And thats the idea. I work with the public and can tell you there is definitely something to it. For example if you meet a LEO woman, i can guarantee you they will all be so alike in character traits it's amazing. Same goes for the Aquarius females i met. They have such an undercurrent of identical personality traits undeniable in my experience.
The Taurus people i've met including my step dad are all Very stable and even tempered and are indeed slow to anger. But When finally pushed to getting ripped, it's almost intimidating.
And that's polar opposite in temperament to a Saggitarian, especially female, which tended to be a little basket casey most of the time. Similar to pieces females, very emotionally fragile.
Meet most Aquarian women in person and they seem aloof and cold with a dismissive nature to those that don't know them. Seemingly distant They are usually very attractive and sexual.
So i can say that "yes" i believe it. Most that don't, frankly don't know anything about it or have a limited experience.
I've also met Scorpios, a very emotional touchy feely sign that's very good at vengeance if they feel wronged.
And Noone likes to give advice and be talkative more then a Gemini. They also love to dress very stylishly with visual interest.
In the scope of my experience working with alot of people i have to say i believe in it. It's an ancient science that started astronomy like alchemy started chemistry. It seems funny but this science is being looked into more recently in Europe with one renowned French University having a PHD program for it. They seem to be discovering a definite underlying trend to most people born under certain celestial influences.
It's easy to explain your claims about people matching their signs simply by saying that you're reading into it too much. How do I know that once you know that someone has a certain sign that you don't go looking for certain traits in them? Since the traits attributed to each sign are sufficiently vague, it seems like it would be easy to find those traits to some extent in most people, if you were willing to selectively focus on enough about them.
And that, in essence is the real idea. Most people do not take the claims of astrology seriously because the claims of astrology are sufficiently vague as to be nearly unfalsifiable. They're not quite unfalsifiable though, as it's easy enough to find people (like myself) who don't match the sign at all.
As to your last paragraph, historical contingencies about how some modern disciplines started are meaningless. Ancient mathematics was filled with numerology too, does that mean we should take that seriously? What modern astronomy developing out of astrology means is not that there is somehow truth in astrology, but only that studying astrology got us doing things like looking at the stars that were necessary for astronomy. As for some European universities having PhD programs in astrology, I hope that's false. But even if it's true, it again is meaningless. There are tons of half-baked PhD programs out there... people will start a PhD program for anything there's money in.
I have in my experience noticed certain traits are true to certain signs. Whether it's through looking into it too much or not i saw definitive traits between signs.
Most virgo's i met have a feminine streak to them btw.
Meet enough people of a single sign and you'll see definitive patterns. Start with noticing the most obvious and easy, the LEO. Meet LEO men and women and you'd have to be blind to not see it. It's in your face obvious.