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September 18, 2006

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I'm (barely) an Aries (drat, gave it away!), with a Libra mom. Don't know and can't find out my father's birth day.

As for the dream; falling is easily one of the most, if not the most, common dreams. I'm looking for a source on that, but google is giving me lots of crap sites as results. (On the other hand, 22,700,000 results for 'dream falling' sure seems to be decent evidence of my claim that it's common...) Here, Discovery Health mentions it as a common nightmare. So, it's really not too suprising that two people both had a dream involving falling. I would agree with an earlier comment that one person probably actually woke the other, whether through excessive movement, a yell, or whatever.

I've also had quite a few "unexplainable" events in my relatively short life. Well, unexplainable for me at the time. I've been able to look back at many of them now with more knowledge and realize what was probably actually happening. I can't remember most of them, because once I realized they weren't magical, I just forgot about them. I do have an example, but I'll post it on my own blog, no reason to clutter up this post even more with tangents :-)

RE:I think you're both forgetting we're arguing correlation, not causation.

I'm not forgetting this at all, I already posted my definition of correlation and it fits with this argument, what are you using and how does it show I am arguing something different than you?

RE:That's not what I was trying to say. Let me rephrase: If the same thing happened every day for 10 years, wouldn't it be reasonable for someone with no other clues to assume that it will happen just the same the first day of the 11th year?

Actually, that's nothing like what you wrote. You specifically stated that an event would not be random if you could expect it to happen based on past habits. Now you are saying it would be reasonable to infer that it might occur, and in this discussion that is a whole galaxy of difference.

RE:Wouldn't it be objectively considered quite a safe bet? I'm not talking about what a stupid or deluded person would assume, I'm supposing a perfect logician.

Yes, but that still does not mean there is any relationship between two events. The logician (and that wouldn't have been a veiled ad hominem would it?) would still rightly accept the probability that the event might still not occur the next day. It's a basic principle of inferences of this type. I could infer that the sun will rise tomorrow as it always does, but it still might not. I know for a fact that a logician would think this, because two of them taught this to me (Malcolm Cass and Robin Le Poidevin, both when I was at University in York, also from the book 'A Logic Primer', Vortext Publishing 1992). Not saying they were perfect, but who exactly is?

RE:Yes, but the solar system only has so many celestial bodies in it!

Granted. If only astrologers could figure that out as well. In what sense can a planet be said to conjunct with a constellation of stars seperated by vast distances for instance?

The point was of course that enormous coincidences are in fact not enormous given the infinite number of possible coincidences that could occur at any time, anywhere. What would be more strange and worthy of note would be if enormous coincidences did not occur.

""Related" is not the same as "caused by the same source"."

I didn't claim it was the same.

"I am related to my sister, but my birth was not caused by hers. If I study her life, it's nothing like mine."

I also didn't claim you can see a correlation *every* time two things are caused by the same source. I argued that it is *possible* for the cause to result in a correlation between the effects.

Not saying that you did it on purpose, but that was a straw man you tackled. You didn't refute my argument.

"Assumptions don't really enter into it. I'd rather look into "Why do these things seem to happen every year?""

Yes, me too, but that's a different discussion. I'm focusing on *whether* a correlation exists, not how it is explained. In our example, if you couldn't figure out the connection, and had to use only statistics, what would you bet on?

Jimmy: I know the sun might not rise the next day (in which case, of course, the earth would have stopped rotating and we would all get flung out into space :P but let's assume that we don't know the physics behind the day-night cycle), but like you said, that's really really really REALLY unlikely. With probabilities of this magnitude, we're talking certainty (not in the strictly mathematical sense). Anyway, you can either assume that every 24 hours a big shiny yellow thing *happens* to appear on the sky, and the same coincidence (the coincidence being the almost exactly equal intervals between two appearances) happened for like a million times (as recorded in history), or that there is a mechanistic phenomenon behind it. What is simpler to assume?

About coincidences: So. Let's say that a hypothetical creature on the alien planet Peanutbutter has some sort of biorythm that makes it suicidal, which repeats every exactly 12 Peanutbutter years, 34 Peanutbutter days, 13 Peanutbutter hours. And suppose that there is a planet in that solar system (Muffin), visible to the Peanutbutterians' naked eye, that goes around their sun every exactly 12 Peanutbutter years, 34 Peanutbutter days, 13 Peanutbutter hours. Peanutbutterians don't know Jack about biology, but they are very good at astronomy and have calculated exactly the length of a Muffin year. Wouldn't it be useful for them to observe Muffin and use Muffin's seasons to predict their own behaviour? And wouldn't these two be mathematically correlated?

Alien scenario: A correlation that precise would be worthy of investigation. The problem is that astrology's correlations aren't nearly that strong.

PRECISELY every twelve months, a large percentage of the population simultaneously go a little insane, drinking and singing and generally acting stupid.

However, this is nothing to do with the sun or the stars, but due to the calendar flipping over to December 31.

However, many non-Christians either don't celebrate the New Year, or they regard it as taking place on a different date, e.g. the Chinese New Year.

So New Year's Eve revels are related to the sun's position, but they are not caused by them.

There IS a difference, Anon.

Yes, there is a difference, but it's irrelevant. The isuue is correlation, not causation. You only need the former to make predictions.

Note that I'm supporting Gregory's argument, not his position. I just think it's a pity he made an excellent point that was misunderstood.

RE:Anyway, you can either assume that every 24 hours a big shiny yellow thing *happens* to appear on the sky, and the same coincidence (the coincidence being the almost exactly equal intervals between two appearances) happened for like a million times (as recorded in history), or that there is a mechanistic phenomenon behind it. What is simpler to assume?

Nice straw man (you seem to like stretching the meaning of this so why can't I?). I never said there was a different yellow thing appearing in the skies every 24 hours, I never said to ignore the physics of the day night cycle, I never said there was no mechanistic phenomenon driving the appearance of the sun, I merely said that because of past habits it would be correct to infer the sun will rise tomorrow, but that there is still the possibility it won't regardless of what previous experience or your inference tells you.

This is not about the physics behind the day night cycle, merely about what you can infer from correlation, if one exists. gregory's point was that where you see a correlation (saturn's position in the sky compared to feelings/events/actions) you can infer a relationship between the two and therfore his version of astrology works, and he tried to prove this with a terrible analogy that did not show any correlation or relationship or the correct inferences.

The point of bringing up the sun is that even with a point that for the next few billions years anyway is virtually a certainty, your inference that what has always happened in the past will happen again is not valid.

It's an even further stretch to then say because you observe a completely unrelated or uncorrelated coincidence that relies on subjective evidence, you have a relationship and therefore Saturn does affect emotions/events/actions, as gregory does. The point he tried to make was not a good one.

For the alien analogy, what BronzeDog said, but also that when the aliens advance in their knowledge of biology, the planetary correlation becomes meaningless and they will see that it bears no relation to their suicidal feelings.

RE:Yes, there is a difference, but it's irrelevant. The isuue is correlation, not causation. You only need the former to make predictions.

And the point of my bringing up the sun is that making predictions simply based on correlation, regardless of whether gregory, you or I agree there is one, is invalid because you need more than just correlation to make a valid inference or prediction, since the correlation may end the very next time regardless of past precision.

I'd like to revise the following:

For the alien analogy, what BronzeDog said, but also that when the aliens advance in their knowledge of biology, the planetary correlation becomes meaningless and they will see that it bears no relation to their suicidal feelings.

To say:

For the alien analogy, what BronzeDog said, but also that when the aliens advance in their knowledge of biology, the planetary correlation becomes meaningless and they will see that it bears no relation to their suicidal feelings, and yet based on our own experience we can probably say that a sizeable portion of their population will continue to believe that there is a causal relationship between the planet Muffin and thier suicidal feelings, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Hello,
Some other voices here. Nice.
This should be an interesting post.
It hasnt stopped raining, so Ive had a lot of time to write.

Skeptico:
I've responded to your response concerning the validity of Astrology as Psycho analysis... I'll hold off on posting it because this post may change thje direction of the conversation. But Ill email it to you, and you can do what you want with it.

First off, let me apologize if I have misinterpreted anyone's position and assigned some beliefs to skeptics that they've never claimed, and then proceeded to attack them because of it. I'm pretty sure the same has been done to me, but looking back on what I've written, I don't think I've been totally clear, so I understsand. I'm changing tack here, to avoid any other misunderstandings, and also, significantly, I've reassessed my position on astrology, as we are defining it here. I've been analyzing my own thoughts and I realize that I have never been able to prove to myself that the patterns I accepted for years weren't merely the result of the confirmation bias. (Which must be considered a success on your part, because this dialogue we've been having forced me to a conclusion) I still won't dismiss the possibilty of astrological phenomena out of hand, as I hope you wouldn't, but I can claim no reliable evidence of it, and whatever belief I had in it's predictive abilities is seriously diminished.

So, concerning predictive astrology, the belief which concerns the signs and the aspects and the birth chart, and the concept that a birth chart can in some way specifically describe a person, I consent that my entire experience with perceived evidence of this seems due to the confirmation bias alone. I admit that these methods, their ways or means, may not be based on any actual phenomena, indeed, I admit it seems quite likely that they are completely fabricated.

Having said this, I want to make a point. I think Skeptics will appreciate and understand it. I accept that predictive astrology as we know it and discuss it here is a work of human invention. The bulk of what you and those tests have been analyzing, the 'rules' of astroogy, are attempts at standardization, which, in the absence of real scientific data, astrologers have invented and used to make a school out of astrology. These include the long lists of aspects and their supposed meaning (ie: Saturn squared Mars in Ares means an abusive father or something) which were obviously made up following general astrological beliefs. I mean, did the first guy to write that have the charts of 100 people in front of him who all had that aspect and all had abusive fathers? Probably not. And what an astrologer writes tomorrow about that aspect may be something totally different... so that part of the equation is bunk, as you all already know. But what about the patterns I claimed to have perceived?

When I first was introduced to Astrology I was living on a secluded beach in Hawaii, actually on the beach, under a large bush. Apart from lying naked in the sun, the rest of my day was spent reading. I'd hitch into town to a small used book store where I'd grab 3 or 4 titles a trip, lots of ancient classics, greek, roman, and other myths, which have always interested me, all the Vonnegut they had, and one day, a book by Michael R. Meyer called A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer.

It was a good book. What I remember of it and what I found worthwhile, dealt with the cycles that define our world, and with their symbolism. By 'cycles' I mean the actual rhythms of the world; the interplay of day and night, the solar cycle of the seasons and the change in life it causes, the lunar phases of the month; the life of man from infant to aged and the processes and phases in between. I appreciated then the symbology and the introspection involved with relating the archetypes of the human psyche, which I was immersed in from the classic myths, to the natural cycles of the world. I still do. This element of what can perhaps also be called astrology makes no predictive claims more difficult to believe then the claim that when it's warm, and the rains come, seeds will sprout; I recognize it's beauty and application to the world as we know it.

The image and realities that apply to a sprouting seed can also be related to a respective human experience. In this case, it would be described by Ares, and this same experience, in our example the archetypical sprouting seed, could also be witnessed in characteristics of personality. You should still all be on board here, because I havent mentioned anything that is unscientific, or making claims to prediciton, or cited any unproven phenomena. Just observations and impressions of the human experience, with a symbology culled from the natural world. This, to me, since that time in Hawaii, is the heart of what I considered astrology.

Here comes the good stuff. Soon after the Humanistic book I got an ephemeris of the entire 20th century, and carried it with me for the next few years. An ephemeris is a book of charts which gives the positions of the planets. If you know how to read it, you can see the exact astrological chart for any moment. My experience with the ephemeris convinced me of the predictive element of astrology, as well as the symbology I spoke of above. It showed me what I thought to be repeated patterns and evidence of phenomena. I now realize that my belief in this element of the equation was merely the confirmation bias in action. My initial acceptance of the potential for the phenomena must have surely stemmed from the fact that I was already convinced of the archetypes as related to the earthly cycles, and the eloquence of their symbology, so by extension, I gave the same legitimacy to the predictive astrology which used these same symbols (on the surface at least).

Using the ephemeris, I learned, or came to accept, the generalizations of predicitve astrology.
To learn what a sign, say, virgo represented, I would pay attention to 1) My own feelings and the events around me at the times of virgo influence, such as the month in fall or a Virgo moon, or my reaction when a planet was reacting with the Virgo within my own horoscope, and 2) The characteristics of people who had a strong Virgo signature, which I could see by reading their chart. I wasn't going from an astrological belief to reality, I wasnt looking at the ephemeris and then doing what it said, it was the other way around. I just lived my life and when something significant happened, I'd make a note of the planets or signs that were prominent. I was very diligent about the study, believe it or not I have a scientific mind, and I would keep track of many different kinds of events. I mentioned when I had a toothache or a pulled muscle. I noted when I met somebody special, and their signs. I noted the moments that I had sex, the days when I played soccer well and didnt, the times when I sang often and didnt... For years.

Enter the confirmation bias. I made these extensive notes, and managed to see some patterns emerge, which I came to accept as astrological realities. I realize now, that there may have been no patterns at all. I was never certain of any 'rules' I could identify, but when looking at someones chart I could nearly always see the planets give an explanation for the behavior or personality I was witnessing, and if I was too lazy to find one, I didn't pay much attention to it. Same goes for my analysis of a moment. After awhile I suppose, the reality caught up with me, and I lost interest. I suppose It's been years since I paid very much attention to the planetary positions, and I don't even know the birthdays of friends and lovers now, whereas there was a time when I wanted to know the data of everyone I met.

Anyway, I still have the data. My journals are stored away safe in a barn in Vermont, and someday maybe Ill go through them and see if I can find any actual patterns that stand up to the eye of science. I don't deny the possibilty that this could happen, and I would think that neither would a skeptic.

So there you have it! From woo to reason, all on one page.

Again, sorry if I was overly judgmental of scientific skepticism a couple posts back. Would it help to admit I had been drinking some fine red wine? I am in France, after all.
If anyone is interested in reading more of my writing, please check out my website. There are even some skeptical attacks on religion from my mystical point of view, and a scientific argument for holding the Earth sacred, here: http://www.universalcat.org/Pages/community.php
Some of you may like these poems: http://www.universalcat.org/Pages/words.php#30 and http://www.universalcat.org/Pages/words.php#2

And, I guess I should say that I have heard no evidence whatsoever that suggests the dream situation was anything but a shared dream. A coincidence? I need to see the math on that. The odds seem astounding. A human has 5-6 dreams a night, about 100 minutes of dreaming. How many nights have I been alive? Im 32. Ive slept with this friend maybe 20 times. Exact same moment, we are talking exact second, exact same subject, and with complete relevance to our relationship at that. I hold her, I let her go, she falls. (Please don't forward this to her..) Coincidence? I cannot swallow that without some strong uncontestable explanation and, frankly, I can't think of a single good reason to. After all, we arent dealing with a 'hazy' moment. {Skeptico, personally, i have very lucid dreams and at times remember them in extraordinary detail. I write them down. There wasnt anything hazy about this dream, especially since we woke up in the middle of it. At the same time.)

And, heh, don't want to open any more cans of worms now that I'm back on the rational side of the fence, either, but that episode with the shared dream was one of the decidedly more tame, and explainable, of the unexplained phenomena that I have witnessed in my life. I've used my disillusion with the confirmartion bias to analyze some of the other things i've seen, and it doesnt explain the most significant among them. {Though it does explain some. Now I've got a couple fewer stories to tell, including one great story about a haunted house in rural Vermont which Ill have to turn into a fiction. But at least I can embellish it...)

Thanks,
gregory
www.universalcat.org

Oh, and guys, can we please continue with the test?

So far there have been 4 responses, including mine, and 3 are positive. Not dismissible just yet!... And here I went and renounced all my belief. By the way, its a full moon, and Im quite hungry.

