The Gordian Knot

Astrologer Robert Curry's main page is called Why it is no longer acceptable to say astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis, and on this page you can find the following quote: "Astrology goes far beyond the popularised Sun-Sign columns published in newspapers and magazines."

If that is true, then why do astrologers write the Sun-Sign columns? I think Robert Curry and his fellow astrologers owe the public an explanation for this contradiction in the astrological profession. There is a moral / ethical issue at stake here: If sun sign columns are rubbish, then follows logically that any astrologer, who produces Sun Sign columns, is a scammer and a fraudster. Or else there is a reasonable explanation, which hasn't yet been articulated.

However, the problem remains: How can you expect scientists or skeptics to take astrology seriously, as long as astrology also contains popular sun sign columns? The problem for most astrologers is of course that the sun sign columns constitute an important part of their financial income. They couldn't do without it. Somehow Robert Curry's struggle is empty, as long as he hasn't solved this dilemma.

Of course one solution would be to discriminate between pop-astrologers (the ones who author sun sign columns) and more serious astrologers, but the question is then how to define the "serious" astrologers. Michel Gauquelin had a very strict definition, which excluded any kind of "fortune telling", the psychologically oriented astrologers have another definition, and the people behind the magazine Correlation have a third definition. And as long as the astrologers cannot even agree on such a definition among themselves, it is hard to expect any kind of recognition of astrology from the rest of the world.

A simple solution to this problem is at hand: Any part of astrology, which fulfils Karl Popper’s criterion of falsifiability, can and shall be regarded as science:

"A falsifiable theory is one that makes a specific prediction about what results are supposed to occur under a set of experimental conditions, so that the theory might be falsified by performing the experiment and comparing predicted to actual results. A theory or explanation that cannot be falsified falls outside the domain of science. For example, Freudian psychoanalysis, which does not make specific experimental predictions, is able to revise its theory to match any observations, in order to avoid rejecting the theory altogether. By this reckoning, Freudianism is a pseudoscience, a theory that purports to be scientific but is in fact immune to falsification. In contrast, for example, Einstein’s theory of relativity made predictions (like the bending of starlight around the sun) that were novel and specific, and provided opportunities to disprove the theory by direct experimental observation. Advocates of Popper’s definition would seem to place on the same level as pseudoscience or nonscience every statement — of metaphysics, ethics, theology, literary criticism, and indeed daily life — that does not meet the criterion of falsifiability." (Quote: The Folly of Scientism by Austin L. Hughes)

Actually Robert Curry has collected a list of such scientific projects and published it here. The question is if such projects elevates astrology as it is practiced into a science.


Spiritual laziness

At Astrology News Service you can read the article "The Multi-faceted Layers of Astrology" by Greg Bogard.

Quote #1: "One of the most important skills for an astrologer to master is the art of guiding ourselves, our loved ones, and our clients to fulfillment and success in our vocation, in our careers, in the path of our heart’s desire."

Quote #2: "Ultimately, the natal Sun is the primary vocational indicator. In addition to studying the dispositors of the Ascendant and MC and the overall sign and house emphasis of a chart, I closely examine natal Sun’s house and sign, solar aspects, and the placement of the Sun’s dispositor."

My comment: If astrology was that simple, I am sure Michel Gauqelin would have documented it in his extensive statistical research of charts belonging to various professional categories. And it wouldn't have been necessary for John Addey to write his masterpiece, "Harmonics in Astrology". And it would not have been difficult to convince the skeptics about the value of astrology. Anyway, the chart collections are available on the Internet - for example at AstroDataBank - so anybody can verify that Greg Bogard's claims do not hold.

The problem with Greg Bogard and like-minded astrologers, is that they never bother to test their claims, before presenting them. To them astrological dogma are true, if they are old and have been passed over by previous generations. That is how representatives and high priests of a religious faith think. Neither curiousity nor new approaches are needed, only gullibility and submission.

