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Why I think astrology is false

Discuss Divination, Fortune Telling - Astrology, Tarot, Runes, I Ching, Tea Leaves, etc. and Predictions.
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Why I think astrology is false

Postby kungfuscience » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:31 am


Share |

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnI_ddAL-p0

I'd welcome your comments on my argument.

Really, I actually would. Even though I'm a sceptic I like to hear what people have to say, especially if it's at odds with what I think. However, expect me to get a bit Socratic and challenge what you have to say in return (but sadly, with considerably less intelligence than Socrates).






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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ciscop » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:31 am



well..
to begin with
which system of astrology?
the chinese, the persian or the greek which is the most popular on the western cultures?

is like talking about religion (who has the ONE REAL invisible friend?)..
personally i like the folklore of astrology, i think is funny... worthless but funny.
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby kungfuscience » Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:11 am



Doesn't matter which version, so long as the astrology is using the stars to divine one's future/personality etc. If there are versions of astrology that don't use the sky, surely they're not astrology? (Correct me if I'm wrong though!)

If the positions of the stars etc in the sky can predict people's behaviour (or whatever), it follows that the system should be able to detect bodies in the sky that are previously unknown, but should be there, because they are exerting an influence in a measurable way (for example, my hypothetical star that increases a person's scepticism).

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ProfWag » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:23 am



I'm afraid I can't be of much help here kungfu. I firmly believe that astrology is a crock of horse maneuer also. In fact, if it wasn't so dangerous to society, I'd say the subject is laughable.

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby Don » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:26 pm



KFS, your video shows exactly why SCEPCOP is needed. You have created a straw man, defeated your straw man, and then say that therefore, the reality is untrue. This is very common among debunkers, and I hope that in the future you present something more realistic. However, this is not meant as an ad hominem attack, so let me list the problems with your video.

First, you say that astrology claims the positions of planets influence behavior and how your week will turn out. Does the position of planets influence people? Possibly. But so does your Aunt Martha when she says she wishes you'd spend more time with her. There are lots of things that influence us. IF you had ever actually studied astrology, you would have learned that some people claim the position of the planets and stars directly influence us, others say they indirectly influence us, and others say that they merely reflect what is going on and don't influence us at all. Your attack actually shows your lack of knowledge, not your understanding of astrology.

Second, your claim that astrology will tell you how your week will turn out implies some sort of fate, something that is not believed in by any astrologer I know of. Your position is like saying "the stars say that on Friday you'll get on a boat and drown."
"Can I just stay away from boats?"
"No, you're going to get on a boat and drown."

Ridiculous. No astrologer believes that. In fact, a common expression among astrologers is that the stars impel, they don't compel. So your fatalistic interpretation is simply false.

Third, your argument that astrology must be false because if you believe in something there must be a planet that indicates it shows an utter lack of understanding of astrology. It's not the planets themselves, it's the planets in relationship to the stars, the asteroids, each other, and how they change in position over time. A desire for skepticism can be indicated by several of these factors and there is no need for a new planet to be discovered.

I love that you mentioned Newton in defense of your position. Newton was an astrologer. So were Tyco Brahe, Kepler, and Copernicus. Astronomy evolved as a way to help astrologers before it separated. Originally, astronomy was the minor science created to help astrologers.

It has been said that when Halley, discoverer of the Comet named after him, told Newton that he (Halley) believe astrology was bunk, Newton replied, "Sir, I have studied it, you have not." That may or may not be true.

However, from your total lack of understanding of astrology in your attempted debunking of it, you have shown that you have not studied astrology at all.

Now, I imagine that you may not like being labeled a debunker and prefer being called a skeptic. After all, skeptics are supposed to be more open minded than debunkers. So I tell you what. Let's see just how open minded you are.

Please give a list of five books on astrology written by astrologers that you have read and give a critique for each one.
If you have not done such reading, please admit it.
If you really want to show how open minded you are, I'll give you a list of five books on astrology written by astrologers so you can learn what astrology is really about. Then you can critique real astrology instead of presenting your straw men.

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby kungfuscience » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:51 am



Thank you very much for taking the time to watch my video, and to criticise it!

