Mars, from Earth

Debunking Astrology: Mars Can’t Influence You

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

So you think the position of Mars in the sky at the time of your birth made you tall, dark, and handsome (or short, fair, and ugly)? Or lucky (or unlucky) in love? If you think believing in astrology is anywhere close to scientific, well, Dude, time to think again.

Pick two babies born within a minute of each other. One has two nurses and a doctor attending; the other, just a midwife. One is born in a brightly lit maternity ward in a downtown big city hospital; the other in a poorly lit room in a village 50 kilometers from the nearest big city. ‘Downtown’ is just a few meters above sea level; the village is situated on a 1000 meter high plateau. These local differences have far greater effects on the babies than Mars does. Let’s see how.

Nearly five centuries of physics have given us quite a few certainties, and among those are that the only long range forces in the universe are gravity and electromagnetism. And both of these, from Mars, are totally – and I mean totally – overwhelmed by those same forces that were produced by things near you when you were delivered. In a word, Mars can’t influence you.

Start with gravitation.

The gravitational force between you and Mars is greatest when Mars is closest to the Earth; let’s say that’s 56 million kilometers. Now Mars has a mass of 6.4 x 1023 kg, so the acceleration, here on Earth, due to Martian gravity would be 1.4 x 10-8 meters per second per second (m s-2).

How did I work that out? By using Newton’s law of universal gravitation:
F = Gm1m2/r2
and:
F = ma
so:
a = GmMars/distance-to-Mars2.

How does this compare with variations in gravitational force due to adults standing nearby (everyone has a mother, so we won’t count her)?

Let’s take 60 kg as an adult’s mass, and a distance of 1 meter; that gives a gravitational acceleration of 4 x 10-9 m s-2, so just three adults nearby would have the same gravitational effect on you as Mars!

How does this compare with variations in gravitational force we know people born at the same time – but elsewhere on Earth – experienced?

Let’s take a difference in altitude of 1000 m (lots of big cities have altitudes greater than this – Mexico City, for example, is at 2240 m – and lots are close to sea level), and calculate the difference in acceleration due to the Earth’s gravity (this ignores several important factors, such as the Earth’s rotation, and local differences in g). Well, it works out as 0.003 m s-2, or about 200,000 times greater than Martian gravity!

In fact, if you were born just half a centimeter higher, you’d be influenced to the same extent, gravitationally, as by Mars!

Next, electromagnetism.

You can be influenced, electromagnetically, in four separate ways: by a magnetic field, by an electric current, by an electric field, and by electromagnetic radiation. How powerful is Mars, electromagnetically?

There’s no electric current between Mars and Earth; the solar wind – which blows outward from the Sun (so Mars is ‘downstream’, and any electromagnetic influence carried by the solar wind would be from Earth to Mars) – is neutral, on balance, and carries no current.

The solar wind is a plasma, and any electric field there is in it will not be felt much more than a few Debye lengths’ away (basically, because electrons and ions are free to move in a plasma, they screen charges – the source of electric fields – quite effectively; the Debye length is about as far as an electric field can penetrate). Now the solar wind can be quite dynamic – meaning it can change a lot – but the Debye length in any part of it will rarely, if ever, be greater than a few tens of meters. Let’s be generous and say an electric field could be felt up to a kilometer away. But Mars never comes closer to the Earth than ~50 million km!

Well, that makes any electric field influence from Mars impossible, doesn’t it?!

While Mars does have a weak magnetic field, it has no influence on Earth, because the Earth’s own field creates a magnetosphere around us, one that screens out external magnetic fields. Besides, as Mars is downstream from us (the way the solar wind blows), and as the solar wind can carry (actually stretch) a magnetosphere only in the direction it blows, any magnetic influence would be from Earth to Mars, not Mars to Earth.

Three down, one to go.

The Earth’s atmosphere blocks all electromagnetic radiation except for that which we see by (and a bit on the UV side too), some infrared, and in the microwave and radio regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Mars is a very weak source of microwaves and radio waves, and even in the (radio) quietest places on Earth, electromagnetic radiation from (distant) radio stations, (distant) cellphone towers, TV satellites, airplanes overhead, etc totally, totally drowns out any Martian signals.

On a clear, moonless night, Mars may seem bright to your dark-adjusted eyes … but most likely you were born under quite bright lights, and indoors. No Martian influence here either.

So what do we have then?

Like I said, Mars can’t make you tall dark and handsome, nor can it influence your love life.

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65 Responses

  1. Nephish777 says:

    I do NOT believe in astrology, however a better way to disprove it would be by having personal charts created for babies born in the same city within minutes of each other and seeing how their lives compare in a few years. (Or find adults that fit the criteria and cast charts and see how well they fit.) I am not sure but I think this may have been done. This would rule out some unknown influences.

  2. Spacer says:

    You calculate martian gravity (on the babby) as:
    1.4 x 10e-8 m/s/s
    and a 60kg human 1m away as:
    4.0 x 10e-8 m/s/s

    That makes one human approx 3 times the gravitational strength, not 3 humans equaling the martian strength (unless you meant 4.0 x 10e-9 m/s/s as the human strength ?)

    Nit-picking apart, nice article !!

    • Jean Tate says:

      Thanks Spacer, well spotted.

      The value for the 60 kg adult, at a distance of 1 m, should be 4.0 x 10-9 m s-2; I mis-typed when going from calculation to story draft (and didn’t pick it up when I reviewed it prior to publication).

      Now fixed.

  3. lluis says:

    I think the point about astrology is completely missed. Celestial objects do not have any influence on anybody.

    In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information.

    Good astrologers are scarce, therefore there’s a tendency to assume that astrology is what you read in the newspapers and common opinions. That is not astrology.

    Do not talk about astrology if you haven’t studied it for at least several years, like with any other discipline.

    Think on the position of the planets as a mirror of energies that are around you and may help you understand things.

    It is not good nor bad if the weather forecast tells tomorrow there will be rain. But it would definitely help you to take an umbrella with you if you don’t to get wet.

    And … if you do not understand something … it doesn’t mean it’s false ,,, it is that you don’t understand it, particularly if you haven’t made the effort to study the matter in depth.

    Thanks

  4. notovny says:

    The only worthwile thing Astrology ever did was fund pre-industrial Astronomy.

    “Good” astrologers are delusional. Bad astrologers are charlatans.

  5. ND says:

    lluis,

    Can you give some more details on the years of study one can do in astrology? Where does one go to study astrology?

    “In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information.”

    Where is the evidence to support this?

    Also, despite the distinction you make, there is a popular everyday astrology that is being addressed here. Specially since many people confuse astrology and astronomy.

  6. Astrology never claimed to be founded on gravity, solar wind, or any other such mechanism… It is simply without basis….

    You might as well go and prove that walking under ladders is actually safe, that lepricons don’t always wear green, and that if you run through a brick wall, you don’t leave a hole shaped like yourself.

    Astrology is actually proof positive to how delusional people are, since unlike a lot of other voodoo, it is predictive and can thus be debunked – yet people would rather believe in it since they don’t care.. it provides entertainment.

    I used to have this friend who would see a “seer” on a regular basis. One day I talked her out of going to see him and hang out at the dorms instead. “ok”, she said, and went to call the seer to cancel the appointment…

    I pointed out the absurdity of canceling an appointment with a seer to her, and she found it amusing. Still, she continued with that habit, since it made her feel good.

    Shrug.

  7. Surak says:

    Very typical touchy-feely wishy-washy response Iluis.

    Make up a mystical undefinable ‘energy’ that can not be detected in any way except by those that you describe as ‘good’ astrologers. No doubt if your ‘good’ astrologers disagree, you would just say one isn’t so good.

    If your magical fantasies were actually reality, astrologers would have noticed patterns in their predictions over and over again, errors in their work that kept happening each year at slightly different dates.

    … all over the world astrologers would have all come to the same prediction that Neptune and Uranus existed, and exactly where to find them in the sky.

    Yet not one of them did.

  8. ND says:

    CrazyEddieBlogger and lluis,

    Understanding something that before criticizing it is fundamentally important. And astrology may not invoke gravity as part of the belief, but as lluis

    “In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information.”

    The positions of the planets in the sky are dictated by the force of gravity. This is something we have modeled very very well over the past several centuries. It is very good at predicting the positions of the planets, their moons and even navigate our probes to them using our understanding of gravity. Combined with the knowledge of the speed of light we can predict when a moon of Jupiter will come out of the planets shadow to a minute your local time.

