Astrology and Horoscopes Debunked

Relatively Interesting January 14, 2011 47
Astrology and Horoscopes Debunked

Horoscopes and Astrology Debunked

zodiac, astrology, horoscope

Over 2300 years ago, the Babylonians came up with the idea that the gods lived among the stars and other celestial objects, and were able to impose their will on humanity by controlling the destinies of individuals and nations alike.  The Babylonians divided the sky into 12 “slices”:  which we now know as the signs of the zodiac… Taurus, Pisces, etc.  There are many variations of astrology, but they are all founded upon the idea that celestial objects can influence a person’s personality and destiny.

Today, according to a Gallup poll, 25% of American believes in Astrology.  In this article, we’ll investigate why horoscopes and astrology sometimes appear to be correct by reviewing the concept of subjective validation, the Forer Effect, and Gauquelin’s famous horoscope experiment; we’ll take a look at what an astronomer has to say about astrology;  we’ll review some of the logical issues with astrology; and finally, we’ll take a look at how easy it is to debunk horoscopes yourself.

Subjective Validation and the Forer Effect

“Subjective validation” occurs when two unrelated or random events are perceived to be related because a belief, expectancy, or hypothesis demands a relationship. Thus, people find a connection between the perception of their personality and the contents of their horoscope.

The concept of subjective validation was put to the test in 1948 by psychologist Bertram R. Forer.  Forer gave a personality test to each of his students. Afterward, he told his students they were each receiving a unique personality analysis that was based on the test’s results, and to rate their analysis on a scale of 0 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) on how well it applied to themselves.

The analysis presented to the students was as follows:

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

The trick?  In reality, each student received the exact same analysis:  On average, the rating was 4.26/5 (that is, the students found their “personal” analysis to be 85% accurate).  It was only after the ratings were turned in was it revealed that each student had received identical copies assembled by Forer from various horoscopes.

As can be seen from the profile analysis, there are a number of statements that are vague and could apply equally to anyone. These statements later became known as Barnum statements, after P.T. Barnum, who used them in his performances, allegedly stating “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Later studies have found that subjects give higher accuracy ratings if the following are true:

  • the subject believes that the analysis applies only to him or her (for example, a horoscope)
  • the subject believes in the authority of the evaluator (for example, a psychic)
  • the analysis lists mainly positive traits (for example, most daily horoscopes)

Guaquelin’s Horoscope Experiment

In another experiment, the famous French Astrologer, Michael Gauquelin, offered free horoscopes to any reader of Ici Paris, if they would give feedback on the accuracy of his supposedly “individual” analysis. He wanted to scientifically test the profession of astrology. As with Forer’s experiment, there was a trick:  he sent out thousands of copies of the same horoscope to people of various astrological signs – and 94% of the readers replied that his reading was very accurate and insightful.

What they didn’t know was that the horoscope was that of a local mass murderer, Dr. Petiot, who had admitted during his trial that he had killed 63 people.  This is clearly another case of subjective validation where subjects focus on the hits of some general analysis that’s supposed to be unique to them.

An Astronomer’s Opinion

So what does science have to say about astrology?  Phil Plait (a veritable astronomer, not astrologer) summarizes his scientific opinions as follows:

  • There is no force, known or unknown, that could possibly affect us here on Earth the way astrologers claim.  Known forces weaken too fast, letting one source utterly dominate (the Moon for gravity, the Sun for electromagnetism).  An unknown force would allow asteroids and extrasolar planets to totally overwhelm the nearby planets.
  • Like psychics, astrologers tend to rely on human’s ability to remember “hits” and forget ”misses” – a form of selective bias.  Even an accurate predictions may be due to simple chance.
  • Study after study has shown that claims and predictions made by astrologers have no merit. They are indistinguishable from chance, which means astrologers cannot claim to have some ability to predict anyone’s life’s path or destiny.
  • There is harm in astrology.  It weakens people’s ability to rationally look at the world, an ability we need now more than ever.

Without going into further detail, I highly recommend reading the full article on his website.

Logical problems with horoscopes and astrology:

·
1) Since the Earth spin drifts slightly, the constellations shift by at 1 degree every 72 years.  Over time, roughly 2000 years, the signs of the zodiac actually get shifted over by one.  So what’s your sign?  It should actually be shifted one over from what you think it is…  that is, you should be reading the horoscope from the star sign before yours!

2)   2) Horoscopes are cast from the time of birth, not from the time of conception.  What is considered the time of birth?  When the water breaks?  When the head appears?  When the feet are out?  What about a c-section?  You would think that the planets would begin their influence on the unborn fetus for the duration of its development.

3)   3) When you read your horoscope, you’re sharing it with roughly 1/12th of the world’s population. Doesn’t it seem strange that so many people from across the entire planet should share the same fate on any given day?

4)   4) Why are people born on the same day each year so different?  Surely, if the gods or planets or whatever had some sort of true influence, then anyone born on the same day each year should be very, very similar.

5)   5) The traditional planets of our solar system (i.e. none of the recently discovered planetary candidates), were named after Roman gods. This assignment was completely arbitrary. There might have been some logic behind it (Mars is red, war has blood, etc.), but overall there is no real reason to think that just because Venus was named after the goddess of love, that it should hold any sway over one’s relationships. If the “effects” of the planets on people, had any real relationship to the planets themselves, then Venus should be the ruler of bad gas, not love.

6)   6) Many astrological terms are holdovers from a time when the Earth was believed to be the center of the universe.  We are clearly not at the centre of the universe.

7)   7) What about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which were only discovered within the past 250 years?  In ancient times, these outer planets were unobservable with the naked eye. Astrologer’s based their system and equations upon the seven planets they believed revolved around the Earth.  If the position of the planets has an influence upon human behavior and events, then how could any of the beliefs have been correct, if these celestial objects were missing from the “equation”?

