Testing Astrology

Easier than arguing about Astrology is to test claims made by astrologers. In a recent thread, after some effort, a visiting astrologer to this site made the claim that:

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.

Below are a growing collections of articles & sites addressing this claim.  Please let me know of more sites.

Actual Articles:

  • Carlson, S. A double-blind test of astrology. Nature 318, 419 – 425 (05 December 1985): Two double-blind tests were made of the thesis that astrological ‘natal charts’ can be used to describe accurately personality traits of test subjects. (article PDF)
    • Astrologer refutes: R. Currey. “U-turn in Carlson’s astrology test?”. Correlation 27(2) July 2011. (article PDF): “Correlation” is published by “The Astrological Association of Great Britain” who just had a Sept 7 conference entitled “Surviving 2012” (wow).
  • McGrew, J, McFall, R.  A Scientific Inquiry Into the Validity of Astrology , Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 4, No. I, pp. 75-83, 1990: Six expert astrologers independently attempted to match 23 astrological birth charts to the corresponding case files of 4 male and 19 female volunteers. Astrologers did no better than chance or than a nonastrologer control subject at matching the birth charts to the personal data. (article PDF)
  • Geoffrey Dean and Ivan W. Kelly, Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?  Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10, No. 6–7, 2003, pp. 175–198:  A large-scale test of > 2000 people born less than five minutes apart found no hint of the similarities predicted by astrology.  Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading – all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts. (article PDF)

Anti-Astrology Sites:

Pro-Astrology Sites:

  • Astrology Research:  “aims to stimulate and facilitate the critical study of astrology”
  • Empirical Basis of Astrology: This site (“astrology.com”) contends that “it is no longer acceptable to say astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis.”

Other sources of info:

  • The Mars Effect (wiki): Mars on your horizon predicted to make more athlete.  Data does not support this.

50 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

50 responses to “Testing Astrology

  1. Hey Sabio! Well, the first study seems flawed (by your description anyway, I might comment again after I read the study) because “Astrologers” is like saying “Doctors”. What type? With what training? Surely they don’t all claim the same thing.

    Obviously predictions have zero evidence, however I did read a study showing that the season in which a baby is born can affect certain aspects of their temperament.

    It’s late, let me see if I can dig up that study tomorrow. It sort of makes sense that Mom or baby’s mood could be influenced by the season. Probably on a small scale, but still.

  2. By the way it is astrologers not astrologists.

    In terms of the research:

    Abstract-Six expert astrologers independently attempted to match 23 astrological birth charts to the corresponding case files of 4 male and 19
    female volunteers. Case files contained information on the volunteers’ life
    histories, full-face and profile photographs, and test profiles from the
    Strong-Campbell Vocational Interest Blank and the Cattell 16-P.F.

    No truly professional astrologer would participate in such an ‘experiment.’ This is not how astrology works. And unless one knows exactly who makes up the Indiana Federation of Astrologers and their qualifications and experiences it is meaningless anyway. This study was done in 1990 and one can only be curious as to why the study was not done in co-operation with the American Federation of Astrologers, founded in 1938 and which has:

    A worldwide organization of more than 3500 professional astrologers and laypersons representing all 50 states and 56 countries around the …

    Perhaps because they said NO! Or perhaps because being based in Indiana they knew enough about the Indiana group of astrologers to be more certain of their outcome.

    And with the second link we have researchers Geoffrey Dean and Ivan W.Kelly who are members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the article orginally appeared in the Skeptic 24(1), 9-11, Autumn 2004. Dr Dean is a technical editor in Perth, a WA skeptic and a CSICOP Fellow. Dr Kelly is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan and chairman of CSICOP’s astrology subcommittee>

    Which is rather like having Monsanto research the value of organic foods or BigPharma research the validity of acupuncture or a fundamentalist Christian research the validity of Islam!

  3. And as to The Mars Effect (wiki): Mars on your horizon predicted to make more athlete. Data does not support this.

    Wikipedia is the fast-food equivalent of an encyclopedia. It is not a reputable source for anything and is in fact rejected as one by academia worldwide which states that while it is fine for a student to begin with Wikipedia and move on to substantial information and evidence, Wiki quotes are not acceptable in academic papers.

  4. The internet is one of the worst places for finding evidence to ‘test’ theories or systems because you tend to get the ‘radicals’ at either end of the polarity and little of the balanced, reasoned research. So in essence, the goal of ‘testing’ astrology is not possible in a forum like this. All that it can offer is links to information, which, those who are interested may read and assess for themselves and take it where they will…. or will not.

