The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 340, titled:
Astrologer or Astrologist: What is the Preferred Designation?
With Chris Brennan and Leisa Schaim
Episode originally released on February 23, 2022
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released February 25, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to the Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Leisa Schaim and we’re going to be discussing whether the correct designation is astrologist or astrologer for a person who practices the topic of astrology. So hey, Leisa, thanks for joining me.
LEISA SCHAIM: Hey, Chris. Glad to be here.
CB: Yeah, thanks for coming back again. This is episode 339. We’re recording on Tuesday, February 8th, 2022, starting at 12- actually starting at 1:05 pm in Denver, Colorado. In order to set up the context for this discussion, I’m actually going to answer the question right at the top for those of you that just want an answer to the question and want to find out whether it’s astrologer or astrologist because there’s confusion amongst the public mainly about what the correct designation is. And the answer to that question is that the preferred designation is astrologer not astrologist. This is the designation astrologer that the vast majority, the vast vast majority of practitioners who practice astrology have adopted and prefer at this point in time in the year 2022 in the early 21st Century. So while astrologist is not grammatically incorrect and it has some historical precedent where it’s been used occasionally in the past, it’s not the preferred designation among practitioners today at this point in time. So when in doubt, always use the word astrologer rather than astrologist. That’s basically the answer to the question, and what we’re going to do at this point is we’re going to have a more expanded discussion to clarify and explain why that’s the case and talk about some of the issues surrounding it for those that want more of a deep dive answer into this topic and sort of the ins and outs of it.
LS: And we particularly want to clarify this and have a discussion for people outside of the astrological community, because it is usually the greater public as a whole rather than astrologers per se that have an issue with this.
CB: Yeah, so it’s mainly something where there’s confusion in the public. People that are astrologers inside the community, the vast majority of them know what the answer to that question is so it’s not an issue. But because there’s confusion outside of the community, often people who don’t know any better will use the wrong term and will use the term astrologist. And that’s really one of the reasons why the term astrologist is still around today as much as it is, it’s because of people who don’t know any better using that term. I actually wrote an article about this years ago, almost eight years ago today– one Venus synodic cycle or retrograde cycle. On February 10 2014, I published an article on my old blog called The Horoscopic Astrology Blog, titled Is It Astrologer or Astrologist? And a lot of our discussion is going to be based on this because most of what I said in that article is still pretty accurate today. There’s been some little minor changes that have occurred due to social media and due to some stuff that’s happened with like Facebook and Instagram and recently Twitter, but for the most part that article is still accurate and I just wanted to have this discussion on the podcast because it comes up so frequently and it’s a question that gets asked so often, that I wanted to have an extended discussion to go into the details of this topic.
LS: Yeah, so technically astrologist is an actual word. It is sometimes used as a synonym for astrologer, but the Oxford English Dictionary says that the word astrologist is quote “less common than astrologer and not the preferred term amongst practitioners,” which is the more important part, that second part. Astrologers do not by and large use this term to describe themselves.
CB: Right so even the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes that astrologist is less commonly used, one. And that two, that it’s not the preferred term amongst practitioners. That’s a very important part in terms of like an external source from outside of the astrological community basically confirming what we’re saying here and what we’re about to say. Additionally, I wanted to give some statistics based on some polls that I did recently and just based on our own estimations of like how many astrologers use astrologer versus astrologist or what have you. Generally speaking before getting into any hardcore statistics, somewhere between like 90 to 99% of practitioners of actual astrologers in the world today prefer to be called astrologers, and oftentimes do not like to be referred to as an astrologist because that’s not the designation that they usually use for themselves.
LS: Right. It’s kind of like if you- It arguably makes astrologer the more correct designation. It’s kind of like if you thought of calling psychologists a psychologer, which I actually looked up online and it says in kind of a similar fashion to the astrologist, it says, ‘rare’, and then it says ‘psychologist’ as the preferred term. And so it’s kind of indicating a very similar thing that yeah, technically it’s kind of a word, but it’s not usually used these days.
CB: Yeah, it’s like an archaic usage that’s probably fallen out of usage because the vast majority of actual psychologers use the term. Psychologists, I should say, use the term. Psychologist, not psychologer. And you could see how somebody that doesn’t know any better maybe heard the terms psychologer somewhere like a podcast like this, and then maybe would use the term not knowing. But then if an actual psychologist heard that, it would just strike them weird or would strike them the wrong way because that’s not the term that the vast majority of people that specialize in that profession use.
LS: Right. I think it’s a good example because if you’re not an astrologer, maybe you’re like, “Well, what’s the big deal?” But you compare it to other words, other profession words that people are more accustomed to thinking about. If they’re not an astrologer, they’re like, “Oh, yeah. That would be weird if you suddenly tried to call psychologists a psychologer.” They’d probably keep correcting you, right? And obviously, this links into a larger topic, which is just language and the use of language. It’s partially based on rules, like general rules, but it’s also based on collective agreement. So some words fall in and out of fashion over time because there’s a collective agreement, but that’s the proper term.