    So the energy that is fundamental to astrology as mentioned by lluis,does not drive the positions of the stars. Is this energy influenced by the positions of the planets? Does what lluis say imply an entanglement between gravity and this astrological energy?

    “… the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time.”
    This does not sound accurate given that there are other planets around other solar systems. I think at best you can say this is a phenomenon local to solar systems. Since other planets are not taken into account by astrologers, I will assume that the astrological influence of planets have a short range.

  9. ND says:

    change “does not drive the positions of the stars.” to “… positions of the planets.”

  10. lluis says:

    I have studies in engineering as a background and I am not an astrologer, but have an astrologer besides me and have a deep respect for astrology, a matter and language I confess unable to fully understand, like chinese, but I know both, astrology and chinese exist and are useful.

    Astrology is not a religion you can believe or not, is a subject matter to study, develop and discuss on common ground. If one person speaks English and another Japanese we might agree communication would be difficult, if not impossible. And astrology is also a language that requires study and understanding.

    Study of astrology, as any other discipline takes a lifetime (and more for those believing in re-incarnation) and it is evolving and still developing.

    Evidence: It helps people. Lots of important people have their personal astrologers. It is ancient than astronomy and other “materialistic scientific” disciplines (I mean the ones that separate the observer from the observed). It’s been around for a while (4000 years or so?), if fake should have disappeared already.

    Where to study? You may need better references that the ones I can provide, as I said I am not astrologer myself, but can mention the Faculty Of Astrological Studies for one.

    Popular astrology is like popular science, it serves for purposes of entertainment but confusion between entertainment and the real thing should not occur; it is not fair, not serious.

    I am not english-native speaker, so expect not have broken any rule or have hurt no one; just know astrology is as serious as physics, not governed by the same rules, but serious and only wanted to share my thought on a too light approach or complete misunderstanding.

    I know about endless astrology versus scientific discussions, but does science explain it all? NO. So we don’t have to make science a religion and do crussades agains anything not following the rules of the science.

    And by the way … “seers” exist and also do not follow the rules of science and they have good and bad days, as everybody, but science is not the only way to obtain knowledge of oneself, others and the universe.

    Thanks for an excellent web.

  11. ND says:

    An engineer! I should have guessed!

    “Evidence: It helps people. Lots of important people have their personal astrologers. It is ancient than astronomy and other “materialistic scientific” disciplines (I mean the ones that separate the observer from the observed). It’s been around for a while (4000 years or so?), if fake should have disappeared already.”

    This is not evidence. This is belief. We still have a multitude of religions after 4000 years.

    “I know about endless astrology versus scientific discussions, but does science explain it all?”

    Science would not exist if all was explained. And no scientist makes such a claim. This is a common strawman argument. And astrology and other beliefs like it do not do a good job of complementing scientific knowledge.

    I must say seers and astrologers missed out on quite a lot of the universe.

  12. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Astrology is based on an ancient idea that event in the heavens were connected to those on Earth. In a way the idea is correct, as the doctor in Virginia found out last week. The connection is just very different than what people conjectured in the ancient world. Back then the motion of the heavens was thought to reflect the actions of gods or divine beings, who also cast fates here on Earth.

    There are no connections between physical concepts and astrological ideas. What intellectual basis astrology might have had, and Kepler was an astrologer, it has in the modern world evaporated.

    LC

  13. @ND – slow down, I’m on your side… just making the point about the futility of proving scientifically that hogwash is hogwash, since the people that believe in hogwash are, well, prone to believing in hogwash…

    Hope this clears things up…

  14. Surak says:

    uggg it’s always the engineers … the last people that should fall for the argument from popularity has Iluis then falls into.

    I should have predicted it … No suprised that he did not address the fact that astrology failed to predict the existence of Neptune and Uranus.

    Iluis … tell me why this is the case, the errors that should have been very obvious pointing astrologers exactly to the existence and locations of Neptune and Uranus … but it did not.

    I really hope you are a software ‘engineer’, or perhaps a train engineer with a cute train engineer hat on your head … not a civil engineer where your lack of scientific understanding could kill people.

  15. Olaf says:

    The planets real influences have absolutely no relationships with astrology. It is just an invented story that sounded nice back in the dark ages.

    BUT I am wondering if the season you are born in might have an influence. If you are born in the winter you get exposed to different environment conditions. Different sunlight less sunlight, cold temperatures and your clothing hides your skin from the sun, less Vitamin D, different types of vegetables,….

    One note: it is not only the doctor that gravitationally influences you you also have the complete building the mountain nearby the. Wifi radiations, solar flares that influences the magnetic field…

  16. fcunnane says:

    I think astrology has become rather interesting over the last “x” amount of years. “x” being a factor of an amount of time. It is understood that the Earth wobbles on it’s axis once every 33,000 years or so, (please someone correct me if I’m wrong). Now if this factor of “x” being the last few thousand years, if astrology has been around that long.

    Now let x = 3,000 the earth has wobbled such that your sign is now thrown into the next constellation.

    Meaning the way they calculate signs is what constellation is in the sky during the day-time during a certain time of year.

    So I have always been told that I am a Sagittarius, however my first Astro teacher disagreed and has explained to me that in the year of my birth I was actually born into the daytime constellation of Capricorn.

    Just an interesting tid-bit.

  17. fcunnane says:

    Excuse me, what constellation the sun follows during the day time.

  18. Uncle Fred says:

    What I find fascinating is how one’s brain is perhaps wired to believe in such things are Astrology. Look at some of the replies above, the writers sound as if they genuinely believe what they are saying is grounded in truth.

    I wonder if they run such questions through their mind:

    “What is this energy of the planets? What instruments can we use to scientifically measure this supposed energy? If our hypothesis is that there is indeed such energy, in what ways can we devise tests to disprove this notion (thereby eliminating all possible counter evidence?”

    “If such energies exist, how do we devise an experiment to measure their effect on the planets?”

    “How do we measure and/or prove that this supposed energy effects planets?” Has any verifiable studies been done that look at birth characteristics and long term traits of individuals born under “signs” and statistically correlate them to Astrological beliefs?

    I don’t get the impression that Astrologers think along this manner. Rather, it is all simply beliefs. It is not a set of facts that can be backed up with any verifiable studies or experiments, or re-evaluated over time when new evidence comes to light.

  19. ND says:

    CrazyEddieBlogger, I know you are 🙂 The threads I was trying to connect was between gravity and the astrological force lluis talks about, given that the position of the planets are governed by gravity even though astrology makes no mention of gravity.

  20. RodBeaton says:

    Astrology may not be a true science, but using ‘Light’ as a mechanism seems to suggest- that its being used by politicians and terrorists’.
    I make alot of predictions on my own for myself- I like to use it to keep myself informed, while I watch TV.
    I’m observing the ‘Lisbon treaty’, and the Euro, cause I don’t trust some of the europeans. like germans- history says for 2000 years, they liked war.
    One event astrology was used on ‘us’ was 9-11! -though I didn’t predict it…My computer was down.
    And at the time, I wasn’t really reseaching it.

    Nor did I know that in the 60’s, the idea of ‘false flag’ operations were being tossed around. Kennedy rejected the idea, March 13, 1962. Eisenhower, even rejected the idea.
    Kennedy was assassinated using astrology,- I believe-using The Paul Revere chart.( triple 9’s), natal moon, Mars progressed, transit mercury..In Sagittarius- for the world to see.

    If you do the chart for July 07th, 1937
    10:07 pm near Beiing China- when the
    Japanese attacked China,- progress it to
    9-11!
    And remember, it was a Japanese-American, who designed the ‘Trade Center!
    It might have been an attack on the Japanese-Americans. Who knows…

    The ‘Farc’ rebels in Colombia use astrology.
    Dec 21, 1997 @ 2 AM when they attacked an army garrison of 250 soldiers.
    UFO’s use astrology.
    The black op’s mutilating cows from the 1970’s use astrology- injecting ‘Blackleg, hoping to maybe create, a Mad Cow disease..

    Mad Cow in west sussex, england Dec 22, 1984-a new moon conjunct Neptune.
    meaning ‘ time to repent and believe’.. so they say anyway. believe what or who- I don’t know.

