astrology and science


  • Further, James noted that response to criticism also relies on faulty logic, an example of which was a response to twin studies with the statement that coincidences in twins
    are due to astrology, but any differences are due to “heredity and environment”, while for other astrologers the issues are too difficult and they just want to get back to their astrology.

  • [24]: 228 [25]: 549  To Thagard, astrologers are acting as though engaged in normal science believing that the foundations of astrology were well established despite the “many
    unsolved problems”, and in the face of better alternative theories (Psychology).

  • [1] Mars effect[edit] Main article: Mars effect The initial Mars effect finding, showing the relative frequency of the diurnal position of Mars in the birth charts (N = 570)
    of “eminent athletes” (red solid line) compared to the expected results [after Michel Gauquelin 1955][29] In 1955, astrologer[30] and psychologist Michel Gauquelin stated that although he had failed to find evidence to support such indicators
    as the zodiacal signs and planetary aspects in astrology, he had found positive correlations between the diurnal positions of some of the planets and success in professions (such as doctors, scientists, athletes, actors, writers, painters,

  • The claim that evidence for astrology is that people born at roughly “the same place have a life pattern that is very similar” is vague, but also ignores that time is reference
    frame dependent and gives no definition of “same place” despite the planet’s moving in the reference frame of the solar system.

  • [4][5]: 1350  There is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth in the way astrologers
    say they do that does not contradict well-understood, basic aspects of biology and physics.

  • [31] Geoffrey Dean has suggested that the effect may be caused by self-reporting of birth dates by parents rather than any issue with the study by Gauquelin, but this suggestion
    is regarded as an “instructive example of how methods of research and rhetoric may be ill-applied just to push fancy ideas.

  • I was never satisfied that the experiment was a fair test of astrology.”[28]:128 Published in Nature in 1985, the study claimed to find that predictions based on natal astrology
    were no better than chance, and that the testing “clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis”.

  • The sample group was taken from a time where belief in astrology was more common.

  • [24]: 228  To Thagard, astrology should not be regarded as a pseudoscience on the failure of Gauquelin to find any correlation between the various astrological signs and someone’s
    career, twins not showing the expected correlations from having the same signs in twin studies, lack of agreement on the significance of the planets discovered since Ptolemy’s time and large scale disasters wiping out individuals with vastly
    different signs at the same time.

  • Rather, in Kuhn’s eyes, astrology is not science because it was always more akin to medieval medicine; they followed a sequence of rules and guidelines for a seemingly necessary
    field with known shortcomings, but they did no research because the fields are not amenable to research,[20]: 8  and so, “They had no puzzles to solve and therefore no science to practise.

  • [14]: 66  Carl Jung sought to invoke synchronicity, the claim that two events have some sort of acausal connection, to explain the lack of statistically significant results
    on astrology from a single study he conducted.

  • [24]: 227–228  Progress is defined here as explaining new phenomena and solving existing problems, yet astrology has failed to progress having only changed little in nearly
    2000 years.

  • [38]: 6–7  Lack of physical basis[edit] Edward W. James, commented that attaching significance to the constellation on the celestial sphere the sun is in at sunset was done
    on the basis of human factors—namely, that astrologers didn’t want to wake up early, and the exact time of noon was hard to know.

  • [49]: 393  By a process known as self-attribution, it has been shown in numerous studies that individuals with knowledge of astrology tend to describe their personalities
    in terms of traits compatible with their sun signs.

  • [8][9][10] Introduction The majority of professional astrologers rely on performing astrology-based personality tests and making relevant predictions about the remunerator’s

  • [23]: 401  To Kuhn, although astrologers had, historically, made predictions that “categorically failed”, this in itself does not make it unscientific, nor do the attempts
    by astrologers to explain away the failure by claiming it was due to the creation of a horoscope being very difficult (through subsuming, after the fact, a more general horoscope that leads to a different prediction).

  • As such, to Kuhn, even if the stars could influence the path of humans through life astrology is not scientific.

  • [12] The continued belief in astrology despite its lack of credibility is seen as a demonstration of low scientific literacy, although some continue to believe in it even
    though they are scientifically literate.

  • [14]: 67  Theoretic obstacles Beyond the scientific tests astrology has failed, proposals for astrology face a number of other obstacles due to the many theoretical flaws
    in astrology[14]: 62 [19]: 24  including lack of consistency, lack of ability to predict missing planets, lack of connection of the zodiac to the constellations in western astrology, and lack of any plausible mechanism.

  • “[27]:53 The suggestion is that a small subset of the parents may have had changed birth times to be consistent with better astrological charts for a related profession.

