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Jul 14 2010

If it smells like Funk, it must be astrology

Yeah, I made a Black Eyed Peas reference and a non-ad-hominem attack in the title. Whatcha gonna do about it? I’ll be cross-posting everything below the fold at his site and will add the link here momentarily. I’ve cross-posted it here, though it’s apparently still in moderation due to the copious amount of links. Update: Jamie has pulled it out of the spam queue, right here. He edited it down to a link back here. Color me underwhelmed.

As I’m cross-posting, I plan on adding images and other kitsch to my post here to break up the wall-of-text effect, after the fact. I’ll save my most sarcastic commentary for their captions, naturally.

Brace yourselves. This is gonna be another long one.

Deepwater Horizon on fire

This tragedy could have been prevented, if only Jamie Funk had finished his star chart eleven days sooner! Not that he would have even thought to start it before the disaster, mind you. We need to hire a billion astrologers to foretell every possible event everywhere on Earth. Or a really big computer to process every possible combination.
(from sevensidedcube.net)

Jamie Funk, of Funk Astrology, saw my post linking to his postdiction of the BP oil spill at Deepwater Horizon via the trackback I left enabled, and saw it as a glove across the face. He has invited me to debate with him over at his blog, ostensibly as it would “get my message to a larger audience”. I suspect rather it’s so that I would be forced to air my concerns about astrology in front of a hostile audience, one that’s already primed to believe astrology to be unimpeachable and supported by ample historical evidence, with many recorded “hits” and very few recorded “misses”. I will be cross-posting this post as a comment on his blog, in direct response to his invitation, and I strongly encourage proper, reasoned debate, with the understanding that I’m not terribly interested in what makes your special brand of astrology different from all the others, but rather am interested in proof that astrology as a field could have any kind of verifiable, falsifiable effect on humanity.

George Dubya

The Dunning-Kruger Effect gave us this guy. Call it the 'doubling down principle', applied to idiocy.
(from englishrules.com)

Any argument I can make against astrology, because the field is comprised of so many competing and conflicting arguments about specific methodologies, can be shrugged off with a simple “but that’s not what MY astrology says!” So, there’s a bit of a draw, in my mind, toward creating another overarching deconstruction of astrology along the same lines as my recent Why Prayer is Nonsense series. Others have done it so much more proficiently. There are even peer-reviewed scientific papers that deconstruct the whole concept. However, I’m aware that very few of these resources are going to be utilized by the majority of the readers of this post. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is very likely to dissuade many of Funk’s readers from even making an attempt at reading this (admittedly long) comment, much less honestly analyzing the arguments or falling into one of several counterpoints I hope to mention below.

Screenshot from Dragon Warrior 1

The first PRNG I ever noticed, was Dragon Warrior 1 for the NES. Whatever you name your character, determines your stats. Go ahead, name him Joe. Bet you'll start with 13 hit points.

I’ve made mention in the previous post of the concept of a pseudo-random number generator (PRNG). It’s a computer term, and the name is slightly misleading. In terms of using a computer to generate a random number, it’s pretty much impossible to guarantee randomness in this deterministic universe in which we live. The closest thing we can manage is to build formulae that take a defined bit of input (a “seed”), and output a seemingly random number. However, given the same seed, the PRNG will generate the same sequence of numbers every single time. So, it’s not REALLY random — it’s a mathematical formula that gives you the same result every time you feed in the same numbers. The word “random” doesn’t imply that you’re throwing dice when you draw up a natal chart. On the contrary — if you’re following the same rules and use the correct planets and locations and dates every time you draw up a chart, you’ll end up with the same results.

John Travolta's natal chart

John Travolta's natal chart, from shortly before his son died, predicting that they'd have another child. Notice the comments on this image's source, correcting the record -- or rather, cooking the books to make a failed prediction a success. NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT JAMIE FUNK'S WORK! WOULDN'T WANT HIM ACCUSING ME OF SLANDER OR SOMETHING!!!

Natal charts function, approximately, as follows. The sun signs are placed around a circle, degree marks notching off the full 360 degrees in a slight simplification of the actual heavens, and based on whatever “house rules” you or your astrologer happens to use for your calculations, you mark where the planets were at a specific time and on a specific location on Earth. You then take those planets’ relative alignments and see what neat geometrical patterns you can find in them — the aforementioned Yods or Y-shapes, quincunxes, and a whole host of other configurations. You also take note of what houses the planets land in, and you get to work interpreting these auspicious correlations. It is as much art as science at this point — you can choose either to employ specific historical aspects for planets and the houses they land in, or you can make up some of your own, e.g. ignoring the sun sign as anything other than a convenient placeholder, a la Kepler.

statue plus mars

Pictured here: Mars. Also, a statue of some imaginary guy. Inset: some bad photoshopping of stars IN FRONT OF Mars.
(from a forum thread at upsidebackwards.info)

Most astrologers like to ascribe the classical conception of the gods that particular planets were named after — e.g., Mars, despite being a barren and cold rustball, symbolizes war and passion and courage and heat. Pluto, despite being incredibly distant and so small as to be demoted to a dwarf planet, has all the influence of the god of the Underworld, driving evolution and life by meting out death and change (and for some reason, sex). To make matters more complicated and the results more elegant, each planet is associated with a gender, as with each star sign, and the combinations of genders also modify your results.

Every additional layer of information added to the formula increases the amount of interpretation that can be done on the results, and therefore to the amount of possible predictions that can be made. Because of the vast range of potentialities in any single set of aspects, you’d be hard pressed to find two astrologers who predict the same thing with the same chart. And results often include “X’s place in Y house may complicate/modify Z” giving every prediction a fuzzy margin against which you can lean when it turns out your predictions didn’t quite work. It’s only ever just enough to mask the misses, but never enough to sully the hits.

multi-sided dice

Imagine Dungeons and Dragons with a 1d100,000,000,000. You'd be basically rolling a sphere, for all intents and purposes.
(from Wired.com)

The pseudo-random number generator of natal astrology is deep enough that it will produce a very… VERY large range of configurations, which is a necessary prerequisite for any engine at the center of a machine that can ostensibly predict basically anything in the world. It’s like having a billion-sided die, in terms of randomness, even if the specific configurations can be predicted and calculated through known and duplicable methods.

The problem I have with astrology has nothing to do with what I’ve mentioned above. In fact, I have a sympathy for the idea of it — it all makes so much sense, if you just accept that the planets must have some sort of effect. That’s where it loses me, though. The whole thing pre-supposes an effect, one that can’t be measured, detected or verified.

scientific method

Hmm... smells kind of like... science! NOTE THAT THIS IMAGE ALSO HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JAMIE FUNK'S WORK. WHATSOEVER.

In most fields of human knowledge, the process generally goes as follows:

  1. Observe an effect
  2. Test to see if the effect is real, and keep testing until you’re certain
  3. Measure the effect
  4. Try to figure out what causes it
  5. Make predictions based on the data you’ve collected in the previous steps
blue screen of death

Windows crashed again. Either Mercury's in retrograde, or it's a day ending in Y.

Astrology works on the assumption that the position of the planets and other celestial bodies has a tangible effect on the course of human events. It was built off of portends and omens, people trying to detect agency in jarring events like natural disasters and political upheaval. The second step listed above was never really done. It could be done easily — for instance, if you think for instance that Mars has a role in causing wars, find wars where Mars wasn’t in a position to influence. Or, conversely, find situations where Mars could theoretically cause a war, but didn’t. Remember the “misses”, as well as the “hits”, when you look at the sum total of all the predictions ever made. When Mercury goes retrograde, do you remember all the times Windows didn’t crash? Do you remember all the times Windows crashed when it wasn’t in retrograde? Did you count those as misses, or did you count them as the normal course of events? Did you ever tally up how often Windows crashes during the course of your computer’s lifespan, and see if there IS a statistical jump when Mercury’s doing its back-swing?

refrigerator fuses

Refrigerator fuses. The gods and the planets both fucking hate these things. Steer clear lest you be smote.
(from allproducts.com)

And if someone handwaves away the misses by claiming to have made a calculating error, or to have underestimated the influence of a particular celestial body, remember that as a miss, not a hit. Recognize it as a post-hoc rationalization, a “cooking the books” so to speak. Realize when a claim to superior knowledge becomes unfalsifiable — when it’s impossible to DISprove something because the goalposts move. And if you can think to do so, remember the times when you could predict something based on other factors — such as a several-year-old refridgerator fuse being due to blow out — and you went and ascribed that event to some magical influence from a planet, when old refridgerator fuses happen to blow every single day somewhere on Earth.

Astrology also skips part three, wherein effects are measured. Sure, there’s a ton of different aspects that can show up, but what effect does each one have? Is a quincunx a multiplier? How much of a multiplier? And how much potency does each planet have? What unit of measurement is used to determine how powerful a particular planet’s influence is?

And for that matter, what IS the planet’s influence? Astrology also skips part 4, in either postulating heretofore unknown and unmeasurable energies. We know that in this universe, by our current model of physics (without which much of the technology we enjoy today would not exist), there are only four fundamental “forces” — that is, four types of energy that can be transmitted between objects at a distance. There’s the weak force, the strong force, electromagnetic force, and gravitational force. The weak and strong forces act within the scope of atoms, and by the time you’re a billionth of a metre away from it, it ceases to have any effect whatsoever. One holds atoms together, and the other peels them apart via kickstarting the process of radiation.

I'm finding myself drawn to this obstetrician. Don't worry though, beloved wife -- it's just gravity.
(from femalecare.net)

Gravity is an obvious choice for a force, since we have empirical evidence that it can have an effect over very great distances. It’s powerful enough to bend light, even. However, in the context of the universe around us, the moon is the only celestial object near enough to perturb our orbit around the sun. It drives the tides that churn up the oceans and allow sea life to survive on the nutrients that get picked up from the sediment on the sea floor. And the sun has 99% of the mass of our solar system, so between it and the moon, any gravitational influence felt by an object as distant of Pluto is negligible. In fact, as Carl Sagan said in Cosmos, the gravity of the obstetrician is far greater than the gravity of Pluto when you were born — born in the hospital that is today possible thanks to the technology we’ve created with our scientific understanding of this universe.

They Might Be giants - Why Does the Sun Shine? album

Yo ho it's hot; the sun is not / A place where we can live. / But here on Earth there'd be no life / Without the light it gives!

And if you want to go the electromagnetic route, well, not every object has an electromagnetic field. Not every object is large enough or still hot enough internally to have a molten core, much less one with a solid nickel-iron alloy inner core that’s probably generating our electromagnetic field via the dynamo action from our angular momentum. And any electromagnetic influence in our solar system would be completely drowned out by the one celestial body upon which all life on this planet depends: the sun. The life-giving radiation of the sun wouldn’t exist without the nuclear inferno driving the sun, which generates an electromagnetic field large enough that a stray solar flare could wipe out our orbital satellites even if all the “fire” had long since dissipated in its eight-minute trip across space to reach us.

Which brings to bear another failing of astrology: how can tiny, distant objects have equal bearing on individual lives on Earth to the very close or very powerful ones like the moon and sun, at such a great distance? If every other force known to humankind diminishes over distance, but astrology posits that the planets have some effect that does NOT diminish over distance, then what of the fact that there are over a billion asteroids in our solar system that are over 100m across? That there are objects bigger than Pluto in our neighborhood, like Eris, which is three times further from the sun than Pluto; objects of approximately the same size and distance, like Makemake, which is at a steep incline compared to the rest of the solar system’s orbital plane; or objects like Sedna, which takes 12,000 years to orbit the sun but does so at such a strange incline that it is sometimes closer than Eris, most of the time not? What about the fact that there are 464 known extrasolar planets (at time of writing), and that’s just around stars we’ve investigated so far? What about the fact that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy, and hundreds of billions of visible galaxies in the visible part of the universe? Do those planets and stars have an effect? Does it decrease over distance? How quickly does it decrease? And did you just make up those numbers, since you have never bothered to measure or even verify that there’s an effect to be had? What about the mere fact that the position of any particular object you see, is lagged by the time it took for light to bounce off it and return to Earth, so you don’t actually know where it is NOW except by mathematical calculations that were probably never included in your already complicated pseudo-random number generators?

tv static

This is not a medium for making predictions. It's static displayed on a TV. That static is partly from the cosmic background radiation caused by the Big Bang. Seriously. Look it up, it's awesome.

So there is, ultimately, no force that astrology can point to, to explain how distant planets can have any kind of effect; and there are too many distant planets and stars that your planetary effect cannot account for. The error bars on any of your calculations are so great that you’re probably just guessing anyway. There’s too much noise for any signal to come through, and nobody’s bothered to check to see if what you’re seeing is ACTUALLY signal, or if you’re reading tea-leaves. That is to say, you’re seeing the Virgin Mary in toast. Um, it’s saying you can read lumps on someone’s head and determine what kind of person they are. Err, I mean, you’re looking at a sorta-random pattern, and instead of marvelling at the fact that we’ve figured out how to predict how the pattern will proceed mathematically, you’re trying to tell me that it can predict things. I sense I’m losing my audience here, so I ought to wrap up.

If anything in the above explanation is incorrect in the context of astrology, I apologize. The point was not to make a caricature of your deeply held beliefs. It was to show that they are unfounded entirely. That I don’t understand what the Moon being in Virgo means in your field should not obfuscate the fact that the Moon only has influence over our tides, not our fates. I am acutely aware that you will probably not come out of having read the above, thinking anything other than that I am a poor deluded fool — I mean, you have your livelihood to defend, and you’ve invested too much of your life in this concept for it to turn out to be wrong. If you think that about me though, don’t be surprised if others think the same about you.

And understand that, if there were any kind of verifiable, measurable effect, if you could show me some evidence of what’s causing the effect, how it works, and make some predictions that couldn’t be ascribed to pure chance or keen understanding of local political, meteorological or social events, then you could convert me. You just have to show how it works scientifically. That shouldn’t be hard to do, if these planets have such a huge influence and if Jamie Funk is everything he says he is.

Kepler's REAL legacy: heliocentrism. Also, getting repeatedly dissed by Galileo.
(from visualstatistics.net)

Johannes Kepler’s great achievement was not his astrological predictions. It was that he figured out some very hairy math about Mercury’s orbit, and helped to break humankind’s insistence that the universe is geocentric with fixed circular orbits of the planets, and a solid firmament sphere encompassing it. I am happy that astrology has assisted in turning stargazing into science, and I am happy at all the knowledge about the nature of our universe that we’ve since achieved. However, it’s time to put astrology back on the shelf. It’s outlived its usefulness in driving people to look up at the stars.

Now we have real reasons to look up at the stars — to discover more about our universe, and to do so with a truly open mind. Let the universe tell us its story. Be satisfied with the real answers it gives, and go only where the evidence leads, not where you wish it would lead. Every bit of the real science I’ve discussed (though in most cases grossly oversimplified) was directly derived from this evidence. And every bit of it is so amazing, I’m surprised anyone looks at the universe as it stands and determines that it is insufficient, that there “must be something more”.

Thanks for your time, and let the stone-throwing begin.

Further reading:
Religious Prophecies and Confirmation Bias, over at Atheist Climber. VERY related, despite the misleading title. At the very least, check out the James Randi video.

438 comments

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  1. 1
    Atheist Climber

    Hey nice one, I was writing about Astrology last night and posted this:
    “Religious Prophecies and Confirmation Bias”

  2. 2
    Glendon Mellow

    Brilliantly said Jason, especially the last two paragraphs.

  3. 3
    Atheist Climber

    I do have a tendency to give my blog posts slightly misleading titles, but there is always a reason.

    BTW, your post is a great supplement to the other sources you’ve cited here, I’ve actually taken your sources and added them as further reading on my blog posts. I will be writing further on this, but I might save the REALLY good stuff for my book (yes I am planning on writing a book.)

    Cheers mate

    AC

  4. 4
    anonstargazer

    Hello, I found and actually really enjoyed your article. Your opinion is extremely valid and thank you for sharing it. As someone who has studied astrology for a very long time, I am fully aware of its flaws. I love what you mention here regards the misses, as it is just so easy to cook the data to suit some brainwave or another you have had whilst thinking about astrology and its complexities. I enjoy astrology as a symbolic form of understanding certain possibilities, but draw the line in considering it as anything absolute. As you mention here, there is no agreement on what house system should be adopted, if the tropical or sidereal zodiac is more accurate, and the lists go on. There are far too many schools of thought, opinions and the amount of authoritative voices out there due to the internet, without much knowledge to support their claims (and their fees), make it a bit embaressing really. The forefathers would be tossing in their graves!

  5. 5
    Jamie Funk

    “I’ve cross-posted it here, though it’s apparently still in moderation due to the copious amount of links.”

    Your pingback is on my recent comments, but there are no comments awaiting moderation on my blog.

  6. 6
    Jamie Funk

    You singled out my astrology blog, yet you have rambled on about everything except the astrology on my blog. Very misleading piece of work. I have never even posted about Travolta.

  7. 7
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, see paragraph 2 of the main post.

  8. 8
    Jamie Funk

    Well why put Funk in the title and mention me and my blog at all? That’s just plain slanderous, more about a personal grudge because I’m probably the only person from outside your circle of sniggering academic wankers who has bothered to challenge your self righteous rants on a topic you have not studied and show know understanding of.

  9. 9
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, slander? Really? For associating your name and astrology? Isn’t that what the title of your blog does?

    And paragraph 2 doesn’t say the post isn’t about your brand of astrology. Notice the word “overarching.” This means that, while the post may not specifically address your special brand of generating nonsense, it addresses the problems that all forms of astrology have in common. Is this difficult for you to understand? Or do you get it just fine, but would rather insult your host than address his argument? Ironic, for someone who showed up to tell him how he could have been more polite. But I guess, when name calling is all you’ve got….

  10. 10
    George W.

    If I can’t seem to muster anything more than an annoyed snarl or a muddled metaphore in response to the utter silliness I read on the internet, I can always count on Jason to lay bare the most elegant and cogent argument for me.
    I have been reading quite a bit about astrology on the inter-webs recently and your post pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say about it and more. I also found another great video on astrology by Richard Dawkins over at Knowledge Begetting Confidence.
    The closest I come to paying for vague prophesies is reading my fortune cookie at my favorite Chinese restaurant; at least I get a good meal out of it.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    I have reposted it. If you don’t see it in the moderation queue, it may have gone straight to spam.

  12. 12
    Jamie Funk

    “it addresses the problems that all forms of astrology have in common.”

    That just shows you don’t understand why I’m so pissed off. I do not use sun signs or house systems.

    I always start of polite. I’ve been insulted from the start, tried being nice, now I’ve had an absolute gut full.

  13. 13
    Stephanie Z

    Riiight. Skip right over the part that explains what science is in general and how astrology–in general–fails on all counts. Focus on that one tiny bit that doesn’t pertain to you. It will let you feel all self-righteous while you refuse to address the core of the post.

    Nice is telling your host that he has anger management issues, that he’s just jealous because he has lower blog traffic than you do, calling him a wanker and accusing him of slander for doing something you do constantly? Interesting definition you use.

  14. 14
    George W.

    Is this your rebuttal to Jason’s post Jamie? You’re angry because the post isn’t all about you? Did I miss the part where you invented astrology? If your brand of bunk is not subject to the criticisms noted above, you could start by telling us why and how.
    It seems to me that someone is trying to change the subject after realizing he got himself in too deep.
    While I await your brilliant rebuttal to Jason’s post, I think I’ll go do some sniggering, or maybe wanking, no, definately sniggering over a delightful spot of Keirkegaard.

  15. 15
    Jason Thibeault

    I suppose you didn’t realize the “Whatcha gonna do about it?” was a back-reference to your implication that I have anger management issues. I should have made that more clear. You’ve been anything but polite. And as I’ve said elsewhere, you understand the nuances of your pseudo-random number generator better than I, so I can’t confront you on them, because I don’t have a vested interest in any competing PRNG. I prefer to employ science and have the universe tell me what it is, than to try to tell the universe what it is by starting with wholly baseless assumptions — such as, “astrology works”.

    If you don’t have any argument against any of the core deconstruction of the foundation upon which your system rests, then fine. Just understand I blew the foundation out from under you, and your system is now only being held up by a skyhook. That is to say, nothing at all.

    Wanker.

  16. 16
    Jason Thibeault

    I’ll clarify that in that image’s caption. The images are not contained in the cross-posted text, which I’m assuming both copies are still in your spam queue.

  17. 17
    Jason Thibeault

    So what you’re saying is “that’s not what MY astrology says!”, therefore nothing I’ve said stands? Funny that. It’s almost like I predicted this reaction in paragraph 2. I must be psychic!

  18. 18
    Stephanie Z

    I’m sorry. I just have to step in here in defense of wanking. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you don’t involve anyone who doesn’t want to be involved–and don’t try to sell the results as a miracle cure.

  19. 19
    Glendon Mellow

    Jamie, you still haven’t addressed my question in the previous thread of where this undetectable energy that astrology detects comes from.

    I’m not too interested in who’s being rude or not, I just would like to see less evasion other than “you don’t understand me”.

    -You’ve argued from authority (blog hits)
    -You’ve used the Courtier’s Reply
    -You’ve changed the subject
    -You’ve used insults
    -You’ve pointed to scientific papers without explaining how they make astrology true

    I used to deeply love astrology. Then I became a “sniggering academic wanker” after having read some books & blogs about confirmation bias and the complete lack of supporting evidence that it works.

    Astrology is a sham.

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, you’re right. I just thought him calling me a wanker was cold reading.

  21. 21
    Stephanie Z

    That almost earned a spit take, Jason. I actually had to put my hand over my mouth.

  22. 22
    Jason Thibeault

    Just in case he tries to say he doesn’t do natal charts, too, his site is full of them. Here’s the one he or Marina did on the refrigerator fuse. Just because you use a different interpretive system on the results, doesn’t mean you’re not using the same method to generate the pseudo-random results to begin with.

    And that PRNG has no connection with reality whatsoever.

    If we seem like we’re sniggering, it’s because we have you cold. And this after YOU challenged ME to debate.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TskUO52e1NE

    Black Eyed Peas make being “funky” seem so positive. Just to put this on the record, folks, I make no such implications about astrology — I mean “funk” as in “rhymes with bunk”.

  23. 23
    barello

    lighten up guys! lets be frens & have some FUN

    ‘Brace yourselves. This is gonna be another long one.’

    HEY, nice predicton – just how did you arrive at it – and were you so sure of its veracity at the outset, sirra, or were you just panting at the bit to make the prediction come true

    great article tho – no, really…..

    and lest we forget, be presumptuous, try before testing, let our personal prejudices get in the way, start acting our shoe-size etc etc : science is the answer to all the problems created by er science – no, of course that should read in the mmm wrong hands (sweaty by now)

    ensueing comment exchange pathetic tho – why bother

    my prediction (mind if I have a crack at it) : this strand will fade, fizzle, come to nought, lead nowhere, achieve nothing, waste even more valuable time, power, brain cells – it will become, like the proverbial Parrot, DECEASED, dead and be forgotten, very soon – in less than a month – like a fart in a hurricane POOOOOOFFFF…..

    is science impartial after all? Nah, course not – proof is King, sorry, Saturn/Elvis/Cash

    ‘let the stone throwing begin’ – ok, heres one

    ‘imagination is more important than knowledge’ Onestone

  24. 24
    Stephanie Z

    “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Not all that we might want to be true. Not all that isn’t really there. All that can actually be encompassed by knowledge. Knowledge plus more.

    See, the thing is that we actually know quite a bit about astrology. It’s been well tested in multiple forms. And it fails. It doesn’t fall either under knowledge or imagination at this point. It falls under wishful thinking, under turning away from knowledge.

    Nice pairing of a partial quote by a scientist with sneering at science, though. Feel free to give up all that science has given you if you think it’s such a problem.

  25. 25
    Barello

    Lovely

    you are right of course SZ – QED

    Well, no, I’d prefer to stay with the science, if you don’t mind – its healthy to be self depricating once in a while

    why so hot under the collar about astrology tho – has the inquisition started recruiting again…..

    my I can almost smell the testost….tisitas….um……

    astrology is not science, hoooowwwweeevvveeerrr, it does rest on science – huh, where would it be without it

    ‘cors we know something about it – we invented it!! But, these days, well,,,,,shadow of its former self, needle to scientists apparently, so

    c’mon, lets get real, thesedays its more of an artform innit, purposeless, totally impractical and desperatley trying to demonstrate its genius?

    Not like science – so, hey, lets have a go at ART

    Actually darling, I quite like the fact that its still around – gives the boys something else to play with besides grinding their organs

    us girls should be thankfull…….

  26. 26
    Glendon Mellow

    astrology is not science, hoooowwwweeevvveeerrr, it does rest on science – huh, where would it be without it

    Respectfully Barello, it doesn’t rest on science: it’s an ornate and visually interesting house of cards resting on false correlations about the influence of objects floating in nearby space.

  27. 27
    Jamie Funk

    “I will be cross-posting this post as a comment on his blog”

    Still waiting….

  28. 28
    Jason Thibeault

    I have posted it twice, now. If you’d like, I’ll post it once in every thread on your front page. Some questions:

    - Why don’t you check your spam folder?
    - Would you prefer I e-mail it to you?
    - Is this some kind of ridiculous gambit where you claim I’ve never posted it?
    - Would you prefer I simply post a single link here, and say that the full post never showed up?

  29. 29
    Stephanie Z

    Why so hot under the collar? Because this masturbatory secretion is being sold to people as the solution to their problems. Not only does it take advantage of people in need, it also keeps people from focusing on and fixing their real problems. If everybody understood that it was a storytelling mechanism with no relation to reality (and no basis in science except as pretty trappings), if everyone saw it as art, I’d be perfectly happy to keep it around. That’s not what’s happening, though.

    And thanks for the attempt at sympathy, but I’ve got rather a thing for high-testosterone, whip smart geek boys.

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    I have posted it in these three locations:
    http://funkastrology.co.uk/mackenzie-phillips-synastry-incest-2/comment-page-1/#comment-5211
    http://funkastrology.co.uk/full-moon-26th-july-2010-purging-the-shame/comment-page-1/#comment-5212
    http://funkastrology.co.uk/aleister-crowley-horoscope-dark-god/comment-page-1/#comment-5213

    Please note that WordPress automatically jumps to the # tag for your comment when you post it. Since this tag does not show up in the HTML for the thread, it jumps to the top of the page instead. I was going to post on every single post on your front page, but WordPress told me that I was posting too quickly, and to slow down. I’ll post more links later, once I can do so without triggering your flood detection.

    This is empirical evidence that it is in your comments somewhere. I also note that over the two years I’ve had my blog, I’ve gotten twice as many comments as you, in case that means anything.

    Now, were you planning on refuting any of my claims any time soon? Or were they too devastating to your system’s foundation, despite being so generic as to include your specific system as well as every other, as promised when I originally took your challenge to debate?

  31. 31
    Jamie Funk

    Yes, it was in the spam. Your comment is not really relevant to the actual post by my partner though but I’ll leave it there anyway. I’ve had other jokers try and provoke me by attacking the work of my partner. Low tactic.

  32. 32
    Jason Thibeault

    As I said in the outreach paragraph at the end… feel free to move it wherever you’d like. I put it where I put it because it was the newest thread and was gaining responses.

    That outreach paragraph was unique to your crosspost, so while I appreciate your cutting it down to a link back here for brevity, could you at least restore that part? And does that not basically double back on your claim to want to have my debate reach a wider audience, by posting the argument in its entirety on your blog? I mean, it’s not that I need a platform for my post, as I have my own, but you’re the one who claimed it would reach more people if posted at your place. I expected that meant more than a link back, which my trackback managed just fine.

  33. 33
    Barello

    That’a’girl

    no sympathy intended

    now, storytelling – I lurv a good story – the problem with ART, like science or astrology, isnt in the art, science, astrology, its in the pretention that surrounds it

    theres the ejaculation point – lets head it off at the pass Tonto

    but, ho ho, can’t wait for the whipping to begin – when DO we get to the (mas)debate section geek boys??

    give it up – it ain’t ever goin to happen (not a prediction)

  34. 34
    Marina Funk

    I think this is all highly amusing. Dunno why you guys have got your pants in such a twist. Talking of pants I did write a blog on why I think stars-signs ARE pants. There are quite a few skeptics who went out to proove Astrology was bunkem and then ended up being astrologers.

    You can’t proove it by gravity or any fancy science. Astrology just IS. Like tarot or numerology you either believe in it or you don’t. Here’s the article with a link (Click on the zodiac pic) to another skeptic who wrote what I think was a fantastic and hilarious debunking article. We emailed in the end and he was curious to know about our fixed star method. Atleast he had an open mind Zodiac signs & national stereotypes
    PS. I didn’t mind you posting on my article, but it was way too long and veered off topic so we had to edit and put a link instead.

  35. 35
    Glendon Mellow

    You can’t proove it by gravity or any fancy science. Astrology just IS.

    That’s strange, Jamie seemed to indicate it could be proven – in the previous post’s comment thread, he mentioned ample evidence and lots of research.

    But for you, astrology just IS. How very evasive and convenient for you.

  36. 36
    Barello

    Honey

    bread can be proven

    Life just is – do you need proof – or would that be just downright inconvenient

    time to take off the blinkers guys and smell the roses

  37. 37
    Stephanie Z

    Yes, Barello, there’s absolutely nothing pretentious about showing up to sneer at the existence of a discussion you can’t be bothered to add anything to. And frankly, when the debate starts, I’m participating, not watching. Enjoy your snooty disengagement.

  38. 38
    Glendon Mellow

    Barello, life can be proven also – and it is all the time. We can differentiate between living and dead things, and the broader sense of life is proven over and over by your senses throughout your span.

    I love being blinker-free and smelling roses. I also enjoy fresh bread.

  39. 39
    CyberLizard

    “You can’t proove it by gravity or any fancy science.” You’re exactly right, you can’t prove it!!! Bravo, you finally get it! Oh, wait, my mistake. You wrote more: “Astrology just IS. Like tarot or numerology you either believe in it or you don’t.” Just when it seemed like a bright glint of rationality was piercing the deliberate veil of your willful ignorance, you bring us back to earth and prove that miracles don’t exist.

    I don’t believe in anything, I trust that empirical observations about the natural world can be tested and replicated and verified. Astrology has been tested and it fails. Show me the evidence that it works, explain to me how and why and let others replicate it and I’ll be happy to become it’s biggest supporter. As Tim Minchin so eloquently put it, “I’ll take a compass and carve ‘Fancy That’ on the side of my cock.” But until that day comes, Jason will continue to demolish the foundation of your dumbfuckery and the rest of us will continue to laugh at your deliberate, willful stupidity.

  40. 40
    James Carey

    Is the study of economics any more accurate than astrology? Just throwing it out there.

  41. 41
    Stephanie Z

    James, to the extent that economics uses data-based modeling, yes. The problem is that one of the predominant schools of economics spent decades cleaving to ideology-driven models instead. The data-driven models aren’t perfect–they’re relatively new and are modeling very complex situations–but they do much better than chance. That’s why Paul Krugman got his “Nobel” Prize (economics prizes aren’t given by the Nobel Committee).

  42. 42
    Kelley Clark

    Yes. Economics is a science. It is open to the logical possibility of being false. Astrology, on the other hand, seems to suit itself to whatever the consumer would have it mean.

    Let’s be clear: this does not make most tv *economists* scientists. Most of them are talking heads that know about as much about economics as my cat knows about anything outside my house. Eg, very little except what it sees through a small window. There’s a difference between, say, the work of John Maynard Keynes and that of Suze Orman.

  43. 43
    James Carey

    But does general predictions made by economists have a higher rate of accuracy than astrology? That was my question, not the validity of the data they come to their predictions and conclusions.

    And as for Nobel Prizes for economists, it’s a bit of a snub that they should receive one and not one for Mathmatics..a real science.

  44. 44
    Stephanie Z

    Yes, data-driven economics models predict better than astrology, to the extent that you’re testing predictions from astrology that aren’t the equivalent of cold reading (“You’re very generous, but you have your selfish moments”). And it’s no snub to get a prize that is for the practical application of mathematics rather than the development of new forms of math. Without engineers, scientists don’t do us much good.

  45. 45
    Jason Thibeault

    I get what James is driving at, thinking of a few specific economists who ignored clear-and-present-danger type signs that the housing bubble was about to burst. But those economists were motivated by greed to ignore those signs, it’s not merely that a prognostication was missed.

  46. 46
    Jason Thibeault

    Sesame Street taught me this one.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cze1_cWdF5s

  47. 47
    Stephanie Z

    Oh, yeah. That’s why I try to be very clear about the data-driven versus ideology-driven distinction. It’s kind of like asking about alchemy around the time that chemistry was starting to emerge from it. You can’t tell just from the name. You have to look at how it’s practiced. Kelly’s distinctions are important too.

  48. 48
    Kelley Clark

    Economics in an academic setting is a closed environment, which is very different from economics in real-life situations. It’s often very hard to see trends *while you’re in them*, which is why most of the actual science of economics is based on historical data. There is modeling, but as Stephanie pointed out it’s not perfect (but is sufficiently more accurate than chance).

  49. 49
    George W.

    Ouch, guys! George the economics major is feeling a bit sore.
    Maybe I should just call you all wankers and tell you that the economics I went to school for is subtly different from the economics you are talking about here. It therefore is subject to none of your criticisms.
    You see, we skipped book IV of Wealth of Nations and embraced more of the Stockholm School of economics, thus making all of your criticisms entirely invalid.
    You sad bunch of sniggering academic wankers!

  50. 50
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, “I also note that over the two years I’ve had my blog, I’ve gotten twice as many comments as you, in case that means anything.”

    I haven’t even been blogging for one year yet.

    I may have left your entire comment if you had put it one one of my articles, but you put your 3 comments on Marina’s articles. It’s stupid putting a comment that long anyway, it’s an article, not a comment. Just find one of my articles that you get tear into and comment on something specific about it.

  51. 51
    anonstargazer

    How disappointing! What started as a reasonable discussion has dissolved into nothing more than personal insults and directed ridicule. I withdraw my support of this article as it fails to support itself.

  52. 52
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, first you tell Jason it’s rude to post on his blog instead of yours, then you tell him it’s stupid to post something long on yours and get rid of it. Do you listen to yourself? If your idea is fundamentally flawed, and Jason has explained why it is, there’s no point debating whether it’s better to dress it up in pink or purple.

  53. 53
    CyberLizard

    Dude, we’re talking about astrology fercryinoutloud! What else is there but directed ridicule?

  54. 54
    anonstargazer

    Leave the insults directed towards the individual out of it then. You have gone on about him and his beliefs more than you have gone on about astrology. Hardly relevant to the article at all. What is there to gain from criticising an individual for their belief? Does it make you or them a better person? Does it improve the world? What use does it have? There were exceptional points laid out in this article, solid, accurate points – yet where are they being highlighted in these comments? If they are, I am not seeing them due to the personal insults.

  55. 55
    CyberLizard

    Where are the personal insults? The entire post was directed at the belief in astrology, not the Funk-y dude. In fact, Mr. Funky originally complained because the OP had not enough of him in it!

    There comes a time in every comment thread when an individual has repeatedly shown themselves to be a douchebag wanker. Calling them a douchebag wanker doesn’t undermine the validity of the original argument or debunk any evidence presented. It’s simply an observation of an individual’s douchbag wankerness.

  56. 56
    Jason Thibeault

    My point was, stats DON’T mean anything when trying to evaluate the truth value of claims. I’m aware of how long your domain has been registered. Does it matter? That you’re better at search engine optimization than my lazy ass does not prove that your particular flavor of delusion is any more valid than the others. I’m “tearing into” the foundation on which your flavor of delusion stands, and I’m content at doing exactly that.

    I mean, seriously, what do you expect, that I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t calculate quincunxes the way you do? That you should use different planet/oids in your calculations? That you should use the house system? No, it’s ALL wrong.

  57. 57
    anonstargazer

    and your point?

  58. 58
    Glendon Mellow

    Anonstargazer, there’s plenty of worthy discussion in these comments. The problem seems to me, that Jamie is more interested in arguing the finer points of netiquette than addressing the problems inherent in astrology.

  59. 59
    Jason Thibeault

    To that point, see the “non-ad-hominem” link in the very first sentence of my post. :D

  60. 60
    anonstargazer

    I clicked too soon

    and your point? as my eyes are reading ample insults and little intelligent discussion

  61. 61
    Jason Thibeault

    My point is, Jamie Funk has addressed exactly zero of my arguments. You know, the ones you said were worth supporting, that you’ve since withdrawn because of the insults. Also, he’s the one who’s spiralled this thread into insults when he called us “sniggering academic wankers”, you should note.

    So you’re upset that Jamie Funk is ignoring my arguments, and that he devolved the thread into insults (most of which were glossed over and largely ignored — since we bloggers have thick skins!), and because of this you’ve decided to withdraw your support for MY post? Methinks you were around hoping to see my blood in the water, and are disappointed.

  62. 62
    CyberLizard

    “You sad bunch of sniggering academic wankers” I resent that! I’ve never been an academic in my life! I flunked out of college! You meany :-P

  63. 63
    anonstargazer

    Look, as I mentioned, I have decades worth of astrology study under my belt and the modern practices are extremely flawed. I adored the mention of hits and misses, as it is just so true and I have to wonder if there was some sort of, oh I don’t know, skeptic/practitioner/historian/interpreter type of event, where religion and bias was taken out of the equation – if anyone could actually find out what it was all meant to be about. If that makes sense.

    Years ago, I had lengthy discussions with the president of the skeptic society about the same topic, and it would be fabulous, but will never happen.

    I adore astrology mostly as I adore history and I would love to learn more truth about his basis. I too would love to push beyond the ego but don’t see how slamming someone’s name will achieve that.

  64. 64
    Jason Thibeault

    Now now, don’t get touchy. Just because you based your life on a self-perpetuating pseudoscience doesn’t mean your input isn’t welcome. ;)

  65. 65
    CyberLizard

    Anonstargazer is a poopyhead! (Sorry, Jason, I couldn’t resist!) Ahem, carry on!