Please try to include birth time, place is irrelevant.
New people: Include your birthday and that of both parents (or just signs if you are sure)


Big Al was a negative nancy. : )
He's Scorpio (Nov 13),
Mother's Aries - correct spelling! - (April 6)
father is Capricorn (Jan 10).

jimmy blue was positive on father
hes 01 October 1976, Libra
his dad's is 23 October 1945 Libra (0º)

Nes was positive on Mom
I'm (barely) an Aries (drat, gave it away!), with a Libra mom. (180º)

I was positive on both parents
I am scorpio
with Taurus mom (180º)
and Cancer dad (120º)

"Nice straw man (you seem to like stretching the meaning of this so why can't I?). I never said there was a different yellow thing appearing in the skies every 24 hours,"

I didn't say it was different every time, where did you get that?

"I never said to ignore the physics of the day night cycle,"

But we need to make this assumption. Otherwise the example would be meaningless.

"I never said there was no mechanistic phenomenon driving the appearance of the sun,"

"I merely said that because of past habits it would be correct to infer the sun will rise tomorrow, but that there is still the possibility it won't regardless of what previous experience or your inference tells you."

These two contradict each other. If you accept that there is a mechanistic phenomenon driving the appearance of the sun, then the probability of it rising the next day is exactly 100%.

"This is not about the physics behind the day night cycle, merely about what you can infer from correlation, if one exists. gregory's point was that where you see a correlation (saturn's position in the sky compared to feelings/events/actions) you can infer a relationship between the two and therfore his version of astrology works, and he tried to prove this with a terrible analogy that did not show any correlation or relationship or the correct inferences."

I say his analogy holds water. Please reconsider my example about the sun rising. When you see a correlation, you conclude relatedness; if it wasn't so, then statistics would be useless.

"The point of bringing up the sun is that even with a point that for the next few billions years anyway is virtually a certainty, your inference that what has always happened in the past will happen again is not valid."

"And the point of my bringing up the sun is that making predictions simply based on correlation, regardless of whether gregory, you or I agree there is one, is invalid because you need more than just correlation to make a valid inference or prediction, since the correlation may end the very next time regardless of past precision."

Only in the strict mathematical sense.

"For the alien analogy, what BronzeDog said, but also that when the aliens advance in their knowledge of biology, the planetary correlation becomes meaningless and they will see that it bears no relation to their suicidal feelings."

But it *does* bear a relation! The relation is that the two frequencies involved are equal.


"and yet based on our own experience we can probably say that a sizeable portion of their population will continue to believe that there is a causal relationship between the planet Muffin and thier suicidal feelings, despite the evidence to the contrary."

I didn't say anything about a cause-and-effect relationship :(

Oops, the above post was mine. :)

"I still won't dismiss the possibilty of astrological phenomena out of hand, as I hope you wouldn't, but I can claim no reliable evidence of it, and whatever belief I had in it's predictive abilities is seriously diminished."

That right there pretty much explains my viewpoint on everything suposedly supernatural in origin, which is why I don't exactly consider myself a true Skeptic the way it seems to be defined in terms of this and other rationalist blogs. I guess I'm more accurately agnostic (I consider myself somewhat Ignostic but whatever) in terms of all such phenomena, as like you Gregory, I've experienced one of two things that science as we know it doesn't have an explanation for. For me the key is the as we know it part. We just haven't figured that bit of the universe out yet I figure.

In any case I'll play and add to your test (I know my mom and I fit but I'll give you all the details I know anyway) since my family tree is largely...odd, so it'll be fun to see how your pattern works with halves and such.

Me: Pisces
My Mom: Virgo
Her mom: Scorpio
My Dad: Gemini
My dad's other kids:
1 Virgo, 2 Capricorns, 1 Libra
Their Mom: Taurus
The Virgo sibling's kid: Aquarius
One of the Capricorn siblings: Libra kid

Feel free to let me know how it fits your pattern, you can email me via my comments link if Skeptico gets sick of all this because I love oddball statistics. ALso feel free to email if I can help clarify that crazy family tree of mine better for you.

OK, I'll bite ;D

I'm a Scorpio
My mother's a fishyyyyy fishyyyyy fishyyyyyy fish
My dad was a Taurus
My brother is a Cancer
My sister is a Scorpio

Et voila. This will be interesting :P

Hmmm... it's been a little while now since Gregory threw out his proposal regarding the celestial alignment supposedly connecting close relatives.

To extend a little on my earlier statements:

I'm Scorpio
My sister is Scorpio/Sagittarius
My mother is Ares
My father is Capricorn
My maternal grandfather was Sagittarius
My maternal grandmother was Aquarius
My paternal grandfather was Scorpio
My paternal grandmother was Capricorn

C'mon, Gregory, what's the hold-up? Do these match up to your theory or not?
That's as far as I know

gregory the dream explanations have more to them than coincidence, I think you may need to re-read them because there are quite a few factors given by various people other than coincidences.

Let's not forget, as close as the dreams may have been in content, they were not as you say the exact same dream. If they were exact in every detail I may agree with you that something was worth looking at. But in your dream you let something fall and in hers she falls. That is a world of difference in itself.

It was not the same dream, but there were similar elements, enough similar elements for you to find a 'mystical' explanation because that is what you admit you are used to doing (mystical may not be the right word here but it was all I could come up with).

We know enough information to know that cliff faces form a significant part of your life (climbing), maybe a significant part of your girlfriend's life, and we know that falling dreams are extremely common. We also know that when you sleep with someone else in a bed, sudden violent movement or sound will awake them, often violently, and at the same time. Then of course, maybe you both felt the same way about your relationship. There is more than coincidence here I agree, but nothing that needs an extraordinary explanation.

I'm not sure I agree with your assessment of the results either. We need to include a standard for what counts as a positive result. Is a positive if one parent matches, or if both parents match (in essence if this were a school test you are saying a half make counts as getting the answer fully correct)? Your list of scores should be 1 point for each positive result (result = 1 parent) and 0 for each negative result, and make the total result out of the total number of submitted parental dates, anything else doesn't seem to represent the data correctly.

For instance, if three people submit data you have a possible maximum of 6 positives. I think that puts a more accurate spin on the results, since (if I read it right) now you are saying a positive result is a positive if only one of the parents is a match, and that is a bit misleading.

If you look at the results this way the score is I think 4 positives out of 8 possibles from the results posted so far. Not such a significant result.

I also submitted my sons and wifes dates above, and I include here my two brothers for comparison.

5 February 1972, 10 October 1979. Don't know exact times unfortunately.

Furthermore, I question your positive result for my father since I have seen differing dates for when Scorpio begins. Some astrology sites say the 23rd and some the 24th October. On what basis did you place my dad as a Libran when many astrologers it seems would declare him a Scorpio? This of course could then give the positive result an even worse picture, 3 out of 8.

Anon:
RE:I didn't say it was different every time, where did you get that?

Apologies, I took your reference to 'a big shiny yellow thing' to mean the same as my 'a red car', ie a different random one every time.

RE:But we need to make this assumption. Otherwise the example would be meaningless.

Do we? There are any number of reasons why the sun might not rise tomorrow on the Earth. The Earth could be destroyed, or the Sun could be destroyed by some flaw or process we have not identified being the two most significant I can think of. We do not need to ignore the laws of physics for the example to still stand.

RE:These two contradict each other. If you accept that there is a mechanistic phenomenon driving the appearance of the sun, then the probability of it rising the next day is exactly 100%.

See the answer above. There was no contradiction in what I said. And you could add the possiblility that due to some unknown or unforeseen circumstance the mechanistic phenomenon could change or fail completely (although just to be clear this is not a stance I would take), hence even accepting the mechanistic phenomenon does not guarantee 100% certainty.

RE:I say his analogy holds water. Please reconsider my example about the sun rising. When you see a correlation, you conclude relatedness; if it wasn't so, then statistics would be useless.

And I say it doesn't. I have considered your analogy about the sun. Statistics are useless without context, and in the correlation/relationship astrology sense the statistics are useless because the position of every stellar object but the one in focus is ignored. The correlation is drawn between just one subjectively chosen item/event, making any relationship inferred useless, making the statistics useless.

RE:Only in the strict mathematical sense.

No, not only in the strict mathematical sense.

RE:But it *does* bear a relation! The relation is that the two frequencies involved are equal.

Sorry, bad choice of words given the circumstances, I was in a hurry to write before I went to work. What I should have said was they will see the correlation has no causal effect on thier suicidal feelings. However I do not consider there is a relation because 'relation' strictly implies there is a connection between the suicidal feelings and the planet directly, not just that they occur at the same time with the same frequency. This argument it would seem to me is now semantic more than anything.

RE:I didn't say anything about a cause-and-effect relationship :(

And I didn't say you did, I added that merely as an afterthought for gregory, and it turns out it was unnecessary and perhaps unfair.

Interestingly enough,it seems that humans and other animals are hard-wired to seek non-existent correlations/superstition.

In tests with birds, experimenters set up a mechanism to dispense grain at random times. The birds would start to shuffle, peck and gyrate after the grain was dispensed. When the grain reappeared, the birds would stop their random movements and repeat whatever it was they were doing at the time the grain came out - e.g. series of three rapid pecks. They would repeat this again and again, even though most of the time nothing happened.

I read of an habitual gambler who never cut his hair, since he had won big on the races after he'd let his crew cut grow out a bit.

After a long losing streak, he cut off all his hair, since his lucky locks had evidently let him down.

Coincidence in time and space is not evidence of correlation. For example,if someone's house was hit by a meteorite, they might ask "Why me?" However, this presupposes that the meteorite "chose" to strike their house specifically, which is, to say the least, improbable.

Jimmy: I agree, semantics has been an issue in our discussion. But I think I've made my point that correlation *can* be useful for predictions, be it due to incidental synchronization or some kind of mechanistic phenomenon. The probability of the sun not rising tomorrow, as calculated by someone who doesn't know any physics and works only with statistics and probabilities, is very very very small, because she concludes there is something more to the phenomenon than dumb luck.

Anon, correlation is not the same as coincidence: it means that the two events are actually tied to each other.

People have, as I've said, an in-built tendency to read unwonted significance into events. Imagine a perfectly fair coin being tossed and coming up heads ten times in a row. Some people will imagine that the next toss is more likely to be a head, others that it must be a tail. In fact, the likelihood is still 50:50.

OK, so it's reasonable to assume the sun will come up tomorrow; we know it's a pretty stable G-type star, and we have some understanding of inertia and angular momentum.

However, I cannot see for the life of me what this has to do with astrology. Every serious test of astrology has come up blank. There really is no discernable correlation between someone's sun sign and their personality.

I think many people believe in it because they like to feel that someone or something's in control - they basically need to have their hands held in this big, dark, forbidding and mysterious universe. However, this need to believe lays them open to trickery and fraud.

Hello

Concerning the test of the astrological phenomena:

So far we are at 48% of all parent/child relationships testing positive for the phenomena I was looking for. 14 of 29 parent/child relationships have been one of the three angles predicted. 0º, 120º, 180º.

I'm trying to figure out what the random standard should be. If anyone knows statisitcs, chime in here. My guess is random odds should be 33.3%. For any parent, there are 4 signs the child could be which would allow a positive result: Conjunct,( 0º, the same sign) 2 Trines (120º) and Opposed (180º the opposite sign).
Thats four months out of twelve. 33.3%, right?

If so, maybe there is a phenomena here. But lots more data needed. Keep them coming, and please, include birthdays. And if anyone sees any errors or inconsistencies, speak up.


Big Al was a negative nancy. : )
He's Scorpio (Nov 13),
Mother's Aries - correct spelling! - (April 6)
father is Capricorn (Jan 10).

0/2

jimmy blue was positive on father
hes 01 October 1976, Libra
his dad's is 23 October 1945 Libra (0º)

1/3

Nes was positive on Mom
I'm (barely) an Aries (drat, gave it away!), with a Libra mom. (180º)

2/4

gregory was positive on both parents
I am scorpio
with Taurus mom (180º)
and Cancer dad (120º)

4/6

Mouse was positive on 5/11 possible
Mouse: Pisces
Mom: Virgo (180º)
Her mom: Scorpio
My Dad: Gemini
My dad's other kids:
1 Virgo, (120º to their mom)
1 Capricorn, (120º to their mom)
1 Capricorn, (120º to the mom)
1 Libra (120º to their dad)
Their Mom: Taurus (120º to 3/4 kids)
The Virgo sibling's kid: Aquarius
One of the Capricorn siblings: Libra kid

9/17

First Anon poster was positive on ALL FOUR of his familiy memebers. (thats one watery household, with poor dad having to be the stable earth support)
anon is Scorpio
My mother's pisces (120º)
My dad was a Taurus (180º)
My brother is a Cancer (120º to mom)
My sister is a Scorpio (120º to mom)

13/21

unnamed poster only 1/8 possible positives (2/8 if sister is sag, tell me her birthday with time.)
I'm Scorpio
My sister is Scorpio/Sagittarius (120º)
My mother is Ares
My father is Capricorn
My maternal grandfather was Sagittarius (120º to mom)
My maternal grandmother was Aquarius
My paternal grandfather was Scorpio
My paternal grandmother was Capricorn

Jimmy, dont want to go backwards here, so lets remember that I am now agreed that I have witnessed no evidence of astrology, and I have abandoned all belief in any form of predictive astrology. Having said that, I 'll still address your questions, but please remember I'm not advocating for anything here that we can't prove.


1. Why do you consider the first breath the moment of birth?

Because it is? When do you consider the moment of birth? (gregory wonders about Jimmy)

2. When, why and how was this determined for astrology?

How in the hell should I know?

3. Do you consider stillborn births to be births?

Ummmm... Nope? How about yourself?

4. Is a child still part of the mother after having passed through the birth canal and vagina, yet when the umbilical is still uncut?

(gregory is laughing now) Well, theres a lot of different ways to look at this, Jimmy. And none of them have any relevance at all to our discussion, but that's ok. I guess Ill say that yes, once the placenta breaks and the baby is expelled, and the baby takes its first breath, it no longer needs what was being provided by the mother through the umbillical cord, and is an independent living screaming hungry kid.

5. Even after the first breath?

(laughing harder)

6. If a foetus is viable after 24 weeks, is it still part of the mother?
7. If someone kills a pregnant woman and both her and the foetus die, do you consider two lives or one life is taken?

Im sorry, I thought this was the astrology section. Am I in with the wrong skeptics? Mr. Dawkins, are you there?

8. What is the basis for your assertion that astrology was the first school of thought (or possibly not, you don't seem able to make your mind up)?

I cleared this up already.You can go back and read the response to the first time you asked this question, if you like. It involves this word:
semantics |səˈmantiks| • the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text : As in: such quibbling over semantics seems petty stuff.

This will be on the exam, Jimmy. : )


9. If you admit that your first result can be confirmation bias, how do you determine that the second, third, one hundredth, eight thousandth readings are NOT confirmation bias as well?

Ah, a relevant question.
The answer is I can't, which is why I have renounced any belief in predicitve astrology.

10. What make one reading you thought accurate different to another reading you thought accurate?
11. Do you honestly see nothing wrong with a system that gives the right answer even when you input the wrong values into the system?

I saw something wrong then, but I went along with it anyway. Now I see something wrong and won't let myself believe in a mere product of the confirmation bias.

12. I deny there is a correlation in your little analogy, what correlation is there?

Correlation |ˌkôrəˈlā sh ən| |ˈkɔrəˌleɪʃən|
n. : a mutual relationship or connection between two or more things

Can you guess which variable qualities in my analogy are related? Ill tell you: the times. Since, in the analogy, a continued synchronicity of time can be observed between the two events, there is a relation, and by extension, a correlation of the events themselves. You havent shown any reason at all to doubt a correlation, furthermore, you say a correlation alone would be incapable of prediction because: "correlation, regardless of whether gregory, you or I agree there is one, is invalid because you need more than just correlation to make a valid inference or prediction, since the correlation may end the very next time regardless of past precision."
Yet this is flawed logic. You cannot make an infinite prediction based on correlation alone, because as you say, the correlation may end some day. IN the meantime, as the correlation is continuing, it is as reliable a method of showing a relationship, and merely a relationship, as any. As far as not being infinite, there are many temporary signals which we rely on to measure the qualities of the world. Most are temporary, I'd say.

