What is your Greek-Philosophy Type?

Throughout this site I contend that we often form our philosophies and theologies to reinforce our niches in life. Our niches are largely determined by our personalities, our social settings and historical accidents. Thus, our philosophies are often mere clothing we put on to comfort our personalities and social situation. If misread, this could sound like an overgeneralization but hopefully I cushioned it appropriately.

Now, on a fun note, I ran into this fun site by Mark Vernon that helps you find the Greek philosophical system that matches your personality.  So why go through the work of pretending you have thought everything out and ‘choosing’ your own personality?  Mark’s site does all the work for you! 🙂

Much like in Astrology or other divination systems (please see my post here), in order for this philosophy-choosing algorithm to work for you, you have to ignore the points that you feel don’t describe you and you must get really excited about the parts you agree with.

In the comments tell us your result and share one point your strongly agree and one point that is completely wrong about you. Below are my results with my comments.

Your recommended philosophy-guru is:

 ZENO OF CITIUM.

Key fact: He taught in a stoa, the Athenian supermarket, and hence founded the school of philosophy called Stoicism.  [I do find Stoicism interesting]

Must have: An interest in everyday life, for it is there that you learn life’s big lessons.
[Wow, yep. — but wouldn’t everyone say that?]

Key promise: An ability to face anything, no matter how disastrous.
[I’d like to think that is true, but wouldn’t everyone?]

Key peril: To be “stoical” is to turn your back on passion.
[I am not that way]

Most likely to say: “If you have integrity, no-one can harm you.”
[Wow, how wrong is that!]

Least likely to say: “Forget prudence! It won’t help you anyway.”
[I love that one.  Ooops, must not be me.]

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124 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

124 responses to “What is your Greek-Philosophy Type?

  1. jcosmonewbery

    Your recommended philosophy-guru is EPICURUS.

    Key fact: Epicurus, founder of Epicureanism, is probably the most misunderstood philosopher of antiquity.

    Must have: A delight in the countryside and gardens.

    Key promise: Peace and tranquillity.

    Key peril: Boredom.

    Most likely to say: “The true hedonist can find as much pleasure in a glass of chilled water as in a feast for a king.”

    Least likely to say: “He who tires of the city, tires of life.”

  2. @ cosmo,
    Ohhhh, you are following! But you didn’t do the important part — tell us what part you agree with and what part you disagree with. That is the point of the post.

  3. jcosmonewbery

    As a misunderstood cook, yes I do. Love gardens. Love peace and tranquility. So-so about boredom. No interest in city life. So a pretty good fit really.

  4. TWF

    I got Zeno too! I am with you on the passion though. I’d like to think that one can achieve balance between good passions and reasonable, logical evaluations of life’s challenges.

  5. The difficulty with the questions is that on three occasions I would have voted both and on one I would have voted neither.

    Your recommended philosophy-guru is ZENO OF CITIUM.

    Key fact: He taught in a stoa, the Athenian supermarket, and hence founded the school of philosophy called Stoicism.

    I understand stoicism and relate to some aspects but I am not a Stoic.

    Must have: An interest in everyday life, for it is there that you learn life’s big lessons.

    Yes and no, I believe we all learn in different ways and sometimes we gain insight when we are cut off from everyday life.

    Key promise: An ability to face anything, no matter how disastrous.

    Yes, that is true.

    Key peril: To be “stoical” is to turn your back on passion.

    Absolutely not. I am highly emotional and passionate about many things. I believe we are meant to feel and while we can develop mastery of mind and Self (to lesser and greater degrees depending on our nature) we are made to feel first and it is the combination of thought and feeling which breaks the way to great insight. Passion is deep feeling.

    Most likely to say: “If you have integrity, no-one can harm you.”

    I would never say that. It depends what one means by integrity. I would say no-one can harm you unless you allow them to but that does not mean we are not hurt and need to work through that pain to a place of understanding beyond it. I believe that what matters is following one’s own truth – regardless of what others think. That could be called integrity.

    Least likely to say: “Forget prudence! It won’t help you anyway.”

    I would never say that. I am a cautious, considered and in many ways conservative person. I am prudent about many things but prepared to risk all if need be. I don’t believe Fear should ever be the basis of making a decision but prudence and common sense should play a part. And in truth, anything can help you. We are all different.

    These tests are a bit of fun but so simplistic. Astrology is much better and Myers-Briggs is also good for those who feel a need to ‘raise a cross’ against that which is perceived as occult. 🙂

  6. jcosmonewbery

    @rosross “Astrology is much better…” I do hope you are being sarcastic. Please tell me that yo are being sarcastic…

  7. No, I don’t do sarcasm. But I have studied astrology for more than 30 years and continue to do so. To each their own I say! I use things that work and don’t bother with what doesn’t but I only reject things after a lot of research and thought.

  8. Syl

    Epicurus for me – and it was right on. However, for some of the questions I pretty much had to throw a dart – the options weren’t quite right for me. But overall, the tidbits concerning Epicurus fit me really well.

  9. Epicurus fits me more than Stoicism. But it would be interesting to read all of them. I suspect, as I do in life, I would relate to a little bit of all of them and take what suits my fancy and makes sense to me.

  10. Zeno for me as well!

    Key fact: He taught in a stoa, the Athenian supermarket, and hence founded the school of philosophy called Stoicism.
    No doubt about it. I spend a lot of time making shopping decisions. Seemingly, to some, to the point of indecision. Not really, though. It just takes longer.

    Must have: An interest in everyday life, for it is there that you learn life’s big lessons.
    Yeah, just an everyday kind of person, learning as I go. A lifelong learner.

    Key promise: An ability to face anything, no matter how disastrous.
    Yes, often with trepidation. But yes.

    Key peril: To be “stoical” is to turn your back on passion.
    This is a good one. Turning your back on passion implies intention. But no one would ever describe me as passionate. I certainly don’t. I understand the benefits of passion (e.g., kindling enthusiasm in others for one’s own ideas). Sometimes I wish I could be more passionate about things. And sometimes I’m envious of those who are, but it’s just not part of my nature.

    Most likely to say: “If you have integrity, no-one can harm you.”
    Yes, I grok this. Integrity is a sheild.

    Least likely to say: “Forget prudence! It won’t help you anyway.”

  11. Oh, I see I forgot the last one. I am oh so prudent. And that’s that.

  12. Your recommended philosophy-guru is ZENO OF CITIUM.

    Key fact: He taught in a stoa, the Athenian supermarket, and hence founded the school of philosophy called Stoicism. – Well, I do treat grocery shopping as a sport…

    Must have: An interest in everyday life, for it is there that you learn life’s big lessons. – Agree. What else is there?

    Key promise: An ability to face anything, no matter how disastrous. – Disagree here. I’m more in the middle when it comes to this type of stuff. Depends on the situation, as I’m more introverted than this would imply.

    Key peril: To be “stoical” is to turn your back on passion. – agree to a point. At times I find my self reducing things down in such a way as to remove any beautiful quality that may have been there at the start.

    Most likely to say: “If you have integrity, no-one can harm you.” – Agree. But not the most likely thing I’d say… 🙂

    Least likely to say: “Forget prudence! It won’t help you anyway.” Agree for the most part. I’m more of a “just get it done damnit” kind of person.

  13. Odd, I was Zeno too, though I always admired Epicurus more.

  14. jcosmonewbery

    How bizarre. Perhaps you’re all the same Sabiophilic star sign too! (We Aries don’t believe in Horoscopes.)

  15. Earnest

    Aristotle for me. It was hard to answer some, as there are different “me” answers for many of these questions. So I chose based on whichever answer seemed most correct for my earliest least defined self, even though the “grownup” answers might be different.

  16. CRL

    Your recommended philosophy-guru is ARISTOTLE.

    Key fact: The star pupil of Plato.

    Must have: A desire to study the world and see what it reveals.
    Certainly.

    Key promise: The good life, which comes from living a virtuous life.
    Certainly, I try, though I am human.

    Key peril: The virtuous life can be tough.
    As is almost any endeavor worth undertaking.

    Most likely to say: “Everything has its proper place.”
    “Everything” is a strong word. And nothing has a place by divine decree.

    Least likely to say: “Science is where humanity went wrong.”
    Can’t say I’ve ever caught myself saying that. Maybe while raging at recalcitrant cells.

    Like many others, I had no opinion on many of the quiz questions. I see striving to be happy and striving to cope with suffering as essentially the same thing, my intuitions are generally reason sped up, and thus almost always agree with my reason, I believe it often takes courage to ask questions, and a great lover can be a great friend as well. (I chose a great mathematician over a great cook only because I prefer to invent my own recipes and cooking techniques, and am therefore not greatly interested in meeting experts.)

  17. CRL

    And, also, I’m not sure everyone does have an interest in “everyday life.” The stereotypical absentminded professor doesn’t care, and exists in real life.

  18. How bizarre. Perhaps you’re all the same Sabiophilic star sign too! (We Aries don’t believe in Horoscopes.)

    Aries wouldn’t in the main although one’s Sun Sign is a small portion of one’s astrological makeup. You may however have a very Aries chart. Astrology tends to appeal to people who are curious about self and others and want to understand them better – not a strong Aries trait. But as with many things in life it is always optional.

  19. jcosmonewbery

    @rosross LOL! Love it! thank you!

  20. @jcosmonewbery

    Glad I made you smile. 🙂

  21. Well, I got the same as you: Zeno of Citium (Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς) but, although stoicism is has its good points, I would not say I’m a stoic. I’m also a cynic, and a skepticist, and an epicureanist, and a Platonist, and a Pythagorianist, and an eclecticist. My answers to the recommendations:
    Key fact: He taught in a stoa, the Athenian supermarket, and hence founded the school of philosophy called Stoicism.

    Must have: An interest in everyday life, for it is there that you learn life’s big lessons.
    — Sure, of course.
    Key promise: An ability to face anything, no matter how disastrous.
    — No, I don’t think I have this ability. I cannot deny my occasional ostrichism.
    Key peril: To be “stoical” is to turn your back on passion.
    — Nonsense.
    Most likely to say: “If you have integrity, no-one can harm you.”
    — I have selective integrity and, although the above dictum is wrong, being an idealist, I sometimes find that my (selective) integrity makes me vulnerable.
    Least likely to say: “Forget prudence! It won’t help you any way.”
    — Wishful thinking, not entirely inapplicable in my case, only partially however.

  22. All these Zeno’s ….. Like attracts Like.:)

  23. @rosross:
    Well, not quite. The test decides Zeno, but the test’s result is not conclusive. It’s fun and has a trace of truth, no doubt, but it is no more accurate than the myriads psychological, personality, etc., tests around…

  24. @Takis

    I did have a smile at the end. 🙂 Although Like attracts Like does work on many levels but much too complex a subject for here. I would say a superficial ‘test’ like this is much less accurate than many.
    By the way, which bit of Greece did your family come from? I am immersed in research for my Greek great-grandfather who was born on Ithaca we were told and finding it very hard going. I don’t speak Greek which must be a major handicap and he anglicised his name which makes it harder.

  25. @rosross:
    Ah! Ithaca!

    I come from Patras, but live in Sweden (used to live in the US). Patras is the main city on the west coast, opposite the “heptanisa”, the group of islands which Ithaca is a member of. Where in the world are you at? And what was the anglicised name of your ancestor?

    I suspect you live in the UK or Australia, from the way you spell the verb anglicise.

    As for the smiley, sorry, I didn’t see it. Oh, yes, and one of my philosophy problems is that I take lots of things far too seriously. 🙂

  26. @Takis,
    Smiling again. I did think your nature might lean toward the literal! Or rather, I felt it.
    I am Australian but have lived all over the world and I am currently based in Malawi which is why I am sitting here writing and not eating dinner or thinking about sleeping.
    My great-grandfather was Charles Ross and if the family story is right and it was Ithaca there are not many options in terms of what the Greek name might have been. He supposedly jumped ship in South Australia in the 1880’s – maybe 70’s because he would have been born in 1849. Rossolimos is the closest I have, if his place of birth is right but Greek records are not the best. I remain an optimist however and firmly believe that if the information is meant to come it will. I write a blog about the research and have been surprised and delighted at how information and photographs have appeared!

  27. Count up to now: Zeno: 7 : Epicurus: 2; Aristotle:2

    @ RosRoss,
    And if we’d have all chosen differently, there is the easily available adage of : “Opposites attract”. 🙂
    We have to be cautious of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy — looking for pattern after the outcomes are seen. Like trying to find a “Sabiophillic effect”!
    We are fortunate to have a resident astrologer on this thread ! Seriously. Thanx for being here.

    @ others
    Here are some other patterns revealed on this comment thread:

    Like other Divination methods:
    (1) People are excited to find out about themselves and talk about it.
    (2) People find traits the identify with and are glad, and part they don’t identify with but can ignore.

    Like other personality tests:

    (1) When taken at different times, the same person gets different results: they often say, “I could have answered several questions in different ways.”

    Can anyone else see important patterns?

  28. @Takis,
    p.s. I have not been to Scandinavia but plan to go as I also have Danish ancestors! And German (great record keepers) and English (good record-keepers) and Scottish (bad record-keepers)!

  29. @Sabio,

    Yes, Opposites do attract but often because they reflect our shadow Self and mirror aspects of our psyche which we do not recognise or allow to ‘speak.’ In that way of human nature where we can hold two conflicting opinions at one and the same time, the principles of Like attracts Like and Opposites Attract can work together; or at least ‘share the same bed.’
    It is one thing to ‘look for patterns’ and quite another to ‘see symbolically and synchronistically’ and perceive patterns when they appear.

    People do like talking about themselves and if in the company of strangers it is a great way to get a conversation going. It is also fascinating. Everyone has a story to tell.

    Some people ignore parts they do not recognise nor like but many do not. Anyone who is interested in shadow work knows these parts are the important ones.

    One reason why people get different results at different times is because there is change – albeit slight but change all the same. I did Myers-Briggs in my early 30’s and came out as an extrovert. I did it again 15 years later after living in India and Africa where I spent a lot of time alone and was an introvert. I now know my nature is introverted but I have excellent extrovert skills. And personality tests, well, the good ones, take into account that all aspects of personality exist in all of us and it is a matter of which become dominant. That dominant factor can change although it does not have to. But a balanced psyche is able to express all aspects of nature and no-one is served well if they spend most of their time at the far end of any spectrum.

    Know Thyself as the Eleusinian Mysteries taught is probably the only advice we ever need in life.

  30. @ Rosross
    Like Ying and Yang; Likes-attract and Opposites-attract can give us the power to explain every attraction — how convenient. Such simple adage pairs abound. Humans want a quick, easy handle on things. They want to feel they understand the world and they want to be able to explain it. I feel that these adages exist for common consumption for obvious reasons — but none of them are because people are seeking deep understanding.

    So, what I am trying to point out is the many reasons people may be drawn to any divination techinique that have nothing to do with whether it is true or false. It is important to identify these biases and cognitive traps before we explore claims. In science we use all sorts of methods to check these biases — not always successfully of course, but it is the standard.

    So before exploring Astrology, I think it is important to illustrate all the wrong reasons people would clamor to say, “Yes, I believe in it!”

    Can you see why I feel this is important? Do you agree that such an approach may be valuable?

    BTW: Myers-Briggs is a whole other subject. But tests have shown that people taking that test in the same month show different results. So if personality or “nature” is a stable thing, it is not testing that. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s discuss the my point above.

  31. @ Sabio

    On Myers-Briggs – I saw results for a corporation over many years and perhaps Australians are different but the tests remained generally consistent. What it did do, because corporations can’t or won’t use astrology, was increase understanding of colleagues and all to the good.
    But I am sure there are cultural differences which impact any system to positive or negative outcomes.

    I don’t think anyone should explore astrology unless it interests them and then they should do the reading and research and decide if they find it useful. If not, don’t bother with it. Just as perspective is sourced in our culture and experience so too will someone with an understanding of astrology be sourced in that in the same way that someone with a scientific (of the materialist kind) background, have their perspective influenced by their belief and experience.

    People find many ways to understand this world and the part they play in it and science is a system, no different to any other. It is a way of thinking and of explaining the world. It gets some things right and some things wrong. The materialist mindset has had undue influence over Western thought at least for a few hundred years and that has brought positives and negatives. Ultimately though it is as limited as religion and in both cases systems drive behaviour and the system is self-reinforcing if not self-creating.

    There is more of Schrodinger’s Cat at work in this world than many might admit and I do not espouse answers which are either easy, nor which fall into the black and white category. I am more of an ‘and’ than an either/or person and I find the world more often grey, than black or white. Perhaps I relate to things like astrology, tarot and i ching because they are not black and white and they embrace all possibilities and all possible truths.

  32. @ RosRoss,
    Oooops, I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned Myers-Briggs. Let’s stay focused on Astrology.

    You haven’t answered my main question, so I will repeat it:

    “Do you think that understanding all the main cognitive traps or biases that draw people into Astrology, is important?”

    You said, “Science is a system, no different to any other.” This is obviously false — all systems are not the same and the way systems are built can be hugely different in method and outcomes.

    Oooops, I shouldn’t have said that, it might distract you. However you respond, please be sure to answer the bolded question above.

  33. @Sabio,

    For one thing I don’t believe that people are necessarily drawn into astrology (or anything) because of cognitive traps or biases and so no, developing some understanding of this factor is not important. But astrology can certainly explain why we might be drawn to something when others are not.
    In truth, one could posit cognitive traps and bias for any field of interest – including science. It is certainly useful and sometimes important to understand why we are drawn to something and astrology can show that.
    If someone is drawn to astrology for instance because they want some control over their life they will soon discover that is not what astrology is about. In the same way, someone might be drawn to science for the same reason and it will likely take them longer, depending on the field, to discover that science does not have all the answers either.
    What is important is understanding yourself and why you are drawn to something but it is not necessary. What matters most is that you find it useful and rewarding. There are people who collect old barbed wire – do they need to know why they do it? I would say No! What works for you works for you.
    I was drawn to it after someone gave me a truly stupid astrology book when I was 30. It piqued my interest, no more, no less and so I began to read more, having ascertained there were very sensible books out there. When I had my first reading done I had already done a lot of research and knew what an astrologer could and could not or should and should not say. I also understood why she was saying what she said.
    My first reading was by a professional but one less experienced; my second was by a professional who is now one of the world’s best astrologers and who has moved from Adelaide to Bath in the UK.
    My advice to anyone interested in astrology is to study it first so you know, or can assess for yourself, why what is said, is said. I am very wary of things which cannot be validated in this way and I am very conscious of the fact that people will believe things they are told even if they believe they will not. Clairvoyants for that reason can be dangerous. Tarot, I-Ching, Palm Reading etc., can be studied and understood in the same way that astrology is but none of them equal astrology in terms of the complex mixture of science and art.
    My interest in it is as a psychotherapeutic tool and with a strong interest in psychology I consider it to be invaluable in this field, where, I might add, it is increasingly used particularly by those trained in Jungian practices.
    Good astrology simply describes you to yourself. The more self-aware you are the more you will recognise. It is perhaps more useful to some than others, particularly those who are self-critical because it says:’It is okay to be you.Tthis is your nature and these are the forces at work.