  66. 66
    anonstargazer

    Look, I also read the other thread and apart from his e-penis waving – I did think that it has all been a bit harsh on him here, to be honest

  67. 67
    Stephanie Z

    anonstargazer, which non-astrology beliefs are being attacked and by whom? Jamie’s been chastized for wandering in and being randomly insulting–instead of attending to the article. Marina had it pointed out to her that she was contradicting earlier claims her partner made.

    What are you seeing?

  68. 68
    CyberLizard

    “Look, as I mentioned, I have decades worth of astrology study under my belt and the modern practices are extremely flawed” Um, I hate to tell you this, but all astrology practices are flawed, where flawed=bullshit. As Jason pointed out, there’s no possible mechanism for it to work, no evidence that there is anything actually happening and no reason for a rational person to accept the basic premise.

    And I don’t see where Jason has done anything to slam someone’s name. Funky-dude called Jason out, Jason responded with a rational response and Funk&Wagner is now whining like a douchebag wanker. BAWWWWWW!

  69. 69
    Jason Thibeault

    I like this comment for the same reason I like religious history — a lot of human effort would go to waste and we’d repeat our mistakes if we never learned from them, if we just filed them away in a drawer marked “wrong” and never took them out and looked at them again.

    I too would love to know why the Babylonians thought the planets represented their gods (e.g. Marduk and Ishtar), and developed the sun signs, fixing the astrological symbols as they are today some two thousand years on, one symbol away from where the sun actually rises due to the precession of the equinoxes. I’d love to know why they thought that their gods took interest in human events, and being born when one was in the sky as opposed to another might change your eventual destiny. There’s also a lot of really neat art that was inspired by astrology, and a few neat predictive devices like the astrolabe that were able to calculate time of day, specific planets’ positions, etc. If we binned the whole thing, a lot of human achievement would be lost, even if it was achievement in that it helped disprove any such influence.

  70. 70
    anonstargazer

    Nope sorry, I have matured well beyond being the lamb to a slaughter. Enjoy your debate!

  71. 71
    Jason Thibeault

    Anonstargazer is, by my estimation, rubber. And you appear to be glue. I’ll let the situation play out as it stands. :)

  72. 72
    anonstargazer

    I rest my case. There is zero need to swear or carry on like a child when addressing someone else. I do not insult your thoughts or you studies and would appreciate the same in kind.

  73. 73
    anonstargazer

    Exactly! and standing about, slapping tables does not equate to being right. Something about it worked once and it would be nice to delve into it without the religious bias.

  74. 74
    Jason Thibeault

    In other words… you’ve got nothing? We ain’t here to slaughter you. Just rebut your claims that we’re being randomly insulting.

    For the record, the “smells like Funk” non-ad-hominem in the title probably has no bearing on reality, outside of being a very convenient pun that very conveniently brought Jamie to the post. Jamie Funk could smell of incense and lavender for all I know. I make no pretension to knowing what he actually smells like.

  75. 75
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh. I get it now. CyberLizard’s vocabulary is too risque for your virgin eyeballs. Never mind the arguments — he said “bullshit!” That invalidates my entire post!

  76. 76
    anonstargazer

    I am fairly certain that none of you would enjoy it if it was your name and business being the one mentioned in this thread but if you do *shrug* I know I wouldn’t

  77. 77
    Jason Thibeault

    Just because it was ACCEPTED once, doesn’t mean that it WORKED then. That’s the thing. I like studying historical reasons behind delusions, but I don’t mistake “was once popular” with “worked once”.

  78. 78
    anonstargazer

    and you’re right, I don’t have anything as I agree with the flaws.

  79. 79
    anonstargazer

    yes but so much of what we are educated about is religiously based, writings and all. sure science is what shifted the psyche away from religious stupor but still, historically, we don’t know the truth at all really

  80. 80
    Jason Thibeault

    My real name is Jason Thibeault, and every time someone calls me a name on the internet, it really does get attached to that real name. My blog title is “Lousy Canuck”. I make no pretensions at being a particularly special carbon-based bipedal ape. And I’m not trying to SELL you my beliefs. Just TELL you them.

    Yeah, I’d be upset if I was Jamie Funk for having my whole elaborate, subtle, nuanced house of cards tumble down when someone comes along and dares to bump the table. But blaming the guy bumping the table for ruining your livelihood, when you should be blaming the materials you’re using, is grossly missing the point.

  81. 81
    Jason Thibeault

    Jamie doesn’t. But he hasn’t offered any rebuttal yet. Which is sad, as he’s supposedly a very good astrologer. I mean, look at the fact that he makes money off of people asking him to do their charts! He makes MONEY at it! He’s SUCCESSFUL!

  82. 82
    CyberLizard

    Please, insult away! I never claimed to be one of those prissy academic wankers, so I might not have the right jargon. Let me rephrase: When I said bullshit, I meant a steaming pile of bovine faeces with a cherry on top! Better? :-*

  83. 83
    Jason Thibeault

    For the record, I was really hoping for a real debate about the mechanisms behind astrology. If anyone would like to engage on that, I’d welcome it at this point. Nice change of pace over a discussion on netiquette.

    I feel like the guy in the Monty Python sketch who paid for an argument but didn’t get it. “Look, I came here for an argument, and I got a contradiction!” “No you didn’t!”

  84. 84
    CyberLizard

    Well, an assassin makes money, too. Doesn’t make what he does ethical. At least an assassin is honest in his chosen trade.

  85. 85
    George W.

    Alright then, let’s try to get this train back on track.
    Where is Jamie’s brilliant response to Jason’s post? I would really like it if he explained to me why Jason’s post does not apply to his brand of astrology and how what he does is better or statistically more accurate. If Jamie would like I could give him some examples of ways to prove his method accurate….

    Near as I can tell, Jason laid out why any method of correlating the movement of celestial bodies to random actions of humans or nature is not just improbable, but clearly false. So if you have a provable method, I would be all ears….

  86. 86
    George W.

    I would also like to congratulate Jamie Funk for smashing Jason’s previous Most Commented Post record without ever offering a single argument against Jason’s premise. That takes skill!
    Comment 87 and still no argument from Jamie other than we are all sniggering academic wankers.

  87. 87
    Barello

    you may not get it big guy, because there are no arguments to support the mechanisms behind astrology

    but, talking of money – the nearest parallel between economics and astrology is in the application of Game Theory

    GT economics supports decision making by optimising strategies based on generalisations – phew quite a mouthful for a snoot!

    and BTW, the IMF employed concensus forecasting and found it to be grossly inaccurate over significant periods – like weather forecasting

    infact most forecasting is flawed at the outset – it requires verification, ongoing, and rigorous

    shame astrology doesn’t do the decent thing and test its hypotheses more rigorously – then the true nature of its mechanisms might become more apparent and it might have an argument to put up – say

  88. 88
    Jen

    I’ve just finished reading through this entire post with an English accent…and all I have to say is bloody brilliant! You bunch of wankers! ;)

  89. 89
    anonstargazer

    can someone actually explain to me what the point of this article actually is? is it to stop anyone from actually studying astrology? ridicule all or any who believe in astrology? or what is it? there is no open discussion, just a bunch of people with already made up minds waiting for comment so they can negate it. I have never had my door knocked upon on a Sunday morning by an astrologer. Have you? I have never had my browser force me to an astrologer’s website, have you? Books about astrology don’t leap out and slap me in the aisle of the library. I am not forced to read any of it.

    why haven’t you people gone after Jonathon Cainer or ‘someone’, who is completely famous – or homeopaths, you know the people who pray on the sick with fake cures, or psychics, people who play on people’s heartaches. I doubt the funks or any astrologers for that matter, outside of the horoscope fame, earn enough to retire on some carribean island getaway

    and I doubt anyone will respond to you as there is a general rule of thumb to not waste your time trying to prove yourself to skeptics :)

  90. 90
    George W.

    If you are going to compare GT to Astrology, your going to need to do better than “decision making by optimising strategies based on generalisations”. Game theory is a hell of a lot more than that. If you’re talking about the high school “four-squares-where-guy-commits-crime-and-chooses-whether-to-confess” introduction to GT then sure….but wait….
    Where does astrology pick the optimization mechanism?
    Math? Nope
    Probability? Nope
    Whether a foreign body is approaching Uranus?

  91. 91
    Stephanie Z

    Why write the post? Well, the first post was written because Jamie made a claim that the Gulf oil spill was predictable using his methods. If people were to believe that information could come from this, it would add a cost to oil production without an accompanying benefit and would encourage complacency surrounding wells he decided were safe. Astrology is not cost-free, and there are resources pushing it. In the U.S., most major papers and plenty of magazines run astrology columns.

    Why write this one? Jamie invited Jason to get engaged in this debate on his blog. Jason also posted it here, which is just as well since Jamie decided the debate was “off topic.”

  92. 92
    Jason Thibeault

    There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing whatever they want. Go for it. Just expect the reality-based crowd to point and laugh now and then, if you’re doing something contraindicated by reality.

    The backstory for the genesis of this post is right here. It’s the result of Jamie directly inviting me to debate, on his blog, since his blog is (supposedly) more popular than mine. I took him at his word that that meant I could write my argument, crosspost it at his place, and get some real debate on the foundation of astrology. I got exactly what I predicted in paragraph 2, instead.

    Floor’s still open, Jamie. Going to argue any particular point in my post? There’s tons of targets of opportunity, and tons of ways to falsify my claims!

  93. 93
    Jason Thibeault

    Oops, sorry, didn’t meant to step on you. I ought to refresh before hitting post.

  94. 94
    anonstargazer

    lol as if anyone who counts actually believes things written on a blog!

    well then you would all love to dig about in the conspiracy theories that govts are actually heavily into astrology! There was much consensus leading into this year’s intense aspects, that govts from around the globe were clued into the stars. well, there’s no war yet and that should have happened from April. Hitler was a believer and it did him beautifully. and ahhhh yes, Regan, or however that is spelt.

    there goes them conspiracy theories!

    Imagine, historically, two countries are annoyed at each other and want to dominate. The stars are the same a winner and a loser. What would you do if you were the leader who lost? remember, ego was rampant then too. Behead your astrologer for telling you that your stars you would lose and you did?

    Alter historical record because you don’t want your name as being toted as the idiot who went ahead with war anyway? Who knows. My point is the debate is useless because the basis has no actual fact on which to place a debate. History is tarnished by religious interpretation, end of story

  95. 95
    Barello

    your right it doesn’t nng

    thats how close the analogy is imho eh?

  96. 96
    atheistclimber

    lol @ “e-penis”

  97. 97
    Jason Thibeault

    Then why were you so supportive in your initial posting? No, seriously. The “smells like Funk” dig has always been the title of this post, and that’s basically going to stand. What CyberLizard said about astrology does nothing to diminish what I said, so why did you withdraw your support? What makes these two threads so “mean” to him now, when before, you were all “wow, I enjoyed this greatly and agree with all your points!”

  98. 98
    CyberLizard

    I’m confuzzled. Are you saying that you believe the conspiracy theories? And that astrology actually works, but the leaders just didn’t listen? And that there’s no point debating it because there’s no actual facts to back it up? Well, you got the last part right. 0 facts, 0 evidence, just you spouting a bunch of complete mystical nonsense, proclaiming that it’s true and how we’re such meanies because we demand things like evidence and falsifiable hypothesis before we accept something as fact. And how could we pick on poor defenseless Jamie when all he does is try to make money by shilling a bunch of bullshit. Oh, and we call you names.

    You’ve presented absolutely nothing to debate about. So you’re right, debating with the likes of you IS useless because you’ve got absolutely nothing of any substance whatsoever to debate about. Come back when you’ve got some actual facts and evidence.

  99. 99
    CyberLizard

    “… as there is a general rule of thumb to not waste your time trying to prove yourself to skeptics” This is very sad. If you cranks would make an attempt to actually prove anything (i.e. presenting falsifiable hypothesis, evidence, empirical observations) then perhaps an actual debate could take place. Instead we get gems like “astrology just IS” and “you have to have faith”. I almost have more respect for homeopaths than clowns like you. At least they put together their “provings” and at least pretend to gather evidence, even if it is all a bunch of confirmation bias, wishful thinking and bullshit.

  100. 100
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s the thing. People believe him. People also believe me. We have different opinions about reality. It’s very likely that one is far closer to “right” than the other. He invited me to debate. Regardless of what the stars say about this particular argument, I think the record stands on its own merits here. One of us presented arguments, the other addressed none of them.

    Yet. I still hold out hope that, perhaps, he’ll put together a rebuttal of his own, maybe even posting it on his blog, at some point in the future. And hopefully, he’ll remember to link me, so I get some sort of notification that he’s done so. If he doesn’t, well, the floor’s always open. He’s always welcome to do so, since he’s the one who initiated the debate.

    And as for your claims about religion, history is written by the victors, and they do tend to have a religious bias quite often. That’s not to say that ALL history is unknowable. There’s still quite a bit of physical evidence that can sway what our history books say.

  101. 101
    atheistclimber

    All skeptics are wankers! Wankers smart enough to pull the wool from their eyes and actually LOOK at the universe around them.

    And for the pro-astrology pundits: What makes humans so special that celestial bodies would have any noticeable effect on our lives, and what makes you think it’s predictable?

    And don’t give me the bunk about “it’s the way these things interact” because if it were then you have to figure EVERYTHING into the equation, then tell me you can make a prediction on what coloured shoes will be lucky for me to wear tomorrow.

    I know you’ll say “but that’s not what astrology is about”. No it’s not, it’s about bullshit and bunk.

  102. 102
    anonstargazer

    Honestly, I detested the title and found it unfair and slanderous but it is not my place to defend that point. It is the individuals place to do so. When I popped back in here and I could see it all being justified by everyone else and read his obvious anger, I could put myself in that position and decided to defend him. I see him as defending his name and himself, something anyone would do at this point. You even mention in your article that you would not debate this on HIS forum due to being unfairly attacked, and I see the like behaviour here.

    Your article points out the flaws beautifully and I had hoped to pop back here and see healthy debate, not an attack on ONE person’s belief system, which this has become. I detract my support as I really have no desire to support a personal attack on an individual, or a business. It IS slanderous and unjustified. Debate can involve more than insults, which is mentioned in your link above, which I did read.

  103. 103
    anonstargazer

    History is written by the victors and the wealthy, so how do you know the truth? Obviously it isn’t all lies but as astrology was so heavily woven into the old religious systems, it has been slammed a lot.

    Then there is also the fact that there are numerous faith such as the druids, for instance, of that time, that did not maintain written records. Their actual being was recorded by Roman christians, so even that particular astrological approach is tainted by religion and modern want. However, at the basis of it all, and it IS written into the bible, astrology that is – was a system that was the creation of actual time. Without the original astrology, there would not even be science.

  104. 104
    anonstargazer

    my point was that people can panic and believe that astrology is taken seriously, when it is not

  105. 105
    anonstargazer

    people who follow astrology these days are more interested in their personal psychology, how the stars are supposedly woven into their psychs. things like mundane astrology are not taken seriously, even proposed as being boring, it is academic fluff argued about after an event and in astrology forums, people only care about themselves and how the stars affect them – hence why horoscopes are so popular

    that you can take as fact, so dont panic about people such as the funks whispering in power people’s ears, that will never happen again

  106. 106
    atheistclimber

    “lol as if anyone who counts actually believes things written on a blog!”

    Same could be said for book, papers, TV news etc etc. But apparently importan people believe in astrology? Give me a break.

  107. 107
    anonstargazer

    and my other point was that historically, it was a major life element and whether it worked or not is completely at the whim of whomever was recording the history of the time – and who has translated that history and what their belief of the time would have been

    I do hope that has clarified my points

  108. 108
    Jason Thibeault

    Ease off. I happen to know that’s actually my sister, and the winkie entirely means she loved every second of this thread. The points you make do stand, though, for anyone that actually believes in astrology though. :)

  109. 109
    CyberLizard

    @anonstargazer – Let’s get one thing straight:
    slan·der (slndr)
    n.
    1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
    2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

    No where has that been done, jackass. Everything that Jason has said about Jamie is factually verifiable. This isn’t a personal attack on Jamie, it’s an attack on astrology initiated by a discussion Jason had with Jamie. Jamie hasn’t defended jack shit. All he’s done is come over here and whine about where Jason made his comment and that Jason didn’t address his kind of astrology, disregarding the fact that it’s all bullshit. If you can’t see that calling astrology bullshit =/= calling Jamie names, then you’ve got some serious issues.

  110. 110
    anonstargazer

    now where did I say that? I said the exact opposite. My apologies that my point was not clearer

  111. 111
    CyberLizard

    Stars aren’t “woven into their psychs [sic]“! Nobody who follows astrology these days is taken seriously by anyone who has a semblance of a brain! Jeeze, go peddle the new-age bullshit somewhere else. It’s boring me.

  112. 112
    atheistclimber

    huh? Copied from your comment.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/?p=3898&cpage=1#comment-11058

    O_o

  113. 113
    atheistclimber

    oh sorry, the other bit.

  114. 114
    atheistclimber

    OK I’m done here I have some real work to do.

  115. 115
    anonstargazer

    do you ever make a point without personal insult? I don’t have serious issues thank you and am entitled to my perception of what I read. Slamming any business or individual can easily be taken on as a defamation case, justified or not, and whilst there is no guarantee of victory, you definitely walk a fine line!

  116. 116
    anonstargazer

    my sarcasm obviously fell flat as that was not my point

  117. 117
    anonstargazer

    huh? I am not peddling a thing, how did that get twisted into this?

  118. 118
    anonstargazer

    I had no argument here other than it getting too personal and off topic. I am neither for or against astrology, finding the points mentioned in this article extremely valid. Astrology is something that I have studied as I am very interested in history and do believe that there is more accuracy to it than what we already know, simply due to the damaging influence of religion and recorded writings. That is just my personal opinion and I shall leave it at that and move on.

    Good luck and take care!

  119. 119
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, I have interacted with with you and your readers on two of your articles. I have invited you to comment on just one of my articles and you have not stepped up. Again I invite you to read one of my articles and comment on that article specifically, not just copy and paste one of your articles.

    The most recent article I posted on natal charts is David Petraeus, or if you prefer mundane astrology you could comment on the original post which you took exception to: Astrology of BP and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

  120. 120
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, you wrote in a comment “Now, were you planning on refuting any of my claims any time soon? Or were they too devastating to your system’s foundation, despite being so generic as to include your specific system as well as every other, as promised when I originally took your challenge to debate?”

    You haven’t addressed anything specific to my work. I didn’t come here to prove astrology in general. Science will never prove astrology. Science will never prove psychology. Science will never prove morality or the laws of a state.

    Is drugging and raping a 13 year old girl right or wrong? Prove it with science.

  121. 121
    Jamie Funk

    Stephanie, you commented “Jamie decided the debate was “off topic.””

    I never wrote anywhere here the words “off topic”, so please don’t misquote me again.

  122. 122
    Marina Funk

    I was being flippant! Jamie and I differ in our approaches as he comes from a scientific background and I from the arts. He feels the need to prove it, but I don’t.
    Laugh as much as you like. Newton, Tesla and some great minds also believed in the Occult. They got laughed at too. Kepler was also an Astrologer and Jung believed in it also, along with meaningful coincidences. So they are “dumbfuckers” too are they?

    I can’t show you the evidence that it works anymore than you can show me evidence that it doesn’t, atleast not in a few paragraphs at any rate. I continue to use it because I do readings for people I have never meet and can tell them intimate details of their personalities that astound them. That’s evidence enough for me.

    If I was getting feedback that I’m way off beam then I wouldn’t continue this as a career. End of.

    The difference between this blog and ours is that Jason’s blog is his hobby, whereas our Blog is our career and we feel passionate about it. We do Astrology all day everyday. What we write maybe gobbledegook to him as he hasn’t studied the subject for over 15 years like we have.

    Jason is skilled at being a skeptic and I’m not inclined to get involved with a futile debate when time is valuable and I’d rather be spending it doing something I love ie. Astrology.

    I know you men (and some butch women with taches.) like to throw your testoterone around by mass-debating around in forums and blogs and such like. But I’m not feeling butch today.
    So off I skip into the land of fairies, blissfully “ignorant”…With some very good company:))

  123. 123
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, to the extent “not really relevant to the actual post by my partner” does not mean exactly the same thing as “off topic,” I apologize.

  124. 124
    Marina Funk

    Phew read all this now. I actually said Jasons long post at the end of my blog article was off topic.
    Anonstargazer, thanks for actually seeing both sides. We are used to other astrologers having a pop at us because our system is different from theirs. But when we get hit by a skeptic and then have to proove astrology altogether well we are actually on holiday together at the moment and I for one just like to enjoy it.

    So Jason I’ll leave this now. But I wish you well in your pursuit for truth. It’s interesting you choose us in favour of Johnathan Cainer or some other really famous and more conventional Astrologer. But then you wouldn’t have had such a “lively” *cough* debate hey?

    I also made a comment to cyberLizard on page 1 where I elaborate more on my utterly profound and insightful statement of “Astrology just IS….”;)

  125. 125
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes, your blog is your career — you make money off of giving people vague generalities interpreted from two parts your PRNG, one part cold-reading. That you’re very good at it, insofar as your cold readings are vague enough to mask any misses, does not mean that you’re right about your career.

    I believe you truly feel there’s something to astrology. I also believe you feel you can’t “prove” it (though you and your partner both grossly misuse the word), and that you must have faith in it for it to work. I believe you are both genuine and warm people, and that you both earnestly believe in what you’re peddling. I also believe, however, that things in this universe that actually exist, can be proven, and that which cannot be proven, or can be actively DISproven, should not be “believed” in. My belief is borne out by the myriad of disproven things that people go on believing.

    The scientific method builds on the successes and errors of previous generations. The people you have mentioned, have advanced sciences on many fronts, but they were also subject to the unscientific beliefs of their days. I strongly suspect that I believe in some things that turn out to be wrong, though I actively work to winnow those out of my epistemology.

    You believe that if someone famous for scientific advances in one thing (e.g. Jung and psychology) believes in something else (e.g. astrology), there must be something to it. Well, Darwin believed in God before the evidence took him elsewhere. Aristotle practically invented the scientific method, though he thought the universe was geocentric and refused to actually observe it to find out otherwise. People can be right about one thing and wrong about another completely unrelated thing, and they can let their personal biases get in the way. Welcome to the human experience.

    I am skilled at being a skeptic because I love this universe. It is subtle, nuanced, and surprises us every time we really scrutinize it. I argue with you and your partner because you are taking that universe for granted, and are grossly misinterpreting what scant evidence you have for astrology’s reality. And you are ignoring all the counterevidence.

    I see this as an affront to my awe of this universe, and all I want is a little bit of goddamn evidence from someone who peddles this — as others have put it so vulgarly but so accurately — bullshit. I’m sorry that you strongly believe in bullshit, and I’m sorry that you’ve built a career on a foundation that my hobby directly erodes. Would that we would meet under other circumstances, we’d probably like one another. As it stands, if you wish to ignore reality, I’m glad not to associate with you.

  126. 126
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s twice people have mentioned this Johnathan Cainer as though I should know who he is. I suppose I should google his name then? What is he, the William Lane Craig of Astrology? Should I expect to be crushed by dubious facts but excellent debating skills?

    I got YOUR names when I stumbled across your natal chart of Deepwater Horizon, as the pseudoscience that has sprung up around that oil leak is a particular whipping post of mine. Normally I go after people trying to pray it away, making laws and misdirecting resources toward wholly disproven actions.

    The fact that you make money off of this blog is gravy — so long as you peddle bullshit and make money off it, I’m happy to play critic, as in a properly functioning capitalist society, the critic of a product has a protected role.

  127. 127
    Jason Thibeault

    No. That’s not how this works. You asked me to debate you, so I chose to debate the table on which the house of cards of your particular astrology system (which you’ve built over fifteen years — that’s a long time to be mired in Dunning-Kruger!) rests. These tables are usually founded on the four marble legs of the scientific method — observation, hypothesis, prediction and experiment — but yours is a three-legged table, with two of them not even attached. Your table’s legs are observation, selection bias and faith. Faith is as solid a leg as air, so you’re actively holding up the table with one hand at all times; and selection bias is a leg made of wood, and I’ve unleashed the termites with this post. And kicked you in the shin while doing it.

    Meanwhile, you expect me to debate what’s on top of the table, when I go after the weak spot instead. No, no. That’s DECIDEDLY not how this works.

    Let me give you an example. Tell me how you’d debate me on this.

    Let’s say I postulate (building my own house of cards) that the tollhouse cookies on the plate before us, were baked earlier today by my invisible pink unicorn who obviously has magical powers, including the ability to bake things without any kind of stove, which makes its tollhouse cookies the best cookies in existence. I invite you to debate me on it.

    So when you point out that something can’t be both invisible and pink, and that nobody’s ever seen a unicorn, nor that there’s a mechanism by which magical powers could bake tollhouse cookies, and besides there’s a cookie bag visible in my garbage right now, I go into a huff. I say, “But that’s not what I invited you to debate me on! I wanted you to debate me on whether those tollhouse cookies were the best cookies in existence! You have to take everything else on faith!”

    What would YOU do? Would you take me at my challenge and debate the unfalsifiable part of my assertions? Or would you try to kick the table legs out from under the table?

  128. 128
    Jason Thibeault

    Additionally: morals are a social construct. Sociology is science. And you should read all these posts before you say I can’t “prove” morality with science.

    And can you and your partner stop abusing the word “prove”? I’m kinda sick of it. I can show evidence and the theories that are developed with them, theories that are tested and re-tested for hundreds of years and eventually accepted as correct. MATH proves things. Show me some proof that astrology is correct, using math.

  129. 129
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, you came to my blog then scuttled home to post something on your blog attacking my work. Grow some balls and comment on my blog. Jamie..

  130. 130
    Jamie Funk

    Stephanie, it’s OK, I was just correcting your use of quotation marks. This blog doesn’t allow for quoting in comments which does make debating a little difficult.

  131. 131
    Stephanie Z

    Well, that’s interesting. Jamie and Marina have the same email address, apparently.

    Jamie, Jason commented on your blog. You replaced his comment with a link. You’ve got nothing to stand on here.

  132. 132
    Jamie Funk

    Oh dear, a conspiracy theory from a skeptic? We are sharing the same computer while I am visiting Marina in London. You work it out.

    Jason posted this article as a comment on 3 of Marina’s articles. It addressed nothing Marina was writing about. Are you people really that thick? It wasn’t a comment, it was cut and paste blog article!

    Don’t tell me I have nothing to stand on. If you people know enough about astrology to ridicule it here, then have the decency to debate it on my blog, preferably on one of my articles.

    What the hell is the big problem? Jason picked my blog and trashed it here. I come here but no one here will criticize my work on my blog.

    Jason never had the decency to comment on the oil spill blog before he ridiculed my work in a public arena. My work is my living. I’m a single parent of 3 little ones and my blog is my shop-front. I make my living from astrology readings. Jason was mistaken if he thought I was a sandal-wearing new-age hippie.

    Jason attacked my livelihood in a cowardly manner. A pingback after the event is cowardly. If you are so confident you can debunk my methods then do so on my blog, bring all the buddies you want to back you up.

  133. 133
    Jason Thibeault

    This blog doesn’t allow for quoting in comments which does make debating a little difficult.

    Uh, yes it does.

    Or did you mean that my theme doesn’t provide the nice quote/linkback option that your theme does? Because that can be added, if it’s such a detriment to your ability to discuss. Never mind that the blog provides for threaded comments, but you have, on cursory inspection, not once replied to a specific post. You prefer your replies to go at the end of the thread.

  134. 134
    Jason Thibeault

    You really ought to take care when switch back and forth between your personas, if you and Marina are different people posting from the same computer.

    I posted something derisive about your nonsense on my blog, rather than your blog. You challenged me to a debate. I took you up on it. I didn’t debate the points you wanted me to debate, though, so you deleted most of my comment. I understand that it was long, but I had the “balls” to post it on your blog, exactly as I said I would when I accepted your challenge. Since you didn’t correct me on my plan when I told you what it was, I considered that consent.

    If you didn’t consent to me talking about astrology in general and crossposting it as both a comment at your place and a blog post on mine, I now know that yours is a hostile environment to posts discussing the flawed underpinnings of your philosophy. I would go to your blog to debate those underpinnings, but you’ve made it abundantly clear that tactic is not welcome. I refuse, as I’ve said elsewhere, to debate whether your invisible unicorn’s tollhouse cookies are superior to others. I’d rather prove there’s no invisible unicorn. And if you won’t let me argue that way on your blog (gutting my comments is proof of that), then you’re the one that needs to “grow some balls”.

  135. 135
    Jason Thibeault

    Make a thread where discussing the underpinnings of astrology in general is welcome, and I’ll be glad to do so, because I refuse to debate the relative merits of your specific interpretative techniques. Don’t be surprised if I cut and paste chunks of this article though, which you have not yet deigned to argue a single point.

    Or, you can continue the argument here, where none of your readers will see it, so as to protect your revenue flow. If you really want to keep the money flowing, you’ll keep the argument here. If you’re really interested in open debate, you’ll make a thread on your blog opening the argument to astrology in general.

    No more Courtier’s Replies. I said the Emperor has no clothes. Stop telling me I have to debate the particular cut or fabric used.

  136. 136
    Jamie Funk

    Coward

  137. 137
    Jen

    Your post is a clear reflection of yourself my good man. Your foundation is so rocked I can see the cards tumbling down and yet you do nothing to steady them and prove or attempt to prove otherwise save for insults and skirting around the fact that it was in fact YOU who invited all of this to your doorstep and not the other way around.

  138. 138
    Jason Thibeault

    Coward

    Now THAT’S slander. :)

    Maybe you might want to actually address my post now? You asked why I came around to your blog and posted a trackback, and the answer to that question is entirely contained in that post.

    Your house of cards’ table just got a leg sledgehammered off. Your emperor wears no clothes. Your tollhouse cookies were bought in a store, not made by an invisible pink unicorn. How many more metaphors must I come up with, before you realize that I’ve demolished what underpins your philosophy?

  139. 139
    Jamie Funk

    Low dog is also slander.

    I addressed you original post, the one ridiculing my oil rig post. This article I am commenting on now is something else you posted later, while I was still debating on your original post. I came here to defend my article on the oil spill, not to scientifically prove astrology.

    You attacked my astrological analysis of the oil rig explosion. You got startled when I commented and then you ran off to post something about astrology in general, pointing out the lack of science involving techniques I do not use, and giving no examples of my work.

    You attacked my work in your original post with no knowledge of what of was doing, I challenged you and since then you have ranted on about anything but my work. Be a man and go and comment on my oil rig post.

  140. 140
    Stephanie Z

    Conspiracy theory? I noted for those who might be confused why Marina’s picture would show up on your comment.

    Jamie, I can make up the world’s most elaborate and impressive ritual for determining whether the Easter Bunny will bring me pink marshmallow Peeps instead of the yellow (the bitter red dye at least gives them some flavor). Sometimes I might even get pink Peeps when I expect to. I’m still going to look damned silly if someone says there’s no Easter Bunny and my response is that they’re too cowardly to debate why I think it’s really important to face south-southwest while completing my ritual.

  141. 141
    James Carey

    This is has gotten so childish.

  142. 142
    Stephanie Z

    Didn’t like the Easter Bunny analogy, James?

  143. 143
    Jamie Funk

    Stephanie, if you write something about the Easter Bunny on your blog, let me know and I will come to your blog and criticize it via a comment addressing any points I have a differing opinion on. If a agree with anything you write them I may congratulate you on your astute observations. I will not leave an anonymous snide comment. I will also not post a ridiculing and defamatory article about your Easter bunny blog on my blog.

  144. 144
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, Jason disagreed with you about the fundamental basis on which your system is based; he left a comment about that and you removed the argument in it, then called him a coward for not doing exactly what he did do. No one here has left anonymous snide comments about you anywhere. Nobody has written anything defamatory about you. Defamation requires that the statement be false, not just not complimentary.

    And no, you don’t get to control how the blogosphere works so that people only post about you in spaces where you get to delete their words. As much as you might like it, the world doesn’t work that way, and whinging about it is still transparent whinging.

    And you still haven’t addressed the fact that the underpinnings of your business are bunk, as Jason has pointed out.

  145. 145
    Jamie Funk

    “Jason disagreed with you about the fundamental basis on which your system is based”

    I just went back to Jason’s original post about my oil spill blog with the intention of quoting this fundamental flaw on which my system is based. I could not find such a thing. Perhaps you would like to find it and quote it here for me.

  146. 146
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, read the post you’re commenting on.

  147. 147
    James Carey

    If it were not for Easter, I would have no chocolate bunnies or chocolate eggs, and to me, that is very important. So tread lightly. :)

  148. 148
    Stephanie Z

    Oh, but maybe, if it weren’t for Easter, these things would be available year round. Imagine…. ;-)

  149. 149
    James Carey

    My thought is, way back in the day when i was in highschool I used to argue on BBS systems with other highschool kids and it ended up getting snotty and condescending just like this arguement has. I came here to read about some genuine insights and all I am getting is playground finger pointing. Where is the duty teacher?

    If you both want to debate, go private and hammer out a set of rules for conduct and maybe find an impartial mediator, then try again. This is more or less turning out to be looking like the winner is going to be the last clown standing…

  150. 150
    James Carey

    Stephanie, I don’t know what world you live in, but real rabbits don’t lay eggs, much less ones made of chocolate. :)

  151. 151
    Jamie Funk

    “he left a comment about that and you removed the argument in it, then called him a coward for not doing exactly what he did do.”

    Jason did not leave a comment on my oil rig article. He did however copy and paste another of his articles (not the one about my oil rig article) as a comment on three of my partners articles. They appeared in my spam box for some reason. I did allow the latest of those comments on Marina’s article about the upcoming full Moon. As Jason’s original post was about my oil rig article, and his comment/blog post did not address the upcoming full Moon, I deleted all but the first three lines, and then left a link to Jason’s article.

    I called Jason a coward because he has not commented on any of my blog articles. He chose to cut and paste his own article (not his original attack on my oil rig post) as a comment on my partners blog articles.

    I also called Jason a coward because after repeated requests, he has still not commented on any of my blog articles, and I have given links to my most recent natal and mundane posts, as well as suggested he comment on the oil rig post to which he originally took exception to.

  152. 152
    Jamie Funk

    I’m not falling for that one. I came to this blog to defend an attack on my oil rig post. Moving the goal posts when you are losing is a cop out.

  153. 153
  154. 154
    Stephanie Z

    James, touche. :)

    Seriously, though, part of the problem is that Jamie did set terms for discussing astrology. Jason followed them. Jamie is now setting different, increasingly restrictive terms and insulting Jason for not having followed these terms instead of those he originally set. As you can see.

    Jamie, cross-posting is not copying and pasting an existing blog post. As someone who is doing a lot of blogosphere rules-lawyering, you should probably understand the basics better. And yes, anyone who has followed this understands very well that you don’t want to discuss the basis of astrology. However, “the emperor has no clothes” is still as harsh a critique of your oil rig story as it ever was.

    Now, are you saying that if Jason posted the same comment on one of those other posts, you’d leave it intact?

  155. 155
    James Carey

    From what I have read thus far this arguement will serve to convince anyone to change their mind from what they already believe. This is just kind like whipping out your blog-dick and saying “wakawakawaka…”

    Not that it isn’t fun to read, mind you, but it isn’t terribly helpful either…

  156. 156
    Jason Thibeault

    You attacked my astrological analysis of the oil rig explosion.

    Wrong. I attacked the use of astrology in postdicting Deepwater Horizon, and the fact that no astrologer made any such prediction BEFORE it exploded. Your specific window-dressing of the underlying techniques are immaterial to the fact that the techniques of looking to the stars to make predictions here on Earth is total bunkum.

    You got startled when I commented and then you ran off to post something about astrology in general, pointing out the lack of science involving techniques I do not use, and giving no examples of my work.

    Why should I point to any of your postdictions? Tell me why I should care what planets you use, what rules you use for making your charts, what specific techniques you use, when the whole enterprise is predicated on utter nonsense? Nonsense which I duly pointed out, and you’ve duly claimed you have no responsibility to defend?

    Why should I care what specific raiments you claim your emperor is wearing, when my assertion is that he is naked?

  157. 157
    Jamie Funk

    “Nobody has written anything defamatory about you. Defamation requires that the statement be false, not just not complimentary.”

    Defamation is in fact “Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.” Defamation

    As I am a practicing professional astrologer, and rely on my good reputation in the field in order to earn a living to support my family, I consider the following statements made by Jason in his original post about my oil rig article to be defamatory:

    “Seriously, what is all this gobbledygook?”

    “just admit that you’re not predicting anything at all, of value or otherwise with your crazy formulae and charts!”

    “How come you people can only ever rationalize why things happened the way they did, and never give us any kind of useful, testable, repeatable prediction about the future?”

    You see even by your definition those statements are false and therefore defamatory. The work is not gobbledygook to my intended audience, those with a basic understanding of astrology. I do make predictions, accurate ones.

  158. 158
    Jason Thibeault

    Neither of those IPs appear on this thread. Or in any previous thread. Nor do the e-mails. I have every comment emailed to my gmail account directly, and in searching for each of the four of those pieces of information, your comment is the only one that turns up.

    That doesn’t mean they aren’t readers. They’re just none of us in this discussion. Is it really so hard to believe that maybe other rational people in this world found it at the same time I did?

  159. 159
    Jason Thibeault

    The keywords in your definition are “any intentional false”. As you’ve provided no evidence for why astrology is even plausible, even if it turned out astrology was totally and completely legitimate, then I’m not aware of the reasons why. And since I’ve not actually defamed your ability as an astrologer — I’ve even gone out of my way to say you’re a very good one, in that you make money at it, and you’re good enough to mask the misses and keep the money flowing in — I don’t think you have a leg to stand on with THAT tactic either.

