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Million Rupees Astrology Challenge

June 1, 2009

I was on vacation last week, so I am a little late in posting this report on the results from the One Million Rupees Election Results Prediction Challenge to Astrologers by the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations. 

Astrologers often claim that they can accurately predict the future of anything (not just personal fortunes but societal, geographic, financial etc) based on the position of the planets in our solar system. In fact, every election cycle, we see these charlatans on TV and newspapers, confidently predicting the election results (which often turn out to be incorrect). The Indian Rationalist Associations have been challenging astrologers to prove their supernatural claims and predict the election results for quite some time now. But, unfortunately every time a challenge like this had been thrown at astrologers, the planets, it seems had colluded against the astrologers to bring about their dismal failure ( often their performance is worse than what any of us could do with a simple coin toss).

This article summarizing the results of the most recent challenge was originally published on by Prof. Narendra Nayak who is the President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations. The full article is posted here with kind permission of Prof. Nayak and Nirmukta.

Full Article Follows


Astrology Flops Again: Follow up to the Astrology Challenge

Written by Narendra Nayak, Posted on 19 May 2009

When yours truly was questioned at a press conference as to what his predictions would be for the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, the reply was that one thing would be proved for sure in this election. I said it would be difficult to hazard a guess as to who would come to power and which candidates would be victorious. But, one thing I said I could predict that was that astrology would prove itself to be a super flop this time too. That was one prediction that came true. If one recalls we have been repeating these challenges for nearly two decades since 1991, whenever elections happen. The reward money started at one lakh and was increased to 10 lakhs from 2008 onwards. This press conference was held at the Mangalore Press club to announce the challenge to predict the election results of the Lok Sabha election. Though the challenge was directed at those who claimed to have supernatural powers, others were not barred from sending entries. For details of these challenges and the terms and conditions, go here. The terms and conditions are also outlined therein.


While the trouncing of the Bharathiya Janatha Party and the unexpected victory of the UPA was quite a surprise to many, it has come as a total dampener for those who had the powers of ‘prediction’. The total number of entries delivered to us was 400, including  the31 which were received after the last date for the receipt of entries, 16th of May, the date on which counting was done.

My prediction about astrology had come true this time as the following will indicate. Out of the 370 received before the 26th of May, 175 had predicted that NDA would win the election and L.K.Advani would be the next Prime minister. The next in the list was Manmohan Singh whose name was proposed by 99 entrants who had obviously stated that the NDA combination would come to power. Next in the list was Rahul Gandhi with 14, Pranabh Mukherji with 9 and Sonia Gandhi with 7 proposers. Mayavathi’s name was mentioned by 12 who had predicted that the third front would gain power this time. Deve Gowda, Jayalaltiha had their handful of supporters. While some individuals had predicted our own Kumaranna, Prakash Karat etc., one of the Advani admirers had stated that Narendra Modi would be taking over from him after a year or so!

narendra-nayakAnother thing of note was that obvious leaning of the people depending on their religious beliefs. Most of the astrologers were Advani supporters and also many of the others carried their Hindutva on the entries with slogans like Jai Sriram, Om, invocations to their respective deities or swamijis etc. The minorities were solidly behind UPA and most of their entries were pro-congress, naming Manmohan Singh as the next prime minister. The techniques claimed to have been used by those who sent their entries were many.  Some of them had no claims to any supernatural power; they were only guessing and trying their luck Some Muslims claimed that their predictions were by the power of Allah. One of the Christian entrants prophesied that his was the voice of God, and he had also enclosed claims about the previous times when he had predicted things by this power and they had come true. However, though this voice was right about UPA and Manmohan Singh it was a total flop when it came to specifics. The voice was very much silent on these and hence this entry had to be disqualified. One of the entries from Uttara Kannada asked us to send him 3oo rupees for having sent the entry, if he did not get the prize. Another from Shimoga was from a young man who claimed that his family had lost everything due to involvement in politics, I should hand over the 10 lakhs to him which could set right their financial problems. Many had also awarded votes to one Sheena Rai whose name was listed as a candidate for Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency and had not even filed his nomination. Some predicted that he would win by a huge margin! He, as well as a non existent party called the Bharathiya Samjawadi Party, were treated as real entities by the astrologers! The party was allotted anything from 20 seats to a single seat by the entrants.

While most of the predictions were total flops, one from Chitradurga had 6 right out of the 25 answers and got the highest marks. The entry did not state which supernatural power was used to predict and hence we can safely assume that it was guess work. Another welcome aspect was that the wide publicity accorded had us receive entries from places as far as West Bengal. Though most of them were from Karnataka, and some were from Andhra, Tamilnadu and Kerala. Our member organizations had their own contests, one from Hyderabad with a one-crore-rupee award and another one from Kolkatta promised an award of 25 lakhs.

