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A Scheme of Heaven

Nonfiction: Occult
Unabridged   9.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 03/10/2020

A Scheme of Heaven

The History of Astrology and the Search for our Destiny in Data

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684576999
Digital Download ISBN:9781684576982


An illuminating look at the surprising history and science of astrology, civilization's first system of algorithms, from Babylon to the present day.

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Product Description

Humans are pattern-matching creatures, and astrology is the universe's grandest pattern-matching game. In this refreshing work of history and analysis, data scientist Alexander Boxer examines classical texts on astrology to expose its underlying scientific and mathematical framework.

Thousands of years ago, astrologers became the first to stumble upon the powerful storytelling possibilities inherent in numerical data. To correlate the configurations of the cosmos with our day-to-day lives, astrologers relied upon a "scheme of heaven," or horoscope, showing the precise configuration of the planets at a particular instant in time as viewed from a particular place on Earth. Although recognized as pseudoscience today, horoscopes were once considered a cutting-edge scientific tool. Boxer teaches us how to read these esoteric charts—and appreciate the complex astronomical calculations needed to generate them—by diagramming how the heavens appeared at important moments in astrology's history. He then puts these horoscopes to the test using modern data sets and statistical science, arguing that today's data scientists do work similar to astrologers of yore. By looking back at the algorithms of ancient astrology, he suggests, we can better recognize the patterns that are timeless characteristics of our own pattern-matching tendencies.


“Boxer is a champion of intrepid thought. His learned book demonstrates how much we stand to gain by studying topics that just may be a little bit true. And a little truth, as Boxer shows, can change everything.” —Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award–winning author of Occult America

“A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.” —Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein and coauthor of Atlas Obscura

Author Bio

Alexander Boxer is a data scientist with a PhD in physics and degrees in the history of science and classics. His research has appeared in Nature Physics and he was a field agent for Atlas Obscura in Washington, DC.