    Well anyway, science says, we all come from ‘Algae’ and algae is affected by light!, thus we might be affected astrologically by ‘light’.
    And Jupiter’s gravity pulls on the Sun every 12 years and it may create earthquakes and other weather related stuff.
    Plus creating a sunrise chart can give the two times for high tide! Though, I’m not sure how to adjust for the slag. Planetwise..
    Well, maybe you guys don’t like astrology,
    but we need it to stay alive! And A lot of people believe in it! so observe….

  21. star-grazer west coast says:

    I find the subject of astrology beyond my intelligence. However, I find the posts here quite dry, and I believe the 2 homeboys, Boa Constrict–excuse me ,I mean Anaconda and Olis posting their comments will make the circle of ‘exchange of truths’ postings complete and very interesting.

  22. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    Nearly five centuries of physics have given us quite a few certainties, and among those are that the only long range forces in the universe are gravity and electromagnetism.

    Presumably so, though I haven’t seen a good estimate of remaining uncertainty if put to an actual test.

    IIRC I once saw a “no-go” theorem on this – universe entropy is nearly maxed out by the existing forces (on average), so there is no room for other interaction as, presumably, that involves information exchange according to relativity and its speed limit on all interactions based on that.

    [And seeing holography may exist, this measured and/or estimated entropy amount naively doesn’t surprise. But physicists may have a better say on this.]

    But let me nitpick and lead up to a question. Strictly speaking, the effective theory of gravity which is general relativity doesn’t involve a F = ma bona fide defined force but spacetime curvature. When near traveling photons bend around our sun they don’t do so under the influence of a force on mass, they travel massless under the influence of curvature.

    So what do we make of forces/curvature in cosmology?

    Standard cosmology predicts how the universe evolves under gravity from masses and such energies as dark energy. But dark energy affects spacetime locally through the cosmological constant, doesn’t it? Presumably then the global solution isn’t shaped by “long range force” (of gravity) in that way, but as a global constraint. The whole in the piece, or something like that.

  23. stile86 says:

    I also do not believe in astrology. Unfortunately you have only proven that the currently known forces that have been proven scientifically cannot influence us significantly. Astrologists don’t have to explain how it works, just that it does (although I am sure many have explanations involving forces or energies that the scientific community has not been able to detect or prove exist at this point in time). The only way to “disprove” it is with a truckload of statistics. Certainly we cannot prove astrology from a scientific basis. Disproving it is another thing entirely.

  24. lluis says:

    My last intervention here.

    Looks my point is not well read or understood as we are using different languages and seems like some emotions appear. yes, I am engineer, does that make me some kind of a pest? do yo know me enough to say that? does that disqualify upfront my contribution here? can I talk honestly here and be listened?

    astrology does not follow the rules of science. science, although very successful with the material world, is not the only method to obtain knowledge neither demonstrates everything must be “reduced” to a materialistic (pure physical) view. so there’s a whole world of knowledge outside ortodox science.

    even if some astrologers try to predict the future by reading the sky (like meteorologists), astrology does not necessarily intent to predict the future, is not a oracle or devination knowledge, so it doesn’t make sense questioning about its success or failure in predicting existence of planets or anything like that.

    value of opinions about any matter the author has no studies, practice, experience and knowledge has zero value, in particular when emotions and personal beliefs are the basis of the reasoning. that is a religious discussion, not a true exchange of knowledge.

    trying to apply science rules to something that does not follow those rules yet (scientific rules that have changed in the past and will continue to change may, at some point, also explain astrology) makes no sense and lead to meaningless conclusions and misunderstandings. no worse dumb that the one that doesn’t want to listen. so please read exactly what I am saying and no what ressonates in your brain thru your personal filters.

    personal experience on visions: my parents were back home on a plane, my mother was sleeping and awoke because of a terrible dream: she saw president Kennedy being killed. explain the dream to my father and of course my father starts laughing. 2 hours late a member of the crew communicates president Kennedy had been assassinated. please, explain that with science.

    personal experience on astrology: I have seen astrology working very well and helping people to understand themselves and solve conflicts. that’s evidence to me, probably not for you on the basis of scientific methodology… but have you ever tried to consult a good astrologer?

    one final, without astrology, its need to understand the skies and the contribution of many reknowned astrologers (Galileo, Newton, Keppler, …) most probably astronomy would have not been what it is today. at least that should be recognized and yes, the tendency to kill or replace father and mother is something that can be very well explained with astrology and psicology, but a decent behaviour would be to understand father and mother and to love them for their contribution to our life.

    please read what I am saying, not what you think I am saying. thanks.

  25. Paul Eaton-Jones says:

    The Faculty of Astrological Studies??? Presumably at the Unseen University.

  26. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    There seem to be certain blog topics which bring out those with what might be termed “strange ideas.” I suppose what we need next is a topic on UFOs —- that will bring out all sorts of types. The topics on climate and global warming do a good job of getting people to voice their silly ideas.

    LC

  27. perigee says:

    Jean Tates thesis is naive.

    Putting aside whether astrology has anything in it…

    How is that a TV transmitter many kms away can influence your TV set? The radio frequencies (RF) picked up by the antenna are micro volts. They are swamped by RF interference from your fridge, washing machine the emissions from the power grid in your district and wiring through you house by millions of times. But your TV still works in this sea of overwhelming and competing interference!

    Why?

    Your TV works not because of gross forces from the transmitter (as Tate would have in the astrological sense) but because finely tune circuits in the set can filter out overwhelming RF noise and select out a specific useful frequency even if it is surrounded by stronger RFs. .

    Radios, cell phones work like this. Even extremely faint signals can be tuned to from as far as the distance of Voyager I where the signal strength received is billions of times fainter than swamping RFs clouding the Earth.

    Now I’m not saying that if astrology worked that it should be necessarily be via electromagnetic or gravitational medium, but the principle could be something similar to this where the gravitationally (or electromagnetically) swamping proximity of doctor, building etc is irrelevant. In this case the bio-organism would be tuned to the planet in question and thereby resonate to the planet while other bio-organisms may be tuned to other planets as the case may be.

    Just speculating here

    Perigee

    • Jean Tate says:

      That’s an interesting perspective perigee, and something I might write about in a future article.

      To repeat a key part of what I wrote: Mars can’t influence you at all, via its magnetic field, electric field, its gamma ray emissions, and so on. Mars can influence you via its gravitation, its radio emissions, and its light (if you are outdoors); but those influences are totally swamped by the gravitational and electromagnetic influences of things in your immediate environment.

      Is there some long-range force other than gravitation or electromagnetism, one that is as yet undiscovered and can result in Mars influencing you (or people in general)? If you think that there might be such a force, aren’t you also saying that humans have some physical characteristics not shared with anything else on Earth?

  28. rlamont says:

    LLuis says:
    “even if some astrologers try to predict the future by reading the sky (like meteorologists), astrology does not necessarily intent to predict the future, is not a oracle or devination knowledge, so it doesn’t make sense questioning about its success or failure in predicting existence of planets or anything like that.”

    This basically says that there is no way one can prove or disproove astrology. He also says that one cannot learn everything about astrology in one’s lifetime. Also, if astrology doesn’t work for you – you simply haven’t found a “good” astrologer.

    So if astrology is basically unprovable, how do it’s practitioners know that it works?

    (The answer is that there are always people out there that will give them money to perform the service.)

  29. Aodhhan says:

    As a scientist, I will not claim Astrology is not real. Odder things have been proven real. However, I will say everyone who stuides and interprets it so far sucks at it. 🙂

  30. Spacer says:

    “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.”

    ~ Arthur C Clarke

  31. ND says:

    lluis

    “even if some astrologers try to predict the future by reading the sky (like meteorologists), astrology does not necessarily intent to predict the future, is not a oracle or devination knowledge, so it doesn’t make sense questioning about its success or failure in predicting existence of planets or anything like that.”

    Then what is astrology all about? You’re trying to have your cake and eat it too by insinuating that one can predict or see elements of the future but “don’t think of it like that too much”. Predicting future events, specially by using the very predictable motions of the planets is a phenomenon that can be tested. But you don’t want it to be tested. Science is about putting our biases and beliefs aside as much as humanly possible to test and validate ideas. If one gets too specific in how astrology works, then those claims can be tested and potentially proven wrong. You don’t want to have your ideas to be taken to their logical conclusions. Which is why we’re not getting straight answers from you.

