1. Carl Sagan isn't exactly known for good science.. my guess is he's to science what you said horoscopes astrologists are to astrology.
      posted by Sean at 09:29:14 PM on July 18, 2004  
  2. Back in the day, I kind of enjoyed his Cosmos book... except for the snide remarks about astrology, of course. ;-)
      posted by Hans Nowak at 10:47:34 PM on July 18, 2004  
  3. Ok, I'll bite.

    You're allowed to believe whatever you want. But, whether you like it or not, astrology is a science. Bad science, but science nevertheless. It is therefore subject to scientific tests.

    Why is it a science? Because, like any other science, astrology is about prediction. Whether it's in the trivial sense such as 'the planets are in this position and therefore that will happen' or the more scientific sense 'there is a correlation between a persons horoscope and personality'. Astrology is about prediction, and predictions can be tested.

    By the way. This is one reason why so many scientists with so little knowledge about astrology are so hostile to it. Scientists may not know much about astrology or any other pseudo-science, but they do recognize a prediction whenthey see one. There's nothing that pisses them of more than the claim that there is some correlation between A and B and the claim that that correlation is not scientifically verifiable (read not falsifyable). Astrologers piss
    scientists off because astrologers don't understand the meaning of the word 'prediction'.

    The other reason of the hostility? A lot of pseudo science is simply incompatible with science (the rest is simply too vague to be wrong). Most
    people that believe in the pseudo sciences (astrology, homeopathy, phrenology,
    creationism, to name a few) don't seem to realise that they make/imply statements of fact that contradicts some of the very basics of
    physics/astronomy/chemistry/biology. I don't like to call people who believe in astrology idiots, but I would like people who state their believe in
    astrology to me, to be a little more aware how often they are implying that one of us is an idiot.

    You say that there is no scientific proof for a correlation between horoscope and personality. Hogwash, there is scientific proof that there is no such correlation.

    Consider the following experiment: Write down the detailed descriptions of the personality, characteristics and life history of twenty people, be as specific and/or subjective as you want. Next, write down the twenty birth dates (and
    any other detail necessary to make a good horoscope) of these people and ask a number of astrologers to match the birth dates to the descriptions. If there is _any_ correlation between horoscope and personality, I would expect that the astrologers will score better than chance in matching birth-dates to personality description. They don't.

    Do you agree that this may be a test of the validity of astrology?

    You may wish to consider the four possible outcomes of this experiment

    1. Astrology is 'true' and the astrologers score better than chance.

    2. Astrology is 'true' but the astrologers don't score better than chance.

    3. Astrology is not 'true' and astrologers don't score better than chance.

    4. Astrology is not 'true' but the astrologers score better than chance.

    In what ways do we have to modify this experiment to elliminate possibilities 2 and 4?

    I didn't think of this test myself. Here are two references.



    Roeland Rengelink
      posted by Roeland Rengelink at 08:53:17 AM on July 19, 2004  
  4. I don't consider myself a really good astrologer, but I would love to do such a test. If only to find out for myself if my interpretations are valuable or not.

    I don't like personality reports written or filled out by the people themselves, though. If nothing else, it should be augmented by reports of what *others* think of the person.
      posted by Hans Nowak at 04:02:47 PM on July 19, 2004  
  5. "Real" astrology?
    Real as like what? UFOs or WMDs in Iraq? :-)

    Astrology belongs to the category of religions.
    Believe it or not. It has NOTHING to do with science.
      posted by Prisz at 07:19:11 AM on July 22, 2004  

  6.   posted by Kathline Sharon at 08:37:24 PM on July 24, 2004