    Look. I know you take it very personally that I’m saying the field you’ve studied for 15 years is bunk. But if you’re taking this fight personally, you need to cool your heels. Drop the angry tone, realize what I’m saying is actually about astrology as a whole and not your specific skills in the field, and come back and maybe defend the field instead of your own personal honour.

  160. 160
    Jason Thibeault

    I agree, completely. Jamie has dug in his heels, rather than defending his field he’s now defending his personal honour. Which is why he refuses to debate on the very thing I said I’d debate him on, to which he evidently assented (through silence).

    All we’re going to get from this point on is whinging. I’ll never corner him into actually defending astrology as a whole, and he’ll never get me to debate him on why polyester is a tacky choice for his emperor’s clothing.

  161. 161
    Jason Thibeault

    … said the pot to the kettle.

  162. 162
    Jamie Funk

    Another one: “and you’re good enough to mask the misses and keep the money flowing in”

    “realize what I’m saying is actually about astrology as a whole and not your specific skills in the field”

    Wrong Jason, you picked my article about the oil spill specifically.

    “defend the field instead of your own personal honour.”

    I have no interest in defending the field. I do not represent the field. I have an interest in defending the work of mine that you singled out to ridicule.

  163. 163
    Jamie Funk

    When you’re ready to take responsibility for your original attack on my work, come to my blog.

  164. 164
    Jason Thibeault

    Did I say anything in particular about your technique? I must have missed it. I was, objectively, speaking solely about the use of astrology to “predict” (ten days after the fact) the Deepwater Horizon disaster, how your certitude in your work made the disaster so obvious if only someone had done up a star chart for that date and time in advance.

    Are you intentionally fishing, hoping to try to trap me into saying something damaging? By my estimation, I haven’t said a thing about your specific techniques.

    The null hypothesis is that astrology doesn’t work. It definitely doesn’t work, for the reasons outlined in the post you’ve avoided reading or commenting on. That’s what I am debating. You can be as good as this Johnathan Caitlin guy within your own field, for all I know. Better, even. And I hope you keep making money off of people for doing readings for them, because I certainly don’t want your children to starve.

    That doesn’t mean astrology itself is founded on anything but bunkum. And that’s not defaming you, that’s defaming a field. You could say science is nonsense, and I couldn’t claim you were defaming me. I don’t see how you think you can do the reverse.

  165. 165
    Jason Thibeault

    When you’re ready to recognize that my attack was on astrology, not “your work”, come back to mine.

  166. 166
    George W.

    Jamie,
    Let’s try this one step at a time.
    Jason is not saying that only mainstream astrology is bunk, he’s saying that ALL astrology is bunk. He’s not specific about your method because he doesn’t have to be. If your argument is that everyone else who practices astrology is wrong save you, then it is your responsibility to explain why what you do is better. Jason’s post does very much directly refute your work.
    In your oil spill post you say:

    The event chart shows a Boomerang Yod aspect pattern. A Yod is formed when two planets quincunx another. Here it is the Sun and Neptune that quincunx Saturn. The Boomerang is formed when another planet is opposite the action point, in this case Uranus is at the reaction point. So the action point was Saturn, the structure of the oil rig.

    Can we both agree that you are claiming that the planets and their positions have some effect on events and things on earth?
    Jason in his post says:

    So there is, ultimately, no force that astrology can point to, to explain how distant planets can have any kind of effect; and there are too many distant planets and stars that your planetary effect cannot account for. The error bars on any of your calculations are so great that you’re probably just guessing anyway. There’s too much noise for any signal to come through, and nobody’s bothered to check to see if what you’re seeing is ACTUALLY signal, or if you’re reading tea-leaves.

    -emphasis mine
    How is that not a direct criticism of your method?
    He’s not going to critique your evaluation of Uranus at reaction point because it doesn’t matter. The planets, any planet, have no effect on anything.
    So prove to everyone here why Uranus in the reaction point has any measurable effect on anything that happens on earth and we will gladly shut up.
    J: Fixed that blockquote for ya

  167. 167
    James Carey

    George W.’s Horoscope:

    Jupiter’s orbit put it a wee bit to close to the asteroid belt were it’s immense gravitational pull sends one hurteling into the inner solar system. Slingshotting past Mars in a freakish sort of manner it is heading straight for your house. You may want to call your insurance company for some last minute changes and spend the weekend with a friend. Your lucky numbers are: 7, 12, 19, 27, & 35.

  168. 168
    Marina Funk

    Just so your readers get the right perspective on this. I am not yet Jamies wife. We are in a long distance relationship and are on holiday together right now after not seeing each other for 3 months. So forgive us if we aren’t given to spending our valuable time together proving exactly how Astrology works right now! We will blog a full and properly researched answer to you skeptics in time, but until then I think its rather unfair to judge our responses to you when not only are we are on the back foot , we are supposed to be on holiday.
    I have posted this on your friends blog too as he has entered our competition!

  169. 169
    Marina Funk

    Oh Come come!! I have to step in here. Three blog posts that mention Jamie Funk! If anyone googles our name at some point they are going to get your blog posts refering to our blog and a specific post, namely the deep water oil disaster.

    If you wanted to write generally about Astrology you could easily of done so. Don’t give me this post-post crap about it not being personal and using the word bullshit to describe a subject matter you have not even read ONE book on.

    You have made the most unscientific generalizations and assumptions on Astrology as a whole and even how I work personally without ever having a reading by me. Is sexual abuse a vague theme then?! I saw it in someones chart, it happened to be true.

    What you have done is basically made a protest about Astrology by throwing shit at our own shopfront. Excuse me if we don’t get slightly upset!
    If some Indians get shit put through their letterbox by rascists they are not going to feel like “oh its not us personally, its just our whole race they are getting at”

    Mr scientific IT objective man, if you have any empathy at ALL. Realise that you cannot put up someones name, link to them on the web and put derogatory comments after that without illicitating some emotional response!!

  170. 170
    George W.

    LOL
    I would love to see a horoscope like that one because it makes a falsifiable prediction.
    Alas, my horoscope usually tells me to “be alert around new people today” or “your pride may get the best of you”.
    For the sake of all astrologists, I hope an asteroid does hit my house, I just reserve the right to be skeptical till it happens.

  171. 171
    Julie Stash

    Well for you

    Atheists In Love
    Jodi and I are going to CONvergence for our honeymoon in 0 days

    you have to get your thrills in make believe – because your world is so dull hey!

  172. 172
    DuWayne

    I am unbelievably offended by all the fucking harshing on wankers. You’re all just a bunch a fucking haters, hating on wanking. Well, those of you who are actually implying there is something bad about wankers. As a scientist in training and a loud, proud wanker, Fuck You Basterdzz!!11!1!!!

    (If you need me, I’ll be in my bunk)

  173. 173
    DuWayne

    Mr scientific IT objective man…

    Seriously?!?!

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!11!!!!11!

  174. 174
    Jason Thibeault

    I think you just won the thread, James. You know, since the internet is a competition, with winners and losers, and whatnot.

  175. 175
    Jason Thibeault

    I never mentioned the name Jamie Funk in the first post about the Deepwater Horizon chart. I linked to him, sure, but anyone Googling his name would never have found my blog. That is, until he replied to it himself. And in fact, I would have dropped it, and moved on to some other debunking, if Jamie hadn’t shown up.

    Just to correct the record.

    As for “unscientific generalizations”, point them out. Show why science actually says something different from what I’ve asserted. That’s the challenge, and that’s been the challenge from the outset.

    As for reading about astrology, I don’t need to. Not only do I have Google, and resources like your blog, but I also married an ex-astrologer. In case you weren’t aware.

  176. 176
    George W.

    Way to wade into the argument Julie!
    Can we all just admit that the reason you aren’t here positively defending astrology is because you’ve got nothing.
    Bupkis.
    Nada.
    Zero.
    I can understand that coming to the realization that the foundation of your worldview is an utter lie might be painful, but just tossing around comments designed to prey off Jason’s emotions in an effort to bait him is pathetic.
    We are only asking Jamie to back up his dubious claims, to “shit or get off the pot”, and all you have to add is a school yard insult.
    Well guess what Julie?
    Yo Mama!

  177. 177
    Jason Thibeault

    This is fair. Nobody mentioned that you were trying to spend some personal time together — in fact, Jamie was the one all gung-ho about debating, if you’ll go back to the thread that started it all. Why don’t you take your time? No need to rush. Just understand that I expect a defense of astrology as a whole, not your specific brand of it.

  178. 178
    Jason Thibeault

    I doubt Julie’s saying our wedding is make-believe. Probably that CONvergence is over with (as of last week), and I haven’t taken down that widget yet. It’s a fair cop. Not that that actually says anything about the argument against astrology as a whole, huh?

  179. 179
    DuWayne

    Realise that you cannot put up someones name, link to them on the web and put derogatory comments after that without illicitating some emotional response!!

    Yes you fuckingwell can, if that person has rather more emotional intelligence than a turnip. People have done it to me on numerous occasions. People have done it to Jason on numerous occasions. People have done that to virtually all the bloggers I know on numerous occasions. While sometimes, some of us have an emotional reaction to the actual positions, reacting as though it were a personal affront is rare and generally limited to discussions about identity politics.

    If derogatory commentary causes an emotional reaction on a personal level, the blogosphere is likely not for you. Seriously, people are going to be critical – regardless of what you are writing about. They are going to say things that, if you take them seriously, are going to hurt you. If you cannot take it with a grain of salt and react to the content, not the tone, you are going to be very miserable and it can potentially cause actual health problems.

    To be clear, I am not trying to drive you away from the blogosphere. While I think astrology – no matter how you couch it – is silly, I am a virtual absolutist about free expression. And while I am an asshole, I am not interested in damaging people or seeing them damaged. I don’t want you to flee the blogosphere, I want to see you (and your partner) be reasonably immune to harsh and sometimes personally cruel criticism. What you have seen and experienced here is nothing. Assholes we may be about these parts, but none of us is outright cruel. I have taken hits from people who are out and out, trying to damage people.

    Let the fucking bullshit wash over you and past you. Defend yourself as you see fit, but understand that at teh end of the day, if you believe in yourself and what you are defending, an asshole like me doesn’t fucking matter. And some bastard who is bent on actually hurting you matters even less.

  180. 180
    DuWayne

    Well I am – I wasn’t there and thus can’t confirm it’s reality. All those picshers…Well we have a lot of pictures from the alleged moon “landing” too. I would say that producing a marriage license might put our skepticism to rest, but Barry Hussein “Obama” produced a so called license too…

  181. 181
    James Carey

    Small matters should be treated with great seriousness, while large matters should be treated with great levity and humour.

    Trying to make and point while eliciting a giggle at the same time here is very challenging. :)

  182. 182
    Maria

    Jason,

    Thanks for the critisism. It’s very thoughtful, more than just epithets. This is the kind of argument we astrologers need to hear, and the bottom line is, to me, that Science has not come up with an explanation as to how or why astrology works. I know, it’s “because astrology doesn’t work, fool!” But, it does. It is practiced by fallible humans, and I agree, we need to scrutinize our hits and misses, as a body, far more than we do today.
    There are, by the way, reliable methods for determining the strength of a given planet, and those methods would make you laugh your head off. However, I have used them with shocking success.

    Sometimes, it’s easier to, say, make a table move by just picking it up with your hands and moving it, than sitting around it with friends and ” psychically willing” it to move. People use astrology to escape responsibility for their own actions and attitudes. That is annoying… from time to time I wonder why I practice this much-maligned Thing, then someone calls: “Will I need to move from my home anytime this year?” I’ll discover through astrology, that this person’s landlord will suffer monetarily and sell; the caller will be out in 6 1/2 months. That caller wisely planned both to stay and to leave. When the prediction came true, to the week, she was glad she called – she wouldn’t have prepared to leave since there was no empirical data to support it. I could cite other examples, but would rather say that I also have missed plenty, though far more hits than misses. And they are logged. I continue to study and practice astrology because the fact that it works for me more often than not, is fascinating…and it can be helpful.

    Obviously, I do not venerate science. I have respect for it, but know that it, too, is practiced by fallible, evolving humans. Science routinely makes new discoveries, discards old certainties, and often with very little self-scrutiny in proportion to it’s puffed-up claims of Objectivity. Science also works through funding, and is subject to the agendas of its funders.

    You are demanding a defense of Astrology as a whole? Your terminology belies that. What you want is a fight. You want to bloody Astrology’s nose and watch it cry, “Oh, I’ve been exposed, debunked!” You actually seem to think you are doing just that. But you are really only preaching to a choir that was already on your side of the issue. You admit that your knowledge of Astrology is weak, and you believe you can debunk something you know little about by using something you have actually studied. That’s not very scientific. If you wanted a defense of Astrology, you would be studying it!

  183. 183
    DuWayne

    Maria –

    You don’t seem to really understand how extraordinary claims and the burden of proof works. If I were to tell you that I have learned how to teleport myself with the power of my mind and you can too, would you think it reasonable for me to refuse to defend the assertion and demand that you read about it for yourself? How about if I explained how the easter bunny really exists, but is invisible?

    You are making an extraordinary claim. A claim that is at the very least based in part on something that has been studied and studies have shown is bunk. So you claim that your system is different – it is still an extraordinary claim. You are saying that the celestial bodies can tell us things about the world around us. I have seen science that tells us that claim in bullshit. Whether you have some new way of viewing it or not, the burden of proof is on you who are making this claim – not those who won’t believe it without evidence.

    And to be clear about what we mean by evidence, we are talking about actual scientific study.

  184. 184
    Jason Thibeault

    Science has not come up with an explanation as to how or why astrology works.

    And until it does, I have every justification for going on living my life with the assumption that it DOESN’T work. Don’t I? That IS, after all, the null hypothesis — that someone making a claim to extraordinary powers must prove those powers actually exist first.

    All I want is a mechanism by which it COULD work, measurements of that mechanism, a bit of testing to standardize your hypotheses, and peer-review of those tests. That’s, honestly, not all that much. It’s the scientific method. And astrology, if it turned out to be plausible, would directly benefit from these tests because then it wouldn’t be so much a matter of which astrologer does the forecasting, so much as that the accepted correct methods were used. Imagine what a boon to humanity that would be!

  185. 185
    D.

    I just want to post an anonymous wish for Jason, whoever the eff he is:

    I really hope this man gets laid. Maybe then he’ll stop shitting on others and their interests and studies to make himself feel better. He just reeks of desperation, regardless of how scholarly he feels his opinions are.

    What an arrogant douche.

  186. 186
    Stephanie Z

    So, D, your astrology isn’t enough to tell you that Jason’s a newlywed just back from his honeymoon, huh? Perhaps you need a more reliable source of guidance.

  187. 187
    D.

    Perhaps you do. I’m not an astrologer. And married sex isn’t necessarily good sex, you should know :).

  188. 188
    sinned34

    I really hope this man gets laid. Maybe then he’ll stop shitting on others and their interests and studies to make himself feel better. He just reeks of desperation, regardless of how scholarly he feels his opinions are.

    Of course. Jason couldn’t actually have any real argument against astrology, could he? No, it must just be that he’s suffering from a buildup of sexual frustration. And since he’s a newlywed, it must be that his wife can’t satisfy him physically. Anything else to add, D. or do you would you rather insinuate that Jason might be a homosexual, and then make comments about how fat his mother is?

    If you’re done, please leave the adults to talk amongst themselves – you can go outside and play with your grade six classmates.

  189. 189
    Stephanie Z

    D, that’s what they told…oh. And you believed…oh. I’m so sorry, but you know, maybe you should turn your attention to your own matters.

  190. 190
    D.

    Leave the pills (anti-depressants, etc) alone for a while, Steph.

  191. 191
    D.

    Wow. You sound serious.

    Uh, after reading the comments on Jamie’s blog, it’s clear that Jason doesn’t hold a valid argument against Astrology. He just doesn’t like it. And if he just doesn’t like it, he needs to understand that he doesn’t need to have a toddler-tantrum about it. Really, I don’t need to insinuate that someone is likely a sexually-frustrated moron when he has actually behaved like one.

    Finally, if you’re all adults, I’d much rather participate in a discussion with a group of sixth graders.

    Ciao.

  192. 192
    sinned34

    Sure, Jason doesn’t hold a valid argument against astrology, other than the fact that there’s no evidence that it works, there isn’t a coherent method by which it could work, and nobody seems to be able to defend astrology other than to say “you haven’t studied it enough, therefore you’re wrong” and “you’re just upset because your wife must not be able to please you sexually!”. If Jamie is such an amazing astrologer, how come he can’t defend his craft intellectually?

    Of course you’d rather participate in a discussion with a group of sixth graders – they don’t yet have the mental capacity to properly evaluate your weak claims. Plus, girls that age love unicorns and glitter, which is about the level of sophistication to which your arguments are able to rise. Mind you, it’s not like you’ve been able to make a coherent defense of astrology – the only thing you’ve been able to do is hurl insults. Why don’t you go back to the crowd that exhibits all the intellectual capabilities of tweenage girls back at Jamie’s blog? You’re over your head here, troll.

  193. 193
    George W.

    I don’t want to sound gay or nothing, but Unicorns kick ass!
    Sinned: I wish there was a “super-like” button.

  194. 194
    Jason Thibeault

    Considering the apparent admission of a lack of a good married sex life on your part, D, I have far less inclination to believe that Stephanie’s on antidepressants than you.

    I mean, rubber and glue, since you’re more inclined to the sixth grader level and all that.

  195. 195
    Jason Thibeault

    My argument is in the original post. Nobody’s actually addressed it at all yet except to call me names and say “what you said totally doesn’t count because it’s not what I believe!” Never mind that it underpins any predictive or interpretive causal relationship between the planets and your lives, and that if there is no argument that can be made against my logic, then you pretty much lose the argument outright. Maybe not in your own eyes — you’ll go on believing what you want — but in those border cases that go “hey, yeah, how CAN it work?” they’ll see that you’ve got nothing.

    You were dealt a two-seven off-suit. Bet’s to you.

  196. 196
    Stephanie Z

    Your response to me making shit up about your sex life is to dump the pills? All right, now you know how to proceed after making shit up about Jason’s. Go make an appointment with your mirror.

  197. 197
    Jason Thibeault

    Ohhh, that’s that strategery at play again. Clever girl.

  198. 198
    DuWayne

    Wow, you’re still around? I thought you were going away because of the fucking maturity level here – something you dropped by several factors when you showed up. How about a game of hide and go fuck yourself?

    You hide first.

  199. 199
    Stephanie Z

    I do occasionally play a very long game.

  200. 200
    James Carey

    Having my e-mail box continuously filled with comments ranging from the snotty and condescending to the just plain rude and vulgar I did a little research on pseudo sciences on wikipedia (which is going to be my online standard) and they say that the definition of pseudo science is any scientific process that does not follow the scientific method, who’s definition, if you will forgive me, i am going to cut and paste here:

    “Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new[1] knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[3]

    Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

    Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce biased interpretations of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”

    So I am pretty much in agreement with Jason that Astrology is a pseudo science. That being said, however, by this definition I am not convinced that Economics isn’t a pseudo science either…

  201. 201
    George W.

    O.K. James, I’ll bite.
    As I am sure we are both aware, Economics is a Social Science, and by it’s very definition cannot be directly compared to a Natural Science. The “science” in social science is more an allusion to it’s foundational methodology where data is collected by observation, hypotheses are postulated, more data is collected, hypotheses are tuned, more data collected, etc.
    Economics weaknesses lie in the control of variables and the limitations of experiment. This is no different from Political Science or Anthropology… or Paleontology for that matter.
    To make the claim that astrology can be lumped into a broad category with economics is fatuous and misleading to the point of being deceitful. Astrology does not collect data in a scientific matter, it tautologically serves to prove itself by cherry picking correlations without any proof or reasoning for causality.
    By your own “online standard”, pseudo-science is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, or otherwise lacks scientific status. (emphasis mine)
    I wonder, James, why you so carelessly abbreviated that definition and concentrated on the definition of the scientific method? Why leave out the part about an “appropriate scientific method”?

    Further down in the wiki article, you will note that the National Science Foundation contrasts Micheal Shermer’s definitions of science and pseudoscience.

    Science-”a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed and inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation”

    Pseudoscience-”claims presented so that they appear [to be] scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility”

    I would argue that economics fits best under the first definition and less under the latter.

  202. 202
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m promoting George and James’ discussion to its own post so people actually have a chance at reading it (since who’s really going to slog through 200+ comments bitching about astrology to get at an unrelated topic about economics?). 2 seconds, it’ll link back here.

  203. 203
    Robert Currey

    Jason, I have to admit I have not gone through all 206 comments, so I hope I am not duplicating an argument.

    As I understand it, you are quite experienced at debating with creationists so I am hoping that you can give me a good answer to this. (Lest anyone misunderstands this, I am not a creationist)

    Now you wrote “if you could show me some evidence of what’s causing the effect, how it works, and make some predictions…”.

    My understanding is that Darwin’s theory of evolution was not supported by any mechanism or prediction of mutation until over a century after Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859. It was the research that followed many years after Watson & Crick’s publication of the structure of DNA (1953) that showed a rate of mutation in DNA and that the DNA sequences shared by organisms reflected the shared anatomy and the separation of the organisms as predicted by fossil evidence.

    I can cite many other areas of established science where there was no known mechanism and partly as a result of this, little or limited predictability. Is that a reason to reject a whole field of study?

  204. 204
    Jason Thibeault

    You’ve just pullquoted me. You left out the other half of that “if” clause, and left out the “then” altogether.

    And understand that, if there were any kind of verifiable, measurable effect, if you could show me some evidence of what’s causing the effect, how it works, and make some predictions that couldn’t be ascribed to pure chance or keen understanding of local political, meteorological or social events, then you could convert me.

    The reason, I suspect, you did this, is because in the entire body of astrology from Babylon til now, almost every hit that’s ever been made could be ascribed to pure chance or a keen understanding of the local events. Just like you could make a prediction that Barack Obama would win the race a few months before it happened with relative certainty and it shouldn’t count toward astrology’s validity, but making such a prediction (and naming the guy by name) before he was even made a senator would have DEEP meaning to the validity of astrology.

    And that “then” clause means I’m not saying astrology doesn’t have any merit just because it hasn’t answered any of those questions. I’m saying that you’ll never convince ME of it without fulfilling those criteria. Just like I wouldn’t accept the evidence for evolution dogmatically after The Prophet Darwin came down from on high with his proclamations written on stone, but would rather see evidence for it.

    Thing is, Darwin had all sorts of evidence before he developed his hypothesis, including speciation and the fossil record among others. That hypothesis also posited not only that there would be transitional forms between the fossils (which we’ve found thousands of), but also a mechanism by which this change over time could be transmitted from creature to creature (which Watson and Crick discovered in DNA). So his hypothesis became a theory, one that could be falsified and has failed to be falsified for 150 years. That’s why I “believe in” evolution — because it was a very good theory based on the evidence, it fit all the evidence, and it got modified as more data came in to accomodate that data without actually breaking the theory.

    On the other hand, you have the theory that the stars influence human events, and between you, no two of you will agree on HOW. No two of you will agree on the effects, nor will two of you actually agree on even the way to go about making predictions. Some of you will accept the work that’s come before you, some of you will make up your own system, but none have ever shown that the planets, stars and asteroids have any effect whatsoever on life. After two thousand years, the lack of evidence is astounding. All you have is splinter after splinter of dogmatically assumed causal relationships with no data backing it up.

    One has to look no further than twins, born seconds apart in the same location, whose lives turned out vastly different from one another, to show that your theories do not fit all the available evidence. What evidence you present is cherry-picked, a function of the selection bias I have mentioned a dozen times in this thread.

    If you decide you have something to offer, could you kindly answer some or any of my questions in the main post? You don’t have to read the 206 comments that came before you — just understand that NOBODY has taken on my post yet, and I’d appreciate it if SOMEONE did, because that was an assload of work!

  205. 205
    Robert Currey

    The reason I did not quote your sentence in full was simply that I wanted to address one issue at a time. You devoted four paragraphs to the issue of mechanism – so it must be an important plank in your argument. Either that or you simply copied it from a sceptical website as this argument gets recycled a lot and when questioned the ‘author’ cannot support it.

    Thanks for your answer about Darwin. Was he able to make predictions from his theory of evolution that could be measured during his lifetime?

    A better example than Darwin is Semmelweis (1818-1865) who introduced hygienic practices like hand washing in obstetric clinics. He was ridiculed by other scientists as he could not provide a mechanism, even though he reduced the mortality rate. Yet, it became accepted practice years after he died when Pasteur confirmed germ theory.

    I am not looking to convert you to astrology. I can’t do that by adversarial debate. Only you can do that with empirical research ideally from an objective standpoint. I would however like to correct some of the fallacious arguments like the suggestion that astrology should be dismissed as it has no known mechanism. (By the way, I am not saying there is no mechanism, but that could be addressed later.)

    The real point you are making is that Darwin had persuasive evidence even without fully understanding his mechanism or measurable predictions and you feel that astrology doesn’t. So the four paragraphs about the mechanism, your comments that I quoted and your follow up comment: “You just have to show how it works scientifically.” are irrelevant and even misleading. The reason so many sceptics love to recycle this argument is that they hope that by quoting text book physics they will give the impression that they have the weight of science behind them. On this argument, they don’t. It’s actually bad use of science and I can cite scientists who you would respect who would back me up. So, I recommend adapting the text or cutting this out of your article as I am sure you feel you have a strong enough case without having to puff it up with this artifice.

    Where you have an edge over most sceptics is that your comments on astrology (with a few errors) appear slightly more informed than usual. Is this is because your wife was an astrologer but later abandoned the study?

  206. 206
    Jason Thibeault

    I’d be careful about veiled accusations of plagiarism. If you believe I have wholesale copied any of my arguments, you might want to consider that perhaps I have, in actuality, re-expressed them, in my own words, because I understand them thoroughly and believe you do not have an adequate counter-argument.

    I recognize that you are a skilled debater, in your tactic regarding attacking my arguments’ strengths in order to create the perception of weakness. I also recognize that you have a vested interest in making this not a debate, as that puts you on the ground where you have to provide evidence for your beliefs, since they are the positive and extraordinary ones (e.g., you believe astrology works, and therefore must show that they do, and/or how they do). I don’t understand why you take this particular tack, but I recognize it.

    If I were one of Semmelweis’ contemporaries, and he were to dogmatically express a viewpoint that one must wash their hands before surgeries without any evidence thereto, I would consider it something akin to OCD. Many dogmatic beliefs are as like OCD, codified oftentimes in religion to justify them, but now and then in such a pure “individual belief” form. The fact that his patients died much less often was the only thing separating his dogmatic belief in hygiene as being important with regard to surgery, and an actual discovery. It was somewhat serendipitous, in other words. When he discovered it actually helped, and he proved as much to his peers, his practices were adopted, even without evidence as to the mechanism.

    The difference THERE, then, is that Semmelweis was correct. His practice of washing his hands had a verifiable effect. If you were to make repeated successful predictions outside of what could be accounted for by pure chance, e.g. many more hits than misses, and with greater accuracy and greater predictive value than two thousand years of astrologers before you, then you might have something in your astrology, and it might be merited to try to discover a mechanism. The thing is, science HAS looked for a mechanism, expressly because many scientists (as mentioned by other astrologers in this thread and elsewhere) believed wholeheartedly that there was something to astrology. After so much searching for a mechanism, without any sort of proof that there’s even an effect, at what point do we get to reject the astrology hypothesis as meritless?

    If handwashing proved completely ineffective at improving a patient’s survivability, and microbiotic life by all accounts couldn’t be found to exist, would two thousand years of people passing down their specific handwashing techniques be anything more than an OCD remnant of a hypothesis that should have been disproven but keeps getting its goalposts for definitive proof moved every time it is disproved?

  207. 207
    James Carey

    OCD wasn’t really coined as such until 1910 by Dr. Sigmund Freud which he labelled as the “touching disorder”. Before then, people with OCD were just regarded as possessed.

    It’s an unfair arguement to look back and say that you would have just considered that Semmelweis had OCD when OCD wasn’t even thought of until 45 years after his death. There was no terminology for it. Imagine the harsh criticisms and the scorn of his collegues he had to endure to maintain his belief in what he thought to be right. You should recognize him for what he was, a radical thinker who went against mainstream beliefs to persue what he believed to be right.

    I want to clip another quote from Wiki here about psuedoscience which I thought worth mentioning:

    “Science educator Paul DeHart Hurd wrote that part of gaining scientific literacy is being able to tell science apart from “pseudo-science, such as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition”, but philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend argued that it was unrealistic and pernicious to insist that science run according to fixed and universal rules. The philosopher Karl Popper wrote that science often errs and that pseudoscience can stumble upon the truth, but what distinguishes them is the inductive method of the former, which proceeds from observation or experiment, and that its theories are falsifiable.”

    Just food for thought.

  208. 208
    Stephanie Z

    Goodness, Robert, want to concentrate on Jason more than his argument much? Why he knows anything at all about astrology is irrelevant to whether he’s right in what he says, as is whether he (a modern Canadian) would describe someone in terms appropriate to that person’s time. None of it has any bearing on astrology, which you dismiss with “Oh, I can’t convince you.” Of course you can’t. You have no positive evidence, which is why you prefer to try to take Jason apart personally.

    Of course, you can’t do that very well either. You don’t know what the contemporary evidence was for evolution, yet you think that should be some kind of counter-argument for the requirements of evidence. Then you offer Semmelweis as a replacement example, since your first was so clearly lacking, despite the fact that he was working in medicine in a time when it wasn’t a particularly scientific discipline. Had there been a tradition in medicine at the time of following the results, changes would have happened earlier. And in fact, germ theory had also been around for some time before Pasteur did the scientific work necessary to convince people it was true. Note that he didn’t just go around telling people he couldn’t convince them because they didn’t want to believe it.

    As for your Wikipedia quote, you could only think that Feyerabend and Popper support your belief in astrology by stopping your reading at that quote. Feyerabend noted that dogmatic adherence to any of the “rules” of science could lead to favoring false conclusions based on the evidence at hand at any given point. He did not dismiss the need for evidence, not even close to it. And you offer Popper’s observation that something being pseudoscience does not preclude it from being true, without then noting what the requirements for deciding whether it’s true actually are.

    What you’re missing entirely in your galloping Galileo gambit is that all your examples are of ideas that were dismissed locally, for a short period of time, until the evidence became overwhelming. That helps not one whit in your quest to support astrology’s legitimacy. Astrology has been around for a very long time and has not only not accumulated any of the evidence needed to overturn doubt, but has actively accumulated evidence against it. In light of that, it works itself ever more firmly into the realm of extraordinary claims needing extraordinary evidence, which is exactly as Jason’s full quote describes.

  209. 209
    Glendon Mellow

    @Stephanie: “galloping Galileo gambit”

    Reading phrases like this is why I love it when Jason refers to you as “Our Lady of Perpetual Win”.

  210. 210
    Jason Thibeault

    Plus one for truth, Glendon. :D

  211. 211
    Jason Thibeault

    Robert and James have similar last names but they are definitely different people. The points you make stand, but some stand exclusively to James.

  212. 212
    James Carey

    First, the quote from Wiki I cut and pasted is in fact the entire quote on the page. I personally, eliminated nothing and quoted every word that Wiki had to offer on that train of thought. You might be right, you might be wrong but as I am using Wiki as a standard here then the only thing I can tell you is that Wikipedia has proceedures for challenges for having faslse or misleading information and that you should take your arguement up with them, not with me.

    Secondly, I tend to explain myself badly alot, and the point of previous post actually came to me this morning when I woke up. Jason tried to use a modern term to explain how he would have viewed the Semmelweis’ handwashing. It is a convienient argument because hindsight is always 20/20. I was actually chhallenging his argument because I believe if he were to put his persona in that time with him, Jason would simply do what Jason does…he would be a skeptic and challenge him for proof. Just like the rest of Semmelweis’ collegues whom history seems to have forgotten their names…

    I am not sure if you believe that just because I argue for astrology I believe in astrology. I am arguing for the right to of astrologers just to do what they do without being sought out and attacked. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs. But me personally, if there was an ability to tell the future somehow, I doubt it would be located beneath the crosswrod section of the newspaper. It is called “Adult entertainment” and we as adults should be aware of that. Believing in astrology is like believing the stripper giving me a lapdance actually likes me. Well, she likes something in my pants, that’s for sure…but it is Green Queen Elizabeth in my wallet…

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

  213. 213
    Jason Thibeault

    You’re right, I have difficulty with the assumption that I’m a contemporary of a particular time period and removing all the bits of knowledge that make me “me”. As an example, if you were to make me a contemporary of Charles Darwin, I would probably be a devout Christian, because most people were. But if you were to take me, as I am today, and plop me into Semmelweis’ time frame, yeah, I’d think he’s OCD. If you were to take just my skeptical personality traits, then it’s fair to say I’d challenge him for evidence and would allow myself to be convinced by the weight of the evidence presented.

    Same goes for astrology, though. It’s the lack of weight given the lack of evidence that convinces me it’s all bunkum.

  214. 214
    Stephanie Z

    Ah, yes. 4.5 hours of sleep and no caffeine is not enough for full functioning, even if I don’t feel tired.

    Robert and James, my apologies to each of you for crediting you with the other’s argument.

  215. 215
    Stephanie Z

    Thanks, Glendon. I get something of a kick out if myself. :)

  216. 216
    Stephanie Z

    I don’t see why the police should go out of their way to hassle Three-Card Monte hustlers. After all, they clearly invite people to enjoy a little friendly game, and a fool and his or her money are soon parted.

    Oh, wait. No, I mean exactly the opposite of that.

  217. 217
    Robert Currey

    Please don’t be melodramatic, Jason. There was no accusation of plagiarism. I don’t think anyone apart from you, is bothered about who gets the credit for writing it. This is not an academic paper or a commercial publication. The point I made is that your argument has been accepted uncritically by many sceptics and recycled. It’s hard to imagine that you haven’t seen this before on sceptical websites.

    Your comments on Semmelweis over three paragraphs made my point. A lack of a known mechanism is never a reason to reject a theory; it is the lack of verifiable evidence. So your argument about the mechanism is irrelevant and specious. You need to jettison it from your case – otherwise it looks like you will support any argument just to attack astrology.

    I know you are understandably keen to widen the debate and I look forward to doing so in due course. However, I would like to know whether you are arguing from an ego perspective or whether you are prepared to admit when you are wrong as you are here. At the moment, you are digging yourself into a deeper hole.

    You may have missed my two questions or just avoided them. They were:
    1. Was Darwin able to make predictions from his theory of evolution that could be measured during his lifetime?
    2. I read somewhere on Jamie Funk’s site that you claim that your wife was an astrologer but later abandoned the study? Is that correct?

  218. 218
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, no one will fault you for not having read all 206 comments prior to yours in great detail. However, now that you’ve joined the conversation, you should try to keep up with those after yours.

  219. 219
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, I did read your comments, but decided not to address them for several reasons:
    1. I would love to spend more time in debate but I don’t it to spare – I will try to follow other people’s comments, but I most interested in Jason’s response. I am sorry about that.
    2. We got off to a bad start. I got confused when you mixed my comments up with another person. I didn’t find your comments to be very well considered or that you had understood my points. (You don’t have to agree with me, but if you can’t understand me, I can’t get bogged down into a debate where I have to explain everything in simple terms like that.) Of course, I am open to you proving me wrong in the future on this count.
    3. I am not interested in other people’s opinions of what Jason thinks or what he should do, I would like to hear Jason’s views.

  220. 220
    Stephanie Z

    In other words, Robert, this is personal. Your discussion here has nothing to do with astrology and is simply aimed at discrediting Jason because you can’t touch the facts of the matter. No, I do think I understood you quite well.

  221. 221
    James Carey

    I have no idea whether they should or not. That is a matter of law.

  222. 222
    James Carey

    No biggie. :)

  223. 223
    Jason Thibeault

    As Stephanie points out, and has demonstrated for all to see, you are disinterested in discussing the relative merits of my arguments outside of accusing me of coming by them dogmatically and uncritically, and wholesale copying them from other skeptics (which I hope any outside observer can recognize as an accusation of plagiarism). That I didn’t create them is orthogonal to the point that nobody has actually sufficiently answered them as yet. Especially since YOU didn’t create the field of astrology, yet you as representative of the field of astrology are somehow managing to dodge the questions I’ve posed about it, by turning the whole debate into a hamfisted attempt at character assassination.

    The question about Darwin is a sidebar, and I’m not sure what point you have in doing so, but he first came up with the theory in 1836, and his research between then and when he published his paper convinced him of its verity. He lived to see his theory become the most widely accepted model by which the panoply of species that exists today came to be. The Wikipedia article on him contains a large number of facts that came to light long after he initially wrote his theory of common descent that reinforced and buttressed his thoughts on the matter. So, yes, he lived to see a number of predictions derived from his theory borne out in his lifespan. Your point?

    The question about my wife is also a sidebar, but yes, she was a practicing astrologer once upon a time. She and I are separate entities, though, and you cannot assume her experiences color or inform mine. Again, your point?

    My overarching argument, given your apparent lack of reading comprehension skills, is that:

    a) nobody has ever demonstrated with sufficient evidence that astrology actually has an effect;
    b) despite this lack of proof that there IS an effect, many scientists who wholeheartedly believed in astrology have searched for mechanisms by which it could work;
    and c) they have not found any such mechanism within the scope of accepted physics.

    The argument therefore is that astrology as a hypothesis has had the benefit of far more testing than it deserves by rights of never having been shown to even have merit. Neither the “effect” part nor the “mechanism” part has ever shown that astrology is worth pursuing as a hypothesis. At what point do we get to say astrology is bunk? At what point do we get to say “that’s enough, stop keeping that door wedged open”?

    To phrase it another way: how would YOU go about DISproving astrology? Is astrology falsifiable? And who do you believe the burden of proof lies with?