    What you’re describing is is belief. Astrology has not made much of any progress in the past 4000 years.

    About you being an engineer, we’re having a bit of fun with it because there seem to be quite a few engineers that believe in such things as astrology, ufos and other nonsense. We’re under the expectation that someone with a technical background such as engineer should know better and be more rational.

  32. Andy F says:

    As a practicising ophiuchan, who loves the number 13, astrology is up there with cosmetology, ufology, Apollo project and AGW denying, crop circles and alchemy as a field of study that has given so, so much to mankind…. in the process making so much money for those practicising it.

    To undertake a successful astrology practice, the only raw material required is a good supply of gullible people (oh, and keep the 13th sign of the Zociac hush hush!)

  33. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Astrology can’t be justified on scientific grounds. Ultimately astrology is a supernatural system of thought, where the natural process of planetary motion somehow have this supernatural overlay. How that got going is a matter of further imponderable speculation. It might also be seen as a case of sympathetic magic, where if people believe it determines their fate they may act accordingly to fulfill it predictions.

    LC

  34. ND says:

    lluis

    “one final, without astrology, its need to understand the skies and the contribution of many reknowned astrologers (Galileo, Newton, Keppler, …) most probably astronomy would have not been what it is today. at least that should be recognized and yes, the tendency to kill or replace father and mother is something that can be very well explained with astrology and psicology, but a decent behaviour would be to understand father and mother and to love them for their contribution to our life.”

    Astronomy like all other sciences is driven by a general deep human desire to understand the world and therefore the scientific study of the stars would have come about even without astrology. In fact Astronomy is what it is today *because* astrological thinking has been rejected. The need to understand the skies is a deep and fundamental human desire and is not the domain of astrology.

    Your attempt to put freudian angle to history of astronomy and astrology is meaningless and adds nothing to the validity of astrology or lack there of.

  35. ND says:

    lluis

    “personal experience on visions: my parents were back home on a plane, my mother was sleeping and awoke because of a terrible dream: she saw president Kennedy being killed. explain the dream to my father and of course my father starts laughing. 2 hours late a member of the crew communicates president Kennedy had been assassinated. please, explain that with science.”

    You cannot eliminate the possibility that this is a coincidence. Just because she had a nightmare of the assassination two hours before it happened does not mean she was seeing into the future. Millions of people have dreams and nightmares all the time and there are multitudes of tragic and great events happening all over the world. Such coincidences are to be expected. Now if you’re saying there are seers, people who can see events in the future, then there should have been an increase in the number of people seeing the Kennedy assassination. Were there? Are there any studies on this? How about 911? Were there an increase in the number of visions leading to september 11? Events such as these are a great opportunity to study and put forth evidence that some people can have visions of the future. But there aren’t are there?

    How specific was your mom’s vision? Does it match up with what happened in Dallas?

    I believe you’re making the mistake a lot of people make in that looking at evidence critically is something only done in hard to understand fields of science. Critical thinking, questioning and evaluating evidence with a minimum of emotion and bias are tools for everyone to use in everyday life. You’re essentially saying these should not be used when it comes to astrology.

  36. ND says:

    lluis I think you may find teh following wiki page illuminating

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading

  37. jjb says:

    What is going on? Is Universe Today just getting desperate to write something? First the ‘out of context’ Climate Change … now the out of context Astrology? Now understand I do not support nor do I believe in Astrology … but I do expect reasonable and fair presentations of FACTS and not trying to ‘fit’ something that isn’t even a part of the equation … UT … please … let’s get back to being credible, honest and integrity. PLEASE!!??

  38. Spacer says:

    Jean Tate said:

    “…aren’t you also saying that humans have some physical characteristics not shared with anything else on Earth?”

    Yes, but I think that characteristic is just a very fertile imagination !!

  39. Aqua says:

    My Mexican friends used to say that my sign was in ‘Feces’, and they never lied?

    Back in the late 80’s I lived with a woman who’d been trained by the Berkeley Psychic Institute for a number of years… She used meditation and a variety of trance induction techniques to do her ‘seeing’. The CIA was involved with this group for a short time, in an attempt to use ‘remote viewing’ as a way to ‘see’ into the goings on behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. That effort was abandoned when it proved unreliable (Of course). BUT, some ‘funny’ things DID come about from her use of ‘mystical’ traditions.

    She was a VERY sensitive woman and many times her ‘readings’ proved to be eerily accurate. Her communications with beings outside of our ‘reality’ was interesting, if not amusing? Her training allowed her to use ‘psychic’ techniques as a tool for communicating with psychologically stressed and dysfunctional individuals. (I’m weirder than YOU!) So there was THAT…

    I remained a skeptic the whole time… but the sex was great (The best! on SO many planes?) and there was never a dull moment in her company.

    The upshot is… she predicted the Loma Prieta earthquake! Although she’d ‘viewed’ it as the release of a an ancient ‘progenitor Titan’ from the Earth, brought about by the workings of the Dali Lama, who had days prior (On Earth Day of that year) performed an ancient mystical ceremony atop nearby Mt. Tamalpais. Her claim was that it would have been a WHOLE LOT WORSE, had he not done so?

    When I confronted her about her use of Astrology, me being an amateur astronomer and prone to a more scientific approach in life, she claimed that astrology was simply another tool to be used to open communicatons with people. That is to say, to open doors of communication with the disaffected or otherwise unreachable ‘walking wounded’.

    I was bad and chastised her relentlessly for being foolish and manipulating others under false pretenses. Her retort was, that it really didn’t matter WHAT tool she used, as long as she was able to ‘reach’ another soul and provide psychic healing.

    I could live with that…. but I couldn’t live with her…. she never paid her bills. She was removed a couple steps from reality, but was closer to the soul of the Earth than any other person I’ve ever met.

  40. perigee says:

    Jean Tate said:

    “To repeat a key part of what I wrote: Mars can’t influence you at all, via its magnetic field, electric field, its gamma ray emissions, and so on. Mars can influence you via its gravitation, its radio emissions, and its light (if you are outdoors); but those influences are totally swamped by the gravitational and electromagnetic influences of things in your immediate environment.”

    [Perigee said:]
    Sure, I understand this. however this is the “gross forces model”.
    I am suggesting by contrast that electricall engineers will tell you that swamping (gross) emmissions can be tuned out to pick up the right frequncey of the emmission of interest – even if it is millions of times fainter. Could something like this work for biological systems and planetary cycles?

    [Jean Tate said:]
    “Is there some long-range force other than gravitation or electromagnetism, one that is as yet undiscovered and can result in Mars influencing you (or people in general)? If you think that there might be such a force, aren’t you also saying that humans have some physical characteristics not shared with anything else on Earth?”

    [Perigee said:]
    Maybe it could be gravity and/or electromagnetic after all.

    One possible medium is the Earth’s magnetosphere. For instance it occsilates due to daily lunar variation thereby generating a daily frequency (albeit a very low amplitude easily swapmed by other frequncies) But bio-organisms such as micro organisms, animal mamals etc . (so it is not limited just to humans) may have evolved a finely tuned resopnse to that frequncy for whatever survival tactic .

    Other planets should also generate infintesimal tides in the earth’s magnetosphere (and Sun). I’m speculating that a finely tuned nervous system in a bio-organisem may “pick up the signals”.

    Perhaps you might check out Percy Seymour and his electromagnetic theory theory in an attempt to exlpian the Gauquelin results (astrological correlationtons to personality types and professions). You can google both authors.

    • Jean Tate says:

      Some further thoughts on perigee’s “gross force” vs “fine tuned” ideas.

      First, I know of no evidence that humans are influenced at all by microwaves or radio waves, of the intensity commonly encountered on a busy, big city street say; nor of any observed effect from any line emission (which is what most radio, TV, satellite etc transmissions are). So perhaps I should have emphasized this, rather than swamping.

      Second, microwave or radio influence, from a particular celestial source, varies from zero (when Mars is below your horizon, for example), to greatly attenuated (whole swathes of the electromagnetic spectrum are absorbed by rain, trees, etc), to amplified (not naturally, but if you happen to be near the focus of a radio telescope when it’s pointed at Mars), yet the astrological influence is the same.

      Third, Mars’ microwave and radio emission is thermal, due to its temperature (there are reports of the possibility of non-thermal emission, due to static generated by dust, but no confirmations yet; Mars has no lightning, and no magnetosphere). What, then, distinguishes the microwaves and radio waves from Mars which a new-born may experience from the far, far, far more intense thermal radiation from the baby’s surroundings? Many newborns may even experience thermal radiation from objects with the same temperature as Mars’!