8)   8 ) Here’s a logical fallacy:  the appeal to tradition.  Just because lots of people practice a tradition, like astrology, says nothing of its viability.  Simply because many people may believe something says nothing about the fact of that something. For example, many people during the Black plague believed that demons caused disease. The number of believers said nothing at all about the actual cause of disease.

Most importantly, none of the detailed statistical studies that have looked at astrology have found any merit in it. For example, a psychologist from Michigan State University, Bernard Silverman, looked at 2,978 married couples and 478 couples who divorced. He found absolutely no correlation between which couples divorced, and which couples were born under alleged “incompatible” signs.

A Comprehensive Study Measuring the Performance of Astrology and Astrologers

Geoffrey Dean and Ivan W. Kelly’s report “Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?” looked at the efficacy of astrology noted and concluded the following:

  • A large-scale test of persons born less than five minutes apart found no hint of the similarities predicted by astrology.
  • Meta-analysis of more than forty controlled studies suggests that astrologers are unable to perform significantly better than chance even on the more basic tasks such as predicting extraversion.
  • More specifically, astrologers who claim to use psychic ability perform no better than those who do not.

“Our concern in this article has been to measure the performance of astrology and astrologers. A large-scale test of time twins involving more than one hundred cognitive, behavioural, physical and other variables found no hint of support for the claims of astrology. Consequently, if astrologers could perform better than chance, this might support their claim that reading specifics from birth charts depends on psychic ability and a transcendent reality related to consciousness. But tests incomparably more powerful than those available to the ancients have failed to find effect sizes beyond those due to non-astrological factors such as statistical artifacts and inferential biases.”

Debunking Horoscopes and Astrology Yourself

It should be easy enough for anyone to debunk horoscopes or astrology. All you need to do is take a sample horoscope for the same sign on the same day across various networks. If horoscopes are legit, then all five horoscopes should be in line with each other – giving the same type of advice to their followers. Below, you’ll find a small sample for my sign, Taurus, for December 20th, 2010:

Keep in mind, this horoscope applies to roughly 583 million people across the planet (taking a quick estimation of the number of people that are Taurus on Earth)

Horoscope #1: From www.horoscope.com
“You need bigger and longer hugs than usual today, Taurus. A powerful force is moving through your life and trying to shake things up. Don’t stoop to the level of petty argument and verbal sparring. The more you resist the opposition, the more stubborn and unwieldy the situation becomes. Make sure you have a good hold on your emotions before you leave the house.”

Horoscope #2: From www.theglobeandmail.com
“Be careful what you agree to over the next two or three days because the approaching lunar eclipse will blur the line between fact and fantasy. This is not a good time to be reckless with your money, or your reputation.“

Horoscope #3: From http://www.spiritnow.com/horoscopes (Sylvia Browne’s site)
“Although the fun element will be lacking almost from start to finish, this is certainly a useful day. Don’t be surprised if you notice some very tiny changes over an ongoing matter. These nudging or very slight improvements might not be much to celebrate, but they will indicate further improvements to come!”

Horoscope #4: From www.nationalpost.com
“Stay on top of your bank account and your bills today because something unexpected might be taking place. This could affect inheritances, shared property, insurance matters, or anything you hold jointly with others. Make sure you aren’t overdrawn. (Nobody likes surprises like that.)”

Horoscope #5: From www.astrology-online.com
“Focus on your domestic scene. Get together with friends or relatives. Calm down and take a step back. You can’t win and they won’t listen.”

In this very small sample set, it’s clear that they have nothing in common – except that the two Canadian newspapers (the Globe and Mail and the National Post) both reference “money”… but given that the holidays were right around the corner, “money” was on everyone’s mind already, so I will discount that statement as an appeal to the masses.

Follow Up:
I deliberately paid close attention to each of my 5 horoscopes for December 20th, and nothing came true. I focused on my domestic scene – no issues. I stayed on top of my bank accounts – no issues. There were no “slight improvements” to note. I didn’t need bigger or longer hugs.

Conclusion: There is no legitimate scientific evidence to support astrology and horoscopes.

Why do 25% of Americans, despite the lack of evidence, continue to believe in Astrology and horoscopes? “Many people quite simply just want to believe,” says Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. “The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations.”

Horoscopes and astrology are for fun, period. If you enjoy reading them and you’re a fan of subjective validation, and you want to spend your hard-earned disposable income on books, 1-900 numbers, and readings, then by all means, go ahead. But don’t claim astrology real, and don’t claim it’s science. And by all means, don’t let your horoscope affect important life decisions – there’s a reason why websites and 1-900 numbers have a disclaimer stating that their “advice” is “for entertainment purposes only”.

 
 

References:
http://skepdic.com/astrology.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forer_effect
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/astrology.html
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/12/16/1266452.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience
http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Dean.pdf
^ Marks, David F (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic (2 ed.). Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 41. ISBN 1573927988. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Psychology-of-the-Psychic/David-F-Marks/e/9781573927987/?itm=1.
^ Forer, B.R. (1949). “The fallacy of personal validation: A classroom demonstration of gullibility”. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (American Psychological Association) 44 (1): 118–123. doi:10.1037/h0059240.
^ Dickson, D.H.; Kelly, I.W. (1985). “The ‘Barnum Effect’ in Personality Assessment: A Review of the Literature”. Psychological Reports (Missoula) 57 (1): 367–382. ISSN 0033-2941. OCLC 1318827.
http://searchwarp.com/swa24826.htm
http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/your-astronomical-sign.html
http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/etc/horoscope-2011-astrology-sign.html
http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/etc/091210-americans-believe-god-astrology-and-ghosts.html


47 Comments »

  1. Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    After reading this article, im totally convinced, not that astrology and horoscopes are false..But ..that the writer of this article, is totally against this and also that this article is lacking of important information.
    First of all im going to give a solution/answer to all these Logical problems with horoscopes and astrology:

    1) Zodiac signs aren't celestial objects, so they do not spin and theres no reason of getting shifted over by one, they are s y m b o l i c and so they remain the same. Are months and days getting shifted as well just because of the earth? No. So No1 is totally pointless.