13. How can you claim it is the position of Saturn and Saturn (or another object) alone that makes a difference in certain astrological traits when you have not considered the position of every other stellar object at the times you believe an effect is caused by Saturn?

Well, IF there were a phenomena, one would know it was Saturn due to the correlation of the event with it;s motion. Since I don't know if there is a phenomena at all, and withdraw any claim I may have made to one, I really can't say.

14. Do you practise astrology in a different manner to the tested variety/s?

I dont practice astrology. Of the patterns I observed, some of them were standard and accepted by regular western astrology, some of them I have never ever heard of any astrologer who recognized them. But then again, I dont read the magazines and have only read a handful of books, so maybe they were accepted? Im not au courant with astrology. The phenomena which we are testing for right now, right here, the parent/child relationship, has never been mentioned or noticed by any professional astrologer as far as I know.

15. Do you believe your system works?

All I have ever done with astrology is observe people and events and try to correlate them to planetary motions and earthly cycles. If I had a system it was simply one of observation of the world, and attempts at correlation with planetary motion. Just looking for patterns. I thought I saw some, now I'm not so sure. We're testing one right now, lets see what happens.

16. Do you believe your system of astrology would pass scientific tests?

We're trying to test one of the patterns I thought I had observed, lets see what happens.

17. You do know a printing press involves ink, paper, letters right? So at least give us the similar barebones of your knowledge of how your system works please."


OK. People, Earth, Patterns, Planets, Signs. There, I gave you exactly what you asked for, and what you provided an example of. What you are really asking for, however, is the method of the mechanism, not the components, and for the third or fourth time, I dont know it, if it exists at all. And if there was a phenomena, and I did believe in it, you dont seem to realize that I still wouldnt need to know the way it works. My understanding of astrology was based only on observation of perceived patterns of phenomena, and the mechanism was completely irrelevant, whether the patterns were true, or false. As surely as I can tell a Picasso from a Gaugin, despite having no painting skills whatsoever, as surely as I can identify the music of Grieg from that of Beethoven without having any idea as to how one composes a symphony.


Well, your questions have all been answered now. Its 6:18 in the morning, and I didnt just get up. Buenas Dias.

Jimmy,
I've corrected the results for the test as per your suggestion, for each person there is the potential for 2 positives, 2 negatives, or one of each.

The reason you have seen different dates for entry of the sun into Scorpio is that the day changes every year due to our calender (not due to the motion of the earth, which is steady.). In 1945, the sun went into Scorpio on the 24th of October at 6:00AM GMT. If your father was born before this time, he is Libra. In what time zone was he born and at what time? The only way he could be Scorpio, if he was born in the US, is if he was born later than 11:45pm EST, 10:45pm CST 9:45pm MST, and 8:45pm PST. This cusp situation is the only example of a case when we will need time of birth in this test.

I'm responding to the points people have made about the dream. They arent all valid. I agree it could be a coincidence, in fact, in the literal sense of the word, it was definitely a coincidence... and a remarkable one at that. It was a beautiful experience.

Ernest Rutherford was absolutely right: Only Physics is science, rest is stamp collecting.

Given arguments presented here I am very convinced that only Physics is true science, rest is junk. :-)

Heres the revised results:
The total stands now at 16/35
16 Positives out of 35 possible.
46%
I think 33% is the random.

I wasnt sure how to handle a case where only the data from one parent is available. I'm going to ignore the data when only one parent's birthdate is available for now, someone let me know if this is the correct thing to do.

Big Al was a negative nancy. : )
He's Scorpio (Nov 13),
Mother's Aries - correct spelling! - (April 6)
father is Capricorn (Jan 10).

0/2

jimmy blue was positive on father
hes 01 October 1976, Libra
his dad's is 23 October 1945 Libra (0º)
his mother 30 July 1947
my son was born19 September 2003
his mother 20 July 1977.
his brothers:
5 February 1972, (120º to dad)
10 October 1979 (0º to dad)

3/10

Nes was positive on Mom
I'm (barely) an Aries (drat, gave it away!), with a Libra mom. (180º)
(Not counting the positive, only one parent avail)

3/10

gregory was positive on both parents
I am scorpio
with Taurus mom (180º)
and Cancer dad (120º)

6/13

Mouse was positive on 5/10 possible
Mouse: Pisces (180º to mom)
Mom: Virgo
My Dad: Gemini
My dad's other kids:
1 Virgo, (120º to their mom)
1 Capricorn, (120º to their mom)
1 Capricorn, (120º to the mom)
1 Libra (120º to their dad)
Their Mom: Taurus

11/23

First Anon poster had 4/6 positive (thats one watery household, with poor dad having to be the stable earth support)
anon is Scorpio (120º to mom )(180º to dad)
My mother's pisces
My dad was a Taurus
My brother is a Cancer (120º to mom)
My sister is a Scorpio (120º to mom)

15/29

unnamed poster only 1/6 possible positives (2/8 if sister is sag, tell me her birthday with time.)
I'm Scorpio
My sister is Scorpio/Sagittarius (120º)
My mother is Ares (120º to her dad)
My father is Capricorn
My maternal grandfather was Sagittarius
My maternal grandmother was Aquarius
My paternal grandfather was Scorpio
My paternal grandmother was Capricorn

16/35

Big Al said:

Anon, correlation is not the same as coincidence: it means that the two events are actually tied to each other.

I understand 'correlation' to imply relationship which does not have the same connotations as 'tied to each other'. Two phenomena which are both the result of a third phenomena, despite having no causal connection with one another, can still be correlated through that third phenomena, can they not? It all depends on the qualities of their rhythm, specifically, how steady.

In the absence of an identifiable third phenomena, one could still identify a correlation. This is after all, how astrologers predict the existence of planets that they cannot see.

Gregory:

I’m impressed. Really impressed. If I understand you right you have renounced any belief in the ability of astrology to predict personality characteristics, and this change of mind was a result of considering the evidence presented. That is huge: you have my total admiration for your ability to change your mind based on evidence contrary to your previous belief. In all the time I have been debating astrology you are the first person to have shifted your view this way. You have also proven the title of this post wrong (for one person, at least). Perhaps you are a skeptic at heart.

Seriously, everyone should give props to Gregory on this one. I trust I would do the same, if the situation were reversed.

Anyway, on to your parent/child data. I’m a little puzzled by this – what would it mean even if true? But in any case, as you suggest you would first need to determine the number of “hits” you would get with pure chance. If I understand your hypothesis correctly, I think each child has 12+11+10+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1 = 78 possible parent combinations of star signs. Since the child has 12 possible star signs, I think there must be 78 x 12 = 936 possible child/parent combinations. (Correct me if my logic is wrong here – I think what I wrote is correct.) Someone would need to calculate the status (hit/miss) of each combination. It seems to me, the ratio of hits to the total is ratio you would get by chance. (Maybe there is an easier way to do this, but I can’t think of one.) A statistician could tell you how many you would need to determine a significant result. My guess is you’d need many more than you’re getting here, but this could be considered a pilot study – to determine if there is any reason to do a more detailed study.

Anyway, my information:

Me – Libra – Oct 2
Dad – Leo – Aug 11
Mom – Cancer – May 24
Sister – Cancer – June 10

You don't need the year, right? I’m skeptical you will get a significant result, but I wish you well trying.

Two phenomena which are both the result of a third phenomena, despite having no causal connection with one another, can still be correlated through that third phenomena, can they not?

Not in my dictionary! It comes from "co" (together) related (well, you know what that means). It doesn't depend on a third thing.

Howvever, you've yet to show any relation between astrology and real life, other than one dream connected with your avowed passion in life. Let's not debate semantics - why is looking at the stars any better than looking in tealeaves, casting Tarot cards or rolling dice?

And, by the way, the singular of "phenomena" is "phenomenon".

I'm sorry if I came over nasty, Gregory - I've had a long and hard work week.

My bad, as they say.

Nonetheless, I don't see what you're trying to prove here.

Please; don't just tell me: show me or give me a logical argument.

I'll respect you all the more if you can.

Sorry about the anonymous post - that was me.


Thanks very much Skeptico
I feel like my powers of reasoning are clearer now than when we began this conversation. I actually feel some kind of intellectual liberation... and I realize of course I'm still free to imagine possibilities. Great site! I found you from a link on one of my favorite blogs, Onegoodmove.org. Not as specifically science oriented as you, a lot more politics (left) and current events. He posts updates on Richard Dawkins, the fight against creationism and irrational beliefs, pro-athiesm, whatnot. He also is an awesome media source, posts wonderful things, like the video from interesting BBC programs, and best of all, highlights almost every day from The Daily Show and Colbert Report! He has 30 min of audio from a Richard Dawkins interview up right now. You probably know about it, but I was suprised you didn't have a link to him on your front page.

As far as the test, what you said is beyond my understanding of statistics... I dont know how to crunch those numbers. If someone is interested maybe they could explain what would be the random in this test and what would be a significant result. Otherwise it's just more irrelevancy!

Big Al, No problem,man. tgif. I respect what youre saying. Especially about a phenomenon! Silly me. Ill blame that on the fact that ive been alternating between french and spanish for a year now. My english is slipping...

"why is looking at the stars any better than looking in tealeaves, casting Tarot cards or rolling dice?"

I'm not saying it is. All of those activities could result in some revelation of course, but we know it's not coming from the tea leaves or the Tarot cards! Just from the good old mind of man.

I'm not trying to prove anything here, I was just thinking about correlation. I'm not arguing for astrology anymore. I'm not beyond thinking about it though, you know, just imagining. I'm completely serious about not accepting any hypothetical phenomena now, without proof, but I'm curious...and imaginative. Just wondering. I've been thinking alot about correlation, due to this conversation.

g

Ok, not necessarily relevant anymore but I'll bite anyway.

Gregory:

If you did not believe in predictive astrology to begin with (as you made a pretty big point of stressing lets not forget) what beliefs were there for you to abandon? Would it be far to predictable of me to say that I am somewhat skeptical of your apparent conversion? Certainly the tone of your answers, and the evasions within, suggest you still have something invested in this argument. If they were written before your conversion, why the need to post them now? In fact, I found your conversion more convincing before you did.

It might be flattering to think that in some very small way I may have helped convince you of the falsity in a belief you held, but the cynic in me remembers the actual levels people will go to in order to defend their beliefs. Lets say I'm an agnostic on your conversion so far.

My views on the point of birth were not at the time relevant. In answer though, I'd have to say I don't know where I would draw the line. First breath seems reasonable, but so does cutting the umbilical cord. Stillborn births certainly are births, in the strict sense that the baby is delivered from the womb.

Since astrology is predicated on the time of birth, it is surely vitally important however to know what is actually considered the moment of birth, or to determine what birth is. Is it the first breath, is it the cutting of the umbilical cord, is it the point when the baby is no longer literally inside its mother? These events could literally occur with enough time between them to actually change the date of birth, and therefore possibly the childs astrological sign. Hence my insistence on identifying what astrology considers birth, and more importantly why. As well as this though, when, and why and how this was all determined are important in establishing the validity of astrology.

Does your newly sceptical attitude perhaps understand why these questions weren't side issues, but the very heart of the matter? Not to mention, an avoidance tactic I have often encountered is to mock a question rather than answer it. If you are to understand your opponents position it must be clearly mapped out, and that may involve asking odd questions.

RE:Yet this is flawed logic. You cannot make an infinite prediction based on correlation alone, because as you say, the correlation may end some day.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in this and later posts. It is not just enough to correlate the position of Saturn with an emotion, personality type or occurence because you need the context of every other possible combination of stellar object. Its not just enough for the obserer to correlate the chiming of the bell with Jim's rising, since the observer does not know what else is going on inside Jim's house at the same time. A single isolated correlation (even if repeated) is not at all a reliable way of determining a relationship (and by this I mean something other than occurring at the same time, like I said to the anonymous poster, this is more semantics now than anything truly meaningful).

RE:Well, IF there were a phenomena, one would know it was Saturn due to the correlation of the event with it;s motion.

My point was that you would only know of the position of Saturn in relation to the phenomenon, so you could not know it was due to Saturn since you have not bothered to determine if there is more out there that also occurs at the sametime, because once you found one apparent correlation, you stopped looking for anymore.

I truly admire the fact that you have posted your change of mind on this matter. I would have to admit were I to suffer a similar change of heart on the subject I would probably slink into the shadows and simply not return here. The cynic in me (and unfortunately there is a large part of that) is still not convinced (and I am sure this won't affect your sleep unduly!)

I just want to re-iterate so you don't mis-attribute this agnosticism, I am cyncial as regards your conversion, not sceptical. I would certainly not be of the extreme philosophical skeptical persuasion in doubting everything. Past experience merely warns me 'Beware!'

I'd just like to note that Gregory's prediction was only 75% correct in my case :/

All of those activities could result in some revelation of course, but we know it's not coming from the tea leaves or the Tarot cards! Just from the good old mind of man.

The trouble is, Gregory, that this strikes me as a childish and unreliable way of looking at the world. I regard universal education and the scientific method as the pinnacles of human achievement to date - they let us out of the hazardous African veldt and the cold caves of Europe, away from the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the pogroms.

Introspection is great - I'm very introspective myself - but it must be honest and unvarnished. I don't need a star chart to tell me how I feel. As an keen amateur astronomer, I'm pretty au fait with what constellations and planets are visible at various times, and I keep copious diaries of my observations.

I have only an 8" Schmitt-Cassegrain 'scope, but that's far more than the ancient Egyptian astronomers had, and I see far more stars than they ever could have. Being an "intro", I am pretty well aware of my moods and motivations at various times, and I dig deeper than a psychiatrist might. I am liable to clinical depression, and I don't like drugs, so I need to be on my guard. I record my pre-depressive episodes, too.

The only full-blown depressive attack I had was about 15 years ago when I was laid off from the space industry. Eventually, I kicked myself out of that one, although I managed to write what I regard as my best ever song and my best ever prose from its depth. Now, I'm pretty canny about the incipient symptoms, and I can alert myself before I go off the rails.

My last 5 notable (and brief!) incipient episodes were:

July 11, 2004 - my dog died.
September 4, 2002 - I split up with my long-term girlfriend over long hours.
October 4, 2002 - I'd been working very late for six months and skipping meals and sleep. And I'd split up with said girlfiend.
February 3, 2001 - don't know, but I kicked it into tough pretty quickly!
August 26, 2000 - long working hours for an extended period.
August 5, 1997 - a total idiot with an MBA was promoted over my head for a technical position - and I wasn't the only person depressed about it!

None of these led to any kind of breakdown, because I nipped them in the bud at the first signs. They don't tie up to any kind of astrological phenomenon - I can state that with complete certainty. They're not at regular intervals.

On the other hand, had I been less introspective and less educated about the stars and planets, I might have been tempted to seek some deeper reason for my periods of malaise - after all, so many people do. You can bet that I'd start to regard certain minor periods of tetchiness as depressive episodes, just to try to fit them into some sort of greater scheme. As it is, I'm always a little gruff and uncommunicative before I have my first morning coffee.

I don't need to turn to astrology, Tarot, psychotherapy, NLP, necromancy, cheiromancy or anything else to make me introspective. All I have to know is "How do I feel? Why do I feel that way?"

If you feel you need to look at the stars to make you look into yourself, I think you're bound to try to look for correlations that aren't there. I regard education as a much better means of self-help than superstition.

The parents are June 27 and August 9. When should the child(ren)'s birthday(s) be?