  34. To answer your second question:

    “Science is a system, no different to any other.”
    You said: This is obviously false —
    No, science is a system and as a system it is no different to any other system.

    You said: all systems are not the same
    As a system they are and ‘systems drive behaviour’ in all systems. A system is a structure and whether it is a religious, scientific, political or whatever system, the structure, construct and influences are much the same because they reflect human nature.

    You said: and the way systems are built can be hugely
    different in method and outcomes.

    No, a system as a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole is like any other system. What differs is the paradigm within which the system operates and that influences method and outcomes.

    If you study the religious and the scientific systems you will find much in common. Interestingly until probably the last century when the materialist mindset became entrenched, science and spiritual or religious belief kept company more often than not, as they had for centuries before. And if one reads the biographies of the greatest scientists it is pretty clear that not only did many of them possess this duality but they admitted to the part that intuition, inspiration and the metaphysical played in their discoveries.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think science even with its materialist mindset has come up with some valuable and productive things, but it has also come up with some terribly destructive things as well and it has limited its capacity to explore the true and complex nature of this world. Quantum physics is however, likely to change that mindset – as will biology I feel.

    But all serves a purpose and there is no doubt that ‘seeing the world’ as mechanical and purely as ‘matter’ has brought understandings in science, but along with it has come bigotry, blindness and ignorance as well. No different to religion really but then science and religion are just extremes at either end of a polarity. In many ways they have more in common than they think and none of it to the good.

  35. @rosross:

    You are welcome to write to me in one of my email addresses (click on my logo to get to my page). I don’t think we should overload Sabio’s blog with our discussion on ancestors. By the way, before coming to Sweden, I was in Scotland for several years.

  36. @Takis,
    Will do. Yes, we have gone off at a tangent. I like Scotland very much and love Edinburgh and did even before I knew that was where my ancestors lived after leaving Glasgow in the early 1700’s.

  37. Individual notes to those still following:

    @ cosmo :
    So glad you found a fit, and “Epicurus” is such a cool name. Not to mention that it must be comforting to know you don’t fall in my range.

    @ TWF :
    You are a man of passion too — no matter how much you value reason. They are friends for most of us.

    @ Syl :
    Yeah, lots of questions were dart throws. In fact, I took the test several more times, changing the answers that I could have gone either way (about 2/3 of them), and got variously Epicurus and Aristotle in addition to Zeno.

    Zeno has a “Z” in it which is more cool. I will stick with that. 🙂

    @ Paul :
    “I ‘grok’ this.” You show your age! I loved that book too!

    @ Adam :”Grocery shopping as a sport” ! 🙂

    @ Bart :
    Yes I agree, see my reply to Syl above. The many selves do make the divination inaccurate, don’t they.

    @ CRL :
    Funny comments. And you are right — absentminded professors (often me) sometimes care less about real life — that is me fairly often. Ooops, which am I ? 🙂

    @ Takis :
    Glad you and RosRoss hooked up. Great comments, thanx.

  38. @ RosRoss
    Wow, long comments.

    I like to break down debates/conversations into managable pieces and especially keeping an eye out for:
    (a) agreed points
    (b) disagreed points
    (c) fuzzy points.

    All this while trying to not get distracted on different uses of words.

    I like to make progress in conversations instead of them just amounting to both sides preaching and never really communicating.

    So, I will have to take points slowly. There are too many here.

    You said,

    I don’t believe that people are necessarily drawn into astrology (or anything) because of cognitive traps or biases

    (1) So to help me understand that claim, could you answer this question:

    Do you think there are such things as cognitive traps or biases that can obstruct understanding?

    (2) As far as agreement goes, perhaps we both agree that inaccurate beliefs can still still be useful even though they are inaccurate or wrong. No?

    So that was two questions. If you could keep the answers as short as possible and yet still feel you have adequately answered them, I’d appreciate it.

    Going off on “What is Science” or “The problem with Science” is not a path that will be helpful right now. It is an important topic, but let’s focus on the above issue, if we can. I hope you don’t mind my approach.

  39. You said: Do you think there are such things as cognitive traps or biases that can obstruct understanding?

    A term like cognitive traps is simplistic and superficial and highly subjective. I don’t think about people in that way. There are many things which limit, obstruct, or prevent understanding and many reasons for it. Understanding is often an hermetic process and seeking to reduce human reactions and responses to the world around them and the world inside them to something as ‘narrow’ as cognitive trap or bias is to my mind, judgemental.
    These sound like the sort of terms you find in rationalist psychology where mind is seen as an epiphenomen of the brain and ‘terms’ are required of a mechanistic nature which fit the medical/academic paradigm.

    Trying to keep it simple, I have to say No.

    You said: As far as agreement goes, perhaps we both agree that inaccurate beliefs can still still be useful even though they are inaccurate or wrong. No?

    ‘Inaccurate beliefs’ is a judgement and highly subjective. One person’s ‘inaccurate belief’ is anothers reality. This is such a generalisation and as I said before I do more – ‘and’ than either/or, even with right and wrong.

    You said:So that was two questions. If you could keep the answers as short as possible and yet still feel you have adequately answered them, I’d appreciate it.

    I will do my best. I think and write at length. No doubt typing fast has encouraged that.

    You said:. I hope you don’t mind my approach.

    Not in the least.

  40. @ RosRoss,

    Wow, I wasn’t trying to be “simplistic and superficial and highly subjective.” Actually, just the opposite.

    In medicine, we have noticed many traps for poor, untrustworthy data. For you see, either medicine helps, or it doesn’t. Either it has side effects, or it doesn’t. It is important to test these.

    (1) So, Journal articles now have to publish the funding of those who are doing research, so as to reveal that bias pitfall.

    (2) Researchers have to name the short comings of their research to show that they understand lack of generalizability, smallness of sample size, limits of type of research (prospective vs. retrospective studies; meta-analysis; correlational vs controlled etc). So understanding possible bias is critical for progress in medicine. Likewise in physics, electronics, material science and many more. So cognitive pitfalls, bias or whatever you want to call it is real.

    (3) Logical Fallacies
    Used in mathematics and rhetoric analysis can also be useful.

    If you don’t think there are any checks possible on only domains to limit these things and you think they are fictional, then we probably can not proceed in useful dialogue.

  41. jcosmonewbery

    I was just wondering if there was a star sign that people who were skeptical about astrology were most likely to be born under?

  42. @jcosmonewbery

    I was just wondering if there was a star sign that people who were skeptical about astrology were most likely to be born under?

    It doesn’t work like that. The interpretation is done through the sign, the house in which it is placed, the planets in that house and the aspects to the planets and the house so the generic qualities of a sign are a small part of any reading. Sun sign reading, or what you find in the media compared to professional astrology, is the equivalent, in cuisine terms, of the difference between bad fast food and the best of haute cuisine. It’s all food but they are very different things.

  43. @Sabio,

    You said: Wow, I wasn’t trying to be “simplistic and superficial and highly subjective.” Actually, just the opposite.

    I did not say you were. I said: A term like cognitive traps is simplistic and superficial and highly subjective. I was talking about the terms and that is a different thing.

    You said: In medicine, we have noticed many traps for poor, untrustworthy data. For you see, either medicine helps, or it doesn’t. Either it has side effects, or it doesn’t. It is important to test these.

    We were not talking about medicine. We were talking about astrology. Modern medicine is sourced in materialist science and an empirical research process (which one could argue is less successful than the system would have it but that is a digression) so of course it is important to test.

    You said: So, Journal articles now have to publish the funding of those who are doing research, so as to reveal that bias pitfall.

    Except often there is less clarity than there should be. But a sensible stance all the same.

    You said: So understanding possible bias is critical for progress in medicine.

    Of course it is because people may die. In fact many do, despite what you describe as the ‘rigorous’ nature of the system. Iatrogenic death is one of the top three.

    You said: Likewise in physics, electronics, material science and many more. So cognitive pitfalls, bias or whatever you want to call it is real.

    Within an empirical system such terms may be useful to some degree but when it comes to human nature they are limited. The flaws and failures in science are perhaps because of the approach.

    Now, I am more than happy to digress but you did say you wanted to keep on topic and we were talking astrology not medicine, physics, electronics etc.

    You said: Logical Fallacies
    Used in mathematics and rhetoric analysis can also be useful.

    I know the concept of Logical Fallacy and consider it an oxymoron. It is the sort of term people use who engage in ‘word wars’ which are based on winning and losing, as opposed to something useful in gaining understanding of another human being and how they think or what they think.

    You said: If you don’t think there are any checks possible on only domains to limit these things and you think they are fictional

    I don’t really understand this comment. ‘Limit what things’? What is fictional?

    Of course things can and should be checked, researched, studied and that happens with astrology and has happened in the thousands of years of its existence. Interestingly, probably more since its resurgence in the past few hundred years following a more fallow time during the demonisation process carried out against it by the Christian church.
    I take the view that everything should be questioned.

    You said: then we probably can not proceed in useful dialogue.

    That is your call. I don’t have specific requirements for how a discussion should proceed or what it should or could contain. I am interested in what people have to share on particular subjects. I am not interested in convincing anyone of anything, winning anything and see such discussions as a conversation about a topic which may or may not offer useful information to those who participate.

  44. jcosmonewbery

    Love to enter the fray but Sabio has banned me from commenting as I lower the high intellectual tone. (sigh)

    [From sabio: Of course I did not ban him. I asked him politely if he would offer more substance to his comments and not just cute jabs. I love criticism, but I was asking for substantial, meaningful dialogue , no matter how critical — you can see I don’t hesitate to show my opinion.]

  45. @jcosmonewbery

    I doubt that very much, either that Sabio has banned you or that you lower the tone! In fact I am not sure the ‘tone’ is particularly high. 🙂

  46. jcosmonewbery

    No, an off-blog email telling me to up my style. Too flippant, I’m told. 😦

  47. Hmm, that says some really interesting things about our host and suggests you could be a lot of fun!! Although I do understand how annoying it can be when flippancy enters into debates which have been undertaken seriously. It seems dismissive. But interacting and communicating online is a new skill for everyone and a difficult one to master given the lack of the many ‘senses’ we use to understand what people say.

  48. CRL

    You said: Likewise in physics, electronics, material science and many more. So cognitive pitfalls, bias or whatever you want to call it is real.

    Within an empirical system such terms may be useful to some degree but when it comes to human nature they are limited. The flaws and failures in science are perhaps because of the approach.

    But let’s not make it worse by giving up. Yes, anything involving humans will have errors. By trying to avoid cognitive pitfalls, we gain better, more useful results. In the case of, say, theoretical physics, this gives us more accurate information about the universe. (Though if you don’t like factual knowledge, I suppose this isn’t very useful. Feel free to believe that the stars are dots of paint on a celestial canvas or the souls of ancestors or large tarot cards or whatever. I find the truth, that they are massive, moving balls of plasma light years away, much more exciting and beautiful, partly because it is true, and partially due to personal taste. ) In the case of medical research, this saves lives. Not taking painstaking care to be empirical can end them. Again, giving up because something can never be perfect is never a solution. Nothing will ever be perfect, so you may as well give up and die.

    You said: Logical Fallacies
    Used in mathematics and rhetoric analysis can also be useful.

    I know the concept of Logical Fallacy and consider it an oxymoron. It is the sort of term people use who engage in ‘word wars’ which are based on winning and losing, as opposed to something useful in gaining understanding of another human being and how they think or what they think.

    An online discussion like this serves several purposes:

    1. To discover how the other person thinks.
    2. To discover how you think, and in defending your opinions, to learn more about why you hold them, and whether you should continue to hold them. In other words, to think more clearly about what you believe.
    3. To discover how the outside world works, and arrive at some kind of truth.
    4. To change the other person’s opinion. (This rarely happens. It is never my main goal, when entering into a debate. I don’t care what you believe, but I am curious to know why you believe it, why I believe differently than you, and if, perhaps, you are right and I can find the truth by altering my opinion.)

    To reach this third goal, we must think of logical fallacies, of falsehoods, or we will never get anywhere. You can argue all day that my perception of red is different than yours, but a firetruck will reflect mostly light with a wavelength of about 740 nm—red light. Santa Claus, defined as a physical being in possession of a beard and flying reindeer, either exists or he doesn’t. In most cases, there is one answer, though there is usually room for much argument as to what that one answer is. By exposing the logical fallacies made by another person (and making sure that we don’t make any ourselves—again, an impossible task, but we should not give up) we can arrive closer to truth.

    I suppose it must be asked whether we care about finding the truth in the first place. After all, philosophical truth won’t make life any better, though scientific truth usually will. But, if we don’t care about the truth, why do we argue about philosophy, or astrology, or anything else? If you cannot claim the truth because you don’t believe in truth, why bother defending your beliefs?

    ‘Inaccurate beliefs’ is a judgement and highly subjective. One person’s ‘inaccurate belief’ is anothers reality.

    I do not believe that everyone has their own reality. In free fall, you and I accelerate at the same rate. Gravity doesn’t listen to my opinion. If the stars dictate my fate, they do so whether or not I believe in astrology. There is no god that exists for those who believe in it, but not for others, save for the god who inhabits the human brain. Why should we care? Personally, I care about external truth because I love the search for it, and I take no pleasure in concocting pleasant falsehoods and convincing myself to believe them. But do as you please.

  49. @CRL

    You said: But let’s not make it worse by giving up.

    I never suggested we should give up. I simply don’t believe that the materialist/empirical system works all the time or for everything. I believe we need to be open to and utilise more than one system of research.

    You said: In the case of, say, theoretical physics, this gives us more accurate information about the universe.

    As I said, certain approaches work for certain things. I simply don’t believe there is one approach for all areas of research.

    You said: (Though if you don’t like factual knowledge, I suppose this isn’t very useful.

    I appreciate all knowledge. What we call ‘factual’ at one point in time may not be what we call ‘factual’ at another. There is no doubt that much in this material world at this point in time can be understood using certain mechanisms but that does not mean those mechanisms can apply to understanding to all things.

    You said: Feel free to believe that the stars are dots of paint on a celestial canvas or the souls of ancestors or large tarot cards or whatever.

    I don’t and never said I did. But I also do not have a problem with appreciating stars in a material or literal sense and stars in a symbolic or metaphorical sense. I believe both modes of perception are important.

    You said: I find the truth, that they are massive, moving balls of plasma light years away, much more exciting and beautiful, partly because it is true, and partially due to personal taste. )

    I also find it exciting and beautiful but I find other ways of perceiving them equally exciting and beautiful. Some people choose all ways, some choose a variety of ways and some like myself embrace it all.

    You said: In the case of medical research, this saves lives.

    Not always. It can and it should but medical research is also deeply flawed and it also brings death to many otherwise iatrogenic deaths would not be on the increase. I will say this has a more to do with the dependence allopathy has on pharmaceuticals and the power of the pharmaceutical industry over medicine, than it has to medical incompetence. Although the power of BigPharma has only been possible because of the materialist mindset of Allopathic medicine where bodies are seen as machines, if not ‘bags of hormones and chemicals.’
    You said: Not taking painstaking care to be empirical can end them.

    Taking care to be empirical can end many avenues of research before they are begun. Empiricism is only valuable in certain areas; it is useless in others. One cannot be empirical about the human psyche or mind and empirical research into brain function increasingly shows that.

    You said:Again, giving up because something can never be perfect is never a solution. Nothing will ever be perfect, so you may as well give up and die.

    I don’t believe in perfect which is why I don’t see empiricism as the only answer.

    You said: An online discussion like this serves several purposes:

    1. To discover how the other person thinks.

    To some degree perhaps but not crucial.

    You said: 2. To discover how you think, and in defending your opinions, to learn more about why you hold them, and whether you should continue to hold them. In other words, to think more clearly about what you believe.

    Yes, discussion enables one to continue to learn.

    You said:3. To discover how the outside world works, and arrive at some kind of truth.

    Well I happen to think that life serves that purpose and an online discussion is one small, limited way of continuing the process. Albeit interesting at times and thought provoking.

    You said: 4. To change the other person’s opinion.

    This is not what I am about. You can’t in my view change other people’s opinions – only they can do that. You can share information, insight, perspective, that is all.

    You said: (This rarely happens. It is never my main goal, when entering into a debate. I don’t care what you believe, but I am curious to know why you believe it, why I believe differently than you, and if, perhaps, you are right and I can find the truth by altering my opinion.)

    I agree.

    You said: To reach this third goal, we must think of logical fallacies, of falsehoods, or we will never get anywhere.

    That is your way and right for you. It isn’t my way and isn’t right for me although it can be a part of the process of understanding for me if it fits the topic.

    You said: You can argue all day that my perception of red is different than yours, but a firetruck will reflect mostly light with a wavelength of about 740 nm—red light.

    In truth no-one can ever truly know what ‘red’ means to another – all is perception beyond the literal explanation and ‘red’ will always mean more beyond the literal, as does anything. Every reaction or response we have at a sentient level is coloured and influenced by who and what we are by nature and all of our experiences, as well as the experiences to lesser and greater degrees of our family, society and culture.

    You said: Santa Claus, defined as a physical being in possession of a beard and flying reindeer, either exists or he doesn’t.

    It depends what you mean by exist. And even if he did not exist in a physical sense he certainly does in a symbolic and metaphorical sense. Carl Jung said ‘symbol is the lost language of the soul’ and I relate to this. I don’t use Soul in a religious sense but won’t go into explanations because it is too lengthy and a digression.
    You said: In most cases, there is one answer, though there is usually room for much argument as to what that one answer is.
    Who says in most cases there is only one answer? In most cases there are many answers and we ‘select’ what fits our beliefs. Having lived in many cultures around the world, and more often than not in the third world, I have experienced this often but again, a digression.