    And I will, for the record, drop none of my arguments just because you happen to think they are useless, counterproductive, wrong, etc. Especially not since you’ve made no effort to undermine them outside of baldly asserting that they are so.

  224. 224
    George W.

    Robert,
    I have a few questions for you. I’m sure you wont “avoid” them, as you obviously consider this a harbinger of a weak argument.
    Darwin was quite blessed in that he had both a plethora of strong circumstantial evidence in the fields of geology, ornithology, archaeology, comparative anatomy, botany and other studies coupled with a brilliant microcosm for his mechanism in the artificial selection of traits by humans in both plants and livestock.
    Darwin made several predictions as a result of his theory.
    He suggested that there would be “transitional fossils” found in the fossil record. He predicted that species would vary from their standard, and with environmental pressures, those varieties would succeed or fail on their own merits; the successful varieties flourishing while the less adept ones become extinct. Among many other predictions Darwin made was a prediction that a moth would be discovered with a foot long tongue, based on the existence of a specific species of orchid.
    The moth (X. morgani praedicta)was discovered some 150 years after Darwin’s death, and he based this prediction on the existence of the star orchid (A. sesquipedale).
    Given that of the three predictions I mentioned in the above story only one (the prediction of closely related yet varying species flourishing in environments where their variety offers an inferred advantage) was relatively well substantiated in Darwin’s lifetime, you claim this to be a victory for wild guesswork.

    Why does a prediction necessarily need to be vindicated within the lifetime of its predictor? Are you under the impression that evolutionary theory was accepted carte blanche from the day Origins was published? Should Jason and the rest of us resign ourselves to the possibility that a 3000+ year old idea is correct because it just hasn’t bothered to go about proving its worth yet? Why has astrology not taken the same tact as Darwin and created a proverbial mountain of firm, corollary circumstantial evidence that makes the arguments of confirmation bias and pure chance untenable? Propose a mechanism with predictive power and let scientific study prove or disprove its veracity. I argue that astrology has had several more lifetimes than evolution by natural selection with which to pass this simple test and has yet to deliver. Darwin’s theory was rightfully scrutinized in his lifetime, and continues to be scrutinized today. You are asking us to take a far weaker body of evidence and accept it without any scrutiny, and resign ourselves to the idea that it might one day be vindicated in spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    So in brief, my questions are:
    1. Why is Darwin’s inability to live to be 200 years old a positive argument for astrology?
    2.Specifically, what are the predictions you imply astrology has made that are waiting to be vindicated, albeit not in our lifetime?
    3. Why is a comparison between two theories (Darwin’s and Semmelweis’) where evidence was lacking and astrology, where the evidence is actively against it, a fair one?
    4.What positive case can you make for astrology,with or without an active mechanism, that cannot be dismissed as confirmation bias or pure chance?

  225. 225
    Robert Currey

    George W. Thank you for your interesting information about Darwin. I don’t have answers to your questions 1 & 2. I will try to answer 4 in due course. I am not asking you to accept astrology without scrutiny. Your question 3 makes the point that a theory is best judged by evidence rather than whether there is a known mechanism or not. Would you agree with this or do you also believe that a lack of a mechanism is a convicing argument?

    Jason, to use the lack of a known mechanism to reject phenomena is to use science in an obstructive rather than constructive way. Imagine someone at the time of Columbus arguing against the use of the lodestone (compass) as the mechanism (the Earth’s magnetic field) was not understood until the last century.

    Your random quote (at the top of the page) is at odds with your approach. “Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?” — Carl Sagan

    Carl Sagan was sceptical of astrology and presented his case well. However, he also conceded “That we can now think of no mechanism for astrology is relevant but unconvincing. No mechanism was known, for example, for continental drift when it was proposed by Wegener. Nevertheless, we see that Wegener was right, and those who objected on the grounds of unavailable mechanism were wrong”

    A lack of a known mechanism is relevant to anyone studying a subject, but unconvincing as an argument against a subject. I would like to know if anyone, Jason included still believes that his four paragraphs on the lack of mechanism represent a strong argument against astrology and why?

    So Jason, rather than misdirecting me to change the subject or claim that I am dodging your questions, why not step up and say “It was not a good argument, but I believe the rest of my case is strong.”

    As I have promised in my last three postings, I will try and answer all your questions in good time, but I want to focus on one issue at a time. If you feel uncomfortable with the way I work or with what I am saying then you only need ask and I will leave you in peace.

  226. 226
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, I don’t think there’s anyone here who finds your attempt to isolate one piece of Jason’s argument and pretend that it’s unrelated to the others convincing. It is as pointless as your attempt to isolate Jason.

    For example, your Sagan quote is taken out of context. The point of the entire passage in which it’s to be found is that the lack of mechanism would not be damning to astrology if astrology could claim results. Because it cannot, unlike Columbus’s compass, (and I’m repeating myself here, but you said you found this concept confusing the first time so I’ll make it as simple as possible this time) the lack of mechanism matters. Mechanism is one potential line of evidence. Astrology fails at it precisely as it does at the others.

    Pretending the argument about mechanism is required to be viewed separately and thrown out because other lines of evidence could (but don’t) exist is demanding that everyone else be as blind as you are when dealing with the elephant. Continuing to do so when this has been pointed out to you repeatedly is…well, do you know what they say about repeating behavior and expecting different results?

  227. 227
    Jamie Funk

    Robert Currey< to use the lack of a known mechanism to reject phenomena is to use science in an obstructive rather than constructive way.

    That is the most intelligent comment in this entire blog. It has exposed the gaping flaws in the arguments of our opponents. Well done old chap!

    Opening up with the evolution debate was a a well though out approach to weaken their arguments. One example of evolution I have been following for many years is the evolutionarily advantageous (for us of Celtic origins) recessive mutation on chromosone 16 which produces red hair. For a few decades uptil about 3 years ago, it was thought to have been passed onto us by the Neandertals though the science could not definitely prove it. Then science definitely disproved it with the the assistance of the human genome project. Now the latest reseach has definitely proved that Neandertals did interbreed with Homo sapiens and the 1% of us with this recessive gene can trace our ancestry back to the Neandertals.

    Amazingly my research in this area just recently converged with my reseaarch into Aspergers syndrome from which my boy suffers, and even another disorder of Celtic origin from which I suffer, hemochromatosis. http://www.rdos.net/eng/asperger.htm

    Oh the joys of being open minded and receptive to the heightened awareness which Jupiter conjunct Uranus bring!

  228. 228
    Stephanie Z

    Yes, Jamie, it would be a devastating critique, if that were the argument. But as keeps being pointed out, the argument is that astrology offers nothing under any of the possible lines of evidence.

    If the argument were simply about mechanism, you wouldn’t have brought up your prediction about Obama.

  229. 229
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah. What Stephanie said. To reiterate, as it seems Robert Currey isn’t the only one totally devoid of reading comprehension skills:

    My overarching argument, given your apparent lack of reading comprehension skills, is that:

    a) nobody has ever demonstrated with sufficient evidence that astrology actually has an effect;
    b) despite this lack of proof that there IS an effect, many scientists who wholeheartedly believed in astrology have searched for mechanisms by which it could work;
    and c) they have not found any such mechanism within the scope of accepted physics.

    The argument therefore is that astrology as a hypothesis has had the benefit of far more testing than it deserves by rights of never having been shown to even have merit. Neither the “effect” part nor the “mechanism” part has ever shown that astrology is worth pursuing as a hypothesis. At what point do we get to say astrology is bunk? At what point do we get to say “that’s enough, stop keeping that door wedged open”?

    But congratulations Jamie on proving that you never read this post, since your “heightened awareness which Jupiter conjunct Uranus brings” never led you to even attempt such a counterargument, as specious and misdirective as that line of argumentation happens to be.

    I don’t have much fight in me today, for various reasons (none of which have to do with the alignment of the planets). Stephanie and I are in agreement on the topic, so please assume she’s speaking for me (since Robert seems to only want to address me and not the other commenters hereabouts). I’d be terribly interested to see what happens if you push her too far, at that, with your collective sneering.

    Other commenters whom I trust to present sound rebuttals are George W, Glendon Mellow, DuWayne, and sinned34. If they comment, you can assume we are largely in agreement as well.

  230. 230
    Jamie Funk

    There is much debate and differnce of opinion among astrologers. It seems the same cannot be said your your brand of skepticism.

    All in agreement are you then? All speak with one voice? Rather like a little cult you have going here. Let’s all agree with Jason. All hail the leader, he knows what is right and just.

    “Stephanie and I are in agreement on the topic, so please assume she’s speaking for me” ROFLMFAO

  231. 231
    Stephanie Z

    Cult? It requires a cult to say you’re not offering any evidence? Hardly. You’ve said it yourself, and besides, everybody here’s got eyes to see it for themselves. Even James up there isn’t saying you’ve offered anything, just that you seem a bit pathetic to be arguing with.

    But please, do explain why it’s funny for Jason to trust a friend to speak for him.

  232. 232
    Glendon Mellow

    It’s not “all with one voice”, Jamie: Jason specifically pointed to a few people he generally trusts when they make comment, probably in part due to the long histories of discourse with us.

    We don’t pay him membership dues or drink his Kool-Aid.

  233. 233
    Stephanie Z

    Glendon, I’m trying to get Jason to come to ScienceOnline this time. If he does, I will totally supply Kool-Aid for the three of us. :)

    Err, assuming the new father can make it, that is.

  234. 234
    Glendon Mellow

    Oooo, I hope it’s blue-flavoured! I’d love to meet Jason in person. Keep trying.

    I plan to be there (missing the baby terribly). I was hoping Michelle would come too, lots of topics about education I know she would find useful, but I suspect she may prefer to skip it this year.

  235. 235
    James Carey

    “Cult”. I loathe that term. Mostly because the people who use it tend to be morons who are trying to say something offensive but in reality they are usually making a generalization, if they are using correctly at all.
    The word “Cult” is derived from the latin verb “Cultis”, meaing “To Worship”, and by that definition, EVERY RELIGION ON THE PLANET IS A CULT!!!! But we aren’t even talking about religion here, which makes me want to ask the next question. “Jamie, are you just talking out of your ass on purpose?”

  236. 236
    George W.

    Robert,
    You appear to be tactfully avoiding the questions. By your own standard this seems to imply that your prior arguments are specious, and I will allow your words (or lack thereof)to stand or fall on their own merit. I do still want you to follow the logic of what you imply to it’s inevitable conclusion, which was the point of those questions.
    I was well to assume that you weren’t going to answer the questions, yet each one must be answered for your prior comments to stand.
    If you wish to argue that astrology can be compared to evolutionary theory in its infancy, you must surely come to terms with the fact that astrology is by degrees much older and has faced far more scrutiny than Darwin’s theory ever did within Darwin’s lifetime. It has not only generated no positive evidence, it has in fact garnered much evidence against it. That is why your comparison is worthy of ridicule.
    You also should see the purpose of my second question; if astrology is to be compared fairly with the infancy of evolutionary science, it must also have made predictions that can be tested. If you don’t have a simple answer for what predictions astrology is making, how can it be anything more than parlour games?
    You are willing to cherry pick an idea from question 3 without ever endeavoring to answer it, so I would prefer you to amend your second sentence to “I don’t have answers to questions 1 & 2 & 3.” While you’re at it, you may want to indicate when you intend to stop doing the semantics rain dance and bring on the water, by answering question 4 or any of the other requests for evidence you have received from Jason, Stephanie, and others.
    To the meat of the rest of your response, everyone I am aware of in this discussion has conceded that you do not need to show us a mechanism. That does not take away from the fact that a mechanism is one of many important facets of a theory. You are setting out to prove that if one facet isn’t necessary, then nothing is necessary to prove your case. That’s patently absurd.
    If anything, Jason’s four paragraphs on a mechanism give you more avenues to make a case for astrology, not less.
    Save one important distinction. A mechanism only becomes necessary when observable evidence is collected indicating an effect. Astrology can’t even jump this first hurdle. Yet you are asking to skip the first principles and jump to the end, and only then claim that you don’t need the mechanism. We are agreeing to the latter only if you agree to complete the former.
    Show us a measurable effect that passes muster and only then will we need to hypothesize a mechanism. Darwin’s natural selection was a mechanism hypothesized with a wide breadth of evidence supporting it. You could at least start by using the same principles.
    So the mechanism argument is a strong one. It shows that astrologers have not even endeavored to get past the necessary steps to hypothesize a mechanism. If you want to have the luster of germ theory or magnetism rub off on astrology, you must first show a quantifiable effect, something each of the pioneers of these theories did. To argue that you don’t need a mechanism is like saying “pulling bananas out of a bag and going where they point is a great way to navigate a ship.” and then arguing that no-one need know why this works.

  237. 237
    George W.

    Jamie,
    Are you ever intending to address the breadth of this post or just pop in with the occasional ad hominem?
    I recall seeing a lot of head nods and backslaps over at your site when Jason and I were commenting there. At no point did we ever try to make it an issue. We didn’t need to because we actually had a defensible argument. Your rantings are the desperate pleas of a desperate little man; you don’t have a leg to stand on so you result to biting kneecaps.
    Jason made this remark only to ask Robert to address our comments as well as his, since Robert insisted on waving Stephanie aside in previous comments. We do not speak as one, but you can be sure Stephanie, Jason, Glendon, Sinned, and I all agree that you’re avoiding the argument in favor of pot shots and semantics.
    I can’t say I’d agree with Jason on everything he says, but as far as the statement “astrology is ridiculous as are the arguments others have presented thus far”, I can heartily agree.

  238. 238
    sinned34

    Yeah, sure Jamie. Much debate and difference of opinion – but still no solid evidence of astrology’s efficacy, even after thousands of years of study.

    Jamie, I love that you can obfuscate Jason’s trust in our arguments against astrology into us being members of his Cult Of Skepticism. Especially in the same post where you just finished praising an argument from Robert, whom I’ll wager offers differing opinions from you on major points of astrology. I guess you and Robert must be a part of the same cult, since he’s obviously able to argue on your behalf. It couldn’t just be that you share a similar opinion on a subject! If we’re measuring cult-like behaviour, I have one question for you Jamie: between you and Jason, which one of you actually makes a living off of their “followers”?

    One thing is certain, all your training in astrology has certainly taught you to ignore how ridiculous you sound when you talk. You obviously miss my valuable input in this discussion, Jamie, so I’ll rejoin the conversation anew. I’ll even make an effort to be more civil than usual (well, from this point on, anyways). And here I thought I was without plans for the weekend!

  239. 239
    Dan J

    I can’t say much about Jamie’s credibility as an astrologer, though credibility for that profession is as meaningful as that of a palm reader. One opinion that I have formed regarding him, though, is that he’s a pompous ass.

    Either present scientifically valid evidence in a peer-reviewed setting that validates your theories or shut the fuck up.

  240. 240
    sinned34

    Dan, you don’t know the half of it. I made an admittedly assholish post on his “Somerset Holiday” thread after a few glasses of wheat ale (see, that’s why drinking and posting is bad for you, George!). Couple that with me calling astrology “trash” and “bullshit” back on my blog (shameless plug #1), and Jamie responded by climbing up on the astrology version of the cross and issuing a vague threat (that I don’t take seriously at all) at me. He then wiped all the posts of our exchange on that thread, claiming that the regulars on his blog were complaining that us skeptics were ruining the vibe over there, and so he removed them at their request. (I think he pulled them because he let his temper fly in his responses to me, and it made him look decidedly “un-enlightened” to his followers).

    At any rate, I made the rookie mistake of not taking screenshots, but I did make a brief recreation of the exchange in this post (shameless plug #2), if you care to see.

  241. 241
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, your comments about Sagan reaffirm my point. The rest remains to be seen.

    George, I don’t wish to compare any aspect of evolutionary theory with astrology. I wanted to use Darwin as an analogy as I knew Jason was experienced at debating with creationists and Darwin would be an heroic figure. I also knew he and Huxley suffered much ridicule for Darwin’s theory of evolution. I hoped to use his work as an example where there was evidence without a mechanism. However, there is a good argument that Darwin provided the mechanism in the form of mutation and natural selection which had eluded previous evolutionary theorists such as his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, Goethe and Saint-Hilaire. Yet, it was not until the discovery of DNA that Darwin’s mechanism was fully understood. So it was a line of enquiry into an area where I don’t have great expertise that failed to produce an unequivocal example. To persist along that argument would have resulted in unnecessary hair-splitting when there are plenty of clear-cut examples as I have shown.

    Ok, I think the point has been made on all sides about the relevance of the mechanism as an argument.

    Though I am sure you all know what astrology is, to avoid misunderstanding clarification seems appropriate at this stage. Astrology is the study of the correlation between the positions and movements of celestial bodies and life and events on Earth. Though some astrologers work with stars and constellations, western astrologers work with the Sun, the Moon and the planets (including Pluto) within the Solar System. This is not Sun-Sign astrology that you read in newspapers and magazines. Astrology should not be confused with fortune telling, psychic reading, palmistry or tarot reading.

    Now, George you also claim that “astrologers have not even endeavoured to get past the necessary steps to hypothesize a mechanism.” This is not correct.

    Astrology is a large field and I believe it is subject to many mechanisms. I will give you four different hypotheses:

    1. The most established and accepted mechanism is gravity and orbital resonance of the Sun and the Moon which affects the Earth’s oceanic tides and the Earth tide (body tide). The tidal force is part of what some astrologers call natural astrology which also includes the study of the coincidence of seismic activity with celestial positions. The most popular ancient book on astrology Tetrabiblos by polymath, Ptolemy, contains the first records of a tidal connection with the Moon – a theory he derived from ancient observation. Centuries later, Galileo and Kepler, both astronomers and astrologers disagreed on this. Kepler supported Ptolemy’s theory and identified the role of the 18.6-year nodal cycle: the precession of the lunar nodes even though he did not know the mechanism. (Kepler’s nodal cycle affects the tides, harvests and climate). Galileo however, incorrectly believed that the tidal effect was caused by the Earth’s orbit of the Sun. It was Newton who accepted natural astrology (but there is no evidence he practiced judicial astrology) who applied his theory of universal gravitation to the role of the Sun and the Moon and the tides.

    2. Dr Percy Seymour, former principal lecturer in astronomy and astrophysics at Plymouth University and previously a researcher at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, has developed a model to describe the mechanism behind astrology. It is outlined in his title “Astrology: The evidence of Science”. The best link that I can find is an interview from 1989 which will not be up to date with more recent research. In outline, it is based on the tidal tugs of all the planets in addition to the Sun and Moon which disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere (magnetic field) which affects the human neural network. It works through the gravitational effects of the planets which are magnified by what Seymour calls ‘magneto tidal resonance’ to affect the sunspot cycle. Jane Blizard at NASA produced evidence for heliocentric planetary conjunctions, oppositions and squares (90° angle) giving rise to violent solar disturbances. Dr Robin Baker of Manchester Uni has evidence suggesting humans are sensitive to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. In separate studies, there are peaks within the Sun spot cycle coinciding with the helio Jupiter/Saturn conjunction 11.86 years, Jupiter’s perihelion 9.93 years and what astrologer’s call a Sun/Venus conjunction 11.08 years. Solar output (including heat, light, radio, x-rays, neutrinos, solar wind and possibly more) is extremely important as regards all life on Earth (not just climate). Some of these outputs directly affect human behaviour through interactions with the Earth’s electromagnetic field. For example, there are studies showing significant correlations between events such as wars on Earth and the 11 and 22 year sunspot cycle.
    o Chin Cheh Hung ~ Apparent Relations Between Solar Activity & Solar Tides caused by Planetary Activity [2007 NASA]
    o Glyn Wainright ~ Jupiter’s Influence [2004 New Scientist]
    o Ian Wilson ~ Planetary Tidal Forces [University of Southern Queensland, Aus 2008]

    3. The most complex, theory is a metaphysical model based on the belief that the observed (terrestrial/extra-terrestrial) correlation reflects an acausal connecting principle or ‘synchronicity’. There is insufficient space to give it justice here. Wiki will only give you an outline (and I think the entry has been spoofed in places) – search under Jung Pauli Synchronicity. The concept was devised by Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, Dr Carl Gustav Jung in conjunction with Nobel-winning physicist and discoverer of the neutrino, Wolfgang Pauli. It’s easy to understand it superficially and not actually ‘get it’. Now, as Pauli was one of the pioneers of Quantum Physics, there is a philosophical connection with 3 and 4. So Niels Bohr’s remark “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” feels like an appropriate link that applies to both proposed theories.

    4. I believe Jason was unwise and premature to use his interpretation of the current model of the four fundamental forces (or now termed fundamental interactions) as a basis to rule out possibilities for several reasons. First, within this model, quantum mechanics and gravity are not yet reconciled. Scientists are still struggling to develop a theory of Quantum Gravity and as a result a Grand Unified Field Theory. In addition, several discoveries within quantum physics make it harder to rule out the astrological model. I am not going to go into depth with the implications as it is part of a book that I am writing and I am not claiming that QM provides a mechanism for astrology (Though I am referring to this as a mechanism, this is not really a formed hypothesis).
    a. QM has shown that physics works with uncertainties and probabilities.
    b. The observer effect, (I prefer Participator effect), suggests that our consciousness may be affected by and may affect external objects.
    c. Quantum Entanglement allows the possibility of atoms remaining interconnected over infinite distances. Einstein called it “Spooky action at a distance.” Entanglement has no field and no satisfactory explanation.
    d. While it is generally, but not universally agreed that an electron or photon for example is subject to the wave/particle duality, in theory a planet also exhibits the properties of a wave and a particle.

    So these are the type of hypotheses that I would have expected someone who has looked into astrology to attempt to debunk. Had Jason done more original research before writing, he would have addressed these points. You are not going to find all of it neatly or objectively set out with helpful links on a sceptical site as they mostly favour arguments that date back at least thirty years to debunk astrology. Whichever way you look at Jason’s whole section on the mechanism, it is irrelevant in principle and in content as an argument against astrology.

    Frankly, I have problems with proposed mechanisms 2, 3, and 4 (which is not yet presented as a mechanism) as they presently stand, though I don’t rule out the possibility that alternative superior mechanisms will emerge or that a variation of all four proposed mechanisms will apply to astrology.

  242. 242
    Jason Thibeault

    At this point, I can safely assume you’re just messing with us. I strongly suspect you don’t actually believe astrology has an effect, because you have dodged that very pointed demand every single time it has come up, focusing instead on what you believe to be the “weak point” of my argument, that there is no plausible mechanism. You evidently believe that if you can muddy the waters, by offering several potential hypothetical mechanisms (sans, of course, any testing of said hypothetical mechanisms), you can skip over the effect question, jump to the mechanism question, assume that of the many available “one of these must be right”, and move on with making money off of an arcane art that evidently not a lot of people understand.

    That you’ve made an attempt to provide four quasi-testable hypotheses is good, and an improvement over the quality of this argument thus far. But again, you have totally omitted proving an effect. The bulk of evidence about the stars, planets, etc., influencing people’s lives directly, shows otherwise. You have to seriously twist the results of your pseudo-random results generator to explain any one single event, post-hoc, after it happened, and you’re only counting what “works” and saying what “doesn’t” is your own failing because “astrology is hard”.

    Stephanie, your comments about Sagan reaffirm my point. The rest remains to be seen.

    If you think Stephanie’s words reaffirm anything you’ve said, you really need to reread her words. And maybe even reread yours, then draw up a little chart to compare and contrast. I’m sure she’d help if you ask her nicely.

    Now, George you also claim that “astrologers have not even endeavoured to get past the necessary steps to hypothesize a mechanism.” This is not correct.

    Astrology is a large field and I believe it is subject to many mechanisms.

    You misunderstood him. What he, I, and others, have said repeatedly, is that there is no provable effect of astrology, and yet you’re skipping to attempting to prove a mechanism. That was the whole point of the argument you believe to be specious. You, and others who have come before you have merely ASSUMED that there’s an effect (possibly via the self-deception of selection bias, wherein you remember only those aspects of each astrological forecast that match with reality and forget every failed prediction and event you can’t explain with astrology). Every single time this argument about the validity of astrology comes up, the astrologers then skip to postulating one of a thousand possible mechanisms, or in some cases (e.g. Marina, Jamie’s partner) stating outright that the mechanisms are mysterious and unknowable.

    That was the purpose of my original overarching argument — that despite not proving there’s an effect, despite the preponderance of evidence showing there is NO effect, you’ve skipped over that part of the process entirely, neglecting to prove THAT it happens, and moved on to explaining WHY it happens. The fact is, that’s not how discovery is done.

    You’re at least doing a better job at it than Jamie, who proposed that the Earth’s core is a crystal (in the new-agey sense) that resonates with some mystical energy transmitted to Earth by these planets. But that’s not to say your hypotheses are much better. I grant you that it’s possible someone could propose a mechanism by which a process could happen, without actually having proof that the process happens at all, by virtue of observing those mechanisms first. This happened, in the case of plate tectonics, where geology and volcanology could be observed; other lines of evidence later correlated with the hypothesis of continental drift where speciation, fossilization of related animals in distant continents, major shifts in geology, and changes in magnetic polarity could be observed. You could take these multiple lines of evidence and infer the existence of continental drift, without being able to directly observe it; then move on to studying the plates’ movement to learn about the convection of the Earth’s mantle.

    You’re taking zero evidence of actual effects, assuming the effects are there because, I guess, you “can see the stars”, and moving on to mechanisms. Just like I described in my original post.

    As for your specific hypothesized mechanisms, while I have a problem with them because there’s absolutely no evidence (I can’t stress or repeat this enough!) that there’s even an effect to begin with, I have other problems with the mechanisms you’ve proposed in specific.

    1. Science has dealt extensively with gravity, and despite having very little data to prove the “theory of gravity”, we have a good idea how it works because the effects are so easily proven. Any effects of gravity by any other planet are well and truly drowned out, as I stated in my original argument, by the moon (which gives us our tides) and the sun (which contains 99.8% of the mass of the solar system). The explanation you’ve given is a good overview of the study of gravity from a historical perspective but gives us absolutely nothing in the way of proof that gravity from Pluto can have an effect on your life, when the gravity of the computer monitor in front of you likely has stronger gravitational pull than the distant dwarf planet. Ultimately, the “hypothesis” here is left to the reader — you’ve given a large chunk of information about gravity, so I’m assuming you’re saying gravity is a potential mechanism. Been there, dealt with that in the original post.

    2. Claiming a causal link between, say, Jupiter’s potential effects on our climate (which are provable) and a direct effect on the destiny of a specific person born under it (which is totally unfalsifiable, since the goalposts keep getting moved), are two completely different things. That book you’ve referenced claims, by my understanding, that humans are “tuned” to Earth’s electromagnetic field, and that the electromagnetic field is tweaked by distant planets and stars. Jupiter, despite being a heavy influence on our solar system’s development and a potential causal link being drawn between it and some funny variables in our climate system, has far less electromagnetic influence than you might think — with roughly one trillion times less potent an electromagnetic field than Earth’s. Again, I dealt with this in my discussion about the four fundamental forces in standard physics which you dismissed as irrelevant and specious.

    3 and 4: Employing an ill-understood scientific theory like quantum mechanics and quantum entangling is a form of special pleading — a sort of “God of the Gaps” argument, only for astrology. I mean, it could very well be the mechanism by which astrology, astral projection, telepathy, telekinesis, faith healing, etc., employs, should any of the above ever turn out to be true. However — and this is a HUGE however — before you can say something so poorly understood is responsible for the effects of astrology, you HAVE TO PROVE ASTROLOGY DOES HAVE AN EFFECT. And, as I said, the evidence is weighing very, extremely heavily against there being any sort of effect. Click on the link at the top of this comment, or any of the links in the second paragraph of my original post (after the dash break), to see what science has said about astrology in general, regardless of what flavor or practitioner involved.

    I have noticed the bulk of your arguments reference specific scientists who happen to believe in astrology. Like, say, for instance, Ptolemy, who by virtue of living between 90 and 168 CE, was not benefited with very good data about the universe and was working off Babylonian star charts and building on what he believed to be a well-studied field in astrology. There’s no excuse for more modern examples who have, themselves, always assumed an effect, without confronting themselves with the evidence against it. It is they who are responsible for hypothesizing the mechanisms prematurely, without, as George W. said, doing the necessary steps to get to that point.

    The problem here is, each scientist that believes in astrology a priori, lends credit to a field that’s only survived by dint of never having to be proven, because so many previous civilizations believed it worked. Those same civilizations also believed that the planets were their deities (this being the first mechanism hypothesis), and ascribed to them the same properties they thought their deities had. The mythos came first; the ascription of properties to the planets came afterward and very likely arbitrarily (or as near enough to arbitrary as to be useless).

    And still nobody’s proven an effect. And I will keep beating that drum until someone here finally gets it.

    So many mechanisms proposed and knocked down, and in the meantime, a total dearth of positive evidence that astrology can predict or explain anything outside of pure chance or a keen insight into the situation in question. Between that and cold reading, you’re managing to pull the wool over a number of people’s eyes (as you were probably deceived yourself), such that you’re convincing them (and probably, again, yourself) that there is an effect to be investigated.

    Now, do you want to get over the whole mechanism argument and go back to effect? You believe yourself to have won on that topic, so maybe we could rewind and get back to where I was directing everyone’s attention since the beginning? The argument I made was only that we’ve granted astrology far more leeway than it deserves by virtue of the lack of evidence for, and preponderance of evidence against, it. I’m getting sick of you and others demanding that we simply keep searching for a mechanism and not assume that lack of mechanism counts as a strike against astrology’s validity, because it is, as I’ve made clear in the original post, abundantly clear that we’ve given you three thousand years. We will give you no more years. It’s time to retire astrology a failed hypothesis.

  243. 243
    Stephanie Z

    Jason, one quibble. It’s perfectly kosher to have a mechanism in search of an effect. In astronomy, it happens quite a lot, as it does in particle physics. Math done to describe the behavior of one object or set of objects suggests that there should be other objects that behave so. Those objects are generally found.

    Of course, that’s not what’s happening here. What Robert is doing is demonstrating the classic pseudoscientific behavior of attempting to claim that any phenomenon not well enough understood (in this case, by him) is responsible for the effect that he’s not willing to attempt to show. In fact, as you note, he’s demonstrating that, yes, mechanism is an important line of scientific evidence.

    Robert, before you go publishing this book, maybe you should spend some time studying quantum physics. You’ll learn nifty little facts like: The observer effect does not refer to a person, but any instrument of measurement, right down to a single particle that responds differentially to different spins. The observer effect applies without any consciousness involved in the process. Quantum entanglement exists across exceptionally small distances in very low energy states (very much unlike planetary conditions) because any interaction with anything that can absorb or transmit energy is enough to collapse the probabilities. One of the things that quantum mechanics has done is suggest that the probabilities of a single particle within the pair may be more constrained from the moment it is created than was originally expected, removing any requirement for action at a distance.

    In other words, the moment you start talking about quantum physics, you’re demonstrating not only that you’re incredibly ignorant on the subject, but that you haven’t done the tiniest bit of work to have your theories vetted.

  244. 244
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, you make three criticisms of my comments about Quantum Mechanics.

    1. I am aware that the observer effect is currently measured by sensitive photon detectors, though I also know that physicists have shown that quantum optics experiments with human eyes as detectors are theoretically possible. However, this was not what I meant by consciousness.

    2. You claim “Quantum entanglement exists across exceptionally small distances in very low energy states (very much unlike planetary conditions) because any interaction with anything that can absorb or transmit energy is enough to collapse the probabilities.”

    This is not my understanding and if I am right and you are wrong, your opinions would go up in my estimation if you retract your remark “In other words, the moment you start talking about quantum physics, you’re demonstrating not only that you’re incredibly ignorant on the subject, but that you haven’t done the tiniest bit of work to have your theories vetted.” These kind of unfounded and unneccessary remarks lower the tone of the debate. I suspect that I know far more about QM than you know about astrology.

    First, I can cite an experiment where quantum entanglement has been demonstrated over 89 miles (144 kms) in the Canary Islands. I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it. There are plenty of references to it on the web:

    Here is a report of it in Physics Today (last item) and the original paper.

    Secondly, let me quote Professor Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and pioneer of string theory:

    “If two electrons are initially vibrating in unison (a state called coherence) they can remain in wavelike synchronization even if they are separated by a large distance. Although the two electrons may be separated by light-years, there is still an invisible Schrodinger wave connecting both of them, like an umbilical cord. If something happens to one electron, then some of that information is immediately transmitted to the other.”

    Michio Kaku, Physics of the Impossible, 2008 p.60

    3. Lastly, you state that “One of the things that quantum mechanics has done is suggest that the probabilities of a single particle within the pair may be more constrained from the moment it is created than was originally expected, removing any requirement for action at a distance.” Are you comparing the results of recent experiments with the EPR experiment? Please can you cite a recent paper or a published article on this I am unclear how to interpret “removing any requirement for action at a distance”.

  245. 245
    Robert Currey

    Jason, you wrote “You believe yourself to have won on that topic”. I don’t consider anyone is a winner or loser of this discussion so far. We are all here to learn and if none of us learn from this then we are all losers.

    Now, Jason, at least eight of your paragraphs were primarily devoted to your claim that there is no evidence supporting astrology and what you believe to be a preponderance of evidence against it. You state that “I can’t stress or repeat this enough!” Wrong! – other intelligent people have to read this repetition and it’s tiresome. It is called argument ad nauseam and it’s also misdirection in the hope that nobody notices the weakness of your argument so far. You made this point sometime ago, I answered it. I hope you don’t try this tactic with creationists as it will win mass converts to their beliefs.

    Now, everyone knows I have promised to address this claim but I have stated that I want to deal with one issue at a time. So I am not going to get distracted even though I disagree with many of your points.

    However, I will clarify the following:
    1. You have wrongly assumed that I proposed gravity as mechanism #1 for natal astrology. Reread my points as I am only claiming it as the mechanism for the oceanic tides and the Earth tide (body tide). This is called natural astrology which includes coincidence of tides, seismic activity, weather and harvests with celestial positions. My reference to Ptolemy was purely in the context of the connection between the tides and the moon. You’re right he did not have the benefit of our knowledge of the Universe and though he did not know the mechanism, his theory was proved more or less right 1,500 years or so later. Even though there were many geniuses throughout history who were also astrologers, I have not made and do not make any claim that astrology should be judged on the opinion of these authorities.

    2. You haven’t understood the proposed mechanism #2. Read the article – you should have reviewed it in your original case against astrology.

    Now Jason, here is your chance to address the evidence. You have claimed that there has been far too much research into astrology and that that there is a preponderance of evidence against astrology. Can you or anyone involved in or reading this discussion, please cite the best evidence against astrology? A test of newspaper or sun sign astrology or a cranky astrologer who cannot substantiate ridiculous claims does not count. I only have the time to review one experiment per person, so please focus on what you consider to be the definitive scientific test of Astrology.

    It’s a beautiful day here, so take your time, I am off to join a BBQ on the beach! I am sorry you can’t all join me as it would be a lively discussion!

  246. 246
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, I did misstate myself slightly. Quantum entanglement has only been demonstrated to be reliable over very short distances in very low-energy conditions. This is the difference between theory and application in reality. If you read up on that demonstration (good, plain English write-up here, you’ll note that there is a large loss of signal over the (short) planetary conditions scenario, and the researchers who used fiber optics (specifically designed to carry light with minimum interference) expect the maximum distance for their transmission to be 200km. Infinite sounds great, but when you are talking planetary conditions, you have to deal with the practicalities.

    As for your #3 (#1 contains no information, so I’m not going to bother to reply to it), the phrase you want to research is “ensemble interpretation.” It’s a bit of physical scientists catching up to the math of social scientists, in a way.

    As for the science showing that astrology doesn’t work, I’m rather fond of this discussion of meta-analyses by Dean. It’s an excellent picture of the overall data, including the data produced by believers.

  247. 247
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s right — I repeated myself in eight paragraphs and you still missed the reason behind my doing so as often as I did.

    So despite your (and every other astrologer’s) dodging of the question, I’ve posted several links to studies showing astrology — sun sign, vedic, natal, whatever — is no better than chance. One, in the very comment that you said I repeated myself so often in. Several in paragraph two of my post proper. This is not all the evidence that astrology is bunk, mind you. Most of that lies in your own predictions.

    You’re the one making the extraordinary claim. You have a vested interest in keeping the topic off that fact, since you actively make money off of people believing there’s an effect, and so long as you can force people to talk about mechanisms or hand-wave away the thousand or so requests for evidence, you can go on making money.

    Would you like to provide some positive evidence that your particular flavor of astrology, whatever that happens to be, actually works? Evidence that does not involve anecdotal data, post-hoc rationalizations (e.g. cooking the books), or the misdirection (which you’ve genuinely misused in mischaracterizing my arguments) of talking about everything BUT the effectiveness of astrology?

    Or is it that you’ve got nothing?

  248. 248
    Jamie Funk

    I see no dodging of the question here.

    “If two electrons are initially vibrating in unison (a state called coherence) they can remain in wavelike synchronization even if they are separated by a large distance. Although the two electrons may be separated by light-years, there is still an invisible Schrodinger wave connecting both of them, like an umbilical cord. If something happens to one electron, then some of that information is immediately transmitted to the other.”

    And I see no response from the skeptics.

  249. 249
    Jamie Funk

    That effect has been proven scientifically, for God’s sakes, I learnt that is high school science class. There are more forces and dimentions than your closed minds could possibly deal with. Do you grasp the significance of the work at CERN?

  250. 250
    Robert Currey

    Bless you Stephanie! Though I would have much appreciated a retraction of your criticism, I thank you for facing up to this and giving me a straight answer. Your link was perfect. Since, the experimenter contemplates the possibility of shooting entangled photons to Mars and back to Earth (> 100 million kms) it is not unrealistic to consider that quantum entanglement could theoretically work between distant planets and the Earth.

    Also, thank you Stephanie for citing Dean’s meta-analysis. I will get back to you.

