Truth and Science - leading to Truth and Medicine - was the topic of the last eletter. Comments on Truth came in from readers in New York and Texas to Scotland, Brazil and Argentina. Wow! They are posted below the article at http://theportableschool.com
After I sent out the enote, I decided that a book had been sitting in my To Be Read pile long enough. So, I read The Truth About Astrology by Michel Gauquelin.
The French psychologist, Gauquelin, studied astrology as scientifically as he could for over 30 years. He came up with changing conclusions and his own Neo-Astrology by the 80s.
The following paragraph derives from the last page of the book and gives a sense of the man and his experiments:
“Here, astrology has always remained enigmatic and, to the perfectly proper question,
“‘Should I believe it?’
“I can only answer by rejecting both the unconditional opponents and the confirmed upholders. Of course, I am aware that I have presented in these pages an astrology ‘a la Gauquelin’, a neo-doctrine for my own person use. That is because the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, does not exist in astrology -- not yet, anyway. This is the only thing I am pretty sure of. My ideas on astral influence have changed continually, swinging back and forth like a pendulum. I deserve the double reproach of excessive credulity and extreme skepticism.”
My read gave me fodder for an article-review which may be worthy of your quick study and/or comment at http://rockymountainastrologer.com. I have also posted several pages of extracts from the book which partially explain Gauquelin’s inclinations, ideas, and research.
My basic takes on Gauquelin’s book:
• Michel tackled a big subject.
• He seemed to think that truth can be obtained by application of modern scientific methods.
• So, he approached astrology piece by piece comparing birth data of famous people with single planets or signs, also studied birth information in respect to “planet profiles”, and used surveys of astrologers and clients.
• Gauquelin had several successes and quite a few failures.
• He convinced few astrologers in his failures and got little respect from scientists in his successes.
• But can The Truth About Astrology, like life itself, be quantified, verified or validated by experiments and calculations?
• Monsieur Gauquelin deserves credit for tackling the subject of the validity of astrology, but neither his successes nor failures have had much effect on science or astrology.
Can a human being be separated into its pieces to find the whole. How about a horoscope?
I suspect that most astrologers believe their work is really an art - intuitive and symbolic, expansive and sympathetic - with bits of science and mathematics in supporting roles.
Potential astrology clients should look for purveyors with those qualities in their charts and in their beings.
NOTES from The Truth About Astrology by Michel Gauquelin
Prelude - Astrology Judged
A manifesto was published in The Humanist by 192 ‘leading scientists’ in 1975:
“Those who wish to believe in astrology should realize that there is no scientific foundation for its tenets....
“We believe that the time has come to challenge directly and forcefully the pretentious claim of astrological charlatans. It should be apparent that those individuals who continue to have faith in astrology do 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.”
Other scientists, recent and past, have disagreed:
Carl Sagan: “To discuss the psychological motivation of those who believe in astrology seems to me quite peripheral to the issue of its validity. That we can think of no mechanism for astrology is relevant but unconvincing. No mechanism was known, for example, for the continental drift when it was proposed by Wegener. Nevertheless, we see that Wegener was right, and those who objected on the grounds of unavailable mechanism were wrong. Statements contradicting borderline, fold or pseudo-science, that appear to have an authoritarian tone, can do more damage than good. They never convince those who are flirting with pseudo-science, but merely seem to confirm their impression that scientist are rigid and close-minded.”
Carl Jung: “The cultural Philistines believed until recently that astrology had been disposed of long since and was something that could safely be laughed at. But today, rising out of the social deeps, it knows at the doors of the universities from which it was banished some 300 years ago.”
Jean Baptiste Biot (1774-1862): “It is always the case, when there is a controversial question, that the ignorant believe naively and the semi-schooled come to a decision; but one who has any real understanding examines the facts, because he does not have the temerity to set limits on the capacity of nature.”
The behaviour of the signatories of the ‘Objections to Astrology’ seems to have confirmed [UCB Professor] Feyerabend's view, that science is much closer to myth than scientific philosophy would readily allow. Science, he argues, is one of the many modes of thinking developed by man, but not necessarily the best. And what certain is that science is tactless, noisy and arrogant.
Marcello Truzzi: “… some have suggested that Newton may have been untroubled by the action-at-a-distance problem, largely because of his own involvement with astrology.”
Popper is right because, however venerable the astrological idea might be, there is no denying that in the distant past its very essence was allied to magic, which is not compatible with modern scientific thinking.
Nobody could apply a physical or palpably measurable proof of the role played by planets or constellations at birth in the destiny of a newborn child.
In Search of Planetary Effects at Birth
Gauquelin started with birth data from 576 Members of the French Academy of Medicine - My doctors were not born under the same skies as the common run of humanity. They had chosen to come into the world much more often during roughly the tow hours following the rise [ascendant] and culmination [midheaven] of the two planets, Mars and Saturn. Moreover, they tended to ‘avoid’ being born following the rise and culmination of the planet Jupiter.