    You said:. By exposing the logical fallacies made by another person (and making sure that we don’t make any ourselves—again, an impossible task, but we should not give up) we can arrive closer to truth.

    What someone calls a logical fallacy another person calls a word exercise which dilutes understanding. One person can approach something in a literal sense and another in a symbolic or metaphorical sense and both will have the potential to be right. They are simply ‘seeing’ in a different way. Each way is valid and what matters is how appropriate the approach is to the subject in hand.
    You said: I suppose it must be asked whether we care about finding the truth in the first place.

    Truth can be a moveable feast. There can be more than one truth; all is perception and everything is, to lesser and greater degrees, subjective. I believe that one’s own ‘truth’ is what matters most and following it is what brings wholeness. Obviously our ‘truth’ needs to be able to function in the world in which we live in literal and metaphorical senses, otherwise the path leads to madness. But there is flexibility there as well and that is the magic of this world and everyone and everything in it.

    You said: After all, philosophical truth won’t make life any better, though scientific truth usually will.

    Philosophical truth has as much chance of making life better as scientific truth has. The only question is which has been more destructive but given the youth of science it is probably hard to assess. Both have brought great benefits and great disasters.

    You said: But, if we don’t care about the truth, why do we argue about philosophy, or astrology, or anything else?

    Because truth is not a commodity which one can find, gather, quantify in many respects. Science makes the mistake of believing that because it can understand and demonstrate some truths that this system can work for all. It cannot.

    The only question I would ask about those who reject astrology is have you studied it? Most haven’t but clearly some have. Many of those who sought to discredit astrology, scientists to boot, did their research and became converts. That doesn’t mean anyone should. There is no reason why astrology should work for everyone anymore than something like philosophy or sport. We all have different interests and tastes. I have no interest in sport and minimal understanding but I don’t reject it. It doesn’t bother me and so I wonder why astrology bothers those who have no interest or understanding of it.

    You said: If you cannot claim the truth because you don’t believe in truth, why bother defending your beliefs?

    I believe in my truth and expect you to believe in yours. Astrology works so I believe in it. There is nothing to defend. I don’t care if you or others don’t believe in it – to each their own. I only take issue when people dismiss, seek to discredit and at times demonise, a science/art which has survived for thousands of years and which millions find invaluable.

    ‘Inaccurate beliefs’ is a judgement and highly subjective. One person’s ‘inaccurate belief’ is anothers reality.

    I do not believe that everyone has their own reality. In free fall, you and I accelerate at the same rate. Gravity doesn’t listen to my opinion. If the stars dictate my fate, they do so whether or not I believe in astrology. There is no god that exists for those who believe in it, but not for others, save for the god who inhabits the human brain. Why should we care? Personally, I care about external truth because I love the search for it, and I take no pleasure in concocting pleasant falsehoods and convincing myself to believe them. But do as you please.

  50. @crl

    You said: I do not believe that everyone has their own reality. In free fall, you and I accelerate at the same rate. Gravity doesn’t listen to my opinion.

    No-one disputes that there are laws at work in this material world. However, there are certainly instances where those laws are ‘broken.’ Science calls them anomalies and the world often calls them miracles. There are no absolutes and there are enough exceptions to make the curious question just how rigid are the laws of this world. Quantum physics gets closest to those questions and possibly eventually, some answers.

    You said: If the stars dictate my fate, they do so whether or not I believe in astrology.

    The stars don’t dictate your fate. Vedic or Indian astrology believes and teaches this more so but Western astrology does not. The energies the stars represent ‘impel’ they do not ‘compel.’ We have free will.

    Your astrological nature is an imprint or a ‘flavouring’ if you like and a guide to what is at work in you and your life. It is part of a process of becoming which involves nature and nurture although astrology can indicate both the nature and the nurture and therefore offers a comprehensive insight into who you are.

    You said: There is no god that exists for those who believe in it, but not for others, save for the god who inhabits the human brain.

    The issue of God is personal. I gave up religion a long time ago having studied most of them. I stick with God. But my God is not a God of religion but more like an intelligence or consciousness which is at work in this world – which is this world. I believe all is consciousness and that is what people call God.

    You said: Why should we care?

    You shouldn’t. If you care it suggests you are questioning and perhaps looking for something of a more spiritual nature. If you don’t care that is absolutely fine. It means your set of beliefs work well for you.

    You said: Personally, I care about external truth because I love the search for it,

    I am absolutely in agreement.

    You said: and I take no pleasure in concocting pleasant falsehoods and convincing myself to believe them. But do as you please.

    Neither do I and I shall ignore your highly subjective inference that this is what I do. Thanks for the discussion. At the end of the day the only thing which matters is that we come up with a set of beliefs which work for us – no more, no less. Jung would have called it individuation and I cannot think of a better word.

  51. @ Cosmo and rosross,
    Of course I did not ban Cosmo. You were right, RosRoss.
    He was licking his imagined wounds and screaming here on the thread.
    He wrote me back a snippy note too.

    Instead, I asked him if he would offer more substance to his comments and not just cute jabs. I love criticism, but I was asking for substantial, meaningful dialogue , no matter how critical — and told him that he can see that I don’t hesitate to show my opinion.

    I like to keep thread to substance instead of dropping into defensive attacks and emotional sophomoric banter. Some try to nurture the culture of their blogs, some don’t. I do. Either of you can e-mail me if you wish to go on about this. Let’s stick to astrology now.

  52. @Sabio

    I am fine with it all Sabio. I don’t take offence and I agree with you in terms of maintaining substance, however subjective we may be about what it is.:)

  53. Hmmm, now why did I have a sense that Cosmo was female? I may well be wrong.

  54. @ RosRoss,
    OK, I am starting to see what is not going to be helpful in dialogue with you.

    @ CRL,
    Superbly stated. I loved the meta-conversation about dialogue also. RR’s replies to you offered the same lack of positive direction I was feeling, so I will try a different approach to see if we all can make progress in understanding.

    @ RosRoss,
    So I will change the approach.

    You said:

    Astrology works so I believe in it.

    That is an empirical claim. Something works, or it doesn’t. So please tell us what Astrology would look like if Astrology did NOT work.

    I want to see what “work” means for you in this case. I am not trying to be petty or philosophical. This is a down to earth question.

    From your writing so far, I think I know how Astrology works in a personal sense for you — it gives you and your husband an increased sense of meaning in the world. It helps you understand yourself and others.

    Since belief in fairies, fly saucers, Santa Claus and such also “work” in that sense for other people, do you think Astrology “works” at another level than just fantasy in the mind that is inspiring.

    I am guessing these may be possibilities:

    (1) Given a person’s exact birth date, I can describe their personality much more accurately than someone trying to guess a person’s personality.

    (2) Knowing one’s chart and acting on it properly, can give someone a more fortunate life than if they ignored the dangers or weaknesses in their chart.

    If those are wrong, tell us yours. Please keep them concise. Thank you.

  55. @ RosRoss:
    You said,

    Hmmm, now why did I have a sense that Cosmo was female? I may well be wrong.

    Funny! I didn’t get that feeling, but I didn’t think about it much — since female minds and male minds can overlap so much. But I did look:

    Here is his/her profile: J Cosmo Newbery: where he declares him/herself a male. Now, he is from Australia, so maybe your psychic power just read his sex upside down. 🙂

    But here is his poetry site and he does have a lot of pics that seem more girlish than many guy sites do. Maybe he/she is bisexual or trans or ….

    Sexuality (as I am sure you will agree) can be such an interesting mix. I have often been thought of as being gay or bisexual — less as I am older now and married with family (though that should not change things!). I still love making my guy friends nervous — though they understand pixyish nature! 🙂

    I find people with the sexuality thing a little confusing to be highly interesting.

  56. @ Sabio,
    yes, I also eventually accessed the site. Then again I have also found that people don’t necessarily tell the truth online. You don’t use your real name for instance. Not that it matters. As you say, we all have masculine/feminine qualities to express.

  57. Yes, I don’t use my ‘real name’, because it could easily be detrimental to my livelihood. It is not an example of “don’t necessarily tell the truth online.” I state it is a pen name.

  58. PS – awaiting your response to “How Astrology ‘works'”. Thanx

  59. @Sabio,

    I tend to do thorough which means concise may not be a result but I shall do my best. At the end of the day I can only express myself in my own way. Others are interested to pursue that, or not.

    One thing I would say is that I do not feel it is up to me to prove astrology. It is a part of who I am in the same way that being a doctor is a part of who you are. Our beliefs, experiences and tools will influence how we express ourselves. I don’t have a problem with that.

    I neither need nor ask that anyone else believes in astrology but merely that you accept that is a part of my way of approaching and explaining the world in the same way science is for others. In other words, merely different ways of approaching the same question. But I will answer your questions, briefly:

    You said: That is an empirical claim. Something works, or it doesn’t. So please tell us what Astrology would look like if Astrology did NOT work.

    If astrology did not work it would not exist. However, having never thought about it from this perspective I shall and I would answer, if astrology did not work it would not be possible to gain deep, concrete and verifiable information about a human being simply by knowing their date, time and place of birth and interpreting that information within the astrological system. If astrology did not work there would not be clear indications of the veracity of astrological teaching.

    I will digress here only to tell a story which refutes my statement about knowing date, time and place of birth but which I found and find fascinating. Sorry, this won’t be short but I feel it is interesting.

    We were in Agra when we lived in India and I saw a board in the foyer stating: Astrological chart readings- do not need time, place or date of birth. I was curious but cautious. I don’t like the ‘compel’ aspect of Vedic astrology and I am very cautious about anything literally predictive which is the Vedic way, but curiosity got the better of me and I figured I knew enough to ‘survive’ any ‘predictions.’

    He presented me with a piece of paper divided into squares and said:’Everyone intuitively knows the exact moment of birth. I want you to place the planets wherever you like on this graph.’ So I did.

    He then read my chart and Vedic leanings aside he read my chart just as Western astrologers had read it and as I knew it. I was impressed. My husband, son and daughter then did the same thing with the same result.

    You said: From your writing so far, I think I know how Astrology works in a personal sense for you —

    Yes, as a psychotherapeutic tool in the same way that seeing ‘symbolically’ does and reading metaphorically as well as literally.

    You said: it gives you and your husband an increased sense of meaning in the world.

    No, it doesn’t give meaning beyond being a demonstration of the connectedness of things. My husband is not ‘into’ such things but he is very open-minded. He had his first chart done out of curiosity and was impressed when the astrologer talked about aspects of his childhood that even I did not know about but he doesn’t bother with it per se: He is highly intuitive and very much in touch with his own instincts about people and simply has no need of such a tool.

    You said: It helps you understand yourself and others.

    Actually what it helps me do is re-inforce my own intuition. I am highly intuitive but have only begun to trust that in recent decades because my dominant mode has been analytical/rational. But there is more to it than that. I am being brief.

    You said: Santa Claus and such also “work” in that sense for other people, do you think Astrology “works” at another level than just fantasy in the mind that is inspiring.

    Apart from the fact that there could be a sarcastic edge to your comment, yes, it does work at other levels. Santa Claus is an interesting mythological and symbolic exercise. Astrology is a science, a system, a philosophy and a practice which incorporates the literal and the metaphorical.

    You said: I am guessing these may be possibilities:

    (1) Given a person’s exact birth date, I can describe their personality much more accurately than someone trying to guess a person’s personality.

    If you replace the word ‘guess’ with the word ‘assess’ it works better and the answer is No. Some people are highly intuitive and some are clairvoyant: some people know as much as any astrological chart can reveal. But few people have those skills.

    You said: (2) Knowing one’s chart and acting on it properly, can give someone a more fortunate life than if they ignored the dangers or weaknesses in their chart.

    Hmmm, this sounds like Vedic astrology and the short answer is no, but I feel saying why is important. It isn’t Western astrology. There are no dangers or weaknesses – there is just the influence and the experience. It is not about having a ‘fortunate’ life, however that may be interpreted – it is about a process of coming to ‘know one’s self’ – of individuation as Jung would have it. Knowing one’s chart can give greater insight to those who, for whatever reason, feel a need for greater insight.

    It is actually an easier, more comprehensive, more insightful, less potentially damaging, valuable psychotherapeutic tool as therapy.

    A highly self-aware person having a professional astrological reading would not be surprised at anything which was said. A less self-aware person might be both surprised and relieved to discover that rather than being abnormal or weird, this is actually who they are meant to be, or they might discover whey they are not who they want to be.

    The surprising thing for both would be that a stranger could have such intimate detail about them simply by being provided with date, time and place of birth.

    You said: If those are wrong, tell us yours.

  60. I hit the Post button by mistake.

    But to respond to your last comment – it is not so much wrong as lacking in understanding of what western astrology is and does. In answering your questions I have tried to present it as I see it but that doesn’t mean my words will convey greater understanding.

    I would just say that even though you said you studied Vedic and Chinese astrology your comments make it clear that you don’t really understand Western astrology and I suspect your perception is ‘coloured’ by your experiences with Asian astrology.

    If you are interested then someone worth reading is Richard Tarnas, whose book, Cosmos and Psyche is excellent but only one of many well researched and well written contemporary astrology books. It is also winner of the Book of the Year Prize Scientific and Medical Network. Tarnas is an academic which I thought might give him some credibility in those who see scientific and academic thought as a be-all and end-all. He also wrote The Passion of the Western Mind which is another excellent book.

  61. @Sabio,
    I did not mean to infer you were being dishonest using a pen name but merely seeking to make the point that many people online use various forms of disguise for various reasons.

  62. For the record, J Cosmo Newbery is a pen name as a previous job involved legal work and it was prudent not to be writing under my real name.

    Also for the record I am male. But do not like 4WD, guns, football or motorbikes.

    Sorry if ‘girlish’ pictures offend you but most real men do not write poetry either. Make of that what you will. :-/

  63. @jcosmonewbery

    glad we have that sorted. 🙂
    It sounds as if you are very much in touch with and comfortable in expressing your anima nature. Good to see.

  64. @ JCN,
    Touchy, touchy! The girlish pictures did not “offend” me. I actually like the pic choice and your blog. I did love how you came up with many defense of guns and such! Real men write poetry, of course, but they only write manly poetry! 😉

    @ RosRoses,
    (1) Yes, yes, you have said it before: you are not trying to convert or convince. Don’t worry, I get that.

    (2) Alright, after your all your caveates, let me try again. I am trying to get a simple, straightforward claim of what “Astrology works!” means. Let’s not get sidetracked into how unread, confused with Vedic stuff or other things I am — let’s just hear how YOU feel Astrology works. You’ll notice that I am not getting sidetracked into conversations about what Science is, Empiricism is and all that stuff either. I just want to be clear on what your claim is. So I will try again:

    Am I correct in assuming that you believe that:

    If an good astrologer is given the exact birth date and place of birth of an individual, without meeting them or knowing anything about them,
    that astrologer could give highly accurate information about a person’s personality.

    And if that is wrong, please give me a one or two sentence claim. Thank you.

  65. @ Sabio

    I would not have thought my comments amounted to caveats. I thought we were explaining our positions and perceptions. I intended no warnings.

    It is not side-tracking to refer to your knowledge as claimed of Asian astrology; it is relevant to your ability to understand (or not) what I am saying.

    You said: If an good astrologer is given the exact birth date and place of birth of an individual, without meeting them or knowing anything about them, that astrologer could give highly accurate information about a person’s personality.

    Yes, but I would say professional as opposed to good astrologer. And I would add, more than simply one’s personal attributes.

    As an aside, do you always seek to dictate how much and how people may write?

  66. There should have been a 🙂 after the last comment just in case it came across as less than bemused.

  67. @ RR:

    OK, so if I change “good” to “professional”, I get this claim:

    If an professional astrologer is given the exact birth date and place of birth of an individual, without meeting them or knowing anything about them,
    that astrologer could give highly accurate information about a person’s personality.

    Could you please tell me how to alter it to capture whatever you meant by:

    “And I would add, more than simply one’s personal attributes.”

  68. @Sabio

    as well as insight into relationships and the occurrence of major life experiences. There is also a predictive quality to astrology but it is more general than specific and most professional astrologers do not predict because it is complex on many fronts.

  69. For what it is worth my view of astrology is akin to that of Carl Jung and for the same reasons:
    6th of September of 1947. Jung wrote:

    “Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I’ve been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call ‘projected’ – this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations.”

    It is the combination of calculation and archetypal language which make astrology both science and art.

  70. Great, thanks.
    So, we agree on this claim:

    If an professional astrologer is given the exact birth date and place of birth of an individual, without meeting them or knowing anything about them,
    that astrologer could give highly accurate information about a person’s personality.

    But it also sounds like you are telling us we could broaden that claim by additionally saying:

    “Also, with that information, the Professional astrologer could offer the person insight into relationships and the occurrence of major life experiences.”

    But that addition (stated like that) is not helpful because anyone could “offer” info. The question is, is it accurate in any way. So the additional claim a significant claim would have to be stronger like this, perhaps:

    (a) could predict issues the person would have in relationships and the occurrence of major life experiences.

    but with your caveate that “There is also a predictive quality to astrology but it is more general than specific and most professional astrologers do not predict because it is complex on many fronts.” It sounds like we won’t be able to focus that claim much more. So we will let that go for now.

    However, your first claim actually sounds like someone should be able to test it, no? Don’t you think it sounds testable?

  71. @Sabio,

    I said: Also, with that information, the Professional astrologer could offer the person insight into relationships and the occurrence of major life experiences.”

    You said: But that addition (stated like that) is not helpful because anyone could “offer” info.

    Yes they could and if they are highly intuitive or clairvoyant it could be just as insightful but most people are not.

    You said: The question is, is it accurate in any way.

    Yes it is.

    You said: So the additional claim a significant claim would have to be stronger like this, perhaps:

    (a) could predict issues the person would have in relationships and the occurrence of major life experiences.

    No, I would say:

    (a) could offer insight and guidance on areas where the person could have in relationships and where and when major life experiences might occur. The levels of accuracy are high but good astrology is not specifically predictive nor absolute because we all have free will and our astrological makeup is just one factor in who we are and our life.

