Did I spell that right? I’m supposed to write a document that’s going to take 2 hours, and I’ve pushed it too far. Good time to get all my thoughts out to the world one at a time. Today, let’s rip on Astrologers a bit.
To give you an idea of the motivation, I picked up a hillarious book at the airport during my last India visit called “Am I a Hindu.” That’s going to lead to a few posts, but you’ll have to wait until the next time I run out of things to do, and face the inevitable document-writing task. Today, I began reading this book to take my mind off some blocking issues. I had read a part of it during my flight, and I recalled an emotional rollercoaster between humor, apathy and perhaps anger (or annoyance). I’m giving you this context because this post is regarding one argument that book made (I’m willing to discuss other arguments.)
Lets get this out of the way - lack of disproof, is not a proof. I’d love to talk to anyone who believes that isn’t true (that was sarcastic; if you think lack of disproof is proof itself, I probably don’t ever want to speak to you in my life). The Indian Government proclaims it’s a science, and I claim I’m king of the world. Neither of the clauses is relevant for this discussion. A common argument we hear from pro-Astrology people is, “Why is it so difficult to believe stars could affect the physical processes within you?”
It’s not difficult to believe at all. I never claimed a remote planet doesn’t have gravitational influence on me. I’m claiming you’re full of crap. When I rip on Astrologers and Prophesizers, I’m making fun of them. I’m claiming they’re full of bullshit. It’s about them! That’s as direct as I can say it (offense intended). I have no problem believing that we might be able to model those interactions, and what the result of that influence would be. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m saying you’re not the ones doing it.
“If people can predict weather, why can’t people predict fortunes?”
We could extend this argument infinitely – If people can predict weather, and people can predict fortunes, why can’t people predict when we’ll get a man on Mars? If people can predict weather, the stock market, the next Tsunami, and some Earthquakes, sure, it may be possible to predict fortunes too. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re not the one to do it.
I think the modern Astrology debate has gotten too impersonal. Perhaps we’re trying to be too politically correct, or the Astrologers are just better at reframing the problem than we are at noticing that it got reframed right under our noses. I believe in open-heart surgery, however, if you’re any one of the people reading this blog, I can safely say I’m not letting you come anywhere near my heart. If you tried to convince me, I’d find it midly humorous and highly annoying. It’s the same with Astrologers – science doesn’t deny modelling. Modelling is a fundamental tenet of Science. What we’re saying is, you’re no good at it, and that you have no idea what you’re talking about.
It’s true that all models are merely approximations. That’s why in addition to predicting weather, weather-predictors are also constantly ‘learning’ from the outliers. They’re on the search for new variables, and better sampling methods. I’ve not seen major publications that have indiciated the discovery of any new variables or processes, or models that provide a better fit than what historic Astrology demonstrates. Even if that’s accomplished, a theory that does not demonstrate a prediction record significantly higher than a random process, is not considered a theory at all. Are astrologers willing to submit themselves to a controlled experiment where they can demonstrate their predictors are any better than a random predictor?
Hence the title of this post – ‘Astrologers’. Don’t make this about the “Science of Astrology”. I don’t claim it won’t work. This is about you – I claim you don’t work.