Al-

What youre saying makes perfect sense, i'm just not sure why you're saying it to me. I don't need a star chart to tell me how I feel, either. Never have. And I dont look to any guru, or religion, or fake divinatory system when im feeling down, or when I really need to get my head together. I just do it, with positive thinking, honesty, and a little breathing.

I also read lots of books, some of them fictitious. That wouldnt meet your definition of a waste of time, right? These manmade fictions are nothing like science at all, with entire worlds that don't exist, illusions and whatnot. And yet, I can get inspired by their content, or have a truly valuable insight into the real world as a result of the fantasy I visited.

If you look back, (and i dont blame you for missing it, because i wrote a lot...) you'll see that i never said I looked to the stars to find out how i was feeling. It was the other way around, i looked into myself to see how i was feeling, and then tried to find correlations in the planets positions. I've already admitted to not finding any ... and therefore no astrology.

But I can assure you I did find plenty of understanding, concerning myself,and the world around me. I found it in the stars just like I find it in the books i read,(including the science) in the music I listen to,in the people i meet,and the places i go.
Anything can trigger an open mind to revelation.

As I said, it didnt come from the stars. It came from my mind.

g

jake

The prediction thats being tested is that children tend to have one of 3 relationships with their parents' sunsigns: 0° 120° or 180° to eachother.

In your case cancer,scorpio,capricon,or pisces would meet this prediction with the june 27 parent and aries,leo,aquarius,or sag with the aug. 9 parent.

The prediction hasnt really been tested though, because I dont know how to correctly set up the test.

Skeptico's info:
Me – Libra – Oct 2
Dad – Leo – Aug 11
Mom – Cancer – May 24
Sister – Cancer – June 10 (positive to mom)

only 1/4 positives

The total stands now at 17/39
17 Positives out of 39 possible.
43.5%

Are we wasting time here? Anyone know?

Gregory, you said "the fact is that Astrology does help people every day, exactly as a tool for self analysis and transformation. And that can be proven. Ask 1000 people like mouse what the net effect of their astrological reading was and theyll probably admit to some worthwhile soul searching. Even if it was prompted by a desire to refute the astrology, if they thought deeply about themselves, then thats a good thing, and indeed, that was the desired goal.

You are advocating that people look at the stars first as a means to provoke introspection. That seems to be the complete opposite of what you're saying now - that being introspective inspired you to look at the stars.

As far as the birth correlation goes, we need to know the full sample population. For each sun sign, how many others would not meet the necessary criteria?

You propose that children's sun signs are at 0°, 120° or 180° to those of one or both of their parents.

Not knowing the technicalities of this, I'm assuming that 0° is the same sign, there are two other signs at + 120° and one at 180°. That's 4 out of 12 possible signs that would correlate, or 33.333...%

So far, we have 43.5% on a small sample, with some higher than random and others lower, like me (I was utterly honest about the signs - not knowing how to fake them anyway! - and I was a total blank). This isn't much of a correlation yet, and it wouldn't be until we had enough data that one anomaly didn't seriously affect the reading. As it is, another total blank could still push the reading below random.

However, as a skeptic rather than a compulsive naysayer, I'm all for testing rather than hiding my head in the sand, and this seems like something easily testable.

There must be genealogical data on famous people on the web, and I'm thinking of famous families. I'll have a trawl for some data and get back to you.

yes, we are wasting time. The answers you gave me covered two thirds of the year, so it would be absolutely no surprise if the child(ren)'s birthday(s) fell within that.

Don't know how the formatting'll come out, but here goes:

BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY:

George VI: Dec 14 = Queen Mother: Aug 4
The Queen: Apr 21 = Prince Philip: Jun 10
Prince Andrew: Apr 19 = Fergie: Oct 15
Princess Beatrice: Aug 8
Princess Eugenie - Mar 23
Prince Edward - March 10
Ann: Aug 15 = Mark Phillips: Sep 22
Peter Phillips: Nov 15 (twin)
Zara Phillips: Nov 15 (twin)
Prince Charles: Nov 14 = Diana: Jul 1
Prince William: June 21
Prince Harry: Sep 15
Margaret: Aug 21 = Tony A-J: March 7
David Armstrong-Jones - Nov 3
Lady Sara Armstrong-Jones - May 1

How does this work out as regards your theory, Gregory?

Oh well, the carefully-placed tabs didn't work: let's try this:

George VI: Dec 14 = Queen Mother: Aug 4
The Queen: Apr 21 = Prince Philip: Jun 10

Prince Andrew: Apr 19 = Fergie: Oct 15

Princess Beatrice: Aug 8
Princess Eugenie - Mar 23
Prince Edward - March 10
Ann: Aug 15 = Mark Phillips: Sep 22

Peter Phillips: Nov 15 (twin)
Zara Phillips: Nov 15 (twin)
Prince Charles: Nov 14 = Diana: Jul 1
Prince William: June 21
Prince Harry: Sep 15
Margaret: Aug 21 = Tony A-J: March 7
David Armstrong-Jones - Nov 3
Lady Sara Armstrong-Jones - May 1

Hope that makes the relationships clearer. You may know, anyway.


Not really, Jake. For every child there are two relationships being tested, one with mother and one with father. So each child has two results being counted, each with a 33% chance of being positive. For a result to be positive, the parent has to be born in only 4 out of 12 possible birth months. We are testing to see if the predicted relationship- comes out at more than that, which it currently is.


Thanks big al, Ill figure the results on the royal family data. Wonder if theres anything about them that will skew the data, since its not really a random sample anymore... heh. science is fun.

Gregory:

Random chance would give you 13 hits out of 39 (assuming chance was 33%). You would need a statistician to tell you if 17 out of 39 was a significant difference, but my guess is it wouldn’t be.

Any statisticians in the house?

After the royal family, there will be twice as much data.
Theres a lot Princes in the house of Winsdor. I got on wikipedia and found the british royal family tree... so we should have about 70 examples to check.

We'll see what happens. I'm ready for nothing, personally, but I'd like to check it out none the less. As I said earlier, this perceived pattern was one of the ones that I accepted as real, so disproving it will be important for me.

I need to point out that I dont think this relationship is a tenet of conventional astrology, at least ive never heard of it. (though im not the one to know, never having been au courant with regular astrologers) It was just a pattern that I thought I had personally observed when I was regularily reading the ephemeris. In other words, the results of this test, if negative, may not be effective scientific ammunition against believers in astrology, because it may not be considered astrology at all. (Of course, if the results are positive, I am certain astrologers won't hesitate to cite it... : )

Well heres all the data on the royal british family:
The relationship- is still coming in around 44%.
See bottom for total results so far.

BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY:

Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 scorpio= Queen Alexandra 1 December 1844 sag
George V 3 June 1865 gem X TO MOM

Prince Francis Teck August 28, 1837 virgo =Princess MAry Adelaide of Cambridge 27 November 1833 sag
Mary of Teck, 26 May 1867 taurus X TO DAD


George V 3 June 1865 gem = Mary of Teck, 26 May 1867 gem
children of george V and mary of teck:
Edward VIII 23 June 1894 canc
George VI 14 December 1895 sag X TO DAD, X TO MOM
Princess Mary, 25 April 1897 taurus
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester 31 March 1900 aries
Prince George, Duke of Kent 20 December 1902 sag X TO DAD, X TO MOM
The Prince John (John Charles Francis; 12 July 1905 cancer

George VI: Dec 14 sag = Queen Mother: Aug 4 leo
The Queen: Apr 21 aries X TO DAD, X TO MOM
Margaret: Aug 21 leo X TO DAD, X TO MOM

The Queen: Apr 21 aries= Prince Philip: Jun 10 gem:
Prince Andrew: Apr 19, 1960 aries X TO MOM
Princess Anne: Aug 15 leo X TO MOM
Prince Charles: Nov 14 scorpio
Prince Edward - March 10 1964 pisces

Prince Andrew: Apr 19, 1960 aries= Fergie: October 15, 1959 libra
Princess Beatrice: Aug 8, 1988 leo X TO DAD
Princess Eugenie - Mar 23 1990 aries X TO DAD, X TO MOM

Prince Edward - March 10 1964 pisces= Sophie Mountbatten-Windsor; 20 January 1965 cap
Lady Louise - 8 November 2003 scorpio X TO DAD

Ann: Aug 15 leo = Mark Phillips: Sep 22 libra
Peter Mark Andrew Phillips (born 15 November 1977) scorpio,
Zara Phillips (born 15 May 1981) taurus

Prince Charles: Nov 14 scor = Diana: Jul 1 cancer
Prince William: June 21 canc X TO DAD, X TO MOM
Prince Harry: Sep 15 virgo

Margaret: Aug 21 leo= Tony A-J: March 7 pisc
David Armstrong-Jones - Nov 3 scorpio X TO DAD,
Lady Sara Armstrong-Jones - May 1 taurus

David Armstrong-Jones - Nov 3 scorpio=Serena Viscountess Linley (born May 1, 1970 in Limerick, taurus
Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones 1 July 1999 cancer X TO DAD
Margarita Elizabeth Rose Alleyne Armstrong-Jones (born 14 May 2002) taurus X TO DAD, X TO MOM

Daniel Chatto (born April 22, 1957) TAURUS= Lady Sara Armstrong-Jones - May 1 TAURUS
Samuel David Benedict Chatto 28 July 1996.LEO


22 POSITIVE OUT OF 52 POSSIBILITIES

That brings the total to 37 positives out of 85 events
for a total of 43.5% positive.
We are assuming 33.3% is random. (4 months out of 12)

10% over random could be significant, no?

Heres the test information from the beginning:

The test is for a planetary relationship between parents and their children that has seemed to me to show up in birth charts by more than chance. Its this: Parents and their children tend to have a sun to sun sign relationship that is at specific angles to one another, either conjunct, in a trine, or opposed, that is, 0 degrees, 120 degrees, or 180 degrees to one another. These are the 3 most significant angular planetary relationships in astrology, so, if truly a phenomena, it would not just confirm some mathematical event, but also a theoretical one.

For instance, I am Scorpio, my mother is Taurus (180 degrees) and my father is Cancer (120 degrees). In my case, both of my parents would confirm this phemomena.

If anyone else wants to submit data, we need 3 pieces of information for each entry, a persons birthday and both parents birthdays (incl. year and time if possible, for cusp births). This data will yield 2 testable relationships, child/mother and child/father.


g

ps Big Al, I cant find a list of PETWHAC anywhere on the net, can you? Im getting tired of looking at Dawkins picture pasted all over his site, especially the one where he's doing his best to look like a prophet.... he's a bit of an egomaniac, no?

Oops
addition error.
The total is actually:

39 positives out of 91 possible.

42.8%

The PETWHAC depends on the coincidence being investigated, Gregory. In "Unweaving the Rainbow", Dawkins cited buying his mother an antique locket. To his amazement, he found it was engraved with all three of her (maiden name) initials.

Dawkins used a London telephone book to estimate the likelihood of each letter cropping up, for both forenames and the surname. Turned out it really wasn't all that unlikely.

What really has me puzzled about the Zodiac and sun signs is that not all constellations are the same size, and they are not evenly distributed across it, yet each one gets a 1/12 chunk of the sky assigned to it. And we "click" from one constellation to another decisively.

A possible PETWHAC factor:

How evenly distributed are the number of births per month? Are babies more frequently born in one month than another?
Are women equally fertile in all months, or is the distribution skewed? I know lambs all tend to be born in the spring, something to do with effect of ambient light levels at time of oestrus (heat).

I know human females are not totally without oestrus, and there's a slight seasonal effect on fertility rates.

It's therefpre quite interesting to look at the births per month of the royal list:

Jan: 1
Feb: 0
Mar: 5
Apr: 6
May: 7
Jun: 5
Jul: 4
Aug: 7
Sep: 1
Oct: 1
Nov: 8
Dec: 4

I have no idea of whether this distribution is representative of the population as a whole, or whether the apparent effect disappears with a larger sample. However, I think it's food for thought - since it's not a regular distribution per month, the figures can be skewed.

I tried to search on the web for birth probabilities per month, but without success. However, I'll keep looking.

Star sign seems totally irrelevant here compared to the actual month of birth.

To Big Al:

I'm assuming your birth time state is 10:08 AM.

1983: Revelation of a friend who betrayed you. Loss of a "friend."

2003: A relationship at a turning point. It's was a dramatic change but sorry, I can't tell whether it was a happy or sad turning point. It was definitely a serious decision, one that changed your self outlook.

Phew, that was hard. Back to doing laundry.

And there you have it, conclusive proof that astrology works. Especially when you can assume anything you want.

Who can argue with a friend doing something bad and the loss of a 'friend' in some randomly chosen year? (What exactly is a 'friend' anyway, you're either a friend or your not. Oh wait, friend is too specific where as 'friend' can mean pretty much anything you want, silly me).

Shock, a turning point in a relationship, either good or bad, and a big decision that changed things.

No way, it really works. Big Al, you know you're a believer now, admit it.

Let me see:

1983: I was at college. I fell out with a couple of people I didn't like, and I made a lot of new friends. Not aware of being betrayed by a friend.

2003: Can't remember much about the year except there was a lot of work on. At that time, I had no band, no significant other, and no other relationship I can think of to either go badly or well. The mere fact that I really can't remember anything vastly significant about 2003 rather implies that I didn't have a particularly life-changing experience that year.

Sorry, Tasha, 0/10.

There you are, Jimmy. I resisted against all the compelling evidence!

Shoot. And I'm so surprised you've proven me wrong. Are you really sure you're telling me right?

I really thought I hadcha too. And I was just about to add about the life and death transformation that's been happening to you but I'm afraid to say it. You'll deny that for sure. I mean, everyday is about life and death in a generalized way, isn't it? If I say money is the issue, wouldn't it be pointed out, why, money is always an issue in anything, right? Work, work, work, work, work. And an intense sexy guy like you would never admit about working too hard. Never mind. When you got a Big in your name, something big's gonna happen some time.

Unsinkable ducks just love information like posted dob and time. It's like getting those spams these days from Jack or Jill or Mark with the subject heading saying "Hi, it's Jack/Jill/Mark!" But of course it is!

But being here is making me skeptical.

Its so simple now, when astrology is wrong, its because we're lying.

When astrology points out some utterly unspecific nonsense, its actually being accurate and we're wrong to think it might be deliberately generalised in order to avoid being shown as total arse.

Wow, I'm sure glad you showed up Tasha. I mean, if you hadn't shown up to play with us I might have remained an unbeliever all my life.

I deeply resent the implication that I'm lying, Tasha. I'm not.

"Show me a man who's not interested in Madonna, and I'll show you a liar."

That was a line from an editorial in my local newspaper.

Hypothesis: Every man is interested in Madonna. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Terms for falsification: None: Anyone who expresses disinterest is branded a liar. If the premise is wrong, there's no way to prove that it's wrong.

The whole thing was pretty close to a textbook example of the fallacy, "Immunization against evidence."

"And an intense sexy guy like you would never admit about working too hard."

I'm 5'11'', long hair, balding. with a small beer gut. I'm in Mensa (ooh - 154 IQ!), a published author with a SMALL publisher, I play the guitar and sing semi-professionally. I have a pretty good salary. Aren't I a lucky guy?

Sexy? HA! My lack of luck with women is legendary. I work hard - bloody hard. I'm not ashamed to admit that, or the fact that I'm about as attractive to most women as a heart attack. I have two eyes, a nose, a chin, two small ears, and all my features are pretty much in the right proportions, but I just can't hit it off with most women.

Is that enough 'open kimono' for you? Tell me I'm lying now!

You are way, way, way off the beam, Tania. I don't know a single person who's more introspective than me, so please don't tell me you know me better than I do - nobody does.

Please admit that you got it wroung - I think you were just guessing and trying to butter me up.

Mr. Big Al of the 154 IQ,

If I say I'm 160 but alas, not a member of MENSA, would you believe me? Of course not (nope, not saying I don't believe you here either). And in my world, I haven't been wrong. I've just described you to a T., with perhaps the sexiness part up for debate. LOL.