    2) Time of birth is considered when the baby is no longer physically connected with the mother, the moment just before they cut the umbilical cord.

    3) Reading a daily prediction doesn't mean you're reading your fate. What you are reading is a possibility and a tendency according the passages of the planets of that day.

    4) People born is the same day but different year, yes, are so different just because the year they were born the passages of the planets were different. A chart isn't just a zodiac sign and a horoscope, is a lot more than that.

    5) When you're referring to the roman Gods, i believe you mean the 12 Gods of ancient Greece. 12 Gods were a myth ..or maybe not. Some people claimed they were individuals from another planet, some others that they were symbolism of human emotions and facts that took place that period of time..etc..Point is they were all pointing to that cosmic energy and so celestial objects are included as part of the universe. If you believe that reading books, and especially public school books that you will know all about world history, then you believe in an illusion. Government and the church are publishing whatever they think is appropriate so they can continue to control the mazes. So you cant judge a situation or a fact when you've never been there and you cant say theres no energy in something just because you cant see it.

    6) Name the astrological terms that still remain the same nowdays.

    7) Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have a total different effect on us, that those old times, those effects, were not included in a daily prediction or an astrological chart.

    8) You actually aren't naming the traditions which are apparently plenty and all connected, including astrology, with mathematics. If you lack of information please read about the ancient Greek Archimedes. Traditions like, astrology, numerology, divination with cards or/and runes and physiognomy are all based on mathematics…and mathematics is a science. Numerology lists traits of your personality according your full birth name and the date of your birth. Also it predicts future tendencies, talents and alot more than that. Divination with cards is also giving you a p o s s i b l e future. And last one, Physiognomy predicts also possible traits of your personality according the shape of your characteristics (eyes, lips etc) and your natural colors.
    So in this point, explain why twins are 95% alike as physical appearance and personalities when they have only a few minutes difference from their birth time? According to physiognomy their faces will have 1 or 2 differences on their characteristics, and so the prediction about their character will be 95% the same. According to astrology their time of birth will have a few minutes difference while horoscope might change sign of the zodiac in any minute, and so they wont have 100% same traits.

    [is being continued]

    • finari July 14, 2013 at 1:00 am - Reply

      “Are months and days getting shifted as well just because of the earth?”. Yes they are and that is why we invented the leap year to compensate my dear mr morosoph.

  2. Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    [..continue]

    About the opinions and the tests you published above, they are just some personal opinions from a few scientists that, who knows what are they going to discover in 10 years from now and how many of the things they said are going to recall. People change their mind easily. On the other side we dont know what were their motives to publish something like that. And about the tests they did, more specific about the analysis they gave to those students it was in my opinion unsuccessful. The analysis is very general and short without explaining how each student would react according their zodiac chart to an emergency or a serious (emotional or not) situation. What would they think, what would they do, where would they give priority. Saying to someone "Security is one of your major goals in life" Or " You have a great need for other people to like and admire you." does not have to do with who you are as a personality because its a very general and c o m m o n conclusion. Everyone needs security in life and everyone wants to be accepted by others. There would be noone denying this..BUT there would be some denying the fact when you tell them "You are looking for revenge when someone hurts you".
    So getting back to the main topic, astrology doesnt talk about your fate, but it only expresses tendencies without canceling humans free will. If for example a woman is on her fertile days, that doesnt mean shes going to have a baby..but it means that if she decides and wants to be pregnant THIS is the right period. The decision always remains yours in every aspect.
    The only thing i would agree with you is the way those advices are being expressed in a way that they submit you "it is going to be this way" instead of "it might be".

  3. Anonymous July 31, 2011 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Let me start by saying that it's true that the observer does change what is being observed, but there's still some objectivity to astrology.

    Obviously, from a pure scientific perspective, astrology has no proof, YET. Proofs might come later, who knows.

    I have met someone who was born on the same day as I was, yet he had a totally different personality. This did not break my faith in astrology because he was born in a totally different part of the world, during a totally different hour of the day. That makes his entire astrology birth chart completely different.

    Astrology birth charts are so immensely complicated that no two person's chart is exactly the same, even if they were born right next to each other within minutes of each other. Every minute makes a difference in astrology.

    All those tests that apparently "debunked" astrology were based on a person's Sun sign, but we know there is more to it than that. So, in essence, those tests do not really debunk astrology for those who really know astrology.

    The possibilities and combinations are endless in astrology, so to arrow it down and judge it is foolish and simplistic and it does not proof or debunk anything.

    Astrological signs merely represent energies, just as there are different energies present throughout the year (i.e. fall, winter, summer, etc). Anybody who gets caught in simplistic explanations of the zodiacs is mistaken. It doesn't make astrology any less reliable. It only show that people are capable of taking things on the surface level. That's a human fallacy, not a fallacy of astrology. Humans do that with everything.

    You picked Mars as an example of a planet that has no effect on humans? How about picking the Moon? Is there no proof that the Moon effects the oceans, increasing or decreasing the tides? Aren't humans about 80% water?

    I'll leave it at that. ;-)

  4. Luke Scientiae August 13, 2011 at 5:14 am - Reply

    First of all, congratulations to the author on a great blog!

    Secondly, it's clear that the authors of the comments defending astrology are largely scientifically illiterate, which is very sad, and leaves no mystery as to why they believe what they do. I want to address just a small pportion of the nonsense the comment authors above have contributed.