  41. perigee says:

    [Andy F Says:
    January 27th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    As a practicising ophiuchan, who loves the number 13, astrology is up there with cosmetology, ufology, Apollo project and AGW denying, crop circles and alchemy as a field of study that has given so, so much to mankind…. in the process making so much money for those practicising it.

    To undertake a successful astrology practice, the only raw material required is a good supply of gullible people (oh, and keep the 13th sign of the Zociac hush hush!)

    [Perigee says:]

    On a technical point…

    There are only 12 SIGNS of the zodiac. You are instead refering to the CONSTELLATION Ophiuchus.

    Signs and constellations are NOT the same thing.

    Do your homework!

    The signs of the tropical zodiac (that astrologers use) is a purely geometric 12-fold construct covering the ENTIRE celestial sphere and anchored to the equinoxes/solstices that are subject to precession.

    So you cannot be an Ophiuchan in the astrological sense because constellations are not used in (Western) astrology.

  42. perigee says:

    # Uncle Fred Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I wonder if they run such questions through their mind:

    “What is this energy of the planets? What instruments can we use to scientifically measure this supposed energy? If our hypothesis is that there is indeed such energy, in what ways can we devise tests to disprove this notion (thereby eliminating all possible counter evidence?”

    etc etc…

    [Perigee says:]

    I appreciate that on a science forum these are the sort of questions we would like to get answers – if astrology worked in the first place. And that’s the real question – does it work? Does it perform? Otherwise these technical questions are moot.

    See
    http://rudolfhsmit.nl/index.html

  43. Uncle Fred says:

    I appreciate such insight as those who have posted about their experiences with predictions. I have felt in the past that I have had similar deja-vu and other phenomena.

    So being the inquisitive individual I am, I decided some time ago to see if I was really having deja-vu on the odd occasion.

    For a number of years I left a virtual journal of my day’s feelings and experiences and each morning recorded all the dreams I could remember.

    Finally, after about 6 years I felt I had a “OMG! deja-vu!” moment. I used the search tool to pick out all the references to feelings, places and people at the time of my deja-vu.

    Turns out my almost certain premonition was actually a deeply buried but remarkably similar experience I had years before.

    My subconscious and conscious mind tried to play a trick on me!

    As for medium/psychic predictions, I find that if you press people far enough on these predictions, often times you’ll find that what they really said was not what you remember.

    Like for the Earthquake example, did she actually specify that it would be an earthquake? I mean REALLY spell it out as a quake? Was there anybody else that was present when she described these events?

    Also, what are her beliefs? Was the prediction based on some fundamental aspect of a related concept? Ex. Strong Buddhist traditions? Or what about local factors? Did she predict a quake because she understands that such-and-such a region is prone to quakes?

    Sorry if I ruin the fun, but I feel more often then not, an answer can be found that makes logical sense. Sometimes you just have to dig for it. When I was a kid it was a community right of passage to explore this local abandoned house at night. I did so alone and could never understand why everyone was so afraid of it. The only thing I was afraid of was a wild animal, a structural failure, the cops, or someone hurting me in a prank.

  44. Fermin Ortea says:

    Boni64 sayst o Lluis:

    What Energy is that?
    There are only 3 Known Natural Energies for sure, posible 4 and 5,..in the Universe.

    “Energy” and “Force” are 2 words for the same thing.

    Religion, parapsicology, paranormal and pseudocientific people think in esoteric, supernatural or mataphysical energies unknown for the Natural Sciences,…it is a matter of belief or faith that those forces exist.

    The known Natural Energies or Forces are: Gravitation, Electroweak ( Electromagnetism unified with former Weak Nuclear force ) and the Strong Nuclear Force. Under study is “Dark Energy” an the one that keeps the Universe expanding and accelerating, if it is not the same.

    Astrology had been studied profusely by the best scientists in the last centuries all over the world, and declared false as a Science. This is not a matter of only one person’s opinion.

    He is assuming that the author doesn’t understand astrology,…and because that it is possible that it be valid. What a fallacy ! It is very well known its name is “Special Pleading” ( Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World book page. 213) .
    People of all religions and opinions, should say the same thing and not all of them could be right, if any.

    According with that anything could be possible and valid.

    Astrology is a belief not a Natural Science. A pseudoscience or a game with artifically man made rules like any sport or organized indoor entertainments as Monopoly, domino, checkers or backgammon.

    Really it is Astromancy, it uses astros as cards.

    Not because you don’t understand base ball, foot ball, o chess you can’t say that it has nothing to do with unknown universal forces, only with those already known and mentioned above,…and even then the odds are enormous depending on how you use them, and other factors natural and man made.

    What energies are you talking about ?

  45. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Energy is related to force as a force displaced through a distance. An increment of energy, or energy change &E, is determined by a force F through a distance or displacement &x

    &E = F&x..

    I find it amuzing this little topic, written to deflect ideas that physics can explain astrology, has garnered such attention and particularly by a fair number who defend astrology.

    Astrology is a supernatural scheme imposed on planetary motion as seen on the geocentric coordinate frame. It really is a form of religion at the end of the line.

    LC

  46. Aqua says:

    Uncle Fred – Take a look at Science of Mind

    THAT’s where me and the psychic basically differed. She chased after personal-ego based interpretations. Whereas SOM teaches that we are all ONE in SPIRIT… and have access to unlimited love, wisdom and knowledge when we let go of who we think we are, and listen in to our soul’s communion with the infinite.

    “Be Thee reborn, with the renewal of Thy mind!”

  47. Aqua says:

    Jean Tate – Yes, there is lightning on Mars.

    http://www.physorg.com/news164468762.html

    • Jean Tate says:

      Thanks for that Aqua!

      The paper based on this research, in Geophysical Research Letters, is rather more cautious, than the story, about it being lightning, but it is indeed non-thermal (note that electrical discharges from Martian dust have been predicted for many years now).

  48. Blad Hansen says:

    There are some real mysteries that persist through time not because of human gullibility
    but because people find they work – for them.Though science never seems to crack the nut of why.
    And skepticism often seems to skew statistical attempt to verify or debunk or it biases the outcome through something akin to a negative placebo effect.

    4 mysteries come to mind as outstanding :
    Astrology, dowsing, homeopathy,and the placebo effect itself(though the last two may be somewhat intertwined.)

    With respect to astrology there has been quite a lot of recent progress, mainly through our ability to analyze for hormones and endorphins.

    The annual, perceived movement of the zodiac is the basis of the calendar and we have archeo-astronomical evidence of dial timekeeping going back well into the neolithic
    and even earlier. Notched bones, stone circles, various solstice alignments etc.

    There is a statistically proven relationship between lunar cycles, and human and animal behaviors. ( note our lexicon – lunatic, mooning around, etc etc)
    And of course there is menstruation.

    There was a fun piece on this by Rob Roy Britt, in Space.com :

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/lunatic_dogs_010109-2.html

    There is also a large body of contemporary knowledge relating human personality traits and physiology to season of birth.

    If you want to explore these subject – google -Seasonal birth traits. I got 1.5 million hits!

    This life-science spans from bacteria, through planktonic water fleas, to puppies, cows, sheep, and even human racial variations.

    In fact, even season of conception, can influence physiological outcomes!

    So there is clearly a link between the calendar, the zodiac, and birth traits and our ancestors were wise to this way back.

    Our awe of the heavens led us to confuse cause and effect,
    our awe of ‘wise men’ who could predict eclipses (probably back over 6000 yr/ago),
    and our awe of men who could dowse water ( origin of the the word sorcerer?) i.e. Moses
    can explain much of the mysticism out of which modern science emerged.

    We really do differ if we are born in November or May in all sorts of ways but not because of the planets, the moon and sun or their gravity or their electromagnetism (sorry EU), but because they were our first clocks, and calendars and we clearly have discrete personality traits and paths through life.

    Astrologers connected these dots for millennia, and have studied human nature sufficiently long to be able to tell us some very deep things that hugely influenced human history.

    Sadly, tabloid exploitation and charlatans have cheapened this strange psychology so we miss the remarkable insights that underlie it. On these pages, let’s not forget, the precise mathematics it developed, that gave us celestial navigation,Newtonian gravity and the path to modern astronomy . Not a bad record for a ‘pseudo’ science!!!