CB: Right. Yeah. And just due to the trends and preferences at the time. One of the things we’re gonna get into here is just like insider language and what people within a group call themselves, or what the common usage is versus outsider language of people outside a group and what they might use and who gets to set that designation. It’s like, should the people within the group have the ability to sort of call themselves whatever their preferred designation is or should that be dictated by outsiders for some reason? And I think, for most people if you think about that, no matter what group or subset or whatever that we’re talking about, when you think about that question usually, you would come to the conclusion like, well, the people that actually practice or believe in that thing should probably be the ones that determine what to call it in terms of whatever the professional designation is.
LS: Right. Yeah, in the social sciences like sociology and anthropology, there’s a long talked about thing labeled exactly that, The Insider Outsider Problem and it goes into other pieces as well besides language but one of the primary things is, you are supposed to at a minimum, acknowledge what the language use is otherwise you’re not going to be taken seriously as a person studying that.
CB: Yeah. Let’s see, there’s few points to go with that. One of the others was to mention, you know, there’s other fields like that have archaic usages, like if you said astronomer is the preferred designation for someone who practices astronomy versus calling them an astronomist. You know, that hits your ear wrong because you’re not used to hearing that because that’s not usually what people call an astronomer.
LS: Right. Yeah, definitely. And they would object as well.
CB: Yeah, they would totally object and would be right for doing so even if on some sort of technicality, if there’s some sort of historical precedent for that word, the prevailing usage ultimately should win out among current practitioners. So I wanted to show some different polls that I did just to back up what I’m saying in terms of the statistics of like 90% to 99% of astrologers preferring the term astrologer instead of astrologist just to give some data. These are very recent polls and it’s very unscientific because I did them on social media, so they were open to the public. And some people were just joking around and trolling cuz they weren’t taking it seriously and I didn’t really present it as if- You know, I’m worried if I was like, “Serious answers, please,” then that would actually have the opposite effect so I just said, “To students and practitioners of astrology, do you prefer the term astrologist or astrologer?” and decided to see what came up as a result of that. The results were pretty straightforward. One of the polls that I did was on Twitter and I posted it November 21st, 2021 and it said, “Students and practitioners of astrology, which designation do you personally prefer? Astrologer or astrologist?” And there were almost 3000 votes. I only ran it for I think a day or two maybe or maybe a few days tops so it wasn’t super long but out of 3000 votes, 92.1% voted for astrologer whereas only 7.9% voted for astrologist. So that in of itself, if we’re talking about like 92% versus 7.9% of one, shows you the vast majority of at least two people that were following my Twitter account or interacted with that tweet who tend to be either astrologers or astrology enthusiast or students of astrology, they prefer a specific designation overwhelmingly nine times out of 10.
LS: It’s even more striking when you think about the Twitter one, actually, compared to some of the other ones you’re gonna show being the most wide open to the public. Like technically, you said astrologers and students of astrology, but there’s no way to limit it to that there. You know, anyone can answer it, anyone trolling could answer it and so I think you’ll see the other ones are even more extreme.
CB: Yeah. Well, and one of them is amongst practitioners. There was a breakdown between open polls that could be also students and just people that like astrology that follow me or follow the podcast that maybe have only been studying it for a few months, versus hardcore practitioners who have been practicing it for decades. There is a more striking breakdown. But some of the people were kind of joking and having fun with it and so that’s one thing we have to be aware of for the open polls, it’s just there were a lot of joke answers and votes sometimes so this may not be super on the dot in terms of things. But to show some similar data, I ran a similar poll on my YouTube channel where there’s a community tab where you can post images and run polls. I posted this again in November of 2021 and this poll got 2.5000 votes. It said, “Students and practitioners of astrology, which designation do you prefer?” And 89% of the two and a half thousand votes said that they preferred astrologer while 11% said astrologist. So again, with another sort of public breakdown of people subscribing to one of my other social media pages which is the Astrology Podcast YouTube channel and addressing it to not just practitioners but also students– which basically includes astrology enthusiasts– the breakdown is basically 90% prefer astrologer and 10% astrologist.
LS: Right. And that’s striking in its own right because it’s one to nine basically like 10%:90%. I again think since it was open to the public poll, it probably in actuality would be even more skewed towards astrologer because there is nothing stopping people who were, you know-
CB: Towards astrologist, you mean?
LS: Yeah. Astrologer versus astrologist 90:10. But there’s nothing stopping any random person from answering the poll even if they don’t actually qualify under even enthusiasts. So, I just think it would be even more extreme but even in its own right here, it’s 90%:10%, approximately.
CB: And so let me show the very last one in order to underline the point that you’re bringing up here, which is the difference between a public poll that includes students and just enthusiasts of astrology who may only know their Sun sign versus practitioners. Because the third group that I polled was a private Facebook group that’s been around for almost 10 years now that I moderate for professional astrologers on Facebook. I posted this poll in November 21st 2021 and it says, “Practitioners of astrology,” so this is just dedicated to practitioners, “which designation do you prefer?” And 342 people voted for astrologer while only six people voted for astrologist. What were the percentages on that again?
LS: That was about 92 point- No, sorry, that was the old one. That was about 98.3% for astrologer and just 1.7% for astrologist.
CB: Okay. That, to me, is super important because we may also be seeing a distinction here between what actual practitioners of astrology like actual professional astrologers and what people often think about when they’re talking about astrologers. People that let’s say make their living from that or that’s their primary profession or work or job overwhelmingly, like 98% prefer the term astrologer and the percentage for the other side for astrologist drops to one or 2%, basically.