It emerged that it was not only outstanding doctors who were born under a different sky from the ordinary run of mortals. The planet Mars, when positioned at birth in the section following its rise and culmination, favoured the success of sports champions and exceptional military leaders; Jupiter, in the same sectors, featured most frequently at the birth of actors and politicians. Where scientists were concerned - that is, members of the Academie des Sciences Francaise - it was Saturn which was dominant; on the other hand, artists - painters and musicians - presented an entirely opposite picture, since they ‘avoided’ being born when that planed occupied the key sectors of rise and culmination.
For more information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_effect
In 1950 … I reluctantly came to the conclusion - verified several times since - that there did not exist any sort of zodiacal similarity between the horoscopes of parents and of their children.
So I did, in fact, take up the idea, but gave it an entirely new slant by linking it with my observations on the professions.
1966 - with records of 60,000 births - Children have a tendency to be born when a planet has just risen or culminated, if that same planet was in the same regions of the sky at the birth of their parents. only observed with Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn
Undoubtedly, my most interesting discovery was the way in which all planetary effects on heredity disappeared in children whose births did not occur naturally …
Planetary typology - In short, the list of character traits defining the champion as ‘iron-willed’, the actor as ‘outgoing’, the scientist as ‘introspective’, and the writer as ‘sensitive’ provided a ready-made description of the four planetary personality factors - that is, of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. It was this which I had hoped to demonstrate.
And Gauquelin did.
Key question he posed but did not deal with - There are, in theory, 'complex' temperaments when not one but tow or three planets occupy the key sectors of rise and culmination at the birth of child. What happens then? To what extent do the influences of these planets combine?
Psychologist Eysenck used Gauquelin's studies to show - The ‘introverts’ were born far more often than chance would allow with Saturn in the key sectors of rise and culmination; the ‘extroverts’ chose to come into the world when Jupiter and Mars were in those zones of the sky. By contrast, the ‘introverts’ ‘avoided’ being born when Jupiter or Mars were at the rise of culmination, and the ‘extroverts’ ‘avoided’ being born when Saturn was going through those zones of the sky.
Failure - the Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Moon subjects did not choose the type of activity or vocational interest which, according of our results with outstanding professional people, they should have found particularly attractive…. Psychologists have actually shown that the relationship between professional interest and psychobiological temperaments is fairly weak.
This raises the whole issue of self-evaluation as it relates to questionnaires, and needs to be considered in some depth.
Professor Bromley believes that, because of the increasingly obvious failure of some methods in the psychology of the personality, we shall necessarily resort to what he calls the ‘psychological case-study’ or the ‘psychological life study’. He explains: ‘A psychological “case-study” is a scientific account, in ordinary language, of an individual person in normal or problematical circumstances. A psychological “life-study”, by contrast, is a comprehensive account of the person's tendencies and characteristics revealed through an analysis of the principal episodes making up that person's life…. A psychological “case-study” provides us with an objective account of a real person as seen from the outside.'
Science and Proof
I had managed to penetrate the outer walls of the Castle [Belgian Paranormal] Committee, only to have the heavy doors of the keep slammed shut in my face. A strange phenomenon is never recognized by science unless independent researchers have rediscovered it by working through new data from beginning end; and yet the committee refused to undertake that repetition.
The existence of a biological clock - or rather, several biological clocks - in living beings was accepted by other researchers. But what made Frank Brown's school 'suspect' was the fact that he attributed changes in biological behaviour not solely to known physical factors such as light and heat, but also to much more subtle influences linked to the cosmos - infinitesimal variations in magnetic field, for instance, or the presence of extremely weak radiation or what are called very long frequency waves.
Bertrand Russell: “Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things about rationality.”
Triumph of the Astrological Idea
So, I have not confirmed the horoscope, but simply the effect of some planets during the course of their diurnal movement.
Astrology may find a ray of hope in the area of planetary symbolism, probably the most ancient of all astrological systems. In rudimentary form, it can be traced back to the Chaldeans some 4,000 years ago. It would seem that the code for each planet, or its symbolism, was based quite simply on its appearance.
The outcome [of a 1977 study] was enough to convince us: astrological symbolism seems to be statistically demonstrated, at least for planets we had previously observed as having some influence on personality, that is, the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The majority of character traits which astrologers attribute to these planets can be found in the type-lists, compiled before we had thought of testing the claims of astrology. And it cannot be denied that the character traits described by astrologers occur most often when the ‘appropriate’ planet is rising, passing the meridian, or setting.
In short, the experiment demonstrated in the clearest possible way that the symbolism of the Moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn corresponds to a scientifically observable, and even to some extent measurable, reality.
