close second-to-last.
But is that the whiff of truth you can smell or just someone who is too into horoscopes burning sage?
Scope of the data
There are a number of ways this study may say less about the generous nature of Leos, and more about the importance of even distributions.
The head of data and visuals at Guardian US, Alvin Chang. breaks it down:
“To figure out what percentage of people of each sign are vaccinated, the county had to find two numbers:
How many people of each Zodiac sign are vaccinated: Salt Lake county did this using anonymized state data. That’s likely quite accurate.
How many people of each Zodiac sign live in the county overall: They estimated this by looking at the nationwide distribution of Zodiac signs, using data from the University of Texas-Austin. Then they assumed their county would have a similar distribution.
Watch: Could astrologers have predicted the pandemic?
But the distribution of when people are born can vary from state to state, and even more from county to county.”
This all becomes clearer after looking at another table, the one showing how common each Zodiac sign in America is.
This table is a near-exact inverse of the vaccination one. So, while Scorpios came last in Salt Lake’s table for vaccination, they are also the most commonly represented star sign in the US population (Americans like to procreate around the holiday period, it seems). The opposite was true for Leos and Aquariuses – the least common Zodiac signs in the US population, but the highest up in the vaccination table.
“It’s likely that Salt Lake county’s Zodiac sign distribution is a lot more even than it is nationwide,” Alvin says. “That’s probably why Leos – one of the least common signs – have the highest rates of vaccination; the county is probably undercounting the number of Leos there.”
Astrology is ‘not super-scientific’
When the Guardian spoke to Salt Lake City Health officials, they were candid about the limits of their research.
“Obviously, it’s not super scientific because we are talking astrology,” Nicholas Rupp, a Salt Lake health department spokesperson, said – to the dismay of horoscope fans everywhere.
“We did the math really quickly,” said Rupp, who claims the idea for the study came about after someone from the informatics department joked about analysing vaccination rates by star sign.
“We thought, we can we can use this to continue the conversation around vaccination, when there’s so much message fatigue on the topic. People are tired of hearing about it. So [we said] let’s put a new spin on it,” he says.
Rupp, who didn’t know much about star signs before now, said the tweet had certainly got people talking.
“I’m hearing it’s not surprising that Scorpios are at the bottom because they tend to be distrustful. They tend to be very private,” he said, adding: “I’m learning all about astrology, and it’s been really fun.”
He has also had some pushback. Some hardcore horoscope fans have chided him for analysing data by Sun signs instead of Moon signs.
“I want to thank the Leos and congratulate them for being at the top;they always knew they belonged to be there. They deserve to be there, and they’re proving it,” Rupp said. “But I also don’t want the Leos to rest on their laurels: 70% is not 100%.”
“To the Scorpios, I really want to tell them that their key to being in control and continuing their dominance of sort of the darker side of the zodiac is in being able to be out and influential. And vaccination is key to that influence,” he said.
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