A company in Austria has taken to selecting staff based on their star sign.

Its job ads specifically ask for applicants who are Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarians, Aries or Leo.

This approach is apparently based on what the company says is statistical evidence that these five signs of the zodiac are the best people to employ.

While this has generated some outrage there is a counter argument that this does not discriminate on any other factors such as age, gender or ethnicity or even whether the applicant has any believe in the dubious merits of horoscopes.

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In order to accept the influence of horoscopes requires a giant leap of logic. If the 12 signs are universal, then one 12th of the world's 7.5 billion people are all experiencing similar events and share a set of personality traits. This is impossible.

Looked at from this angle, deciding to employ staff by checking their star sign is daft. The madness of this method has also been used to select flatmates, business partners, tenants and to identify those it may be best to avoid.

This is where it gets tricky. If used to select for inclusion - Gemini and Aquarians are apparently a good match but I will check that with my wife to be sure - then it can also be used for exclusion.

Gemini and Scorpio are considered incompatible but does this only apply if you know that? If two people meet but do not know the other's star sign does that mean they will like each other until they sit down and read their horoscope together and realise it will never work?

If it was that easy, a 12th of the population would simply avoid the other incompatible star signs.

We might decide that if everyone wore a badge that showed their star sign we could be sure who to avoid and exclude. Having decided that these differences made people become "other", it is not a big step to decide that those not like us do not deserve to be treated the same – that it is okay to discriminate on the basis of fictional factors.

If that sounds like racism, then maybe that illustrates how dysfunctional the whole notion of judging others can become.

History has demonstrated in numerous ways how this dynamic works. It is often said if we do not understand the past we are doomed to repeat it.

This does not mean history will recycle itself but that behaviours and beliefs based in bigotry, demeaning and denigrating others on the basis of differences will always require challenging, even though the context may change.

The internet provides a contemporary context that has no comparable historical equivalent. It provides a new way for the ugly side of human behaviours to be projected into the world.

The past does not provide us with a solution to this modern dilemma. The technology that has created this situation can also develop responses but artificial intelligence alone will never replace values and empathy as tools to restrict hate crimes via social media.

Research has shown repeatedly that changing a mind bend on bigotry is impossible until there is life exposure at an individual level to the basic fact that we are all essentially the same.

Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician and social worker.


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