    You said: but with your caveate that “There is also a predictive quality to astrology but it is more general than specific and most professional astrologers do not predict because it is complex on many fronts.” It sounds like we won’t be able to focus that claim much more. So we will let that go for now.

    I think caveat means different things to you and I but we can agree to disagree on use. We could focus on it but I doubt you are seriously interested and if you were it is something you can research yourself.

    You said: However, your first claim actually sounds like someone should be able to test it, no? Don’t you think it sounds testable?

    Depending on one’s definition of ‘test,’ yes such things are able to be validated, have been validated, are researched etc. etc. You could read Richard Tarnas’s book for a start if you are seriously interested. Or you could see a professional (western) astrologer.

    As I said above, if you are seriously interested it is easy enough to do your own ‘testing’ research. I use it and it works and have done so for 30 years and while I remain interested in research I have no need of ‘tests’ to prove anything although I can appreciate that is probably what you want at this point. Actually I don’t think it is what you want, or rather, feel, I have a sense that you have no time for any of this and seek only to discredit if not mock. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I repeat, I have no desire or need to convince anyone of anything. I am aware of the attitude many in the scientific fraternity (usually those who know nothing about it) and others with a materialist mindset toward astrology and it really is unimportant. The study into and use of it grows and whether you know it or not, increasingly as a tool in psychotherapy. Jungian analysts in the main of course, but qualified professionals all the same – some of them even psychiatrists, which is a tad remarkable given the materialist bias in allopathy. You can do a search and find them if you are interested.

  72. @ Rosross
    You recommended Richard Tarnas’ book and then tried to show its value by saying that “It is also winner of the Book of the Year Prize Scientific and Medical Network.”

    Well, I looked up that Organization:

    I found it funny that the society that sells that book is called “The Scientific and Medical Network” while their Mission statement says:

    (1) To provide a safe forum for the critical and open minded discussion of ideas that go beyond conventional paradigms in science, medicine and philosophy

    (2) To integrate intuitive insights with rational analysis in our investigations

    We all know what that means!

    So much for an open minded — sounds slanted from the get-go. I won’t be buying the book — but if it lands in my lap, I may look at it. And who knows what the stars have in store for me.

    You are right, I am not seeking to understand Astrology — I have already studied it and found it lacking in many ways. And yes, yes, I understand that you think my understanding is inadequate, but we must all make decisions without full knowledge all the time. But I am curious about why you embrace it. So my questions are sincere to that extent. And I am curious what sort of evidence would or would not alter your opinions and about what. To that end I am trying to focus important points.
    Also it is an excuse to look at the issues again — which I enjoy.

    Do you know of scientific studies that have been done to test the claim you made above? I have only found two in my quick search.

    You keep mentioning Jung too — I am not impressed by Jung. I was a psychology major for my undergrad, btw. I know lots of folks love Jung. But I don’t want to talk about him at all — just letting you know. There are too many things to sidetrack on. I am trying to stay focused.

  73. CRL

    Call astrology an art—fine. But not a science, because you adamantly state that empiricism doesn’t do it justice. Calculation does not make something a science—I can use math to create a picture, but I call it art, not science. Oddly, when I look up “archetypal language” the results I get are related to astrology, not mainstream science. That doesn’t necessarily make astrology non-scientific, but it doesn’t make it scientific either. (Paranoid check for a postdoc over my shoulder before I look at anything because I don’t want to be seen researching astrology while at work. Perhaps I am biased by peer pressure. )

    And does astrology work? In a way, yes. It is a useful psychological tool. Telling a person about their personality, their past, their relationships can help them to think about themselves, and for a fraction of the cost of a psychiatrist. The accuracy of the initial readings is unimportant, they will refine themselves with conversation and interpretation to become So, as a result of this, I am glad that it exists.

    Does astrology work in the sense that the moon is an emotional force of habit and need? (Correct me if I am wrong in that definition; I do not know what constitutes a reputable source in astrology.) I doubt it. But feel free to disprove me. What can you say about someone born on June 2, 1994? Or do you need more information/lack the experience? I agree that empiricism shouldn’t apply everywhere, but why shouldn’t it apply to whether the planets affect our lives in metaphysical ways?

    In truth no-one can ever truly know what ‘red’ means to another – all is perception beyond the literal explanation and ‘red’ will always mean more beyond the literal, as does anything. Every reaction or response we have at a sentient level is coloured and influenced by who and what we are by nature and all of our experiences, as well as the experiences to lesser and greater degrees of our family, society and culture.

    I accept that. What I meant was that your or my perception of red does not affect the wavelength reflected by a fire truck. Personal experience colours everything, but there is an external reality nonetheless, and it is the same for everyone. Looking back, I did not state that very clearly.

    You said: Santa Claus, defined as a physical being in possession of a beard and flying reindeer, either exists or he doesn’t.

    It depends what you mean by exist.

    Which is why I defined what I meant by exist. Santa Claus exists as an excellent symbol. But he does not (spoiler alert) exist as a physical being in possession of a beard and flying reindeer.

    Philosophical truth has as much chance of making life better as scientific truth has. The only question is which has been more destructive but given the youth of science it is probably hard to assess. Both have brought great benefits and great disasters.

    Useful science is, necessarily, true science. (Or, at very least, science that moves us closer to the truth or science that gets the result right and the mechanism wrong.) Useful science used well makes the world a better place.

    Philosophical truth need not be “true” to be useful. For instance, I do not believe that the Christian God exists, but I believe many Christians (and Muslims/Jews/Buddhists/Hindus/Pastafarians/etc.) are better people because of their religion.

    So, in science, truth matters, because truth is useful, whereas, in philosophy, truth is a goal which is fun to pursue, but a philosophy which improves the world could be completely false.

  74. @Sabio

    (1) To provide a safe forum for the critical and open minded discussion of ideas that go beyond conventional paradigms in science, medicine and philosophy

    (2) To integrate intuitive insights with rational analysis in our investigations

    You said: We all know what that means!

    Yes, it means open minded and able to see beyond the narrow limits of materialist science and medicine.

    You said: You are right, I am not seeking to understand Astrology — I have already studied it and found it lacking in many ways.”

    You said you had studied Vedic and Chinese. Quite different. I am talking Western astrology and I am very sure, given the way you present information, if you had studied it at all you would have said so.

    You said: And yes, yes, I understand that you think my understanding is inadequate, but we must all make decisions without full knowledge all the time.

    Absolutely we must but only the unwise seek to demean, diminish or discredit that about which they lack full knowledge as you clearly do of Western astrology.

    You said: But I am curious about why you embrace it. So my questions are sincere to that extent.

    I can accept that curiosity. I embrace it because I find it valuable as a psychotherapeutic tool and it fascinates me as a system.

    You said: And I am curious what sort of evidence would or would not alter your opinions and about what.

    There can be no evidence. I have studied it, I continue to study it, I use it and it works so it will not suddenly stop working. I have read the anti-research and the pro-research but both are in essence irrelevant because I know from personal experience it works and I won’t go into it but I have some understanding of how it probably works. That is more than enough for me. In fact, it is more than enough for many people regarding any ‘tool’ or methodology.

    You said: Do you know of scientific studies that have been done to test the claim you made above? I have only found two in my quick search.

    If you mean my literal statement, No. If you mean a demonstration of the efficacy of astrology, Yes. But science is not my arbiter in anything. I find science as a system useful on many counts but limited. There are many things which science simply cannot test effectively because of the limitations of its beliefs and methodology. Nuts and bolts, anything approximating the mechanical or ‘machine-like’ and the material and modern science is absolutely fine; anything beyond that, useless. For the moment anyway.

    There is a ‘nuts and bolts’ aspect to astrology but it is also more than that. And in truth, science is a highly biased system (as are all systems) and it is hardly objective about things which it rejects as being possible or even likely, because they don’t fit into its belief structure.

    You said: You keep mentioning Jung too — I am not impressed by Jung. I was a psychology major for my undergrad, btw.

    If you read what I wrote I mentioned Jung in connection with astrology. It was relevant. Being a psychology major as an undergrad doesn’t amount to much in general or that you have a deep understanding of Jung or any of the great psychiatrists. But you are certaintly entitled to ‘not relate to him.’ And in the doing that says quite a bit about how you see the human mind and psyche because Jung was remarkable in his ability (unlike Freud and many others) to explore and utilise the literal and metaphorical aspects of mental illness.

    I suspect that the conversation is a tad pointless given that you are not interested in Western astrology and we see the world in very different ways. I don’t reject your way of ‘seeing’ the world because some of it is useful and I embrace all ways of ‘seeing’ the world, but you give the impression that you embrace only one and that is sourced in a scientific materialist mindset.

    We are not going to reach common ground so let’s agree to disagree.

  75. @crl

    You said: Call astrology an art—fine. But not a science, because you adamantly state that empiricism doesn’t do it justice.

    To hold to your narrow definition of science would mean rejecting all science prior to the establishment of empiricism as an absolute methodology. The scientific system as pure analysis is historically recent. This means pretty much that science did not or could not exist before the Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm took over some three to four hundred years ago. And patently, that is not something you or the scientific system would suggest.

    If one takes a more reaslistic definition of what science is then astrology fits very neatly as one of the earliest scientific systems in human history:

    The word science comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning knowledge.

    According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is “knowledge attained through study or practice,” or “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.”

    Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

    So by any reasonable criteria, astrology qualifies as both science and art.

    You said: Oddly, when I look up “archetypal language” the results I get are related to astrology, not mainstream science.

    Apart from the fact that the internet is extremely limited in terms of information and the best sources remain books, doing a search on archetypal should not take you to astrology but to Jungian psychiatry for it was Carl Jung who first used the term.
    I don’t know which search engine you use but when I type in archetypal I get six dictionary and thesaurus definitions up first followed by four links to psychological connections and the first astrology link comes in at 12 followed by another 30 links to archetypal psychology sites and nary another one to astrology. I stopped looking after four pages although I am sure if I typed in archetypal astrology I would have hundreds. Perhaps that is what you did. Just type in archetype if you want to avoid astrology.

    You said: (Paranoid check for a postdoc over my shoulder before I look at anything because I don’t want to be seen researching astrology while at work. Perhaps I am biased by peer pressure. )

    The comment says a great deal about you and the scientific system in which you work and validates my sense that science is actually incapable of objectively studying astrology because of deep, over-riding and powerful bias. I find it sad that an intelligent, independent person should ‘fear’ the opinions of others or feel ‘ashamed’ at being caught out because he or she decides to think ‘outside the square.’

    You said:And does astrology work? In a way, yes. It is a useful psychological tool. Telling a person about their personality, their past, their relationships can help them to think about themselves, and for a fraction of the cost of a psychiatrist.

    Quite right. Although I come from a country which has universal health care, as does all of the developed world apart from the US so the cost of a psychiatrist or psychologist is irrelevant. One can have both and if one is lucky, find a therapist who uses and understands astrology.

    You said: The accuracy of the initial readings is unimportant,

    Wrong. The accuracy of the initial readings is crucial and a given.

    You said: they will refine themselves with conversation and interpretation to become So

    Wrong, that is not how western astrology works. The ‘facts’ on the chart are there and exist and there is no interpretation of those facts as you suggest. The only interpretation is of the chart placements and how they all work together.

    You said: Does astrology work in the sense that the moon is an emotional force of habit and need? (Correct me if I am wrong in that definition; I do not know what constitutes a reputable source in astrology.)

    No, that is not what the Moon symbolises but I am not quite sure if you mean literal or metaphorical so I shall leave it at that.

    You said:. What can you say about someone born on June 2, 1994?

    Nothing. You need the time and place of birth to draw a chart.

    You said: I agree that empiricism shouldn’t apply everywhere, but why shouldn’t it apply to whether the planets affect our lives in metaphysical ways?

    Because it is a system both literal and metaphorical and empiricism works fine with the former and badly with the latter. Astrology like any system of knowledge is in a process of continual growth and development. The influence of the planets and stars on this world and those who live in it is already known to some degree but the knowledge is minimal. We know the Moon influences tides, menstrual cycles, even human behaviour and we are beginning to understand that sunspots also have an impact on the material world so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that planets and stars may also have influences or effects. But even if this were shown to be the case, astrology is more than that and one of the more interesting explanations of how astrology might work, for those who are interested, is in Richard Tarnas’s book, Cosmos and Psyche.

    Just because something is not understood does not mean it should be rejected. Science does not really know what gravity is but it accepts it as a reality because it sees its effects as demonstrable. I would say the same of astrology. Accepting one and rejecting the other is double standards surely?

    You said: What I meant was that your or my perception of red does not affect the wavelength reflected by a fire truck.

    But it might. How do we know? Given the ‘observer effect’ which modern physics recognises, how would we know unless the ‘wavelength’ from the truck was tested separately with each observer? Or how would we know if because we ‘share’ so much at the level of mind, the observers don’t create the ‘wavelength’ as a shared reality? Fascinating areas of research I am sure. You may well be right but I am simply saying it is not a given.

    You said: Personal experience colours everything, but there is an external reality nonetheless,

    Yes there is.

    You said: and it is the same for everyone.

    Not necessarily. Just bring five siblings together and ask them to describe the same family experience or their parents. And there has been some very interesting research done into eyewitnesses and testimonies showing that a dozen people observing the same event can have very different memories and experiences.
    You said: Which is why I defined what I meant by exist. Santa Claus exists as an excellent symbol. But he does not (spoiler alert) exist as a physical being in possession of a beard and flying reindeer.

    In that literal sense probably not although while many things are unlikely, nothing is impossible is my view. But I won’t challenge you on this one.
    You said: Useful science is, necessarily, true science. (Or, at very least, science that moves us closer to the truth or science that gets the result right and the mechanism wrong.) Useful science used well makes the world a better place.

    So does useful philosophy. I would say they are equal.

    You said: Philosophical truth need not be “true” to be useful

    I would say that it does. Truth of any kind resonates with human beings and is thus empowered. There is a ‘beauty’ to truth of any kind. It fits. It works.

    You said: For instance, I do not believe that the Christian God exists, but I believe many Christians (and Muslims/Jews/Buddhists/Hindus/Pastafarians/etc.) are better people because of their religion.

    Well, I don’t believe in the sort of God posited by religion of any kind but I don’t agree that many people are better because of their religion. I actually believe that because all religions are sourced in so many untruths, if not lies, that many people are worse. Some of the ‘best’ people I have known and know are atheists or agnostics.

    I believe that expressing spirituality makes people better than they might otherwise be, but not religious belief per se: The truths which exist in religions, and they do exist, are spiritual truths and they like any truth have a capacity to be healthy and productive but much of what is believed and taught in religion is not true and therefore neither healthy nor productive – in fact the opposite.

    You said: So, in science, truth matters, because truth is useful, whereas, in philosophy, truth is a goal which is fun to pursue, but a philosophy which improves the world could be completely false.

    I don’t agree. Truth is truth. Science has become too much like Religion in recent centuries where it believes it is the only system which can identify truth and it is the only system with the answers. There are many Truths which science, because of its limited paradigm, is helpless to identify, demonstrate or understand and that is where philosophy is on stronger ground. Ditto, the truths which science can explore, understand and demonstrate philosophy cannot. But each needs the other; unfortunately each has forgotten that basic truth.

  76. @ Rosyln Ross,

    I just realized that you have two poetry blogs:
    (1) small stones and other poems == blogspot
    (2) PF == WordPress

    Curious how you use them separately.
    It looks like you often double post.

    You said:

    You said you had studied Vedic and Chinese. Quite different. I am talking Western astrology and I am very sure, given the way you present information, if you had studied it at all you would have said so.

    Anyway, it took me a while to find the quote where I told you I studied Astrology. Here you accused me of hiding that I studied Western astrology, but I thought I’d remind you of the quote on your other blog:

    “@ Roslyn Ross,
    A long time ago I studied astrology — Western, Indian and then Chinese. I have studied several other divination methods including I Ching.”

    So you accusation was incorrect.

    But this is part of what I am detecting a general tone change on your part:

    You said:

    Absolutely we must but only the unwise seek to demean, diminish or discredit that about which they lack full knowledge as you clearly do of Western astrology.

    Before that you said:

    Actually I don’t think it is what you want, or rather, feel, I have a sense that you have no time for any of this and seek only to discredit if not mock.

    You are moving away from dialog into protective mode and attacking my intentions as “mocking, demeaning” and such.

    When we wrestle with ideas, we don’t have to attack a person. Let’s say I discredit Astrology. Does that mean I discredit you? That is the drift. You feel that if I attack something you hold and use, I am attacking you. This is a common emotional reaction. I wish you’d look through my comments and tell me anywhere I demeaned or mocked you.

    Triangulations is a place to analytically discuss concepts. Nothing is sacred here. We don’t have to be ginger with concepts. Poetry blogs are like that, but not here. And the irony is, that by saying such things, you are actually attacking me.

    You said:

    I suspect that the conversation is a tad pointless given that you are not interested in Western astrology and we see the world in very different ways.

    I think this an important part of the above issue. This quote essentially says: “Love, Sabio, if you don’t want to learn from me about Astrology, then the conversation is pointless. You need to not reject my way of ‘seeing the world’ or I don’t want to talk.”

    I am fine with whatever you do personally. We are talking about Astrology — not you. It is important to be able to separate those in our conversation. That is what I do here. I like talking personal, but we should always aim at not identifying with ideologies such that we feel threatened and attack if they are challenged. This is an inspection, exploring, criticizing, testing and evaluation blog — not of people but of claims. If you find that too threatening or distasteful because you were really just here to enlighten me because you felt we were drawn together for a reason (as you said), then you may wish to stop dialogue. Because my intent is to clarify and test claims.

    Finally, you wrote:

    You said: Do you know of scientific studies that have been done to test the claim you made above? I have only found two in my quick search.

    If you mean my literal statement, No. If you mean a demonstration of the efficacy of astrology, Yes. But science is not my arbiter in anything.

    Yes, I mean’t your “literal statement” the statement that took us time and effort to hammer out. A statement that is an empirical claim — that can be empirically tested. When people make claims, we need to be sure we understand what they mean and then evaluate them. Humans have done this for millions of years. You offer many fuzzy, untestable claims and so, those I had to leave alone. But I wanted to see if you were really saying anything outside of your personal expectations — that is, something astrology should be able to do in the hands of any professional.