    A reasonable overview of astrology and the controversies and research is here:

    http://www.astrologer.com/tests/basisofastrology.htm

    Excerpt: Flawed Tests: In the field of astrology, there are many more fatally flawed tests than real evidence. There are many reasons for this. There is no budget for testing astrology and most astrologers are more motivated by the study and application of astrology than in addressing the challenge of providing and defending scientific proof. So most tests are run by sceptics with budgets in fields like psychology who design quantitative tests when the data requires qualitative analysis that would be better addressed by those who understand astrology. There are also real procedural hurdles to jump.

  5. @ amelie,
    Great. Thank you. I look forward to your analysis and hopefully a better list of studies.

    @ rosross,

    (1) I fixed the typo — thanx.

    (2) You really out to consider familiarizing yourself with logical fallacies even though you told us that they are no use to you.
    You said, “No truly professional astrologer would participate in such an experiment.” That sounds so much like the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy. I won’t explain it but instead let your read it to see how it applies.

    (3) Indeed it is important to see the vested interests of the researchers. I think Geoffrey Dean was a former Astrologer — maybe not. But being members of those groups should keep one’s antenae up. It is not enough to dismiss them, but you are right that one should be cautious. It would be just as silly as blindly trusting the opinion of an Astrologer on the matter or a recommendation from a society the promotes astrology (if you will remember the book you recommended me).

    (4) Yes, I labelled it “Wiki” to show the weakness. This page is a way to keep track of info for me. I will be changing in the future. Labelling something as “Wiki” should be enough for any educated reader to understand limitations.

    (5) Thanks for the link, I will take a look.

    (6) I don’t know if you know this, but I am a former Homeopath — maybe not a “True Homeopath” to you, but my patients thought I was. Anyway, in this post I criticize HOW we criticize homeopathy. So this is a point supporting you! As I read skeptic sites who criticize Astrology, they all talked about the evidence disproving it — yet I could find very few links to actual articles. So I am working on that.

    We all blindly accept ‘evidence’ that supports our views with minimal questioning — skeptics included. To deceive ourselves about this is horribly ironic in the case of proud skeptics. That other folks do it, I am not surprised but when Skeptics do it, it is a wonderful demonstration of how deeply ingrained self-deception is. But this is no reason to despair of trying to see through self-deception, fallacies and bias. Commitment to developing better and better methods to see beyond our fallacies and biases is very important.

  6. @Sabio

    You said, “No truly professional astrologer would participate in such an experiment.” That sounds so much like the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy. I won’t explain it but instead let your read it to see how it applies.

    Not really. There are those who qualify as true professionals in any field and certain things are expected of them. The experiment ran so counter to the philosophy of astrology that the statement I made is a given. It was like doing an experiment with ‘chefs’ who believe that you can produce evidence of exactly what a dish will look and taste like simply by being given a list of ingredients. Any professional or ‘true’ chef would fall about laughing at such a concept and not participate. Someone who can cook but who is less experienced and not professional might think it could be done and participate.

    You said: It would be just as silly as blindly trusting the opinion of an Astrologer on the matter or a recommendation from a society the promotes astrology (if you will remember the book you recommended me).

    One may recommend anything and one may source information anywhere although some sources are going to be more generally credible. It is unwise to blindly trust the opinion of anyone or any system. Question everything. Read both sides and make sure you spend plenty of time in the ‘middle’ is my view.

    However, one would generally put more credence in information coming from a recognised body of professional doctors; in other words, people who have met the standards and requirements of their profession. Ditto for astrology faculties and accreditation.

    By excluding such professional groups which promote, not surprisingly, their profession which happens to be astrology, you would also have to exclude all professional groups: medical, legal, accounting etc., which promote their professions. By selecting some groups to exclude you are using double standards. If one accepts any professional body then you have to accept all so my recommendation of the book is as valid as you recommending an article or book promoted by the American Medical Association.

    You said: I don’t know if you know this, but I am a former Homeopath —

    Yes, I read that.

    You said: maybe not a “True Homeopath” to you,

    I have no idea what sort of homeopath you were. Clearly you decided it did not suit you and that is absolutely fine. Practitioners of Allopathic Medicine give it up to become Homeopaths or Naturopaths or TCM practitioners at times and there is no reason why they were not excellent allopathic doctors just as you may have been an excellent homeopath and acupuncturist.

