Wikipedia Astrology & Science Page Rebuttal
As I have called out the Astrology and Science (A&S) Wikipedia page for being out of date and for spreading falsehoods associated with astrology, I will approach this systematically and rebut the claims made on the page. My aim is to demonstrate that the content of the page has been superseded and that the arguments of people who seek to comment on this subject need to be both accurate and up-to-date based on what we know. When new information comes along that challenges skeptical beliefs, the skeptics need to answer this with either comprehensive and fair rebuttal, new arguments, or new positions. We have repeated controlled tests that not only validate astrology, the results also offer explanations as to why these results have never been witnessed before and what correction was required in order for scientific astrology to be revealed.
A&S Definition of astrology and claims of its explanatory power:
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 world. Astrology has been rejected by the scientific community as having no explanatory power for describing the universe. Scientific testing has found no evidence to support the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions.
Response: Astrology was rejected by Western Science in 1666, this is too long ago for us to rely on the reason for rejection. This is an important argument in terms of the consequences of this decision. When we compare the amount of research that has been done since 1666 the estimated number of research hours per century done in the sciences that were not rejected is so much more than the number of hours of astrological research, that it’s fair to calculate that every twenty minutes more research in physics or medicine gets done than all of the scientific research done in astrology since 1666.
Conclusion: the reason for the rejection of astrology from the French Academy of Sciences, which influenced the treatment of astrology by Western Science from December 22nd 1666 onwards, (patronage and later funding were withheld) was not informed by adequate scientific enquiry. As no funding for research was forthcoming from this date onwards astrology has been unfairly cast as a pseudoscience without adequate scientific testing. The statement that scientific testing has found no evidence is therefore an unreasonable statement lacking perspective, context and veracity.
A&S Astrology has not demonstrated its effectiveness in controlled studies and has no scientific validity, and is thus regarded as pseudoscience.
Response: Again see the response to point 1 above, the interest shown by most modern researchers in establishing the truth about astrology cannot be described as either exploratory or objective – they have not learned enough about it to work with it in a laboratory setting, their testing is therefore two-dimensional. Astrology has demonstrated effectiveness in controlled studies and this comment, therefore, lacks any merit.
A&S 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
Response: Astrology can be understood as the science of consciousness and in this respect, it is a moot point as to whether it needs an easily detectable physical mechanism. The lack of ability for skeptical commentators to step out of their zone of comfort is understandable, but in contextual terms, if a subject has not been validated as a physical science, then that should not be the end of the discourse. The fact that this is the conclusion suggests that the following were not considered: simulated universe, dualism - mind as a separate substance to matter, any non-materialist/rationalist viewpoint. Because these matters have not been settled yet it is misleading to claim that the matter of astrology is settled.
A&S The majority of professional astrologers rely on performing astrology-based personality tests and making relevant predictions about the remunerator's future. 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". Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson commented on astrological belief, saying that "part of knowing how to think is knowing how the laws of nature shape the world around us. Without that knowledge, without that capacity to think, you can easily become a victim of people who seek to take advantage of you"
Response: There is now a verified (and falsifiable) reason to believe that astrology has a basis in science. The fact that astrologers perform personality tests or use any technique at all, is probably related to the fact that while astrology is a compelling subject to the practitioner (it gives results), some fundamental issues exist with the nature of the subject that are not understood, and this gives latitude for speculation. This is similar to the history of medicine. The majority of physicians practiced bloodletting until germ theory was developed, then they stopped. Astrologers, who have no regulation, oversight, or tradition of peer review are free to practice as they choose. This is not the fault of astrology, it’s the fault of 17th Century Science. Neil Tyson’s comment relates to the laws of nature, if as is claimed, astrology is the science of consciousness, this comment is not relevant.
A&S Falsifiability - Science and non-science are often distinguished by the criterion of falsifiability. The criterion was first proposed by philosopher of science Karl Popper. To Popper, science does not rely on induction; instead, scientific investigations are inherently attempts to falsify existing theories through novel tests. If a single test fails, then the theory is falsified.
Therefore, any test of a scientific theory must prohibit certain results that falsify the theory and expect other specific results consistent with the theory. Using this criterion of falsifiability, astrology is a pseudoscience.