Astrologers complain about the skeptics, that they are prejudiced, too harsh and not fair. But when the majority of the astrologers are chained to habitual thinking and spiritual laziness, the astrological community deserves the mean tricks conducted by the skeptics - unfortunately.


Stone Soup

At Wikipedia you can read a version of the folk story called Stone Soup:

"Some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travellers. Then the travellers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travellers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavour, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travellers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all."

The story came to my mind, when I read a review about an astrology book, "Using Astrology to Create a Vocational Profile" by Faye Cossar. You can read the full review here.

Quote #1: "This book presents the approach to astrologically-informed career counselling that Faye has developed over more than ten years. It was influenced at the outset by her work alongside career counsellors, and she has subsequently developed it through her work with clients. The central thread of the book is the vocational profile (VP), also known as a personal career profile (PCP). The PCP is a document which an individual creates for themselves, with input from a counsellor or astrologer."

Quote #2: "The approach that Faye presents here has two specific advantages: it equips the astrologer to address career issues with a style that dovetails into contemporary expectations and practice (as she says, 'we need to market our services better' - p.25); and, it presents a way for the astrologer to work which involves the client doing a good share of the work, and which should therefore be vivifying and affirming for them."

Quote #3: "The last point is worth dwelling on. Faye repeatedly asserts that 'ASTROLOGERS DO TOO MUCH WORK FOR THEIR CLIENTS!' (p.10; cf p.25, p.27). In her approach, 'the client does all the writing, note-taking, research and anything else required' (p.10). Also, wherever possible, the client kicks things off by writing an autobiographical sketch which the astrologer can evaluate before the first session."

It is amazing that the story about Stone Soup, which dates back to medieval times, is still relevant in our modern times. Confidence tricks seem to always follow the same patterns, no matter how they may appear. But I am sure Faye Cossar's clients are satisfied, just like the villagers in the tale were happy with the soup.



Good marketing. Good science?

I think it was Albert Einstein, who in an interview humbly stated that "I am standing on the shoulders of giants." Albert Einstein was on of the most modest men, who has ever lived. The same cannot be said about some of the astrologers, who as a means to generate sales refer to their own scientific endeavours.

Astrologer Kevin McCorry on his website: "The Magi Society has conducted research on every single contemporary professional baseball, basketball, football and North American hockey player. In addition every all-time-great player for any era was added to the list. To top it all off, the best tennis or golf players throughout history were included. This research was one of the largest and most comprehensive astrological studies ever attempted."

Kevin McCorry does not supply any details about the research at this page, but on another page he proclaims:

"Today the Magi Society is the largest international astrological association in the world, with well over 5000 members. It has the largest research database of astrological charts in existence, numbering well over 100,000. Using powerful computers and the world's most sophisticated astrological software, the Magi Society maintains its status as the leading astrological organization in the world as they continue to discover new breakthroughs and advances in astrology at a breakneck pace. The Magi Society is unearthing dynamic new astrological findings on a regular basis. The Magi Society's ongoing research results are available on our website: www.magiastrology.com."

I have followed the astrological research debates in the media and on the Internet since 1995, when the Internet was born, and I have never heard about neither the Magi Society nor its alleged research before now. But then again, I am merely a humble astrologer. ;-)

I wondered why I had not heard or read about Kevin McCorry's research before - after all he has been active in astrological research at least since 2007. Then I looked into www.magiastrology.com and discovered that the "over 100,000 charts" from the above quote in reality were birth dates without birth times, and that Kevin McCorry's research only includes "planetary geometry", i.e. the aspect circle, which measured in harmonics represent 73% of a chart. He leaves out both the zodiac circle and the diurnal circle (i.e. planets in houses), which Michel Gauquelin's discoveries indicate is of significant importance in a chart.

As for the alleged 5,000 members of the Magi Society: I cannot believe that a society with so many members will accept a society website, which doesn't even have a discussion forum - not in 2015! Therefore I tend to believe that the number is exaggerated. As far as I can see the only member of the Magi Society is Kevin McCorry himself.