    At the end of the day we are led to that which ‘speaks’ to us and I would say to our Soul Path and there is no right or wrong way. I look forward to a day when integrative medicine is common and all healing practitioners are trained in both allopathic and what is called Traditional Medicine. I have no doubt you are a better doctor in Allopathy because of your prior experience and vice-versa for those who do it the other way around.

    You said: We all blindly accept ‘evidence’ that supports our views with minimal questioning — skeptics included.

    I disagree. Many might but many do not. I question everything and as often as not select what makes sense to me based on the knowledge I have at the time. I combine reason and intuition.

    You said: To deceive ourselves about this is horribly ironic in the case of proud skeptics.

    It is a little. But I think it happens more often when people become obsessive or take a fundamentalist view. I believe everything is a polarity and extremes represent either end. The ‘shadow’ if you like of someone who is fundamentally religious is someone who is fundamentally atheist. The shadow of someone who sees themselves as an absolute rationalist is an absolute intuitive.

    I am fond of the maxim: That which we condemn in others is that which we deny in ourselves. This applies when we have a powerful reaction to something – the emotion being an indicator.

    You said: That other folks do it, I am not surprised but when Skeptics do it, it is a wonderful demonstration of how deeply ingrained self-deception is.

    I don’t think it is self-deception, at least not conscious deception. I believe it is a lack of understanding of one’s own psyche and how our minds work.

    You said: But this is no reason to despair of trying to see through self-deception, fallacies and bias. Commitment to developing better and better methods to see beyond our fallacies and biases is very important.

    I would not use the terms you use but I think we are saying something similar. I believe it is an important and constant quest to understand one’s self so that which is denied, repressed or existing in shadow darkness is acknowledged and expressed so it does not ‘jump out’ and ‘bite us’ and others.

  7. @ Sabio

    I did access the ‘Scotsman’ link and thought the operative word was ‘simple.’ Haggis may not be something every ‘true Scotsman’ likes but there are things which could fit. Just as one could find something which applied to a ‘truly professional doctor.’

  8. I like haggis, even though I’m not a true Scotsman. Every time I go back to Edinburgh, I stop for haggis and chips. Once only each time. Unhealthy food, but tasty.

    (Yes, I know that the sentence was “every true Scotsman likes haggis”, so all I’m proving is that the set of those who like haggis include no Scotsmen and, therefore, no true Scotsmen either.)

  9. Check out http://www.astrology-and-science.com/hpage.htm. The authors of this site are hardly unbiased, but once you get past the anti-astrology propaganda, it’s a very comprehensive source of studies on astrological practice.

  10. @ Chris,

    Except you can’t get past the anti-astrology propaganda. The material is highly subjective if not pretty much biased. I notice there is no ‘About Us’ section or if there was I could not find it.

    Having gone through many of the articles it is pretty clear that neither the site ‘host’ nor many of those writing the articles understand astrology or how it works.

  11. @ Chris,
    Thanx for the site — I linked it above. I had actually already found it and used it to help me find articles — it is sloppy, but useful.

    I also found the Carlson article and have linked it. Hey, how did you find this site?

    @ rosross
    There were a lot of articles linked there — you certainly didn’t go through them all, did you.

    I was hoping you’d supply us with one or two links to good research on the empirical question in this post. Any out there addressing this question that you know of?

  12. @Sabio: I imagine I found the site the same way you did, by googling. Sorry, I wasn’t aware that you had come across it. You’ve improved your post since yesterday. If I had encountered the post you have today, I wouldn’t have seen a need to draw attention to astrology-and-science.com.

    @rosross: For my part, I found it easy to get past the gratuitous anti-astrology tone and propaganda in some of the articles on astrology-and-science.com. I didn’t find this affected their first-hand knowledge of professional astrology, the logic they applied to summarising and assessing the research or the comprehensive range of research the site references, by both astrologers and non-astrologers, and from every different way of approaching the question of research that astrologers and non-astrologers came up with in the heyday of astrological research.

  13. @Sabio

    You said: There were a lot of articles linked there — you certainly didn’t go through them all, did you.

    I was aware of the site so I have had a long time to have a look at most of the articles.

    You said: I was hoping you’d supply us with one or two links to good research on the empirical question in this post. Any out there addressing this question that you know of?

    I did make the point at the beginning that it is difficult to access responsible information on the internet, on any subject actually, but never more so than on those which fall into the category of paranormal or metaphysical because these areas tend to draw extremists (If not nutters) at each end of the spectrum. The problem with extremism, and at times fanaticism, is that it does not make for balanced information.