[quote=”Don”]First, you say that astrology claims the positions of planets influence behavior and how your week will turn out. Does the position of planets influence people? Possibly. But so does your Aunt Martha when she says she wishes you'd spend more time with her. There are lots of things that influence us. IF you had ever actually studied astrology, you would have learned that some people claim the position of the planets and stars directly influence us, others say they indirectly influence us, and others say that they merely reflect what is going on and don't influence us at all. Your attack actually shows your lack of knowledge, not your understanding of astrology.[/quote]

Sorry, this does indeed highlight my ignorance. Of the people that believe in astrology that I’ve talked with, and of the things I’ve read, I was under the impression that the positions of planets, stars etc influenced us in one way or another. I still think my argument stands. I will explain at the end why.

[quote=”Don”]Second, your claim that astrology will tell you how your week will turn out implies some sort of fate, something that is not believed in by any astrologer I know of. Your position is like saying "the stars say that on Friday you'll get on a boat and drown."
"Can I just stay away from boats?"
"No, you're going to get on a boat and drown."

Ridiculous. No astrologer believes that. In fact, a common expression among astrologers is that the stars impel, they don't compel. So your fatalistic interpretation is simply false.[/quote]

Sorry, I was basing this on horoscopes which do tend to tell you how your week will turn out (granted in a vague notion that applies to most).

In addition, the signs of the Zodiac are meant to be associated with various personality types. Some people I have met say that it is the positions of the planets etc that influence this.

[quote=”Don”]Third, your argument that astrology must be false because if you believe in something there must be a planet that indicates it shows an utter lack of understanding of astrology. It's not the planets themselves, it's the planets in relationship to the stars, the asteroids, each other, and how they change in position over time. A desire for skepticism can be indicated by several of these factors and there is no need for a new planet to be discovered.[/quote]

I’ll expand on this at the end.

[quote=”Don”]I love that you mentioned Newton in defense of your position. Newton was an astrologer. So were Tyco Brahe, Kepler, and Copernicus. Astronomy evolved as a way to help astrologers before it separated. Originally, astronomy was the minor science created to help astrologers.[/quote]

Why does this matter? I was referring to Newton’s Laws of Motion, which were then built on by Einstein and relativity. Whatever else he believed is irrelevant to that particular discussion. Newton also believed in witches and was an alchemist.

[quote=”Don”]Please give a list of five books on astrology written by astrologers that you have read and give a critique for each one.
If you have not done such reading, please admit it.[/quote]

I’ve not read many books on astrology, and I can’t remember those that I have as they would have been years ago in my teens. So, no, I can’t and freely admit it.

[quote=”Don”]If you really want to show how open minded you are, I'll give you a list of five books on astrology written by astrologers so you can learn what astrology is really about. Then you can critique real astrology instead of presenting your straw men.[/quote]

Please do.

Here is why I think my argument still stands:

What I was trying to get at, is that from my current understanding of astrology, the positions of the stars, planets etc have an influence on our behaviour/future etc in some way.

Even if the sky reflects the current events of what’s going on, surely astrology should be able to predict new, as yet, undiscovered planets, stars, nebula or whatever.

My idea for things causing scepticism was hypothetical. Let’s use Neptune as an example instead:

Neptune was discovered in 1846. By science. I have seen it used in Astrology. So, why did Astrology not predict it? If it is having an effect, surely that effect was there whether people knew about it or not. Therefore, shouldn’t astrologers be able to say “We don’t know what it is, but there is a planet that moves across the sky doing this”?

Whatever interactions everything in the sky has with each other, nothing new has come from Astrology. It’s not a system that can predict things, though it should be able to.

I'm away for a week now, so I'll reply as soon as I can, but it may take a while. Sorry for any typos too - I had to do this in a rush in my lunch hour.

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ProfWag » Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:23 am



I freely admit that I have neither studied nor read astrogoly books. I also freely admit that I have neither studied nor read comic books. But, I can distinguish between fantasy and reality. Having said that, I have a question for those that follow astrology. Shouldn't two people, born on the same day in the same hospital, have the same personality traits? Yet, they don't. Why? (I'm actually asking that as a serious question since I don't understand how astrology can be taken seriously at all.)
I also admit that I have never studied horrorscopes. But if I read mine from two different sources, they say things completely different. If horrorscopes are true, why don't they say the same thing?
Several years ago, I went to a fortune teller. I distinctly remember a few things I was told. First, I was going to inherit money. I haven't (and won't). Next, I was told I was going to marry a redhead. I married a true blonde and am quite happy. Finally, I was told I like being around people and that I would end up in a large city. I live in a quite remote area with the closest McDonalds being a half hour away. Was she a quack and I should have gone to another? If so, how does one know who is truthful and who is not?
Wag

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby NinjaPuppy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:55 am



ProfWag wrote:If so, how does one know who is truthful and who is not?