LS: Exactly. It’s pretty striking and I think that is actually closer to what would be the case if you pulled all practicing astrologers, more or less in that range.
CB: Yeah. And in my 2014 article, that’s basically what I said. Because I said, I would estimate that something like 99% of practitioners refer to themselves as astrologers, which arguably makes astrologer the correct designation. And so actually doing this poll later kind of backs that up a bit in terms of actual practicing astrologers.
CB: So that’s really important in terms of the data and that gives us some data to go off of here. There’s other research like that that you can do just in terms of frequency, like you can do some of the Google stats. Like, if you Google the term astrologer and see how many search results come up versus if you Google the term astrologist, you’ll see that the term astrologer is just like massively higher number of articles that have been indexed by Google versus a massively lower number in terms of volume of articles that use the term astrologist. There’s other metrics that you could look at but this just gives us some sort of broad thing to go off of in terms of giving us a foundation for this discussion.
LS: Right. And it’s not just us saying that people don’t use astrologist who are actual practitioners, there’s some data to back that up.
CB: Right, for sure. All right, now that we have that established, the stats clearly show that the term astrologer is used far more frequently than the term astrologist. This then raises the question of who’s even using the term astrologist then to begin with? Because we’ve all seen this occasionally but the question is then, why is this still in use and who’s actually using the term astrologist? Why do we even need to have this discussion at all? So, what I’ve seen and the main conclusion that I’ve drawn over the past 10 years or I guess 22 years of studying astrology, as a practicing astrologer usually the only people that I typically see using the term astrologist are those who simply don’t know any better, and that don’t know that the preferred term amongst the vast majority of practitioners is astrologer. That is to say, usually the term astrologist is used by people who are not very familiar with the field of astrology to such an extent that they don’t even know what the correct quote-unquote “correct” or preferred designation for astrologer actually is.
LS: It’s a pretty big tell. If you’re an astrologer and in the astrological community, if someone says astrologists you sort of immediately go, “They probably don’t know anything about it because they’re not even using the term that astrologers use.”
CB: Yeah. So typically in my 2014 article, I identified three groups that we see this coming from, the most frequently three groups that end up sort of accidentally using the term astrologist. The most frequently due to their lack of familiarity with the field of astrology. And these are the only three groups of people who somewhat regularly find themselves in a position to be talking about astrology semi-regularly without having enough familiarity with the subject to know that the proper designation is astrologer. And those three groups are one, skeptics– skeptics of astrology or debunkers of astrology. Two, scammers– so people that are sort of pretending to be professional astrologers but they’re not very familiar with the field and they’re just trying to rip people off. And then three, journalists– so people that are journalists that are not familiar with astrology but for some reason find themselves in the position of having to write a story about it will often or at least frequently end up accidentally using the term astrologist thinking that that’s the primary designation and not realizing that it’s not.
LS: Exactly. What all these groups share in common is that they’re all talking about astrology from an outsider’s perspective and they don’t actually know very much about the subject. As I was just mentioning, it’s kind of a tell that they don’t know about the subject. Those are the three major groups that do, I would agree with that.
CB: Yeah. It’s strange sometimes when you think about that, especially the first one on that list of course, because skeptics for example, frequently attempt to criticize astrology, although it’s often surprising how little they know about it. And from what I’ve seen, they often have this sort of implicit conceit that since they quote-unquote “know that astrology is wrong” they don’t need to familiarize themselves with it in order to debunk it. So they just jump straight to usually repeating some arguments that they’ve heard from other skeptics without having much actual deep knowledge of the subject or not actually having looked into it enough. And this, actually using the term astrologist, is one of the dead giveaways that a skeptic hasn’t actually studied the subject because they would know better than to use the term astrologist if they had.
LS: Right. Which is kind of funny because skeptics often think that they know more than they do about astrology. I mean, yes, sometimes they think they just don’t need to know about it because it’s obviously dumb and wrong, but others think they actually have better points about it than they do because they haven’t actually studied it. And so using the term astrologist is in keeping with that. And occasionally they can just say more purposely to be annoying, because of course, you know, many skeptics are not particularly concerned with being polite or using insider language to astrologers.