    There are hundreds of excellent books out there, thousands probably, which have been written over the past 100 years but that is not the sort of information which gets loaded onto the net.

    One other reason why the field is left to ‘fanatics’ is that as with homeopathy, most practitioners of astrology have little interest or time in ‘proving’ that it works. The experience has been that the naysayers rise in outrage and mockery in the main and extremism rules the day and given that it is neither necessary nor useful that science proves astrology (or other things like homeopathy) most astrologers simply do not bother and just get on with it.

    Astrology does not need proof that it works because those who make use of it know that it does. I suppose in the same way those who meditate or nuns and monks who chant, have no need to know why what they do works, nor a need for science to prove it works – they know it does and they find it useful and rewarding. Proof if it appears is a curiosity and in reality curiosity requires open-mindedness if it is ever to bring results and there is not a lot of open-mindedness in regard to astrology.

    So no, there is not a lot out there addressing this question and the link I posted earlier which you added to your list is the best I could find. Admittedly I have not done much looking because my research has been and remains, through books. But I had come across the one I found highly subjective and had time to look at it closely.

  14. @ Chris

    You said: For my part, I found it easy to get past the gratuitous anti-astrology tone and propaganda in some of the articles on astrology-and-science.com. I didn’t find this affected their first-hand knowledge of professional astrology, the logic they applied to summarising and assessing the research or the comprehensive range of research the site references, by both astrologers and non-astrologers, and from every different way of approaching the question of research that astrologers and non-astrologers came up with in the heyday of astrological research.

    I don’t know how much knowledge you have of astrology Chris, nor how much research you had previously done, or if in fact you are a practising astrologer but for anyone who has a good understanding of astrology it is pretty clear that the material is highly subjective if not biased and reflects a barely hidden agenda. More to the point, it demonstrates quite clearly that most of the articles are written, or compiled, by people who really have little understanding of astrology and how it works.

    An additional problem is that probably until the past 100 years astrology had rather languished and those practising it were, in the main, less professional, although of course, there are brilliant exceptions. Thousands of professional books, of which any academic institution would be proud, have been written in the past century and the profession of astrology has begun a renaissance which no doubt, in decades to come, will enable the sort of research to be done, by the profession itself, which Sabio is seeking here.

    In the meantime, as with so many things, most people don’t care because either they dismiss it and find no use in it or they do find use in it and utilise it and really have no need for anyone to provide ‘proof’ of any kind. The concept of empirical proof is one which has come from science and while no doubt valuable in many areas where one can take a materialist or mechanical approach and come up with demonstrable answers, it is pretty much a failure on many other counts. Science does not yet have the skills or the knowledge to explain many things – things I would add on which many scientific theories are based – and astrology is no exception. But it will come and with it the answers that some seem to need.

  15. This is not a subject I have studied, but almost you compel me to. I feel the pull already!

  16. @ David King,
    Who are you addressing?
    (1) RosRoss (our resident Astrologer)
    (2) Sabio Lantz (the author of the post — now dwarfed by comments) 🙂
    (3) Chris Eilers
    (4) amelie

    On blogs without hierarchical comments, prefacing you comment with @ so-and-so is helpful.

    For depending on whom you are talking to, we can imagine you more interested in Astrology or in debunking Astrology. I am going to guess it is the former since you come from my new poetry circles. Is my demographic prognostication (no Astrology used) accurate? 😉

  17. @ Rosross:
    Suggestion, unless necessary or importantly helpful, always quoting with “you said” makes comments unnecessarily long and burdensome to read. Sometimes they are very helpful of course. Just a thought.

    Actually, in the blogging world there is a phrase for such a commenting method — but I forgot it. Does anyone know it?

  18. @ Chris Eilers,
    I think you misunderstand me. I appreciated the link — and because you had mentioned it, I added it to the post. Thank you for your contribution.

    @ RosRoss,
    OK, so what that leaves me with is a clear impression that you have lots of caveats to escape ever entertaining any research that has been done or will be done on astrology if it conflicts with your experience.