    Jason, to support your claim of a “preponderance of evidence against astrology” can you please cite what you consider to be the best scientific evidence. It needs to address modern, western astrology (i.e. not Vedic/Hindu or newspaper/sun sign astrology). I would like you to check it with the same diligence that you used when you wrote the article. This should be the type of test on which you formed your beliefs that astrology is no more than chance. Please include a link in your reply so it can be reviewed by everyone as Stephanie has done.

  251. 251
    Jason Thibeault

    I see no dodging of the question here.

    Did someone post, in the 250+ comments in this post, any evidence that astrology actually does what you claim it to do, and I somehow didn’t notice?

    That effect has been proven scientifically, for God’s sakes

    Yes, it has been proven that atoms can be quantum entangled. And that is evidence that astrology has an effect how exactly?

    At that, do you realize that the work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has absolutely nothing to do with quantum entanglement? That’s about finding particles predicted by our current model of subatomic physics.

  252. 252
    Jason Thibeault

    Again, in case you missed it, I pointed out where I’ve posted many links. Just because you’re too lazy to go get them again, let me blockquote the parts where I linked them.

    In a comment:

    But again, you have totally omitted proving an effect. The bulk of evidence about the stars, planets, etc., influencing people’s lives directly, shows otherwise.

    In the post nobody’s addressing:

    Others have done it so much more proficiently. There are even peer-reviewed scientific papers that deconstruct the whole concept.

    Now that I’ve again provided links to studies and deconstructions of the whole underpinning of astrology (as opposed to taking on only your particular flavor), I’m sure you’ll complain that it is insufficient somehow, and continue to direct the conversation away from the elephant in the room, being the fact that you have personally made the claim that astrology has an effect, and have offered no proof of such. Because trolls do that. They misdirect the conversation away from the glaringly obvious, gaping issue with their own style of argumentation, and they accuse everyone of doing likewise.

    I wholeheartedly endorse the meta-analysis Stephanie suggests, as it examines the claims of astrologers themselves make. Because no astrologer should be able to weasel out of having to prove their claim because nobody has studied THEIR specific brand. It is a Courtier’s Reply — when we say “the emperor has no clothes”, you mustn’t reply with “but you haven’t read this specific fashion magazine complementing the cut and materials with which they’re made!” That is patently ridiculous misdirection, and it’s exactly what I’ve been accusing you of since the beginning of our interactions — since before you started trying to pull the same tactic on me.

    I am aware that “modern western astrology” is different from any number of other flavors of astrology, but what I’m asking for is, what exactly makes it so different? They all operate under the general principle that the stars have some sort of influence on our lives. And if they really do have an influence, it should be measurable. The concept of an effect that can’t be measured, is self-contradictory. No two astrologers agree upon the effects of any particular configuration of stars, planets, asteroids, or other celestial bodies, and no astrologer has ever set out to measure those effects.

    Astrology as a field is pretty much “anything goes, anything works”, wherein you can build your own custom set of rules and gain credibility and respect, all for completely making shit up, cold-reading people, cooking the books post-hoc, and masking your misses. The reason I can say this with impunity is that neither of you, despite your vested interest in proving your life’s work is not a sham, has offered anything to prove otherwise. Mine is not the extraordinary position — it is the null hypothesis.

  253. 253
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: neither of you, despite your vested interest in proving your life’s work is not a sham, has offered anything to prove otherwise.

    “On 11 July this year there is a total Solar Eclipse conjunct Castor. This will signal the culmination of this guys fated life” http://funkastrology.co.uk/roman-polanski-astrology/ Less than 24 hours after the solar eclipse on his Midheaven: “The Swiss Justice Ministry said Monday it was rejecting the U.S. request for extradition, meaning Polanski was now free.” CNN

    “If I was going to have a bet, I’d put my money on David Cameron” http://funkastrology.co.uk/astrology-of-the-uk-election-2010-gordon-brown-v-david-cameron/ Correct.

    “I’m backing Julia Gillard to be Australia’s first female prime minister today.” http://funkastrology.co.uk/julia-gillard-chart-kevin-rudd/ Correct.

    “Tuesday 03 August…Jupiter on this star suggests speculation is not favorable. Given the square from Pluto and all the other T-square aspects, I would not be putting money into anything speculative like the stock market at this time.” http://funkastrology.co.uk/august-2010-horoscope-forecast/ since then the Dow has fallen 3.3%. There is more to come: http://funkastrology.co.uk/saturn-square-pluto-stock-market-economic-crisis-august-2010/ Despite the varying techniques in astrology, the leading financial astrologers are in agreement that based on the planetary aspect at the moment it is highly advisable to pull out of the stock market now.

  254. 254
    James Alexander

    This is quite a bit of discussion! Yes, it is interesting, but (pardon me for saying) it is a lot of beating around the bush.

    If we’re looking for undeniable proof of Astrology, it’s easily “findable”, one must merely look in the proper direction.

    I am a long-time astrologer who specializes in rectifications. What I do is, I take a list of events from a person’s life and I use Astrology in “reverse” of how it is normally used, and I find the birthtime.

    As clients have several times found later documentation of their birthtime (corroborating the rectification), I think it interesting to consider the probabilities…

    Any particular minute of the day is a 1 in 1440 probability. In other words, the odds AGAINST my rectification and the documented time being the same minute are 1439 to 1.

    As two rectifications are obviously mutually exclusive, the chances of it happening only twice are (1/1440) * (1/1440) = 1/2,073,600.

    Now, there is an interesting wrinkle. In order to do the rectifications, I use a very important piece of software, called Polaris. This is important because Polaris takes the list of events and using a specific astrological technique, gives the most likely birthtime. There is no interaction from the user in terms of the output of Polaris. In other words, there is no mechanism for the astrologer to be able to influence the program. It eats the data and poops the results. ;)

    Astrologer Ken Haining gave me about a dozen events from his life. (getting married, having an accident, birthdates of children, etc.) The Polaris software, taking those events and the date of his birth, arrives directly at his birthtime.

    If there truly was no real correspondence between events/circumstances in one’s life and Astrology, then how would it be possible that the program could survey his life and give the correct birthtime. As I said before, doing this just ONCE is beating 1 in 1440 odds. Only including the ones from my files where the events lead directly to a documented birthtime gives at least five cases.

    Let’s do the math…sorry, I am a nerd at heart (with a 1st place Illinois state mathematics award) ie. I am a hard-sciences person. If Astrology didn’t work, I would have kicked it to the curb long ago. Read on my website (www.jamesalexander.de) about how my original foray into Astrology was a sincere effort to DISPROVE it.

    Polaris giving same minute as documented birthtime…

    1st time: 1/1440

    2nd time: 1/2,073,600

    3rd time: 1/2,985,984,000

    4th time: 1/4,299,816,900,000 (approx)

    5th time: 1/6,191,736,400,000,000 (approx)

    Truly, the chances of winning two state lottery jackpots from two tickets has higher chances of happening than Polaris “happening upon” five correct birthtimes.

    I’m very sorry, skeptics…I do realize, in this case, that the truth is a “threat” to your worldview. I suffered the same fate long ago when I attempted to disprove Astrology as superstitious nonsense inflicted upon the masses. I *do* understand the mathematics involved. Were there no connection between the timing of the event, the nature of the event, and the Astrology; Polaris could not work.

    …but it does.

    To read more on Polaris, read my article on Donna Cunningham’s Skywriter Blog at http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/getting-the-birth-time-right—polaris-software-makes-it-possible/

    Peace

    James

  255. 255
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: I am aware that “modern western astrology” is different from any number of other flavors of astrology, but what I’m asking for is, what exactly makes it so different?They all operate under the general principle that the stars have some sort of influence on our lives.

    They all DO NOT operate under the general principal that stars have some sort of influence over us. That is not what all flavours of astrology have in common. All flavours of astrology are based primarily on a correlation between the planets within the solar system and life and events on Earth.

    This is not some special flavour – it is how astrology has always been practiced and how it still is in the western countries, even in Indian or Vedic astrology. The unifying basis of all astrology is the aspects which the Sun, Moon and planets make to each other. Astrologers then gain add further interpretation to these solar system bodies through the use of varying methods including signs, houses, midpoints, Sabian symbols, Arabic Parts, Lunar mansions, asteroids, and the fixed stars.

  256. 256
    Robert Currey

    Since Stephanie cited Dean’s meta-analysis and you, Jason “wholeheartedly endorse the meta-analysis”, it seems like a good place to start. Next, I will look at Jason’s evidence and produce some counter evidence.

    I have been communicating with Geoffrey Dean since 2008. He is a clever man who does not suffer fools. For all his scepticism, he admits that he actually believes there is something in astrology. From all these cherry picked results, he has been unable to give me a single test that is not fundamentally flawed. His meta-analysis is a wonderful conceit. It works on the basis that although these experiments are flawed in different ways, the overall result shows astrology is no more than chance. The problem is simply that many wrongs do not make a right.

    I would ask you to track down one scientific test on which his meta-analysis is based, check that you strongly believe that it is not flawed and I will review it. If I can show you that it is flawed, I would ask you to at least be more open-minded about astrology. If Dean is unable to admit they are not flawed, I think you will have trouble finding one.

    Jason, several times you have mentioned “… your vested interest in proving your life’s work is not a sham.” or “You have a vested interest in keeping the topic off that fact, since you actively make money off of people believing there’s an effect.” You are implying that the reason that astrologers argue in favour of astrology is based on financial self-interest. It is equally arguable that the reason we chose to earn a living as astrologers is because we have studied the subject and having long ago asked the same sceptical questions that you ask, found it to be valid. You will discover that astrologers don’t make a lot of money but are very motivated by what they perceive to be truth. I could argue that Geoffrey Dean, who was an astrologer, would now compromise himself if he promoted astrology in any way as he makes more of a living through being a CSI (prev CSICOP) fellow, articles in SI and lecture tours debunking astrology. Or that the reason that he is so protective of his meta-test is that it represents his life’s work. Or I could imply that your judgement on astrology is based on personal experience rather than logical analysis or that your right brain function has become inferior to your left hemisphere. Certainly a lot of emotion comes through in your argument. This line of argument is called a psychogenic fallacy. It would be like a creationist joking: “Of course Richard Dawkins is an atheist, I wouldn’t believe in God if I was on my third marriage!” All of this is highly subjective, questionable, irrelevant and ad hominem. It’s time that we focus on the merits of our arguments rather than the motivations of our opponents.

    Thanks, James Alexander for your contribution. If Polaris works as you claim, it would indeed be powerful evidence in support of astrology. From personal experience, I have doubts that rectification is consistently accurate if the birth time is more than 6 hours out due to the possibility of confusion over the angles. Even though your precision may be high on individual cases, to add this to the body of evidence that supports astrology, you would need to run the program with a selection of over 100 randomly chosen subjects who have a well-documented time of birth and a control group in a double-blind experiment to test the hypothesis that the results are significantly greater than chance.

  257. 257
    Robert Currey

    Also, James Alexander, you would have to run the test with several astrologers to remove the criticism that the results occurred through psi rather than through astrology even though software is involved in the process.

  258. 258
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: No two astrologers agree upon the effects of any particular configuration of stars, planets, asteroids, or other celestial bodies

    One thing there is universal agreement on among astrologers of all traditions is the interpretation of planetary aspects, which is the fundamental principle of astrology. The interpretation of the effects of the fixed stars is also common among all traditions and cultures. There is still work being done on interpreting the more recently discovered planets and asteroids but sharing of research and information as in any other field of study is leading to a consensus on those interpretations.

  259. 259
    Anonymous

    jthibeault: and no astrologer has ever set out to measure those effects.

    Now you just don’t know what you’re on about boy. Do some research.

  260. 260
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: making shit up, cold-reading people, cooking the books post-hoc, and masking your misses.

    Feeling a bit rattled are we? The skeptic inside me would like to see some proof to back up your accusations.

  261. 261
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault:
    Yes, it has been proven that atoms can be quantum entangled.And that is evidence that astrology has an effect how exactly?

    Two electrons separated by lightyears can have an instant effect on each other. Atoms have electrons in them, molecules have atoms in them, solar systems have planets in them, you and I have electrons in us.

  262. 262
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: do you realize that the work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has absolutely nothing to do with quantum entanglement?That’s about finding particles predicted by our current model of subatomic physics.

    “serious scientists have begun to suggest that the frequency of Cern’s accidents and problems is far more than a coincidence.

    The LHC, they suggest, may be sabotaging itself from the future — twisting time to generate a series of scientific setbacks that will prevent the machine fulfilling its destiny.”

    A particle God doesn’t want us to discover

  263. 263
    James Alexander

    Hello Robert,

    Thanks for your comments.

    As far as the results being significantly greater than chance, that is the reason that I shared the mathematical probabilities.

    As an analogy, let’s assume that you picked a time of day (from 24 hours) and asked me what time you were thinking of. If I give you that time, you would likely be impressed. I mean the odds (again) were 1439:1 AGAINST me being able to do it. Those are the odds, whether there is a control group, a double-blind experiment, etc. The odds ARE the odds.

    Now, in order to do this TWICE, the odds are 1/1440 x 1/1440. In order for Polaris to be performing at chance levels, I would have to have done at least 2,073,600 rectifications!

    Rather than go back and forth about the probabilities, let me just ask you outright, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT POLARIS CAN TAKE THE DATES OF EVENTS FROM A PERSON’S LIFE AND *EVER* GET A CORRECT ANSWER MORE OFTEN THAN ONE TIME EVERY ONE THOUSAND FOUR-HUNDRED AND FORTY TRIES? As I said, I personally have witnessed this at least five times and I’ve done less than 100 rectifications with this method.

    Perhaps my usage of the software did result in the 1 in 6,191,736,400,000,000 tries fluke…

    Let’s approach this from still another angle. In Topocentric Primary Directions (dynamic analysis system in Astrology), the Moon conjuncting the Node is very appropriate symbolism for a Wedding. Additionally, the Ascendant directing to conjunct Venus is also appropriate symbolism.

    On the date that I got married (a date that was out of my control by the way),

    the distance between the Moon and the Node was 0° 0′ 2″ of arc. Simultaneously, the difference between the directed Ascendant and Venus was 0° 0′ 14″ of arc. The directed Moon (potentially) could have been anywhere on the circle of the ecliptic…but it wasn’t, it was right where it *should* be. Likewise, the directed Ascendant (potentially) could have been anywhere on the ecliptic…but it wasn’t. It is interesting (to me at least) that two exact astrological descriptions for a wedding a) were in tight aspect, conjunctions no less on the date of the wedding and b) were exact to 1/648,000th of a circle and 1/92,571th of a circle, respectively.

    Care to guesstimate the chance levels of this? ;)

    James

  264. 264
    Jason Thibeault

    I am amused to think that you believe that examples of hits (as vague as your predictions were) is proof that astrology provides results better than chance and an insight into the events in question. Especially when you’re predicting it’s a bad idea to invest in the stock market while the world’s already in the middle of an unprecedented recession. Or the results in a two-party race where you have polling data available to you, because you’ve only made the prediction less than a month before the election. Or expanding the window to a day after your prediction about Polanski when you knew that was roughly the day his extradition trial would be over? How can you prove that any of those is anything more than dumb luck, or clever enough and vague enough wording to count something as a hit when it’s obviously barely just?

    No, I don’t want examples of hits. Examples of just the hits don’t tell me anything, and they alone certainly don’t prove astrology is real, especially when examples of misses taken alone don’t prove it’s nonsense.

    How about predictions about something specific, again, with enough specificity that one can’t count something as a hit unless it’s spot-on, and far enough away time-wise as to be less than predictable? (E.g.: “Two months from now, on October 16th, the Dow will close 5.4% down after a major multinational corporation’s CEO is charged with fraud” — you know, something falsifiable, as opposed to “don’t invest in the stock market soon”) How about aggregated results? How about percentages of all your predictions that show they’re better than chance?

    Or, and here’s a crazy idea, how about documenting your techniques and providing all the resources so that others can duplicate it, and test it in wide scale? How about, by having given the techniques to enough people to do so, having ten thousand peoples’ charts, and measuring the accuracy percentage-wise? How about double-blinded tests where astrologers know nothing about a person but the birth chart, and the people involved have to figure out which birth chart is theirs once scrubbed of all identifying names (and planets and signs, in case they’re familiar with astrology)?

    Oh, that’s right. Because you’re more interested in showing only the times when you believe it to have worked. You’d rather make a few lucky guesses based on keen insight into the situation and have everyone gasp in awe at your parlour tricks.

  265. 265
    Jason Thibeault

    Could you reply to everything in my one comment in one post, instead of five? This is really disconcerting to see my entire recent comments filled up by your name alone. It suggests you’re not interested in dialogue, but monologue. Which is no surprise, since you ARE trying to drown out my dissenting voice, since it’s screaming about how you’re avoiding the question of evidence by simply making more claims.

    You may want to reread me understanding that I’ve been using “the stars” to mean the same that astrologers have meant “the stars”, meaning the celestial bodies that you’re using to make predictions. Understanding that fact, I fail to see any kind of distinction between “the stars have influence over people’s lives” and “the stars are correlated to people’s life events”. Unless you’re saying that people’s lives may, instead, influence the planets? Surely you’re not saying that the heavens would stand still because of one particularly influential person?

    Since you’re assuming that the planets’ movements are known and immutable by anything short of cosmic cataclysm, as science itself predicts; and since you’re assuming that humans do not therefore influence the planets and stars; I can therefore assume that you mean that the planets and stars influence people’s lives. Is this somehow incorrect, and I’m just fundamentally incapable of understanding logic and therefore reality? Or are you splitting hairs because you’re an asshole?

  266. 266
    James Alexander

    Re: “Also, James Alexander, you would have to run the test with several astrologers to remove the criticism that the results occurred through psi rather than through astrology even though software is involved in the process.”

    I disagree with this, because the software is a black box. Who uses the software does not and can not influence the output. In other words, load up Polaris on 12 computers and put Ken’s data in it, all 12 (obviously) give the *EXACT* SAME OUTPUT.

    Are you asserting that computers react to psi?, because that would have to be the case for Polaris to need to be run on multiple computers by multiple people… It’s software with a closed algorithm. How could anyone else get different answers, starting with the same initial data? Really, HOW?

    Peace

    James

  267. 267
    Jason Thibeault

    You’re describing a pseudorandom results generator. Put the same input in, get the same output out, every time, though that output needs interpretation thereafter.

    As for your math, that sure is promising initial results if they’re at all accurate. Why then have wide-scale studies not been done with double-blinding or other appropriate scientific controls?

    I’m annoyed that people think requests for evidence means “show me a few hits” or “make more unevidenced claims”.

  268. 268
    Jamie Funk

    I take each point you raise one at a time. You raised many points in one comment and I addressed your various dissenting screams specifically. Too bad if you’re disconcerted by seeing my name in your recent comments, you started this.

  269. 269
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: You may want to reread me understanding that I’ve been using “the stars” to mean the same that astrologers have meant “the stars”, meaning the celestial bodies that you’re using to make predictions.

    You don’t really know what astrology is and it sounds like your astronomy is a bit shaky too.

  270. 270
    Dan J

    You’re attempting to make certain coincidences sound much more unlikely than they actually are.

    Examine what is commonly called the “birthday problem” for a brief explanation of how certain probabilities can seem unlikely even when approaching a likelihood of over ninety percent.

  271. 271
    Jamie Funk

    Would you also describe the programs which the Wall Street big boys use to play their games as pseudorandom results generators, eg the programs used which last Thursday triggered the Hindenburg Omen?

  272. 272
    Dan J

    Jamie Funk:
    “Tuesday 03 August…Jupiter on this star suggests speculation is not favorable. Given the square from Pluto and all the other T-square aspects, I would not be putting money into anything speculative like the stock market at this time.” http://funkastrology.co.uk/august-2010-horoscope-forecast/ since then the Dow has fallen 3.3%. There is more to come: http://funkastrology.co.uk/saturn-square-pluto-stock-market-economic-crisis-august-2010/ Despite the varying techniques in astrology, the leading financial astrologers are in agreement that based on the planetary aspect at the moment it is highly advisable to pull out of the stock market now.

    With Jamie’s amazing predictive abilities regarding financial markets, he must be an extremely wealthy man by now. Has he been trying to hide his wealth? I just ask because I haven’t seen his name on Forbes’ lists or anything.

  273. 273
    Dan J

    Jamie Funk:
    You don’t really know what astrology is and it sounds like your astronomy is a bit shaky too.

    Wow. I had thought it before, but now I know for sure. Jamie really is a disingenuous asshole.

  274. 274
    Jason Thibeault

    No. I would classify that as a statistical analysis of a dataset in order to make predictions about that same dataset. That’s not a PRNG. That’s a formula. The difference between the two is that the formula is not being used to make predictions about a second unrelated dataset. If you were to use the prediction of a Hindenburg Omen to figure out how likely it is that you will conceive a child, that would make it a PRNG.

    If you were to take data about your life and somehow pop that into a formula that predicts likelihood of certain other events happening in your life, that would be something. But once you abstract those data points onto a second dataset (e.g. the positions of the planets) then use that second dataset to make further predictions about your life, that’s effectively a PRNG. Especially if you’ve ignored all the major important events on that second dataset (major conjunctions, etc.), that have happened during the scope of that person’s life, that did not correspond with any major life event.

    And it’s for that reason that you need to prove there’s an actual correlation between “the stars” (by which I mean the “fixed stars”, planets, sun, moon, and star signs, in case someone is splitting hairs to be a douchebag) and a person’s life story, before you can do this kind of abstraction.

    You know what I’d love to see? A day-by-day breakdown of every single astrological event in someone’s life according to their precise birth time, mapped against when they say specific events happened in their life. And then have that same astrological breakdown applied to other people who are time-and-location-twins. See how good, exactly, the predictions are, especially when you’re comparing them against multiple other people.

  275. 275
    Dan J

    Jamie Funk:
    Feeling a bit rattled are we? The skeptic inside me would like to see some proof to back up your accusations.

    Oh, please! The only way you’d have any skeptic inside you is if I had you bent over a table pounding you in the ass.

  276. 276
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, but look, Dr. Geoffrey Dean (ex astrologer turned scientist, since we’re going with arguments from authority so heavily lately!) did exactly that, with 2000 time-twins in London. And proved there’s nothing correlated between their lives, even between those born in the exact minute.

  277. 277
    Jamie Funk

    Although I am open minded, I must politely decline your offer of Uranian enlightenment.

  278. 278
    Jason Thibeault

    Again, that’s trying to prove a mechanism for astrology, not an effect.

    And it isn’t even proven that these electrons can be separated by light years.

    Oh how I yearn for the day that all woo was driven by magnets. Because motherfuckin magnets, how do they work!?

  279. 279
    Dan J

    jthibeault: Because motherfuckin magnets, how do they work!?

    I’m not really an Insane Clown Posse fan, but I had to laugh at that one.

  280. 280
    Stephanie Z

    Jamie, one of the most endearing, reliable things about you is your inability to keep yourself from getting all personal and ugly. You’d think you’d have learned from your own blog, where you deleted a bunch of your nasty responses to sinned, so you’d look better. But no, you have to keep going and doing it here, where you can’t delete anything. It’s almost cute. You know, except for the part where you’re showing off what despicable human being you are.

  281. 281
    Stephanie Z

    Oh, Robert, when will you learn? You can quote people’s theories all you want (although you might want to steer a bit further away from the theories that are meant to demonstrate why a particular researcher needs more money and equipment), but the proof is in, well, the proof. And we haven’t even gotten into how you think subatomic particles are generated by planets in sufficient quantity or how you think they might have an effect based on someone’s birth.

    Of course, I’m not sure why I’m bothering at this point. You don’t even understand that every study has weaknesses and flaws, despite the fact that, if you have corresponded with Dean, I’m sure he told you that this is why meta-analysis is used–to triangulate the truth instead of relying on any single, flawed study.

  282. 282
    Stephanie Z

    Tell you what. How about the three astrologers here get together and decide what they agree on. Then get back to us.

  283. 283
    Jamie Funk

    jthibeault: No.I would classify that as a statistical analysis of a dataset in order to make predictions about that same dataset.That’s not a PRNG.That’s a formula.The difference between the two is that the formula is not being used to make predictions about a second unrelated dataset.If you were to use the prediction of a Hindenburg Omen to figure out how likely it is that you will conceive a child, that would make it a PRNG.

    The software James is talking about uses a large number of major life events to calculate an exact time of birth, which will always give the same result based on that same data. It has nothing to do with interpretation of predicting when you are likely to concieve a child or any any event in a life.

    The software which is used to predict the Hindenburg Omen also uses a large number of events (market high and lows) to calculate the probablility of a market crash ocuring within a 36-day period from the first signal. “it is at best an imperfect technical indicator that is a work in progress.”

    Another software program has been developed by mathematician and astrologer, professor Vincent Godbout. Judge for yourself:
    http://hirsig.ca/extra/ExplanE_Godbout.pdf
    http://hirsig.ca/extra/Model2010A_Godbout.pdf
    http://hirsig.ca/extra/Model2010B_Godbout.pdf

    Personally I use no software other than astronomical to determine planetary positions for a given time. So PRNG does not apply to me and it does not apply to most every astrologer I know because we interpret the astronomically derived chart using our knowledge of astrology.

  284. 284
    Jamie Funk

    I tend to take the word of Robert over yours on this matter as you do not know Geoffrey Dean “I have been communicating with Geoffrey Dean since 2008. He is a clever man who does not suffer fools. For all his scepticism, he admits that he actually believes there is something in astrology. From all these cherry picked results, he has been unable to give me a single test that is not fundamentally flawed.”

  285. 285
    Jason Thibeault

    Should have known you wouldn’t understand the PRNG stuff, though I explained it at great length in the original post. A PRNG does not need to be run by computer, and you’re using one right now. The whole field of astrology is based on the PRNG of determining what the planets’ and stars’ positions were relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location on Earth.

    That is a PRNG in that these determinations are based on scientifically provable formulae. What is NOT provable is that these positions have any bearing on a person’s life.

    You really REALLY need to work on your reading comprehension skills. Either that, or you’re willfully distorting my words.

    As for Geoffrey Dean, I’d like some proof of Robert’s belief that Dean thinks there’s something to astrology still. Dean has been writing for CSI since 1985.

    I grant that I don’t know him, and that this could be right, that he still does believe in astrology despite devoting the last thirty years to debunking it. However, he may just, as I do, believe that there’s a slim possibility that there’s something to astrology (in that maybe the planets do have some influence on humanity), but that all the evidence taken in toto is leading away from that conclusion.

    That’s right, you read that right — I believe there may even be something to astrology. Just like how I believe there may be a god. I doubt it’s what you guys are claiming, especially since you’re all claiming different things. Just like how I disbelieve in any gods hypothesized so far, due to the lack of evidence. With regard to astrology, I am an agnostic atheist, though I lean further and further toward being gnostic about my doubt of astrology the more you folks keep dodging (or intentionally misconstruing) the evidence question.

  286. 286
    George W.

    James Alexander:
    You will find that I did read your post on Polaris after reading your comments over at Jamie’s blog and responded to some of the obvious problems almost a month ago. I also offered a challenge to Polaris that, to his credit, Robert seems to have also proposed. “Rectification” is, even as the name implies, a way for believers in astrology to use their confirmation bias to strengthen their confirmation bias. You are “rectifying”, IE. “changing” their many times known birthtime to sequence known events to presupposed hypothesis of astrological effects. If your program is such a fantastic proof of astrology “working”, then it should be capable of making predictions that can be falsified. Your link and language evades this simple question.
    Robert- Since you are so fond of analogies I would like you to address mine. I claim that what you are trying to do with your argument is similar to the claim “pulling bananas out of a bag and going where they point is a great way to navigate a ship.”, where you claim that there are many theoretical mechanisms where this could work, but refusing to give any evidence that it has been shown effective. Now you are taking the tact that we must present evidence that “banana bagging” doesn’t work for your peer review before you will address the issue yourself. This is ridiculous. You have NEVER offered any positive evidence for an observable effect, and instead ask us to watch your semantic Rain Dance when all we want is the water.
    Jamie- Your examples of predictions are flawed. If the court had ruled the other way on Roman Polanski, your prediction would have been equally true. That they were going to rule was almost a certainty, so it is not a falsifiable prediction.
    As to your other examples, I have a true anecdote for you. Back in 2004, Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. The political wonk that I am, I watched the whole convention. After seeing Mr. Obama’s address, I turned to my soon to be wife and said “That guy is going to be President some day”. She laughed at me. I didn’t use astrology charts. I predicted an event more than four years into the future, with countless more variables than calling the outcome of an election with two candidates that has available polling data. So I don’t think your predictions are very exceptional.
    You should take Jason’s advice and make specific, extraordinary predictions that can be falsified. I will hold you, however, to your August stock predictions, in that you will have to show that having money in the markets this month is any more dangerous than it has been for the past few quarters; although I think the losses at BP could be predicted without anything more than observation.

  287. 287
    Stephanie Z

    AND, Jamie, you’re ignoring my response to Robert about the ensemble interpretation. No communication required to achieve the effects seen.

    Of course, Robert ignored it too, so why am I expecting anything different here?

  288. 288
    Robert Currey

    “Dr. Geoffrey Dean (ex astrologer turned scientist, since we’re going with arguments from authority so heavily lately!) did exactly that, with 2000 time-twins in London. And proved there’s nothing correlated between their lives, even between those born in the exact minute.”

    Dean didn’t turn from astrologer to scientist, he had his PhD. in Chemistry while he was practicing as an astrologer.

    Dean’s study involving 2,101 people born in London during 3-9 May 1958 sounds very promising. However, I seriously doubt that you have reviewed this study, but that you have accepted his lack of data uncritically.

    The reason is that it’s been seven years since Dean wrote his short extract from his ‘study’, but mysteriously, he has yet to publish. Check Page 188 of his Paper on PSI http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Dean.pdf “…(Dean, forthcoming)…”. Moreover, despite requests Geoffrey is not prepared to share this government data even though he has reported the pseudo “results” and people like you trumpet it as proof that astrology fails. This type of uncritical thinking would be forgivable if you were not so disparaging towards astrologers for doing this.

    I hope that Dean does publish his findings in full rather than continues to sit on the data. Otherwise people will start to wonder if there has been a cover-up of unreported significant patterns in the Time Twins.

    You can’t just cite tests because you hope they will confirm your limited world-view without understanding them and checking them thoroughly. Some people believe that your comments have some kind of authority. However, when it comes to astrology, a lot of your information is more like propaganda.

  289. 289
    Stephanie Z

    You, on the other hand, can say whatever you want and claim authority? Yeah.

    So Dean’s an authority when you want to agree with him and a sloppy researcher when you don’t?

  290. 290
    Marina Funk

    From your link Jason “Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading – all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.”

    WRONG! Not all Astrologers claim this and I am one of them. The CHART cannot definatively tell you this, just like it can’t tell you if you are Gay.

    The chart will be played out according to the consciousness of the soul that inhabits it. So a chart may have the potential to be an alcoholic or a Spiritual guru (a Strong Neptune signature).

    So in the case of twins; One twin may have had a series of unfortunate lifetimes, is a new and volatile soul and be still struggling evolutionary wise, he could turn out to be the alcoholic.
    The other is an old soul so has many lives and learn some valuable lessons, had some lucky breaks and beneficial teachers, so is more likely to be the guru.

    Astrology is a tool and only works in the hands of a good intuitive Astrologer. Therefore you cannot test the astrology, you need to test the ASTROLOGER!

    All you can do is ask the Astrologers clients if they are happy with the readings they have received and found them helpful and accurate. If they are, then where is the problem?

    Stephanie Z! Jeezz, so you’re not stooping to personal insults lady? I’ve seen more ugliness from the skepticals here than from the Astrologers and even my other half is behaving himself. I don’t see any “Arsehole” or “Despicable” name calling from our Uranus’s recently.

    PS. It was my idea to delete Sinners comments because we had complaints. We are allowed to clean the eggs of our own shop windows no? “Sinners” was rude and abusive, Jamie only answered in kind, but it was meant to be funny. Or is this a case of Yankies nor getting our Pommie/Aussie humour again…*Sigh*

  291. 291
    Stephanie Z

    Marina, dear, “all of which are claimed by astrologers” is simply not the same as “all astrologers claim.” But if you’re reading what you want to see that way, no wonder you don’t notice how your Jamie is behaving. You’re still welcome to get together with the other astrologers in this thread, however, to decide what you do all agree on.

  292. 292
    Robert Currey

    Jason, your last post crossed mine. Given your comments, my last post was far too harsh as I will admit that most people believe Dean’s paper is extant.

    It’s going to be a little tough to prove Geoffrey’s exact views without breaking his trust. I have never published our correspondence even though I have asked his permission to do so.

    Here’s a loose interpretation. IMO Dean believes that there is a very deep and meaningful core to astrology that does work, but not in the way we all think it does. His mission in life is to strip away the bullshit that so many astrologers just accept on face value and to encourage astrologers to look for the “truth”.

    I imagine this will make sense to you, but if you still doubt it, I will have to message you directly. Geoffrey has been a great influence on my thinking and approach to astrology. In his grounded scepticism, he has made many of us better astrologers.

  293. 293
    Dan J

    Jamie Funk:
    Personally I use no software other than astronomical to determine planetary positions for a given time. So PRNG does not apply to me and it does not apply to most every astrologer I know because we interpret the astronomically derived chart using our knowledge of astrology.

    Jamie: Thank you for proving to me that you have a sense of humor [above].

    Curiosity on my part: Does the software you use calculate only the right ascension, or does it also provide the declination? Do you take declination into account when performing an analysis?

  294. 294
    Dan J

    Marina Funk:
    Jeezz, so you’re not stooping to personal insults lady? I’ve seen more ugliness from the skepticals here than from the Astrologers and even my other half is behaving himself. I don’t see any “Arsehole” or “Despicable” name calling from our Uranus’s recently.

    I must admit that my own behavior is quite often considered rude, and I frequently use insults.

    I must also admit that I find your remarks along the lines of “played out according to the consciousness of the soul that inhabits it“, “a series of unfortunate lifetimes” and “Astrology is a tool and only works in the hands of a good intuitive Astrologer” to be absolutely fucking hilarious. Do you actually buy into that garbage, or do you just use it as a front for your livelihood?

    All you can do is ask the Astrologers clients if they are happy with the readings they have received and found them helpful and accurate. If they are, then where is the problem?

    LMAO! You can’t seriously be expecting anyone to accept that craptacular argument, can you? The problem is that they’ve been conned, just like with all the other fortune tellers. They’ve heard what they want to hear, and they’ve conveniently forgotten the things that didn’t turn out to be helpful or accurate.

  295. 295
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s fine, on this point I will trust you, at least for the purpose of this conversation, as Dr. Dean is not here to defend himself if false. Regardless, I can see belief in the core of astrology as a motivating factor for cleaning up the rubbish. As I have argued elsewhere in this thread, imagine what a boon for humanity it would be if one could scientifically prove astrology as valid, then measure, calculate and make scientifically-grounded predictions about people’s lives.

    The part that I have difficulty with, is the fact that despite his ostensibly sincere belief in astrology, he keeps turning up good evidence that there is no causal or even correlative relationship between the planets’ positions and people’s lives.

    This notwithstanding the “argumentum ex ano” that Marina has made above, claiming that time-twins, despite being influenced in the exact same measure by the stars, lead different lives because their “souls” might be of different ages (which, if this were Wikipedia, would get a “CITATION NEEDED” note). This is, of course, assuming that such a thing as a “soul” exists at all.

    That’s the whole problem. So many astrologers are willing to “take it on faith” that this stuff is real, despite evidence to the contrary. And I’m afraid I have to include you in that category, despite your recent attempt at being conciliatory. Yes, I’m still a little annoyed about your argument tactics when you first landed here, but that’s secondary to the fact that you still haven’t given us any sort of evidence, on the scale that Dean has attempted to amass, that astrology in any form has “something to it”. Your, and his, personal feelings on the matter do not good science make.

  296. 296
    Jason Thibeault

    Perhaps we should also change the law so you can only charge someone with fraud if his victims realize it. If they really, truly believe that the $16,400,000 will soon be deposited in their bank account, and that all they have to do is provide that bank account information, then there’s no problem, right?

  297. 297
    Marina Funk

    “I must also admit that I find your remarks along the lines of “played out according to the consciousness of the soul that inhabits it“, “a series of unfortunate lifetimes” and “Astrology is a tool and only works in the hands of a good intuitive Astrologer” to be absolutely fucking hilarious. Do you actually buy into that garbage, or do you just use it as a front for your livelihood?’ DanJ

    How do you know it’s garbage? Have you read Blavatsky or Gurdjieff?

    I earnt WAY more money as an Illustrator before I became and astrologer. I do it because I love it, not for the money.
    I got into Astrology from being a skeptic because the more I studied over 10 years, the more I found it worked. 2 out of the 3 astrologers I have paid for readings in the past were well worth the money.
    Hence my point about judging the Astrologer NOT the Astrology.

    Yes of course there are the “fortune telling” charlatans who make all sorts of astounding claims. My mother probably has seen ALL of them and because of this I am extremely wary of anything remotely Woo woo. But there are bad apples in every profession.

  298. 298
    Stephanie Z

    I have a certain amount of difficulty taking seriously a comment that both professes disdain for “woo woo” and cites Blavatsky. Blavatsky was not particularly known for offering evidence, aside from standard spiritualism parlor tricks. Care to explain what it requires (aside from cold readings) to convince you something is not “woo woo”?

  299. 299
    Dan J

    Marina Funk: How do you know it’s garbage? Have you read Blavatsky or Gurdjieff?

    Yes, I’ve read some of Blavatsky’s writings. I think she would have made better money peddling her work as the fiction it actually is. I enjoy reading Gurdjieff (and Ouspensky). I’m not terribly fond of Dion Fortune’s books. I thoroughly enjoy Aleister Crowley’s works. Israel Regardie, Christopher Hyatt, and Lon Milo DuQuette are represented on my bookshelves. Robert Anton Wilson is one of my favorite authors.