This miserable performance by the astrologers and also those who try to predict things using supernatural powers should be an eye opener to the gullible people who tend to make decisions based on the advice of such people. I retain my money, which shall continue to be at stake  in future contests testing the claimants of supernatural powers


15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2009 11:49 pm

    😀 Good one . About astrology , I some how have a feeling , that if it were proved to be an exact science , these astrologers still won’t be able to predict anything with certainity as the variables are innumerable and dynamic .

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      June 2, 2009 7:44 am

      LOL… 🙂 I am not sure of I can put astrology and science in the same sentence but even if we assume that it has too many variables to correctly predict events, why believe in it anyway?

  2. gorigadhaa permalink
    June 2, 2009 5:49 am

    *snicker* cold reading is cold reading. Astrology is fancier than most, but it’s still just nonsense.

    Oddly enough, when I finally “owned” that I was an atheist and came out of that particular closet, astrology was the hardest thing to shake out of my brain. It clung the longest and for a time I tried to make it fit a more rational paradigm.

    It didn’t take too long to come to my senses, but it’s a really persistent meme.

    I’m assuming Indian astrology differs from Western astrology; I only know the Western version. It would be interesting to have astrologers from both camps try to predict the same target and see how their results differ.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      June 2, 2009 7:46 am

      gorigadhaa :-D…you have a funny nick..what does it mean..?

      btw I agree with you that astrology is nonsense..but it amazes me how many people believe in it. Even the most rational and educated people fall prey to this . I plan to write about a recent experience soon.

  3. gorigadhaa permalink
    June 2, 2009 7:51 am

    My name … I’m just learning Hindi and the noun sex is confusing. I’m a woman, so it should be gori gadhii. White jackass. LOL A friend in Mumbai said it was funnier this way so I left it.

  4. June 2, 2009 9:08 am

    I dont believe in astrology….it seems too insane to even think that something or someone is controlling my life..
    I would rather control my own life thank you very much.

    good challenge by Prof Nayak and I am sure that money will always be safe with him 😀

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      June 2, 2009 12:26 pm

      Yep, I wish everyone could say the same thing…:-)

  5. June 2, 2009 9:41 am

    Really interesting post. I’ve blogged a bit about atheism too, so this blog has come as a pleasant surprise to me. Enjoyed reading, will surely return here 🙂

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      June 2, 2009 12:26 pm

      Hi Pranav, welcome to my blog and thanks for the comment. I am glad you like my blog. Hope to see you around.

  6. June 2, 2009 3:27 pm

    Oh my goodness, I am so surprised about the failure of astrology. Now if it had been a REAL ASTROLOGER who performed a few human sacrifices on a dark moonless night before a hearty meal of goose liver( hey its a ritual that I am inventing) and wore only pink undergarments, then it would come true!!!
    Just kidding!

    There should be some debunking of “gemology ” too.

  7. June 3, 2009 7:26 am

    Good post, and these frauds should be exposed, we have a huge majority of people taking these (or any ) predictions very seriously!
    ( This is from someone who does take lighthearted interest in Astrology.)

  8. June 4, 2009 11:09 am

    Hi Nitwit!

    Finally, nice to see a post from you, and welcome!

    I was going to skip the linked article, but just tried it anyway, and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂 It did make for an interesting read.

    Even I’d known Congress would get more votes than last time (sic) 🙂

    I can’t believe I’d take astrology seriously some day. I hate to concede this, but even if someone would get ALL their predictions right, I’d still remain skeptical about it. As there’s no tangible MECHANISM to explain the working of any form of astrology. The thing that could’ve come closest would be the concepts of causality and determinism (basically, if one knows the current position and states of all the particles in the Universe, and the forces acting on them, then all the future events could be predicted), but I think Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle has long kaboomed them! Nitwit, you’re quite well read, and I confess I throw around a few technical terms only to be corrected and updated by you 🙂 Hope you won’t disappoint this once 😉 I’d read about theory of causality in one ToI article more than 7 years back, and not read anything on that front since then 🙂

    I’ve somewhat dealt with the concept of ‘free will’ in a post by the same name (my oldest post). And if concepts regarding desire to live and entropy (!)–why am I even mentioning them in the same sentence(?) interest you, then the comments on my post–‘Futuristic!’ (where you too had contributed) have taken an interesting course. See you there!

    Looking forward to some more elaborate posts from you.

    Have a nice time!


  9. June 8, 2009 4:24 pm

    LoL! Good challege. BUT I wouldn’t expect anyone to be 100% correct in any prediction.

    My father believe in astology and look at the kundi etc or go and ask an astrologer before making any huge decisions in life. And my mum goes to ask big priest/prophets (not sure what you call them BUT i think you know what I mean. They call themseleves jai jai or swami, etc) or the person they has “devi maa” in them before making any decisions and asks for blessing.

    I’m personally at a position where don’t know what to believe. I’m kind of confused by it all. Mainly because it makes no sense to me. 😕

    • Vipul permalink
      April 30, 2010 5:39 pm

      It makes no sense to anyone including tose eho go to astrolgers or priests. They go to those astrologers because they are mentally weaker and need some support as life in general is unpredictable!

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