  19. While I am not particularly interested in looking for research or proof I have had a bit of a look because of this forum and my instinct was that the best place to find whatever there was would be on the sites of the various astrology associations and faculties worldwide. I found a link to this on the British site, and no doubt there are others for those who are interested:

    http://www.astrology-research.net/index.html

    The RGCSA is an independent research body, which has been set up to monitor standards of research in astrology and promote the use of sound scientific methods in empirical studies. The group aims to stimulate and facilitate the critical study of astrology as judged by the disciplines of social statistics, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies, and to provide the basis for inter-university and international collaboration on research into astrology.

    http://www.astrologicalassociation.com/pages/publications/correlation.php

  20. @Sabio,

    You said: OK, so what that leaves me with is a clear impression that you have lots of caveats to escape ever entertaining any research that has been done or will be done on astrology if it conflicts with your experience.

    Not in the least. Just as you would demand in medicine or science, I demand reliable and responsible research and there is not much of it available on the net. As I said, my sources are books but I don’t have a great interest in ‘proving’ astrology per se: and so have never bothered searching much online. What interests me are different theories on how it might work.

    And, as I posted above, having found the impetus to do a bit of looking, not much, it seems there are resources which those who are interested can access and I am sure such research will increase.

    The research with which I have a problem, and that which is mostly found on the internet is that done from the basis of discrediting or ridiculing. Any reputable research is acceptable, just as it is to science and medicine. I take the view that principles should be applied equally.

  21. @Sabio,

    And I would request you don’t refer to me as your resident astrologer. I have already said I am not qualified and I am an amateur, albeit with 30 years study under my belt. But that does not make me a professional and certainly does not make me accredited. It just makes me someone who has an interest in and a solid understanding and knowledge of astrology.

  22. @Sabio

    You said: Suggestion, unless necessary or importantly helpful, always quoting with “you said” makes comments unnecessarily long and burdensome to read. Sometimes they are very helpful of course. Just a thought.

    Well, I appreciated and tried your system of using blocks and italics but found it slow, cumbersome and not worth the effort – apart from which when I painstakingly put it to use it turned all the type into italics.

    I type fast and You Said works really well in terms of speed and clarity. I fail to see how it makes anything cumbersome – we are talking about two words and a full colon!

  23. @David,

    Sarcasm does not translate well but my apologies if your comment was literal and you really are interested. Starting with all Sabio’s links is a good way to go and then moving on to the sites of the professional astrology groups in the English speaking world is the next. Good luck.

  24. @ rosross,

    (1) I didn’t call you a “professional” astrologer. But since you have a “solid understanding and knowledge of astrology” and “30 years of study under your belt” and you ask people for their birthdates to do their charts, I think that qualifies you as an astrologer. I understand all the caveates, though — they are just too long to state.

    (2) Thanks for the link — I added it. (with a little more re-organization)

    (3) So if you feel you have good examples of good Astrology research in some of your books, why don’t you scan a few pages and send me the document. I will ask the author for permission and link that ‘research’ up on this site. Just one good research example that you feel is valid, would be nice.

    Of course if you search the site you just gave me a link for and find a good research article there, then we will have something to discuss further perhaps.

    (4) I have not idea what you meant when you said, “he research with which I have a problem, and that which is mostly found on the internet is that done from the basis of discrediting or ridiculing. Any reputable research is acceptable, just as it is to science and medicine.”

    Are you saying that ‘critical research’ is unacceptable. Please keep your answer to this short, if you could. Remember, I read all your other stuff — these sentences just didn’t make sense to me.

  25. @Sabio

    You said: I didn’t call you a “professional” astrologer. But since you have a “solid understanding and knowledge of astrology” and “30 years of study under your belt” and you ask people for their birthdates to do their charts, I think that qualifies you as an astrologer. I understand all the caveates, though — they are just too long to state.

    Actually no, it doesn’t qualify me as an astrologer. No more than someone who studies and reads about medicine for 30 years could or should claim the title of doctor. It’s not a caveat – it is a reality. I doubt very much you would think it appropriate to have someone with extensive medical knowledge call themselves a doctor and it is the same for astrology. You must study, pass exams and become accredited. I am not, therefore I am not an astrologer, professional or otherwise.

    You said: So if you feel you have good examples of good Astrology research in some of your books, why don’t you scan a few pages and send me the document. I will ask the author for permission and link that ‘research’ up on this site. Just one good research example that you feel is valid, would be nice.

    Most of my books are in Australia. There are hundreds of them. I would have to put in the time and effort and given that I have no need to prove anything to anyone, beyond the fact that I could not do it for a few months, I have no interest. If anyone is really interested they can do their own research.

    You said: Of course if you search the site you just gave me a link for and find a good research article there, then we will have something to discuss further perhaps.