You guys want to squeeze orange juice from apples. Your mind won't accept, and yet you want proof that this astrology thing works. Let me tell you, it drove Einstein up the wall when he found out about virtual entanglement, all that spooky action between A and B. That's so not quantum physics. But today, it's being lauded as unhackable data for communication use. Now that's intense.

If I'm skeptical of your disbelief, I* am branded fallacious. My, my, denial isn't a one way street, baby. You can be as defensive as some on my side, I guess.

But we're back to you, Big-A, who's been working so hard and oh no, I wasn't guessing about that part. You've over-extended yourself in some projects (boy, am I going to get hit by that general statement) and you're questioning, questioning and people are calling you inflexible (well, I could be one of them). Your affairs of the heart comes from wanting someone's space and insisting to have your own as well. Needing freedom can be lonely. I cannot stress enough how being recognized is important to you.

One, astrology is personal and can't be used by everybody. Besides, I was given a single time at a single place (Big Al's) and how's that relevant to EVERYONE here? Big Al, Happy Birthday, by the way. Don't move.

Second, not everything needs to be proven by science or logic. I know we like to see things as "If A then B" and "if not A then not B." Transits are a little bit more spookier than that, I'm afraid. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear it: Appeal for open-mindedness, knowing through other means, yadayadayada).

C, can one of you guys help me fix my car? The electrical thingie keeps wonking out my radio and makes the light stay on. And the windshield wipers start by themselves. Now, that's so woowoo.

You guys want to squeeze orange juice from apples. Your mind won't accept, and yet you want proof that this astrology thing works. Let me tell you, it drove Einstein up the wall when he found out about virtual entanglement, all that spooky action between A and B. That's so not quantum physics. But today, it's being lauded as unhackable data for communication use. Now that's intense.

How so? If you make predictions, you should be able to show them to be true under controlled conditions.

Also, don't invoke Einstein or other things. This about Astrology. Provide good evidence. That's all we ask.

One, astrology is personal and can't be used by everybody. Besides, I was given a single time at a single place (Big Al's) and how's that relevant to EVERYONE here? Big Al, Happy Birthday, by the way. Don't move.

In other words, it works, except when it doesn't work. And yeah, those general statements could be shoehorned to fit a lot of people.

Second, not everything needs to be proven by science or logic. I know we like to see things as "If A then B" and "if not A then not B." Transits are a little bit more spookier than that, I'm afraid. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear it: Appeal for open-mindedness, knowing through other means, yadayadayada).

So, you can invoke whatever magical principles you like to believe whatever you want. That must be very convenient.

C, can one of you guys help me fix my car? The electrical thingie keeps wonking out my radio and makes the light stay on. And the windshield wipers start by themselves. Now, that's so woowoo.

I'm not an auto mechanic, but I'm pretty sure one can fix it up by using the scientific method to narrow down the cause and then fix that. It's not as if a mechanic can just make up the answer ex nihilo and expect that to work.

Tasha wrote
If I say I'm 160 but alas, not a member of MENSA, would you believe me?

Initially yes, because on the face of it there is no reason to doubt you, and the assertion has absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand. However, in the context of what has gone before and how and what you write, no. If you think everyone who disagrees with you or proves you wrong is lying, I pity you.

Tasha wrote
Of course not (nope, not saying I don't believe you here either).

Well you did already accuse Big Al of lying with no evidence more than that he showed your predictions about him were wrong. That already says a lot about your critical thinking thought processes and what you think about what he says. And still no apology, and still the implication that he is lying. You're just full of romance aren't you?

Tasha wrote
And in my world, I haven't been wrong.

Oh, that explains an awful lot.

Tasha wrote
You guys want to squeeze orange juice from apples. Your mind won't accept, and yet you want proof that this astrology thing works.

What? Fine, what evidence would you accept that would prove astrology doesn't work? Say, evidence that its predictions fail perhaps? Oh wait, when you get that, you say we're lying.

You are the very definition of close minded and yet you have the cheek to accuse skeptics of being so!

Tasha wrote
Let me tell you, it drove Einstein up the wall when he found out about virtual entanglement, all that spooky action between A and B. That's so not quantum physics. But today, it's being lauded as unhackable data for communication use. Now that's intense.

Great. What does it have to do with astrology being a load of crap though? Throwing in red herrings is still not going to divert attention from the fact that you made astrological predictions and were wrong on all of it.

Tasha wrote
If I'm skeptical of your disbelief, I* am branded fallacious. My, my, denial isn't a one way street, baby. You can be as defensive as some on my side, I guess.

Hang on, you actually think we are lying about being skeptical of astrology? And who accused you of being fallacious? When someone accuses us of lying without proof or reason, you bet we'll be defensive.

Tasha wrote
But we're back to you, Big-A, who's been working so hard and oh no, I wasn't guessing about that part.

I'm sure Big Al will be able to shoot your further predictions down again, and I'm sure you'll convince yourself he is lying and you are right.

Tasha wrote
You've over-extended yourself in some projects (boy, am I going to get hit by that general statement) and you're questioning, questioning and people are calling you inflexible (well, I could be one of them). Your affairs of the heart comes from wanting someone's space and insisting to have your own as well. Needing freedom can be lonely. I cannot stress enough how being recognized is important to you.

Priceless. You make a whole bunch of general statements, make a virtue of those statements, and you still claim that astrology works, even after making a claim you know to be true because you yourself made it happen.

Examine what you've said. Over-extended in some projects could encompass an almost limitless supply of events and effort. If Big Al didn't have a hit in that general area I would be more surprised than if there were a hit. Hell, it applies to me and I'm not Big Al.

Then you have the inflexible claim, which you can claim as a hit because you made it happen, and made the claim after doing so. Lets not even mention the fact that golly gosh, this is a skeptical website and what is the number one argument made by the woo-woo? 'You're inflexible/closeminded/not thinking outside the box.'

Then you finish with the ace in astrology's hole, the 'You want this, but you also want the exact opposite.' Combined with the ever popular 'You just want to be loved.' play. Well, duh.

Tasha wrote
One, astrology is personal and can't be used by everybody.

Priceless. So this works for those it works for, and doesn't work for those it doesn't? What bloody use is it then? How do you know it does/doesn't work for you as an individual? How do you know that when you accuse Big Al of lying because your predictions about him were wrong, that he is not one of the people it works for, and you in fact owe him an apology?

If a predictive tool is only right sometimes, it's useless all the time because you won't know if it is right or wrong until after the event comes to pass.

Tasha wrote
Besides, I was given a single time at a single place (Big Al's) and how's that relevant to EVERYONE here?

This is called a straw man, it means no one argued this but you claim that we did in order to refute it so you can look like you were right and we were wrong. Since no-one said your prediction for Big Al applied to everyone, this statement is pointless and irrelevant.

Tasha wrote
Second, not everything needs to be proven by science or logic. I know we like to see things as "If A then B" and "if not A then not B." Transits are a little bit more spookier than that, I'm afraid.

What do you mean by a transit? How else would you have things 'proven'?

Tasha wrote
C, can one of you guys help me fix my car? The electrical thingie keeps wonking out my radio and makes the light stay on. And the windshield wipers start by themselves. Now, that's so woowoo.

See if the stars can tell you how to fix it. I mean you wouldn't be one of those people who rags on science and logic and then uses all its benefits, results, and bonuses, would you?

Now, since you are keen on proving astrology works, why don't you take my birthdate (01 October 1976, not sure of the time unfortunately, but your astrology seems to work by just assuming a random one anyway) and imagine its 1st January 2006, then tell me what sort of year I am going to have in 2006. Since I know most of what has happened and its clear in memory, we'll be able to see how accurate you are.

I said I work hard - however, I don't feel overextended.

However, of course, I must be lying about that, too, or I'm deceiving myself.

And yes, Tasha, I could fix your car. With a multimeter, a soldering iron and a crimp tool, not by some appeal to a higher power.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

If today's skeptics were alive a hundred years ago, what would they have thought of Nikola Tesla?? I wish Mr. Tesla was with us today.

Tesla got results that can easily be measured. The fact that you can type on this computer is proof of that. He changed the very nature of our lifestyle with just his work with alternating current.

Astrology has gone precisely nowhere in its much longer life span. Astrologers don't even know how the rules were derived.

So astrologers are the pretty much the polar opposite of Tesla.

Deborah,

If you are so confident astrology works (you don't say one way or the other but the nature of your response suggests you do) maybe you could take up the challenge I issued to Tasha and to one Farley Malorrus elsewhere on the Skeptico blog. Both seem 100% convinced that astrology works virtually without fail (and can evne be scientifically proven in Farley's case), both have failed to undertake the very simple challenge I set them. One refused outright to do so, one simply slinked away to hide in the corner and never returned.

Take my birthdate (01 October 1976, not sure of the time unfortunately) and imagine it's 1st January 2006, then tell me what sort of year I am going to have in 2006. Since I know most of what has happened and it's clear in memory, we'll be able to see how accurate you are.

You see, todays skeptics rely on pesky things like experiments and results.

Looks like Deborah was another case of a drive-by woo-ing.

Can I just say that not knowing WHY a phenomenon occurs does not make the assertion that that phenomenon occurs FALSE. That is a logical fallacy which the sceptics love to use against astrology.
Furthermore, seeing as the separate areas of science such as astronomical electro-magnetic fields and say, human neurotransmitter behaviour are so poorly understood in the first place, asking astrologers to provide reason behind their observations is quite unfair and illogical.
In my experience, those who dismiss astrology are unfamiliar with the subject. They have not studied it in any depth, yet they dismiss it out of hand.

Skeptico replies to James

Re: Can I just say that not knowing WHY a phenomenon occurs does not make the assertion that that phenomenon occurs FALSE.

Technically you are correct, but the lack of any coherent explanation for how astrology might work makes it an extraordinary claim. This means we need better evidence than we would otherwise ask for, that astrology works. (Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.) Unfortunately we are only offered poor evidence for astrology. When astrology is tested to control for biases, astrology fails every time.

Re: Furthermore, seeing as the separate areas of science such as astronomical electro-magnetic fields and say, human neurotransmitter behaviour are so poorly understood in the first place, asking astrologers to provide reason behind their observations is quite unfair and illogical.

But we have evidence that electro-magnetic fields etc actually exist, and have effects we can measure. With astrology we have no such evidence.

Re: In my experience, those who dismiss astrology are unfamiliar with the subject. They have not studied it in any depth, yet they dismiss it out of hand.

I don’t need to be an automotive engineer to know if my car won’t start. But in any case, tests of astrology such as the Shawn Carlson tests I linked above, were designed and carried out by the expert astrologers recommended by the National Council for Geocosmic Research. They still failed their own tests.

Also noteworthy link of Skeptico's: How do you prove photography to a blind man?

To test something, you have to have results that anyone can see. That's why I like Randi's tests: The only 'judging' involved is along the lines of "is this number larger than the number we agreed on?"

James,

If astrology works then astrologers would have no problem undertaking the test I outlined above, to Deborah and to two other astrology believers on this blog. None took the test. Would you like to have a go?

I await the results with barely contained apathy.

The astrology works but not always,,, like the horoscopes,,

What use are they then?

Care to take up the challenge I have issued already? You'll be the fifth to avoid it if not.

I just found this site, so I am responding very late into the discussion.

I "do" astrology as a hobby. My purpose is not to convince you to "believe in" astrology; but it is my way of finding sanity, and if you have another way of finding your own sanity, it is obviously not astrology, and nothing I say will sway you. So, I won't bother.

Astrology is not a science and it is not a religion. It is not psychology or psychiatry. But astrology does not exist in a vacuum. It is not written in stone. Outer circumstances have as much to do with a person's "personality" as astrology: how many siblings he might have; home and family background; socio-economic class; no college, some college, a graduate; what region of the world he was raised; his ethnic/religious background; and so on.

Astrology DOES make assumptions. Astrology does have "rules," so to speak, and does have a set of "givens". You ask for a body of "derived" knowledge. I am not sure there is one, documented as such by known astrologers through the ages.

According to your criteria (in fact, most people's criteria), astrology fails, doesn't work, and is false; it is a fairy tale; it is made up. I agree, using your criteria. After all, this is your website, you cannot be wrong. That's fine, and makes sense, in your eyes. (But, if I gauge your website correctly, it seems you would doubt science, too. Just curious: do you "believe in" anything?!)

Your main question about whence astrolgy is "derived" is indeed from primitive thinking, from some Neanderthal head man giving a name to a cluster of "stars," and attributing human qualities to certain clusters. Of course, the head man made it up. If you had no capacity to understand it in any other way, it would be a natural thing, just as a stick could be a digging tool or a weapon, and could come to represent power.

That thinking, as it came down the ages, became more sophisticated. Not exactly science (or not science at all), and as you say, not any more predictive than random guesswork.

The question to ask, IMO, is not so much can astrology be proven or how is its knowledge "derived," but why humans want to know the odds of winning the lottery or the possibility of Iran dropping a nuclear bomb on the White House and when, or when is the stock market going to plunge to 500, or why is it that when the moon is full, things seem to be more chaotic than usual. I'm not saying astrology provides those answers, but that humans want certainty. And they do not like change, especially of the unexpected kind.

Whether that certainty comes from manipulating DNA or from prayer or meditation (religious faith, or belief in the occult -- meaning a belief in something spiritual that is greater than oneself), or intense, continuous study of stock analysis, or studying a racing form, it doesn't seem to matter. Proving or disproving astrology may be fodder for this website, but it is moot.

Another point that came up in this thread -- that there seems no "consensus" of astrologers, and therefore astrology can mean anything about anyone at anytime, therefore must be some kind of fakery BS, cannot be true since some cave man made it up. Well, there is consensus at a basic, "primitive," level. And there is quackery in astrology, of that there is no doubt. And there is a high degree of mockery, often deserved. But, I am not afraid to be mocked, if it makes you feel better or even if not.

But like other "professions," from medicine to car repair to teaching to accountancy (well, maybe not so much), you can find astrologers to disagree with one another.

Take your car to one mechanic and he will say the squeak coming from the dashboard is the heater fan. Another mechanic will say something else. Prove it by having one of them "fix" the heater fan. Pay. Drive your car. It still squeaks. Take it back to the mechanic. He does something else. That doesn't fix the squeak either. Does this mean car repair is false (maybe) or unproved? Not necessarily, right? Can car repair be tested? Can it be measured? What if you took your car to 3 mechanics and each said something different? What if they agreed and you had the heater fan fixed and the squeak was still there?

Then go to court and find expert witnesses testify under oath opposite opinions or conclusions "derived" from facts gathered by competent police investigators and forensic pathologists.

But, back to some of your more pertinent concerns, one of which had to do with "being fooled" by astrology or anything else, for that matter, which purports to give understanding in some arcane way. No, I don't feel fooled at all. If astrology is no better than pure guesswork, proven by your CPT and other measurements, then I am no worse off than before am I? That is, I am just as ignorant of myself and others, correct?

I am trying to figure out just what is your beef, other than being simply skeptical of so much around you. I can understand being skeptical of astrology because it is complete BS and made up BS at that, that for some weird reason has stuck around for millenia.

The endurance of astrology runs parallel with the human desire for not only self-knowledge, but MEANING of themselves within the world. It has to do with human endeavor (rain for crops, crops for food, food for survival) and subsequently power - king of the hill stuff, whose tribe gets water, whose gets the desert. It has to do with uncertainty and change, and adapting to be "happy," to not only survive but to rest content. That's why astrology has endured.

As to why people would believe such bunk, as you might put it - I can only answer for myself. I don't "believe in" astrology as if it were something as iron-clad as science, with its tests and measurements.
But as I said at the top, it has helped me to understand, to come to terms with, myself. It isn't the end all and be all, though some would have you believe otherwise.