    I get how valuable it is in your life and that nothing anyone could say or show you would make your change your ways. That just shows us how personal it is and how it has served you in ways you value. But the question I have is can it acccurately tell a person’s personality from just their birthdate. I get that all the archetype stuff and categories and clusters of traits help you to understand yourself and others. Those can be incredibly useful tools. But the question I am interested in is if with just a birthdate you can predict the personality of an unborn human. I contend, of course, that such thinking is wrong. But I am not sure what studies have been done. So I have looked a little. More later.

    If you are not interested, or this is threatening, or if you feel I have the wrong attitude, then you may wish to stop the dialogue. But I am willing to continue — though I ask you stop accusing me of being demeaning and mocking of you — yes, I may point out problems with Astrology, but in rational conversation, this is not called demeaning and mocking — those terms are reserved for people. I contend that it is identifying with a subject (Astrology) that makes it feel personal.

  77. @Sabio

    Yes, there are two. Well, more than two. WordPress is new and only a couple of months in real use. I actually have a number of blogs and thought it might make sense, (or not) to have one where I posted everything. And that is WordPress. I have the blog for poetry, one for ponderings and pontificatings, The Cassandra Letters; one for writing and painting, The Literary Faction; one on my life in Malawi, Blantyre Street; one on spirituality, A Spiritual Life; one on researching my Greek great-grandfather, finding Charlie Ross and one where I am posting a biography I am writing of my mother called The Blossom Collector.

    I really need to set up a website where everything is available or to create – current attempt in process – one where everything is in one place.

  78. You said: Here you accused me of hiding that I studied Western astrology, but I thought I’d remind you of the quote on your other blog:

    Actually no, I didn’t accuse you of hiding anything. I was saying that I recalled reading you saying you had studied Vedic and Chinese but did not recall you mentioning Western.

    Given all the words this was not the quote I had in mind but I have no problem with being wrong. It surprises me then, if you have studied Western astrology why you display such a lack of understanding of it.
    You said: But this is part of what I am detecting a general tone change on your part:

    Surely ‘tones’ change for everyone often in such exchanges. I could say the same as you but it isn’t really relevant.
    Before that you said:

    Actually I don’t think it is what you want, or rather, feel, I have a sense that you have no time for any of this and seek only to discredit if not mock.

    You said: You are moving away from dialog into protective mode and attacking my intentions as “mocking, demeaning” and such.

    No, I am merely explaining or offering my perceptions. You do use ‘aggressive’ words frequently – I have noticed that. ‘Accusing’ and ‘attacking’ when that is absolutely not where I am at. When I say something I am merely offering my thoughts or my perceptions. You seem a bit ‘touchy’ quite often and quick to take offence and trust me, no offence is intended. You also admitted I was right and you were not interested particularly in astrology and so I was explaining my sense of where you were at and why there probably was not much point continuing the discussion.

    You said: When we wrestle with ideas, we don’t have to attack a person.
    I didn’t.

    You said: Let’s say I discredit Astrology. Does that mean I discredit you?
    No and when I say what I am picking up from you that is not personal either.

    You said: That is the drift. You feel that if I attack something you hold and use, I am attacking you.

    Heavens no. I don’t need people to agree with me and I said that. I don’t take anything personally because it isn’t.

    You said: This is a common emotional reaction.

    It is, I agree, but not mine.

    You said: I wish you’d look through my comments and tell me anywhere I demeaned or mocked you.

    I never said you demeaned or mocked me. I suggested you appeared to be seeking to discredit and mock astrology which is a very different thing and absolutely your right but which says to me discussion is pretty pointless.

    You said: Triangulations is a place to analytically discuss concepts. Nothing is sacred here. We don’t have to be ginger with concepts.

    Good to hear.

    You said: Poetry blogs are like that, but not here.

    Not my poetry blog.

    You said: And the irony is, that by saying such things, you are actually attacking me.

    I am not attacking you I am merely telling it how it is which you have just said is how you like it on your blog. Nothing is sacred you said.

    I said:

    I suspect that the conversation is a tad pointless given that you are not interested in Western astrology and we see the world in very different ways.

    You said: I think this an important part of the above issue.

    There is no issue. but it is important.

    You said: This quote essentially says: “Love, Sabio, if you don’t want to learn from me about Astrology, then the conversation is pointless.
    No it doesn’t. It says there is little point in having a conversation about something in which the other party has no interest and which, more importantly, pretty much rejects as ridiculous. There is also no point in discussing a topic when people resort to mockery or seek only to discredit. That is a waste of everyone’s time. It isn’t important to me to talk about astrology – I have been answering your questions. You said you were curious about why I believed and I think and feel we have covered that. Astrology, like many things which get tossed into the ‘paranormal’ or ‘nutter’ basket seems to often bring out powerful reactions in people and communication is not only very difficult but a waste of everyone’s time. That is all. I was simply trying to explain what I was sensing from you and about you in order to clarify why I was saying what I did.

    You said: You need to not reject my way of ‘seeing the world’ or I don’t want to talk.”

    Well if we reject out of hand someone’s way of ‘seeing’ the world there is no ground for communication is there? In all truth we have discussed other things without any problem as far as I can see. Astrology is one of those topics where because you have such fixed views, there really is nowhere to go. I can think of a few other topics which would not get far either but that really is okay.

    You said:I am fine with whatever you do personally. We are talking about Astrology — not you.
    I never, ever, ever thought you were talking about me. I don’t know you and you don’t know me and it would be ludicrous to take anything said in such a situation as personal.

    You said: It is important to be able to separate those in our conversation. That is what I do here.

    And so do I but I also bear in mind that human nature being what it is, what we think we are doing and what is happening may not be the same thing. The way we use words online actually says far more than many people realise.

    You said: I like talking personal, but we should always aim at not identifying with ideologies such that we feel threatened and attack if they are challenged.

    I don’t hold to any ideologies. I am interested in all that is and make use of those things which interest me the most and which work effectively in some way. I couldn’t care less if people reject astrology or any other methodology I find useful – I just can’t be bothered remaining in conversation once it becomes apparent that there is no real open-minded curiosity about the subject, in fact, quite the opposite.

    You said: This is an inspection, exploring, criticizing, testing and evaluation blog — not of people but of claims.
    I suspect it is not quite as cut and dried as you want to believe it to be.

    You said: If you find that too threatening or distasteful
    I find it neither…..

    You said: because you were really just here to enlighten me
    I don’t think that way. No-one enlightens anyone else. We offer information which may or may not be of use and which may or may not offer insight.

    You said: because you felt we were drawn together for a reason (as you said),
    The comment was ironic. You appear very literal. The internet is not a good place for people who are very literal – nuance is hard to pick up and made even more difficult by the lack of personal knowledge and access to the five senses. Although words and expression do carry information and insight.

    I made the comment because, having looked at your site I thought it was ironic that you would be ‘drawn’ to my sort of poetry.

    You said: then you may wish to stop dialogue. Because my intent is to clarify and test claims.

    I can’t see any value in talking about astrology. You may want to test claims but I am merely interested in sharing information. I have not got the time or inclination to enter into a ‘wordfest’ seeking to prove astrology to someone who has admitted he has no interest in it and who has inferred more than once he finds it ‘ridiculous.’ Talking to someone about astrology when they have an open mind is one thing and I don’t mind doing it for a time but talking to someone with a closed mind is pointless.

    The internet is next to useless anyway for research because it tends to throw up extremes on any topic. A true understanding of any subject and that includes astrology involves reading hundreds of books and putting the methodology into practice. This applies to all systems of belief and the reality is that most people will not bother. If it interests you then do the reading and the work. If it doesn’t then don’t, I take that view of sport, bridge, chess, economics and quite a few other things.

    You said: Yes, I mean’t your “literal statement” the statement that took us time and effort to hammer out. A statement that is an empirical claim — that can be empirically tested. When people make claims, we need to be sure we understand what they mean and then evaluate them. Humans have done this for millions of years. You offer many fuzzy, untestable claims and so, those I had to leave alone. But I wanted to see if you were really saying anything outside of your personal expectations — that is, something astrology should be able to do in the hands of any professional.

    And the answer was Yes.

    You said: I get how valuable it is in your life
    Actually I don’t think you do. It is one tool amongst many I use. I have had my chart done three times in 30 years and had progressive readings done three times in the same period. I last had one done six years ago. I am an amateur, not a professional, but the topic interests me and so I continue to read about it. I have some excellent software and help out family and friends who ask for information but that would happen half a dozen times a year. Psychology interests me greatly and so does mythology and metaphysics along with science, biology, physics, anthropology and anything pertaining to this world in which we live and the human condition.

    You said: and that nothing anyone could say or show you would make your change your ways.

    Why would I want to? I am a good cook and I understand the science and art of baking and cookery in the same way I understand the science and art of astrology. I find both rewarding, interesting and useful. If someone tried to get me to give up cooking because they believed it served no valid purpose it would not get me to ‘change my ways.’ Ditto astrology.
    You said: But the question I have is can it acccurately tell a person’s personality from just their birthdate.

    No, not from just a birth date. You need time, date and place of birth.

    You said: you can predict the personality of an unborn human.

    You are being literal again perhaps. One does not predict the personality of an unborn human – astrology shows the personality characteristics and environmental influences at work. The ‘flavour’ if you like of the person. It works in hand with nature and nurture – no system offers all the answers but many systems can provide some of them and insight.

    You said: I contend, of course, that such thinking is wrong

    I know you do but if you begin from a position of believing it is wrong you are hardly going to be objective. If you had said something like: ‘I find it difficult to believe such a premise and hard to fit it into how I see the world but I will approach the subject with an open mind and see where it leads me’ it would be less subjective. But I don’t feel or think that is where you are at.

    You said: If you are not interested, or this is threatening, or if you feel I have the wrong attitude, then you may wish to stop the dialogue
    I am not the least bit threatened but I am not sure how much interest I have. As to having the ‘wrong’ attitude – I don’t divide the world into wrong or right beyond what we decide is right for ourselves. I don’t see your attitude as wrong for you – just wrong for me.

    You said: But I am willing to continue — though I ask you stop accusing me of being demeaning and mocking of you
    I didn’t. I was talking about astrology. I repeat, I take none of it personally. I will read what you post and make up my mind if any further discussion on the topic of astrology is worth my time.

  79. OK, I won’t respond to any of that but let all your list of counters be the last word. Time to move on. I will do another post in a while — you can show up if you wish.

  80. 🙂 Whatever works for you.

  81. Sabio and Ros, I don’t want to enter the debate between you two, but I’d only like to mention three points that make astrology not a science.

    First, some definitions/facts:

    Fact 1) The Earth rotates around the sun always lying on a plane, called the ecliptic plane. We live on the Earth, so the Sun appears to move on this plane on a path called the ecliptic.

    Fact 2) There is a band around the ecliptic, of about 20 degrees, called the zodiac. Again, this band is nothing else but what an observer on the Earth sees in the sky. People have grouped the most visible stars on the zodiac into 12 sets, called constellations.

    Fact 3) Constellations has no physical significance. It is, simply, a set of points in space and time (we see each star not as it is now, but as it was at a time in the past differing from now by the time it takes for a photon to travel from that star to our eye).

    Fact 4) Divide the year by 12 to get 12 intervals. During each of these intervals the Sun is closer to a particular constellation on the sky. If one is born during this interval, then a belief system, known as sign astrology, dictates that one’s personality is determined by that constellation.

    Here are the irrational points of this belief system, already apparent from the above definitions.

    Point 1) The number 12 (as in 12 months or 12 constellations) is arbitrary. It is used because it is a divisor of the number 60, and 60 is a number that the Babylonians used as a basis of their arithmetic (precisely because it has a large number of divisors). So, to claim that all human beings are divided into 12 classes, each one influenced by the position of the sun on the zodiac during their birth, is not only arbitrary because the zodiac is just a perceived band in space-time with no physical significance, but also because 12 is an arbitrary number, chosen by Babylonians. If some other people had chosen 66 as their basis of arithmetic, then, perhaps, the zodiac would have been divided in 11 intervals instead. Therefore, the sign astrologers would have split humans into 11, rather than 12 classes.

    Point 2) The constellation appearing around the sun at a particular point of the year was thought to be the same from year to year. However, Ptolemy observed, remarkably for his era, that the axis of the Earth does not stay fixed with respect to the galaxy but rotates, tracing a conic surface, having period 26 thousand years. (The phenomenon is called “axial precession”.) This invalidated the fact that the position of the Sun in the zodiac is the same from year to year. Rather, it is approximately the same, but moves slowly. However, every 2000 years or so, one can actually observe the change of Sun’s position. For example, 2000 years ago, at the point of the year called vernal equinox, the Sun was in the constellation called Aries. Now it has move to the Pisces. This means that someone born around end of March at the year 5 BCE would have been an Aries, but a person born around end of March 2012 is a Pisces. This is another reason why sign astrology is arbitrary (and I’m not sure if astrology has actually taken into account the axial precession phenomenon).

    Point 3) If sign astrology worked then there would have some observable and measurable results. But none of the experiments have ever produced any evidence for this. Of course, I am not talking about psychological results, but measurable ones. If there were an experiment that hinted that sign astrology had a vestige of truth, then, surely, physicists would have been thrilled in trying to discover what kind of forces produced the result. But, to date, there is no evidence, whatsoever.

    No doubt that people can use astrology as a placebo. I know a Mongolian whose parents believe that by making offerings (food, etc.) to a tree they become better people. And, perhaps, the result is correct. They are good people. But it’s a placebo. This is why sign astrology is not a science. People do use belief systems to go through their lives. (Others use the same belief systems to destroy others’ lives.) But, science is a different game altogether.

    Please don’t see my posting as taking sides. I’m only quoting some facts.

  82. @Tako,

    I don’t see it as taking sides and happy to have input.

    I have read your post and I have read this information before. It is the usual response from the scientific fraternity and from people who mostly have little real understanding of astrology and how it works. It isn’t worth going into detail here but suffice to say the issues you raise have been discussed and dealt with numerous times within the astrological system. In other words, the problems you perceive have other solutions or explanations.

    If you read the definition of science beyond the narrowness of materialist science it is quite clear astrology is a science but I understand why you don’t accept this. Does this mean, as I said, that all ‘science’ before the Newtonian/Cartesian paradigm took hold is not in your view science? And if it is then you should have no problem including astrology.

    In addition, there are measurable results and research has shown this. I don’t know if ‘experiments’ have produced results but I do know research has.

    I am sure physicists will be thrilled when science has developed enough to understand things like astrology which it currently does not understand because of the limitations of the current scientific paradigm.

    I would only ask have you studied astrology in any depth or detail? Or ever had your chart done by a professional? If you have not then the ability to assess the validity or functionality of astrology is minimal.

    It is a highly complex system and anyone who has studied it or worked with it knows without a doubt there is nothing ‘placebo’ at work in terms of the system itself although placebo effects can be found anywhere and everywhere and no doubt there can be placebo effects in astrological readings just as there are in medicine.

    The thing about astrology is that it does not require belief but knowledge and training. Anyone who has the knowledge and training can take the same mathematical calculations to draw up the same chart and come up with the same results. While there are levels of interpretation this is not about what makes up the chart but how best to read it for the client in terms of what is at work for them.

  83. love the repeated phrase “the scientific fraternity”! Can we have a sorority name for your club which requires no belief?

    And there comes the ” have you studied deeply question.

    Things can be shown wrong even without “study deeply”.

  84. @Sabio,

    Are you saying there is no scientific fraternity? That science does not function within a particular paradigm?

    And if you do not accept that knowledge is important to forming opinions are you suggesting that intuition is equal to study? It can be of course but I was not sure if that is what you are suggesting.

    How can one demonstrate or ‘show’ that something is wrong without understanding it? Surely such a position runs counter to the scientific methodology which you espouse. Study deeply simply means do some substantial research as opposed to cursory.

    Can you give an example of how one shows something is wrong without having any knowledge of how it or how it really works? Many people oppose vaccination, usually after doing a great deal of research, but are you saying they have a valid position even without that research? I very much doubt it.

  85. While modern science may be dismissive of astrology, early science was not. Many of the greatest minds in human history not only embraced astrology, they understood it and used it. Some of the more famous scientist/astrologers include:

    Nicolaus Copernicus
    (1473-1543)

    Galileo Galilei
    (1564-1642)

    Tycho Brahe
    (1546-1601)

    Johannes Kepler
    (1571-1630)

    Sir Isaac Newton
    (1642-1727)

    Let’s just say in the thousands of years of its existence astrology has been a part of science more often than not and once the materialist mindset of modern science is no longer dominant, it will be again.

    Unless one takes a position that prior to the development of ‘modern’ science those ‘great’ scientists were less intelligent. The evidence does not back that up but it is the only conclusion one can reach if we dismiss the acceptance of astrology by the most educated and intelligent of people throughout human history.

  86. When the astronomer Edmond Halley asked Sir Isaac Newton (essentially the “patron science of physics”) how he could possibly believe in astrology, Sir Isaac answered, “Because I have studied the matter, Sir. You have not.”

  87. One way to show that something does not work is by a statistical analysis. Actually, there are many things we don’t understand, and yet there are methods for looking at them. For example, one apply statistics (and one has done so) in astrology. Statistics is also applied in, say, medicine, because people want to find whether chemical A influences disease B, even without having a theory of how this is done. If causation is shown, then it attracts attention of more theoretically-minded people who try to work out the reasons, within the framework of current science.

    As for my points above, the first one has nothing to do with experiment. It points, simply, to the absurdity of the use of the number 12.

    Newton did do science and yet he believed in all kinds of crazy things. The science he did was great, the things he believed at have not proven to be nothing more than fiction. Of course, he could not help it: he was born in a society which asked him to believe (or not) in the Trinity and other religious concepts. Were he born in Japan, he would have probably replaced Trinity by Kami. Beliefs are a function of one’s environment and, most likely, one’s biology.

    Before Newton there certainly was science. In fact, I mentioned it in the previous posting: How remarkable is it that Ptolemy could talk about a phenomenon (axial precession) which would require a few thousand of years of observation to see it by naked eye! Yet, he combined local (in time) observations and logic in order to reach a correct conclusion. John Wallis was also a scientist (30 years older than Newton). And, without his work in mathematics, Newton, probably, would not have done what he did. Kepler was a scientist too. And without his experimentally-based law (that the areal velocity of the earth around the sun is constant), Newton would not have had a good problem to work on. (Newton used Wallis-type mathematics and Kepler-type observations in order to make new mathematics and physics. And he was a total asshole too: he would try to get all the glory for himself. As we know, he managed that.) There has always been science, with the exception of several “dark” centuries, initiated by the emperor Constantine at the end of the 4th century who, basically, declared that all Greek science and mathematics was the work of the devil. But even during these dark centuries, the Arabs and the Persians did a lot of work. In particular, they saved (and advanced) the works of Diophantus. (In fact, it’s thanks to the Arabs that we still have some of his books: the Romans and the Greeks burned them.)

