I got an off-topic comment to my Astrology Challenge last week. The commenter clearly thought he had demonstrated astrology is real because he thinks an astrologer predicted the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Of course, no one predicted any such thing with astrology. Still, we should take a look at the claim in the linked article entitled Prophets of doom:
In June 2000, Lynne Palmer, a 69-year-old Las Vegas resident, published her Astrological Almanac for 2001 (Star Bright Publishers). On page 95 of the book, buried among advice on the best days to go to the movies and worst days to lend people money, Palmer had written, in an odd combination of the obvious and the prophetic: "Avoid terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001."
I’ll come back to that in a minute. But before I do, a little further down the article is a comment that I find more revealing about the true nature and value of astrology for predicting future events. The quote is from Robert Hand, the professional astrologer who told me last April that if I wanted to know how the rules of astrology were derived I was going to have to figure it out myself (ie this professional astrologer had no idea where the rules of astrology came from). In this latest article Hand (unintentionally) reveals that astrology did not predict 9/11:
"Only one person predicted the date of the attacks, and that was Lynne Palmer," says veteran astrologer Robert Hand, a relatively highbrow practitioner of the art. "I don’t know how she did it. Things looked chaotic, but I could not have foreseen September 11. I looked and looked and I don’t know how anyone could have predicted it to the day."
Think about that comment for a bit. Can you imagine a scientist saying he had no idea how a fellow scientist arrived at a valid conclusion? Such an idea would be absurd because in science, the method would be known and the results (if valid) could be replicated. Top astrologer Hand – even with the benefit of hindsight – can’t see how Palmer predicted 9/11. If you needed proof that Palmer didn’t predict 9/11 with astrology, surely this is it from Robert Hand himself?
Fortunately we don’t have to rely just on Hand’s view: we can go to TruthOrFiction for a deconstruction of what Palmer really did:
Palmer's book is an exhaustive astrological guide that lists nearly 500 different categories of activity and thousands of dates that ought to be avoided. It advises the best days for everything from cutting cloth to having surgery.
Under the category of "Avoid: Terrorist Attacks" she listed more than 130 dates in 2001.
For September, she listed 16 dates for avoiding terrorist attacks.
It’s the scattergun approach – make enough guesses and some are bound to turn up correct. Mind you, Palmer’s approach is a bit wild even by the normal standards of this kind of guessing – 16 dates in September and 130 in the year for avoiding terrorist attacks? That’s so blatant I’m surprised she doesn’t blush. But it gets worse. Get a load of this:
Just out of curiosity, we looked up "Avoid Travel by Air." She listed 13 dates in September to be avoided. September 11 was not one of them.
Need I say more? Honestly, anyone who thinks Lynne Palmer’s claim validates astrology simply isn’t interested in the truth. Perhaps they should listen to Robert Hand. From the original Prophets of Doom link:
"Astrology is not a science," says Hand. "It’s a craft. It has no solid foundation.
Astrology “has no solid foundation”. What he means (confirmed by several other astrologers), is that astrology was just made up. For once I can agree wholeheartedly with an astrologer. It begs the question though – how does he justify practicing as one and (presumably) charging money for his services?