BTW -- for Big Al -- you gave your birth data, the time of 10:03. AM or PM? Yes, it matters.

I would be happy to make the attempt to be "specific" about something in your chart. Though you do realize astrology is not a science, and cannot be any more specific than psychology or psychiatry after never having seen you in the flesh or spoken over the phone or knowing anything about you other than your birth info.

I am trying to figure out just what is your beef, other than being simply skeptical of so much around you. I can understand being skeptical of astrology because it is complete BS and made up BS at that, that for some weird reason has stuck around for millenia.
Well, yeah, um, that's it. It's complete BS that has annoyingly stuck around for centuries, and people make money by tricking gullible believers into thinking that it's real.

Lying to people and taking their money for it is a crime.

If astrology is no better than pure guesswork, proven by your CPT and other measurements, then I am no worse off than before am I? That is, I am just as ignorant of myself and others, correct?
Well, no. You've lost the time it took you to learn astrology and to apply it to a particular situation. You could have just used a coin flip without any training and a lot less time.

If you're a believer in astrology, then you probably just lost a wad of cash to an astrologist who is trying their best to convince you that astrology is better than chance.

You also, of course, lose the self-respect of knowing that what you believe in is consistent.

Astrology DOES make assumptions. Astrology does have "rules," so to speak, and does have a set of "givens". You ask for a body of "derived" knowledge. I am not sure there is one, documented as such by known astrologers through the ages.
If there is no such body of knowledge, then where does the knowledge of astrology come from? If nobody's actually sat down, made observations, recorded them and figured out patterns, then tested these patterns against future observations, then any 'rules' or 'givens' in astrology are made up. Someone has to do the work before you can call it certain, or even likely.

Pocketnunu:

I "do" astrology as a hobby.

Excellent, then would you like to take the challenge I have issued I think 5 times now in this thread or on Skeptico's site?

My birth date is 01 October 1976, unfortunately I am not sure what time. Imagine it is the 1st January 2006. What sort of year can I expect? Since the year has happened, and I know what events occurred, we can test the accuracy of astrology.

My purpose is not to convince you to "believe in" astrology; .... So, I won't bother

That's an awful long post for someone who isn't going to bother.

Outer circumstances have as much to do with a person's "personality" as astrology

Prove that astrology has anything to do with a person's personality please. Merely stating it doesn't make it true.

Astrology DOES make assumptions.

Well duh.

But, if I gauge your website correctly, it seems you would doubt science, too. Just curious: do you "believe in" anything?!

I'd check that gauge if I were you.

I'm not saying astrology provides those answers, but that humans want certainty.

That being the case you'd think astrology would be the last thing they turned to.

Proving or disproving astrology may be fodder for this website, but it is moot.

Why is it moot when people make life changing, life threatening or life inducing decisions based on astrology? You might want to dismiss it as moot, but that doesn't make it so. When people's lives can be ruined by it, it is vital to prove or disprove it.

And there is quackery in astrology, of that there is no doubt.

Oh we don't doubt that. In fact, all of astrology is quackery.

What exactly does your car mechanic analogy do for astrology? You see the difference is your car is still squeaking in your analogy. It doesn't matter that you get different opinions, the cause of the squeak is there. In astrology you get different opinions about something that isn't there at all. Big difference. As for 'Can car repair be tested?' Do you really need an answer?

If astrology is no better than pure guesswork, proven by your CPT and other measurements, then I am no worse off than before am I? That is, I am just as ignorant of myself and others, correct?

That depends on what decision you made, how much was devoted to astrology, how much you are invested in it. More importantly what if other people are making decisions based on astrology that affect you?

I am trying to figure out just what is your beef, other than being simply skeptical of so much around you.

My 'beef' with astrology is that liars cheats and frauds use it to make money off people by promising things that astrology does not and can not deliver, and that people make decisions which affect me based on something that is not real.

So, is the challenge to be accepted or refused?

Bethany:

I don't think we can definitively know at this point why astrology works.

We know we can't definitively know why astrology works, because it doesn't work.

I'm pretty good at accurately guessing a stranger's (who knows nothing about astrology) sun sign after talking to them for about twenty to thirty minutes.

The operative word being 'guessing' here. Because if astology worked, you wouldn't need to guess, would you?

Not to mention the fact that you won't mind applying for the Randi million dollar challenge will you? If your pretty good at it. Would it work over the internet, for instance how much of a persons writing would you need to read in order to guess their sun sign? We can arrange a test right here.
If it doesn't work from writing, why not? We could use something like Skype to arrange another test where you can speak to people.

Sure I get some wrong but the percentage I guess right is so high and continually gets higher the more I learn about astrology. This should not prove that astrology is real but that the percentages of accurately guessed sun signs are too high to dismiss it all together.

What is the percentage that so impresses you? What do you consider to be the chance percentage? Please show your working.

Of course we should be skeptical of something we cannot prove.

So why aren't you then?

Yet one can reason that by guessing right so many times, it’s not likely that the accuracy of these results are just coincidence.

As has to be explained over and over again, coincedental things happen all the time and events that seem uncommon are not. Its just some people are more impressed by coincidence than others. Your anecdotes for which we have no reliable evidence do not prove anything.

I would like to know myself why astrology affects our personalities.

You haven't even shown it does yet, so what is there to investigate?

Anyway, for the sixth time now. If you are any good at astrology, will you take this test:

My birthdate is 01 October 1976, unfortuntely I don't know the exact time. Imagine it is 1 January 2006, tell me what sort of year I can expect. Since I know what happened, we can test the accuracy of your astrological predictions.

Will you take the challenge where 5 others have not?

Why do these people so convinced of astrology and there own abilities with it refuse to take this very simple test?

Have you heard the echo in here, Jimmy? I think you drove them off, mate. I think your "past year" challenge is a great idea, but perhaps a little too tricky for the average cold-reader to pull off well.

I'd like to offer the same chellenge:

Birth date: 13th November, 1962, 10:08 a.m.
Please give me some retropredictions about the year 1976 with regard to my life.

Hi Jimmy_Blue and Big Al.

Well, this challenge looks fun. I don't know if anyone would deem me an "expert" at astrology - I'm just a hobbyist, and have been for, gosh, 7 years already.

Despite my interest, I'm also not really a "believer" in astrology. Despite vague suspicions that it might not be the total garbage I always thought it was, I can't trust it at all in the absence of any adequate hard evidence that it has any objective validity.

But, I'd still like to take a crack at this challenge... :-)

You'll have to give me some time to work on it, though. :-)

I also will be no more surprised than any of you if I'm totally wrong about everything, or if I'm only right on really lame, vague, general guesses... :-)

But, I'll get around to replying to this challenge eventually... it's now on my things to do list... :-)


It might be good if you both took some time to briefly privately write down somewhere a summary of the events in your life that stand out most to you in the years you named - perhaps your overall emotional mood at various times (like, if you were generally really depressed, or really happy, or something, especially if it was for an extended stretch of time) - and the at least approximate dates of all that.

Then, after I make my guesses - in addition to various comments written in direct reply to my guesses, you could also post that summary.

I just think it would be interesting to see an account of what happened to you in that year that was not possibly influenced at all by reading my guesses - in case your memory inadvertantly becomes rather selective or forgetful when you write your replies to my guesses.

I trust that you're both honest - I just think that a hard record written prior to me posting my guesses would suffice to make sure that you aren't inadvertantly exaggerating or downplaying the importance of various events and memories as a direct result of having read my guesses and of trying to fit your memories to my guesses.


I'd actually like to volunteer my own birth data in case anyone wants to try anything with it. July 3, 1981, 12:50 PM EDT, Pittsburgh, PA.

Here's a command line which can be copied and pasted with ease into the freeware astrology software Astrolog 5.40 to produce my chart:

-qa July 3 1981 12:50 EDT 79:59W 40:26N

I'd like to hear about what kind of year I had in 1999... :-)

I'll get to work on my own little summary of what happened to me that year.

Anyone, even those who don't think they know anything about astrology, is welcome to make guesses based on my chart.


Anyhow, I'm not sure when I'll get around to studying your charts and making some guesses, but I'll try to do so sometime within the next month or two.


Jimmy_Blue, do you at least have an inexact idea of your birth time, or any way of finding out a more exact birth time?

If so, don't tell me any details of your birth time yet - I might like to guess at your rising sign, especially if it's possible for you to find out what it is.

For this, I would request a brief description of how you typically come across to other people, especially people you've just met or don't know well - the facet of your personality that you typically present to such folks, and perhaps you could even mention some remarks folks have made on your self-presentation.

Though, if you really have no idea of your birth time, and no way at all to find it out or narrow it down, your writing a self-description and my making guesses would probably be rather pointless.

However, if it is possible to find out your birth time, or even to narrow it down to something like "in the morning", "in the middle of the night", or "in the afternoon", or something like that - then, we might as well try it.

And, if you tell me your location of birth, I also might be able to try an approximate guess at your time of birth. Not that I expect to be right, of course... I just want to see what happens. :-)

Rather than an exact hour and minute, I'll probably guess a range of time as wide as an hour or two. (Maybe even only naming the starting and ending times of a certain rising sign, but I'll _try_ to get a bit more specific than that).

Again, though, this is pointless if you really have no way of finding out your birth time, or narrowing it down - so, if that's the case, you might as well not bother writing a self-description or telling me your location of birth.


Another experiment I'd be willing to try is for people to not post their full birth data, but instead write and post an overall description of their own personality, and tell me their year of birth and town of birth. And also their sun sign, OR their month of birth (one or the other, not both, please).

Then, I'll attempt to make guesses about which day, out of that month (or the approximately month-long period of time that the sun was in that sun sign) that you were born, and I'll also try to guess your rising sign.

Naturally, I do not expect to be correct any more often than random chance alone would suggest I should randomly end up being correct... :-)

Also, I'm just going to be doing all this as time/my mood/etc. permit. I don't like to be rushed, and there are a lot of other things in my life that preoccupy much of my time, so please be patient... :-)

Apollia

Apollia:

Good on you for stepping up, regardless of your own misgivings about astrology!

or if I'm only right on really lame, vague, general guesses

I'd hazard a guess that you'll get one or two that seem surprisingly accurate, and that the rest will fall into this category.

Which incidentally reminds me to set some standard for what is deemed accurate. A vague guess:

'Something really important happened sometime between May and August.'

Will not be deemed a hit, even if something important did happen in that time frame.

'You were made Time magazines man of the year sometime in November/December.'

Would be deemed a half hit. I am looking for specific events in an accurate time frame, since the specific is what proponents of astrology claim can be pinpointed, and if they can't pinpoint what and when, it is useless.

'You started a new job on October 22nd.'

Would be a full hit.

It might be good if you both took some time to briefly privately write down somewhere a summary of the events in your life that stand out most to you in the years you named - perhaps your overall emotional mood at various times (like, if you were generally really depressed, or really happy, or something, especially if it was for an extended stretch of time) - and the at least approximate dates of all that.

This is an excellent idea since it helps to remove our own bias from the challenge. Fortunately my wife keeps a journal that she wrote in virtually every day of last year, so this isn't a problem. I'd also be willing to provide this summary to someone like Skeptico so they can judge results rather than myself. I would not be willing to provide this to a third party who was an astrologer or bleever since I would not trust them to not pass this on to someone who said they would take up the challenge Big Al and I have issued.

I would not want to post the summary since that would mean you were the only astrologer able to take the challenge. I would report the number of hits, half hits and failures, but I would not report which ones were which. Again, this could be done by the third party.

I trust that you're both honest - I just think that a hard record written prior to me posting my guesses would suffice to make sure that you aren't inadvertantly exaggerating or downplaying the importance of various events and memories as a direct result of having read my guesses and of trying to fit your memories to my guesses.

What you outline here, confirmation bias, wishful thinking, selective thinking/memory, plus the Forer effect are the reasons that astrology is seen as successful. As you point out they would equally influence both mine and Big Al's response to your reading as well, which is why skeptics try to account for them in tests of astrology. Most astrologers don't get this, so the fact that you do is very encouraging and gives me genuine interest in what the results are going to be.

Jimmy_Blue, do you at least have an inexact idea of your birth time, or any way of finding out a more exact birth time?

I can find out at least the approximate, and will work on getting the exact time. When I do, do you want to know it?

For this, I would request a brief description of how you typically come across to other people, especially people you've just met or don't know well

This is a little too woolly for me, how can I tell how I come across to other people? Obviously my own bias shows that I come across as devilishly witty and charming, but others may think I'm a twat. This is also key information for a cold reading. Also, depending on the social situation, my behaviour patterns are modified, further influencing how different people would see me at different times.

I was born in Liverpool, England.

Looking forward to your readings.

Apollia, I was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, at eight minutes past ten in the morning of November 13, 1962.

Err, sorry, Apollia, that anon post was me. Second time that's happpened!

It's a shame that the focus of this whole discussion is on using astrology for 'predicting' the future. I am certainly not an authority on this subject but I experienced great things and came to great insights to my own character thanks to astrology. And I am definately not 'soft' minded or specialy receptive to vague mambojambo in general. I actually am known amongst friends for being a verry critical and sceptical person.
If you really want to find out if it actually works or not I would advise you to first let go of the predicting side of astrology. This is, for mere mortals like us, way too advanced to detect or understand. The daily stuff in the magazines is just plain crap that has little to do with astrology. But a personality-chart made by an intelligent and wise astrologist however is an almost priceless gift. I can asure you.

The problem is: there are not that many really good ones. Mediocre astrologist and computer programs may make some good points. But to really understand someone and to be able to put this in the right words and context is really hard. This is best accomplished by actually talken to the person and seeing certain reactions to certain remarks. This way all the enviromental influences that also had a significant part in forming this person, can come to light. And understanding wy and how you think, do or say what you do will make you much more powerfull in dealing with everyday problems you encounter.

This is a really beautiful thing. And it's a shame not more people get to use this to improve their lives.

But don't take my word for it (tss, like you would...). Go find yourself a good astrologist. And this is not neccesarely the expensive one. Go talk to him or her and try to be open minded. You just might learn something. What do you have to lose?

And for all you technically schooled sceptics (which is good): buy the dvd "what the **** to we know" (there's also a part 2).
This gives you a very nice explanation by several professors, biochemists, filosophers, and other authorities on things like quantum physics etcetera, of how 'exact' these 'exact' sciences you study really are.

ps; my personal view on predicting:
Everything in existance manifests itself in the form of spirals. Depending on your point of view it is a circle or a wave. Waves have a pulse, a rythm. And a rythm can be predicted.
Too bad for us this rythm is so complex we perceive it as noise. Chaos. But it's not. We are just not able to decode it. And maybe we never fully will...

Hi patrick. I can't really think of a reply to your post (or at least, not quickly), but I just thought I'd say hi so you wouldn't feel like I was ignoring you... :-) Maybe I'll think of some replies later.

Actually, though, I will ask this - would you like to attempt the challenge too? The more the merrier, I think... :-)

Apollia

Thanks for your birth location, Big Al. I was about to you ask about that, but then I saw you had already mentioned it earlier in the thread, so I didn't... :-)

I made a command line which which can be copied and pasted into the freeware astrology software Astrolog 5.40 to easily produce your chart

-qa Nov 13 1962 10:08 GMT 0:21W 51:45N
21 degrees Sagittarius rising.

I also double-checked with a website with free chart calculation services (which I guess I'll refrain from naming because I don't want to seem like I'm advertising them) to make sure I got the time zone and hence your ascendant correct.

Assuming the above is all correct, that should be all I need as far as data from you. Since I already know your rising sign, I can't make guesses about it, so, there's no point in my asking for a self-description or anything... :-)

Are you going to privately down a summary of what happened in 1976, and perhaps send it privately to a trusted third party?

Apollia

Hi Jimmy_Blue.

Well, this post is a bit long, and there's a lot of perhaps boring "technical" junk related to astrolog. Sso, feel free to skim hastily rather than carefully read all of it.