Astrology was Popper's most frequent example of pseudoscience. Popper regarded astrology as "pseudo-empirical" in that "it appeals to observation and experiment", but "nevertheless does not come up to scientific standards"
In contrast to scientific disciplines, astrology does not respond to falsification through experiment. According to Professor of neurology Terence Hines, this is a hallmark of pseudoscience
Response: This was the case before a method was found to place the horoscope in motion (based on a technique first mentioned by Kepler). Now comparative studies have been carried out that have demonstrated astrology is science and that are both falsifiable and have produced a degree of explanation as to why fixed and static astrology did not produce positive results. Terence Hines and Karl Popper were basing their conclusions on a narrow two-dimensional view of how astrology has been practiced since classical times and were therefore wrong.
A&S In philosopher Thomas 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, and so, "They had no puzzles to solve and therefore no science to practise.”
While an astronomer could correct for failure, an astrologer could not. An astrologer could only explain away failure but could not revise the astrological hypothesis in a meaningful way. As such, to Kuhn, even if the stars could influence the path of humans through life astrology is not scientific
Response: Kuhn is correct in some respects, but he is wrong that there is no science to practice and he is wrong that the astrological hypothesis cannot be changed. It was true that no one altered the hypothesis, but because astrology had to be corrected so that a formal theory of astrology could be arrived at (that includes specific caveats), it shows that it always could be revised. The fact that the astrological community would be traumatised by this and that it would most likely not be accepted by practising astrologers, should not be conflated with the significant recent findings that have shown astrology to be a scientific pursuit. The fact that astrologers don’t accept scientific findings about astrology is nothing new. Kuhn’s belief that astrology is not scientific is only true of the practitioners, not the subject. The same was true of medicine before vaccination was developed in the 1790s.
Kuhn is correct in looking at the historical subject and then commenting on the rule-based approach of medieval astrologers epitomised by Lilly in the 1660s. This argument assumes that the original subject was complete and that it could not be improved upon like - say - medieval medicine could. He shows no appreciation of context, as such his arguments are poor and based upon the supposition that the subject is false. As this is a poor starting point, I find Kuhn's argument poor.
A&S Philosopher Paul Thagard believed that astrology cannot be regarded as falsified in this sense until it has been replaced with a successor. In the case of predicting behavior, psychology is the alternative. 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
Response: This is true, but until we had an experiment, theory and explanation it is understandable why astrologers ignored disconfirmations. The ones that didn't ignore them ended up changing sides and now they can't change back whether they want to or not (Dean, Smit, etc.). Astrology can be replaced by a successor subject which includes a good deal of the original subject, but instead of a fixed birth chart, we replace it with a moving birth chart. This leap in understanding means that Thagard’s assumption that psychology is the successor is unnecessary and wrong.
A&S 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, his demarcation of science requires three distinct foci: "theory, community [and] historical context".
While verification and falsifiability focused on the theory, Kuhn's work focused on the historical context, but the astrological community should also be considered. Whether or not they:
• are focused on comparing their approach to others.
• have a consistent approach.
• try to falsify their theory through experiment.
In this approach, true falsification rather than modifying a theory to avoid the falsification only really occurs when an alternative theory is proposed
Response: As a theory of astrology has been proposed, Thagard’s conclusion is dated, however his foci are important. The astrological community is not a scientific community and this is because the whole community has grown up over three centuries outside the tradition of research, review and correction. It does not possess a consistent approach, nor does it seek to regulate and this is because of the lack of scientific outcomes in the two-dimensional experiments carried out by scientists. Those who want to apply science are easily rejected by the masses who prefer to work with ‘whatever works for them’. This does not have to be the case forever, but the fault lies with those 17th Century Scientists (again) not with astrology.
NB the four cases mentioned in this section (signs and career, twins, outer planets and large scale disasters) should not be held up as examples of why astrology is not true, they are examples of what scientists with little understanding of the subject believe it should be based on claims made by practitioners doing fixed and static astrology.
A&S Edward W. James says that astrological literature is irrational.
Response: He has a good point, but the reason why is a matter of debatable contention. If astrology lacks a coherent theory and little evidence due to poor experimentation, then all we have to do is substitute another controversial subject with astrology and do a thought experiment to see if we would have ever understood them. If we take Egyptian Hieroglyphics as an analog, let’s pretend we never found the Rosetta stone and that Champollion became a Geologist rather than a linguist. Or even better, let’s pretend Einstein decided that physics was not the subject for him, so he became an archaeologist. No one is likely to have dropped on general relativity. CP Snow says that someone would have dropped on special relativity probably within five years of Einstein. But he says, if he hadn't come up with general relativity, it’s not a given that someone else would have. So given that astrology has not had *any* prodigies of any kind in the modern age. By that I mean, that since 1666 there have been no remarkable intellects involved full time with this subject, and with a non-intuitive theory such as this one, it’s not a given that anyone with a conventional background would drop on it. Two great minds Arthur M Young and Carl Jung are the two that I can name that were almost brilliant and were almost involved with astrology. Carl Jung came up with synchronicity, Arthur M Young (who invented the Bell Helicopter) was convinced that secondary progressions were the most convincing element of the subject and in this respect, I regard him as showing great foresight. What it means is that if you have no prodigies working in the subject, then you do not move forward. If you don't move forward, your methods and your assumptions are going to start to look old-fashioned, then they will start to look archaic and then they will start to look irrational. The passage of time will make certain of that.