CB: Yeah, most of the time when they use the term astrologist, they’re doing so not deliberately. Oh yeah, just accidentally due to lack of familiarity, but there is an occasional almost attempt to be annoying or a pejorative use of the term, I think, because some may recognize at a certain point that it’s not the preferred term but just kind of want to be jerks about it knowing that it’s not the correct designation. But I think even that is actually a relatively small percentage of the skeptics. I think most of the time they just really don’t realize it, because they’re sort of violating this primary core thing that’s always been important to me. I did Tweet about it the other day and I was surprised at how popular it was. But I just said, “Repeat after me. I’m not very familiar with that topic so I don’t have a strong opinion about it.” And that’s always been a really useful thing, sometimes I have to remind myself of that because it’s a good guiding thing and I think it’s something we all struggle with as humans, especially in the modern world with so many different media sources and different sources of information and the sort of loss of and ability to know sometimes, like, what’s a reliable source of information versus what’s not. And ultimately, because we all cannot become experts in every field, to some extent we end up relying on people that we view as authoritative to some extent in order to help us establish things that we can’t otherwise research on our own. And it becomes a little bit of a matter of faith or something to a certain extent. But that being said, it’s generally a good practice not to develop super strong opinions about things that you’re not super familiar with. And this is one of the issues I have with like the modern skeptic movement, is it often seems that they don’t follow that and they don’t realize how much they’re taking certain things as a matter of faith without having studied or looked into them first. Which while I understand the impulse and why some of them do that since we all do that to a certain extent– like, dismiss things that just seem crazy or just seem implausible or just not possible or out of hand without looking into them much first, you can get away with that to a certain extent sometimes. But just by a sheer numbers game, if you’re doing that constantly, there’s going to be some time that you might be wrong about something having dismissed it without actually looking into it or understanding it at all first. This is one of those areas where that’s a potential danger or potential indication that a skeptic may be doing that by using the term astrologist rather than astrologer.
LS: Yeah, I agree. It’s not totally surprising but it can be a little bit of a misnomer sometimes when people sort of call themselves skeptics. It often means debunkers, it’s not necessarily like skepticism and the noblest use of the term in terms of like, using rationality and thinking carefully about evidence and deciding for yourself. It’s often not about that. It’s often about like, “I know this is dumb.” And everything that is outside of known mechanistic terms can’t can’t exist. That’s often who is using this term, it’s people who haven’t actually investigated it, therefore don’t know the word.
CB: Yeah. Well, I saw somebody else do this recently as a response to that tweet, but they were just like, well- It’s not an appeal to authority because that’s not the actual full fallacy but that is part of it, which is that they’re putting faith in that if this was legitimate, it would have been legitimized already scientifically. And therefore the fact that I don’t think it has been legitimized scientifically, they then conclude therefore there’s nothing to it and it’s not worth looking into and it’s not worth even knowing enough about it to know what the correct designation is for people that do practice or believe in that topic. Yeah. Anyway, that’s the whole thing. It’s a tell for skeptics. skeptics are one of the groups that do it the most but it’s a dead giveaway.
Let’s talk about our second group, which is scammers. This one is a little bit more tricky because of course, it can be somewhat subjective designation in terms of like, who? What is a scammer? Who qualifies as a scammer in a field such as ours, which is to a certain extent a fringe field? But I think among practitioners within this field, one of the things to know as an outsider is like different astrologers do have ethical guidelines and there’s different sets of ethics for what is appropriate versus inappropriate practice. There’s some things that you can just sort of tell as a practitioner, like for example, how long has a person been studying astrology. How much are they charging relative to their level of skill or length of study of that topic, and different things like that. And sometimes there can be certain types of people that have just learned astrology within the past month or two and then are charging an exorbitant amount of money, and probably not offering a service that is tantamount or is equivalent to what they’re charging. Or perhaps they are not actually using astrology and are not very proficient in it, but they’re just trying to say things to rip somebody off. And while I think skeptics overstate the frequency that this happens in the field of astrology, again, due to lack of familiarity. They think all astrologers are just ripping people off. In reality, if you become familiar with the field, you realize that the vast majority of practitioners are pretty honest, pretty dedicated people that are trying to do their best to apply this subject as ethically and effectively as they can, and it’s actually a very small percentage of people in the field that might fall under the general area of doing something that’s unethical or abusive or kind of sketchy in some way. But this is one of the areas that I do see the term astrologist come up; that if a person who’s a practitioner is calling themselves an astrologist, usually this is a tell or a giveaway that maybe they’re not as familiar with the field because they’re not actually calling themselves what 99% of practitioners do. And if they’re not, then sometimes that can be an indication that they’re not very familiar with the subject, which is not a good indication.
LS: Right. Under this category, it can be people are just completely not using astrology, or it can be people who know just a little like you were saying. Or people who know just a little and haven’t even reached the community that exists, which in the internet age means that they haven’t gotten very far. Because it’s very, very easy to find real astrologers these days online. Also you have the scammers, like there’s been a raft of Instagram theft of accounts lately. And that’s usually the way people know. I mean, obviously the person themselves know that it was stolen but anyone else watching who knows astrology, they’ll often be weird language that’s being used because the person isn’t actually an astrologer. So they’re trying to use this real astrologer’s account and say, you know, “Hello, beloved. I am a famous astrologist,” [laughs] and stuff like that.
CB: Right. Master astrologist, because it sounds like a high-volted terminology. Like, that exalted terminology that they’re using is like a master and an astrologist because that’s somehow strikes the ear in a specific way. Or, you know, sometimes just saying professional astrologist, that does hit the ears of most practitioners in a weird way and makes you raise an eyebrow. And then if that same person is like, “Send me $10,000 and I will lift all negative spells or all curses that have been cast on you,” then it’s like they’re not doing astrology and they’re trying to extort people for money and that’s not not good.
LS: Exactly. That is another one where it’s a tell where they could be trying to do that if they’re trying to impersonate an actual astrologer.