In every walk of life you have people who are proficient in their jobs and people who are not. Professions that require some sort of schooling or license at least have minimum standards but that still can't assure you quality service.

I ask myself the question, "How do I know if this person is truthful or experienced" everytime I need to call a plumber, roofer, electrician or car mechanic. Life is a crapshoot baby! We learn from our mistakes and learn to ask others for their personal experiences with contractors, doctors and even restaurants. Why would it be so different to ask for a reference on say a 'fortune teller' or 'astrologer' if you wanted to check out their services?

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ProfWag » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:06 am



NinjaPuppy wrote: Why would it be so different to ask for a reference on say a 'fortune teller' or 'astrologer' if you wanted to check out their services?

Very good question NP and I'm not sure I can answer that from an open minded standpoint. If I need to find an electrician, a plumber, or a massage therapist, I will ask a friend or neighbor whom I trust for info on their past experiences. I personally don't know anyone with a solid reputation who can or would recommend a psychic or fortune teller. They usually don't post their success rates or references online.

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby NinjaPuppy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:28 am



ProfWag wrote:
NinjaPuppy wrote: Why would it be so different to ask for a reference on say a 'fortune teller' or 'astrologer' if you wanted to check out their services?

Very good question NP and I'm not sure I can answer that from an open minded standpoint. If I need to find an electrician, a plumber, or a massage therapist, I will ask a friend or neighbor whom I trust for info on their past experiences. I personally don't know anyone with a solid reputation who can or would recommend a psychic or fortune teller. They usually don't post their success rates or references online.


Well, there ya go! It's the same as someone asking around for a good 'baby sitter' if they don't have children. If you have no use for the 'service' then finding someone you can 'trust' isn't very important to you in that particular field of service. Random conversations of what a good babysitter another person has found won't pick up on your radar at say parties or gatherings. If you tend to associate with people who also don't have children or are single, you won't even be exposed to such a conversation in your associations.

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ProfWag » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:58 am



NinjaPuppy wrote:
ProfWag wrote:
NinjaPuppy wrote: Why would it be so different to ask for a reference on say a 'fortune teller' or 'astrologer' if you wanted to check out their services?

Very good question NP and I'm not sure I can answer that from an open minded standpoint. If I need to find an electrician, a plumber, or a massage therapist, I will ask a friend or neighbor whom I trust for info on their past experiences. I personally don't know anyone with a solid reputation who can or would recommend a psychic or fortune teller. They usually don't post their success rates or references online.


Well, there ya go! It's the same as someone asking around for a good 'baby sitter' if they don't have children. If you have no use for the 'service' then finding someone you can 'trust' isn't very important to you in that particular field of service. Random conversations of what a good babysitter another person has found won't pick up on your radar at say parties or gatherings. If you tend to associate with people who also don't have children or are single, you won't even be exposed to such a conversation in your associations.

Totally agree. So, do you or anyone in this forum know of a respected psychic/fortune teller/medium in the state of Arkansas?

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby NinjaPuppy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:50 am



ProfWag wrote:Totally agree. So, do you or anyone in this forum know of a respected psychic/fortune teller/medium in the state of Arkansas?


Not off the top of my head but if the mood should move you to want to locate one, there are ways. There are many Arkansas paranormal groups listed on the Internet. Most paranormal investigative groups claim to have a 'psychic' or at least a 'sensative' on staff or at least have access to someone they will use on occasion. If you Google up "Arkansas paranormal" you will find a list of groups. By reading each individual website, you can use your noggin to find perhaps one or two that almost seem worthy of at least contacting for a name. Once you have the name, do a bit more Google magic to see if that particular person seems credible to your liking and then ask around in like minded circles to see what others have to say.

Another possible way is to ask 'believers' for their personal recommendations. I'm sure that you will get plenty of suggestions and you can start your search from there. Winston seems to have found an astrologer that he considers to be worthy of collaboration and I'm sure that other here have got people they consider to be of value for their needs. Like with any other 'service', you need to test the waters before you can form an opinion. Someone's talents or service can only be measured by your personal views in this particular case. What I may deem as 'respected' may not fit in with your personal definition of that word.

To check the flip side of that coin, I'm sure that Mr. Randi has a full list of psychics/fortune tellers/mediums to eliminate. That may help you save some time ;)

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby ProfWag » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:39 am



NinjaPuppy wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Totally agree. So, do you or anyone in this forum know of a respected psychic/fortune teller/medium in the state of Arkansas?