    The first comment writes about a 95% similarity between twins. I think it's safe to assume that number is plucked from thin air and means exactly nothing. Additionally, the implication is that there is some mystery as to the similarity between twins – presumably the comment author means identical twins. Identical twins are monozygous, meaning that they come from one cell and have pretty much identical DNA (tiny differences are attributable to epigenetics – which of their genes are switched 'on' and 'off' during their lifetime). That's down to environmental factors, which also heavily influence character, since identical twins tend to grow up in pretty much the same environment, have the same parents and so on. No mystery.

  5. Luke Scientiae August 13, 2011 at 5:15 am - Reply

    The second comment author writes about the moon and water:

    "Is there no proof that the Moon effects the oceans, increasing or decreasing the tides? Aren't humans about 80% water?"

    If the implication is that the moon affects people's character, then the whole chain of reasoning leading up to it is a dreadful series of non-sequiturs. It would go something like: the moon affects the oceans, therefore the moon affects water, therefore it affects humans because they are made of water to a large extent, therefore it affects people's characters. But that's just terrible illogic.

    The moon affects the oceans because of its gravitational pull, which it exerts on all objects, not just those made of water. You just see the effects with the oceans because can flow from place to place (tides). You don't have to be made of water to feel the moon's gravitational pull. Secondly, absolutely none of that permits the notion that somehow "therefore" the moon can be expected to affect people's personality, which is an urban myth unsupported by the evidence from numerous studies.

  6. Luke Scientiae August 13, 2011 at 5:16 am - Reply

    To pick one last point of scientific illiteracy:

    "Astrological signs merely represent energies, just as there are different energies present throughout the year (i.e. fall, winter, summer, etc)."

    I really object to this use of "energy". Energy is a well-defined and incomparably useful scientific concept. Pseudoscience hijacks the word (as in "astrological signs represent energies" and "the healing power of crystal energy") to give the impression that its claims are somehow respectable or that there is at least a modicum of respectable theory and understanding behind the pseudoscientific claim, when in fact there is not and in the sense such pseudoscientists use the word "energy" there is no meaning whatsoever.

    I would really urge scientists and other scientically literate people to adopt an attitude of conversational intolerance to this kind of abuse of scientific terminology. Science is extremely hard work but it does work; it brings forward all kinds of successes. With that comes a certain credibility that we should not allow pseudoscientists to hijack for their purposes. They can gain respectability for their own phrases when they show good evidence that their descriptions of phenomena in the world are accurate and testable.
    If you hear someone say "energy" in a pseudoscientific context – or any other scientific term, for that matter – ask them if they know what it means. And if they don't know, politely explain. It's up to scientists and others interested in reliably evaluating the real world, to educate others, rather than allowing them to fall victim to fallacious reasoning and the fallacious use of words in meaningless claims.

    So I'll explain "energy" briefly here in the hope that the author of the comment above in which the word was abused will learn something:

    Energy is the capacity to do work. Work means exerting a force (e.g. pushing or pulling) something through a distance. For example, to drag an astrologer to a physics class, I'd need to push him/her there from wherever I am. For that I would need energy because I'd need to push him/her over a certain distance and against other forces acting against me (the astrologer pushing back, wind resistance, friction, etc.) It's not the pushing itself that is energy; the pushing is a force. But the ABILITY to push over a distance is energy. Another example might be lifting something from the ground onto a shelf. To do that I have to exert a force on it upwards until it gets to the level of the shelf. I have to apply the force to overcome the gravitational attraction for the distance between the object and the ground. Energy is what is put in, the cost if you like, of doing this. There are many other examples, and these are just introductory. Energy is a quantifiable thing and it's measured in Joules. So 10 Joules, or 10 J, is a quantity of energy. 10 kJ is 10,000 J. For reference, 4.2 J is the energy you need to raise the temperature of 1 mL of water by 1 oC. If you don't see how that's pushing something, then think about the atoms in water. They are all colliding and pushing against each other and you give them additional energy to do this faster when you heat the water up.

  7. Relative Interest August 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    @Luke Scientiae: Thank you for the kind words and for the scientific rebuttal of the previous comments. The hijack of the word "energy" is one of my biggest pet peeves, as it is used so frequently… just like "quantum" is now a buzz word in pseudo-scientific circles. To define all scientific buzz words in each blog post would be an arduous task… but your post has made me consider setting up a page doing just so!

    BTW – You have a fantastic website as well. It's chock full of great material for science and skeptics alike. My only wish is that pseudoscientists… if I may use that term… read through sites like yours in their entirety so that they are offered a more complete understanding of the basic principles that make science our best tool for understanding nature.

  8. Luke Scientiae August 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    I think an inventory of abused scientific terms is a great idea. If you like, we could work on it together, although first it would be worth checking if there's not such a thing already out there on some other site. A quick look at Rational Wiki shows that they already have some terms, like energy: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Energy#Pseudo-scientific_use_of_the_term
    Question is, what is the aim: to debunk pseudoscientific usage, teach people the scientific usage, both?

    On the problem of reaching the deniers, cranks and pseudoscientists: I completely agree. You can make a nice looking blog and they still won't read it. Mine has only been going briefly and even in that short time I moved it from a wordpress.com domain to my own, so there's quite a way to go in generating hits. I'm also on twitter (@lukescicom), trying to antagonize, inform and promote interesting science. I'm making slow progress, but it is slow. I'm told leaving comments on others' blogs, particularly where pseudoscientists and the credulous make their mark is a good thing to do, so I sometimes find the time for that, as here. Other suggestions welcome.

  9. Teen Queen September 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    It would be nice if you did some research before you posted this article. For example, there IS indeed a horoscope that looks at a fetus from the time it was conceived, but as this is nearly as possible to figure out, it's nto very popular.

    Also, a personalized horoscope natal chart can only be put together accurately if you know your time of birth down to the last second. And even then, the information is so vast, and the possibilities so endless that a full analysis can never be made.

    I would suggest you look at charts of countries and compare them to their economies to see some patterns. Oh wait, you didn't know that horoscopes could be used to predict a country's economy state for decades to come?