    You can search the site. I have little interest although I am happy to have a look at what comes up here. If I cared about trying to prove astrology to others then I would – but I don’t.

    You said: I have not idea what you meant when you said, “he research with which I have a problem, and that which is mostly found on the internet is that done from the basis of discrediting or ridiculing. Any reputable research is acceptable, just as it is to science and medicine.”

    Just as science and medicine demand certain standards in research so does astrology.

    You said: Are you saying that ‘critical research’ is unacceptable.

    Not at all if by critical you mean reliable, responsible and balanced. I explained all this before. The net is very limited in terms of reliable information.

  26. @ rosross:
    I think you misunderstood me. It is not the “You said:” part that is burdensome, but giving the entire quote by cutting and pasting.

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand how useful that is at times. But just wanted to caution against overdoing it.

    Go ahead and continue, of course, whenever you find it useful.

    There is an actual term for that way of commenting — but I can’t remember. I am checking on that.

    Like you, I find it very useful at times also — but I do think it has its short-comings. Hmmm, maybe I will do a post on that. 🙂

  27. @ rosross:
    (1) Do people consult you about their charts? Do you try to offer people insight about their charts? Why did you ask both Takis and myself for our exact birthdates if not to DO astrology?

    (2) OK, so you won’t give us a research article. I get it. For someone who repeatedly says, “I have no need to prove anything to anyone”, you sure do put down a lot of ink here. Asking you to offer us ONE good research article from all that apparently exist in your books (since none could ever exist on the “net”) seems like little effort compared to all your debating and commenting here. (which we appreciate)

  28. @Sabio

    I did misunderstand you. Okay will see if I can edit –

    I see what you are saying. It’s tricky because it is so easy to misunderstand online so I do it for clarity. 🙂

  29. You said: Do people consult you about their charts? Do you try to offer people insight about their charts? Why did you ask both Takis and myself for our exact birthdates if not to DO astrology?

    People who know me and who know I am interested in astrology ask me to pull up their charts at times. I do this free and send them the information but always advising that it is general and a consultation with a professional astrologer is wise if they are interested. It offers insight but of a limited nature. I don’t offer the insights – the chart and interpretations offer the insights. I asked you and Takis if you wanted me to pull up a chart for a couple of reasons: I find it interesting to study charts as I research – it teaches me; I wondered if you would be prepared to do it given you state you don’t believe there is any credibility in astrology (I paraphrase) and I find a lot of people who reject astrology, despite having no belief in it, are concerned or frightened to have a chart done. You didn’t have to see it of course – it could have remained as part of my research. Takis admitted he had no idea what a chart looked like, what astrology was, said or did and so the easiest way of giving some appreciation is for someone to see their chart and read the interps.

    You said: OK, so you won’t give us a research article. I get it. For someone who repeatedly says, “I have no need to prove anything to anyone”, you sure do put down a lot of ink here. Asking you to offer us ONE good research article from all that apparently exist in your books (since none could ever exist on the “net”) seems like little effort compared to all your debating and commenting here. (which we appreciate)

    As I explained, I don’t have the books here and when I am where they are I don’t have the time. Neither do I need to ‘test’ astrology. You want to do that. I am curious about what you come up with and as to ‘putting down ink’ I am merely in my own small way, seeking to provide what clarity I can in terms of your quest.

    As I am sure you also know, I ‘put down a lot of ink’ on many topics without necessarily seeking to prove anything. It is called a discussion.

  30. @Sabio,

    You said: (since none could ever exist on the “net”)

    You said that, not me. I said the internet is not a good place to find balanced information. I also said I had not put much effort into searching for such research and information and when I had there had been pretty poor showing. However, there may well be such information available.

  31. @ RosRoss
    (1) OK, you DO astrology but don’t consider yourself an “astrologer”. I am not going to entertain more quibbling on that issue. I think your statements speak for themselves.

    (2) I think we are also clear that you will not offer any method to explore your empirical claim. You offered us a claim but will not follow through on it. If I am to successfully discuss Astrology, it is the claims that I would have to explore. And because your books are in Australia, you apparently have no time and you have apparently have not interest “to prove Astrology”, we will drop exploring the only real, concrete, testable claim I could get us to hammer out.

    Thank you for your effort anyway.

  32. @Rosross, just so you know, science isn’t quite as fluffy as most people think. NOAA recently clarified that there is no such thing as mermaids. That might sound flippant to you; but science does not make claims based on “common sense”. Any claim must be taken seriously and tested.