Not off the top of my head but if the mood should move you to want to locate one, there are ways. There are many Arkansas paranormal groups listed on the Internet. Most paranormal investigative groups claim to have a 'psychic' or at least a 'sensative' on staff or at least have access to someone they will use on occasion. If you Google up "Arkansas paranormal" you will find a list of groups. By reading each individual website, you can use your noggin to find perhaps one or two that almost seem worthy of at least contacting for a name. Once you have the name, do a bit more Google magic to see if that particular person seems credible to your liking and then ask around in like minded circles to see what others have to say.

Another possible way is to ask 'believers' for their personal recommendations. I'm sure that you will get plenty of suggestions and you can start your search from there. Winston seems to have found an astrologer that he considers to be worthy of collaboration and I'm sure that other here have got people they consider to be of value for their needs. Like with any other 'service', you need to test the waters before you can form an opinion. Someone's talents or service can only be measured by your personal views in this particular case. What I may deem as 'respected' may not fit in with your personal definition of that word.

To check the flip side of that coin, I'm sure that Mr. Randi has a full list of psychics/fortune tellers/mediums to eliminate. That may help you save some time ;)

For the record, I went to a psychic in Sedona a few months ago that was recommended and received good reviews. I was very disappointed. She started off by telling me to ask her a question and the more specific question I asked, the more specific response I got. I wasn't really prepared for that, but I asked her if I should change careers. She was very enthusiastic about that and over the course of 15 minutes, she told me that I should and that my wife would support it. Well, she didn't have a clue about my situation and it isn't feasable for me to change careers, let alone my wife being supportive of it. But, that's what was in my cards. Good think I didn't do it 'cause I just got a substantial raise that will allow me to retire again much earlier than planned....
By the way, I am signed up on the Arkansas paranormal group, but for some reason I didn't think to ask them. I will though and thanks for the advice!

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby NinjaPuppy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:27 pm



ProfWag wrote:For the record, I went to a psychic in Sedona a few months ago that was recommended and received good reviews. I was very disappointed. She started off by telling me to ask her a question and the more specific question I asked, the more specific response I got. I wasn't really prepared for that, but I asked her if I should change careers. She was very enthusiastic about that and over the course of 15 minutes, she told me that I should and that my wife would support it. Well, she didn't have a clue about my situation and it isn't feasable for me to change careers, let alone my wife being supportive of it. But, that's what was in my cards. Good think I didn't do it 'cause I just got a substantial raise that will allow me to retire again much earlier than planned....

Glad to hear about the career advancement, sorry to hear that the psychic in Sedona wasn't up to the task. I have met many psychics in my lifetime. Some I went to with friends who didn't want to go alone, some I found to be psychics after becoming good aquaintances and friends. Some I have found by asking around and giving them a try in a 'let's see what this joker says' mood.

I have never gone to a psychic for 'advice' in a specific area. I have received excellent comments during a reading that I have used to my benefit but never went with a specific question in mind.

By the way, I am signed up on the Arkansas paranormal group, but for some reason I didn't think to ask them. I will though and thanks for the advice!


You never cease to amaze me. May I ask if you have an actual position with this Arkansas paranormal group? What do you think of their protocols and findings?

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Re: Why I think astrology is false

Postby Don » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:39 pm



Thanks for responding, everyone. I'll try to make my response brief.

KFS: I know people, I know people who "follow the stock market," but if I want to make an investment, I go to an expert, not someone who looks at the stock quotes on occasion. According to you, then, you have not consulted any expert nor read a book on the subject, yet you are content that you know enough to debunk it. That is one of the reasons debunkers have such a bad reputation among real scientists.

You were not basing your fatalistic interpretation on real horoscopes. You were basing your interpretation on two sentences printed in newspapers. They call them horoscopes, but then, Fox also calls their propaganda "news."

A real horoscope is a full map of certain aspects of the sky made for the exact time and place you were born. A trained astrologer will then spend hours looking at the relationships between the planets, signs, and asteroids. To relate this to what is going on now requires yet another chart be drawn for your current location and time. Not only is it interpreted by itself, but also in relation to your birth chart. It has nothing to do with what you see in newspapers. What are those? Those are actually called "sun sign readings" that categorize people as one of 12 signs and look for some major relationships. They are broad, general, and don't take into account the thousands of bits of information that a trained astrologer would look for. Astrologers use those for publicity and gaining money, not for accuracy.