    • Jean Tate says:

      When considering the history of astronomy and astrology, it’s important to remember that celestial phenomena were quite mysterious, and had no apparent connection with earthly phenomena, right up until Newton published his law of universal gravitation. Galileo prepared the ground, so to speak, for Newton, by discovering that the Moon apparently had mountains, and some understanding of the connection between meteors and meteorites probably existed before then too.

      Once the implications of Newton’s work sank in, astronomy and astrology became increasingly easily distinguishable.

  49. Uncle Fred says:

    Interesting. Blad Hansen’s comment was rather intelligent in tone, so I followed through with searches of some of his concepts.

    Astrology, dowsing, homeopathy,and the placebo effect

    In order of my findings:
    Astrology: Religious beliefs (see other’s)
    Dowsing: No scientific studies have ever verified this procedure is more than just chance. In fact, “diviners” when tested in a controlled experiment are just as likely to fail as succeed.
    [link removed]
    Placebo effect: Human intervention on their own health due to some effect of controlling the brain’s chemical and or electrical signals. Someone could clarify this was VERY technical.

    If you want to explore these subject – google -Seasonal birth traits. I got 1.5 million hits!

    Ok! I did.

    -How so? I found nothing on this other than the time of year has an influence on development. This is very easily explained! Seasons? Weather? Sunlight? Temperature? How much a mammal can be active during the daylight? The list goes on… and it has nothing to do with Astrology!?!

    Menstral cycles = lunar cycles:

    – Where did you get this?

    [link removed]

    Cycles range between 25-35 days and vary in stage between women.

    “even human racial variations.”

    -huh? No such thing!
    [link removed]

    -We are far to genetically similar as a species to be able to classify our differences in terms of race.

    “Not a bad record for a ‘pseudo’ science”

    -Still looking for anything related to pseudo science that can’t be explained with critical thinking.

    I think this is getting nowhere. For whatever reasons that are beyond my understanding, a large segment of the population seems to anchor their thoughts in beliefs, whether they are traditional or new age (Science of Mind). I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, It must bring them some sort of comfort. I just don’t understand it. Can anyone who believes in things tell me why they seek and hold on to such explanations?

  50. Blad Hansen says:

    @Jean and all
    Though this strand seems to have died a natural death,I
    hope you don’t think I’m a stubborn Taurus and kick me off the blog for verbosity but I’d like to clarify my last comment.

    I’m a hard core atheist. And a pretty hard core skeptic of the ‘show me’ school.

    I’m sure we are on the same page re: history of astrology and history of modern science and their divergence.
    Also we’d agree on the entire lack of physical forces of nature in the solar system carrying subtle influences or unknown weird psycho-physical
    energies which influence character or foretell destiny, as you explain in your article.

    But I find persistent mysteries fascinating. Not because they are magical but because beliefs that nevertheless have physical manifestations require investigation and explanation –
    debunking as ‘mere suggestion or gullibility’ isn’t good enough. For instance earlier comments mentioned voodoo (admittedly metaphorically as in ‘voodoo science’)

    However voodoo really can and does kill voodoo believers. There is a wealth of anthropological work on this from West Africa as well as Haiti.
    But there’s very little medical,neurological or psychological explanation of how this might work. Just saying ‘it’s merely the power of suggestion’ is
    actually very loaded by that word – power. It’s easy for Skeptical Inquirer to take down a mentalist, or a spoon bender but a lot harder to explain a real death at a distance by voodoo.

    Homeopathy is something we’d think would be easy to debunk and easy to forget as an interesting sidebar in old time medicine. But it just won’t go away though you’d think that if people tried it and it didn’t work for them, they’d forget it in a hurry. So what have we here? Evidenced based medicine proves that homeopathy absolutely cannot carry physiologically active molecules into the living body – period.
    But I’ve seen homeopathy really work many times in the everyday world, ( it’s amazed my hard core skepticism). I’m not saying homeopathy is medicine but it often makes something happen that is currently inexplicable.
    But put it in the hard light of clinical double blind trials and it’s a bust every time “no better than placebo”. But what then is placebo?
    Placebo is another little understood field often dissed as ‘merely’ suggestion. It been a useful statistical standard test for 50 years. And sometimes a wise ‘trick of the trade’ for practitioners. But lately it’s getting a lot of attention and research money because it’s effect seems to have doubled over the past decade, putting a lot of standard drug testing into question. (see via google: Placebo Response Drug Trials Survey. Or this well researched journalistic article: [link deleted])
    Some of the pathways of this response have been mapped and some very elegant psychological experiments have been performed offering clues
    to new science and new medical practice. It’s is deep and fascinating stuff. Voodoo magic under the knife so to speak.

    I’m sure all on this blog agree that ‘astrological advice’ or prophesy to a Libra or a Leo in the daily news papers is silliness in extreme.

    But there are known forces that subtly effect organisms. There are clearly, biological responses to terrestrial magnetism, (orientation of iron bacteria, navigation abilities of blinded migratory birds, disorientation of bats by resetting their bio magnetism by exposure to a powerful field ….. and many others) usually via neuro-receptors containing bio-magnetite. I’m talking of species such as Arctic Terns that migrate solo, 20 thousand kilometers with GPS precision.
    Even more remarkable is the implication that celestial star maps can be inherited in some bird and even fish species. Ironically this would be real bio astrology when it leads them to their mates!

    So it is from these perspectives that I am advocating for caution in debunking astrology just on the grounds that there are no signals linking life lines to the planets. I’m pretty sure most astrologers don’t practice with that in mind or think their field works like that at all. Indeed the whole business of the chart, rising sign, etc etc is perhaps an atavistic liturgy, whereby many of them are practicing a type of psychological counseling that many clients find helpful in managing their lives. I think the use of tables of ephemera, the nautical almanac, and circular geometic diagrams probably reassures the susceptible just like a religion as Lawrence Crowell points out. Whether any form of psychological counseling can be called science …I don’t think so, though it surely works. Doctors are only half joking when they say ‘white coat – black art’. And conversely priests would like us to believe “black-robe – white art…?

    I think the physical sciences may be erecting a straw man when we demonstrate a lack of force at a distance underlying astrology. I’m most uncertain that astrologers actually claim this force exists.

    But where there is a physical link – of the the ‘astro’ suffix and our inner lives is here:
    The seasons and their varying solar irradiance are caused by axial inclination, and orbit around the sun, and the forces of tides and nocturnal light levels vary with lunar cycles and these have subtle but very real effects, entraining our physiology and psychology and this has been a fact of life for a very long time.
    Thus an issue that just won’t go away is that there seems to be some reality-based connection between ‘astrological sign’ on the calendar and aspects of some life outcomes. Strictly speaking since they occur in-utero, date of conception may be the controlling factor not birthday. These seem to be through neuro-plastic effects on the growing foetus, of seasonal changes in maternal hormones (lots of molecules), neurotransmitters (not so many molecules), and endorphins (staggeringly few molecules of some 40+ different ‘flavors’) which influence statistically validated links to genes effecting personality of the offspring, as well as vulnerability to certain physical and mental disorders, and even career paths and mating choices in later life!
    A couple of peer-reviewed refs:
    [links deleted]

    What I am saying is that however hard nosed we want to be, or how ever easily we think we can dismiss quirky observation as merely some well known manifestation, or the madness of crowds, be prepared to be surprised. Of course Carl Sagan is right “science is a candle in the demon haunted world”. But when I was undergraduate, ‘continental drift’ was dissed as Wagner’s crazy idea, and existence of endogenous magnetic compasses in organisms were considered ‘daft’. Plate Tectonics has become the paradigm unifying all geophysics, and bio-magnetism is an exciting emerging field. Our bio computer and its mentation and memory, function at levels way deeper than current loops on neurons. Though we have unravelled the genome and can watch brains think through MRI, we are only at the beginning of probing the ‘body-electric’ at the level of the cellular nucleus and the currents and fields that excite our RNA and DNA. And it’s all evolved from exquisitely organized photons and star dust. We really are the universe contemplating itself!

    [Blad: if you put more than one link in a comment, the system will not post it. Given the volume of spam we get, and how busy we are, few of us are willing to wade through all the “Pending” comments to let through the tiny minority that are not spam. I’ve deleted the links, so this should now be posted automatically – Jean Tate.]