CB: Right. All right. We’ll come back around to that because there are some exceptions and so, the four people stop watching or listening to this video and go and leave an angry comment, we are going to come back to and talk about some exceptions where there are some legitimate professional astrologers that do use the term astrologist even though they’re far outside of the majority, and that’s okay. This discussion is primarily being directed at people that are outside of the community and letting them know what the preferred designation is and why and what some of the issues are with this whole terminology. We’ll come back around to that. So let’s touch on our third group. The third group that I noticed that consistently where the term astrologist comes up is journalists who will occasionally write a story about astrology when it comes up in the news for some reason they’re like forced to cover it, which is usually some kind of bizarre quirky story. I mean, increasingly interestingly in the past few years, astrology has been covered more and more frequently in the media because it’s become so much more popular since 2018 or so. But definitely before that time period, it was coming up much less frequently and was much more just for quirky, weird reasons. News coverage of astrology tends to focus on sensationalist stories. And for some reason the more sensationalist the story is, it seems like almost the more likely the term astrologist will be used. Journalists often end up misunderstanding and mangling some of the technical terms and concepts that astrologers use even outside of just the professional designations, sometimes the word astrologist is the least annoying issue. And this seems like something that even scientists complain about in terms of similar issues when it comes to science reporting in the news and media. So there may be some similar underlying issue when it comes to the media with this topic?
LS: Mhm. And I think it has a lot to do with the level of background information that the reporter actually tries to seek out and the amount of time they’re actually given to file a story, which is probably not very much if it’s on this kind of not-considered-serious topic. But it’s interesting. One, I think it’s weird that that keeps happening, because they can just talk to astrologers and find out. I mean, I would think that if they actually talked to astrologers, someone would say, “So I’m an astrologer and that means blah, blah, blah.” You know, it’s really odd that this many news stories come out or like op-eds or whatever, general interest stories come out and they consistently say astrologist. I think there have been not just with the greater coverage in the last couple years, but actually better reporting in some of the articles over the last few years. Some of them have gotten it right but the vast majority still say astrologist, and I don’t understand why because they talk to people. I clearly have quotes, you know, I see the quotes from their interviews. So anyway…
CB: Yeah. It has been interesting in the past few years as astrology has become more popular and there’s become an influx of younger people getting into the field as well as greater public awareness of astrology as a phenomenon that exists in society as well as a professional field. There has been a better and we have seen a lot more news stories where the journalist will take their time to interview actual reputable astrologers and try to understand the topic a bit as much as they can, given their limited amount of time. But I think the commonality between this and the skeptics is again, you know, some of the major polls that have been done usually indicate that only something like, I don’t know what the case is today but several years back, the polls were relatively consistently showing that it was only something like 25% of people in the US believed quote-unquote “in astrology” as a legitimate phenomenon, which meant that was only like a quarter of society. So there’s a whole 75% of society that didn’t believe astrology was a legitimate phenomenon for one reason or another, either due to religious or scientific reasons. And I think the commonality between the journalists oftentimes that are covering astrology and the skeptics is just the presumption that this is a stupid blow-off topic that they don’t have to actually research or look into very seriously, because it’s not like they’re either writing a story about the president or interviewing the president or something like that, or doing some other major news piece that they’d have to be more careful about because they might win like a Pulitzer Prize for it or something like that. But rather, they’re just dealing with a oddball fringe group in society and they don’t need to treat it seriously. Sometimes one of the things that happens as a result of that is the use of the term astrologist and that’s sort of just an indication of the general dismissiveness of, oftentimes, the press towards astrology in general.
LS: Right. Right. I also think there’s a little bit of a feedback loop where, you know, the more that news stories use astrologist in the title or in the story itself, more general people think that it’s a term because they’ve seen it, you know? And maybe that’s their only exposure to the topic, it’s not like they’re actually looking into astrology or trying to learn it. And so they just see it in a headline occasionally and then they’re like, “Oh, that’s what the term is.” So I think that can like feed back on itself a little bit over time.
CB: Yeah, for sure. That’s an issue in terms of the media and, you know, the more media articles that comes up with are the more skeptic articles that write about astrology if you look into a quasi what’s supposed to be like a scientific take on astrology, if you’re trying to validate it like that, that use the term that may legitimize it externally or appear to, even though if you’re looking in the within the community it’s pretty consistently not the correct term to use. Yeah, I was gonna say something but I’m losing the point. But I guess at this point in my previous article, I just concluded that what we’re getting at here is that each of these instances one of the dead giveaways is that a person isn’t very familiar with astrology is when they use the term astrologist. So well, again, just to reiterate technically, it is not grammatically quote-unquote “wrong” to use the term astrologist, it does have a tendency to make you look like someone who is not very familiar with the subject. That’s something really important to keep in mind both within the community as well as outside of the community.
LS: Absolutely. If you want to be taken seriously, at the very least if you’re reporting on it or something, or even if you’re trying to debunk it, use the terms that actually exist in the community. As well as if you’re starting out as an astrologer, you might consider that in terms of the terms that you use in advertising yourself.