  88. @Takis,

    You said: One way to show that something does not work is by a statistical analysis.

    Not really and there is a wealth of data showing the flaws and pitfalls of statistical analysis as it relates to medicine let alone astrology. It is a fallacy, albeit a common and popular one, that ‘you can prove anything with statistics.’

    You said: If causation is shown, then it attracts attention of more theoretically-minded people who try to work out the reasons, within the framework of current science.

    Yes, in fields which are profitable in terms of profit, peers and profession. Not in those which are not. And ‘within the framework of current science’ there are serious limitations for something like astrology – and many areas of medicine for that matter, hence the escalating numbers of iatrogenic deaths.

    You said: As for my points above, the first one has nothing to do with experiment. It points, simply, to the absurdity of the use of the number 12.

    The use of the number 12 can be explained in a variety of ways and makes sense on many counts. But I see no point in elaborating here.

    You said: Newton did do science and yet he believed in all kinds of crazy things.

    The use of the word ‘crazy’ demonstrates subjectivity and bias. Although I would question how someone who was so intelligent and who could do great science could be as ‘stupid’ as science today would suggest in terms of astrology. It does not make sense.

    You said: Beliefs are a function of one’s environment and, most likely, one’s biology.

    If that were the case then siblings would all pretty much grow up believing the same things and they do not.

    So if there was science before Newton then astrology qualifies as a science. Otherwise it amounts to selectivity and double standards.

    I have to say the history of anything fascinates me, including the history of science.

  89. Ros,

    I would be the first to argue that statistics has problems in its application. I study probability and randomness, as a profession. I know very well how dangerous it can be. However, because we do need answers, statistics can do a pretty good job, many times. Of course, there are problems. And one of these problems is that people who apply statistics do not understand the (difficult) mathematics behind it.

    And I absolutely agree that, disgustingly so, a lot of science is profit-driven. In fact, I would argue that most of it is so! But this has nothing to do with what science is, it has to do with the way people use it to make money or promote that kind of science which is profitable for them. Listen, I know all that all too well. I’ve been in this job for a while and have struggled with science vs. money, choosing, in the end, to stay with mathematics because I need to beg no bastard to give me money for a lab. If, the current, profit-driven, science frenzy continues, then I do not know what the future of science will be.

    However, I still maintain that the adjective I used to characterize Newton’s beliefs is correct: crazy. Even nowadays, many scientists feel the need to believe (or pretend they believe) in unsubstantiated things. Take for instance, the Evangelical Christian Francis Collins. Or the mathematicians John Lennox (he is also a minister) and the Eliahu Rips (he believes in the “Bible Code”!!!) Unfortunately, one can believe crazy things but do good science (in some specific domain). It is possible. I see it all the time! Yes, it is a paradox, but it exists. First-hand experience, you know…

    As for beliefs being a function of one’s biology, note that I used the adverb “probably”. We know very little about this, but it is quite plausible that religion, for instance, is in our DNA. In any case, what I meant was that one’s choice of religion is almost a deterministic function of one’s environment. Most of the time, siblings end up having the same religion, because this is the one their parents and environment talked to them about from when they were little. This is why the vast majority of Saudis are Muslim and the vast majority of Greeks are Christian Orthodox: they have no choice. (By this I mean: by the time they realize they have a choice, it’s too late for most of them, because they have to fight with themselves to get rid of the indoctrination they received immediately after birth. As for the Saudis, they really have no choice.)

  90. @Takis,

    A good post and it must be difficult for those like yourself to function in the system as it mainly manifests.

    And in truth, if my experience of astrology had been one of vaguely effective instead of surprisingly and consistently effective then I would not challenge the statistics as I do. But where an experience is demonstrably at odds with what statistics would say then I opt for the former. That, I believe, is common sense.

    ‘crazy’ is a highly subjective and judgemental word. Many of the greatest advances and discoveries in history have been deemed by those called ‘crazy.’ I think of Schleimann and Troy as a classic but then most of the greatest archeological discoveries have been made by amateurs who were deemed ‘crazy’ by the profession.

    I agree with you on ‘first hand experience’ and certainly see your point as you sought to demonstrate but it cuts both ways and that is why I asked if you had any deep knowledge of astrology or even had your chart done by a professional. You did not answer so I presume it is No. On that count I have first hand experience in my ‘field’ as you do in yours.

    I don’t believe religion is in our DNA but I suspect spirituality is. But, having clarified your point I see what you mean. But it is not just religion which creates beliefs and mindsets; any belief structure does the same. When children go to school they are subjected to the current paradigm and if their parents believe the same thing they will be as indoctrinated as any Saudi….. just in different things whether they are cultural, scientific, historical or whatever. It is easy to point to religion as indoctrination but it applies to all systems and across all cultures.

  91. I wish there was an edit function:

    ‘have been done by those deemed crazy’.

  92. The other comment I would make is that modern technology has played a major part in the increasing popularity and use of astrology around the world.

    While professional astrologers must still master casting a chart manually – a challenge for the mathematically unskilled – there is a wealth of excellent software available which will cast a chart in an instant and provide basic interpretations. In addition it does not matter where you are in the world you can have a reading with the best astrologers in the world through Skype or telephone.

    It has also enabled astrologers worldwide to connect and communicate with each other and fuelled intensive research and discussion which, as with any methodology, can only bring advances and the profession of astrology and the professionalism within it can only increase because of demand. No doubt there will be plenty of opportunists but there always are in any field but astrology books are amongst the biggest sellers in publishing today – and not just for astrologers.

    Newspaper horoscopes are pretty useless but if they stimulate interest, as they seem to do, then ultimately they benefit the profession.

    As this excerpt shows:

    Twenty years ago in the United States had only one hundred newspapers published columns horoscopes. Currently there are approximately 1200. Astrology magazines that once were filled with dust on the shelves now in great demand. Sold million annually in the United States. In France, one of these magazines with a circulation of 400,000 copies. The libraries that please the tastes of students in higher education have expanded their sections on astrology because of the increasing interest you are showing these students.

    This all horrifies fundamentalist Christians and the US has more of them than anywhere else in the developed world, but when the ‘time has come for something’ it is generally unstoppable.

    At the end of the day, given increased education and access to information, if I am right the use of astrology will continue to increase and if you and Sabio are right, it will diminish within a few years. Human nature is such that people do not continue to make use of something which does not work!

    Time will tell.

  93. @ Rosyln Ross,

    (1) Technology has also helped homeopathy spread and prosper even though it does not work — outside of being a placebo.

    (2) The number of folks that believe something in no way tell us about the truth of a belief. It is another rhetoric and logic fallacy called:
    Appeal to the Masses. Fallacies are important! They help us have meaningful conversations.

    (3) I agree with Takis’ points in his thread — thanx, Takis, for taking the time.

  94. CRL

    Isaac Newton made most of his progress in physics before he was 26 (he was a full professor in his teens). He then spent the rest of his life with alchemy, as well as astrology. Unless you believe in alchemy as well, Newton’s acceptance of astrology does not make a very good case for it.

    Human nature is such that people do not continue to make use of something which does not work!

    Yet you are not a Christian. People have prayed to Jesus for 2000 years, if you do not believe in Jesus, this means you do not believe it works. Yet Christianity goes on.

    Are you saying there is no scientific fraternity? That science does not function within a particular paradigm?

    A scientific fraternity? Where but in a lab will you see six people from five countries and six backgrounds interact as equals?

    A particular paradigm? Of course. That paradigm defines science. Just as anything which does not relate the stars to human life is not astrology, anything which does not follow the scientific method is not science. This is not to disparage anything which is not science. Art is great, history is great, cooking is great. (Though my cooking is messy, cheap, and relaxing science. They share the same love for experimentation, but I don’t measure to the microliter when I make dinner for my family.) Art is great, but art is not science.

    I actually believe that because all religions are sourced in so many untruths, if not lies, that many people are worse. Some of the ‘best’ people I have known and know are atheists or agnostics.

    I know many great atheists and agnostics as well. I strive to be one, though, often, I fail.

    But I attended a Catholic school for nine years. I hated the place, but I would have hated any elementary school. I got a great education, which was largely funded by the Church. While there, I interacted with many Catholic charities. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and did all of those good things religious people are supposed to do. Maybe the people who donated and worked at those organizations would have done so if they did not believe in God, but it seemed as if many of them needed the extra push religion provided. At a public school, filled mainly with agnostics and apathists, I do not see that same willingness to do good works. People volunteer, yes, but most do it without joy, and just for some hours to go on a college application. While the belief in God was, I believe, false, I think it made many of my former classmates better people. Though, of course, as you say, there are many “good” atheists and agnostics. Religion also makes many people happier, and gives them a source of comfort. Yes, generalized “spirituality” might work as well, but many people are drawn to the social and belief systems organized religion provides. Let them follow a religion if it makes their life better.

    Just because something is not understood does not mean it should be rejected. Science does not really know what gravity is but it accepts it as a reality because it sees its effects as demonstrable. I would say the same of astrology. Accepting one and rejecting the other is double standards surely?

    And, yet, things fall. We have empirical evidence of that. If you have empirical evidence of astrology, you might be interested in this; the financial reward is quite large. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1239-mdc-changes.html

    But it might. How do we know? Given the ‘observer effect’ which modern physics recognises, how would we know unless the ‘wavelength’ from the truck was tested separately with each observer?

    Unless you are going very near the speed of light or trying to measure both the position and the velocity of a particle, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    You said: (Paranoid check for a postdoc over my shoulder before I look at anything because I don’t want to be seen researching astrology while at work. Perhaps I am biased by peer pressure. )

    The comment says a great deal about you and the scientific system in which you work and validates my sense that science is actually incapable of objectively studying astrology because of deep, over-riding and powerful bias. I find it sad that an intelligent, independent person should ‘fear’ the opinions of others or feel ‘ashamed’ at being caught out because he or she decides to think ‘outside the square.’

    That was intended mainly as a joke—I should have been working on a research paper, but was hitting a wall, and needed some time away from it to think. 😛 If I had been “caught”, I would have had a discussion about why I was looking it up, and why I was curious.

    Not necessarily. Just bring five siblings together and ask them to describe the same family experience or their parents. And there has been some very interesting research done into eyewitnesses and testimonies showing that a dozen people observing the same event can have very different memories and experiences.

    Yes, of course. But the changed memories do not change the event.

  95. @Sabio

    You said: Technology has also helped homeopathy spread and prosper even though it does not work — outside of being a placebo.

    Wrong. Homeopathy has grown through the nearly three hundred years since it was developed because it works. The country where homeopathy has grown the fastest is the one with the least technology – India – which puts paid to your point. There may well be a placebo effect with it but there is a placebo effect with all healing methodologies including allopathy. At least Homeopathy heals without doing harm which is something which cannot be said of modern medicine.

    You said: (2) The number of folks that believe something in no way tell us about the truth of a belief. It is another rhetoric and logic fallacy called:
    Appeal to the Masses. Fallacies are important! They help us have meaningful conversations.

    I have more respect for human nature and intelligence than you do. History is littered with things, including healing methodologies utilised by Allopathic medicine during its young life, which have been discarded because they do not work.

    Both astrology and Homeopathy (as well as TCM and other Traditional Healing Methodologies have endured and grown because they work. There is also a maxim in science and I paraphrase, that usually the ‘simplest’ answer is the right one. The simplest answer for the endurance and growth of astrology and Homeopathy is they work.

  96. @crl

    You said: Unless you believe in alchemy as well,

    I find alchemy fascinating and useful in a metaphorical sense. Could it have been literal? Possibly, given that very often such ancient systems are both, but we don’t know and its metaphorical value is immensely useful in terms of psyche and symbol.

    You said: Newton’s acceptance of astrology does not make a very good case for it.

    If Newton’s acceptance of that which science accepts makes a good case, as I suspect you believe it does, then it also makes a good case for astrology. One principle needs to be applied if his intelligence, acumen and achievements are to be taken into account. Astrology is highly complex and he studied it – one would not bother, particularly not one of high intelligence, if the system did not bring results through hundreds if not thousands of hours of study required to use it. And after mastering astrology he maintained it. Hardly the act of someone of his intellectual rigour if it did not work or was not useful to him.
    Yet you are not a Christian. People have prayed to Jesus for 2000 years, if you do not believe in Jesus, this means you do not believe it works. Yet Christianity goes on.

    No, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe it works, I just don’t relate to that form of spiritual expression. I am not sure Jesus existed in a literal sense but I am sure that given the power of the mind and belief that even his existence in a metaphorical sense ‘works’ on many levels for people. If I lean to any theory it is that Jesus was an advanced soul like the Buddha and other enlightened beings.

    My view is that the problem with all religious writings and teachings is that they have been interpreted literally when they are meant to be read symbolically and metaphorically. The patriarchal age has created this lack of balance but no doubt was required in order to balance the previous matriarchal age. I look forward to humanity moving into a hieros gamos where both major forms of brain function and thinking are joined. We will see more of the world and see it more clearly when that happens.
    You said: A scientific fraternity? Where but in a lab will you see six people from five countries and six backgrounds interact as equals?

    That is a small sub-fraternity. The scientific fraternity is the system as it expresses itself. In the same way that there is a religious fraternity, an astrological, a military, a cricket, baseball etc. It is the system and its beliefs as expressed and maintained by the majority of those working within it.
    You said: microliter when I make dinner for my family.) Art is great, but art is not science.

    You may well be a naturally intuitive cook but most people are not and particularly when it comes to baking you do need to measure to the microlitre. Cooking in general and baking in particular are highly ‘scientific’ in terms of execution if one is to produce the very best. Then again, ‘best’ is in the eye of the beholder but I am talking about the absolute best the profession can produce. Ditto for astrology.

    You said: I know many great atheists and agnostics as well. I strive to be one, though, often, I fail.

    It seems to me the most sensible thing is to be agnostic because in reality one can never absolutely know if there is a God – an ordering ‘force’ – or there is not so not holding an absolute position makes more sense. My experience, instinct and level of knowledge makes me feel and think that there is intelligence and consciousness at work in this world and that it has meaning and purpose. But, I also take the view that if I am wrong it is irrelevant and death brings oblivion so I won’t know, but if I am right, it will be a continuation of the fascinating experience of life – albeit in slightly different form. And I believe that works vice-versa. All that matters is that what you believe works for you in this life.
    A Catholic education can be challenging but it depends on the variety of Catholicism. I worked for nearly five years on a Catholic newspaper – not Catholic or particularly religious but it was a great job because I had a brilliant editor, one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I could perceive differences between Irish (one of the most hardline) and Russian and Italian and Polish and various other emanations of Catholicism and I thought about taking it up, but, after studying it decided that I simply could not admit to beliefs I did not hold. Around about then I dropped the religion and stuck with God but this was Australia where I think religion is generally more moderate because the country is highly secular. But I loved the mysticism of Catholicism and do in Greek and Russian orthodox. Just not the rules made by men.

    I think Christianity in particular does push people to do ‘good works’ and sometimes that works for the good but often it doesn’t. I see it first-hand in Africa but unfortunately the majority of those doing ‘good works’ are the American Christian fundamentalists – the happy clappers or God botherers as we call them in Oz – and their extreme version of religion unfortunately, probably unbeknownst to them, fits quite tidily into witchcraft beliefs, an old and current problem in African society. But I digress.

    As to it making better people – having grown up in a pretty secular society with dabblings in religion when the local Anglican church helped us out because my mother was frequently in hospital – I honestly never thought about religion in terms of people. It is just so unimportant in Australia that people quietly go about doing their own thing and I honestly would not know what religion, if any, a lot of my friends held.

    Religion also makes many people happier, and gives them a source of comfort.

    Yes, I agree with that and that is why I have no problem with it. If it works for you go for it. My experiences with Anglican and Catholic communities reminded me of the ‘community’ aspect which was really great and I do miss it, but it came at too high a price.

    Yes, generalized “spirituality” might work as well, but many people are drawn to the social and belief systems organized religion provides. Let them follow a religion if it makes their life better.

    I agree completely.
    And, yet, things fall. We have empirical evidence of that. If you have empirical evidence of astrology, you might be interested in this; the financial reward is quite large. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1239-mdc-changes.html

    Things do fail, but in my experience, not astrology unless the astrologer is non-professional. Thanks for the link to Randi but he is a magician. I admire him as a magician but not as an expert on anything else and I find it extremely odd that he is used by the scientific fraternity frequently in attempts to debunk the metaphysical.

    Most astrologers do not earn large amounts of money, even the best of them. An accredited astrologer charges around $120 in Australia, for an hour and a half reading and provides tape and written material. That’s about $80 an hour which is hardly excessive when someone has spent years training. I would not bother with most online astrologers because if you are going to find opportunists you will find them there, as one does in all professions to my mind.
    You said: That was intended mainly as a joke—I should have been working on a research paper, but was hitting a wall, and needed some time away from it to think. 😛 If I had been “caught”, I would have had a discussion about why I was looking it up, and why I was curious.

    Sorry, jokes don’t transmit well online. What would we do without smiley faces> 🙂

    You said: Yes, of course. But the changed memories do not change the event.

    How do we know? And given that nothing exists unless it is experienced if ten people give ten versions of the same event than how can we know the reality? We cannot. All we can know is the reality as it is experienced by a human being.

    Thanks for the chat.

  97. Hmmmm, that did not work. I used Sabio’s italic system for crl and it gave them to the lot. Clearly I need to practice.

  98. I am going to do this again with spacing. I am sure Sabio can delete the above.

    @crl

    You said: Unless you believe in alchemy as well,

    I find alchemy fascinating and useful in a metaphorical sense. Could it have been literal? Possibly, given that very often such ancient systems are both, but we don’t know and its metaphorical value is immensely useful in terms of psyche and symbol.

    You said: Newton’s acceptance of astrology does not make a very good case for it.

