London -- Extensive scientific research over more than 40 years has finally confirmed what many always believed: that astrology is rubbish, and that it is based on the principle of deception.
The research began in London in 1958, and has just been published in the current edition of the respected Journal of Consciousness Studies. It is hailed as the most thorough scientific study ever made into the subject.
Astrologers have for centuries claimed to be able to extract deep insights into the personality and destiny of people using nothing more than the details of the time and place of birth.
The research debunks astrology's central claim - that human characteristics are moulded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of a person's birth.
The findings caused alarm and anger in astrological circles. Roy Gillett, the president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, told The Telegraph the study's findings should be treated "with extreme caution" and accused the researchers of seeking to "discredit astrology."
In the course of the study, researchers tracked more than 2,000 people over several decades - most of them born within minutes of each other. According to astrology, the subjects should have had very similar traits.
The babies were originally recruited as part of a medical study into how the circumstances of birth can affect future health. More than 2,000 babies born in early March that year were registered and their development monitored at regular intervals.
Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading - all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.
The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between the "time twins", however. "The test conditions could hardly have been more conducive to success... but the results are uniformly negative," the research report said.
Analysis of the research was carried out by Geoffrey Dean, a scientist and former astrologer based in Perth, Australia, and Ivan Kelly, a psychologist at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Dean said that the consistency of the findings weighed heavily against astrology.
"It has no acceptable mechanism, its principles are invalid and it has failed hundreds of tests. But no hint of these problems will be found in astrology books which, in effect, are exercises in deception," he said.
Dean is ready for a torrent of criticism: "I'm probably the most hated person in astrology because I'm regarded as a turncoat."
The research undermined the claims of astrologers, who typically work with birth data far less precise than that used in the study.
Dean said: "They sometimes argue that times of birth just a minute apart can make all the difference by altering what they call the 'house cusps'," he said. "But in their work, they are happy to take whatever time they can get from a client."
Dean and Kelly also sought to determine whether stargazers could match a birth chart to the personality profile of a person among a random selection.
They reviewed the evidence from more than 40 studies involving over 700 astrologers, but found the results turned out no better than guesswork.
The success rate did not improve even when astrologers were given all the information they asked for and were confident they had made the right choice.