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A Scheme of Heaven: The History and Science of Astrology, from Ptolemy to the Victorians and Beyond

Alexander Boxer

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How the search for our destiny in the stars taught humanity how to think about data

Humans are pattern-matching creatures, and astrology is our grandest pattern-matching game. In this ingenious work of history, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines a treasure trove of esoteric classical sources to expose the deep imaginative framework by which - for millennia - we made sense of our fates. Astrology, he argues, was the ancient world's most ambitious applied mathematics problem, a grand data-analysis
enterprise sustained by some of history's most brilliant minds, from Ptolemy to al-Kindi to Kepler.

Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today, but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. Boxer explores their extraordinary subtleties and tells the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents. And he puts them through their paces using modern data sets - finding that the methods of today's scientists are often uncomfortably close to those of astrology's ancient sages.

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