CB: Yeah. And I just remembered the point I want to talk about at this point is, when you mentioned how things have changed a little bit because it’s like I wrote that article eight years ago, one of the things that has changed and influenced things quite a bit over the past decade is that Facebook has had the ability to– on your private facebook profile or on a business page– the ability to select a occupation as a designation for at least a decade now. And going back probably a decade, they’ve always had it set as astrologist rather than astrologer, which has consistently driven astrologers crazy for about a decade now that if you want to select astrology as your occupation on Facebook, you have to label yourself as an astrologist, which is super annoying because that’s not the preferred designation and you sort of don’t have a choice. As a result of that, Instagram which was bought by Facebook years ago and so is basically owned by Facebook, also has that selected as if you want to indicate your practitioner of astrology, then you have to call yourself an astrologist and that’s the only option and there’s no recourse. I think that’s actually influenced things over the course of the past decade because I think especially amongst non-practitioners or enthusiasts of astrology or people that only have a passing familiarity with astrology, that’s caused them to see it more frequently into sometimes perhaps assume that that’s actually the preferred designation. I suspect actually that that’s the reason why in some of those just general social media polls that I did, that it’s like nine or 10% or it’s as high as it was in terms of nine or 10% of respondents saying that astrologist is the preferred or thinking that it’s the correct designation. I think it may be because some of those social media companies are accidentally-
LS: Like, normalizing?
CB: Yeah, normalizing that terminology. And unfortunately, that’s actually the occasion for us too in this podcast. Back in November a few months ago, Twitter integrated the ability to indicate a professional occupation on your, I believe on your Twitter page. But they, unfortunately, I think probably just copied or followed Facebook or Instagram and set the designation as astrologist rather than astrologer. That was super, super annoying because again I think that then is going to become a feedback loop where it’s going to normalize something that’s not otherwise the preferred designation among practitioners, which I think Twitter should do a better job of getting that right. Maybe if we can’t change Facebook’s mind because it’s like a monolith, perhaps Twitter, if enough people sort of spoke up about this, would– since this was instituted recently– take some measures in order to fix it and have the correct or the preferred professional designation for practitioners of astrology. That’s one of the reasons we’re actually doing this entire episode and I’ve been meaning to finish months now and I’m hoping that I don’t know how but hopefully astrologers can start raising this with Twitter or tagging Twitter support or emailing them or something in order to raise this issue, because I do feel like if enough of us did that we could change it. I think that’s really the primary point of having this discussion.
LS: Yeah, exactly. Just to get that word out to people who maybe don’t have any idea otherwise. Because it’s pretty annoying to have to mislabel your own profession in order to put a professional label on your account anywhere or anywhere publicly. So yeah, I would guess they just don’t know and hopefully, this and maybe other people raising the issue can inform them better.
CB: Yeah. There have been attempts with Facebook for years but it’s never gone anywhere, so while I’ve kind of given up hope on Facebook, I have some hope for Twitter and I’d like to like turn the tides on this and start putting it in the other direction because if some major companies started using the correct designation, that may help in terms of not making this clear cut going the wrong direction.
CB: Yeah. And if anyone has any ideas about that or has any insight context, please let us know. Or any suggestions, drop them in the comment section below this video on YouTube and hopefully we can get something going. All right. So our hope is to clarify and spread awareness about the preferred designation. That being said, we do need to talk about and it’s important to talk about, that there are some astrologers even if it’s a smaller percentage, who do use or do refer to themselves using the word astrologist.
LS: Right. While most of the time if people are using the word astrologist it means some of the various things we just discussed, it doesn’t 100% of the time. And so this is a smallest percent where people who are actually astrologers for whatever reason, decide they like the label of astrologist better. Sometimes it’s with new people who don’t know any better yet and sometimes it can just be to stand out from the field.
LS: Yeah, those are the two. I see it most often with newer people, people that are within either their first few months or their first year of studying astrology and they’re excited about it. There are some people who move into it really quickly and sometimes a little too quickly so that they get ahead of themselves and maybe start offering consultations or start referring to themselves as a practitioner of astrology relatively early in their studies. Sometimes that’s okay and sometimes that’s an indication of something that’s not good or maybe they’re moving too quickly, but one of the tells of that that they’re relatively early in their studies is if they are calling themselves an astrologist. It’s usually an indication that they’re not as advanced in the subject as somebody that’s been practicing for 10 years or something because if you’ve been practicing for 10 years, the number of people calling themselves an astrologist drops pretty dramatically as we’ve seen in some of the polls to like, you know, 2% or less.
LS: Exactly. Kind of like I was mentioning earlier, and maybe people who just haven’t connected a lot, they’ve just started to get into astrology but they haven’t connected with other actual astrologers and so they’re just not fully aware.
CB: Right. So, there’s that. There’s also occasionally some practitioners that like to set themselves apart or sometimes that are eccentric or rebellious and like to go against the grain, and there are some practitioners that do prefer to use the term astrologist as an older or archaic word for astrologer. And that’s okay. I mean, one of the points that we wanted to make in this is that it’s okay if somebody wants to refer to themselves as astrologist and there’s not necessarily, even though it’s the vastly vastly not preferred term amongst practitioners, the focus of our discussion is primarily just informing people that are outside of the community that don’t know any better or people that are new to the community that also don’t know any better yet. But that being said, the purpose of this discussion is not to dictate what astrologers should do if they choose to use one term or another, because I think that’s up to the individual practitioner and ultimately, astrologer and astrologist are just synonymous. They are synonyms that mean exactly the same thing and there’s no real distinction between them. It’s just that one tends to be the preferred designation and term to use amongst the vast vast majority of practitioners.