    I have only read on the subject of astrology breifly but I know all this. You, on the other hand, know nothing, or you would not have posted these useless questions to 'boggle' our minds, which anyone who has a less than basic knowledge of astrology will be able to claim as pointless.

    Ignorance, be it that of the devout astrologer or hard core astronomer is never welcome. Explore the other side's views before you make a useless, unreliable arguement.

  10. Relative Interest September 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    "It would be nice if you did some research before you posted this article. For example, there IS indeed a horoscope that looks at a fetus from the time it was conceived, but as this is nearly as possible to figure out, it's nto very popular."

    - Read the references to see the research.

    "I would suggest you look at charts of countries and compare them to their economies to see some patterns. Oh wait, you didn't know that horoscopes could be used to predict a country's economy state for decades to come?"

    - Please point me to a published, credited research paper that has been accepted by the scientific community, and I will gladly update the article.

    "Ignorance, be it that of the devout astrologer or hard core astronomer is never welcome. Explore the other side's views before you make a useless, unreliable arguement."

    - I don't think it's a useless argument: it's important to review the scientific data before making a decision. This article was a result of that research.

  11. Anonymous October 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    http://www.astronlp.com/Carlson%20Astrology%20Experiments.html
    About Shawn Carlson "Experiment"
    An experiment in astrology published in Nature in 1985 is reviewed using the original materials given to the astrologers, interviewing four surviving astrologers that were found, and comparing the claims of the experimenter made before, during, and after the experiment. Numerous errors were found with experimental hypothesis, design, use of psychological tests by non-psychologists, data collection, data reporting, significant bias, misuse of statistical procedures, unsubstantiated claims, and presentation of a predetermined conclusion disconnected from results.

    Specialy very, very interesting:
    9. Background of the experimenter
    At the time of the experiments in 1980-81, the experimenter was an undergraduate in physics. At the time of submission to Nature in 1983, he was finishing his M.A. in physics. He had neither expertise in psychology nor astrology, the two subjects of this study. He had training in the scientific method in the physical sciences, but not with experimental design used in the social/behavioral sciences nor the use of human subjects. He had neither the training nor the qualifications to use the CPI.
    This was the first and last time Carlson did any kind of experiment in astrology. He showed no other interest in the subject. Afterwards, he spent three to five years (reports vary) in the study of satanic rituals and devil worship and collaborated with Randi the Magician. Throughout the years, he has been active in skeptic organizations and his ideas about what is scientific and what is not are strong. In 1988, he wrote, “no one could be scientifically competent, knowledgeable of the evidence and still think that astrologers can perform the service”.
    Carlson (personal correspondence April 9, 2008) writes that “At the time of my study I was a young man with a deep interest in the occult”. He also reports in newspaper interviews that he worked his way through college as a professional magician. It is not until 2005 that he divulges the information in an interview with Johnson of the Boston Globe (2005), that at the age of 16, “he supported himself as a street psychic and player of Three-card Monte”.

    There are some similarities between the steps of Three-card Monte and the experimental design of this study. The three advising astrologers were shown the design and agreed that the test was fair. The astrologers were invited to participate in a ‘scientific study’ at prestigious U.C. Berkeley to help prove that astrology was right. There were three CPI profiles and three astrological interpretations and three cards among which to choose. When the data envelopes arrived, they found the concept they had agreed to had been switched to an impossible task. The reporting of this experiment in the Nature article was confusing because of mixing both results from experiment 1 and experiment 2 in the same paragraph. Results were reported on what he intended to do (“top card”), but not on what actually happened (“bottom card”). Partial results were reported on one page and another supplemental part of results were reported two pages later with a lot of extraneous information about confidence judgments or clerical procedures in-between (the characteristic “sideways sweep”). Misdirection is the primary trick of Three-card Monte. It was used when the experimenter would say one thing and do another. Misdirection was also involved when attention was put on hypothetical numbers, but crucial values were not reported. The astrologers felt they had been tricked, particularly after being sent a letter that preliminary results were favoring astrology and astrology would be proven.

  12. Anonymous October 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    That Carlson’s Conclusion(s) does not follow from the Results was stated by Eysenck in 1986. This experiment was unfair and invalid. All the mistakes were skewed in favor of the ‘skeptic hypothesis’ toward which the experimenter had a strong belief. CSICOP influence was pervasive from encouragement to funding to publication. The experimenter had previous professional experience in deception and con games. It appears that he continued a con game of Three-card Monte type disguised with appearances of scientific methodology to cloak the real intention of media disinformation.
    Student subjects could not choose correct astrological interpretation, they could not choose correct CPI profile, and astrologer subjects could not choose correct CPI. Two of four surviving astrologers said ‘it was impossible” and both submitted zero response. The data about rating sections of each interpretation was rejected. The hypotheses, the design, the apparatus were flawed with over 60+ mistakes and errors on the way to Results. The author claims that the astrologers failed. This reviewer thinks the experiment failed.
    The paradox is that if the numbers given to the reader are correct, then using statistical analysis with the correct methods, the astrologers chose the correct CPI at significance of at least .05. If the control/test group results were mixed up, the combined value is p=.01.
    Before persons with a pro-astrology orientation begin celebrating, however, that this experiment is any kind of proof for astrology, it depends upon the validity of the experimental design and the veracity of the numbers. The evidence is that the experiment is not valid and that the numbers of less-than-28 astrologers and ‘typically 4’ matchings are highly suspect and unreliable.
    The dilemma is this: (1) This is a case of scientific misconduct, the experiment is invalid, and the astrologers did not win or lose; or (2) Despite the experimenter’s misconduct, the experiment is valid, and the astrologers won at an acceptable significance level. The choice is between (1) misconduct, or (2) the astrologers won, or (3) both.
    The Carlson study is not the first case of scientific misconduct in history, but it is unique in that, contrary to prevailing scientific belief, it involved more than just a single individual. It involved an organization with a powerful influence that purports to speak for the body politic of science. It involved, for the first time known, the science journal in which it was published. Nature is just as responsible as the author. The publicity impact of this article was based upon the prestige and power of the journal in which it was printed, not upon the merits of the experiment.