If an astrologer looks at a chart, the sign of the zodiac is only one of hundreds of things that relate to personality type. I'll leave it to the psychologists to put you into a small number of personality types (thank you Mr. Jung).

My point about the fact that Newton was an astrologer is that it doesn't make sense to use the concepts of an astrologer to debunk astrology unless you want to debunk that astrologer. In this case, you not only did not debunk the astrologer, you were using his ideas.

You say you've "not read many books on astrology." Curiously, though, you've been able to totally misrepresent astrological concepts. KFS, I'm in favor of a true skeptical look at astrology, but misrepresenting it as you have is only making your position look bad.

You ask for recommendations of books on astrology:

Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology by Noel Tyl
Cosmic Trends by Philip Brown
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Astrology by Kris Riske
Chart Interpretation Handbook by Stephen Arroyo and Jerilynn Marshall
The Astrologer's Handbook by Frances Sakoian and Louis S. Acker

You wrote: "surely astrology should be able to predict new, as yet, undiscovered planets, stars, nebula or whatever."

Sorry, but there's no logic to that. That's like saying because someone swims in a pool and knows how to do the backstroke they should be able to discover hidden water. After all, they both deal with water. Or why hasn't an airplane pilot discovered some new nebula while flying a plane? That's not what they're looking for.

You asked, "why did Astrology not predict it [the discovery of Neptune]? If it is having an effect, surely that effect was there whether people knew about it or not. Therefore, shouldn’t astrologers be able to say “We don’t know what it is, but there is a planet that moves across the sky doing this”?" The answer is two-fold.

First, it is perfectly possible to do a wonderful astrological interpretation without using Neptune. If you have a knife and fork that work just fine, why should you look for another fork?

Second, astrology looks at Neptune as being related to society more than to individuals. Neptune was discovered in 1846. This coincides perfectly with the massive changes that developed at the end of the first Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the second. This corresponds with the massive growth of a middle class, allowing for more expressions of idealism and compassion, two of the major astrological meanings of Neptune. However, it was also the time of the growth of what became known as the "French Occult Revival." Another astrological meaning for Neptune is spirituality and mysticism. Astrologers would say that society evolved enough for Neptune to be discovered. Being part of society, until society evolved they couldn't have even used Neptune until society was ready for it.

Finally, you wrote, "nothing new has come from Astrology. It’s not a system that can predict things, though it should be able to." That's what I mean by straw man. You invent something that doesn't exist, denounce it, then relate your denunciation to something that does exist. BZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Sorry, no consolation prize, either.

The basic process of welding remains the same, so you could also say that nothing new has come from welding. Welding isn't a system that can predict things, though it should be able to. And welders didn't discover Pluto, either! Therefore, by your logic, welding is a fraud.


PW: writes, "I freely admit that I have neither studied nor read astrogoly books." Then you ask, "Shouldn't two people, born on the same day in the same hospital, have the same personality traits? Yet, they don't. Why?"

BZZZZZ. Wait a minute. You say you've read nothing on the subject, but you know that two people born on the same day in the same hospital don't have the same personality traits. First of all, astrology is far more accurate than that. The motion of the Moon and Mercury, especially, changes dramatically during one day. We'd have to look at people born at the same place and at the same time. The chances of which are highly unlikely.

However, you assume, without any proof, that such people don't have similar personality traits. Your evidence for this is? Oh...you don't give any, do you.

On the other hand, a simple web search will give you absolutely shocking evidence that you're wrong in the numerous cases of twins separated at birth. Unfortunately (and scientifically accurately), such data can only be described as anecdotal, but look at these:
http://www.longwood.k12.ny.us/lhs/scien ... twins.html
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... n12863703/
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/ ... 63,00.html

Horoscopes, if drawn correctly, do say the same thing as they are factual illustrations. However different people looking at them may focus on different aspects of them, coming up with different conclusions. Would you like to see something similar? Watch a TV show called "House." Different people see the same signs (symptoms) and come up with different diagnoses. So are you going to say you don't believe in Western medicine, too?

Next you bring up a fortuneteller who was wrong. That's totally irrelevant to the discussion. How come so many of the economists were wrong about the world's economy? But you do end with a good question: "how does one know who is truthful and who is not?" When it comes to economists, I don't know. When it comes to astrologers, ask for references. When it comes to politicians, if their lips are moving they are not being truthful (that last one is easy!).

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