A colleague of mine came to me with a problem a few weeks ago: A student in one of his classes wanted to test a hypothesis concerning Zodiac signs (which are, of course, total crap). The problem was that he had birth dates in SPSS but didn’t want to go through individually and convert each birth date into its respective Zodiac sign (a problem when you have a couple hundred birth dates to convert). He was wondering if there was an easy way to do this in SPSS. I couldn’t think of a way to do it in SPSS, but I thought it might be possible in Excel. Since I figured they would find Zodiac signs are not predictive of anything, I was willing to spend some time putting something together (note: they did find that Zodiac signs are not predictive). The result is this spreadsheet. Basically, you put a birth date in and it registers a series of logic checks, indicating whether or not the birth date is “true” for the respective Zodiac signs. A quick scan across the columns indicates what someone’s zodiac sign is based on their birth date. I couldn’t quite figure out how to calculate a final column that returns the “true” Zodiac sign (i.e., a single column with all of the Zodiac signs), but I’m sure it’s doable. If someone out there knows a better way of doing this, I’d love to hear about it.
I’m sure any computer programmers who read this will laugh at what I’ve done, but it solved the problem. There are websites out there that will, of course, tell you your Zodiac sign, but they only do one at a time. If you want to convert a large list of birthdates, something like this spreadsheet will do it for you. Again, if you have suggestions for ways to improve it or other ideas, please let me know. Before making fun of me, keep in mind the paraphrased words of the immortal Bones from Star Trek, “Damnit, Jim, I’m a sociologist, not a computer programmer!”
Update 12/09/2008: Based on Mike’s comments and suggestions below, I created an SPSS syntax file that will basically (though still a bit clumsily) convert birthdates into Zodiac signs:
I also threw in a list of birthdays with Zodiac signs so you can check to make sure you did it right.
Again, it’s not perfect. If anyone has any suggestions or improvements, please share.