Testing Astrology is Futile

Skeptico has an exhaustive list of formal tests that astrology has failed. 37 in total. If any other theory had failed that many tests, you would think that the proponents would have moved on by now to better things. Not astrologers. Indeed, there’s something rubber-duck-like about their resistance to any evidence against their claims. No matter how hard you push them down, they pop right back up, bobbing happily in their stagnant water. Testing astrology is futile, not because it cannot be tested, but because the people who most need to understand the results refuse to even look at them.

Even when astrologers are consulted on the tests, asked to design the tests, and state with great confidence before the tests that they will definitely obtain better than random results, the tests still return results consistent with guessing. This is the point where they seem to completely forget that they stated the test was valid, and begin finding all manner of excuses for why the test was invalid and astrology still works.

They call astrology the first science, then claim that it can’t be explained by science. They claim that the correlations between man and the heavens are so strong that early astrologers could create rules for those correlations by means of logical deduction, but then claim that logical deduction is not an appropriate method by which to test those rules. They claim that the rules of correlations are so accurate as to allow prediction of future events, then claim that those predictions may or may not come true. They tell skeptics of astrology to keep an open mind to the idea that it works, but themselves refuse to keep an open mind to the idea that it doesn’t. They claim that they are convinced that astrology works because they have seen evidence of it working, but then claim that a search for evidence of it working is not an appropriate test that it works!

How is it possible for a healthy human mind to contain this kind of cognitive dissonance without exploding?

8 Responses to “Testing Astrology is Futile”

  1. Logical reasoning is useless applied to anything faith-based. Whether it’s religion, astrology or any other new-age crap when people are deeply involved in the “faith” the believe the reason science doesn’t agree with them is that science is failing. It reminds me of a saying (don’t know who coined it) used when dealing with creationists trying to get their rubbish taight as science: “Don’t bring your religion into my classroom and I promise not to think in your church”

  2. brilliant quote! i’ll have to remember that one…

  3. My own little theory of astrology is a version of the children’s game, “whisper down the lane”. I am guessing that way back in the past, people began linking behavioral traits to the time of day and time of year that people were born. Empirically, it’s possible they found some genuine correlations, even if only locally among their own families or tribes, some of which may someday be borne out by science, unlikely as this seems. We still talk of “morning people” and “night people”, describing the time of day when people are more productive or more active. Perhaps there is some relationship to birth conditions. We are animals, and can be studied as such.

    Well, whether there was any validity or not to these kinds of classifications, they built up over the generations in similar ways – it’s interesting that astrology is common to many very different cultures. thousands of years of waxy buildup has turned some original, possibly interesting, insights, into the most ridiculous bunch of nonsense. Look what happened to poor Pluto. How sad for the billions of us with Pluto in Virgo :{

  4. it’s even worse than that. Astrology did not start out as a thing for the masses – originally, in its earliest form, it was only used for royalty, to predict auspicious days in the lives of kings and emperors. The proletariate were not considered important enough to be affected by the heavens, because in their earliest forms the planets were thought to be gods (lights in the sky that moved around, what else could they be?). This is why their positions were thought to be important – they literally represented to positions of the Gods in the sky. Eventually during the time of the roman empire the people began to complain that they too were important, and astrology began to expand to the lives of ordinary people. This was a backwards engineered fitting. It was completely artificial and done in response to a petulant public.

    And never mind Pluto, how do you think Virgos would feel if astrologers told them that on the day of their birth, the sun wasn’t anywhere near Virgo? Find out what sign you really are.

  5. all very interesting. i was thinking of pre-history, though, way way back, tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago. human societies did not begin with kings. of course there’s no way of knowing but one can imagine. there were still seasons, and stars, and eyes.

  6. well of course, when you’re talking PRE history there’s no way of knowing anything, as there is no record. They may very well have had kings. They may very well also not have had astrology. But that aside, the earliest recorded instances of the use of astrology were royal in nature, as far as i know. This also constitutes the earliest record of astronomy, as it was generally fatal for the court astrologer to mis-predict an event such as an eclipse or the vernal equinox, expecially when it was thought that the fate of nations hung in the balance. They got very good at recording the position of heavenly bodies, not because there was any real connection to the lives of kings, but because the perceived one was important enough that they’d literally lose their heads if they got it wrong.

  7. have you ever heard of quantum theory
    or schrodingers cat

  8. i have completed graduate courses in quantum mechanics, including relativistic quantum mechanics (how QM behaves at speeds close to the speed of light, a diabolical combination of two of the most complicated theories in physics). So yes, I have heard of them.

    I’ve also heard a lot of people who don’t know the first damn thing about quantum mechanics use QM concepts to try and explain every woo theory under the sun. Favorites include schrodinger’s cat, the copenhagen interpretation, and ideas about quantum field theory, all of which have been distorted by people who do not understand the first thing about them. Trust me, the Q in QM does not stand for Quackery, and the M does not stand for Mysticism.

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