  51. AxelHarvey says:

    -> Jean Tate, …. : You have shown that astrology is not explained by gravity. I shall recommend you to the Nobel committee.

    As for the idea that external magnetic fields cannot influence Earth because of Earth’s magnetosphere, that is putting matters upside-down. Surely it is the magnetosphere that can react to the magnetic environment, and the absence of a magnetosphere would make astrology very different from what it is (for example, the orientation of planets wrt the local meridian and horizon is taken into account in astrology, implying that external forces are mediated by Earth and that we are not zapped directly by planetary fields).

    -> ND, CrazyEddieBlogger, Uncle Fred, Fermin Ortea, Lawrence B. Crowell, and others: You all seem to believe firmly that astrology is a (mere) belief. In other words you are not non-believers, but rather believers in the negation of a hypothesis. Please learn the difference between a non-believer and a negative believer.

    -> Lawrence B. Crowell: “What intellectual basis astrology might have had […] it has in the modern world evaporated.” Substitute Renaissance medicine or Renaissance alchemy for astrology in that sentence and you could make precisely the same statement; yet those congeries of barbaric superstitions (as some would have it) evolved gradually into our medicine and chemistry.

    -> Surak: “the fact that astrology failed to predict the existence of Neptune and Uranus.” As astrology stood circa 1700 (and to a great extent today) it is a technology rather than a deductive theoretical discipline. Besides, going through thousands of horoscopes, each associated with a personal biography, in order to deduce the position and orbit of an as-yet-unknown planet seems like an impossible task even with the help of computers and sophisticated mathematics. So astrologers apply rules based on known astronomical facts to come up with likely scenarios. You might as well blame physicians for not predicting AIDS in 1950.

    -> perigee: You may be on to something. Earth with its own magnetic field may be able to pick out very weak signals from other planets associated with each planet’s “beat”, but the question remains, why are animals attuned to particularly those beats? Some theoreticians (Dale Huckeby, Jacques Halbronn) conjecture an evolutionary process which favoured such animal-geomagnetic connections but so far there are too many gaps to make the conjectures plausible.

    And thank you for the phrase “gross forces model” – I shall use it in my next debate with negative believers.

    -> Blad Hansen: Thank you for your similarly careful approach.

  52. ND says:

    “-> ND, CrazyEddieBlogger, Uncle Fred, Fermin Ortea, Lawrence B. Crowell, and others: You all seem to believe firmly that astrology is a (mere) belief. In other words you are not non-believers, but rather believers in the negation of a hypothesis. Please learn the difference between a non-believer and a negative believer.”

    If you believe a hypothesis (astrology) is real then it’s up to you to back it up. It’s possible to test and show evidence that a phenomenon (astrology) is real without going into the mechanics of what makes that phenomenon tick. Proponents of astrology need to show this since the burden of proof is primarily on them. Once that’s done you can come up with new hypothesis to explain it. Since evidence is sorely lacking, astrology is a belief. I mean come on, it’s been how many centuries? The methodology for critically testing hypothesis is well developed and has a proven track record. Use them.

    As for the early origins of medicine, chemistry and astronomy, if you’ll notice, these fields have diverged and abandoned the old superstitions after overwhelming lack of evidence. Pointing out the ancient origins of these fields is simply trying to ride on the coattails of their successes.

  53. Blad Hansen says:

    @ Jean
    Sorry about the excessive references and thanks for letting the rest through.

    One correction – I meant (Alfred) Wegener not Wagner re continental drift.

    @ ND You put the rules of science very succinctly.

    As a skeptic I’d add this – contemporary astrology is dependent on belief in anecdotal evidence
    and because it involves magical thinking, Sagan’s Rule re ‘extra-ordinary evidence ‘ must apply.

    This picks up the very first thread of this blog from Nephish777

    I’ve expounded, above, about ongoing bio medical research relating birth season to several aspects of life outcomes – based on biographies from cohorts of thousands i.e. high level of confidence – that resonates loosely with the some of the claims of astrology, relating calendrial birthdate – via the horoscope to – life outcome.

    The first order hypothesis is that there is a link via maternal brain chemistry, to genes of the developing fetal neurons.

    Whether the Swedish data base to which I am referring is detailed enough for Axel Harvey, (whose feisty comments imply he is an astrologer)
    to do a statistically significant number of horoscopes from the biographies, to see if there is any correlation, I don’t know.
    But this sort of comparative test would bring the extra-ordinary claims within the compass of strict scientific protocols.
    And the outcome ( if significant) might be quite intriguing to ‘non -believers’……..
    I don’t know if astrologers have any academy that could fund an effort like this, but if the data base is public-access,
    maybe a team of astrologers could do the heavy lifting out-of-pocket.

    Here is my one allowed link to the abstract on the database (NIH has a pretty intense web index system ….. hope it gets through):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=PubMed&cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title%20Word&term=Chotai%5Bauthor%5D%20AND%20Season%20of%20birth%20variations%20in%20the%20temperament%20and%20character%20inventory%20of%20personality%20in%20a%20general%20population.

    Its references can link you onward if you want to go there.

  54. AxelHarvey says:

    -> ND: Hypotheses are not “real”, they are hypotheses. You are quite right, however; phenomena have to be demonstrated first and the explanatory models can come later. Imo there have been such demonstrations, as well as some successful debunkings (the testing of astrology in the 20th century has a rocky and contentious history – I have in mind, for example, Shawn Carlson’s “double-blind” test of the 1980s which was devastatingly criticized by Hans Eysenck, unfortunately in an astrological journal which nobody reads outside the field). The difference between astrology and chemistry, say, is that if a chemical hypothesis is proven faulty no-one says that all of chemistry is debunked.

    But the word that catches my eye in your last post is still “real”. It shows that you are in the realm of belief, albeit negative belief. I don’t think a good chemist or a good geologist “believes” in chemistry or geology, they practice their disciplines and if ambitious will try to improve them. The same applies to astrology, but lacking any academic beacons the astrologer has to navigate by a combination of traditional methods and inspiration – the price society pays for its neglect of the discipline.

    “As for the early origins of medicine, chemistry and astronomy, if you’ll notice,” I mentioned them precisely because they have diverged from their faulty origins and hope that astrology can do likewise. It’s a more interesting challenge than sitting on my seat and believing whatever the authorities say.

  55. Fermin Ortea says:

    “-> ND, CrazyEddieBlogger, Uncle Fred, Fermin Ortea, Lawrence B. Crowell, and others: You all seem to believe firmly that astrology is a (mere) belief. In other words you are not non-believers, but rather believers in the negation of a hypothesis. Please learn the difference between a non-believer and a negative believer.”

    Ok ! , when you learn the difference between a believer and the positive believer.

    Many years ago I stop using the word “believe” and use instead “think”,…”thinking” because thinking is a lot more than believing. “Believe” stops,…Thinking continues. Beliefs love dogmas, thinking no,…( I didn’t said “hate” either, just that do not love dogmas,…and don’t use and follow them ).

    I do not believe that Astrology is a belief, I think that Astrology is a belief. Why?…

    Take in consideration these two things. :

    1) The Zodiac 12 constelllations are not, repeat ARE NOT the only ones that cut the ecliptic, there are others, but in top of that: Why only 12 when there are 88 constellations?,..Even in Ptolomy times they knew much more than 12. But when the South Hemisphere was discovered those too enter in the list of Astrology ignored constellations.

    2) The Earth Axis, as you know, rotates, 30 ang. degrees each 2,000 years , exactly 1/12 of the circunference, ( 30° for each in the zodiac) This is known as Precession of the Equinoxes, as you also for shure know.

    Ptolomy knew that very well too, when he founded Astrology, 2000 years ago.So the heavens have rotated 30 Degrees exactly since then, the distance that occupies one and each Zodiac constellation, those that astrology use.

    So if you were Gemini 2,000 years ago, for example, now you are Taurus, because Taurus moved to where Gemini were before. And if you think you are Aries you are Pisces now, and Capricornus, Aquarius, etc.

    But the practitioners and followers of today astrology ignore that.

    They ignore Precession of the equinoxes !
    But they also ignore that it is continuous and gradual,…it is not jumping suddenly. Adjustments should be done ( 30 ÷ 2,000 ) = 0.015° for each year, let say, 1. 5 ° each 100 years,…and chance the dates of each sign, accordingly. Was it done ?,… Is it being done today? , …Who keeps the counting and calculations?.