Also, no extensive reply is necessary, unless you feel like it... :-) I just felt like going on at length a bit...

Good on you for stepping up, regardless of your own misgivings about astrology!

Thanks. :-) I enjoy the opportunity for this. It's the kind of thing that I seldom see happening on message boards related to astrology.


Regarding the differentiation between hits, half-hits, and misses - wow, those are some stringent requirements... :-) Maybe a bit too stringent, actually.

The trouble is, I don't think most astrologers would claim in the first place to be able to tell you something like, you will get a job (or that anything else will happen) on a specific, exact day. Maybe a range of days, or weeks, or perhaps even longer (if they're basing their prediction/guess on a slow outer planet transit).

As for exactly how wide that range of time might be - it depends on how fast the transit is (inner planet transits are faster than outer planet transits), and how wide of an "orb" (margin of error from an exact aspect) that an astrologer uses. One book I have recommends an orb of 1 degree, but some astrologers use more than that.

Anyhow, Pluto transits with a 1 degree orb can take over month - the one I'm looking at now from my own chart (just to get a ballpark figure on how long these can last), lasted 54 days.

I guess retrogrades can make certain transits take longer than others, but, I suppose 2 months or slightly less might be a reasonable range of time for at least a Pluto transit. With faster transits, like Jupiter transits, something like 10 days might be fair.

I guess if any astrologer employs the technique known as progressions, though, that will complicate things further, since progressed aspects tend to last a long time.

Some like to use what are called solar return charts for predictions as well - that's almost like a natal chart for how the year following your birthday is supposedly going to turn out for you. With those, I'm not sure how any details of timing are derived, or if there even is any method for doing so.

Fortunately, though, I think most astrologers are more inclined to rely primarily on transits for predictions, which will make it less complicated to figure out how wide of a range of time it might be fair to allow for a guess to qualify as a "hit".

In any case, I think any astrologer who posts guesses should name exactly what astrological factors and techniques they're basing each guess on, so perhaps the time range for a hit can be adjusted accordingly.


I think it's generally thought that the more exact the transit is, the more likely something notable, correlating with that transit, is going to happen.

But, on the other hand, the transiting Saturn in Gemini/Pluto in Sagittarius opposition that was happening in 2001 became exact for the first time on August 5th. As far as I knew (and know), seemingly nothing very notable happened that day, and after having observed various astrologers fretting about how this was supposedly one big, bad transit, I thought to myself, "hmm, so much for that - that transit was a dud, wasn't it?"

But then, a bit more than a month later, 9/11/2001 happened. Whereupon, spookily, it seemed almost as if the astrologers had been right to think that that was a big, bad transit - even though 9/11/2001 happened a while after the transit first became exact, about 36 days later, with Saturn and Pluto about 2°05' away from being in an exact opposition aspect (180°), and thus the timing was sort of off, at least if important events are expected to happen when the transit is exact.

Still, though, the attacks of 9/11 were (and still are) the most notable and horrific historical event that happened in my lifetime, and the atmosphere of fear and impending doom that followed it seemed to match the astrological meaning of the transit rather well.

Could've been just a coincidence, of course, but, it still seems a bit weird to me, especially for a transit which only happens around every 35 years or something. I sometimes wonder if things in general felt similarly scary and sinister to many people in early 1966, or late 1931 (around when other Saturn/Pluto oppositions took place).


The following has nothing to do with aspect orbs, or with what astrologers claim to be a range of time within which to expect events correlating with astrological transits to occur, but, I can't refrain from pointing out some additional odd-seeming coincidences related to that transit.

At that time, Saturn was in Gemini, the sign of the twins. Saturn is associated with buildings, and sometimes with things related to government. Pluto was in Sagittarius, a sign associated with foreigners, faiths, religions, world trade, long-distance travel (and perhaps even means of long-distance travel, like airplanes), etc. Pluto is associated with extremes, fanaticism, terrorism, destruction. The opposition aspect is associated with conflict between two opposing sides.

And, oddly enough, only a little more than a month after the Saturn in Gemini/Pluto in Sagittarius opposition became exact, the Twin (Gemini) Towers (Saturn) of the World Trade (Sagittarius) Center, along with other things, ended up being destroyed (Pluto) by airplanes (Sagittarius, maybe) flown into them by terrorists (Pluto) who were religious (Sagittarius) fanatics (Pluto).

I've always found those coincidences sort of weird. I don't think this means a specific prediction based on nothing but looking at a chart would have been possible, though. As far as I know, nothing in the charts was so specific that someone could have looked at some charts and determined from astrology alone that "the Twin Towers are going to be destroyed during this transit".

Even though the Saturn/Pluto opposition was thought to signify an upcoming period of serious difficulty (I once heard that aspect described as being like "the irresistible force vs. the immovable object"), it still would've taken a lucky guess to get the exact details right, since all the factors involved - Saturn, Pluto, Gemini, Sagittarius, and the opposition aspect - are associated with such a wide variety of different concepts, not only the seemingly "relevant" ones - buildings(Saturn); twins (Gemini); conflict (opposition); destruction, terrorism and fanaticism (Pluto); religion, foreigners, world trade (Sagittarius).

I have a book called "The Rulership Book" by Rex E. Bills, and it goes on for 21 pages listing things Saturn is associated with, for instance. I don't know how any astrologer could have narrowed things down and come up with an exact prediction of 9/11 based on nothing but what there is to see in an astrological chart.


Moving along to another possible problem - I also can't think of any astrological configurations that would prompt any astrologer to be able to say with certainty something as detailed as that someone was named a particular magazine's man of the year - or _any_ magazine's man of the year.

It's too specific - it would take luck, or knowledge that the person is already in a position where that might plausibly occur to them, to come up with the "magazine man of the year" idea, since the symbolism of the chart usually only provides basic, general ideas.

There's no planet, or even asteroid, as far as I know, that is associated solely with magazines, for instance.

In astrology, Mercury, Gemini, and the third house are associated with magazines, but those three things are all associated with so many other tons of things I think it would be very hard, if not impossible, to zero in on the idea "man of the year in a magazine" based on some astrological configuration involving Mercury, Gemini, and/or the third house.

I also have no idea if astrologers would even specifically expect any of those three things to be prominently involved in cases where people are named men of the year of a magazine.


I think the level of detail an astrologer would be able to get out of a chart alone is something like:

"You may have received a major career benefit or public accolade when Jupiter (the greater benefic) was conjunct your midheaven (related to career, authority, and your public image), at some time within maybe 5 days to either side of [whatever date the transit was exact]".

Came up with that little interpretation myself, just off the top of my head - it's not based on personal experience, though, as the transit (at least the most recent one I had; haven't checked the earlier one) didn't work that way for me. The above is just based on some of the standard, generally accepted (among astrologers) astrological meanings of the three different symbolic factors involved (Jupiter, midheaven, the conjunction aspect).

Here's an interpretation for the same transit which I suppose could be deemed more "authoritative", although, like mine, it's rather brief and I'm sure anyone imaginative with some familiarity with the things Jupiter, the midheaven, and the conjunction aspect are associated with in astrology could come up with additional interpretations. Quoting from some expensive astrology software I own (Kepler 5.0):

"A fortunate change of circumstances occurs in your work and career! You may receive a promotion, a job offer, a large contract, or salary increase. In one way or other, you step out of a situation that had become limiting and restrictive."

Each transit is thought to only present the increased likelihood of a range of possible events of a certain category - not absolute certainties, and not specifics like exactly who will give you a job offer, or even whether you will definitely get a job offer, and not something else that the transit is thought to correlate with, etc., etc.


Another complication is, even astrologers allow for the fact that a transit may not be able to play out in the "expected" fashion if one's circumstances don't realistically allow for it.

The last time I had the above transit (for me, it became exact on July 30, 2001, a day which I don't recall anything interesting happening on), I was a jobless hermit with no authority over anything, and no dealings with the public at large, not even a web page, and the only thing of note that happened around this time was, my family went on vacation beginning around Aug. 4th (and I declined to go), and, with the house all to myself, I had about a very pleasant, relaxing week of unbroken peace, freedom and solitude.

So, the transit didn't play out exactly like the above interpretations for me (except, maybe, for the last sentence of the second interpretation) - and I'm not even sure that what _did_ happen, which I just described, would be considered by astrologers to correlate perfectly well with that transit, unless maybe they thought the freedom from being annoyed with having to put up with my family was enough :-) , or rationalized that my good fortune came in the form of the sovereign authority I was blessed with for about a week, of being "master of the house" while everyone else was gone... :-)

Actually, though, with my Jupiter/midheaven transit involving Jupiter in Cancer, and Cancer being associated with one's home and family, maybe an astrologer might consider that interpretation plausible - who knows. I'd have to ask one... :-)

Unless I'm mistaken, only if I had been in a realistic position for the transit to play out - a position where I had a career, or dealt more with the public, or was maybe looking to get hired, or something - would an astrologer consider there to have been a significantly increased likelihood of the standard things signified by that transit.


So, you can see how the failure of a transit to play out in an expected way isn't seen by astrologers as invalidating astrology.

Transits aren't expected by astrologers to always play out in an obvious or external way, or sometimes at all, in the first place - so, if nothing really interesting happens during a transit, to astrologers, it's not like a supposedly infallible law of astrology has just been broken, and now astrology has been proven to be utter and complete rubbish.

Kind of like if the weather report tells you there's a 75% chance of rain, and then it doesn't rain - this one failure doesn't suddenly make you believe that the weather report is all useless nonsense, because you already accepted and expected that sometimes, the weather report will be wrong.


Regarding the example of a miss - "Something really important happened sometime between May and August." - I see no problems there, that is definitely a vague guess... :-)

I don't think any astrologer should have any problem getting more specific than that - probably providing a much narrower range of time (if their prediction is based on transits, and not some other technique like progressions), and stating some ideas about what _kind_ of really important thing might have happened.

Each planet's transit is associated with different distinct categories of events having an increased likelihood of happening while the transit is going on. (You can get an idea of the astrological meaning of some planets pretty easily even just through knowledge of mythology; for instance, Mars transits are sometimes associated with periods of increased feistiness, among other things; Mars being the god of war in Roman mythology).

So, I think there's pretty much no excuse for leaving it at "something really important happened" and saying no more... :-)

This is an excellent idea since it helps to remove our own bias from the challenge. Fortunately my wife keeps a journal that she wrote in virtually every day of last year, so this isn't a problem. I'd also be willing to provide this summary to someone like Skeptico so they can judge results rather than myself. I would not be willing to provide this to a third party who was an astrologer or bleever since I would not trust them to not pass this on to someone who said they would take up the challenge Big Al and I have issued.

I would not want to post the summary since that would mean you were the only astrologer able to take the challenge.

Excellent! This all makes good sense to me. :-)

I would report the number of hits, half hits and failures, but I would not report which ones were which.

Makes sense as well, but it'll be less gratifying for the astrologers participating not to have a chance to judge for themselves how well they did, and probably also frustrating for them since they won't be given an opportunity - after their (er, I guess I should say, our) probable miserable failure - to come up with a customized astrological rationalization for how the transits "actually really do" fit what really happened... :-)

Maybe at some distant future date you could release the details.

What you outline here, confirmation bias, wishful thinking, selective thinking/memory, plus the Forer effect are the reasons that astrology is seen as successful. As you point out they would equally influence both mine and Big Al's response to your reading as well, which is why skeptics try to account for them in tests of astrology. Most astrologers don't get this, so the fact that you do is very encouraging and gives me genuine interest in what the results are going to be.

:-) I'm flattered... :-)

I can find out at least the approximate, and will work on getting the exact time. When I do, do you want to know it?

Well, not until after I try to guess your rising sign.

After that, though, your birth time might come in handy for looking at your transits and so forth for 2006, since then I'll be able to see what planets were transiting various houses in your chart, and I'll know exactly where your moon is located, etc. It's possible to manage without all that, but it is thought to provide additional useful detail.

This is a little too woolly for me,

That's astrology for ya... :-)

Well, I guess it might not be necessary - maybe I can tell enough about your personality just from reading various of your posts.

So far I'm leaning the toward the idea that you have a fire sign rising, like Aries. From what I've seen, you seem very direct, straightforward, blunt, and very feisty.

I'll have to think about it some more, though, that's not my final guess... :-)

how can I tell how I come across to other people?

Well, I assumed that probably someone, somewhere has probably made some comment(s) to you about your overall demeanor.

I guess maybe it doesn't have to be people you barely know or just met - even my mother has observed things about me which seem like they could maybe correlate with Libra rising with Saturn conjunct the ascendant/1st house cusp - namely, that I seem to have an even, stable, calm demeanor, "like a rock", which is particularly reassuring in a crisis.

But maybe I unconsciously act like my chart because I know my own chart so well... :-)

Obviously my own bias shows that I come across as devilishly witty and charming,

Yes, you seem that way even in writing... :-)

This is also key information for a cold reading.

Well, only if it somehow gives away your time of birth or rising sign to me in either a way that makes it so I don't have to use only what I know of your personality as a basis for making a guess; or a way that takes all the guesswork out of it (such as you outright blurting, "I was born at [whatever] PM and I have [whatever] rising").

I suppose after you find out what your rising sign is, there could be some danger that you might somehow give it away, so perhaps I should simply try to judge based on what already seems apparent about you.

Or, you could refrain from looking at your own chart and finding out your rising sign once you find out your birth time, so your knowledge of your rising sign definitely won't influence what you say or how you act.

Also, depending on the social situation, my behaviour patterns are modified, further influencing how different people would see me at different times.

Yes, true. So many little details complicating things, dagnabbit... :-)

Anyhow, I was just trying to figure out how I could maybe glean details of your personality which relate only to the things thought to be described by one's rising sign/ascendant.

The ascendant is often considered to be like a mask, one's typical social persona, which might be quite different from one's real, inner self.

I was born in Liverpool, England.

Thanks.

Looking forward to your readings.

Thanks. I'll do my best... :-)

Duplicate post deleted.

OK, now I'm replying to the original blog post... :-)

Quote:
Here is the question: why did the astrologers perform no better than random chance?

[...]

Some advice. Don’t tell me astrology can’t be tested this way, or that astrology is somehow beyond the abilities of science to measure, unless you can explain exactly why this specific test is unsuitable as a means of testing astrology.

OK, that's what I'm going to try to do... :-)

I don't think astrology is somehow beyond the abilities of science to measure. Hope not, anyhow... :-)

I'm just going to try to explain why I think this specific test may be unsuitable for use in a test of astrology. I haven't read through all the tons of comments yet, so, sorry if I'm repeating anybody.

About a week ago, the night I was composing this message, I looked up the CPI test, the personality test that the 116 people were given. I hopefully found the correct test - I assume it might be this one: http://www.cpp.com/products/cpi/index.asp

And, I glanced at the sample versions of those on this page, the CPI™ 434 REPORTS: http://www.cpp.com/samplereports/reports.asp

In my subjective opinion, they're horrid... :-) The first possible problem that comes to mind is, maybe the astrologer couldn't entirely understand them. Those graphs and jargon are darned confusing, at least to me, in my impatient, hasty glance over these reports.


Next problem - tests like that are so impersonal. I don't think they really give you a clear sense of the individual person, the way a sample of their own writing might, or perhaps a piece of their artwork, or other types of self-expression, like a song they composed, etc.

I find the results so impersonal, I think it might even be difficult to judge which person out of three matches a certain CPI test result, even by observing the people first-hand - let alone figure out which of three confusing, impersonal CPI test results was the one belonging to the person whose natal chart the astrologer was given.


Actually, it occurs to me that trying to judge which of three people matches a certain CPI test result by observing the three people first-hand might be a worthwhile test in itself - to see if the CPI is actually providing any kind of a genuine, recognizable picture of the behavior and tendencies of the people tested.

If it really does provide a clear picture, then I would think it should be possible to match the test result to the person who took the test more frequently than chance.