    Here’s the thing: if we had a list of CRAZY STUFF THAT COULD BE TRUE, it would be a long list. Parallel universes is nuts; but it would be, say, number 14. Stuff like astrology, creationism, that would be closer to number 1 million.

    Which is not to say it’s false. But what we know is not “proven”. It is simply given evidence. That evidence does not come from books. Anyone could write a book. Evidence comes from structured, organized studies.

    Now, can something not studied from science be real? Sure! You simply cannot call it science. And the evidence for it will be considered scientificially invalid. Other people call this materialistic; but really, that’s not the case with science. Particles before they pass through the Higgs Boson are not material at all; the Higgs itself had to be represented through computer graphs.

    So can people study astrology? Sure! But it won’t be called theory (another misunderstanding in science) or even a hypothesis until it goes through decades of testing and retesting. So far as I know, not a single study has given any evidence for astrology.

    Great videos for this:

  33. @Sabio,

    I made it clear at the start I was not out to prove anything and doubted you could test as you so desire. Anyway, I have some personal issues which are now taking my attention so I won’t have time to debate anything for quite a while. Good luck with your quest.

  34. @amelie,

    Mentioning mermaids, although one could debate that science has proved them to be untrue, they just haven’t found any and that is a very different thing. Science did not believe in bacteria until it had the knowledge and equipment to ‘find it.’ and using the term ‘crazy stuff’ makes your prejudice, bias and total subjectivity pretty clear. Funnily enough I thought that one of the strengths of science was avoiding prejudice, bias and total subjectivity. Guess not, or at least, applied selectively.

  35. @ RosRoss: best wishes with the personal issues.

  36. @RosRoss okay, now I think I see better why you don’t understand science. I know you have strong beliefs. Science does not use the word belief. We instead use the word evidence.

    The important thing here is to understand that we as individuals cannot have opinions. It’s the evidence that forms a body of information, which allows us to weigh what’s there against the limitations.

    So science never “believed” anything about mermaids. It simply weighed the evidence and said it is too weak to support a theory of their existence. The evidence for bacteria is there and has been building for many years. Does that make sense to you?

    When I said crazy stuff, I included parallel universes which have evidence. So I used it as a term of awe, not condescension. Sorry if it upset you.

    I’m also sorry you don’t understand the terms prejudice, bias etc. When I did my thesis in graduate school I in fact had to write a section on that (it’s in all scientific papers) and if you ever did the same, you would maybe understand it better.

    Unless I misunderstood you. Go ahead and clarify, how did you conclude I was biased, prejudiced etc from my comment…..?

  37. @Sabio rats I am so sorry, I completely forgot WP turns links into videos. Pleh. I find that so annoying.

  38. @amelie,

    I am not in the least upset. You misunderstand what I said but I don’t have time to discuss it further and it is not really important to do so. I fully understand how science works and that is why I fully understand its limitations.

    As to revealing bias, I thought it was pretty clear because the words we use reveal our beliefs and while one may reject a proposition because there is no evidence for it there is no reason to classify it in a derogatory way:

    and using the term ‘crazy stuff’ makes your prejudice, bias and total subjectivity pretty clear.

  39. @amelie:
    Your sentence

    “now I think I see better why you don’t understand science. I know you have strong beliefs. Science does not use the word belief. We instead use the word evidence.”

    made my day. Me, being a kind of rationalist fundamentalist, I find myself questioning the verb “to believe” (which, in English, has many meanings, but I’m not talking about meanings such as “I believe that there is going to be a concert tomorrow” or “I believe it’s going to rain”), so much so that I have concluded that the verb “to believe” does not exist.

    So, when someone asks “do you believe that there is life in a planet orbiting Vega” I answer, there is no such thing as “to believe”; rather, there are three possibilities: Either there is life, or there is no life, or we will never be able to prove that life there exists. For more fundamental questions related to the verb “to believe” the above amounts to either a “yes” (and I have a proof for it) or a “no” (and I have a proof for it) or a “I cannot tell” (and I have a proof that there is no proof).

  40. @ Takis,
    I fixed up your HTML mistake for you. You may enjoy learning how to use the blockquote tags too — I added them to your comment. Hope you like it.

    I agree — “believe” is a crucial word to unpack when talking about “believing”.