    None of what I’ve read has in any way convinced me that such thing as a soul exists. I likewise remain unconvinced of the reality of reincarnation.

    Marina Funk:I earnt WAY more money as an Illustrator before I became and astrologer. I do it because I love it, not for the money.

    I made more money designing/creating web sites than I do at my current job. I also had a lot more stress. I hate stress. I can’t say that I love my current job, but I work with people whose company I enjoy (for the most part). One thing that you and I can definitely agree on: Money isn’t everything.

  300. 300
    Marina Funk

    Maybe I should’ve rephrased that. What I mean to say that it seems to me you are all judging Astrology by the small percentage of Astrologers who make these predictive claims.

    Now Jamie does some mundane work which DOES involve prediction. Astrology in ancient times WAS based on prediction, so we do like to “have a go” and see if we can get it right on our Blog. Our readings are another matter. The stars incline, they do not compel and our clients know that. We are not conning anyone.

    I’d say 75% of Horoscopic Astrologers do not claim this at all. Therefore this whole argument is futile and a waste of energy.
    Who said I didn’t notice Jamie’s behaviour?! I do not care for the rudeness and snidey-ness expressed here from EITHER side which is why I loath to comment here.

  301. 301
    Stephanie Z

    Yet your “having a go” is exactly what Jamie is offering of evidence of the predictive power of astrology. Once again, I recommend that the astrologers commenting here get on the same page.

  302. 302
    Marina Funk

    We can never get on the same page! Its like saying Muslims and Christians should get on the same page because they believe in a god.
    Jamie was just trying to answer your question playing in the same ball park. But the point is 75% of astrology does not play in that ball park. 80% of our work is NOT mundane astrology, we do it because people like to see Astrologers try and predict stuff, but really its just us using our intuition guided by the planets. The planets are not dictating what humans are actually going to do, they are just showing the astrological weather.
    To put it in VERY basic terms: If it is Sunny (Jupiter trine Venus) most likely people are going to be happy, relaxing, sunbathing and be generally pleasant. But it wont stop some irate bastard getting hot under the collar, getting a gun out and blasting everyone to smithereens will it?

  303. 303
    James Alexander

    Re: (Dan J) “Examine what is commonly called the “birthday problem” for a brief explanation of how certain probabilities can seem unlikely even when approaching a likelihood of over ninety percent.”

    For that, we are taking MULTIPLE people to have the same birthday. In this, it is ONE documented time, there is no obfuscation of the probability. That documented time is one minute out of 1440. To pick it correctly is 1/1440, which is slightly less than 0.07% no matter whether you believe it or not. As calculating a birthtime is obviously mutually exclusive to subsequent calculations, the odds are a simple multiplication. Do it once… 1/1440. Do it twice, 1/2,073,600. If you do not understand this or still can’t see how it doesn’t relate at all to the birthday problem that you mentioned, then you have a “mathematical impairment” that prevents you from understanding what I wrote.

    Peace

    James

  304. 304
    Stephanie Z

    All anybody really needs to know about Polaris is included in Clifton’s post that he links to above: http://outofthegdwaye.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/daily-horoscope-youre-in-a-circle-jerk-with-the-confirmation-bias-fairy/ Basically, Polaris can’t be wrong, because if it doesn’t come up with the same time of birth as the birth certificate, the certificate is wrong.

  305. 305
    Marina Funk

    Yep I like Crowley too! He did write an Astrology book which I want to get hold of actually, I think it might be out of print. That’s quite an esoteric list, yet you still believe we die and that’s it then? I’ve read large sections of the Bible, but it didn’t make me want to be “born again” So fair enough.

    My last boyfriend was an total atheist, we argued over mysticism V science all the time. Yet I thought it was odd that when things got tough he asked me to look at what was going on in his chart!

  306. 306
    Jason Thibeault

    Your point about Christians and Muslims getting along is well-founded, especially since they both believe in the Abrahamic god Yahweh. Same god the Jews worship. Jesus even shows up as a prophet in Islam, though not as important of one as Muhammed. Thing is, they’re too far removed from one another to see each other as anything but heretics though.

    They’re both derived from the same dogmatic belief in the same dogmatic texts, only each has had their belief modified over the millenia by other texts that came since. Of the two factions here, the skeptics and the astrologers, one has a foundational dogma — the astrologers. I can’t think of any foundational prejudice outside of “that which cannot be shown to be true should be assumed to be false until evidence is brought forth”. And that isn’t even adhered to dogmatically.

    The way you describe the heavens’ hand in our fates, you make it seem like a very subtle effect, almost hardly worth mentioning at all. What percentage would you say astrology’s effect influences everyday decisions? Do some astrological events have more effect? How much effect? What’s the unit of measurement? What does a unit of astrological influence “look like”, so to speak?

    Also, has anyone tested whether Jupiter trine Venus actually has a statistically significant higher percentage chance of being sunny? Or are you referring only to a sunny disposition in people born when Jupiter is trine of Venus? What studies have been made of this proposed effect? Surely with programs like you have, you can predict exact times and places in the past when Jupiter was exactly trine of Venus, and you could find out who was born that exact minute in that exact location (assuming you find any that are at specific hospitals), then test the people that were born then at that location to find out if there’s a statistically higher percentage of sunny-dispositioned people?

    But I suspect nobody wants to do that, because that seems like a lot of work. And it would prove astrology is crap.

    By the by: “but really its just us using our intuition guided by the planets”? You might as well admit astrology is just Structured Guessology.

  307. 307
    Jason Thibeault

    Mmm-hmm… so because you were with an atheist who believed in science but wanted you to check his charts every time something got tough, that means that he… what? Didn’t believe in science after all? Or that he “isn’t close-minded”? Or that he was curious to see if you’d pull those facts (of which you were aware) into his charts to cook the books?

    Either way, personal anecdotes do not good science make.

  308. 308
    Robert Currey

    “… he [Dean] keeps turning up good evidence that there is no causal or even correlative relationship between the planets’ positions and people’s lives.”

    Unless you can cite a good experiment to support this, this is simply not true for several reasons:
    1. Dean may have been unable to find any evidence in support of astrology. But then how can you find something if you are ostensibly not trying to find it.
    2. I know of no investigation by Dean into the causal relationship.
    3. In 1977, he published his initial findings in his study of Unaspected Planets. It was IMO very promising work that appeared to favour astrology. This test overcame one of the big hurdles for testing astrology – isolating the planets away from the aspects, which can be done easily with unaspected planets. Anyhow, he has collected enough questionnaires for an interesting paper. Yet, he claims he has never found the time to complete it.
    4. His most promising test of the 2,000+ time twins has yet to be published.

    Dean is an enigma and one day I believe, we will find that astrology was in his heart but it was suppressed by scepticism in his head.

    If you are analyzing astrology experiments, I suspect that you will find very few viable scientific tests of astrology. Dean told me he only knew of three where the sample size was more than 100! Why is this in a field like astrology?

    The most obvious reason is that being outside the academic system for 300 years (which is another story), there is and has been no funding or basis for research. Scientific tests are mostly performed by sceptics or the curious but ignorant outside the field like psychologists or physicists. Usually the approach is quantitative when it should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative.

    Astrologers are more interested in surviving in the profession. Most do small scale empirical research, but few have the resources or technical know-how or authority to test under the scientific method.

    There are also big procedural problems:
    a. It is extremely difficult to obtain sufficient fresh accurate objective data
    b. Isolating the huge number of variables involving human behaviour and astrology is an immense challenge.
    c. Replicating the unique conditions is almost impossible. For example, each human being is unique and identical planetary positions are never repeated within recorded human history.
    d. The Experimenter Effect is potentially stronger than in a chemistry experiment as the human experimenter is part of an experiment involving human behaviour. So the criteria used, the data selected, the format and the results are particularly open to reflecting the conscious and unconscious bias of the experimenter rather than providing objective data.
    e. Statistics perform well in physics, chemistry or molecular biology. However, when you work with more varied and complex data, results can be skewed, misrepresented and manipulated. You’d think with all the objective climate data and vast resources, we would have less controversy about the projections for climate change.

    Some astrologers will at this point claim that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! However, what many do not know is that there are a few vaiable tests that produced evidence using scientific methods including one cited by Jason. So I will come onto this in my next post …

    Marina, your comment about your last boyfriend was sad but also funny in a way.

    Stephanie & George, I note your comments. Let me press on with some evidence and you can then question me more, if necessary. Otherwise, I will be rain-dancing all night. :)

  309. 309
    Marina Funk

    I’m not talking about her psychic stuff, I’m talking about her research into other cultures and religions who do believe in reincarnation.
    Yes, I’m wary of psychics, but I don’t discount there were some genuine ones like Edgar Cayce.

  310. 310
    Marina Funk

    We have solar fire and we can do that very easily. We are doing research all the time on celebrities with certain aspects.Sun/Mars Aspects
    Its very hard to single out one aspect from a chart, a person will be a mix of many, but we did try and be as “scientific” with this as we could, we picked the tightest aspected ones(Within an orb of 1 deg 30′) which would have a stronger effect and picked out the aspect of their life that it seemed to be reflecting.
    We think the tightest aspects in a chart and aspect patterns define a person, but other astrologers would disagree.

  311. 311
    Robert Currey

    Jason, the first test you cited, the Carlson test is widely considered to be the most famous and stringent test of astrologers even though it had many faults. It involved about 28 reputable astrologers, over 100 subjects and was published in Nature in 1985. It is viewed by many as the definitive test of astrology and is the most widely cited on the web and under astrology in Wikipedia (with Geoffrey Dean’s unpublished study of time twins!) as evidence that astrology is no more than chance.

    This Double-Blind Astrology Experiment involved subjects identifying their own birth chart [Part 1] and qualified astrologers matching test subject’s birth charts with the results of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) [Part 2]. Carlson claimed that natal astrology performed no better than chance. However, a number of authoritative sources including Professor Hans Eysenck of London University (1986) have shown that this conclusion was faulty. Recent evidence now shows that the part of the test that was valid (according to Carlson) where astrologers matched charts with Personality Tests, shows evidence that favours astrology to a statistically significant level (P= 0.037 ES= .10, N=99) in spite of the many disadvantages that the astrologers faced.

    http://www.astrologer.com/tests/carlsontest.htm (I also have a longer and more detailed version of my article which is being prepared for publication).

    I invite those of you who have asked me many times for evidence, to critique my analysis.

  312. 312
    khan

    “28 reputable astrologers”

    Tee hee
    Giggle snort
    Guffaw
    =================================================
    OK all you folks who can does the magic: What is the mechanism?

  313. 313
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, there are plenty of things to be said about your “analysis,” including the fact that, while Eysenck had some good points, he was also a crank on some subjects, like race and IQ. The simplest is explained in detail here, though: You need to either decide why Eysenck and others were wrong about the CPI (and his comments on its validity certainly don’t match consensus on the topic), or you need to drop your argument that it really did produce good results after all, just confused by poor choices of “distractor” profiles. You can’t have both.

  314. 314
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, earlier in these comments I quoted a prediction I made in January about the July Solar Eclipse signalling the culmination of Roman Polanski’s life. Less than 24 hours after that eclipse he was freed.

    You replied by saying “expanding the window to a day after your prediction about Polanski when you knew that was roughly the day his extradition trial would be over? How can you prove that any of those is anything more than dumb luck, or clever enough and vague enough wording to count something as a hit when it’s obviously barely just?”

    The decision to release Polanski from bail and reject the U.S. request for extradition was made by the Swiss Justice Ministry. It was a surprise announcement by a government department.

  315. 315
    James Alexander

    Re: “All anybody really needs to know about Polaris…”

    1) You are not the arbiter of “what anybody needs to know”

    2) Nice attempt at tangenting the conversation.

    Still, I want you to explain to me HOW it is possible that Polaris can take as input, a dozen events from someone’s life and give the correct birthtime as output if there is nothing to Astrology? (Be careful how you answer, because this can be demonstrated. Remember that it is a 1 in 1440 chance of doing so. Just so that you understand the “level” of probability, this is a BETTER performance against chance than flipping a coin 10 times and getting all heads.)

    Now, after you’ve fumbled around trying to obfuscate what is going on by introducing irrelevant tangents, answer me this question, please…

    Polaris not only finds Ken’s birthtime from his event list, it will also find that SAME time, if we split his events into two subsets and process them independently. Now, pray tell, HOW in the world can a mathematical process based on the astrology symbols matching the nature of the events, lead to the correct birthtime from two completely independent data sets?

    Yes, you won’t have a legitimate answer that one…but watch the segues attempt to take flight!

    Again, the chances of the 1st subset leading to the correct time, 1/1440. The chances that a second (independent) set of data leading mathematically to the correct birthtime is 1/1440 squared, or 1/2,073,600.

    Coincidentally, this is almost the same percentage chance that you will gain ANY understanding about Astrology while sitting there with a closed mind, believing to already have all the answers, but through your responses, demonstrating unequivocally the converse…

    Peace

    James

  316. 316
    James Alexander

    Re: “You’re describing a pseudorandom results generator. Put the same input in, get the same output out, every time, though that output needs interpretation thereafter.”

    Your bias is influencing your logic.

    Polaris outputs a birthtime.

    What exactly “needs interpretation thereafter”???

    Doh!

    James

  317. 317
    James Alexander

    Re: “If your program is such a fantastic proof of astrology “working”, then it should be capable of making predictions that can be falsified.”

    That is a separate issue. You still have not explained HOW the program can EVER give the correct birthtime, based on events from someone’s life. (Remember that chance levels say that this should happen ONCE in every 1,440 attempts.)

    Once you’ve skated around that, then explain how it is possible to still find that SAME birthtime from two independent data sets…

    Peace

    James

  318. 318
    James Alexander

    Jason,

    Care to post your birthdata (with some documentation, of course)?

    Not that we don’t trust you…

    If there is NOTHING to Astrology as you say…then there could be no harm, eh, mate?

    James

  319. 319
    Jamie Funk

    Jason, you wrote:

    “Should have known you wouldn’t understand the PRNG stuff, though I explained it at great length in the original post. A PRNG does not need to be run by computer, and you’re using one right now. The whole field of astrology is based on the PRNG of determining what the planets’ and stars’ positions were relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location on Earth.”

    You are wrong. The starting point of your whole argument is wrong. You have regularly used “PRNG” through your entire argument.

    The determination of planetary and stellar position relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location is the basis of astrology, but that determination cannot be termed at PRNG. Ephemerides are used to determine these positions. “For scientific uses, a modern planetary ephemeris comprises software that generates positions of the planets and often of their satellites, or of asteroids or comets at virtually any time desired by the user”. Astrologers “use exactly the same referential frame of the astronomers”. Wiki – Ephemeris

    An ephemeris is not a PRNG. A PRNG is “is an algorithm for generating a sequence of numbers that approximates the properties of random numbers.” Wiki – Pseudorandom number generator The positions of the planets and of the stars is not random. It is known, quantifiable, predictable, scientifically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    In the List of random number generators there is nothing that comes close to an ephemeris.

    You are wrong. The starting point of your whole argument is wrong.

  320. 320
    James Alexander

    Jamie,

    Arguing over the details of a prediction never accomplishes anything. The skeptics will always (to them) find an “out.”

    If you had said that Roman Polanski would be released while wearing a red suit, they would surely say, you were wrong, it was more of a deep pink. In short, the facts really don’t matter, we can always change perspective.

    Try to remember back to debates in school. There was often a self-appointed know-it-all that would argue 15 ways AROUND the point, even though the position was demonstrably false. The winning was VERY important, the Truth, very much not.

    I wrote to Rudolf Smit about Polaris. He was very interested…sent me several EMails…and we discussed the details of the program. I wrote to him… okay, let’s test it. Not one word since! It was an eerie deja vu to an earlier time, after grade school when the big mouth who was gonna kick butt after school, suddenly ran home as fast as his legs would take him, the minute the line was drawn in the sand. Different sissy, same reaction.

    I requested Jason’s birthdata, with documentation of course. If there’s nothing to Astrology as he says, then giving birthdata should be about as risky as telling me what size shoes he wears. My question of you, Jamie, do I get the birthdata, or another chance at deja vu? ;)

    Peace

    James

  321. 321
    Jamie Funk

    Someone on my blog asked Jason for his birth data and Jason refused because he thought us astrologers would cheat on our interpretation by researching his life story on the internet. What life story on the internet? If he were to divulge his data, I sure as hell won’t be trawling through this sordid website looking for his life story. The main point is that I wouldn’t need to.

  322. 322
    Glendon Mellow

    “Sordid website”

    Hilarious.

  323. 323
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, thanks for reviewing it.

    I accept your point on Professor Eysenck. However, we have to judge him on the merits of his argument, rather than his controversial opinions or his fame as a world renowned expert on personality measurement. Second, his comments just affirm the difficulties the astrologers and subjects faced and are not critical to the conclusions.

    My view is that this is the best test of the practice of astrologers that there is. It has faults and the astrologers were seriously disadvantaged by the homogeneity of the sample (being mostly students in their 20s), the subject’s lack of effort to apply themselves and the limits of the California Psychological Inventory CPI.

    There were, in fact, 5 tests. Because the subjects were unable to recognize their own Psychological Profile [CPI], Carlson rejected the test where they were asked to recognize their own birth chart. A third test which I believe had a good basic design was the opportunity for the subjects to rate their horoscopes (out of 10) was mysteriously rejected as the data was “not collected under proper controls” p.424. The reasons make no sense to me – maybe you can cast some light on what went wrong there. So this left only two tests which Carlson claimed were valid. These involved the assessment of the charts by the astrologers against the CPIs. Their ranking of the charts came out at p=0.054 which is marginally significant and their rating of charts was p=0.037 which is undoubtedly statistically significant in the social sciences.

    This test was published in Nature, having had a peer review by a top psychologist according to Carlson and has been championed as the definitive test of astrology for 25 years. It was funded and heavily promoted by CSICOP and has been cited in glowing terms by sceptics. Now, that a statistician (not an astrologer), Professor Ertel has done the number crunching using standard statistical techniques (which Carlson failed to do) and found that the results favoured astrology are you saying that this test is now no longer valid?

    Your point about the CPI is extremely good. Either the CPI is hopeless which makes the whole experiment flawed or it has validity which then supports the results. I think you have got to the crux of it all. Certainly one problem was that the subjects found the tables of the CPI (set out on page 2 of Carlson’s paper) difficult to understand even though it was based on self-report as they had no background in psychology, self understanding and most couldn’t be bothered with any challenging parts of the test. However, astrologers were more motivated and better equipped to read the CPI (even if it did not exactly coincide what they would see in the chart). So the CPI proved to be a good tool but only in the right hands.

    As you can imagine, I was aware of Skeptico’s critique of Ertel’s appraisal. There is no indication that Skeptico has read Ertel’s original paper. All the comments refer to a review by a very solid astrologer, Ken McRitchie. The quibbles like whether Carlson had a peer review and did he ignore the 10 point rating test are not germane. We have to keep in mind that for Skeptico the belief that astrology is bunk is an article of faith – like a creationist and the Bible. Skeptico has dismissed the new evidence as a matter of principle by grabbing at straws without addressing the tangible results or reading Ertel’s reappraisal. Jason stressed that he is not closed to astrology, but requires evidence. While not everyone requires scientific proof that’s how he and most sceptics on this blog think. I think he’s made a fair point. As you know Jason cited this test as his best test of astrology. This is not some flimsy trick presentation or an anecdotal assertion that it works. You aren’t going to find a scientific test of astrologers in the same league. Given the way the astrologer’s work was misrepresented, I doubt if we would ever get the same level of cooperation in my lifetime. (I’m 55 ;) )

    I fully recognise that this experiment needs replication and some of the disadvantages removed to make it fairer to the astrologers and the subjects. However, it is scientific evidence that there might be something in astrology and it certainly undermines any justification for dismissing it out of hand.

  324. 324
    Glendon Mellow

    Hi Jamie,

    I understand that you use an ephemeris of the planets positions at the time of an event. I believe the assertion amongst some of the skeptics here is that the equivalent to a pseudo random number generator kicks in some time after the ephemeris is employed.

    What’s the mechanism by which the positions of the planetary bodies influences life?

    “The positions of the planets and of the stars is not random. It is known, quantifiable, predictable, scientifically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

    Agreed. This explains that we have ways of predicting the positions of the planets. Please continue and describe how the positions of the planets affects us and how that can be studied.

  325. 325
    Robert Currey

    Hi Khan,

    Since we have discussed the mechanism here at great length, I will bore everyone if I repeat myself. If you care to read the discussion over the last 100 posts on mechanism, I would be very interested to hear if you can present an original argument as to why evidence for phenomena without a mechanism should be rejected or deserves to be ridiculed. I trust that most people on this blog who have read the discussion will not agree with you.

  326. 326
    Jamie Funk

    I’ll get onto your last question once Jason admits the starting point of his whole argument is wrong. “The whole field of astrology is based on the PRNG of determining what the planets’ and stars’ positions were relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location on Earth.”

  327. 327
    Glendon Mellow

    I’ve been following since the beginning, Robert and I don’t recall seeing anything about mechanism.

    I have seen comments equating correlation with causation, anecdotes being paraded as data and some stuff about crystal planetary cores and quantum entanglement.

    Recently there’s been some discussion of starting points in astrology (positions of planetary bodies) which I am hopeful will lead to an explanation of how distant planets, moons and plutoids can influence human behaviour, events and decision-making.

  328. 328
    Jamie Funk

    Seeing your comment was friendly and polite, I’ll be fair and start with the nearest celestial object to Earth.

    “Dr Frank A. Brown had live oysters flown in to his lab in Chicago, Illinois. Oysters open their shells at each high tide. Dr. Brown wanted to see if this opening and closing was the actual result of the changes in water flow from the tides or from lunar influences. Dr. Brown discovered that after about a week the oysters had changed their opening and closing to correspond to the times that the moon was directly overhead and underfoot for Chicago.” Weather.com

  329. 329
    Glendon Mellow

    Thanks Jamie, an interesting case. I think the effects of the moon on tides and animal navigation have been studied quite a bit. I didn’t know about the oysters.

    The article you mention further describes how “Weather is the single most significant factor that affects wildlife activity”. Bearing this in mind, may I ask you or another astrologer to start with one of the furthest bodies and describe how its effects (whether gravity or not) can affect humans, and be detected to do so despite possibly being washed out by local weather? My question is not what the effect is, but how it affects us?

  330. 330
    James Alexander

    Robert,

    You have my admiration. I have looked through this thread and can see how you continuously try to discuss these various “issues” with scholarship and perseverance.

    My question is, “how do you do it and maintain a positive spirit?”

    I’ve had precious little time in this discussion and already I feel like I’m teaching chess to ungrateful monkeys.

    Keep up the good work…

    Peace

    James

  331. 331
    Glendon Mellow

    Now my mind has been bubbling over with wondering how the oysters sense when to open.

    Based on the brief summary in the article,
    -I can guess it has little to do with the changing levels of dark and light in the night sky, since I’m pretty sure oysters don’t have a light sensing organ; likewise heat from the sun reflected off of the moon is probably drowned out by local conditions and cold space.
    -If the oysters sense the moon’s gravitational pull, I would assume it affects the fluid in their bodies, possibly redistributing it which may flex muscles for them to open. This sounds plausible and would bear further scrutiny if I was a scientist studying these oysters.
    -Is there “jet-lag”? Do the oysters take some time to adjust to the local time zone if moved a sufficient distance?
    -Can their opening be manipulated by other means?

  332. 332
    Stephanie Z

    See, Jamie, that’s the part where you show you didn’t read the post. Jason already talked about why it is pseudo-random rather than random. Saying “but it’s not random!” isn’t even arguing against the post.

  333. 333
    Stephanie Z

    You were aware of the flaws that Skeptico pointed out and repeated exactly the same flawed argument anyway? Robert, would you care to go back and reread your first couple of criticisms of Jason when you showed up? I think it isn’t the skeptics who are repeating without understanding in this argument.

  334. 334
    Stephanie Z

    Quite simple, James. First, he had very little “positive spirit” to begin with when he showed up here. Second, he simply ignores it when the flaws in his arguments are pointed out.

  335. 335
    Jamie Funk

    Jetlag is a very interesting subject to bring up. The hormone melatonin is used by inernational airline staff to remedy this symptom. It is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates our sleep patterns, our cirdadian rythyms. It is an hormone common to all life, plants, animals, even microbes. The secretion of melatonin in our brains peaks in the middle of the night. This is an example of the Sun having on effect on human behaviour.

    I don’t know the mechanism by which the Moon influences the behaviour of shellfish. It is possible that it is due to gravity, but regarless of how, it is an example of the Moon directly influencing the behaviour of life on Earth.

    Combining the effects of the Sun and the Moon brings up the question of planetary aspects. An opposition of the Sun and the Moon when viewed from Earth is a full Moon. Some scientific research support the belief that full Moons effects human behavior, some research does not. Someone like me can cite ample scientific literature in support, and a skeptic can cite the science against.

    I worked for 5 years in mental institutions, and another 5 years in a dementia wards. I don’t need to read all the scientific results to know without doubt that the lunar cycle has a definite effect on human behaviour. I anyone in your family or circle of friends is a cop, paramedic, prison guard or nurse, ask them if they think full Moons have an effect on human behaviour.

    As for distant stars effecting life on Earth, they do emit electromagetnic energy at many frequencies, some of which include radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays. All these forms of energy effect lifeforms. The visible light from Arcturus used to open the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

  336. 336
    Jason Thibeault

    He’s already well and truly shown he hadn’t read the post, in several ways and on several occasions now, in this thread and in others. He never intended to. He wanted to goad me into talking about his specific predictions and how his specific work was flawed, rather than defending their underpinnings.

    Jamie: For the record, a PRNG produces the same result given the same input every single time. The point of my describing using the planets’ positions to determine anything about humans’ fate is not that these celestial objects move randomly — it’s that there’s no apparent correlation to their positions at a given time have any effect on a human born under them, whatsoever. They are unrelated datasets, and so the one dataset is as good as a random seed for the other.

  337. 337
    Jamie Funk

    No Jason, you said:

    “The whole field of astrology is based on the PRNG of determining what the planets’ and stars’ positions were relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location on Earth.”

    That is a totally false statement and there is no amount twisting and turning and diverting that will get you out of it. This is the point in the debate where you have sublimate your ego and admit this statement is incorrect, because you have been pushing this PRNG line from day one.

  338. 338
    Jason Thibeault

    You are not the arbiter of what is good and bad science based solely on the fact that it agrees or disagrees with you, Robert. Skeptico’s arguments against the flaws of the study are well-founded, in that he backed up his assertions, and Ertel’s reassessment doesn’t appear to address them adequately. You don’t get to reassert the same flawed arguments that Skeptico pointed out are flawed just because someone else stepped up to challenge them without actually disproving them. “Challenged” does not mean “debunked”. You did the same thing earlier, dismissing out of hand the work of Geoffrey Dean as “flawed” just because it disagrees with you without trying to show how they’re flawed, and thereafter count him as an ardent supporter of your views otherwise. As Stephanie says, you should start picking a side instead of arguing both simultaneously.

    The only point about Dean’s academia on which I agree with you is the fact that the data is apparently as-yet unpublished on the time-twins study. That is indeed disconcerting, though since you’ve been in communication with him, perhaps you could convince him to make that data available. Or you could ask him why that data is not presently available, and make that answer public.

  339. 339
    Jason Thibeault

    It’s hard not to be in positive spirit when you’re running around yelling with your ears plugged to dissenters, but doing your yelling very eloquently — eloquently enough to make others believe that you know what you’re talking about.

  340. 340
    Jason Thibeault

    So… do you know how to read, or not? I’m just curious, because you’re not showing much evidence of literacy. Just a dogged determination to get me to abdicate a position I hold with no proper understanding of the position itself.

  341. 341
    Jamie Funk

    “The whole field of astrology is based on the PRNG of determining what the planets’ and stars’ positions were relative to one another at a certain time and in a certain location on Earth.”

    Right or wrong?

  342. 342
    Jason Thibeault

    On the moon making people crazy, this is my reply, borrowed from Psychology Today. Note that confirmation bias figures heavily into that one too. Just because 80% of first-responders and dementia ward workers have had that superstition reinforced, doesn’t mean the actual data shows anything like the statistically significant increase you claim to know.

    I’m also curious to know why you keep talking about the sun and moon, whose effects on human life are well-studied and well-evidenced, when you also talk about planets and infinitessimally tiny planetoids as having drastic effects on human life (as pronounced as the very near, comparitively, sun and moon).

    You’re co-opting our understanding that the sun and moon have effect on human life, and saying that proves that distant and tiny objects like Pluto must therefore have the same level of effect. That doesn’t fly. Especially not when the electromagnetic effect of, say, Jupiter, is trillions of times less powerful than the electromagnetic field the Earth has, and orders of magnitude less than the Sun, which drowns everything else in the solar system out with regard to electromagnetics.

  343. 343
    Jason Thibeault

    Jamie Funk: Right or wrong?

    I dunno! You tell me. Do you use the positions of the stars, planets and moons relative to one another, in your personal style of astrology?

    If you say “yes”, then I say “right”. If no, then “wrong”, and I’ll take back my whole PRNG argument with regard to you and you alone, but not with regard to astrology in general. Though I’d then ask why you keep talking about stars and planets’ positions if you don’t use them to make any determination about people. And what you call your field, since it can’t be “astrology” unless you’re using the positions of the celestial bodies to make determinations about humans’ lives.

  344. 344
    George W.

    To Jamie- We have already covered this. Your prediction was only that some decision would be made. If the decision went the other way you still would have been right. You couldn’t lose, unless the Swiss dragged their feet for a month or so.
    James- I think if Jamie had of predicted Polanski’s release on a specific day and the color of his suit even within a similar hue that that would be significant. Your siding with him indicates that you consider vague “almost-can’t-lose” predictions as meaningful. If this is your idea of statistical significance, I understand why you stand behind Polaris. Why don’t you do some math and calculate the odds that Jamie might get a “hit”, any “hit”, on his prediction?
    I have offered you the very chance you claim skeptics never give you. I have offered to test Polaris, granted in a loosely scientific way. The challenge is here. You are the one who doesn’t seem interested. I admit that it would be no irrefutable evidence, but it would go a long way toward convincing me. I would even offer to argue in favor of astrology if the test was shown to be statistically significant. I will even write a post about it.

  345. 345
    Jamie Funk

    Goodnight Jason and goodbye.

  346. 346
    Jamie Funk

  347. 347
    George W.

    James- This is the third time in a row I have posted that I am willing to open-minded test your Polaris software. You don’t get to take the tact that we aren’t giving your argument a chance when someone is giving it a chance. This monkey wants to play chess with you James. All you have to do is set up the board…..
    Again, my rough draft of a challenge is here.

  348. 348
    Stephanie Z

    Well, that’s an utterly creepy reply.

  349. 349
    Jason Thibeault

    Jamie Funk: Goodnight Jason and goodbye.

    If you’re trying to leave permanently, you may want to unsubscribe from the thread so you’re not further tempted to rejoin the field later. I’m perfectly okay with you doing that, and leaving the questions I’ve posed to you (in this line of replies, elsewhere in this thread, and in the post proper) unanswered. You’re free to answer them at another time if you’d like.

    However, if we don’t see one another again, it’s been fun. You’ve thrown far too much invective my way for me to have gained any insight into your beliefs or skills at debating, but I do enjoy barroom brawls now and then. So to speak.

  350. 350
    Jason Thibeault

    As I said over at Jamie’s blog, I don’t care to post my birth data, thanks. Again, it wouldn’t be a fair test, as you have available to you all the information you’d ever need about major events in my life right here on this blog to ensure that anything you come up with (whether natal charts, reconciliation, etc.) would not be unsullied by the availability of other methods of gaining that information.

  351. 351
    George W.

    James-
    “If your program is such a fantastic proof of astrology “working”, then it should be capable of making predictions that can be falsified.”
    This is the very claim you make. Further down in this thread you said you wanted to test the software and the skeptics have not taken op your offer.
    I AM TAKING YOU UP ON YOUR OFFER.
    I do not need to “skate” around any issue. You seem to believe that I am saying that I write off your “hits” as pure chance. I am not doing this. I think that your “hits” are confirmation bias and the fact that the people you have used the software on are open to changing their birth times. The way you yourself explain the program in your link, the program only considers a handful of possible birth times:

    She sent me over 40 events from her life, mostly with exact dates. I took 38 of these events (the ones where the dates were most accurately known) and entered each of them into Polaris. I gave the software a search range of an hour on either side of the supposed birthtime. This entering of events goes quite quickly. In about a minute (time dependent on computer speed), Polaris examined every 8 seconds in birthtime throughout the range and gave the following table:

    With an hour on either side,and examining every eight seconds, you’re chances look like 1 in 900. But if we consider the fact that many people don’t have birthtime to the second, we mus consider what range of “hits” would be considered uncanny to the subject. Let’s suppose its just ten minutes either side of their birth time. By my math that equates to 1 in 6.
    So I question the method, not the significance of it’s results.
    It’s time for you to play chimp chess, put up or shut up.

  352. 352
    Glendon Mellow

    Jamie, to discuss your example of the pysters, and also your example of the melatonin, I think it’s important to recognize there that correlation doesn’t equal causation. It might suggest a further line of inquiry.

    For example, you said, “The secretion of melatonin in our brains peaks in the middle of the night. This is an example of the Sun having on effect on human behaviour.

    This *may* be true, or it could be simply a correlation that the sun’s position and the time of day melatonin peaks is unrelated. I don’t dispute these relationships particularly – just that discovering if that correlation is having an effect, it suggests where do we look? Likewise with the oysters.

    That’s where controls in science come in, isloating factors, double-blind trials. Two events happening in tandem are interesting, but must still be proven to have a relationship.

    That’s the place where the mechanism in astrology lies that skeptics and the scientific community would like to see, and have yet to see.

    In the past, I believed wholeheartedly in astrology. It’s tempting when it correlates with my life or I’m feeling down in the dumps and it has an inspiring message. But I can’t lie to myself and pretend there is any evidence it has a mechanism that plausibly works other than confirmation bias coupled with correlation equalling causation.

  353. 353
    Robert Currey

    Jason & Stephanie,

    1. I have set out my position on the Carlson experiment. Can you tell me where you each stand on the test? Is it still valid? Jason would you like to retract it as part of your best evidence against astrology just like Dean’s non-existent test and the flawed meta-analysis?
    2. Please can you outline Skeptico’s criticism of Ertel that I failed to address?
    3. Stephanie, if you think you are making a good point about my criticisms, do you want to spell it out for me as I am clearly not bright enough to understand?

    Jason, please do not misquote me.
    A. I never claimed Dean was an ardent supporter of my views. You don’t even know what my views are! I shared that information in good faith, please don’t abuse it. I cannot say what Dean’s views are today but I can say we do argue a lot!
    B. I don’t dismiss the work of Dean. I have spoken highly of some of Dean’s work. It’s just that his meta-analysis is based on a lot of flawed experiments or flawed analyses (as with Carlson). Since he, Stephanie and you have been unable to cite a test that is not flawed or invisible or irrelevant or one that is favourable to astrology, we should all have serious doubts about treating this junk pile as evidence against astrology.

    Is this tactic designed to needle me? I have noticed you do this when your arguments are weak and you start getting desperate.

    I have provided evidence to support my claim. It is up to you to provide evidence to support your claim of your ‘preponderance of evidence against astrology’. So far, you have cited one test that does not exist, a meta-analysis of flawed tests which you cannot cite and a valid test that favours astrology. Perhaps it’s time to put up or shut up on that claim and we can move onto another criticism of astrology.

  354. 354
    Robert Currey

    Glendon, to the best of my knowledge there is an established mechanism for natural astrology but presently no known mechanism for natal astrology. However, as argued at great length this is not a reason to reject it (or as in Khan’s case to ridicule it).

    Check out the post on August 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    George claimed “It shows that astrologers have not even endeavored to get past the necessary steps to hypothesize a mechanism.”
    So, I responded with the following:
    1. A universally accepted mechanism for natural astrology (not natal).
    2. Theories involving the Sun Spot cycle etc. I have more references for that.
    3. A metaphysical model which is a belief as I cannot conceive how it could be falsified or proved.
    4. And finally in response to Jason’s analysis of the four fundamental interactions (forces) to rule out a mechanism, I pointed out that this model is incomplete and that there are frontier areas of science where a possible mechanism cannot be ruled out, at least until more is known.

  355. 355
    George W.

    Glendon,
    I agree with Robert that we have talked at length about a mechanism, and he is quoting me correctly that I can’t see why one is necessary when we haven’t even established a quantifiable effect that requires a mechanism.
    I disagree that we have anything similar to a universally accepted mechanism for natural astrology, perhaps I missed that. Perhaps it’s not so universally accepted.
    All Robert has been talking about is a mechanism. “It might be this…it may be that…” but we have not yet crossed the bridge of a reason for that mechanism to exist. Like any good shamen, Robert continues to claim that the water is coming, just sit and watch the rain dance while we wait….

  356. 356
    James Alexander

    That’s interesting, George.

    Now, we just have to figure out some ground rules.

    We need a birth with documentation and someone that we know the dates given for events are actual dates for said events.

    Any ideas?

    Peace

    James

  357. 357
    James Alexander

    You knock me out…

    So somewhere on this blog, information is posted about your future?

    Please direct me to that, please.

    Peace

    James

  358. 358
    Robert Currey

    George, just to clarify that I am referring to the tidal force as a universally accepted mechanism.

    Thanks, I like the idea of being a good shaman. I would also add that a good scientist should not make claims that cannot be backed up and have command of all the facts before ruling out possibilities.

    In this article on astrology, Jason has flaunted these basic guidelines. I hope you can persuade him to clean it up as it would be a shame if his shabby piece of pseudo-science were mistaken for a knowledge resource on the Internet.