It’s not like it wouldn't have happened to any other subject which had been abandoned, any could have ended up in this position. If the collective 'authorities' had decided that there was nothing in them. Unless Edward James is presupposing that astrology is not true, which is not his place, he is not arguing about astrological irrationality, he's just commenting on the result of academic abandonment. As soon as we have a theory and an experiment and an explanation, his comments become historical commentary and the astrological literature can be seen in the same context as pre-17th Century medical literature.
Apologies to all of the astrologers writing about zodiacs and natal charts, but guys, we have to progress.
A&S Quinean dichotomy
Quinean logic suggests that you can accept astrology, but you have to reject all the other sciences that are incompatible with the subject.
Response: This is only the case as long as the subject remains undemonstrated. As soon as we have a theory and an experiment, then the part of science that doesn't agree with astrology is diminished. As a logical argument, this is one of the weakest. Astrology is not a paranormal subject, it, therefore, does not contradict science.
A&S Tests of Astrology
Astrologers often avoid making verifiable predictions and instead rely on vague statements that let them try to avoid falsification.
Response: This is a true statement. Practitioners of astrology tend not to be highly trained in science or the highest achievers in academia. This is understandable because of the history of academic abandonment of the subject. A knock-on effect is the inability of practitioners to understand or accept the need for verification and validation. Lack of oversight, governance, and general rules mean that astrology looks like a patchwork of different somewhat disconnected ideas vaguely arranged around a central theme connecting astronomy to life.
NOTE: It doesn't have to be this way. We have amazingly significant and accurate outcomes and new ways to read and interpret astrological data. The scope for new technology in this space is unprecedented in an underperforming market. Astrology is a multi-million dollar business, but what it offers is actually worth trillions if true. As Richard Dawkins said back in 1996: 'If the methods of astrologers were really shown to be valid it would be a fact of signal importance for science. Under such circumstances, astrology should be taken seriously indeed.' Well, some of their methods have been shown to be valid. We have the evidence, we have the foundation of new - useful - tech. The fact that you don't know about this - or you didn't until you happened by this website - is because there is no governance in astrology and this is because this remarkable information has to sit equally alongside every unproven claim and every astrologer is allowed to choose whatever method works for them whether there is a study associated with it or not.
Every technique and method in astrology is equal, even if disproved by another. Logic is optional in this strange world and the baggage it carries obscures the vein of gold we have found.
A&S Across several centuries of testing, the predictions of astrology have never been more accurate than that expected by chance alone.
Response: This is a very misleading statement. The amount of scientific research or testing of astrology that has happened over the past 366 years is the same as the amount of medical research done every 20 minutes. If the measure of how much a subject has changed is an indicator of how much research gets done then astrology has had as close to ZERO hours in 366 years as makes no difference.
General response to this section:
The tests quoted on this page are tests of the static Ancient Greek-derived subject which pre-supposed a world that is unchanging, hence the fixed and fated nature of their astrology which is based on fixed and static horoscopes. Since 21st Century research has revealed a high significance and high effect sizes in repeated experiments associated with moving horoscopes, all of these examples can be seen as mistaken and based upon incorrect assumptions. I have commented elsewhere that this change in perspective is very similar (in fact identical) to a literary device used by Carl Sagan in his novel Contact. In the book and the movie, S.R Hadden saw alien blueprints as three-dimensional cubes rather than two-dimensional pages, when viewed in this way the cubes revealed the primer – the Rosetta Stone – to decode the alien language. That’s what progressed synastry did for astrology – I saw the horoscopes as moving entities and followed the planetary relationships through time. This gave experimental results that were both massive in terms of significance but also large in terms of effect size. Best of all, the results helped us to explain why we did not understand astrology from a scientific point of view and why it had failed the (frankly few) tests it has undergone since the 17th Century.
Most of the rest of the Astrology and Science page is entirely falsified by the new theory of astrology.
I welcome contact from outraged Wikipedia editors or scientists who feel I have unfairly dealt with their pet hate. Please read the other pages before reacting.