LS: Yeah, exactly. The point of this all talking about this today is not to police the community and their word choices. You can certainly choose to call yourself an astrologist if you like that better. I understand that the suffix -ist, you know, is like psychologist and biologist and there’s lots of professions that end with -ist as the practitioner. So I do understand if people just prefer it for some reason. Mostly, we’re not aiming this discussion so much at actual astrologers as people who don’t know one way or the other.
CB: Yeah. It’s like sometimes people try to come up with or astrologers try to come up with these etymological distinctions between astrologer and astrologist and or to them subjectively one of them hits their ear in a certain way, like some people will say that -er is for somebody that does something and -ist is for somebody that believes in something or something like that. But usually those attempts to come up with these different distinctions are all over the place and there’s really nothing consistent when it comes to that. So I don’t think that’s– not to say it’s not valid, but I don’t think that’s really the crux of the issue here that there’s some sort of legitimate distinction between the two, it just comes down to what is the preference among the vast majority of people and do you know that? Do you know there’s a distinction and that there is a preference, and that the vast majority of practitioners prefer that? Once you know that, then you can make a clear choice between the two and to do so deliberately and with full knowledge of what the situation is.
LS: Exactly. Many astrologers, we’re talking about just the difference for a while now, but it should be said that many astrologers actually really dislike the term astrologist being called that themselves. They just don’t prefer it. And I think there’s some good reasons why. I mean, like we were talking about earlier, it really does most of the time convey that you didn’t care enough about finding out about the subject or the community of practitioners before writing or talking about it, since astrologers don’t call themselves that. That’s just one sort of immediate like, “Oh, you’re talking about it from the outside. You haven’t actually looked into this.” And I was thinking, actually, a bigger thing is that since it’s been used in sort of dismissive ways oftentimes in the past, whether it’s by skeptics or whether it’s by people writing about it who don’t bother to look into it very deeply, because it’s been used in a sort of disparaging manner sometimes, I think that’s another feedback loop where people then take it offensively, at least sometimes, because that’s the context in which they’ve heard it before.
CB: Right. Or even from scammers. So it’s like astrologers that are professionals have been around for a number of years are used to hearing the term astrologist either in a context of somebody applying that designation to them wrongly and not using the preferred designation or alternatively, coming from an article that is hostile towards astrology or from a person that’s hostile to astrology such as a skeptic or a journalist that is writing a hatchet piece on astrology or a scammer who’s trying to pretend that they’re doing astrology when they’re not. So yeah, that probably does become a feedback loop and it does create a situation where people do need to know that there are some people that react very strongly to the term astrologist being used, and very strongly do not like the use of that term or consider it to be a joke or other things like that. That’s one of the reasons why additionally, people should be aware of this as sometimes kind of a sensitive issue because it really bothers some astrologers when the term astrologist is used.
LS: Right. And it’s kind of funny, you know, I’ve seen also for instance, astronomers tend to really really mind being called astrologers even though the casual person who does not think about either of the fields very often could make that mistake if they haven’t frequently heard the words before. They tend to react very strongly to being called astrologers.
CB: Right. Yeah. That’s a whole thing in itself that goes back due to historical issues between one, going back in ancient ancient history that sometimes the astronomy and astrology were being used together by the same person, sometimes interchangeably or there may not have been as much of a distinction between the two. And then once those two fields started to diverge, there were different words and sometimes the same word was used interchangeably and there was some ambiguity about what the correct term was for each and whether it was astronomy or astrology for each of those two separate fields. Basically, the legacy of that is still to this day when it comes to the public. The public often has some confusion about whether astronomy or astrology, which refers to what, as well as the professional distinction between astrologer and astronomer. Practitioners in both of those fields know immediately like what their correct or preferred designation is either for their field and chosen profession or for their own personal occupation but somebody in the public may not, if they only have a passing familiarity with the subject or if they’re confused due to some of the linguistic ambiguity surrounding the history of that.
LS: Right. I think a lot of astrologers have stories about being actually taken for astronomers and vice versa. I saw someone on social media who’s an astronomer saying, you know, that’s usually when you want to shut down the conversation it’s like, just go along with the fact that they said astrologer or something to that effect. And I remember earlier on when I was getting into astrology and first starting out and I also had a day job as well, I was talking about my pursuits at my day job and someone was like, “Oh, that’s really cool. So like, you look for planets?” [laughs] And I was like, “Right, I have my own observatory just like as a self-employed astronomer.” [laughs] That’d be cool. Yeah, it’s funny to me actually how often that gets confused but I think it just again speaks to the fact that many people don’t very often think about either of the fields. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. And there’s just ambiguity surrounding that in the public. But when it comes to an astronomer for example, if they were ever to occasionally perhaps as somebody that, again, you might think would be familiar with astrology, and often professional astronomers can be very dismissive of astrology, but if they were for example to use the wrong designation and refer to astrologists, then they should sort of turn that around and think about that as equivalent to, “Well, do you like being called an astrologer if you’re a practitioner of astronomy?” and the answer is ‘No,’ then use the correct or preferred designation.