  359. 359
    Glendon Mellow

    Alright, I reviewed the last few days’ worth of responses again. Tidal forces are the universally accepted mechanism of astrology. Which part of people’s lives do they affect?
    -Decision-making? Preferences?
    -Life trajectory, possible fate?
    -Personal environment, people encountered?

    Robert, do you assert that these tidal forces are not felt directly, just inferred by how the planets mess with the sun and subsequently, Earth’s magnetic field, and sub-subsequently, people’s minds or fates or something?

  360. 360
    Ken McRitchie

    Robert,

    Now that you’ve pointed it out, Carlson was rather dismissive in throwing out the volunteers’ ratings of the parts of their interpretations. I hadn’t thought of that. He says he noticed that the participants tended to rate the all parts with the same value, perhaps alluding to laziness. Well, maybe there were good astrologers and not so good astrologers writing the interpretations. There’s really no reason for throwing them out. I’d like to have seen the results recorded before he dismissed them. For the astrologers, the 10-point rating test of CPIs (much harder to judge than written interpretations) gave more significant result than their 3-choice test.

    I’ve also tried to get the “time twins” data from Dean, or at least the sponsor of the data collection, but his answer is that he’s “almost there” with his really big test. He won’t reveal his source though it must be public somewhere, I’ve searched but it’s hopeless. Of course he neglected cite it in the “Psi” article. I’ve argued with him on time twins being the “definitive” test. I don’t think it is and I really don’t think he believes it either, so I don’t know why he’s doing it.

    A lot hangs on these two tests, because there isn’t really much else a skeptic can point to and these are by far the most frequently cited.

    James,
    That’s an intriguing piece of software you’ve got. You claim that it found five birthtimes to the minute out of 24 hours, when no approximate time was offered, and the documented BTs discovered later by the owners agreed? Not sure if I read you right.

    Peace,
    Ken McRitchie

  361. 361
    Robert Currey

    Glendon, to the best of my knowledge there is an established mechanism for natural astrology but presently no known mechanism for natal astrology.

    The most established and accepted mechanism is gravity and orbital resonance of the Sun and the Moon which affects the Earth’s oceanic tides and the Earth tide (body tide). The tidal force is part of what some astrologers call natural astrology which also includes the study of the coincidence of seismic activity with celestial positions.

    Glendon, I hope this explains it clearly. It should be a non-issue in this debate. If you search you will find studies supporting a connection of the tidal force with geoseismic activity, weather and plant (harvests) and even animal life made by physicists, biochemists, climatologists etc, who mostly aren’t even aware that they are providing evidence of a mechanism for some but not all, astrological effects.

    I am not citing any studies, simply because as you will know from this discussion, I only cite experiments that I have checked thoroughly rather than indiscriminantly pick tests that appear to validate my views as some have done here. It takes time to go through each paper, but then if you have any scientific background you will know that this kind of research is required to pass judgement.

    Since I trust that as rational sceptics, you are prepared to investigate subjects rather than pass judgements without research, I would be happy to join you in reviewing any academic papers that you may unearth. You will find that I am as critical and rigorous in checking claims that support astrology as those that claim that astrology is chance.

    I know you were in discussion with Jamie about the Pineal Gland and the biosynthesis of melatonin. I am looking at the study at http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_16_1_mcgillion.pdf I’d be interested in your assessment. I will let you know if I come up with anything worthwhile.

  362. 362
    James Alexander

    Hello Ken,

    You were very close. There have been subsequent findings of birthtime documentation that corroborated the rectification. For me (and my usage of the program/process), this was only one case where the documentation was found subsequent to the rectification. A very nice lady gave me eleven events, including births of two brothers, deaths of grandparents, an illness… She told me that she was born (according to her Mother) between 10:30 and 11 am. I did the rectification and it is normal in these circumstances, to expand the “believed” timeframe, to make sure that the actual birthtime isn’t just outside the perceived range and thereby missed. The time that I came up with (ie. Polaris), 10:26:14, was before the range that she had given. When she came for our discussion about her life, she apologized that she had given me the wrong time range and said, “I found my paperwork, I was born 4 minutes before the time range I gave you.”

    This was not a search out of 24 hours, because she had a believed timerange, which I slightly expanded in order to be sure the actual time was included.

    In the hour and a half search, the correct birthtime was the highest “peak” on the list. In a 24 hour search that I just ran with the same data, the correct birthtime is number 2. Considering that the program looked at 10,800 moments in time, this is phenomenal performance.

    In order that you understand this method slightly better, let me briefly describe what happens in a rectification. The events are gathered and entered into the program. Polaris spits out a list of probable birthtimes, ranked by how LIKELY the particular time is. The program uses one very rare astrological technique to generate this list. After this, the birthtime MUST be corroborated (ie. verified) using several other reliable systems. This is the norm. Each rectification is different… some have many events and not so wide a search range and it takes a lot of cross-checking to see which is correct. Other times, with much fewer events and a larger search range, the answer is completely obvious. (still, it must be checked to make sure that it is accurate)

    To cut to the chase…if these reliable systems (Topocentric Primary Directions, Progressed Sidereal Solar Returns, Secondary Progressions, Transits, and Age Harmonics) ALL are lining up the right symbolism AT THE TIME OF *EACH* event, then we have the correct birthtime.

    The five cases are where Polaris takes the events and in a 24 hour search take us right to a documented birthtime. (Remember that most people that NEED rectifications, don’t have documentation, or they wouldn’t need the rectification.)

    Take care

    James

  363. 363
    James Alexander

    The chessboard sits here…all the pieces are in place, but the monkeys are still just flinging poo.

    Let’s set down the ground rules and see what we see from an experiment or two. ;)

    Peace

    James

  364. 364
    Robert Currey

    Ken,

    it’s a great loss that Carlson was, as he claimed, unable to use the data from the rating of the charts by the subjects. In Nature, Carlson wrote “When the first few data envelopes were opened, we noticed that on any interpretation selected as a subject’s first choice, nearly all the subsections were also rated as first choice. … “ It reads as if he dismissed this data on the basis of the first few envelopes opened instead of checking them all. I suppose if it later was shown that 98% had filled it in correctly, Carlson could legitimately claim that he must have opened the incorrect ones by chance. Do you know if the data still exists as it would be most interesting to ressurect it – in the unlikely event that Carlson is not withholding it?

    I consider the ranking part of the experiment to be quantitative data and the rating to be more qualitative data. In this experiment, the qualitative data provides a more accurate picture. I was trying to think of an anology. I suppose it might be like judging the olympic potential of student athletes in a country by reviewing only the best athlete from each university compared to the results of an open competition among all uni students. The first test is likely to put more emphasis on weak athletes from small universities and miss strong athletes who came a close second best in a big uni.

    I believe that for over 25 years the Carlson Test has been basis of most astro-scepticism among good scientists who understandably feel they can trust experiments published in Nature. In the last few years, Dean’s ‘Phantom’ study is being increasingly cited even on Wikipedia. If you delete it, some idiot puts it back up! If I didn’t know better, I would be a sceptic on the back of this mis-information. :)

  365. 365
    Jason Thibeault

    Pardon my brevity on this one, I don’t have a lot of time to reiterate things that have been said and never answered a thousand times in this thread.

    You want to know what’s a “great loss”? This conversation. You want to keep talking about one specific test by one specific person as though it is the lynchpin by which you can destroy all skepticism of astrology, when in actuality, the lynchpin by which you can destroy all skepticism about astrology is the lack of evidence FOR it. And you go on repeatedly demanding that people show you a study that is “the definitive test disproving astrology”, despite the fact that there are several and you handwave them away using points identical to those discussed and rebutted by Skeptico (which you demonstrably knew about but ignored, which makes you intellectually dishonest and otherwise reprehensible). That there are flaws in any study does not prove astrology is real. Only proof of astrology being real would prove that astrology is real.

    You keep putting the burden of proof on skeptics, but that is decidedly not where the burden of proof lies. The null hypothesis is that the heavens do not exert the kinds of influences on human fates that you claim. You claim that they do. Do you care to tell me, then, about the one scientific study that shows astrology has any merit whatsoever?

    (You may want to avoid any study that was included in Dean’s meta-analysis, since you said the meta-analysis was flawed because the individual studies were flawed. Also, don’t keep pointing to well-understood effects on the tides or our energy from the sun and moon, given those are discussed in my original post — that’s not the toto of astrology’s claims. Perhaps some proof of an effect by, say, Pluto?)

  366. 366
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, your criticism of Jason when you first showed up was that “The reason so many sceptics love to recycle this argument is that they hope that by quoting text book physics they will give the impression that they have the weight of science behind them.” Yet you sit down and post on your website information about the Carlson test that doesn’t just rehash Ertel’s criticisms but also contains its fatal flaws. And then you have the gall to tell us that you know that what you posted is self-contradictory! You simply went ahead and posted it anyway, without any discussion of the contradiction or attempt to reconcile it, thinking, perhaps, that the extra argument was more impressive by sheer volume, despite the fact that the different parts of your post undermine each other. They cancel each other out.

    Then, when it’s pointed out to you that you’ve done this, you go on to attempt to prop up both contradictory arguments! This shouldn’t surprise me. Really it shouldn’t. It goes along with you continuing to talk about flawed studies after having the purpose of meta-analysis pointed out to you. It goes along with you pulling only what you want to hear out of discussions of quantum physics and pretending the rest was never said. It goes along with your inability to deal with mechanism as one line of evidence in the context of others. It goes along with every tiny piece of argument you’ve indulged in on this thread.

    I don’t know whether you’re mentally incapable of dealing with a body of evidence as a whole or whether you’re dishonest enough to be deliberately trying to deal with them one at a time. It doesn’t matter. You’ve shown you’re not educable. You’ve demonstrated yourself to be pointless.

  367. 367
    Jason Thibeault

    You never offered to discover my future, only my past. My past is already right here on this blog. Other astrologers in this thread have said astrology is not predictive. Care to reconcile what you’re suggesting with what other astrologers are suggesting?

  368. 368
    Jason Thibeault

    A universally accepted mechanism for natural astrology does not prove it works the way you claim it does. A scientific test of natural astrology would prove it works the way you say it does. All you’ve done is pointed to a plausible mechanism, for one sub-branch of astrology, which claims the only things that are important are the sun and moon. Experientially, 99.99999999% of the gravity you feel is coming from the Earth. Most of the rest is coming from the moon, most of the rest of the rest is coming from the sun. Would you care to prove that the gravity of each heavenly body (which decreases exponentially over distance) actually shows any kind of effect from distant planets?

    I have made zero dismissals of astrology as a whole without first looking at the body of experimentation. I have seen no wide-scale studies that prove astrology has a statistically significant effect better than chance. I have seen many studies that show there is no better effect than chance. Since you’re the one saying astrology works, could you kindly show me an experiment where it does? One with a large sample size, and results showing well better than chance?

    And the word you’re looking for, is “flout”. Not “flaunt”. To flaunt something is to display it ostentatiously. If you’re saying I’ve ostentatiously displayed those basic guidelines of not making claims that can’t be backed up, well, thank you. I believe I have made no claims about this universe that is not backed up by hard science. The only “claim” I’ve made that you dislike so much is the one where I say “put astrology back on the shelf, it’s had the benefit of three thousand years of experimentation and nobody’s been able to prove it. It is therefore a failed hypothesis.” And even THAT one is backed up by the facts of the playing field on which we stand.

  369. 369
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie,

    You avoided my questions, let me restate:

    1. What are the fatal flaws in Ertel’s test that I have rehashed (with attributions)? Please state your case.
    2. Have you read Ertel’s test?
    3. Where do you and Jason stand on Carlson? No weasel wording please.
    4. Carlson is my evidence. You cited it – do you now want to dispute it? If it is now unacceptable, I will cite other tests. How big do want sample sizes (N) to be and how low do you want P values to be acceptable as evidence in favour of astrology?
    5. I’m done with the mechanism issue and in answering Glendon I am starting to repeat myself which is not why I am here. This is a misdirection, because you sense that you are reaching a point of cognitive dissonance.
    6. Stephanie, your issue on QM is not relevant to my arguments and as you know I was not impressed by your last assertion (which I will not dwell on to save embarrassment). If you have a science degree and a good working knowledge of QM, let me know as this could lead to an instructive conversation later on?

    Lastly, Jason, for once you are totally correct. I misused the word flaunt when I should have used flout. I am sorry if I misled anyone with this assertion and thank you for pointing it out. This is possibly one of the best contributions that you have made to this discussion so far. ;)

  370. 370
    George W.

    James,
    Now,now…
    You are posting that comment full well in the knowledge that I am more than willing to put your software to the test. Such invective is hardly called for.
    I welcome you to come over to my blog and read the three posts concerning your Polaris software. Although this post combines all my previous posts. I’ll even update it to include the rough draft of the experiment I posted almost a month ago.
    You are most welcome to give me your input toward structuring an experiment there. Rest assured that Jason will be more than happy to cross-document the experiment here so that everyone involved need not search for it.
    We are not closed minded to the possibility that astrology may have some effect, we just want something bordering on real evidence.

  371. 371
    James Alexander

    Hello Jason,

    I really don’t care what other astrologers are saying. We certainly, more than most disciplines, have our OWN ideas and methodology. The core of Astrology is TRUE…how we individually “find” that truth varies considerably.

    As an example, I use a technique called Topocentric Primary Directions… it is THE MOST RELIABLE METHOD for rectification. If you were to survey astrologers, I believe that you will find that less than 0.1% of astrologers use this technique. (probably less than 0.01%)

    Post your birthdata (assuming you have documentation) and quite a few dated events from your life, so that I can make sure there wasn’t an error in the recording of your birthdata and I’ll see what I see.

    Now, before you take off on the “Polaris is right, documentation is wrong” tirade, read the following…

    If you survey the recorded birthtimes on AstroDatabank, you will see a VAST disproportionate number of them on the 15 min marks and much less in between. Since we know OBVIOUSLY that birthtimes occur at ALL times throughout the hours, this means absolutely that there are many, many times that are rounded off, estimated, and improperly recorded. By having a half-dozen to a dozen events, I can find out if that is true in the individual case…

    Peace

    James

  372. 372
    George W.

    Robert,
    Again you continually dodge the inevitable question.
    What positive proof are you offering for astrology? You can cite as many “flawed studies” as you like, I would argue that those studies go to show the undeserved status astrology has been afforded. Most if not all scientific studies start as a search for an effect or mechanism based on some evidence that an effect or mechanism exists. Astrology has been blessed in that it has had some study without having to meet that burden. All you have argued is that because science is woefully lousy at proving a negative, and astrology has been unable to prove the positive, that we should all just take it on faith that astrology as a science is possible.
    We are strictly embracing the null hypothesis till someone offers some positive evidence that would require study. You obviously don’t want to have that discussion, so you are trying to nitpick at the flaws of proving a negative. Granted you have had some success with this tact, as many of us have taken the bait at one time or another. It does not, however, make a case for astrology. It simply shows the weakness of trying to prove a negative. Most of us already know this lesson.
    I predict that your forthcoming positive evidence is never forthcoming, because
    a)it doesn’t exist, and
    b)you would rather obfuscate the argument to appear to be making ground.
    I bet I’m a better prognosticator than Jamie on this prediction….
    As I have analogized before: We could just as easily be talking about navigating vessels by pulling bananas out of a bag. You demand we show proof that it doesn’t work. You claim some possible mechanism like zinc in bananas has a magnetic polarity. Every time we give some evidence that it is ridiculous you claim that the evidence doesn’t prove bananas have no effect. “Banana Bagging” is still a load of horse shite, even if you are right about the studies….

  373. 373
    George W.

    James,
    I have already offered to give you various peoples birth data to prove your Polaris software.
    Jason is not wanting to be the subject of your study because it makes your job too easy. It’s not even cold reading when you have a whole blog with which to make a profile of your subject. You could likely even make some predictions that would come true given enough information with which to extrapolate. I bet I could give an equally good reading to him without the aid of astrology. I also know his birthday, and he never told me directly. I can look it up, as well as a series of important dates in his life. Sorry to creep you out Jason, but I’m sure you know all this already.
    It is not going to prove anything to do a reading on me or Jason or Stephanie or Glendon or anyone else whose life is laid bare for anyone willing to look hard enough.

  374. 374
    Jason Thibeault

    George W.: James,
    I bet I could give an equally good reading to him without the aid of astrology. I also know his birthday, and he never told me directly. I can look it up, as well as a series of important dates in his life. Sorry to creep you out Jason, but I’m sure you know all this already.

    Not creepy at all. I’m aware that I indirectly told you my exact birthday. And I’d be surprised, given the amount of information available to you on this site from which you can draw a psychological profile, if you COULDN’T make some cold-reading “hits” on me. In fact, go nuts. Try it, if you feel so inclined. So long as you make clear the fact that you’re doing absolutely nothing but interpreting the available information, and not making some special claim to magical insight by virtue of the stars, it might even prove enlightening.

  375. 375
    Robert Currey

    Hi George,

    I asked for evidence from Jason as he made the claim that there was “evidence against astrology” and to show there aren’t many good experiments that test astrology. As you see, from the exchange, he and Stephanie cited Dean’s meta-analysis but have not been able to cite a test within the collection of studies that is either valid or does not support astrology. Jason cited a test which he has nobly accepted is a ‘phantom test’ in that it has not been published.

    Jason’s best test of astrology is the Carlson Test. I am submitting that to all of you as evidence that supports astrology to a statistically significant level. If it is not acceptable as evidence, you might like to argue with Jason who cited it. I am still waiting to hear from him whether he now thinks it is bunk as it sort of destroys the thrust of his attack on astrology.

    It may be that you missed this post as there has been a lot of discussion in between so here it is:

    Jason, the first test you cited, the Carlson test is widely considered to be the most famous and stringent test of astrologers even though it had many faults. It involved about 28 reputable astrologers, over 100 subjects and was published in Nature in 1985. It is viewed by many as the definitive test of astrology and is the most widely cited on the web and under astrology in Wikipedia (with Geoffrey Dean’s unpublished study of time twins!) as evidence that astrology is no more than chance.

    This Double-Blind Astrology Experiment involved subjects identifying their own birth chart [Part 1] and qualified astrologers matching test subject’s birth charts with the results of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) [Part 2]. Carlson claimed that natal astrology performed no better than chance. However, a number of authoritative sources including Professor Hans Eysenck of London University (1986) have shown that this conclusion was faulty. Recent evidence now shows that the part of the test that was valid (according to Carlson) where astrologers matched charts with Personality Tests, shows evidence that favours astrology to a statistically significant level (P= 0.037 ES= .10, N=99) in spite of the many disadvantages that the astrologers faced.

    http://www.astrologer.com/tests/carlsontest.htm (I also have a longer and more detailed version of my article which is being prepared for publication).

    I invite those of you who have asked me many times for evidence, to critique my analysis.

    BTW – I regret being a little sarcastic to Jason in my last post. I actually welcome valid criticism – that way I can improve. I couldn’t help it because I haven’t bothered to pick people up on detail since it is irrelevant to the argument. However, I noticed you’ve used the word tact a couple of times. I think the word you mean is tack as in sailing which fits with your analogy of navigation.

  376. 376
    Stephanie Z

    Anyone else want to have a go at explaining to Robert that there’s no such thing as a scientific test without flaws and that meta-analysis is a tool designed to triangulate reality based on using studies that don’t share the same flaws? He refuses to acknowledge that I’ve told him this multiple times.

  377. 377
    Stephanie Z

    Hell, George, you could probably do a pretty good cold reading on me from this blog–forget my own.

  378. 378
    George W.

    I have been using the word incorrectly. I appreciate your correction. I also enjoy the “double entendre” you pointed out with the navigational meaning.

    I hope we are both aware that both you and I are right concerning the tack your taking with Jason. You certainly reserve the right to divert the conversation to areas you believe you can appear more correct on. I reserve the right to point out that you are telling everyone to “never mind the man behind the curtain” and instead use semantic showmanship to obfuscate the core argument “Is there something to astrology?” into “Can you prove there is nothing to astrology?”, which in your defense was part of Jason’s post, but certainly was not the overarching concept of it. You understandably are taking this tack because you are well aware that you cannot make ground on the former, so you choose to argue the latter. If you want an intelligent, non-biased person to accept astrology, you must, however, argue the former. You won’t, for reasons I have already mentioned.

  379. 379
    Robert Currey

    George, Evidence=Carlson! Which part do you disagree with?

  380. 380
    George W.

    I disagree in that you are dissecting a study that endeavored to prove a negative and saying that because it had faults that it must be proof that astrology works. If you’re not saying that, then you are continually avoiding the question “Is there something to astrology?” and replacing it with “Can anyone here prove there is nothing to astrology?” by conflating the two. I understand your technique, but I disagree that it does anything other than force Jason and the others to play defense while you continue your rain dance.
    I’m conceding that it’s a brilliant strategy, one that I have used many times, but a strategy of obfuscation rather than clarity…

  381. 381
    Robert Currey

    Hi George,

    no clever trick here! – just stats – check the data and my graphs and then tell me that it is not statisically significant and why.
    http://www.astrologer.com/tests/carlsontest.htm

    Dean spent nearly a month pouring over it (well I don’t know how long he actually spent on it but he took a month to reply) and was unable to find fault other than his claim it is outdated without citing more recent evidence – maybe he is thinking of his unpublished phantom test.

    You asked many times for evidence, this is the first of it. I have more but I need Stephanie and Jason to answer my questions including what new hoops they would now like me to jump through before they reassess their position.

  382. 382
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, that I have focused on the fact that you’re trying to prove astrology works by using the data from a study you’re also arguing is using fundamentally flawed tools does not mean that there aren’t other critiques to be made, simply that I don’t have infinite time to spend on someone who can’t be bothered to learn the fundamentals of science. I get rather bored trying to bring you up to date and having you ignore it.

    As for your claims of statistical significance, they are heart-breakingly naive to someone who dreams of a world with good science education. Start, please, by educating yourself on the problems of multiple comparisons. Really, it’s fundamental to understanding the statistics of complex systems.

  383. 383
    George W.

    You are likely not surprised to learn that I have already briefly looked over your link. Although I have not endeavored to properly subject it to statistical scrutiny, I will reiterate what Jason has already (I believe) said about your findings.
    You afford a good deal of space pointing out the serious flaws in the study. This may be evidence that it’s not a death blow to astrology, but it offers no positive proof that astrology has any quantifiable effect.
    So again you conflate positive and negative proof.

    The rest of your article claims that the study in point of fact shows some statistical proof for astrology. This after pointing out all the flaws.
    So you offer as proof a reinterpretation of apparently flawed data as positive proof for astrology.

    It either is or is not a flawed study. It either stands as a positive evidence or it is discounted as flawed. You don’t get the luxury of both. I’ll gladly discount it from my repertoire of proofs against astrology, because it is superfluous to making a judgment. There is no positive proof of a quantifiable effect necessitating any study.
    That is the overarching fault of any study into astrology. It assumes something without any evidence of an effect or a cause.
    Either you and Jason must both discount this study, or you must both accept it with quite divergent interpretations. If you both accept it, I am inclined to accept the interpretation made by the scientist instead of the astrologer, regardless of your protestations in the link to his apparent bias. That would most certainly be the pot calling the kettle black.

  384. 384
    James Alexander

    George,

    Re: “We are not closed minded to the possibility that astrology may have some effect, we just want something bordering on real evidence.”

    Assuming that is true, that would make you WAY in the minority in Skepticland.

    As I explain on my website, my initial foray into Astrology was to DISPROVE it. (Mathematics background, critical)

    I am all for anything that improves understanding. Especially, I think it would be fruitful for “scientific types” to see that the world is actually much larger than a cause and effect, Newtonian dynamic would allow.

    At any rate…if we can agree on the “terms” of the experiment, I am all for it.

    I am a busy person willing to donate a little time to the experiment. You might never again get such a chance…so let’s do it correctly.

    Peace

    James

  385. 385
    George W.

    I would like to amend that remark.
    I will trust your interpretation if you accept this study as not flawed if given sufficient time to judge the original study vs. your interpretation of it. Benefit of the doubt and all….
    Until such time my original comment stands.

  386. 386
    Jason Thibeault

    Just for the record, I believe Carlson’s study stands. Ertel’s assertion is:

    The results are regarded as insufficient to deem astrology as empirically verified, but they are sufficient to regard Carlson’s negative verdict on astrology as untenable.

    Even granting that Ertel’s assertion is true (which I doubt, but am granting for the sake of argument), that means astrology fails to be empirically verified. That means, in scientific terms, the null hypothesis — that astrology does not have the effect it is claimed to have — holds. You cannot use this study, Robert, as positive evidence for astrology, because it does not contain any positive evidence of astrology. Even Ertel admits this, despite his taking a scalpel to the study as willy-nilly as he has.

  387. 387
    James Alexander

    George,

    Re: “I have already offered to give you various peoples birth data to prove your Polaris software.”

    I’m game. All I need from you (remembering CSICOP) is a way to VERIFY the data that I am given. I’m certainly not wasting my precious time so that someone can make a mockery of what should be a very real test.

    So… how do we go about getting the birth data to be verified as well as a verifiable list of events? (Polaris needs the events from someone’s life, naturally, since it uses an analysis of the astrology relative to those events in order to discern the correct birthtime.)

    Below is a list of the types (categories, if you will) of events that can help in the rectification process with Polaris:

    1 Birth of Brother

    2 Birth of Sister

    3 Birth of Son

    4 Birth of Daughter

    5 Birth of Grandson

    6 Birth of Granddaughter

    7 Marriage/Engagement/Love-affair (for a M)

    8 Marriage/Engagement/Love-affair (for a F)

    9 Marriage of Son/Daughter

    10 Divorce/Separation

    11 Death of Father/Grandfather

    12 Death of Mother/Grandmother

    13 Death of Son

    14 Death of Daughter

    15 Death of Wife/Friend

    16 Death of Husband/Friend

    17 Death of Brother

    18 Death of Sister

    19 Death

    20 Assassination/Suicide

    21 Success/Elected

    22 Promotion/Job

    23 Failure

    24 Resignation/Retirement

    25 Travel Overseas (positive)

    26 Travel (positive)

    27 Travel (negative)

    28 Mobilization (Military)

    29 Demobilization/Release (Leave Military/Prison)

    30 Arrest

    31 Accident

    32 Hospitalization/Illness

    33 Violence

    34 Intrigue

    35 Losses

    36 Gambling Losses

    37 Gambling Gains

    38 Graduation/Publication

    39 Moving

    40 Promotion Army

  388. 388
    George W.

    James,
    I doubt skeptics are as closed minded as you seem to think. They just require more than just credulity to form a position. Disagreeing with you or I does not a fanatic make.
    I am glad you are open to my challenge. Please read the link I have given you to my blog and help to set up parameters. I will ask Jason to cross post this for those who prefer to keep the debate in one place.

  389. 389
    James Alexander

    Re: “It’s not even cold reading when you have a whole blog with which to make a profile of your subject.”

    Exactly how would ANY amount of “profile data” on someone indicate the timing of important events?

    You guys have perplexed me by your “logic” once again…

    Peace

    James

  390. 390
    George W.

    I could tell you when Jason was born just from a few mouse clicks. I could tell you what day he was married, it’s on this blog. I could tell you when he traveled last, it’s on this blog. I could tell you a few unfortunate events in his past, again they are right here.
    So you could make a profile that would work in Polaris based solely on information you gather here and elsewhere.
    That is not the point. If the idea is to take that data and rectify his birth time that is one thing. You have implied that you would give him a reading. I am saying I have enough information about Jason here on this blog to make an uncanny reading that requires no astrology, just good observation and educated guesswork.
    Would you like to place a bet on that fact? I have never personally met Jason, nor have we had any personal conversations. You haven’t either. I’m saying that I would appear more “in tune” with an objective description of Jason than you would. Yet we both have the same amount of information available to us. I just admit to knowing how to find it.

  391. 391
    Robert Currey

    Thanks Jason, George and Stephanie – lots of good arguments there. I have stuff happening here but I hope I will get back to you asap which may be tomorrow. I would be interested if any of you wants to be specific about the flaws – which ones and why or how you view the test – valid or invalid.

  392. 392
    Glendon Mellow

    Robert – still waiting for an answer to above…

    I am trying to ask politely and follow your reasoning. I do however agree with Jason’s comment above. Pluto’s gravitational effect on human behaviour (whether directly, or via your sun–>magnetic field + tides–>brainz pathway) is negligiable. Even if it isn’t, which does it affect?
    Decisions?
    Fate?
    Environmental influence?

  393. 393
    Robert Currey

    Glendon, I agree that Pluto does not fit into what I would call the hypothesis of a conventional mechanism (Sun Spots, magnetosphere etc) while all the major planets are involved in the theory. Since the correlations claimed between by astrologers between Pluto and life and events on Earth could be attributed to an accausal relationship, we can’t be certain that Pluto actually ‘has an effect’ or ‘affects us’. However, for the purposes of discussion saying that Pluto has an impact or effect on our lives avoids long-windedness.

    I appreciate that you are asking me a question rather than telling me what astrology is and isn’t. You deserve a good answer. This may not answer your question but http://wiki.astro.com/astrowiki/en/Pluto#Interpretation or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planets_in_astrology#Pluto may help. IMO a much better and fuller answer is found in a book ‘Cosmos and Psyche’ by Richard Tarnas. Unfortunately the 550 pages cannot be summed up here.

    As I have mentioned a few times, I can only deal with one subject at time. Otherwise we will all descend into a shouting match and I don’t have time, energy and inclination for this.

    I did go back to answer your questions on mechanism as you were clearly not around when it was discussed and you are a regular contributor to discussion here. But that was an exception.

    At the moment, I am most interested in Jason’s strongest arguments: which is currently evidence or lack of it. Maybe the nature of planetary effect could be a future topic. Should that occur I can give you a proper answer.

  394. 394
    James Alexander

    Hello George,

    Re: “I doubt skeptics are as closed minded as you seem to think.”

    It’s the “pack I used to run with”, so I am quite aware of the self-limiting paradigm in which most skeptics surely function. As I said before…there is as much or more of life that exists on other layers than the purely material. Refusing to “appreciate” that only makes sure that the rainbow of life has many colors that the skeptic will never see, let alone understand.

    Pity.

    I am sure there must be exceptions (that I might one day meet), but most skeptics, from reading their narrow point of view, only gives the idea that if they fell on a pin, they’d be blind in both eyes.

    I am still of that opinion, but am willing to change my opinion when and if I receive any evidence to the contrary.

    As a science person, it should become quickly obvious that most of the great findings in science have come about from people who were NOT limited in their view of what IS, but rather with an eye towards what MIGHT be.

    Still, you should appreciate my point of view… that so many are using every possible means available to ATTEMPT to refute something that they truly are not capable of understanding.

    My dementia is displayed by my ideal that there is perhaps, hope that they can grow to that capability.

    We will see. Indeed.

    Peace

    James

  395. 395
    Stephanie Z

    James, have you considered that you might just need better friends?

  396. 396
    Jason Thibeault

    James, my only conceit in this world is that anything that exists, anything that has an effect, can be proven to have an effect. This is generally done with correlations like “people born when Jupiter trine Venus have a generally sunny disposition” by taking very large sample sizes of people meeting that specific criterion, being born when Jupiter was trine of Venus, and showing a statistically significant “sunny disposition” among the population greater than that of a large enough control group of totally randomly selected people.

    Once you have made that particular correlation, then you can add that to the body of knowledge that astrology has about particular correlations.

    Among my contentions, is that no such endeavour has ever been undertaken by astrologers in order to develop all their current ideas about how the body of astrology affects human lives, events, and dispositions. The origins of the “influences” that each planet is said to have, comes from what names they were coincidentally given. Every study undertaken to show any kind of generalized influence, at that, has shown no statistical ability for astrologers to correctly interpret people’s lives using astrology with any efficacy anything better than chance.

    I’ve said a few times now — I am open to positive evidence that there’s something to astrology. This evidence should probably be taken a bite at a time, if you want only to prove specific influences (e.g. the moon’s position influencing oysters’ opening and closing), but if you want to prove there’s anything to astrology as an overarching body of knowledge, you’ll have to show me some very large bodies of statistics in some very large sample-sized studies. Not some individual amazing hits, not some Birthday Problem math legerdemain (which Robert effectively pointed out some of the problems with your model, and George intends to test and prove), and certainly not some chicanery regarding how closed-minded we skeptics are.

  397. 397
    Jason Thibeault

    For the record, I am going to attempt to un-thread this comment. I will be changing the comments field so that specific comments have numbers for easy reference, and I will also endeavour to have links automatically added to comments so that the “in-reply-to” still exists.

    The length of the comments on this thread is causing my database some grief, since threading supercedes the “50 comments per page” setting. I’d rather do this than risk the ire of my webhost. If anyone would like to grab the original HTML for each page, please do so now. I will be temporarily closing the comments on this thread until the work is complete.

    Edit: I don’t unfortunately have time to play with it, but unthreading and adding the reply-to link is evidently a bit more work than I’d anticipated. I’ve reopened comments and I’ll take another stab at it later today.

    Edit 2: Huh. Managed to get the in-reply-to links working perfectly on my second try. Can’t get the comment count yet, not until I can take account within the loop of the number of pages being displayed — I had numbering working briefly but it was only counting the comments on the current page. Oh, I wish I was less pressed to do real work today…

  398. 398
    James Alexander

    Stephanie,

    That was not considered as there is no evidence of that being the case.

    What I do need would be more intelligent enemies.

    I’ve grown tired of the same old idiots spouting the same old misinformed “ideas” that haven’t been fully fleshed out…

    Peace

    James

  399. 399
    James Alexander

    Jason,

    Re: “…my only conceit in this world is…”

    That statement, on its own, shows a mountain-load of conceit.

    As for your example, it’s not anything that I haven’t hammered nimrods before on. Astrology works by multiple factors. There’s even a saying amongst astrologers, that if it’s not shown three different ways (ie. corroborated amongst factors), then it is unreliable. Your Venus-Jupiter example is exactly of the same ilk.

    Now, if you statistically look at people that have Venus-Jupiter in positive contact, AND have (say) Sun in Leo, AND have an unafflicted Moon; THEN they are much more likely to have a sunny disposition…then you will actually be EXAMINING Astrology in the way that it is used, rather than the way that you imagine it is used. That seems fair.

    The problem with LARGE statistical studies is that there is not a body of data large enough to do so. A very large part of Astrology depends on the Angles (Ascendant & Midheaven) being very accurate. For every 4 mins of birthtime error, the Ascendant or Midheaven will be off approximately 1°. As the main system that I use (Topocentric Primary Directions) measures aspects only within 0° 11′, perhaps you can understand the problem. As little as 1 minute of time error can mean that aspects that ARE there are missed and aspects that AREN’T there are seen as if they are. I am a stickler for details, perhaps THAT you can appreciate.

    Single-factor studies are destined for failure and are invalid BECAUSE that is not the way that Astrology is used, if we’re talking about real Astrology, not what often passes for Astrology on the internet, where anyone can read a book and say they ARE an Astrologer.

    I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Most of my clients are professionals. They want BUSINESS advice…timing information and to get past early home life circumstances that still way upon the present and influence their future.

    Even if nothing else, perhaps you will receive the gift to actually understand the topic a little better. It’s the only direction you can go, frankly.

    Peace

    James

  400. 400
    Jason Thibeault

    You evidently misunderstand my use of the word “conceit“, then (meaning 3 — or 2 if you’ll accept the archaic). I use it to describe an unfalsifiable belief, though I feel I have sufficient evidence for believing so, insofar as everything that is known to exist, has evidence supporting its existence. This specific conceit, that anything “true” is provably so, is unfalsifiable insofar as one cannot disprove it. You would have to prove something to be true without showing any evidence for it. That way lies using solely logic to prove the existence of things with no evidence. It opens the way for people to say things like that they’ve proven God’s existence by such nonsense logic as the argument from imagined perfection.

    If you think that my admitting my one unfalsifiable belief shows me to be conceited (by the other meaning of the word), then you’re welcome to do so. But it is nothing but invective, and while I have disdain for your beliefs, I have tried to avoid such invective about your person. You open the door to likewise mistreatment by me.

    At that, you mistake my specific example for a claim that I understand your PRNG. I have mentioned innumerable times that I don’t understand the nuances of your PRNG as well as you or your compatriots. And you are essentially saying astrology as a field is wholly unfalsifiable, and based on insufficient data, if you claim that there does not exist a large enough dataset from which you can pull the specific conjunctions that you claim are necessary before you can infer any specific traits. Either there’s sufficient data to make the claims you’re making, or there’s insufficient data and you’re just pulling the correlations out of your ass. Which is it?

  401. 401
    Robert Currey

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your comments. I am sorry that I was not able to join in, but I can only deal with one issue at a time.

    But you are of course, right that as astrologers interpret birth charts by identifying themes, it is essential that tests take this into account, which is the strength of the Carlson test. Because the effect size on single chart factors tends to be small (depending on the rules like orbs), you can only show statistical significance with huge sample sizes. This does not include all the argument about how to measure character objectively.

    It’s like saying all tall people play basketball well. This statement is unlikely to be statistically significant in a medium sized survey, but if you also include those with good hand-eye coordination, it probably would be significant in the right part of the world.

    Such tests are never done due mainly to lack of resources.

  402. 402
    Robert Currey

    James – delete the word all from 2nd para – I meant the statement that tall people are above average at playing basketball.

  403. 403
    Robert Currey

    I think we may have some consensus on Carlson. First, the experiment like most quantitative/qualitative tests in the social sciences has flaws – we can all agree on that. However, I think most of us agree that the flaws are not fundamental so that every part of the experiment must be discounted. Proof or empirical verification for astrology is not going to happen in one test of around 100 people. Again, I think we are agreed on that.