  13. Bart November 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm - Reply
  14. Anonymous November 16, 2011 at 10:56 am - Reply

    It's funny there's ads for readings at the beginning of the video. No shame. Anyway, most of the pro astrology arguments above are laughable, and of course, anonymous. I'm no scientist, but it doesn't take one to realize astrology is fluke, subjective, and dangerous. "For entertainment purposes only"…!?!? I'll leave it at THAT!

    ~Andre M

  15. Anonymous January 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    (Im not english/american native so my english its not so well.. but hope u understand me…)

    Remember this words… 2012 is the year where we all will be concious of the real truth. We dont know what we r made of, and the cience doesnt answer the questions of our integrity.
    2012 is the year of the humanity, and the understanding.
    I know that u, "cience people", are waiting this momento too but u think that people that dont think like u, r crazy people, or just ignorant… And then… You are wrong.
    Anybody need a cience career to know that.. what happen with cience people?.. You have never felt? Dont you cry? Why the human is the only one who cries? Because we use our concience.
    If 1/4 of americans (and i think 1/4 of the Word) believes in Astrology, there's a reason.
    And if there's a 3/4 of the world that thinks that something bigger than us exist, there's a reason.
    Take this year to read the bible… It may help you for the CHANGE.

  16. Anonymous January 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    If you dont believe what i said (i know 0/4 people will believe), just take SIT AND WAIT :)

  17. Anonymous January 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Millions of people around the world read the Bible, and believe every word in it to be true, and even live their lives by it. With no actual evidence that any of it is true.
    Just like horoscopes.

    • Carlos Caliente February 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      There are lots of people all over who believe James Randi even though Bill Perron proved Randi is a liar and his million dollar challenge nothing more than a cheap empty publicity stunt. Perron has made Randi an offer of ten thousand dollars if he can’t prove Randi lied when Randi weaseled out of the Perron astrology challenge, Perron has had this offer for over five years yet Randi runs, ask yourself why, better yet ask Randi why.

  18. Hello May 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I have looked into this subject with a little more depth and found an interesting fact about you “debunking” this. Some people who attempt to make an astrological prediction don’t use just the sign you where born under, they use 80 different factors. 40 are determined when you where born(like your sign) and the other 40 are where the planets and stars are now. So predicting a person future based on just their sign is like predicting what a person will do knowing just that they like hot dogs. If you want to truly debunk it you might wanna try the more complex version of this practice, instead of the idiot version that an 8 year old can take down.

    • Carlos Caliente February 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm - Reply

      But for debunkers to actually do a really good debunking they would have to learn what real astrology is and just how complex it can be and then they would have to confront the reality that astrology done properly has definite value and that would go against their agenda.

  19. LudisV May 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I still need to find an astrologer that could give me a valid horoscope. There are two types of astrologers: 1. That know the astrology is a scam, but still use it to make loads of money. 2. The ones that believe astrology is a science and mislead others unwittingly. No astrologer has been able to predict what will happen to me a day from now, a week or a month. I feel sorry for them, but even more so, for the people who believe it is a science or even art.

    • Carlos Caliente February 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Who are these astrologers that make loads of money? Bet you actually can not name one.

  20. Quackers October 16, 2012 at 8:19 am - Reply

    I always find it funny when people defend their debunked belief systems. Even though they have no unbiased concrete evidence, they will defend it whole-heartedly. Simply because realising they were wrong this whole time will make them feel like idiots. No one likes feeling like an idiot, so I can understand why they defend it. However, defending it makes them look like idiots to those who understand what science is.

    • Carlos Caliente March 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Quakers::: Did you find it funny when Bill Perron debunked the Randi million dollar challenge by offering Randi ten thousand dollars if Randi can show any proof what so ever that Randi was not lying when he lied to weasel out of the Bill Perron challenge for the disingenuous publicity stunt million dollars? Perron has had this honesty challenge offer to Randi and any other professional pseudo skeptic for over five years now, so far not one taker, ask yourself why, or better yet ask Randi, or maybe one of his lackeys like Shermer or Novello.

  21. Carlos Caliente February 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I just saw on the internet a Vedic astrologer do an astrological interpretation that Michael Shermer gave a 73% accuracy rating. Seems to me that is validation that is worthy of consideration.

    • Jenz March 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Hey – where’s that documented Carlos, I’d love to see it. If an astronomer has a 73% success rate (under proper scientific scrutiny and testing), then sure, that would be remarkable. Has Vedic been able to consistently reproduce? And shouldn’t it not matter who the PERSON is… since all astrologers should be following the same set of rules to determine their predictions?

      • Carlos Caliente March 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm - Reply

        Vedic astrology is over 3 thousand years old, it has an incredible history of accuracy. As for the video it is on youtube, I suggest you do a youtube search on: Shermer Vedic astrology.. ..

  22. Jenz March 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it’s factually valid. That’s a logical fallacy called the Argument From Antiquity. http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-argument-from-antiquity/

    • Carlos Caliente March 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Jenz, you asked where you could get info on the Shermer and Vedic astrology test and I provided it. I also provided information on Vedic astrology and it’s history of accuracy, I never asked you to provide information you glean from some internet blog, have no idea why you would provide unrequested information, but I suspect it is because you have some sick immature agenda that fulfills some juvenile need you have as a substitute for the love you didn’t receive from those you cried out to in anguish for the understanding and love they will never provide. Personally I am not interested in your opinions, and further more I really have no respect for someone who uses a question as a pretext to just have an excuse to post their opinions that are much like armpits, everyone has them and most of them stink.

