Already three weeks into the new year and not only do we continue to have animal deaths around the world, but the unthinkable has happened! Most of us may have lost the astrological signs under which we were born, or have we? The latest viral story on the Internet is that the zodiac has shifted by a sign and we lost a sign of the zodiac years ago that has resulted in this one sign shift.

According to the story, Sagittarians are really Capricorns and Capricorns are really Aquarii and so forth. At least that was what the perpetrator of this cyclical story would like the world to believe. The reason given for this occurrence is the natural wobble of the earth's axis and its travel through the universe has caused its position relative to the constellations that represent the zodiac to shift. Two thousand years ago, Capricorn was overhead when Capricornians were born in December and January. Today not so much.

In actuality however, there are actually two zodiacs, the Western or tropical version that we use and which is still intact so to speak, and the sidereal or Eastern version which relates to the subject of this news item. In our version of the zodiac what is important is the seasons and the motion of the earth in relation to the calendar year. The signs divide the year into twelve sections as the earth moves around the sun and are horoscopes and readings are derived based on the earth's relationships to the other planets in the solar system.

In the eastern zodiac, a horoscope is derived through the use of relating the earth to the position of the stars in the sky and not so much as to where the earth was on a particular day of the year. So while your sign may be different when viewing a sidereal version of your horoscope, do not fear. If you were a Leo last week, you are still a Leo now and once a Cancer always a Cancer.

This is a good example of how one must always be diligent with research and not jump to a conclusion without a full accounting of the facts of a matter. If the original author of this story had truly examined the account provided to them by a scientist and questioned the explanation this viral story may not have shot round the world and panicked those who believe in astrology.

This brings up a second point that I think we should consider. Several surveys taken seem to indicate on average only 30 percent of the population believes in or regularly reads astrology, but when this news story broke, it exploded through cyberspace, all over Facebook and other forms of social media panicking many people, much more than the 30 percent of those who admit to believing in the zodiac. I think this indicates that what people share and what they believe may not always be in sync. In fact, it might be possible that there is a part of us that believes or wants to believe in more than what science can prove.

In other news, on January 11th the TIME newsfeed website reported on the deaths of a herd of 200 cows in Wisconsin. As I stated in the past few weeks isolated mass animal deaths according to scientists are rather common, but I also pointed out that while this is the case, I have a hard time believing statistically that over 2,100,000 animals in over ten different countries throughout the globe would die within a week of each other. Scientists in the majority of those cases blame this on stress or fireworks which makes no sense to me.

Now there are 200 cows added to the tally. However unlike the birds and the fish, there seems to be an explanation for the deaths of these cows. The dead animals were tested for disease and veterinarians determined the herd died throughout the week from interstitial pneumonia. This disease which is not a threat to people is somewhat common in cows and has been recorded as a cause of death in the animals since the first recorded incident in Connecticut in 1879.

Of course this has not prevented people from jumping to conclusions. In the Times story I mentioned above where I first read the story, online theologian Paul Begley claims this is an indication the end of days is upon us. Citing scripture in the Book of Hosea, Begley says the deaths of fish, birds and cows were prophesied in that Biblical tome and is an indication of the result of people turning their backs on God. This conjecture is best left to your own beliefs especially since the cows appeared to be sick and it seems to be an isolated incident with poor timing.

As the first case shows what happens when facts are mixed, this second news item is a good example of how one can twist factual information to draw inferences and conclusions that support their interpretations of reality. Could this be something sinister? Anything is possible, but it is more likely this is just a tragic coincidence. Now where did I put the keys to my escape pod.

Til next tim e ...