    So really it’s the conclusion on which we disagree. We have to rule out Carlson’s conclusion that it represents a surprisingly strong case against natal astrology simply on the size and lack of replication regardless of the results or the disadvantages to astrologers. So I predict that all three of you will see it as an inconclusive result where the results favouring the astrologers must be put down to chance. As you can imagine, I see it as statistically significant results under agreed scientific conditions as evidence that supports astrology (and I interpret that as Ertel’s view), though replication with larger samples are required for proof. However, Ertel’s and my view are much more rigid. Nature and the scientific community have accepted Carlson’s decisive conclusion without question for nearly 25 years. Because this conclusion suited their beliefs, no one other than Professor Hans Eysenck questioned the sample size in relation to the conclusion. Now, sceptics are going to have to back track and claim that the sample is too small for this to be anything other than a statistical blip. How can these people be right now when they were so wrong then?

    You may find it surprising that my report took a middle line. I am not into defending astrology on the back of spin doctoring. Astrology does not need that. And it’s better that you know the flaws rather than I present you with a perfect test peer reviewed in Nature only to have you find the flaws later. However, I have crunched the numbers and it is irrefutable that the astrologers were rating the incorrect matches low and the correct high to a statistically significant level. As you know, astrologers vary and some will have performed well and others would have dragged down the trend. But the overall trend as evidenced by the upward slope on both graphs suggests they performed well in a difficult job. Of course, I can’t persuade you from believing this to be a fluke result, but until we get replication or you can cite a better one, this is the best test of the practice of astrologers.

  404. 404
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, how about you publish your statistical analysis–what tests you did (all of them, not just on this) and their results, how you determined what was required to demonstrate statistical significance for this sample. I know a methods wonk who’d love to come take a look at it.

  405. 405
    Robert Currey

    Hi Stephanie,

    I would much appreciate getting someone to check the data as I have a few magazines have shown interest in publishing and it has to be watertight to be published.

    My methods of calculations using my tables and graphs are all out there and easy to check. Here’s Ertel’s methods for working out the p-values:

    “The percentages from the last column (4th column in my table starting with 16.67%) are plotted in Figure 1. A tau-correlation was obtained across N = 306 CPI profiles between the rated fit values (variable X, 1, 2, 3, . . . , 10) and the actual hit values (variable Y, 1,0). For example, from 18 ratings of rank 1, 3 were associated with choice 1 (correct choice) and 15 with choice −1 (incorrect choice); from 36 ratings of rank 2, 10 were associated with choice 1 (correct choice) and 26 with −1 (incorrect choice), etc. The non parametric correlation across 306 paired rating values (1–10) and correctness values (1 and −1) was tau = 0.088, Z = 1.78, p = .037 (one-tailed), ES = .10. The correlation is significant. This result gives reason to take into account the probability that the astrologers were able, to some extent, to successfully match birth charts with CPI profiles.”

  406. 406
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m not terribly much of a math wonk myself, so I’m holding out hope that Stephanie can have her friend take a peek at this. I’m most immediately drawn to say that generally, when performing experiments, the methodology of examining the data must be drawn up before obtaining the data, lest biases in massaging it out after the fact end up creeping in, favoring one or the other.

    Regardless, even if there’s a statistically significant ramp wherein the astrologers more often pick the more correct charts, I’m also immediately struck by how lenient the test is — all the astrologers have to do is pick correctly half the time, whereas chance suggests 1/3 of the time. None of the numbers, even given statistically significant deltas, approach half.

    I would think that any astrologer worth their salt would get results much higher than that. Not that I’m attempting to raise the bar — if you’d like to say “50% right is proof astrologers are often very right”, more power to you. I just think that’s a gross overstatement of their case.

    Apologies for taking this several-days break — I just don’t see how you folks manage to not burn out on arguing so vehemently, and with so much vigor and venom, for as long as you have managed! Don’t you stop to breathe? Or do charts for your clients?

  407. 407
    Robert Currey

    HI Jason,

    “I’m also immediately struck by how lenient the test is — all the astrologers have to do is pick correctly half the time, whereas chance suggests 1/3 of the time. None of the numbers, even given statistically significant deltas, approach half.”

    I assume you are talking about the ranking test where the astrologer’s performance was only marginally statistically significant according to Ertel. I agree that on a level playing field, the astrologers should have performed better based on my own expectation of astrology. Of course a consultation is not the same as a blind test, but testing consultation satisfaction is not an objective measure for a scientific experiment.

    I have outlined why the astrologers were impaired in the test of separating and ranking. The main difficulty was the similarity of the group in both age and mostly being students at the same University (and possibly similar courses as I once read they were mostly psychology students but cannot find any reference to this). This results in similar charts and makes the choices harder. The CPI had limits and when you combine these two problems, it is no wonder that the subjects were unable to identify their own CPIs any better than chance. Frankly, if the ranking test was the only one, I would say the experiment was inconclusive.

    However, the rating test overcomes some of the problems of homogeneity. If 3 CPIs are almost identical and all match the horoscope well, the astrologer can give all three a high rank. In one case, an astrologer ranked his or her third choice as 7/10. While this reduces the significance, it is a fairer and more accurate measure than ranking, where the correct chart could come as third choice through no fault of the astrologer. So the performance on the rating test is measured by the upward trend and the statistical significance (subject to your friend checking).

    “I would think that any astrologer worth their salt would get results much higher than that.”

    What we are all looking for at this stage is not so much how successful or effective astrology is but whether there is any effect at all as evidenced by statistical significance in an imperfect experiment. The next stage would be to find the astrologers who performed best and then retest in less disadvantaged conditions to refine the potential for the effect. Believe me, there are outstanding astrologers and really bad astrologers who may be considered ‘reputable’. However, Carlson has refused to share the raw data so this development is not possible.

    “… generally, when performing experiments, the methodology of examining the data must be drawn up before obtaining the data, lest biases in massaging it out after the fact end up creeping in, favoring one or the other.”

    You’re absolutely right. This is always applicable in quantitative tests and generally required in qualitative tests – where there are more unexpected variables. This test had never been done like this before so there were no precedents. But still, Jason this is a good point. So you can imagine why I found it hypocritical that Carlson accused Ertel of analyzing the data “after the fact” (Skeptico). However, Carlson did not follow his own methodology (the analysis of that 1st/2nd choices as his criteria) which he clearly set out before the experiment, by analyzing the data separately. Yet, Ertel did follow Carlson’s protocol. Please figure that one out for me.

    Carlson wrote: “The astrologers were then asked to select the two CPIs (first and second choice, no ties allowed) …” Nature, p420

    “Before the data had been analysed, we had decided to test to see if the astrologers could select the correct CPI profile as either their first or second choice at a higher than expected rate. “ Nature, p.425. Carlson then ignored his own protocol, arguably because the data needed to be ‘reframed’ in a way that the support for astrology was masked.

    This whole dialogue is very valuable to me as you help me test and refine my arguments before publishing. I hope I don’t argue with venom. I get frustrated with dishonesty or those who assert that astrology is rubbish but refuse to back it up or get into a discussion. None of you have shown this weakness or prejudice. Previously I have found that the most abusive arguers have the weakest arguments and their anger comes from some unrelated experience.

    Geoffrey Dean argues extremely well and is very polite. His weakness is that he will never concede (for reasons best known to him) – this means he digs himself into a hole which IMO has lost him and his baggage a lot credibility.

  408. 408
    Jason Thibeault

    I don’t understand what exactly you’re trying to say, Robert. Again, I’m not a math-y guy, and scientific studies involving statistics usually fly over my head, but I am very good at reading and understanding people’s arguments, and that’s usually what I get from reading Carlson’s test, and Ertel’s commentary, and Skeptico’s tearing-apart of Ertel’s commentary, and your reiteration of Ertel’s commentary without accounting for the issues Skeptico brought up. All of this is dancing around the fact that regardless of whether the Carlson study DISproves astrology, it certainly doesn’t PROVE it, and thus the null hypothesis holds.

    So, I’m not sure what you’re saying here — at the same time as saying that the study is flawed in that astrologers are expected to be able to use the CPI in conjunction with their natal charts to determine which person is which, you’re also saying that there was homogeneity in the CPIs (your evidence for this?), which would lead astrologers to not be able to guess as accurately. So you’re saying the scales are tipped against the astrologers, and that since Carlson was unwilling to share the raw data for whatever reason (and you’ve not shown this to be the case, since you’re saying Ertel is using the same data), therefore we should assume that the rating test is skewed.

    All of this is smokescreen around the fact that, even if the Carlson study does NOT stand, that is NOT positive evidence for astrology. And in 400+ comments, despite innumerable requests, no positive evidence is forthcoming. In fact, you’ve demanded that we find a single study DISproving that astrology works, then proceeded to try to tear apart that study as though that was the only evidence against it. No, the evidence AGAINST astrology is the lack of evidence FOR any sort of correlation.

    So, if you believe that there’s any sort of correlation between the heavens and our fates, how did you come to that conclusion, if not via selection bias after employing the PRNG to create horoscopes for people and selecting those parts of the charts that seemed to fit best? And how did the originators of astrology determine what planet does what? How can you say that single-aspect studies are doomed to failure, while your fellow astrologers make single-aspect references all over the place, and use single-aspect formations in their charts? How did the originators of astrology discover these effects, if they are so subtle and difficult to fully predict, and if they are not capable of making predictions outright?

    I will state something outright, and though it’s an opinion, it is a very well-evidenced one from the arguments in this thread and elsewhere, and from the tactics employed by those with a vested interest in astrology being real. There is nothing to your entire field of study but sympathetic magic and very old mythology, dressed up slightly for the modern age; you can’t prove it’s real because it’s not. I would welcome you to prove otherwise, to change my mind, but you’re more interested in trying to debunk the debunkings than to prove your field to be true. This is nothing but smokescreen and bluster, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

  409. 409
    Robert Currey

    Hi Jason,

    I saw your posting on Skeptico requesting support. Please could you spell my last name Currey and not Currie. I don’t think it is helpful that you portray our discussion as a fight where you might be outnumbered by astrologers. I know there have been other astrologer contributors, but I feel like I have been making the case you put to Skeptico (with 1 post from Ken) alone with three or four of you putting the counter arguments. We started from a point where you could be converted if someone was able to answer your questions. As I said, I don’t think ‘conversion’ is possible or healthy unless you are prepared to do some empirical study of astrology, but seeing our dialogue as a fight gives everyone the impression that it doesn’t matter what evidence I present, you are going to fight it all the way as you have done with every point.

    1. Not unsurprisingly, Skeptico’s answer did not add anything to this discussion. Both you and Skeptico do not understand the Carlson test. I admit it is fairly complex and took me a few re-reads to understand it, but I have explained a lot of it here that is not published elsewhere. Like you, Skeptico was supportive of it in earlier posts and now that the evidence supports astrology, Skeptico is trying to diss it (using arguments from my article). Are you backtracking as well? Since Skeptico hasn’t read Ertel’s analysis, Skeptico (whoever he or she is) has not exactly ‘torn it apart’. If you want to persist on this line, state Skeptico’s best argument.

    2. Flawed Fatal Flaw or Flawed ne Fundamentally Flawed. (You’re a programmer – you can understand that.) Most experiments in the social sciences have flaws. Stephanie mentioned that earlier.

    3. Evidence for homogeneity of the subject sample is that 70% were students of a similar age at the same particular university, Berkeley who had responded to classroom announcements and postings. Also anyone who had had a birth chart prepared or who had strong views on astrology (for or against) were eliminated. Evidence for homogeneity came from the fact that the subjects could not identify their own CPIs (though you could argue against this).

    4. I have said that I believe that the astrologers could have performed better had they had a level playing field. I get the impression that you want me to say that the data was skewed, so you can exaggerate this to claim that the whole test is not valid which would be a false assumption.

    5. “ … those with a vested interest in astrology ..” is restating what is a psychogenic fallacy or circumstantial ad hominem. It does not improve your argument. Do you think the senior members of CSICOP (CSI) like Paul Kurtz who publish sceptical material don’t have a vested interest in keeping people like you in a state of paranoia? It is the merits of the argument on which we should focus.

    All of these points have been made before. I will address the rest of your comments in another post.

  410. 410
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, if you didn’t want to be part of a fight, you had the option of getting off your high horse before coming in here telling Jason he didn’t know what he was talking about. You also had the option of taking his post as a whole instead of trying to pick at little parts of it that were never meant to stand on their own. And the option of not trying to drag his wife into this. You set the terms; you can live with the description.

    That said, I do apologize to you for making you wait. This is a bad time of year for getting chunks of time and attention from people well-versed in methods and statistical analysis, however, so you may be waiting a bit longer. If you don’t appear to notice when a response is posted, I’ll ask Jason to notify you, assuming you’ve given him a working email address.

  411. 411
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, as you well know, I have not made anything of Jason’s wife or his ex-wife. Jason brought her into a public debate on the web as an argument to support his knowledge and experience of astrology. If she was around, I was hoping she could add to the debate. I have never actually met anyone who has studied astrology and subsequently believes there is nothing in it – so I was interested in that as well. When Jason informed us that they were no longer together, I dropped the subject and I would think that you might have the good sense to do so as well.

  412. 412
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, check your reading comprehension. They’re quite thoroughly married.

    But if you’d rather talk about other things you’ve done here that haven’t contributed to a collegial atmosphere, we can go back to the discussion of mechanism. Not only did you repeatedly try to take Jason’s comments about it out of context, but you did so when you claimed you could offer explanations for mechanism. I’m still not remotely unhappy with the description of this as a fight–based solely on your actions (i.e., ignoring the context of the other astrologers in the thread, as you appear to wish to do).

  413. 413
    Robert Currey

    Phil Plait made two good points in his excellent recent address “Don’t be a Dick”. First, this is not a war – and we are not fighting. Second, in chess you must be prepared to sacrifice pieces to win the game. By accepting the possibility of a scientific basis to some parts astrology, your whole rational world-view does not come tumbling down. Astrologer’s extravagant claims and their many untested techniques are still wide open to criticism. If you try to fight every bit of evidence, you lose credibility when dealing with real bigotry and those who deny scientific evidence that conflict with fixed belief systems. Knowledge is not a matter of taste and preference like ice-cream flavours.

    Here’s my take on the discussion of your critique on astrology so far:

    1. Astrologers do not know all the mechanisms behind astrology or even if there is a causal effect. The tidal forces involving the Sun and the Moon (and possibly Venus and Mars) have a universally accepted causal effect on the oceanic and terrestrial tides (Earth tide). However, this only covers natural astrology. There are hypotheses for mechanisms that address natal and other branches of astrology, but while some show persuasive correlations these are unproven as causal for most of astrological practice.
    2. A lack of a mechanism is no justification to dismiss a field provided there is evidence. There are many instances in the history of science (the Compass, Semmelweisz, Wegener) where rejecting evidence without a mechanism has proved to be misguided prejudice.
    3. There is as yet no scientific evidence to show that astrology as practiced by astrologers is purely chance. The best tests that have been cited here include one phantom experiment where the claims are reported without the supporting evidence, a meta-analysis of tests that are fatally flawed or favourable to astrology (no one has yet cited any evidence to the contrary) and a test that supports astrology (which you are now debunking).
    4. In the field of astrology, there are many more fatally flawed tests than real evidence. The reason is that testing astrology scientifically is difficult but not impossible. There are procedural difficulties in obtaining accurate, objective data, in isolating variables, in replication, in experimenter bias and in presenting and analyzing qualitative data in a quantitative way. In addition the budget is low and most astrologers are more motivated by the study and application of astrology than in providing scientific proof.
    5. However, there is solid evidence that supports astrology. The first piece of evidence that I have presented is the one Jason cited as the best test of astrology: the Carlson Double-Blind experiments. Of the individual tests that Carlson claimed were valid and from which he drew his negative conclusion, the evidence now shows that astrologers were able to rank and rate birth charts with Psychological Profiles in a blind test at a significant level p=0.037 and p=0.054 respectively. Now, I can provide stronger evidence that supports astrology with a lower (more significant) probability values and with much larger sample groups (one shows N > 3000). One of these tests has been replicated by sceptical groups in three countries. The test shows a correlation between the planets at birth and eminence within a profession. If you would like to review the evidence and other arguments, please go to http://www.astrologer.com/tests/basisofastrology.htm which I am currently updating. You will see that at the end that I too am critical of the practice of astrology.

    So we have evidence in favour of astrology and none against. I would be happy to continue to debate the evidence so far or cite more tests or change the subject to what you feel is the strongest argument against astrology. You have mentioned a few points, pick your best and state your case as clearly as possible without the additional wind, diversions, fallacies and unfounded beliefs.

    Alternatively, Jason you could rewrite the article along the following lines: Though there is no known mechanism for most of astrology, there appears to be some evidence that supports astrological practice and data. Then rather than attack astrology per se, you can criticize the practice of most astrologers. You can show how some fail to take an empirical approach to their subject or use unjustifiable or contradictory data. If you want to be effective hit the real targets.

  414. 414
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, please, please go familiarize yourself with the concept of the null hypothesis. It’s been used more than once in this discussion. You should really know what it is, particularly if you want to continue discussing what counts as evidence. For that matter, can you explain the purpose of a meta-analysis yet, or are you going to continue to wave one or two studies that you think somehow prove astrology despite their flaws while ignoring the mass of studies that don’t favor astrology–based on their flaws?

  415. 415
    Glendon Mellow

    “as you well know, I have not made anything of Jason’s wife or his ex-wife.”

    Was this error the result of an astrological chart?

  416. 416
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, you seem to be under the impression that patronising comments about terms with which I am familiar is an argument. Would you mind sharing with us your qualifications as a statistician that you believe that entitles you to take this superior line?

    To make your points, you need to state your case.

    1. I don’t have an issue with the technique of Meta-Analysis and am aware of its advantages in comparing studies. However, please explain why a meta-analysis of tests that are either fatally flawed, irrelevant to my case (i.e. addressing sun sign astrology), outdated (according to Dean) or incorrectly analysed (as in the Carlson case) is valid? Meta-Analysis cannot overcome GIGO. What makes you so inclined to believe the data (other than it supports your beliefs) when you cannot cite any of the tests on which it is based?

    2. Ertel did not address the null hypothesis, though he did say that the results are insufficient to deem astrology as empirically verified due to the sample size, but that they were replicable significant results by two methods of assessment. However, by Carlson’s and Nature’s standards the sample was large enough to “argue a strong case against natal astrology”. I am not claiming this as irrefutable proof of astrology, but whichever way you want to play it, it is evidence and statistically significant (unless your stats expert can prove otherwise).

  417. 417
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, your familiarity with these terms is no more than passing. My case is that every comment you make about meta-analysis shows that you don’t actually understand it and every comment you make about what does or does not prove astrology ignores the very ideas of the null hypothesis and the burden of proof.

    Take your “fatally flawed” assertion. It might carry any weight at all if you hadn’t spent a fair-sized post talking about why the Carlson test was both fatally flawed and supported astrology. I have told you many times that all studies are flawed. This doesn’t mean you get to only throw out the ones that you don’t think support you. It simply doesn’t. That’s not how evidence works (and doing it as blatantly as you are isn’t going to get you anything but a distrustful audience)–any more than arguing that one line of evidence is neither necessary nor sufficient will allow you to say that it isn’t a line of evidence.

    How many times do I need to say this? You’re telling me you understand all the terms, but you don’t seem to get the big picture.

  418. 418
    George W.

    Robert,
    We have been through this over and over. I have spent time reading your case for astrology at the link you provided in post #413.
    It all amounts to one conclusion. There is no positive case for astrology. Just 2500 years of humans trying to explain things beyond their control using the heavens, a bunch of studies that astrologers can wave away or stretch to fit their bias, and no good evidence that extraterrestrial planets have any effect outside of the earth sciences.
    Your case rests only on the assertion that astrology has not suffered a fatal blow. Not that it can be proven true, not that it has a wealth of evidence, not that there is a mechanism that we just don’t yet understand; it just has not been proven categorically false. This is why you are banging your head against a brick wall here. Jason, Stephanie, Glendon, Sinned; none of us are going to give any subject an endorsement based on the argument that we can’t prove a negative.
    That is the centerpiece of the null hypothesis. If the only thing an argument has going for it is a lack of understanding, be it God, astrology, autism causing vaccines or the like, it is prudent and fair to assume that there is nothing to it.
    Skeptics value information, understanding, and analysis. The credulous value superstition, myth, and faith.
    I would postulate that both of us are “fighting” a “losing battle”, there will be no “Waterloo” in this forum.
    You have succeeded only in showing that each individual argument that Jason has offered is not a death knell for astrology. No single argument of Darwin’s could stand as proof of evolution. It is the preponderance of the evidence that matters.
    I agree with you that Jason has not disproved astrology. What he has done, faced with proving a negative, is laid bare a succinct case for choosing the null hypothesis.
    If you would like my number one issue with astrology, it is that we have no proof of any causal effect on human life in relation to astrology, yet as undetectable as it is by science, people 2500 years ago could detect it. Astrologers can still now detect it. Yet when skeptics ask for some causal link between people and the heavens, astrologers always fall back and say it’s not quite that easy. They do a rain dance…the water never comes.

  419. 419
    Robert Currey

    Stephanie, you’re still not stating your case. You need to form an argument which is not based on your uninformed opinions of what you think I know or don’t know. This is quibbling and space-filling because you have no argument, no specifics and no experiment to cite that supports your case.

    I will deal with the only specific you made in your last post. Please quote me the post (number and date) when I stated that the Carlson test was fatally flawed – flawed yes but not fatally flawed. If I did say that I was mistaken and I am sorry for confusing everyone. If I didn’t, please could you retract that comment.

    Clearly, we have reached a time when Jason and you can put forward your next strongest argument as to why astrology should be dismissed.

  420. 420
    Stephanie Z

    Robert, I’m saying what George said right after me. If your understanding of the standards of evidence is other than how you’ve presented it here, feel free to explain why you’ve been arguing the way you have.

    Also, feel free to make a case for why the flaws of Carlson, which you claimed at great length, aren’t fatal when the flaws of other studies are. I’m saying you have presented many more claims of flaws for Carlson than you have for the studies you claim to be fatally flawed, which should put Carlson in the same category.

  421. 421
    DuWayne

    Jesus fucking christ, this fucking trainwreck is still going on?

    Robert –

    Astrology should be dismissed, because their is absolutely zero fucking evidence that it is legit and rather a lot of evidence to suggest it is complete and utter fucking bullshit. Zip. Nothing.

    End of fucking story.

    You can play all the games you want to play, pull all the bullshit out of your ass that you like – it will not change anything.

    Rebranding something or creating a variant on something that has been shown to be bullshit, doesn’t mean that we should suddenly decide that “hey, there might be something to that.” What it means is that it is up to those making the extraordinary claim that this something is legit, to prove they’re new variation actually works. That is how science works. That is how being a skeptic works. If you think you have something that works, fuckingwell prove it.

    If you can’t prove it, then folks are going to assume it is bullshit.

  422. 422
    Robert Currey

    George, I am inclined to agree that compared to the hard sciences there should have been better scientific evidence for astrology in the last 300 years (even though there are sound reasons). In the previous two to three thousand years, there was no scientific method, so evidence was based on observation and experience rather than experimentation. Though I value this subjective evidence, I realise that only objective evidence is acceptable to your world-view.

    Please could you confirm that your “number one issue” is evidence of a correlation between planetary movements and life and events on Earth rather than proof of a causal effect (mechanism)? Correlation is a separate issue to causation.

  423. 423
    George W.

    Robert,
    I conceded long ago that I would be happy with a strong corollary argument. It would have to be lengthy and supported, but I would accept any evidence that doesn’t rest on coincidence, non-related pattern correlation, and faith. I would also request that you allow others to scrutinize your examples without the regular charge of “explaining away” or “circumnavigation” that always comes when someone has a rational explanation that contradicts your example.
    As a brief example, and one that likely betrays my ignorance of astrology: if Saturn, lets say, is always in “retrograde” in the fall- I would not consider the statement “Saturn in retrograde is a sign of political change” when the fall is statistically the most common season for modern Western elections. They may coincide, but they are certainly linked by a mere coincidence of timing.
    Just as in Darwin’s example, the evidence must be overwhelmingly in favor of your hypothesis, as I am sure you must agree. I am quite open to very strong subjective evidence, I just need to have it “beyond a reasonable doubt”- a request I do not believe is too much to ask.
    I am likely the easiest of skeptics in this discussion to sway; I am the least informed and the most intrigued. Yet just as with Stephanie, Jason, Sinned, Glendon and others-I require more than magic, manipulation, and mind-tricks.

  424. 424
    Robert Currey

    George, I am tied up right now. I will get back to you asap.

  425. 425
    Skeptico

    @Robert Currey #407:

    Carlson did not follow his own methodology (the analysis of that 1st/2nd choices as his criteria) which he clearly set out before the experiment, by analyzing the data separately.

    You didn’t read Carlson’s paper carefully enough. As I just wrote, Carlson didn’t change his methodology – Ertel reported incorrectly on this. Carlson did exactly what he said he would do, and astrology failed.

    #409

    Not unsurprisingly, Skeptico’s answer did not add anything to this discussion. Both you and Skeptico do not understand the Carlson test.

    Since you clearly misunderstood what Carlson’s methodology actually was, I’m on firm ground in stating that I understand it better than you do,

    Like you, Skeptico was supportive of it in earlier posts and now that the evidence supports astrology, Skeptico is trying to diss it (using arguments from my article).

    In your fevered imagination only. The evidence still does not support astrology (Ertel’s data mining notwithstanding) and I’ve never tried to “diss” it.

  426. 426
    Robert Currey

    First, George, I know I should be getting back to you first, but Skeptico has brought up something that is part of a wider debate.

    Skeptico (or is it Alex?), I take it that we can agree that Carlson wrote the following:

    “The astrologers were then asked to select the two CPIs (first and second choice, no ties allowed) …” Nature, p420

    “The scientific hypothesis predicts a correct choice one third of the time; the astrologers predicted a correct choice half the time or more.” P.420 col1/3

    “Before the data had been analysed, we had decided to test to see if the astrologers could select the correct CPI profile as either their first or second choice at a higher than expected rate. The scientific hypothesis predicts the CPI will fall in the first or second choice 66 per cent of the time. The astrologers did not make a specific prediction as to what they expected the rate to be.” (Nature, p.425 col.2/3)

    “Since the rate at which the astrologers chose (sic) the correct CPI as their third place choice was consistent with chance, we conclude that the astrologers were unable to chose the correct CPI as their first or second choices at a significant level.” p 425

    As we know, Carlson then analysed the choices separately and then he, unsucessfully, attempted to analyse them together.

    OK – you claim that:
    1. Carlson’s use of “or” means that Carlson’s protocols were to check first and second choices separately.
    2. This is supported by Carlson’s comment that the chance result would be the correct choice one third of the time. (I trust we can agree that the words “scientific hypothesis” is nonsensical and confusing in this experiment). Also, I didn’t see this in your argument so I took the liberty of throwing in your only valid point to save time.
    3. A couple of statisticians advised you there is no reason that the combined first and second choice should necessarily be a better test than showing them separately.

    I claim the following directly from Carlson’s article in Nature:

    1. Your point 1 is wrong. The astrologers were asked to select two CPIs no ties allowed. The or is there because the astrologers could not pick the correct CPI as both first and second choices. It is physically impossible – so the “or” has to be there whichever way you play it.
    2. To balance your point 2, which is admittedly good. Why did Carlson write “… will fall in the first or second choice 66 per cent of the time” – and then analyse them separately where the chance result is 33% of the time? And why did he use “or” when he was clearly referring to the combination of both items merged?
    3. How else can we see if the astrologers could select the correct CPI profile as either first or second choice at a higher than expected rate unless you look at both sets of data?
    4. As Ken points out, why did Carlson analyse the third place (albeit incorrectly) if he did not consider the combined first and second choice as key to the experiment?

    Other points to consider:
    1. At the time of the experiment, Carlson was a physics undergraduate. I have seen no evidence to suggest that he had had any experience in statistical methodology in the social sciences. He may have understood quantitative analysis, but this kind of data also requires qualitative analysis. Are you claiming that Carlson’s statistical methods are better than Ertel’s? I would be interested in hearing from a statistician who works in the social sciences claiming that the piecemeal approach is superior to an integrated analysis. Ertel has a great reputation for this kind of work. As you know, he is known for debunking astrological ‘evidence’ as much as he is known for verifying it. He explains his methodology with references. Can you provide a link to support your claim of an alternative statistical analysis?
    2. You claim that “Ertel data mined the study to try to find a way, any way possible, that the data could show astrology passing the test. “ This works both ways. Why was there a delay of over 2 years between Carlson’s completion of the experiment and publication in Nature? This was unusual. Could it be that this because the stats needed to be ‘reassessed’ and dressed up in a way that favoured the sceptical conclusion?
    3. The subject group had a high level of homogeneity resulting in similar CPIs. An analysis of the full set of data helped to address the likelihood of a mismatch due to similarity rather than incorrect astrological analysis.
    4. No one, including astrologers and psychologists knew what was going to happen in this type of test. Evidence should not be ignored on the basis of whether it was part of experimenter’s faulty and contradictory protocols or not. No one complains when Geoffrey Dean debunks an astrology sun sign data to show artifacts because this was not part of the original protocols. Should Fleming have discarded the petri dish containing Staphylococcus plate culture contaminated with a mould from which he extracted penicillin becuase it had no connection with the original experiment?
    5. Carlson’s protocols only apply to the ranking test and not to the rating test, where the astrologers performed better and showed statistically significant results of p=0.037.

    My impression is that you dislike astrology very much – perhaps more than your love of science. So it is understandable you find it distasteful and possibly disturbing that the experiment that you have promoted and which is considered the best astrology experiment available using nationally known astrologers with sample sizes over 100, now shows evidence that the astrologers were able to perform to a statistically significant level.

    So it is natural that you would be very critical of Ertel’s report even before you had read it. Now that you are reading through it, we can all assume that you can be relied on to come up with a stronger case to justify your initial reaction. At the moment, if this is your best argument for ignoring Ertel’s evidence, then you have a problem as it is a very weak argument. You can argue ad nauseam on every point. It is quibbling and it is not convincing.

    Carlson’s analysis of the data was faulty and so was his conclusion. Carlson summed up his experiment “We are now in a position to argue a surprisingly strong case against natal astrology as practised by reputable astrologers”?

    Do you agree with his conclusion based on this experiment alone? If you still accept it and it turns out that Ertel’s statistics are correct, can we assume that you will accept the reverse is true?

  427. 427
    James Carey

    Boy, this has been fun! How about next time we jump on the Klu Klux Klan and tell them why their way of thinking is screwed up. :)

    http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t27028/

  428. 428
    Robert Currey

    Phew, James! KKK (=today’s Nazis?) … you came very close to invoking Godwin’s Law

  429. 429
    James Carey

    I knew the principle behind it, I just never knew that there was a name for it.

    That is the second thing I learned from this thread.

  430. 430
    ammasmu

    “Not only did you repeatedly try to take Jason’s comments about it out of context, but you did so when you claimed you could offer explanations for mechanism. I’m still not remotely unhappy with the description of this as a fight–based solely on your actions (i.e., ignoring the context of the other astrologers in the thread, as you appear to wish to do).”
    How much is realistic?

  431. 431
    Curtis Manwaring

    Don’t take Jamie Funk’s comments as representing all astrologers. Funk is an idiot who dismisses academic historical research on the subject and treats his brand of astrology like a religion. He is not an honest person in my opinion and has not done the hard work and technical research that is necessary to intelligently address the subject in an honest manner. Unfortunately there is a lot of BS and mis-information out there.

  432. 432
    Jason Thibeault

    I don’t, Curtis. In fact, I sort of expect that the loudest proponents of a particular unevidenced field of study are in fact attempting to bluster their way out of their particular positions as defenders of that lack of evidence.

    That said, I suspect, given your URL, that you believe yourself a better defender of the field. Perhaps you’d like to give more positive evidence, which other astrologers in this thread have failed to do?

  433. 433
    Curtis Manwaring

    I could suggest a course of action if there is anyone so inclined (I’m too busy with software development to take this one on now). One of many problems is that much of what is said as effects is not easily nailed down in a way that can be falsified, so a scientific proof will have to address this issue. For this area, the realm of the concrete particular is more desirable than spiritual / psychological astrology to avoid subjectivity as much as possible.

    As to causes, even if a correlation could be proved it still would not necessarily rise to the level of efficient causation, but more along the lines of material causes (see Aristotle’s 4 causes) at best. One issue that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere here (I confess I don’t have a lot of time and haven’t read everything here), is that not all charts were said to be equally telling (chrematistikos) according to Vettius Valens (he was an astrologer from the Hellenistic era who was roughly a contemporary of Ptolemy). What Valens said is that some nativities were more “fated” than others and these charts one can more easily “read” and that some charts fall into a category that are more difficult to discern because they are less “telling” (without getting into the technicalities of how that is determined here). I just highlight this issue because these charts are the best cases in which I can imagine any sort of proof because if it is true that some charts are more readable than others, then it is also the case that these are the cases that can prove whether there is anything going on or not.

    Picking a chart and simply reading it is not the way to go about doing this because there are no boundaries set for truth or falsification that can be measured and the key is measurement. Science has had a long battle distinguishing the measurement and the measured from Heisenberg to Plato…

    There are also a number of assumptions that would have to be dismissed such as life being random or completely under one’s control. It is not logical to expect everyone to suddenly wake up at 3 am in Chicago and suddenly have a craving for studying calculus for example. By this I mean that certain patterns would be expected to begin with, so a baseline of what is “random chance” would have to be established to determine the norm.

    Let me suggest that given that a chart with angular trigon lords and with the lot of spirit in the 10th sign from fortune, that when the zodiacal releasing reaches the 10th sign from fortune (if it does so in their lifetime) that they will reach their peak effectiveness and culmination of their actions (sometimes called fame). Obviously we would have to define “famous” in some way. I have done a few case studies such as what happens with actors (such as John Travolta who reached his peak and he was known for Pulp Fiction (1994), Saturday Night Fever and Grease(1977) when in his 10th from fortune period). George W. Bush reached his peak period starting in 1998 shortly before becoming president. Hitler reached his 10th from fortune period and the next day the Nazi’s won 108 seats in congress. Einstein was also in his 10th from fortune period when reaching peak fame. With more clearly defined rules, there is more hope for falsification which also allows for real verification.

    I am a software engineer and have a background in classical philosophy, statistics, mathematics, astronomy and the history of science.

  434. 434
    Curtis Manwaring

    PS – Your CSS for this page could use a setting of 1280px width for the tag that is your main content so that the graphics stay banked to either side of your main content area at the top. For those with large monitors, the page layout looks a bit messy, but narrowing the browser window banks the images back in place so that they aren’t jumbled on top of each other.

  435. 435
    Jason Thibeault

    I will reply in a follow-up post, not the least reason being that this thread is long enough as it stands, and any adequate reply to your suggestion will be naturally quite long. It will link here (and you should see the link if you’re subscribed to this post).

  436. 436
    drabuziai internete

    Thanks so much with regard to giving me personally an update on this matter on your website. Please realise that if a new post appears or in case any changes occur with the current post, I would want to consider reading more and knowing how to make good using of those techniques you reveal. Thanks for your efforts and consideration of other folks by making your blog available.

  437. 437
    Tim Wilkerson

    Hi,

    There is scientific evidence that the idea of “empty space” is wrong, and that there are emanations from space that affect us on a global scale.

    Elusive matter found to be abundant far above Earth – http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-elusive-abundant-earth.html,

    and the science of The Electric Universe – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q4fecFbYBg.

    Just consider these two measured findings, perhaps not yet accepted by mainstream science, maybe even considered to be Radical Science just like the theory of tectonic plates once was, and then you’ll begin to see a possible basis for astrology.

    Note: Subtle, miniscule, electromagnetic energies affect microorganisms. Microbes live in our bodies, without them we would not survive very long. If our symbiotic friends are influenced by cosmic electromagnetic emanations, as are our electronic devices, it stands to reason-out that their maybe an impact to even our very moods.

    P.S. I know that astrology does not predict, nor decide, our destiny. It is simply an astro-weather forecast of influences. We can choose to be aware of it and be given the opportunity to embrace it, or avoid it; or we can just ignore it and whatever happens happens.

  438. 438
    Jamison Austerberry

    don draper suit

  1. 439
    Religious Prophecies and Confirmation Bias « Atheist Climber

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    Daily Horoscope: Saturn Is In Aquarius And Yet You’re Still A Giant Dick « Misplaced Grace

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    The astrology conversation that DIDN’T happen « Lousy Canuck

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  7. 445
    Part 2: What if astrology WERE true? « Spirituality is No Excuse

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  8. 446
    What would happen if astrology were suddenly proven true? « Lousy Canuck

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  9. 447
    Astrology on the radio, and Jamie Funk’s history purge « Lousy Canuck

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  10. 448
    How skeptics and the credulous differ « Lousy Canuck

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  11. 449
    Religious Prophecies and Confirmation Bias | Martin S Pribble

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  13. 451
    How does one prove astrology? BY STARTING OVER. « Lousy Canuck

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  14. 452
    Precession’d! « Lousy Canuck

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  15. 453
    Supermoon: what it is, and what it definitely isn’t « Lousy Canuck

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  16. 454
    RCimT: Climate roundup « Lousy Canuck

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  17. 455
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  18. 456
    RCimT: Climate roundup | Lousy Canuck

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    Astrology on the radio, and Jamie Funk’s history purge | Lousy Canuck

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  20. 458
    Another Live One | Almost Diamonds

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  21. 459
    Precession’d! | Lousy Canuck

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    The astrology conversation that DIDN’T happen | Lousy Canuck

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  23. 461
    RCimT: a quick science news roundup | Lousy Canuck

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  24. 462
    Are all astrologers fated by the stars to be douches? | Lousy Canuck

    [...] alienate my new friend Ed! Certainly, I don’t have extensive knowledge of astrologers’ pseudo-random number generators, and have admitted as much a number of times. The fact that I have not read any books on astrology [...]

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    How does one prove astrology? BY STARTING OVER. (a repost) | Lousy Canuck

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  26. 464
    lån utan inkomst

    lån utan inkomst…

    [...]If it smells like Funk, it must be astrology | Lousy Canuck[...]…

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