(Hmm, for that matter, one could do a similar test with astrology - give an astrologer a chart, let the astrologer observe three different people, and see if the astrologer can match the chart to the correct person with results better than chance.)


Third problem that comes to mind - who knows if the test is properly interpreting the answers people give?

Different people might give the same answer on a given question, but all could have entirely different underlying motives for giving that answer.

For instance, the test could ask something like, "Do you feel happy with life in general?" (Wish I had a copy of the test questions so I could use a real example from the test, but I don't).

One person might say, "Yes" and it's sincerely true for them.

Another might say "Yes" because it seems like the normal, acceptable thing to say, and they don't want to seem "weird".

Another might say, "Yes", but actually, they're miserable, and they're only saying that because they just watched "The Secret" and they're now trying to think positively about everything and convince themselves they really are happy with life in general, in the hope that this will magically make it come true... :-)

Yet another might say "Yes" because, despite a sense of great inner discontent, they feel guilty for feeling bad when they have so many good things they feel they should be grateful for - and so they say "Yes" because if they admitted that the true answer is "No", they'd feel like despicable, ungrateful wretches, for having so many good things in their life and yet still being unhappy.

Still another might say "Yes", but actually, they're suicidal and they just don't want to give anyone any hints of their inner emotional state because they don't want anyone to try to stop them.

And another might say "Yes" because they think it's none of anyone's business if they're miserable.

And yet another might say "Yes" because they take devious glee in making psychological tests, designed to supposedly give true insight into their inner self, come up with drastically wrong results.

I could go on forever... :-) I can think of tons of different, relatively complex motivations that may lead different people to give the same simple answer to the same simple question.

But the scoring system might arbitrarily just give each of the above people, like, +5 for their "optimism" or "happiness" scores, just because of an assumption that a "Yes" answer to that question always indicates genuinely higher levels of optimism and happiness.

(Unfortunately, I can't do a better refutation than this without having more details about how the test is designed and scored).


So, those are the reasons that occur to me off-hand for why I think, at least for the sake of testing astrology, that getting some heavily filtered impression of a person's personality through looking at the the results of a multiple-choice(?) quiz, results which were compiled in Gawd knows what way, and which don't give you any insight into _why_ the person selected a certain answer, instead of just _what_ answer they selected...

...(though actually, you aren't even told _that_ much - you don't even see the exact answers the person selected, because all you're given in the results is a bunch of different scores which you have no idea how they were calculated. Not that I think seeing the original answers the person gave would help much, but it would be a little better than seeing only the personality trait scores with no explanation at all of the rationale behind how they were calculated)...

...may be far inferior to letting the astrologer examine the unfiltered, self-authored self-expression of the person. For instance, the person's own original writing, artwork, music, acting, or even just talking. Or really, just anything that truly shows off the person's own unique, personal style.

These CPI tests, I think, just don't convey any sense of that. I don't think I, or anyone, could really get deep insight into a person's personality based on multiple choice answers. (Especially not multiple choice answers I don't even get to see, which are instead filtered through some kind of unknown scoring process). I think I'd get a lot more out of the remarks some wiseacre might write in the margins... :-) Or some long, detailed replies to some essay questions.

I suspect that if astrology works at all, the astrologer would have to be given the opportunity to get adequate insight into a person's personality in order to be able to make correct guesses with more success than random chance.

I suspect, for the reasons outlined above, that the CPI test doesn't provide such an opportunity.

I think one idea for a better test might be to give the astrologer a natal chart, have the astrologer observe three different people, and then pick which of those three people the natal chart belongs to.

Well, guess that's all I can think of to say for now... :-) I'll try to get to work on the challenge pretty soon.

Apollia

Skeptico replies to patrick

Re: If you really want to find out if it actually works or not I would advise you to first let go of the predicting side of astrology.

If you mean predicting future events, I agree. I mean predicting what a person’s personality would be like. That is what astrology claims to be able to do. It fails in the tests I listed.

Apollia:

Thanks for actually answering the question – something most people have proved incapable of doing.

I’ll respond when I have more time this evening.

Patrick:

It's a shame that the focus of this whole discussion is on using astrology for 'predicting' the future.

Well since that is one of the many, and most important and would be the most useful features of astrology, don't you think that might be a good reason for focusing on it?

I am certainly not an authority on this subject but I experienced great things and came to great insights to my own character thanks to astrology.

That's nice, but it is also anecdotal evidence and so for the scientific testing of astrology it is useless.

I actually am known amongst friends for being a verry critical and sceptical person.

So you are staking your claim as a concern troll now, at least you are being honest.

If you really want to find out if it actually works or not I would advise you to first let go of the predicting side of astrology.

Sure. As soon as astrology lets go of the predicting side of astrology. Of course, I do find it telling that you wish to drop the most easily testable and falsifiable part of astrology, in order to prove astrology.

This is, for mere mortals like us, way too advanced to detect or understand.

Speak for yourself. Of course if people had thought like you, we'd still be in the Dark Ages. 'Its too hard, so don't bother.' You can keep your ignorance thanks.

The daily stuff in the magazines is just plain crap that has little to do with astrology.

Well I agree with you half way at least. However, it is funny that at least two people have come on here now and told us to stop testing the most common form of astrology because it is not 'real' astrology.

But a personality-chart made by an intelligent and wise astrologist however is an almost priceless gift. I can asure you.

Oh well, if you assure me, then that must be true. I'm converted. Instantly. My horoscopes said nothing about that. You are aware of what an oxymoron is though, aren't you?

The problem is: there are not that many really good ones.

No shit.

But to really understand someone and to be able to put this in the right words and context is really hard.

That must be why astrologers get it wrong, rely on the Forer Effect, make vague and unsubstantial guesses, make contradictory statements, and state the obvious.

This is best accomplished by actually talken to the person and seeing certain reactions to certain remarks.

Oh,you mean Cold Reading

At least you are honest enough to admit that is what astrologers do. Thanks.

This way all the enviromental influences that also had a significant part in forming this person, can come to light.

So, just to be clear, an intelligent and wise astrologer can predict a person's personality by getting to know them in person. Gosh. I'm an astrologer and I didn't even know it. Are you intentionally trying to tear down that which you hope to defend? Is this like serial killers leaving clues to their own identity and whereabouts?

And understanding wy and how you think, do or say what you do will make you much more powerfull in dealing with everyday problems you encounter.

No, really? What an insight.

This is a really beautiful thing. And it's a shame not more people get to use this to improve their lives.

Ah yes, us poor miserable skeptics and our terrible sad lives. Well done, it's all going to script so far.

Go find yourself a good astrologist.

Again with the oxymorons. How exactly do you determine a good astrologer, is it someone who doesn't make predictions?

Go talk to him or her and try to be open minded.

Oh, and we are close minded too. Hey Bronze Dog, what do you make the doggerel count to be from this post?

You just might learn something.

And us skeptics don't want to learn anything. Keep it up, your original arguments and statements are astounding in the ground they break.

What do you have to lose?

Time, money, self respect, dignity are a few that spring to mind.

And for all you technically schooled sceptics (which is good): buy the dvd "what the **** to we know" (there's also a part 2).

Oh, we're so glad you approve of us being technically schooled.

What the Bleep reviewed

of how 'exact' these 'exact' sciences you study really are.

Bingo, I have a full house. What do I win? Good old trusty 'science doesn't know everything/science has been wrong before.'

Everything in existance manifests itself in the form of spirals.

Does that include squares? How about triangles?

Depending on your point of view it is a circle or a wave. Waves have a pulse, a rythm. And a rythm can be predicted.
Too bad for us this rythm is so complex we perceive it as noise. Chaos. But it's not. We are just not able to decode it. And maybe we never fully will...

Now that there is some genuine woo. And quitter talk.

Now, I make typos and spelling errors, but someone who is going to spout philosophy should at least try and learn to spell 'philosopher' if they expect to be taken seriously.

Apollia:

Regarding the differentiation between hits, half-hits, and misses - wow, those are some stringent requirements... :-) Maybe a bit too stringent, actually.

Yes, I am sure it would be easy to pass the test if the results were not stricitly defined.

Maybe a range of days, or weeks, or perhaps even longer (if they're basing their prediction/guess on a slow outer planet transit).

In all honesty then, what use is it? I could tell someone that they may possibly get a new job sometime in May, and I bet I'd have a similar success rate. However, my prediction would be worthless.

As for exactly how wide that range of time might be - it depends on how fast the transit is

Again, then what use is it?

I guess if any astrologer employs the technique known as progressions, though, that will complicate things further, since progressed aspects tend to last a long time.

So are you saying that different astrologers would give different results given the same data, because they may not use the same techniques? Again, what use is it then, and how do we know which is the more trustworthy prediction?

which will make it less complicated to figure out how wide of a range of time it might be fair to allow for a guess to qualify as a "hit".

Anything longer than a couple of days either side of the exact date is unacceptable, and I'll tell you why later.

Whereupon, spookily, it seemed almost as if the astrologers had been right to think that that was a big, bad transit - even though 9/11/2001 happened a while after the transit first became exact

Here you are retro fitting the results. The astrologers didn't mention 9/11 did they, they were specific about another date? But since you can look back on it you can say 'Hey look, see they did know.' But they didn't. This is another common theme amongst astrology, fitting predictions to events after the fact. Predictions are useless if they are only effective after the fact.

As for the detail of what planet is associated with what 'things' I have one question, how was this determined?

As far as I know, nothing in the charts was so specific that someone could have looked at some charts and determined from astrology alone that "the Twin Towers are going to be destroyed during this transit".

So again I have to ask, what use is it then?

since the symbolism of the chart usually only provides basic, general ideas.

We know, that is what gives it the illusion of working.

"You may have received a major career benefit or public accolade when Jupiter (the greater benefic) was conjunct your midheaven (related to career, authority, and your public image), at some time within maybe 5 days to either side of [whatever date the transit was exact]".

This example is exactly the sort of thing that highlights the problem with astrology, and why I want the tests results to be more specific.

What type of career benefit:
new job
pay rise
promotion
new boss
new desk
new equipment
new office
new business partner
new company car
new technology
someone you didn't like got fired
new customer
closed that new deal
good performance review
office affair

What type of public accolade:
mentioned in the press
won an award for bravery
won an award for charity
won an award for environmental stewardship
awarded a knighhood
awarded an MBE
awarded an OBE
awarded a CBE
won an Oscar
won an Emmy
won a BAFTA
awarded a medal
given a testimonial match for you football career
won an award for your community work
attended a formal dinner thrown in your honour
recieved a lifetime achievement award

All of which (and it is far from an exhaustive list) is allowed to fall in a 10 day period (a third of a month).

Then the software gave you a result of:

A fortunate change of circumstances occurs in your work and career! You may receive a promotion, a job offer, a large contract, or salary increase. In one way or other, you step out of a situation that had become limiting and restrictive

Is just as generalised but looks a little more specific.

'fortunate change of circumstances' covers a lot of ground. The attempt to make it look specific is prefaced with 'may' to give the standard get out clause, and then we have the incredibly general 'In one way or other, you step out of a situation that had become limiting and restrictive.

So, in any possible way that could occur, and that is an almost infinite list, you get out of some kind of situation that was in some way restrictive or limiting. Who doesn't have a restictive situation to deal with? Its a dead cert that this would be a hit with almost anyone at any point in a year.

That's why I want specifics. If astrology can't give them then in my opinion it fails the test, but I'd like to see where it can go anyway. Call it curiosity.

Another complication is, even astrologers allow for the fact that a transit may not be able to play out in the "expected" fashion if one's circumstances don't realistically allow for it.

So are you saying astrology can be working correctly and still give predictions that are impossible? I have to ask once more, what use is it then?

So, you can see how the failure of a transit to play out in an expected way isn't seen by astrologers as invalidating astrology.

Yes, and that is the problem. If it is unfalsifiable then it is pseudoscience and not worthy of consideration. What you are saying is that when astrology makes vague and general guesses that can be interpreted in many ways to make a hit astrology is right, and when it is wrong, it is still right.

Kind of like if the weather report tells you there's a 75% chance of rain, and then it doesn't rain - this one failure doesn't suddenly make you believe that the weather report is all useless nonsense, because you already accepted and expected that sometimes, the weather report will be wrong.

We know that weather prediction is not useless because we can explain why the prediction did not come about and without contradiction of the science behind the prior weather forecast. We also know how and why the science of meteorology has developed. However, a failed astrology prediction must be explained by contradicting the theory behind the prior prediction. We do not know how the rules of astrology have been determined.

@ jimmy blue
I'm not going to spend all my precious time on demolishing your easy comments. It's a waste of time. You probably have an answer to anything. But I don't need to make a chart to see you are a verry bitter little person. You don't want to find out. Then don't.
Btw; I make a few spelling errors because I'm not an english native speaker, not out of stupidty.

Patrick:

I'm not going to spend all my precious time on demolishing your easy comments. It's a waste of time.

You just keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better. I won't tell anybody the truth if you don't.

You probably have an answer to anything.

Oh I absolutely do not have an answer to everything, no skeptic or scientist would.

But I don't need to make a chart to see you are a verry bitter little person.

Score one more doggerel point in extra time for 'All you skeptics are just bitter.'

You woos are so boring, do you have anything new to say at all?

And you're wrong. But don't let that get in the way of demonstrating your staggering arrogance on the matter:

'Anyone who disagrees with me about astrology and can show why must be a very bitter little person because I am right.'

And woos accuse skeptics of arrogance.

Btw; I make a few spelling errors because I'm not an english native speaker, not out of stupidty

I see. Does being a non-native speaker prevent you from using a dictionary as well? Of course, poor spelling does not indicate stupidity anyway and I never said it did. But where are you from? I'll try to locate a good X to English dictionary online for you.

So come on, if its easy it shouldn't take too long and think of the service you would be doing for astrology and astrologers.

Come on Patrick, demolish me.

Skeptico replies to Apollia

Thanks again for actually answering the question I asked. I have responses to some of your specific points, below.

Re: I looked up the CPI test, the personality test that the 116 people were given.

[…]

In my subjective opinion, they're horrid... :-) The first possible problem that comes to mind is, maybe the astrologer couldn't entirely understand them.

The test was devised and run by astrologers recommended by the National Council for Geocosmic Research for their expertise in astrology and in their ability to use the CPI.

Re: I don't think they really give you a clear sense of the individual person, the way a sample of their own writing might, or perhaps a piece of their artwork, or other types of self-expression, like a song they composed, etc.

The CPI was chosen by the astrologers “because the advising astrologers judged the CPI attributes to be closest to those discernable by astrology.” (“Nature” page 420.)

Even if the CPI is not 100% accurate, you would still expect results more accurate than chance. The “pure chance” results from this test show that either the CPI or astrology (or both) are no better than chance. Are you saying astrology has validity but the CPI is no better than random chance? That doesn’t sound like the most parsimonious explanation.

Re: Actually, it occurs to me that trying to judge which of three people matches a certain CPI test result by observing the three people first-hand might be a worthwhile test in itself - to see if the CPI is actually providing any kind of a genuine, recognizable picture of the behavior and tendencies of the people tested.

Here you are testing the ability of someone to determine a person’s personality just by observing them, as well as testing the CPI. For this to be valid you would have to demonstrate that astrologers could select the accurate description of the subject from two controls, just based on looking at their artwork, observing them, or whatever. And it would have to be impossible for the astrologers to communicate with the subject – to obtain natal information about them by other means.

If I could summarize – you are saying the CPI might not be accurate. I suppose that could be true, but I don’t think your proposal for examining the person's own original writing, artwork, music, acting etc would be any better, and most likely would be less accurate. Also, this method would be open to sensory leakage – other ways to match the charts.

This is an interesting topic and I have just written a more detailed post to examine it in more detail. For simplicity, I have closed the comments to this post – please make any new comments on astrology on the new post - Testing Astrology – Again

The comments to this entry are closed.

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