    Astrology evades and avoids mathematics too,… and that is believing not thinkink to say the less. Belief not Science.

    They failed to make the adjustments, they betray Ptolomy, they ridicule him.

    That is negligence not science, ignorance not knowledge, treason no respect to the founder, and a game with a body of rules invented, more or less organized and relativey “rationalized” to fit the purpose, same as you do with base ball, foot ball, Chess, cards, etc., any other table game.

    Astronomy is Astromancy , no Astrology: the name is inappropiate, and for today knowledge of Astronomy, it became a plagiarism.

    In the Chess, why the horse jump in “L” , the bishops move in diagonals, the “peones” move forward but eat to the sides, and the Queen do any thing ( but jumping) a any distance?,…Some body ( o bodies ) invented that. Same as astrology,… they use astros like cards.

    I am a Bachelor in Sciences graduated in College in Cuba and 75 years old, retired as Enginering Tehcnician 10 years ago, but studiying Astronomy /cosmology and Sciences in general ( you need all for that ), enthusiastic and perhaps qualifiying as amaterur Astronomer, in the low level,…thanks to this computer and y the Intenet, with the best Telescopes of the World to my fingers,and a lot of books, videos, and essays from the best of the best.

    Carl Sagan, Hawking, Weinberg, Penrose, Feyman, Reese, Guth, Harris, Sten Odenwald ( APOD ), Plait ( Bad Astronomy), Ned Wright’s cosmology, Allan Sandage, Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Bohr, Schödinger…etc.

    Who are you going to listen and “think”, that they are better informed and closer to the truths than those ( and others more ) with better credentials ?,…

    Astrologers ?… Bah !.

    I have more than 1,000 books and dedicated publications. And subscribed to Nat. Geog,., Planetary Soc. Universe today, and SETI. I do not believe in UFOS , I look for Extra Terrestial Intelligence and think, along with many others and offered for long time my computer to SETI. You can do that too.

    I do no’t believe, my friend, …I think !

    A hug any way.

    My email is Boni 64 @aol.com.

    ( English is not my maternal language so excuse me )

  56. perigee says:

    Fermin

    I’m nor sure whether you are setting up the straw-man thing here.

    I indicated in an earlier post which you may have missed that astrologers use a TROPICAL zodiac of SIGNS that is not based on any constellations, other than their inherited zodiacal names .

    I suspect the ancient Greeks set it up this way because it made astrology amenable to mathematical analysis and easier to construct ephemerides. So using a tropical zodiac necessarily requires it to run with precession. So precession is not “ignored” out of ignorance as you implicate.

  57. Uncle Fred says:

    On the issue of: “negative believers”

    It has been a long time since I believed in anything at all. I prefer to see the world as a changing construct of facts and interpretations. I prefer a genuine plasticity in knowledge.

    Unfortunately, the burden of this way of thinking is that I require as Carl Sagan put it: “extraordinary evidence to back up extraordinary claims.”

    If for example, the Neuropsychobiology study mentioned above comes up with some verifiable, reproducible evidence of the subject matter then this is indeed interesting and worth further study! Yet, all approaches must be analyzed. What are all possible explanations for this variety (assuming a statistically significant result)? Have all the environmental explanations been accounted for? What ways could the test be modified to bring out possible environmental explanations? etc etc.

    Once all areas for interpretations are taken into account then yes, this is VERY interesting! … and my own thoughts will be changed (until something else changes them again).

    Like others have said, the burden of proof lies with those who make the claims. I have no beliefs myself, just thoughts that can be changed. Others have beliefs. If you feel so strongly one way, come forth with proof Astrologers!

  58. Fermin Ortea says:

    Perigee:

    “Tropical Zodiac Signs” ?,… What is the difference?,…Can you explain that.?

    But in avance let me tell you what I suppose it is.

    Tropical because in reference to Tropical zone of Earth between Cancer and Capricornio Tropics: 23.5 ° North and 23.5 South. ( 47 degrees latitude. )?,… Right or Wrong?

    There are many Constellations in there. But you say it is not based in Constellations,,,,, In what is based then ?

    And why Tropical ?

    And why the word Zodiac then?

    And what you mean by “signs”?.

    Dictionary says: Sign =”Something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality”

    Which are they?,…Facts, conditions or qualities ?…. ¿ Fisically or invented ?,..and based in what?

    No need to take in consideration the equinox precession you say ,…it means that it rotates as a whole together with the Earth axis ?.
    OK. but what about the dates of the year for each “Sign”?,…

    Some day Aquarius ( now bet. Jan 20 -Feb-18 ) ) is going to be where Leo ( bet. July-22-Aug-23 ) is today. ( 6 × 2,000 – 12,000 years from now. )

    The Precession of the Equinoxes is not , repeat, is not only an Earth to Earth phenomenon, due to axis change in position, ( it is not the same as axis tilt ,( angle) that also occurs and change positions of bodies in heaven too, but is different than precession).

    Both “move” positions of bodies with respect to Earth, the Sun, other planets and the Stars. It is a physical natural ocurrence not to be used for esoteric non physical considerations like the fate of individuals born under one or other “Sign”.

    The entire heaven rotates ( apparently of course, beause what rotates or tilt is the axis ). Same thing happen when a top ( toy) when diminishes rotation speed, it “Wobble” in English ( “Bambolea” in Spanish ) , but very slow, 30° every 2,000 years. Someday will be faster because the Earth is loosing rotation speed.

    So what you say sounds as a game,…with very convenient signs and rules, moving with the heavens,…but again: What about the dates ?.

    Stars and Planets relative to Earth positions won’t be the same for the year 4,010 but of course nobody is going to be here to complain,…the Signs and the belief moves with the heavens not the other way around. Same as sports games move from city to city or country,and Chess game could be played in a table or a floor.

    The Universe doesn’t know any thing about astrology. People on Earth worse,…neither astrology neither astronomy.

    “So precession is not “ignored” out of ignorance” but out of known deliberated convenience,…¡ worst !.

    To be used as a game for entertainment is OK, but as a serious belief, no.

    Let alone Science.

    Go to here:

    Zodiac – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    In astronomy, the zodiac is the ring of constellations that lines the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun across the sky over the course of the …

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac –

    Thanks for answering me, I appreciate,…you can contatct me at Boni64 @ aol.com. if you want,and discuss this better.

    Thank you.

  59. perigee says:

    Apologies for the delay in responding.

    I guess what I get here is that like every one else we are wondering why did they choose the tropical zodiac, and why Hindus use the (non- precessing) sidereal zodiac – why do they no longer use the constellations of the zodiac? Why name the signs after constellations when they have precessed along the way?

    Well, I wasn’t there when the ancient Greeks and Ptolemy made those decisions. Perhaps they realised the tropical zodiac and its ecliptic coordinate system is more amenable to mathematical treatment, after all it is used as the as the coordinate system by which the Keplerian elements are applied to calculate planetary positions before converting to RA Dec. (see Meeus, Duffet-Smith, JPL-Horizons etc).

    Perhaps the the Sun and seasons took on more importance than the Moon used to, and it was more appropriate to use a precessing tropical zodiac so that the Sun’s entry into the signs will always be in step with the calendar.

    From the modern view point it all seems illogical and easily to dismiss it as absurd but back then they had their own cultural, magical and “scientific’ and reasons for constructing astrology the way they did.

  60. Paul Eaton-Jones says:

    When the ‘ancients’ used the passing of the seasons, the rising, setting and passage of constellations across the sky they did so, initially, as a guide to planting crops. It’s well known that the ancient Egyptians waited for the rising of Sirius and th eflooding of the Nile before planting certain crops. Not because the gods told them to but because the surrounding fields were inundated with nutrient-rich sediment. No doubt when a god-system was established gods were ascribed to fertility, the annual flood etc etc. It is relatively easy to see how these cultures came to believe the gods favoured them and how certain star-patterns, stars or planets were ‘good or ‘bad’. These people weren’t stupid, uncultured, unlettered or unscientific. They didn’t know exactly what they were seeing and called on the most obvious explanation i.e. the gods. All perfectly understandable back then. However for us today to believe a chance alignment of stars or Jupiter hoving into view at a specific time and you personally being influenced or having your personality determined is off in the realms of fairies, goblins, hobgoblins and hobbits.

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