  • [32]: 117  There is little evidence that the astrologers were actually allowed to help draw up the central proposition of natal astrology to be tested, or any of the other
    procedures for the test, despite the claims in the initial study.

  • Astrology consists of a number of belief systems that hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events or descriptions of personality in the human

  • [21]: 48–49  Across several centuries of testing, the predictions of astrology have been more accurate than that expected by chance alone on a few notable occasions and have
    also been replicated.

  • [53] Studies and polling have shown that the belief in astrology is higher in western countries than might otherwise be expected.

  • The effect is heightened when the individuals were aware that the personality description was being used to discuss astrology.

  • [49]: 383  In a study by Paul Rogers and Janice Soule (2009), which was consistent with previous research on the issue, it was found that those who believed in astrology are
    generally more susceptible to giving more credence to the Barnum profile than sceptics.

  • [45]: 180–181  The Barnum effect is the tendency for an individual to give a high accuracy rating to a description of their personality that supposedly tailored specifically
    for them, but is, in fact, vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.

  • Astrologer and psychologist Michel Gauquelin claimed to have found statistical support for “the Mars effect” in the birth dates of athletes, but it could not be replicated
    in further studies.

  • [45]: 180–181  Thus there are two distinct forms of confirmation bias that are under study with respect to astrological belief.

  • [43] The study was subsequently heavily criticised for its non-random sample and its use of statistics and also its lack of consistency with astrology.

  • [18][19]: 10  Therefore, any test of a scientific theory must prohibit certain results that falsify the theory, and expect other specific results consistent with the theory.

  • They concluded: “Only one conclusion appears unavoidable: CSICOP’s alleged negative evidence for a Mars effect must henceforth be disregarded unless the CSICOP would prove
    that a chance interpretation of the present IMQ-finding has in fact no alternative.

  • [14]: 62  Ptolemy’s work on astronomy was driven to some extent by the desire, like all astrologers of the time, to easily calculate the planetary movements.

  • [24]: 228  To Thagard a further criterion of demarcation of science from pseudoscience was that the state of the art must progress and that the community of researchers should
    be attempting to compare the current theory to alternatives, and not be “selective in considering confirmations and disconfirmations”.

  • “[27]:53 Carlson’s experiment[edit] Shawn Carlson’s now renowned experiment, though also criticized by many[28]:127, was performed by fewer than 28 astrologers matching 116
    natal charts to psychological profiles generated by the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) test using double blind methods.

  • On astrology, it cited the inability of different astrologers to make the same prediction about what occurs following a conjunction, and described the attributes astrologers
    gave to the planets as implausible.

  • [36]: 191  The astrologers performed much worse than merely basing decisions off the individuals’ ages, and much worse than 45 control subjects who did not use birth charts
    at all.

  • [2]: 213–214  The organisers of later studies claimed that Gauquelin had tried to influence their inclusion criteria for the study by suggesting specific individuals be removed.

  • Another, separate, form of confirmation bias also plays a role, where believers often fail to distinguish between messages that demonstrate special ability and those that
    do not.

  • [13] In 2012, in polls 42% of Americans said they thought astrology was at least partially scientific.

  • — Edward W. James[26]: 34  This poor reasoning includes appeals to ancient astrologers such as Kepler despite any relevance of topic or specific reasoning, and vague claims.

  • Sagan said he took this stance not because he thought astrology had any validity, but because he thought that the tone of the statement was authoritarian, and that dismissing
    astrology because there was no mechanism (while “certainly a relevant point”) was not in itself convincing.

  • [17]: 17–18  Philosophy of science Astrology provides the quintessential example of a pseudoscience since it has been tested repeatedly and failed all the tests.

  • [3]: 83  Dean and Kelly documented 25 studies, which had found that the degree of agreement amongst astrologers’ predictions was measured as a low 0.1.

  • [3]: 83  Those who continue to have faith in astrology have been characterised as doing so “in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs,
    and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary”.

  • [37] They pointed out that astrologers have only a small knowledge of astronomy and that they often do not take into account basic features such as the precession of the equinoxes.

  • While verification and falsifiability focused on the theory, Kuhn’s work focused on the historical context, but the astrological community should also be considered.

  • Some astrologers make claims that the position of all the planets must be taken into account, but astrologers were unable to predict the existence of Neptune based on mistakes
    in horoscopes.

  • [13]: 345  Some of the reported belief levels are due to a confusion of astrology with astronomy (the scientific study of celestial objects).

