Daily Horoscope: You’re In A Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy

Posted on July 20, 2010. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Irony in the 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 future discussions about astrology, but after calling the subject a wash over at Funk Astrology, I feel it is time to move on.

I must admit that I am a little underwhelmed by the whole thing.

The closest I came to gleaning anything new was in the  Dealing with Skeptics and Associated Trolls page at Funk Astrology.  There I got some insight into the lack of admitted predictive power in Astrology from Parin, where she corrected my misguided assumption that astrology believes the movement of celestial bodies directly correlates to seemingly unrelated events here on earth.

See, I Had No Idea

I honestly thought this was a good, albeit simplified definition of astrology:

Astrology:  The belief that the movement of celestial bodies has a quantifiable effect on people and/or seemingly unrelated events in people’s lives.

I am forced to walk away with a definition more like:

Astrology:  The belief that you can take any person or event and decipher possibly corollary traits or information in the movement of celestial bodies.  Any information deciphered may or may not be meaningful, impactful, or predictive.

That really leaves me believing that Astrology is no more useful or predictive than a “cold reading” by an astute observer.  Kind of like watching the Mentalist on T.V. where he uses astute observation to figure people out.  That, to me, seems a glorified parlour game, a fun round of friends “predicting” things about each other based on known or observable behavior.   Except these people stick a “Supernatural” label on it and charge money for their insight.

By these peoples own definitions, astrology is just guesswork and subjective extrapolation from known quantities.  It is not special.  It is not magic.  It is fun and games, and expensive at that.

A Glimmer of Hope Becomes A Ridiculous Joke

I also had a moment over at Jamie’s blog where I thought we were on to something.  A poster named James mentioned Polaris, a computer program that he described as being indisputably predictive in calculating birth times.   I should have caught on when the process was referred to as “rectification”, but the temptation of a program that was testable and falsifiable blinded me to its obvious flaw.

The process is called “rectification”, I know now, because it uses your built in confirmation bias to re-jig your birthtime based on past events in your life.  The idea is this:

Subject A either has no registered or confirmable birth time or feels that his/her birth time was miscalculated by timepieces at the time of their birth.

With the foreknowledge that astrology is more accurate at calculating birth times then, say, a clock or watch which was invented solely for the purpose of time keeping; Subject A gives a list of significant events from their lives and a list of probable birth times and Polaris extracts the most likely one based on a points system.

How eminently scientific!  I can still see how this program could be used to disprove itself though.

Let’s say someone bought the program, gathered birth time information on several individuals using clocks that are accurate to the millisecond, witnessing and documenting firsthand the indisputable birth times.  Wait say, 20 years and input events from those individuals lives and a wide range of birth times and voila, the indisputable birth time must surely emerge!

Not Fair?

I’d like to know why, without any confirmation bias “that was the time they were supposed to be born” bullshit that I can hear already spewing from the credulous assholes mouth.

I’ve 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 takers.

Hi-jacking Science For Stupid’s Sake

The final comment in Jamie’s post at the time of this post was also cross posted at Lousy Canuck by “Chris”.  It is a tempting idea for astrologers, and one that is inevitability quite wrong.

I approach Astrology as an art in that I use it to “paint” a picture of a person, place or time. Some say that Astrology mirrors rather than predicts. Astrological forecasting is somewhat like meteorological forecasting- they look at jet streams and air currents and put it all together to give you their interpretation of the most likely outcome. Sometimes they’re wrong. They are as much of an artist as we are. As astrologers, we look at planets, stars, moons, (and a lot of astrologers use the transneptunian objects as well) etc. and notice unfolding patterns, and then give our interpretation. I think that eventually, with the study of fractals and chaos theory, scientists will be able to conclude that Astrology can be explained through the paradigms of those scientific standards. We don’t move around in space, we’re part of it. Everything has its own energy, and makes more of a difference than you think it does.

How do I know this is wrong?

Apart from the first paragraph which basically underlines my first point about astrology being nothing more than “guessology”, Chris goes on to co-opt some of the most counterintuitive and confounding subjects in physics and mathematics to lend magic where none exists.  To a layperson, conjuring chaos theory and fractals is just like conjuring magic, a surefire way to obfuscate a bunch of superstitious hooey under the cover of science.

If you believe that science will save Astrology,I can tell you it won’t happen.

  • Did science confirm the theory of a creator?  Well, no.
  • Did science confirm a flat earth?
  • A firmament?
  • How about a global flood?

You see, every time an ancient civilization desperately searches for a causal explanation for something they have no answer for…….. a myth is born.

To believe that this one time, ancient civilizations were on to something when every other causal agent they conjured of curiosity and imagination has been so squarely proven false; that is confirmation bias…that is credulity.

I still leave the offer open to anyone who wants to have a reasoned discussion, I just hold little hope of reason.


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3 Responses to “Daily Horoscope: You’re In A Circle Jerk With The Confirmation Bias Fairy”

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I am enjoying this series immensely. Just so you know. Don’t expect reasoned discussion though, if the comment thread at my place is any indication. Just more misdirection and specious unevidenced claims.

[…] section of that post justice in a new post off-thread, though I felt the need to direct you to a post from last month by George W, which you may have missed the first time around, regarding the Polaris software mentioned by James […]

[…] 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 commentary on […]

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