      • Jenz March 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm - Reply

        I watched the YouTube video you suggested we all look up – it’s nothing special.

        But, Carlos, why are you so angry? Why do you attack people who disagree with you? Why do you resort to these kind of tactics when all people are trying to do is have an open discussion? Why shouldn’t people be allowed to present new information when discussing something like astrology, or logical fallacies? Why would you say that I didn’t receive the love I cried out for in anguish? Why would you make random guesses about a person – are you trying to hurt my feelings? Do you think it makes you look smart? Do you think it even helps your cause, or help you win the argument? It’s not even an argument – it’s just a discussion about astrology.

        I did a little research, and you show up on a lot of science based/skeptical blogs, usually defending some form of pseudoscience or other myth. Here’s an example: http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/03/07/chupacabra-tacos/ And it’s the same stuff – tireless defending Bill Perron and anti-Randi rhetoric. People argue with you on those sites as well.

        I’m not interested in your opinions either, believe me, and I’m not trying to convert you or change your mind, as you clearly don’t want to be presented with other information — you even say “you have no respect for someone who uses a question” as a response to a question.

        Carlos, I’d love to continue the discussion with you if you’re willing to be reasonable and not hurtful, and if you’re willing to bring some new ideas to the table, rather than regurgitating the same ones over and over again. The ball is your court.

        • Carlos Caliente March 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

          The youtube video was what was requested, Shermer validates the Vedic astrologer and you say it is nothing special, by that you mean you will ignore the results because it doesn’t align with your agenda. As for my honest internet exposures of the transparent shallowness of pseudo skeptics that exposes them as liars such as Randi and CSICOP I am quite delighted with them. Just because people argue with me and defend liars does not make them right, it reveals them as liars as well as agenda motivated myopic fools. As for bringing hew ideas to the table, I did with the Shermer Vedic video that does not align with your myopic agendas, to bad, because truth is a wonderful thing, seek it, it will set you free. As for making myself look smart because I post thoughts that don’t agree with yours, obviously it doesn’t make me look dumb, they got you all stirred up.

  23. Tina October 8, 2013 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Astrology derives from an ancient study of the sky from the perspective of the earth dweller. Many early myths were constructed around the stellar shapes seen in the sky, planets in our solar system were given the names of gods (Greek or Roman, Hindu etc) and the gods attributes were assigned to the planets.
    Other major stars usually fixed also have attributions assigned to them, some were said to bring about dire conditions to earthlings, some benign and some positive. The sun, giver of all life travels through the zodiac through the course of a year, one’s birthday occurs when the sun arrives at the place in the zodiac which it occupied on the day you were born.
    Star lore at its best could be seen as a harmless hobby, a cultural astronomy tool that can and does inspire the human imagination in the realms of art music and literature. Who is not awe inspired when gazing upward at the mysterious and endless magnificence of the night sky.
    The beliefs surrounding astrology vary across the globe, are influenced by tribal religions. Western astrology contains much of the harsh guilt inducing judgements embedded in Christian theology and as such both movements are seen to be just as ridiculous and unfounded in the light of modern biological scientific knowledge.
    Further, Christian theologians and western Astrological practitioners partake in fanciful apocalyptic prophecies which never hit the mark. Both movements have always been viewed by rationalist thinkers as utterly false and wide open to corruption. They cunningly present as authoritative personages or bodies with access to hidden spiritual knowledge and a wide variety of interpretation usually emanates from the study of each movement’s preferred foundational scripture.
    It is apparently remarkably easy for these snake oil salesmen to exploit the very vulnerable and gullible members of society. It is also just as remarkably easy though, for the vulnerable and gullible to learn the simple wily mechanisms employed in the rules of both these antiquated con games.

    • William Perron October 8, 2013 at 11:59 am - Reply

      No mention here of any of the correct predictions of astrologers. Please read Cosmos and Psyche by Tarnas.
      30 years of research went into the book which goes all the way back to the beginning of recorded history and the major events of the times. The astrological positions of the planets during events has well documented the accuracy of astrology, not opinions, just the facts. Astrology works, why, who knows, but it does work. 6000 years of computerized research has proven it.

  24. Tina October 8, 2013 at 7:15 am - Reply

    More inquiries into the claims of ‘Christian” Astrology:
    In the Northern Hemisphere where astrology first emerged, the winter solstice occurs from approximately 23 December to 25 December, the dead of winter, thereafter the sun slowly begins to shift its position and the days begin to get longer.
    The exact opposite occurs in June on the 23rd to 25th in the Southern Hemisphere.
    The Roman’s sun god was Apollo, the Romans among many other ancient northern tribes were sun worshippers for sensible and obvious reasons which you can easily figure out for yourself.

    When Constantine put his seal of approval on the Christian movement, he quite sensibly shoe horned the Galilean myth into the old pagan ways and practices for the sake of peace and control, and so we have landed up with Christ Mass and Easter, both pagan festivals in origin. (you can look this up).
    My point about all this is the question of whether Southern Hemisphere earth dwellers, pagan or Christian, should celebrate Christ mass in June and Easter in October?
    When should these festivals take place in the North or South poles or even in the equatorial band. It all seems like so much head swirling nonsense.

    I have another qualm about the natal western astrological outpourings, (they always seem to be tainted with more than a little narcissism, not dis-similar to the triumphal exclusivism of Christian belief).
    If I had my birthdate reading I should like to compare it with as many other humans all over the world who were, on the same day, either born, still born, or aborted. This would involve a lot of research I know but at least it could serve to confirm whether the astrological claims could in any way be taken seriously.

  25. Denis February 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Given that my housemate used to write horoscopes for a major newspaper, and sometimes I would sometimes help her make up, and mix and match the “predictions” (that people considered “accurate” !) – I am pretty sure that it is all BS !