  • [26]: 32  Further, to astrologers, if something appears in their favour, they latch upon it as proof, while making no attempt to explore its implications, preferring to refer
    to the item in favour as definitive; possibilities that do not make astrology look favourable are ignored.

  • [40] If one were to attempt to try to explain it scientifically, there are only four fundamental forces (conventionally), limiting the choice of possible natural mechanisms.

  • If the astrologer insisted on being inconsistent with the current understanding and evidential basis of physics, that would be an extraordinary claim.

  • “[51]: 329  False balance is where a false, unaccepted or spurious viewpoint is included alongside a well reasoned one in media reports and TV appearances and as a result
    the false balance implies “there were two equal sides to a story when clearly there were not”.

  • Scientific testing has found no evidence to support the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions.

  • [36]: 190  In 10 studies, participants picked horoscopes that they felt were accurate descriptions, with one being the “correct” answer.

  • [11] The use of poetic imagery based on the concepts of the macrocosm and microcosm, “as above so below” to decide meaning such as Edward W. James’ example of “Mars above
    is red, so Mars below means blood and war”, is a false cause fallacy.

  • An astrologer could only explain away failure but could not revise the astrological hypothesis in a meaningful way.

  • Whether or not they:[24]: 226–227  • are focused on comparing their approach to others.

  • [27]:52 [28]:131 One approach used in testing astrology quantitatively is through blind experiment.

  • [51]: 327  Adorno concluded that astrology was a large-scale manifestation of systematic irrationalism, where flattery and vague generalisations subtly led individuals to
    believe the author of the column addressed them directly.

  • They commented on the example of Elizabeth Teissier who claimed that “the sun ends up in the same place in the sky on the same date each year” as the basis for claims that
    two people with the same birthday but a number of years apart should be under the same planetary influence.

  • [d][14]: 66  Most professional astrologers are paid to predict the future or describe a person’s personality and life, but most horoscopes only make vague untestable statements
    that can apply to almost anyone.

  • [53] During Wonders of the Solar System, a TV programme by the BBC, the physicist Brian Cox said: “Despite the fact that astrology is a load of rubbish, Jupiter can in fact
    have a profound influence on our planet.

  • [20]: 7  Popper regarded astrology as “pseudo-empirical” in that “it appeals to observation and experiment”, but “nevertheless does not come up to scientific standards”.

  • [6]: 249 [7] Modern scientific inquiry into astrology is primarily focused on drawing a correlation between astrological traditions and the influence of seasonal birth in

  • In a lecture in 2001, Stephen Hawking stated “The reason most scientists don’t believe in astrology is because it is not consistent with our theories that have been tested
    by experiment.

  • [36] A further test involved 45 confident[b] astrologers, with an average of 10 years’ experience and 160 test subjects (out of an original sample size of 1198 test subjects)
    who strongly favoured certain characteristics in the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire to extremes.


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and military settings as well as numerous ostensibly paranormal contexts (Dickson & Kelly, 1985; Furnham & Schofield, 1987; Snyder, Shenkel & Lowery, 1977; Thiriart, 1991). In the first Barnum study, Forer (1949) administered, astrological believers
deemed a Barnum profile supposedly derived from astrology was a better description of their own personality than did astrological skeptics. This was true regardless of the respondent’s ethnicity or apparent profile source. This reinforces still further
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the alleged role of favourableness as a moderator variable: long-term effect or artefact?”. Personality and Individual Differences. 35 (8): 1783–1789. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(03)00002-3. The effect was replicated several times (Eysenck & Nias 1981,1982;
Fichten & Sunerton, 1983; Jackson, 1979; Kelly, 1982; Smithers and Cooper, 1978), even if no reference to astrology was made until the debriefing of the subjects (Hamilton, 1995; Van Rooij, 1994, 1999), or if the data were gathered originally for
a purpose that has nothing to do with astrology (Clarke, Gabriels, and Barnes, 1996; Van Rooij, Brak, & Commandeur, 1988), but the effect is stronger when a cue is given to the subjects that the study is about astrology (Van Rooij 1994). Early evidence
for sun-sign derived self-attribution effects has already been reported by Silverman (1971) and Delaney & Woodyard (1974). In studies with subjects unfamiliar with the meaning of the astrological sun-sign symbolism, no effect was observed (Fourie,
1984; Jackson & Fiebert, 1980; Kanekar & Mukherjee, 1972; Mohan, Bhandari, & Meena, 1982; Mohan and Gulati, 1986; Saklofske, Kelly, & McKerracher, 1982; Silverman & Whitmer, 1974; Veno & Pamment, 1979).
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S2CID 206894358.
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