    If Newton’s acceptance of that which science accepts makes a good case, as I suspect you believe it does, then it also makes a good case for astrology. One principle needs to be applied if his intelligence, acumen and achievements are to be taken into account. Astrology is highly complex and he studied it – one would not bother, particularly not one of high intelligence, if the system did not bring results through hundreds if not thousands of hours of study required to use it. And after mastering astrology he maintained it. Hardly the act of someone of his intellectual rigour if it did not work or was not useful to him.

    You said: Yet you are not a Christian. People have prayed to Jesus for 2000 years, if you do not believe in Jesus, this means you do not believe it works. Yet Christianity goes on.

    No, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe it works, I just don’t relate to that form of spiritual expression. I am not sure Jesus existed in a literal sense but I am sure that given the power of the mind and belief that even his existence in a metaphorical sense ‘works’ on many levels for people. If I lean to any theory it is that Jesus was an advanced soul like the Buddha and other enlightened beings.

    My view is that the problem with all religious writings and teachings is that they have been interpreted literally when they are meant to be read symbolically and metaphorically. The patriarchal age has created this lack of balance but no doubt was required in order to balance the previous matriarchal age. I look forward to humanity moving into a hieros gamos where both major forms of brain function and thinking are joined. We will see more of the world and see it more clearly when that happens.

    You said: A scientific fraternity? Where but in a lab will you see six people from five countries and six backgrounds interact as equals?

    That is a small sub-fraternity. The scientific fraternity is the system as it expresses itself. In the same way that there is a religious fraternity, an astrological, a military, a cricket, baseball etc. It is the system and its beliefs as expressed and maintained by the majority of those working within it.

    You said: microliter when I make dinner for my family.) Art is great, but art is not science.

    You may well be a naturally intuitive cook but most people are not and particularly when it comes to baking you do need to measure to the microlitre. Cooking in general and baking in particular are highly ‘scientific’ in terms of execution if one is to produce the very best. Then again, ‘best’ is in the eye of the beholder but I am talking about the absolute best the profession can produce. Ditto for astrology.

    You said: I know many great atheists and agnostics as well. I strive to be one, though, often, I fail.

    It seems to me the most sensible thing is to be agnostic because in reality one can never absolutely know if there is a God – an ordering ‘force’ – or there is not so not holding an absolute position makes more sense. My experience, instinct and level of knowledge makes me feel and think that there is intelligence and consciousness at work in this world and that it has meaning and purpose. But, I also take the view that if I am wrong it is irrelevant and death brings oblivion so I won’t know, but if I am right, it will be a continuation of the fascinating experience of life – albeit in slightly different form. And I believe that works vice-versa. All that matters is that what you believe works for you in this life.

    A Catholic education can be challenging but it depends on the variety of Catholicism. I worked for nearly five years on a Catholic newspaper – I was not Catholic or particularly religious but it was a great job because I had a brilliant editor, one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I could perceive differences between Irish (one of the most hardline) and Russian and Italian and Polish and various other emanations of Catholicism and I thought about taking it up, but, after studying it decided that I simply could not admit to beliefs I did not hold. Around about then I dropped the religion and stuck with God but this was Australia where I think religion is generally more moderate because the country is highly secular. But I loved the mysticism of Catholicism and do in Greek and Russian orthodox. Just not the rules made by men.

    I think Christianity in particular does push people to do ‘good works’ and sometimes that works for the good but often it doesn’t. I see it first-hand in Africa but unfortunately the majority of those doing ‘good works’ are the American Christian fundamentalists – the happy clappers or God botherers as we call them in Oz – and their extreme version of religion unfortunately, probably unbeknownst to them, fits quite tidily into witchcraft beliefs, an old and current problem in African society. But I digress.

    As to it making better people – having grown up in a pretty secular society with dabblings in religion when the local Anglican church helped us out because my mother was frequently in hospital – I honestly never thought about religion in terms of people. It is just so unimportant in Australia that people quietly go about doing their own thing and I honestly would not know what religion, if any, a lot of my friends held.

    You said: Religion also makes many people happier, and gives them a source of comfort.

    Yes, I agree with that and that is why I have no problem with it. If it works for you go for it. My experiences with Anglican and Catholic communities reminded me of the ‘community’ aspect which was really great and I do miss it, but it came at too high a price.

    You said: Yes, generalized “spirituality” might work as well, but many people are drawn to the social and belief systems organized religion provides. Let them follow a religion if it makes their life better.

    I agree completely.

    You said: And, yet, things fall. We have empirical evidence of that. If you have empirical evidence of astrology, you might be interested in this; the financial reward is quite large. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1239-mdc-changes.html

    Things do fail, but in my experience, not astrology unless the astrologer is non-professional. Thanks for the link to Randi but he is a magician. I admire him as a magician but not as an expert on anything else and I find it extremely odd that he is used by the scientific fraternity frequently in attempts to debunk the metaphysical.

    Most astrologers do not earn large amounts of money, even the best of them. An accredited astrologer charges around $120 in Australia, for an hour and a half reading and provides tape and written material. That’s about $80 an hour which is hardly excessive when someone has spent years training. I would not bother with most online astrologers because if you are going to find opportunists you will find them there, as one does in all professions to my mind.

    You said: That was intended mainly as a joke—I should have been working on a research paper, but was hitting a wall, and needed some time away from it to think. 😛 If I had been “caught”, I would have had a discussion about why I was looking it up, and why I was curious.

    Sorry, jokes don’t transmit well online. What would we do without smiley faces> 🙂

    You said: Yes, of course. But the changed memories do not change the event.

    How do we know? And given that nothing exists unless it is experienced if ten people give ten versions of the same event than how can we know the reality? We cannot. All we can know is the reality as it is experienced by a human being.

    Thanks for the chat.

  99. CRL

    You may well be a naturally intuitive cook but most people are not and particularly when it comes to baking you do need to measure to the microlitre.

    Microlitres are very, very small, and rarely matter outside science. Unless you have pipettes in your kitchen, you don’t measure to the uL either. For some baking, you do need to measure to the mL (though I generally don’t.)

    Newton’s experiments with alchemy were as literal as his experiments with physics. He still failed to transform lead into gold.

    I cannot remember who said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts,” but the saying holds true in this case. Just because Newton revolutionized physics does not mean everything that came out of his mouth was true.

    The patriarchal age has created this lack of balance but no doubt was required in order to balance the previous matriarchal age. I look forward to humanity moving into a hieros gamos where both major forms of brain function and thinking are joined. We will see more of the world and see it more clearly when that happens.

    That would be nice, but I question why you so strongly couple modes of thinking to gender. I think too literally, prefer math to writing, and choose not to express many of my emotions. I am not a man, and have no desire to become one.

    You said: I know many great atheists and agnostics as well. I strive to be one, though, often, I fail.

    It takes no great effort for me to be an atheist. For me to be “good”? I am only human.

    All that matters is that what you believe works for you in this life.

    So you accept, then, that an incorrect philosophy can improve the world?

    Thank you for this chat as well. 😀 I value learning about the minds and “souls” of those I disagree with.

  100. I posted this yesterday, but I must have made a mistake–it doesn’t seem to have shown up.

    I very much agree that “religion” should apply to more general systems that what is commonly referred to as religion. It is in this sense that I used the word. For example, believing that the head of state always tells the truth is religion. I live in Sweden which I find one of the most religious countries I’ve ever lived in, even though, in terms of conventional religion it is not so.

    No, I have no deep knowledge of astrology because I find most people who are interested in astrology quite shallow. In Greece, they are the kind of people who tell you your fortune by looking at the remains of your coffee. (It is tea leaves elsewhere, but Greeks drink more coffee, the Greek/Turkish/Arabic kind which leaves thick sediment.) And the ones who write silly horoscopes in newspapers. I don’t even know what you mean by “having my chart done by a professional [astrologer?] What is a chart? A horoscope? How would the “professional” know my future? Would he examine me? Look at the date of my birth? So, yes, I declare ignorance, based on my experience that every time I encounter the word astrology (in a newspaper) or read, say, the random astrology webpage, I only see charlatanism. For example, I just typed the word on google and found
    http://www.astrology-online.com/persn.htm
    In it, they claim:

    Professional Custom Birthcharts and Synastry
    Quality so high, we actually send it FIRST, and you can pay later!
    This is the level of confidence I have that you will really be impressed by…

    That is, without knowing me, they can give me a chart about my future, or whatever? Based on what? My date of birth? Does this mean that everyone born on the same day has the same future?

    Also, on that page, one can find other services, like Compatibility, Intimacy Reports, BirthCharts, Karma, Karmic Love, Numerology (a demonstrably bullshit concept).
    So, then, where is the serious astrology stuff, I mean the one that is different from the coffee-remainder future tellers?

  101. @crl

    You said: Just because Newton revolutionized physics does not mean everything that came out of his mouth was true.

    Of course not but that was not my point. My point was a brilliant scientist and I think you would agree on that, also took the time to invest hundreds of hours at least into training as an astrologer and more in using the system. Logic suggests that if it had been ineffectual he would not have continued with it and most certainly would have announced to the world why he gave it up as opposed to defending it by saying: I have studied it, you have not.

    As to him approaching alchemy literally – of course one would as a scientist of his time.

    You said: That would be nice, but I question why you so strongly couple modes of thinking to gender.

    Because I am not coupling it to gender. Feminine and masculine are qualities which exist in men and women. The problem has been that those qualities were seen as gender in both the feminine and masculine age and with the ‘marriage’ of the two we have more balanced and psychologically healthy human beings and society as a result.

    You said: I think too literally, prefer math to writing, and choose not to express many of my emotions. I am not a man, and have no desire to become one.

    Writing is also a left-brain, rational quality. As I said above, the qualities are not confined to a gender but exist in us all. I know many men who are very comfortable expressing emotion and many women who are not.

    I said: All that matters is that what you believe works for you in this life.

    You said: So you accept, then, that an incorrect philosophy can improve the world?

    Now that gets tricky. What is incorrect? Who is the arbiter? I would talk more in terms of the individual than the world. And when I say if a set of beliefs ‘works’ for you then I mean it on all levels. If something works for us we are as psychologically, emotionally and physically as balanced as we can be. To that degree fundamentalist christianity or fundamentalist religion of any kind may well work for some people, just as celibacy works for some people but I expect they are exceptions.

    So finding a set of beliefs which ‘works’ for you means finding fulfillment, satisfaction, meaning and purpose in life and that can be very different things for different people.

    You said: Thank you for this chat as well. 😀 I value learning about the minds and “souls” of those I disagree with.

    Me too. Life has had me on something of a nomadic ‘quest’ and I have moved or set up home 32 times in 41 years and often have no friends around, just acquaintances and very, very rarely ‘like minds’ but I actually think and feel that is good for me. We can become so immersed in our own beliefs and even more so if shared that coming in contact with those who think and feel differently is important and often that does not happen. People move from the ‘like minds’ of the job to the ‘like minds’ of their friends or sometimes family. Encountering ‘others’ is I believe an important aspect of relationships on the net.

    But mostly I am drawn to people who speak their mind and that means I have a pool of friends, many of whom do not agree with me on a lot of things and vice-versa. All to the good.

  102. As an aside, but sort of related to astrology, here is what happened to me yesterday:
    I was in my office at the university. The phone rings and an old lady, who had called me in the past, insists in talking to me about her amazing experience in roulette. She tells me she has a system for beating the roulette. When some numbers appear, she does some tricks (adds their digits, or whatever) and finds another number which will for sure appear later. I could not understand what she was saying, and, obviously, it was nonsense. I was trying to ask her one question, but I couldn’t because she was speaking all the time (unusual for a Swede). In the end, I succeeded and asked her if she made lots of money. She answered “no, because I’m a coward”. She wanted me to study her system, mathematically, and explain to her why it works. Now, why did I keep listening to her? Because she told me she is suffering from a terrible disease and nobody talks to her. I endured one hour of nonsense, as a result.

    If there were system (astrology, numerology, etc) which could predict the future, then the whole world would collapse. But there are not.

  103. @Takis,

    You said: I very much agree that “religion” should apply to more general systems that what is commonly referred to as religion. It is in this sense that I used the word. For example, believing that the head of state always tells the truth is religion. I live in Sweden which I find one of the most religious countries I’ve ever lived in, even though, in terms of conventional religion it is not so.

    Yes, I agree. Your comments on Sweden are interesting. My sense of the Swedes is that they are somewhat ‘absolute’ in approach although it is disguised. That is just an impression. Although of course nations have astrological charts as well so I will have a look.

    You said: No, I have no deep knowledge of astrology because I find most people who are interested in astrology quite shallow.

    Then you have met a certain group of people is all I can say and they are not representative of astrology or astrologers.

    You said: In Greece, they are the kind of people who tell you your fortune by looking at the remains of your coffee. (It is tea leaves elsewhere, but Greeks drink more coffee, the Greek/Turkish/Arabic kind which leaves thick sediment.)

    I have not had much to do with Greek astrologers, if anything. I have been reading lately though about Greek culture and the superstitious quality is interesting. I am reminded of the similarities between beliefs here in Africa – the ‘concept of envy’ being a classic.

    Interestingly I am also reading a book by Robert Bly on the shadow and having read this about the Greeks and pondered my African experience of the same thing, and opened his book to see a paragraph about students of Carl Jung, Maria Louise von Franz and Barbara Hannah, who had the custom of requiring whoever had some especially good fortune to carry out the garbage for the week. This being a method of balancing ‘good and bad.’

    What I found most interesting when I did a bit more reading was how this custom which i had considered African was in fact quite universal and had even emerged as a concept in psychotherapy.

    You said: And the ones who write silly horoscopes in newspapers

    Yes, well, a silly horoscope in a newspaper is the food equivalent of a fast-food hamburger compared to haute cuisine. Both food but very different.

    You said: I don’t even know what you mean by “having my chart done by a professional [astrologer?] What is a chart?

    It is easier to look at a chart than explain it. I could do your chart for you. It is basically a circle which shows the placement of planets (and asteroids) and other bodies if wished at the time of your birth in the 12 houses and the aspects between them.

    You said: How would the “professional” know my future?

    A professional is an accredited astrologer. He or she would not know your future but could read your chart to identify ‘forces’ or ‘influences’ which are at work and which will be at work and seek to explain how they might manifest or why you are experiencing what you are.

    You said: Would he examine me?

    No.

    You said: Look at the date of my birth?

    A date, time and place of birth is required. A good astrologer can identify a ‘time of birth’ if one is not available. The time provides accuracy in terms of aspects and often in terms of the ascending sign and Moon placement although it might also be the case with a Sun sign depending on when one is born.

    You said: So, yes, I declare ignorance, based on my experience that every time I encounter the word astrology (in a newspaper) or read, say, the random astrology webpage, I only see charlatanism.

    Neither represent astrology in the main but if you are interested there are reputable sites and anything accessed through a Federated Body of Astrologers – US, UK, Australian, and I am sure Swedish, is reputable.

    You said: For example, I just typed the word on google and found
    http://www.astrology-online.com/persn.htm
    In it, they claim:

    Professional Custom Birthcharts and Synastry
    Quality so high, we actually send it FIRST, and you can pay later!
    This is the level of confidence I have that you will really be impressed by…

    They might be okay but the terminology puts me off. I always advise people to check with the organisation of accredited astrologers where they live although in this day and age one can get charts done online quite easily but it is more generic than a professional and personal reading. I can pull up charts in an instant and they are certainly insightful but not as good as a professional reading. I am an amateur, not a professional so when i do it I do it for nothing….. it teaches me more and people who ask find it useful.

    You said: That is, without knowing me, they can give me a chart about my future, or whatever? Based on what? My date of birth? Does this mean that everyone born on the same day has the same future?

    No, because the time makes a huge difference to aspects and aspects – the relationship between the houses, planets and signs, makes a big difference. Even a minute can make a difference and five minutes certainly does. But astrology is also an art and there is a level of intuition involved so that if an astrologer had two people come who had been born at exactly the same time on the same day in the same place, those same ‘forces’ would be at work but because of the other factors involved in who and what we are, might manifest in different ways.

    To use a cooking analogy : Give six people exactly the same ingredients and you are likely to get six different dishes. Even if two made the same dish it would not be exactly the same.

    You said: Also, on that page, one can find other services, like Compatibility, Intimacy Reports, BirthCharts, Karma, Karmic Love, Numerology (a demonstrably bullshit concept).

    It doesn’t sound like a professional site although I can relate to karma as a concept just not as normally explained. Numerology I have also studied and I find its history fascinating. I do believe that letters and numbers have their own ‘vibration or energy’ but that is a digression and one which you would not relate to it seems. Not that you need to. But the power of number and word in religious, spiritual, mythic, astrological and historical writings is a ‘feast’ for the mind. Well, mine anyway.

    You said: So, then, where is the serious astrology stuff, I mean the one that is different from the coffee-remainder future tellers?

    Here are two of the world’s best, Liz Greene and Bernadette Brady. Bernadette is from Adelaide and did my first professional chart but moved to Bristol in the UK where she lectures and writes these days:

    http://www.astro.com/people/greene_e.htm

    http://www.bernadettebrady.com/

  104. @Takis

    p.s. if you are interested I can pull up your chart and send it to you so you can see what a chart looks like and general interps if you want. Just send me time, date and place of birth. You have my email. After all, if it doesn’t work it can do no harm.

  105. @Takis

    The old lady sounds a bit like synchronicity. Weren’t you just a bit curious?

    You said: If there were system (astrology, numerology, etc) which could predict the future, then the whole world would collapse. But there are not.

    And they don’t claim that is what they can do. Not professionals anyway. The reading of a chart is much too complex for that. I do believe some people are clairvoyant but that is not something you can know until later and as a general guide, good astrologers do not predict.

    As it was explained to me, when a progressed chart is done it will show ‘forces’ or ‘energies’ or ‘influences at work but we always have free will. So, say you want to start a business and you have a reading to see what is at work. The chart will show:

    Forces are with you, against you, or neutral. That is simplistic and it is much more complex than that but I am trying to give an example. You can choose to start your business when forces are ‘against you’ and you may well succeed but it could be challenging and riskier. Or you can wait a month or two until the challenges are less. The choice is yours.

    And as an example of prediction and why it should not be done:

    The first reading I ever had was when I was 36 but I had been reading about astrology for a few years at that time and I knew why the astrologer was saying what she was saying and what she could or could not say. She was trained but not accredited which is why she did predict.