    • Bill Perron February 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Using the line of reason Denis presents since I perform as an actor in t.v. and film and have played the roles of an artist, chef, cop, and a whole bunch of others, because I can mix and match roles I’m pretty sure those professions are all BS.

  26. Laney Robertson June 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    How do I make a complaint against an astrologer who let her own personal feelings for her birth country and its people feed into her astrology.It was really nasty. Obviously people reading her blog and trusting in her astrological predictions will believe her on her hatred for Scots and Scotland. This is misconduct I’d say, abusing people’s trust and belief in what she says at the cost of the people of Scotland being talked down wrongly. This was her opinion which to me has nothing to do with astrology,her name is Marjorie Orr
    K Rowling – attacked for giving an opinion From: Marjorie. (12 Jun 2014 14:05):
    J K Rowling has been deluged with foul-mouthed abuse for speaking out against Scottish Independence in what has become a bizarrely toxic and unpleasant debate running onto the referendum on September 18. She has lived in Scotland for the past 20 years. Business leaders and creative artists have been reluctant to speak out in similar vein for fear of incurring the wrath of what have become known as the cybernats.

    Born 31 July 1965 (2pm?) Bristol, she’s a Sun Leo square Neptune with Mercury Venus Uranus Pluto Moon spread out through Virgo with the latter three opposition Saturn in Pisces square Jupiter in Gemini. At the moment her Solar Arc Mercury is conjunct her Mars so it was always going to be a heated time.
    She was never going to see eye to eye with SNP leader Alex Salmond with his competitive Mars Moon MC in Pisces hitting her Saturn. He has been accused by a wide variety of political opponents and commentators of having a dictatorial style, being compared to Milosevic, Mugabe, Hitler, Il Duce (Mussolini), Ceausescu of Romania, Kim Jong-Il and Nero.
    His Moon Mars is trine Saturn Venus in determined Scorpio trine Uranus Jupiter in Cancer – so he’s certainly assertive (Mars MC), volatile (Mars Uranus), chippy (Mars Saturn) and autocratic (Saturn Uranus). 31 Dec 1954 4.30pm Glasgow Scotland. His Saturn Venus squares Pluto giving him endurance, and obsessive determination. His Jupiter Uranus is lucky; squaring Neptune can be fanatical.

    Both the SNP (14 Dec 1933) and the Scotland 842 AD charts have afflicted Mars. The SNP has a Mars in Capricorn opposition Pluto square Uranus opposition Jupiter; while the country chart has Mars in Cancer opposition Saturn Neptune in Capricorn square Uranus; with a Sun conjunct Pluto. So in both – Mars Saturn Uranus with strongly Plutonic overtones. Very aggressive.
    One thought struck me – if they did manage to win and get independence from the hated English what is going to happen to all that raw anger? They’ll end up squabbling like ferrets in a sack amongst themselves, which has indeed been the experience of the history of the SNP since its start.

    As an ex-pat Scot who left because I wanted to see the wider world and found Scotland, despite its beauty and some sterling qualities, too narrow minded and parochial, I just find the whole barney utterly astonishing.

    Comedian Billy Connolly recently described the debate as a “morass that I care not to dip my toe into”. Though he added “I’m deeply suspicious of patriotism. People following the band, you know? I don’t want to be part of it. It’s paved with fools. I’ve never been a nationalist and I’ve never been a patriot.” Hear hear.

  27. James Michener September 26, 2014 at 4:48 am - Reply

    Similarly, 74% of Americans still believe in a supreme being.

    Simply because many people may believe something says nothing about the fact of that something.

    The tests have been done, the science is sound, there is no god, demons, astrological influences, loch ness monster, bigfoot or pokemon, other than in people’s imagination.

    • Carlos Caliente September 26, 2014 at 10:43 am - Reply

      There is no James Michener. I don’t believe in any James Michener so ha can’t exist.

  28. Bill Perron December 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    James Randi is a liar and his followers are cowards. I have now had for 7 years a ten thousand dollar offer to Randi to produce evidence to support the lies he used to weasel out of my challenge for his publicity stunt million dollars. No one has had the guts to ask the smelly old stinker if he did lie. Not one of you will do it I suspect it is because you fear the truth that he is a liar. You so called skeptics like to say you are all for truth but not one of you will seek it. I have challenged the keeper of this blog to contact Randi and ask him if he lied to weasel out. If Randi can produce anything to support his claim that he was rejecting the Perron challenge because “Perron wants no photos taken.” Truth is I insisted we video tape the testing since video takes 30 pics a second I actually wanted thousands of photos taken. The blogger says he will contact Randi, lets see if he does.

  29. Bill Perron December 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    The keeper of this blog said he will contact Randi about my claim that Randi lied to weasel out of my challenge after he had already accepted my challenge. Let’s see if he actually does, or will he wimp out like all the other fearful of the truth followers of Randi.

  30. Bill Perron December 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    The keeper of this blog says he will contact Randi about my claim Randi lied to weasel out of my challenge, lets see if he does.

  31. Carlos Caliente April 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Surely you jest, this blog is boring, obviously you have a sense of humor and are putting these folks on. By encouraging ignorant minds to just accept the status quo without investigating astrology for themselves is the work of professional pseudo skeptics like that liar James Randi. Sham on you.

  32. Marty June 20, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    James Randi is a liar? That’s slanderous of you to say that, given that James Randi has devoted his entire life to being honest, truthful and exposing frauds. “Investigate astrology for themselves?” I don’t need to investigate 4 myself because a math teacher tells me that 2 + 2 = 4. Fact is fact, truth is truth, and no you want people to waste their time on Astrology “researching” it themselves because you feel wounded by this blog? I guess a hit dog will holler.

  33. Carlos Caliente June 20, 2014 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Oh, did your feelings get hurt because I told the truth about the liar Randi?
    P.S. the truth is never slander, it is just the truth.

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