  41. Thanks Sabio. I only use HTML, but failed to close the tag properly. Thanks for the blockquote suggestion too.

    The verb “to believe” encompasses so many meanings… Language constraints our thought process. For a probabilist (this is the name of my job) like me, I like assigning probabilities rather than “believe”. (Which is a hard task, if one wants to be realistic.)

  42. @RosRoss As my comment read “crazy stuff that COULD BE TRUE”, you clearly (to borrow a science idea) cherry picked two words I said and tried to make those two words into some kind of evidence. That and the fact that you flat-out refused to post a single peer-reviewed study suggests you have no understanding of science.

    If you had read my graduate school study, or even if you read my science posts, you could certainly use those to argue my level of bias or non-bias. Misrepresenting what I said just demonstrates to me that you may be somewhat desperate to prove your point while avoiding posting studies.

    Just FYI, I’m into Astrology also. I’m certainly not dismissive of it; as I told Sabio, there was a study (still looking for it) which shows people might have some personality traits based on when they are born. That’s where the science ends but I do read Real Astrology and I think the guy is great.

  43. @TakisK Ha! Great point and I’m with you on that one.

  44. @Amelie,

    It is hardly cherry-picking to take two words which demonstrate a point – it is a reality. If someone is talking about a politician and they use the term ‘red-neck’ it is not cherrypicking to see the use of that term as highly subjective; nor, in the case only of the US if someone uses the term ‘liberal’ which has negative connotations. The use of such words demonstrates subjectivity and bias otherwise there are many other terms which could be used.

    As to not posting studies etc., I explained at the beginning of Sabio’s exercise that the internet is a poor source of balanced information, what I would call responsible, because it attacks extremists. I also said I had not done much searching because it does not interest and had no intention of proving anything. As it happens I now have no time at all.

    So I am not avoiding anything. My only purpose in reading posts here has been to see what Sabio came up with and to offer my thoughts on them and on any instances of prejudice which came up.

    If you are interested in astrology then why don’t you post what you feel is required?

  45. RosRoss, you clearly are twisting my words around. I’m sorry to say you’ve lost all credibility when you take sections of people’s sentences and try to block out others to prove my point. “Crazy stuff that may be true” obviously included legitimate science. Taking words out of context is the primary tool for deniers, creationists and other scam artists. Don’t go there.

    By the way, the word prejudice is not used in science. We do use the words bias and subjectivity.

    Just for your own information, the internet has some of the best science sources in the world. You just have to know where to look. Google Scholar is used by most major universities for their Ph.D. programs. There you can find published, peer reviewed studies from the likes of Jane Goodall, Stephen Wolfram (founder of the computational knowledge engine and he’s considered a modern-day Einstein) and Peter Higgs – that would be the man who first proposed the existence of Higgs Boson.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/0305-4470/12/3/006

    http://rmp.aps.org/abstract/RMP/v55/i3/p601_1

    http://www.pnas.org/content/109/32/13034.short

  46. @amelie,
    Divided by a common language springs to mind. I did not take your words out of context. I took the context of a term you used and deemed it biased which it was.
    And I did use the words biased and subjective so I guess that fits with what you call science.
    I know the internet has some of the best science sources in the world but the internet does not have the best sources for anything which falls out of the conventional, or accepted realm. The information on the internet falls into the realms of those who can do and when it comes to that which is not ‘scientifically acceptable’ you get extremists, a point I made in the beginning.
    One can of course read the extremists and should but finding the middle ground is more difficult.
    You have misunderstood me yet again and it seems I you so perhaps, for whatever reason, we are not speaking the same language and should agree to disagree.

  47. @amelie,

    I would also just make the point that using the terminology ‘twisting my words around’ is not only highly subjective it is accusatory and defamatory because it suggests intent.
    Let’s just agree that how I express myself does not make sense to you in the way you would wish and vice-versa.

  48. Actually the studies found on Google Scholar include wildly controversial ideas and experiments, RosRoss. The world of science is astronomically large and to say there is some convention means to me that you don’t know much about it.

    I have to ask though, what standards does astronomy use to lend evidence to the idea that you can read the stars or predict the future? Enlighten me.

  49. Astrology is what I meant, sorry.

  50. @amelie,

    Your comment about the idea that you ‘can read the stars or predict the future’ just demonstrates that you really don’t understand astrology – at least not Western astrology. If you are interested you can enlighten yourself by embarking on a reading course. I can suggest some authors if you like but beyond that, ‘quick fix’ and ‘sound byte’ answers are not going to get anyone very far with any system, including astrology.

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