    One of the things she predicted was the break up of my marriage. No professional would ever do such a thing. As it happened this ‘prediction’ was in line with a lot that was going on but I knew enough to know I had free will and she could not be absolute. I did not feel that would happen, but it certainly could have and I resolved it would not.

    Some of the things the chart showed which led her to this included aspects in my relationship, of course, but also ‘travelling across water,’ ‘ leaving people behind,’ ‘new groups of friends,’ ‘strange environments, ‘ risks’ etc.So it was easy to see why she said what she said. I just did not agree with her.

    This was September. She saw all this happening in the first week of February. Two months later, completely and utterly out of the blue and not within any realms of my imagination or my husband’s he came home and said he had been asked to move to Europe to take up a role there for his company. Let’s just say that this role was so out of left field that he would never have expected to be offered it. His job and experience was public relations and this was a sales role something he had never considered.

    I asked when and he said March. I thought to myself, ‘she was wrong about the time,’ but I could then see how all of the influences she saw as leading to marriage breakup actually related to this.

    In the middle of January my husband came home and said: They want me there earlier. We are leaving the first week of February! And we did.

    That however was only the first of many instances of accuracy.

    While prediction is dangerous and should not be done in such a specific sense it was a valuable lesson for me in terms of astrology. I always advise people to gain a basic knowledge of astrology before going for a reading.

  106. Ros:

    If what you say is true, i.e., if there are “serious” astrologers who can do things (although I do not understand what they can do exactly), then they must be a very tiny minority. Because, no matter where one looks at, one finds myriads of tabloid-like astrology. Also, there is no way for anyone to gain knowledge of astrology, when the “discipline” is littered with millions of books for laughs.

    What a sense of frustration these people you point out to me must have, when they are surrounded by millions of charlatans worldwide! Thanks for the links.

    Time to work. Have a good weekend.

  107. @Takis,

    Most astrologers are professional. The minority are those you seem to have found.

    The discipline is not littered with millions of books for laughs, these are again a small minority. If you do a search on Amazon for astrology you will find hundreds of serious, professional and even ‘academic’ books on astrology.

    And there is no sense of frustration because the ‘charlatans’ are a small minority. Where there is frustration I suspect is with the general ignorance displayed about astrology and the number of people who are obsessively opposed to it and yet who know next to nothing about it.

  108. @Takis

    This site lists astrological associations. Clicking on a link is unlikely to take you where you have been in terms of astrology.

    http://www.stariq.com/PageTemplate/t1.asp?PageID=799

  109. @Takis,

    I was curious about Greece after your comment. It seems there is no astrological association there but you might find this blog interesting:

    http://science-astrology.blogspot.com/2010/09/shenanigans-in-greek-astrological.html

  110. CRL

    I define feminine as “woman like” and masculine as “man like.” I believe those are the definitions in common use. By calling modes of thinking feminine and masculine, you make it sound as if they are coupled to gender, whether you intend to or not. As I am a female who cannot relate to any “feminine” way of thinking, I am slightly offended. (Also I included writing as an example of femininity because it is generally thought of as creative. The demographics of my english classes (most <75% female) also suggest that writing is thought of as a "feminine" strength. )

    What makes the time Newton invested in astrology different than the time he invested in alchemy (which you do not think was effective)? When one is trying to prove something, and is invested in proving it, they will bash their head against the wall time and time again to prove it, even without seeing success.

    I think we're getting lost in conflicting terminology when we talk about correct/incorrect beliefs. I think of Christianity as an incorrect belief that works, you think of it as a belief which becomes correct if it works for someone. Is that right? At any rate, our two opinions mean almost the same thing, we are just using different definitions for "incorrect."

  111. @crl

    You said: I define feminine as “woman like” and masculine as “man like.” I believe those are the definitions in common use.

    Perhaps I should have clarified. I thought I had made an earlier reference to the terminology as used in a psychological sense.

    You said: As I am a female who cannot relate to any “feminine” way of thinking, I am slightly offended.

    I would be interested to know what you feel or think is a ‘feminine way’ of thinking. I don’t find that the males and females I know are in the main quite so ‘divided.’ They certainly were to greater degrees in my parents generation and beyond but things changed dramatically in the 60’s – they certainly did in Australia – and such rigid definitions and divisions are no longer the norm. I am sure it depends to some degree on the culture in which one grows up.

    You said: (Also I included writing as an example of femininity because it is generally thought of as creative. The demographics of my english classes (most <75% female) also suggest that writing is thought of as a "feminine" strength. )

    If that were the case then women would not have been prevented from writing in particular (as in books) and education in general during the worst of the patriarchal age. Neither would men so dominate the field although one has to take into account that patriarchy is still alive and well and there is far from being gender equality. That no doubt is why women in general are far better at cooking and yet in general male chefs predominate and are more feted!

    You said: What makes the time Newton invested in astrology different than the time he invested in alchemy (which you do not think was effective)?

    I think alchemy is extremely effective in a metaphorical sense. The mistake he made perhaps was in seeing it as literal. The difference is he used astrology as a system and found it effective. If he had not he would have rejected it and said so.

    You said: When one is trying to prove something, and is invested in proving it, they will bash their head against the wall time and time again to prove it, even without seeing success.

    Some people are obsessed and do this, most do not. Most people will not maintain a practice if it does not bring some sort of benefit and that is why history is littered with beliefs, practices, methodologies which have been dropped along the way – and no more than in science and medicine.

    You said: I think we're getting lost in conflicting terminology when we talk about correct/incorrect beliefs. I think of Christianity as an incorrect belief that works, you think of it as a belief which becomes correct if it works for someone. Is that right? At any rate, our two opinions mean almost the same thing, we are just using different definitions for "incorrect."

    Yes, it is easy to get lost because words are so often inadequate to express what we feel and think. When you say christianity is an incorrect belief that works it depends what you mean by christianity. It comprises so many variations on the theme and then there is Christianity as it began, as it became, and as it later evolved into more enlightened forms. There is evangelical Christianity and the most enlightened Anglican – very different things.

    There are things in Christianity I don't 'believe' although I hold nothing to be impossible – but there are many things in Christianity in the form of spiritual teachings which one can find in all other religions, primitive and modern, and in all spiritual teachings. I have no problem with such things.

    I don't believe Jesus was a literal figure but he might have been. I don't believe in the immaculate conception but believe the story has been literalised when it is metaphor but who knows for sure. Such things are not important to me but I realise they are to those who hold them as theological absolutes.

    All religions are small, narrow, patriarchal, misogynistic – to lesser and greater degrees – and not about God but the minds of men. But some of them have changed and evolved and no doubt in time, they all will, or they will not survive.

  112. @crl

    I got distracted with a ‘no water problem’ – life in Africa – and forgot to ask: Why are you slightly offended? I did not get the gist of that comment.

    And I did not answer this:

    You said: you think of it as a belief which becomes correct if it works for someone. Is that right?

    Not really. Correct is the wrong word. If a belief has a balancing or productive effect on someone – provides comfort etc., meaning, purpose or the like – then it probably does not matter what the belief is. I am talking religion here and not making the comment in a general sense. Religions hold many beliefs which one might dispute but if they ‘do no harm’ and in fact bring positive results for the believer then what does it matter?

    We all believe many things which can never be absolutely proven as true nor demonstrated through any empiric system – the existence of love being one of them.

  113. CRL

    I still don’t understand the distinction you make between Newton’s beleifs in alchemy and astrology, however, I think you could go on for 20 comments, and I still would not get it. Shall we drop that one?

    “Religions hold many beliefs which one might dispute but if they ‘do no harm’ and in fact bring positive results for the believer then what does it matter?”

    We are in perfect agreement. I dispute many religious beliefs, but I don’t care if these beliefs are “wrong” provided they are are harmless or helpful. I also dispute astrology, but I don’t want to destroy it because many people find it a positive force in their lives.

    Neither would men so dominate the field although one has to take into account that patriarchy is still alive and well and there is far from being gender equality. That no doubt is why women in general are far better at cooking and yet in general male chefs predominate and are more feted!

    Again, I do not believe writing is truly a feminine talent, just that our society sees it as one. When women weren’t educated, of course they didn’t write!
    Also, I do not believe women are intrinsically better at cooking. That is patriarchal bullshit spewed my men to lazy to make their own food.

    Oh, I think your “no water problem” is probably more important than my slight offense. It is only slight.

    I don’t particularly like that your philosophy assigns the names of genders to modes of thinking. The terminology assumes that all women “think like women” and men “think like men”, even if this was not what you were trying to say.

  114. @crl

    You said: I still don’t understand the distinction you make between Newton’s beleifs in alchemy and astrology, however, I think you could go on for 20 comments, and I still would not get it. Shall we drop that one?

    Sure. In truth I know more about his work with astrology but I was following on from a comment as to the failure of his alchemical work in any material sense. I said he took it literally when it is more likely metaphorical. However, he may well have taken it both ways – I have not read enough on that subject. What I do know is that he maintained his support for astrology – because it worked. Perhaps he did for alchemy also – because it worked in ways other than literal. There is no doubt that the Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm (which in many ways betrayed both scientists) worked hard to deny, remove or even ‘destroy’ those metaphysical aspects of scientific work which had been so common in the past. And still does.

    You said: We are in perfect agreement. I dispute many religious beliefs, but I don’t care if these beliefs are “wrong” provided they are are harmless or helpful. I also dispute astrology, but I don’t want to destroy it because many people find it a positive force in their lives.

    And that is a reasonable and sensible approach. I am always wary when people are fanatical about something – particularly something about which they know little or nothing like astrology. By all means reject a system or set of beliefs for yourself but allow others the right to choose. Campaigns or crusades, whether atheists against religion; scientists against astrology or medicine against homeopathy or TCM are about the crusaders, not the cause.

    You said: Again, I do not believe writing is truly a feminine talent, just that our society sees it as one. When women weren’t educated, of course they didn’t write!

    Well, I recognise the feminine at work in men and the masculine at work in women. Astrology actually explains this very well. What we call feminine are qualities which patriarchy decided belonged to women and ditto for that which we call masculine. But these qualities are not specific to gender and exist in all of us and are expressed to lesser and greater degrees depending on nature, nurture, culture, nationality, society and religion as often as not.

    Until my generation most men and women maintained fairly stereotypical roles and while we don’t have gender equality in any true sense, the reality is that those rigid roles and definitions have begun to break down. At least in the developed world or where women and men are not confined in who they might be by religious stricture and dogma.

    You said: Also, I do not believe women are intrinsically better at cooking.
    I did not mean it that way. The point I was trying to make is that women in general, as in more women know how to cook, are better cooks than men in general, because less know how to cook, and yet in the profession of chefs, men dominate. That is not about their ability as men, but about patriarchal preference.

    Of course men can cook as well as women if they learn how to and in my best of worlds all children would be taught to cook as a priority. But, in the world as we see it today women are more likely to learn to cook and know how to cook and therefore there are more women who are better cooks.

    But this is changing. In my children’s generation it is just as common to see the men cooking as the women and increasingly so. And women doing the jobs which my parents would have seen as traditional for men. All to the good.

    But I would add Australia is a very foodie culture. One of the most popular television programmes is Masterchef and it is equally popular with young men as well as young women. I see such things as extremely positive.

    You said: Oh, I think your “no water problem” is probably more important than my slight offense. It is only slight.

    Well, the city’s water tank has supposedly broken so here in Malawi we have had constant water cuts – up to three days without water – for the past five months. That and daily power cuts makes it a challenge 🙂

    I am still curious about what slightly offended you.

    I don’t particularly like that your philosophy assigns the names of genders to modes of thinking. The terminology assumes that all women “think like women” and men “think like men”, even if this was not what you were trying to say.

  115. @CRL

    Damn, hit the wrong button and it posted too soon. The last para I included to answer so will do so here:

    You said: I don’t particularly like that your philosophy assigns the names of genders to modes of thinking. The terminology assumes that all women “think like women” and men “think like men”, even if this was not what you were trying to say.

    I think you have misinterpreted here because that is the last thing I believe. Quite the opposite in fact. Men have the same ability to think in the way that patriarchy has defined as ‘the way women think’ and vice versa. To lesser and greater degrees.

    There is no doubt that the patriarchal system which has allocated qualities to men and to women and divided natural qualities in all of us into masculine and feminine has made it harder for men to express those qualities we call feminine and women to express those we call masculine.

    In the last 50 years however that has begun to change, more so in some countries and cultures than others. There is still a powerful impact on children which is gender related where boy babies are treated differently to girl babies – albeit often unconsciously. So progress is slow.

    There have always been males and females strong enough to be ‘who they are’ regardless of what parents, peers or society believed but they have been a minority. We still have a long way to go to free human beings from the iron grip of patriarchy but the work has begun.

    In many ways, and I will use the Jungian term, I believe men have suffered more than women because their anima nature has been buried much deeper than the animus in women. Subjugation and oppression makes one strong and resilient and having lived in India and various African countries where patriarchy is alive and well and akin to that of Western culture 100 years ago and more it is clear that it weakens men physically and psychologically and strengthens women. But it is unhealthy for both and for society in general.

  116. To lighten up the conversation, let me show you what happens in a society which has “solved” all its problems, but is obsessed with the concept of gender.

    Look at my posting on Sweden’s ‘gender-neutral’ pre-school and the one on Swedish pedestrian crossing signs.

  117. @Takis,

    Given that these days most women wear trousers the original traffic crossing sign would pretty much cover everyone.

    The Scandinavians have certainly achieved some excellent advances but ‘anal’ is a word which comes to mind and anything can be taken so far. To institute a system where you seek to force ‘non-gender’ on children is as bad as one which forces gender.
    We always seem to get these extremes and one can only hope the swing returns to middle ground sooner not later. I believe some cultures are more prone to ‘extremes’ than others and the more laid-back a culture is, the less this happens – or rather, the less easily it ‘catches on.’ On that count Oz is pretty laid-back.
    What is needed is acceptance and affirmation of what a child is, as that child chooses to express itself in gender terms, not demanding non-gender because patently it exists and it does manifest in certain ways in certain cultures. Children are not blank slates on which their parents and society writes and here again I cite the usefullness of astrology in revealing and understanding this. 🙂

  118. Yes Ros, “anally retentive” is the word, as you said. In fact, it was the Australian TV that brought up the gender-free school issue to the media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu_T29f2rnE

  119. @Takis,

    That was so funny. I don’t watch much television so had never heard of her although I knew the other comedian. And of course we don’t get Oz TV here and remarkably that video played as most do not. Thanks, it was great and rather put it in perspective although I am sure that the ‘gender’ approach in Sweden is like many things in life: it is a good idea but it does not take human nature into account! The ‘best’ ideas have fallen on that flaw – communism, religion and science if it isn’t careful – any system really. It behoves us to remember that no matter how ‘noble’ the cause we need to live in a world which understands and takes human nature into account.

  120. CRL

    Again, I know what you believe, and, to the point I understand what you are trying to say, I agree with you.

    But I don’t like your terminology; as I think it is misleading. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was confused. Like Takis said, obsessing about promoting gender roles, obsessing about eliminating gender roles, and obsessing about not obsessing too much about either promoting or eliminating gender roles are all problems.

    You could use genetics, as well as astrology, to explain why children are not blank slates. But I digress.

  121. @crl

    I am always open to ‘learning.”
    If you take an example of the terminology and then post how you would say it I might understand what you are saying a bit better. I think and feel the difficulty is that we all have our own expressions or phraseology which are sourced in our culture, experience and no doubt other things as well.

    I am just as confused by what you find confusing. And I agree obsessing about anything is problematic because it takes things to extremes and the middle ground is a more balanced place to be. My preference is the middle ground so I tend not to obsess or take extreme positions although I am conscious of the fact that ‘extremism’ is in the eye of the beholder and there are those who consider a belief in astrologer to be extremist. I mean it in the sense that my belief in it is neither extreme nor obsessive.

    I don’t use astrology to explain why children are not blank slates – I use it to demonstrate they are not and yes, genetics also demonstrates why children are not blank slates as well. I did make the point that astrology as a tool of understanding takes into account nature and nurture.

  122. CRL

    When you say “masculine age” and “feminine age”, and “both major forms of brain function,” without clarifying terms, I saw no way to interpret those terms other than “the age when people thought like men (because men were in charge)” and “the age when people thought like women (because women were in charge).” I thought that you were implying that there are two forms of brain function, one of which is the way that men think, and one of which is the way women think, which I absolutely did not agree with. While I now know what you were trying to say, I still see no other way to interpret the words you actually typed. Thus I suggest you find new, less misleading/confusing terms.

    I am just as confused by what you find confusing.

    A common problem. 😀

  123. @crl

    You said: When you say “masculine age” and “feminine age”, and “both major forms of brain function,”

    Ah, okay. I can’t be bothered trawling back through what I said to see if I had clarified in any way but will do so here. I referred to the masculine and feminine ages more in terms of how people saw the world, material and spiritual, expressed through religion but it was the impact of religion on the society which ‘feminized’ or ‘masculinised’ the world.

    Before what is called the patriarchal age (where masculine qualities in the form of males dominated) when God became a ‘man’ or was seen as a male figure, there was a matriarchal age (where feminine qualities in the form of women dominated) and where God was seen as a woman or female figure.

    This had an impact on how people thought and both ‘ages’ were out of balance because human beings all have those qualities we define as masculine and feminine. The patriarchal age in particular separated them into brain function as in left brain, verbal and analytical was a male function and right, visual and artistic, female. These are highly simplistic definitions and it is easy to find ‘lists’ of that which is left brain and that which is right brain but of course everyone uses both brain functions. However, the patriarchal age has forced those functions associated with left-brain onto men and those associated with right, onto women.

    It seems that the corpus callosum in women is larger and this means women, generally, are better able to communicate between both sides of their brain and to utilise both forms of brain function simultaneously. However, this may well be because for some 4,000 years we have had a patriarchal society which has forced men to become dominant in left-brain thinking. Women on the other hand have been forced to become more flexible and perhaps this is also why women’s brains in general have more nerve cells and cellular connections.

    We do not yet know what sort of brains men and women would have if they had had a few thousand years without being forced into stereotypical gender roles which push reliance on one mode of thinking in preference to another.

    As to finding other terms I suspect that is not the answer. What is perhaps required is that all of us clarify whatever terms we use given the lack of knowledge we have about each other and the limitations of communication via this medium.

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