LS: Right. Yeah, I actually saw an exchange or while back and maybe you did too. I think it was an astrophysicist who was also complaining about the Twitter designations for professions. They were like, “All I get to say is astrologist. I don’t want to say…” [laughs] And I think some astrologers chimed in and were like, “We hate that, too. Let’s all join together, make it right.”
CB: Yeah, I wonder. I’m sure that’s been fixed by now probably, right? They probably have astronomer as a does a designation.
LS: I haven’t checked back, I’m not sure.
LS: Yeah. So, to bring this back and just to reiterate that because we don’t want to get a lot of hate mail, the purpose of this discussion is not to prescribe what astrologers must call themselves within the community, but rather to convey to those outside of the community what the vast majority of astrologers prefer to be called. I don’t personally care what individual astrologers choose to call themselves, but only primarily that I and most astrologers prefer not to be referred to as an astrologist. Yeah, so this point is just important because there’s always inevitably somebody that insists adamantly that they prefer to use the term astrologist for whatever reasons, but they tend to be in a very small percentage of the community. And there’s other terms as well, like people often jokingly then bring up other archaic terms for astrologer like astrologian or other things like that. There’s a lot of different things like that but this discussion is primarily just about what is establishing what the vast majority use.
LS: Right. You know, because language is in many ways about the collective agreement like we were talking about earlier, and it’s also about basic respect and you call people what they prefer to be called and what the group of people usually prefers to be called. And as we see with many things, language can change over time and preferred designations can change over time and for lots of things, but it is usually seen as most respectful to use the term that is currently the most preferred term by the people themselves.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense to me. And I think that’s a fair… I mean, I don’t think we’re being unfair or freaking out about something too much that’s a non-issue. It just comes down to that issue of respect and eliminating confusion and being clear that we have a field, that there are people that are professionals and are attempting to be professionals and that dedicate their lives to studying and practicing and researching this field. And even if you don’t believe that that’s a legitimate phenomenon, you at least have to acknowledge that there are people that honestly believe it and have focused on that as a profession, and being aware of what the preferred designation is within that field amongst practitioners.
LS: Yeah, I would agree. I think it can sound at first glance a little pedantic to belabor exactly what term we should be called versus should not be called but again, it’s just sort of a basic. Like, if you know the field, this is what it’s called.
CB: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because there are occasionally people who- I had somebody when I did the Twitter poll that laughed and they were like, I guess somebody listened the podcast, but they laughed. They were an astrologer or astrology enthusiast that said, “The only time I ever hear about this issue is when you’re talking about it on your podcast,” and for her she was like this is a non-issue. And I realized I was like, “Well, that probably means you’re not very widely read in terms of this field in terms of studying skeptical articles against astrology or paying attention to journalism that’s happening on astrology, or paying attention to what happens when scammers hack some astrologer’s Facebook account and start pretending they’re an astrologer and calling themselves an astrologist. That in of itself, if you haven’t come across this issue, probably also betrays some lack of familiarity or awareness on your part.” And she acknowledged that. She was basically like, “Well, yeah, that’s actually true. I don’t go on social media much, I don’t read skeptic articles against astrology or journalistic pieces about it.” So I’m like, “Okay, but that means your viewpoint then might be somewhat limited, so we’re just trying to open it up because it is a broader discussion that is happening in the community and that is relevant to the community for different reasons, even if it’s not like, you know, the highest priority issue on our list of major issues in the world today when it comes to astrology and astrologers.”
LS: Right. It’s just kind of like an all points PSA. Like, for people who are talking about astrology outside the field, just FYI, we’re called astrologers.
CB: Yeah. Perfect. I think that’s a great point to end on. I think we went through all of our notes as well as possible and all the main things that we meant to touch on. Is there anything else that you can think of that we meant to say or that we’re going to kick ourselves for not saying after this once we wrap up here?
LS: Hmm, I hope not. But I don’t think so. I think those are the main points.
CB: Yeah. For the most part, we really tried to follow my previous article from eight years ago pretty closely because it was so tightly written at the time and I tried to be so careful in my wording about it that we wanted to be careful to convey a similar message today, even though there’s been some slight changes since then due to the influence of like Facebook’s designation and Instagram and more recently, Twitter. It will be interesting if some of those things don’t change and social media ends up continuing to influence and have this interesting effect of altering the perceptions of non-practitioners or even new practitioners and normalizing that terminology, if that continues to change some of the numbers in the future. I don’t know. I don’t know how that’s gonna go or where that’s gonna go but it’ll be interesting to see. And hopefully, at least, if by having conversations like this it will bring greater awareness to the topic in general.
LS: Yeah. I hope it does go this way versus the other and that people just get clued in that this is the preferred designation for professional practitioners and not that we all have to eventually accept the flip side and be called astrologists because too many people just know the word after a while.
CB: Yeah, I don’t want to accept that and hope that’s not the inevitability here and that’s why I want to do this, but I think we’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out. We’ll see how it goes.
LS: Sounds good.
CB: All right. Well, thanks for joining me for this discussion today.
LS: Quite welcome. Thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah. All right. Well, I guess that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks, everyone for listening or watching and we’ll see you again next time.
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