'A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history.' Joshua Foer author of Moonwalking with Einstein
Despite a resurgence in popularity, horoscopes are generally considered to be pseudoscience today - but they were once a cutting-edge scientific tool. 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.
A Scheme of Heaven explores the wonderful subtleties of astrological ideas. Telling the stories of their inventors and most influential exponents, Boxer 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.
With Boxer's thought-provoking offering of playful experiments and vibrant historical anecdotes, A Scheme of Heaven will entice even the most ardent sceptic. * FT * Enthusiastic, level-headed and with a good turn of phrase, [Boxer] leads his readers on an exhilarating trajectory. * Mail on Sunday * Wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance. * Times * Boxer takes a lively, non-judgemental approach in this intellectual history, tracing astrology back to its beginnings in ancient Egypt to its modern day renaissance, taking in 'astrosexuality', Henry VIII's birth horoscope, personality traits and new-age thinkers along the way. Essential reading for anyone interested in going beyond their horoscope. * Tatler * A delightful and utterly fascinating work of intellectual history. Through striking diagrams and accessible explanations, Boxer shows us the impressive range of technology the ancients developed for tapping into astrology's predictive powers. This book demonstrates how impactful astrology is in everyday life-not through the influence of the stars, but rather through the deep scientific and cultural legacy that it so richly explores. a masterful synthesis-science, history, legends, literature, and an eye-opening exploration of the human penchant for pattern recognition. The book is full of wit and refreshing insight. I'll never look at a horoscope-or the night sky-in quite the same way again. 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. A fresh and original introduction to astrology's long history and deep cultural reach. Open and inquisitive, Boxer combines the critical perspective of a modern data scientist with a historian's sympathetic eye for telling detail. The result is a vivid and unique delight Educated in both the humanities and the sciences, Boxer is uniquely qualified to guide his readers into a fascinating story of mathematical complexity. The overarching theme of our human destiny is inspirational. Astrologers as the first and most ambitious quants and data scientists? Alexander Boxer's remarkable book reveals astrology's mathematical, scientific, historical, philosophical, and literary roots. He shows that astrology is not only an indispensable part of science history, but also springs from the same mixture of motives: the desire to control the world and to wonder about it. A Scheme of Heaven is wide-ranging and full of peculiar nuggets of information ... This is a book about a very human aspect of astrology - our desire to understand our fate - and its history, as well as the fallibility of data analysis, which is often far more subjective than it might seem at first glance. * the Times * A Scheme of Heaven will make you fall in love with astrology, even as it extinguishes any niggling suspicion that it might actually work * Spectator * Fascinating ... his entertaining book explains fallacies that have given astrology unmerited credibility ... he also reveals how equivalent sloppiness may distort data science today. * New Scientist *