On the whole, astrologers have accurately observed the antagonism between externalized Jupiter and inward-turned Saturn. But they trail along with them all sorts of wrong notions, principally centred on Jovian benevolence and Saturnine malevolence, which nothing seems to confirm. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that our research has by no means exhausted the subject.
Solar influence is extremely strong on the Earth and on ourselves, physically speaking; yet its ‘astrological’ role is strangely dumb compared with the planets, even though these relatively nil in terms of energy emitted.
Astrology is a game of mirrors: you look at a mystery, it reflects another. Its status is unique in the scale of scientific values. A large part of its planetary symbolism has been demonstrated to be incontrovertibly, statistically true. But, at the same time, the zones of daily movement of the planets to which astrologers attribute most influence are not necessarily the correct ones.
The Horoscope Falls Down
This time [in a study of the 12 signs], the results which comes out of the computer were completely unfavourable to astrological tradition. This inquiry into character-traits and the signs of the zodiac led to the same results as those carried out into the professions and heredity and the zodiac: it ended in total failure for the astrology of the signs of the zodiac. … to put it crudely, the signs of the zodiac are valueless.
Some more skilful researcher may find a method of demonstrating scientifically the signs of the zodiac, but is more a pious hope than an expectation. And the astrologer's sense of duty should spur him to an agonizing revision of his ideas: a horoscope with the zodiac is surely like a day with the sun.
There has also been a revolution in the style of astrological writing, a switch to a scientific style of presentation in dry, factual language, with figures, graphs and bibliographies.
If astrology is potentially a science, then it demands extra caution in field research.
… most astrologers … placing little confidence in what are, to them, frequently disappointing reports of statistical inquires. In their view, the horoscope is a whole, a gestalt. As the well-known American astrologer, Zipporah Dobyns, has written: ‘He (Gauquelin) commits some of the same errors of oversimplification by refuting various factors singly. Thus he considers signs alone, aspects alone, houses alone, etc.., and finds no meaning in them. But the one primary rule in astrology is that no factor can be taken out of contest without a real danger of losing the meaningful gestalt.’
Nevertheless, tests have been devised to measure the astrologer's ability interpret the whole horoscope, an expression of the ‘meaningful gestalt’. It is a question of whether this skill which the practitioner genuinely believes himself to possess, actually exists.
Mixed results in testing
Hyman's demonstration [of a generic psychological portrait supposed to be unique for students was given high ratings by them] does not apply to astrology alone, but it is convincing. The satisfaction which people feel in reading their horoscopes does not prove the validity of astrology.
I don't know whether I will live long enough myself to see the mystery of astral influence dispelled. The explanation is doubtless much simpler and much stranger than we can imagine, and perhaps I am making a mistake in trying to rid the planetary effect of all ‘absurdity’, The desire to substitute a rational and convincing argument for the astrologers' explanations is laudable, but I have not forgotten that the road to hell, even the scientific road, is paved with good intentions.
In the end, the facts are always right: the planets have an effect on us, otherwise, we would not see them…. Personally, I would welcome a little more curiosity from scientists and a little more reverence for nature, which, has held plenty of surprises since the famous Big Bang. Planetary effects at birth might be one more surprise, the drama comes form our ignorance, after all. When we have greater knowledge, we will be able to judge the concept of ‘midwife planets’, and either dismiss it as crazy or formulate some better explanation.
For another view of the Gauquelin work, go to http://www.astrology-and-science.com/g-hist2.htm
George in Texas says - I have a couple of thoughts on astrology:
1. The science side of it (plotting the chart) doesn't hold up for several reasons.
A. The convenience of the timing to the change of the sign around the 22 - 23 of each month doesn't line up with the actual position of the change and Scorpio is definitely longer than a month
B. Needs to be 13 not 12 signs
C. The magnetic fields of the hospital staff are stronger than the magnetic fields of the planets in the delivery room, but are never considered.
D. Double blind test of charts have not proven the accuracy of the testing.
2. However, I am always amazed at how accurate what you get out of the books can be sometimes.
3. Personally, I feel the positions of the planets are like tumblers on a lock. The planets have to be in that specific position for the characteristics of that individual soul to pass between the infinite (no where) to the finite (now here).
As Wayne Dyer points out, the difference between the no where and the now here is where you put the space.
Dorothy in Kansas writes - If you have read the book, “The Disapperance of the Universe”, by Gary Renard
you will find answers
as to why Nothing in the Universe is real
Scientists today know this but are wary about telling it to the public, as they would probably lose their jobs.
Alden in Colorado says - What is wrong with astrology?? Huh??
So the question is; should astrology be classified or treated as a science......hmm.......tricky.
I'm not a scientist but it often looks like it to me that you are only doing scientific stuff if you take the spiritual aspect out of it so, I guess not.