Daily Horoscope: Pay Attention, There Will Be A Test.

Posted on July 19, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Internet Etiquette, Irony in the Title, Personal, Science, Trolls |

Author’s Note:This post is a continuation of my previous post Daily Horoscope which can be found here.

Over the past week I have been neglecting my readers (admittedly there are 5 of you or so) who have been waiting for my next post in the Apologetics and Apostasy series.  I apologize for being such an ungrateful host.

I have, for the past several days, been sidetracked by an ongoing debate with astrologers over at my friend Jason’s blog.  The previous post does a good job of explaining the basics for those readers who are new to this debate.

To this point, the astrologers have predictably stayed within the realm of the  “bob and weave”, effortlessly floating like a butterfly knowing that they have nothing to sting with.

Their core argument:

  1. You don’t know me.  Why you hatin’?  You don’t know me.
  2. You’re just hatin’ cuz you’re a sad, empty skeptic.
  3. You don’t know jack about astrology, bro. You can’t hate on what you don’t understand.
  4. I gots yo “evidence” right here, right behind this here zipper.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out, I’m not overly impressed with the quality of the debate thus far.

I’ll put this out there:

I am a skeptic, yes.  I do not believe the onus is on me to go brush up on astrology.  I admittedly know close to diddly friggin’ squat about boomerang yods, conjuncts, trines and quincunxes and what effect, if any, astrology assigns to these things.  I know this reads to the astrologer as “George can’t be bothered to learn about the subject” and to a degree, that is a valid criticism.

Every skeptic I have ever met believes in one core idea: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  • That stellar bodies several light years away from earth have a noticeable effect on the lives of humans is a pretty extraordinary claim, if only because it flies in the face of everything we can observe scientifically here on earth.
  • That the time I was born has a measurable effect on my personality or future events in my life is an extraordinary claim, not least because it has only been discussed anecdotal with a hefty peppering of confirmation bias.
  • That astrology is a repeatable phenomenon, that it can be used predicatively to gain insight into future occurrences, as opposed to anecdotally after the fact to “predict” that things happened just as they should; this too is extraordinary.

To Any Astrologer Reading This:

If you have evidence of any of these claims I am more than open to consider them.

Expect skepticism, expect questions, don’t just expect credulity.

I am open to new ideas.  I won’t discount real evidence on it’s face.  I will discount bald assertions and anecdotes.  I will rightly question beliefs that fly in the face of logic and common sense.  If you don’t have evidence, what you have is credulity, blind faith in something that you care not to question.

That’s not me.

That’s not how my brain works.

Explain it to me, please. Offer good evidence, useful falsifiable predictions, something more than “that’s just the way it is”.

If you expect me to invest hours upon hours of my time to prove/disprove a claim that is this fantastic, this counter-intuitive, this magical, then give me some hint that I’m not wasting my time chasing rainbows.  Offer me some hard evidence, then leave it to me to do the rest.

Here are a few ideas:

From James’ comment at Funk Astrology.

Hypothesis: That the time of a persons birth can be calculated with better than average accuracy using the dates of a series of unrelated events in their lives.

Experiment:  Provided with a list of ten (10) unknown subjects information including date of birth, place of birth, and several important events in their lives, the astrologer will be able to calculate their known birthtime within an insignificant margin of error.  These calculations are to be statistically more accurate than the guesses of 5 non-astrologers.

or

Hypothesis: That astrology can be used to predict some future events within a statistically insignificant margin of error.

Experiment:  That given time to pick fifteen(15) astrologically significant dates over the next two(2) years, the astrologer will be able to predict the location and nature of several seemingly random and unrelated events with a margin of error significantly less than that of the Null Hypothesis.

I’m offering you olive branches here guys, a chance to wow us with the veracity of your methods.

I know full well that there is no way to set up a completely scientific analysis of astrology in an internet forum.  I do believe, however, that in order for me to prove you “cheated” at any of these tests, I would at least be forced to make some pretty extraordinary assumptions.

That would count for me as “good evidence”, not irrefutable, but sufficient to require further study on my part.

You may also like to offer testable hypothesis of your own.  I am open to new evidence that I have been sorely mistaken about astrology for all these years.

You have the floor guys, make the most of it.

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8 Responses to “Daily Horoscope: Pay Attention, There Will Be A Test.”

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[…] Title,Personal,Religion,Science | This will likely be my final post in the impromptu series Daily Horoscope based on our conversations with Jamie Funk and his astrology minions.  It might be resurrected for […]

You and Jason have done such an excellent job of representing the skeptic’s position over there, I’ve been fairly comfortable just hurling venom at astrology from my own blog. Jamie checked it out and was pretty damned pissed at me on the Somerset Holiday thread. Unfortunately he deleted our little exchange from that thread, and I made the rookie mistake of not getting screenshots. Too bad, because his posts were gold when it comes to showing his true nature.

I’d be interested to see someone take up your challenge George. Like Sinned, I’ve been impressed with your contributions to the discussion.

Unfortunately many astrologers seem completely puffed up on the complicated structure they’ve built on non-existant foundations. Discussions of yods and conjuncts abound, but nothing much about how it actually works.

I am hoping that James will take up the challenge, but I wouldn’t chance a prediction about it. Maybe I should consult Jamie for a reading?
Glendon, I am always impressed with what you have to say, and I also stand in awe of your artwork. Take the time to read my new Daily Horoscope post, and be sure to wade in when you feel like it.

[…] already proposed how to use this program in a less scientific way to at least lend weight to it’s credibility.  I’m still open to […]

Somehow, I don’t think many astrology buffs will be taking you up on this offer. If astrologers based opinions on evidence, they wouldn’t be into astrology in the first place.

Ahab,
You are wrong! An astrologer, James Alexander, has agreed to test Polaris Software; an astrology software that “rectifies” birth times. You can read all about it and follow our conversation on the “Polaris Software: A Critical Analysis” thread. I am currently trying to analyze some statistics and find volunteers for the rectification test.

[…] My long and drawn out argument with astrologers over at Lousy Canuck became the impetus for some cross posts as well as a challenge with James Alexander that has not yet come to fruition.  My […]


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