Astrology Vs Science Debate

Posted By admin On 03.08.21

Many people around the world believe astrology is a true science that works and help us understand our present and predict our future. However most scientists completely refute the validity of atrological predictions and explanations. Who do you think is right? In the few cases where astrology has been used to generate testable expectations and the results were examined in a careful study, the evidence did not support the validity of astrological ideas. 2 This experience is common in science — scientists often test ideas that turn out to be wrong. However, one of the hallmarks of science is that ideas are modified when warranted by the evidence.

  1. Is Astrology A Real Science
  2. Astrology Vs Science Debate Moderators

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The case for and against astrology
End of a shouting match

Is Astrology A Real Science

'If I doubt astrology to a believer, I am looked at with a shocked andbewildered stare, as if I were attacking apple pie and motherhood.'Anthony Standen, Forget Your Sun Sign, 1977.

Abstract -- Eleven representative views of astrologers 1863-2006 implythat astrology is all-revealing, factual, inarguably true, applicable toeverything including past lives, enthralling to thinkers, soon todominate scientific thought, the key to a new world view, and more. Juststudy it seriously, they say, and you will be convinced it works. Butseven representative views of scientists 1930-1998 who studied itseriously imply the exact opposite. This conflict of views can beexplained by differences in what astrology means to different people, bydifferences in what astrology claims, and by the failure of astrologersto allow for non-astrological factors (hidden persuaders) that lead toastrology-like outcomes. The case against astrology is that it isuntrue, it has failed hundreds of tests, and astrologers do not usefullyagree on what a given birth chart indicates. The case for astrology isthat a warm and sympathetic astrologer provides low-cost non-threateningtherapy that is otherwise hard to come by. Much the same applies to sunsign astrology but at a more basic level. In short, there is more toastrology than being true or false. But astrology is an easy target forcommercial abuse. It also faces strong competition from hundreds ofself-help psychology books that it may or may not survive once its truenature becomes more widely known. Includes tests of validity andagreement, and insights into how not to test astrology.

End of a shouting match
Astrology has been a field made quarrelsome by a shortage of facts.Could astrology be true? Could the stars really correlate with humanaffairs? Such questions have been furiously debated without resolutionfor more than 2000 years. Astrology has been the world's longestshouting match.

Not any more. Advances in related areas (astronomy, psychology,statistics, research design) and a decisive technology (personalcomputers) have since 1975 put astrology under the scientific microscopelike never before. Today, most questions can be answered. Quarrelling isno longer the option it once was. In what follows we ignore the usualtired arguments against astrology (sun signs do not agree with theconstellations, there is no known way it could work) in favour of theonly question that matters: What is the case for and against astrology?

Unfortunately the media generally see astrology only as a sales gimmick(eg sun signs in Sunday supplements) or as a source of sensation, aswhen phoneline astrologers earn huge sums or when crooked astrologersfleece the public. If your knowledge of astrology comes from what youread in the media, be aware that you are likely to be seriouslymisinformed both for and against astrology.

Views of astrologers
Astrologers leave you in no doubt that astrology works:

Against its detractors, astrology 'will obtain an easy victory, aglorious triumph, by the force of its most powerful weapons -- facts.'(Alfred John Pearce, for nearly 50 years the learned editor of Zadkiel'sAlmanac, A Defence and Exposition of the Principles of Astrology,1863.)

'Practical experiment will soon convince the most sceptical that thebodies of the solar system indicate, if they do not actually produce,changes in: 1. Our minds. 2. Our feelings and emotions. 3. Our physicalbodies. 4. Our external affairs and relationships with the world atlarge.' (Charles Carter, leading British astrologer of his day, ThePrinciples of Astrology 1925.)

'Official science will recognise that the ancients were not mistaken,and astrology, aided by new methods of investigation, will recover itsancient prestige.' (French astrologer Paul Choisnard, whose verdict wasbased on his experimental tests, Les Objections contre L'Astrologie:Reponses aux critiques anciennes et modernes 1929.)

'No one has ever been known to make a serious study of Astrology andthen reject it.' (Nicholas de Vore, American astrologer and president ofthe Astrologic Research Society, Encyclopedia of Astrology 1947.)

'From being an outcast from the fraternity of sciences, it seemsdestined to assume an almost central role in scientific thought.' (JohnAddey, leading British astrologer of his day, Astrology Reborn 1971.)

'Astrology throws light on every department of life; .. From sex tocareer to character and future prospects -- and more.' (Americanastrologer Sydney Omarr, whose astrology columns were then appearing innearly 300 newspapers, Astrology's Revelations About You 1973.)


'There is no area of human existence to which astrology cannot beapplied.' (Julia and Derek Parker, The Compleat Astrologer 1975, whichsold over a million copies in ten languages. The first is a formerPresident of the British Faculty of Astrological Studies.)

'Anyone who makes a serious and open-minded study of astrology becomestotally unable to scoff. Its truths are inarguable.' (Mary Coleman,Australian psychologist and astrologer, Astro-Pick your Perfect Partner1986.)

Astrology 'despite the contemptuous guffaws of scientific orthodoxy,still continues to enthral the minds of some of our finest contemporarythinkers.' (Charles and Suzi Harvey, respectively former President ofthe British Astrological Association and former Editor of its journal,Principles of Astrology 1999.)

'Astrology's symbols are the soul's language of life. They reveal notonly the mysteries of the universe but also the mysteries of each of ourlives.' (Gina Lake, American counselling psychologist and astrologer,Symbols of the Soul: Discovering your Karma through Astrology 2000.)

Astrology 'promises to contribute to the emergence of a new, genuinelyintegral world view, one that .. can reunite the human and the cosmic,and restore transcendent meaning to both' (Professor Richard Tarnas,American philosopher and astrologer, Cosmos and Psyche 2006.)

In short, astrology is all-revealing, factual, inarguably true,applicable to everything including past lives, enthralling to thinkers,soon to dominate scientific thought, the key to a new world view, andmore. Just study it seriously and you will be convinced it works. Or soastrologers lead us to believe. Now a word from scientists who havestudied it seriously.

Views of scientists
The following views reflect serious studies up to the 1990s:

'I myself, at the risk of appearing ridiculous even to my colleagues,have for fourteen years held my archives open for astrologicalevidence, .. [but all were] the result either of a forced applicationof the rules to human careers already known, or of a careful culling ofhits from preponderating numbers of misses. I do not think that anypsychical researcher .. has given attention to the claims of astrologyand has not definitely cast the pretended science on the dust heap.'(Walter Price, presidential address to the Society for PsychicalResearch, 1930.)

'The ancients were evidently unaware that [astrological judgements] werethe result of reasoning by analogy, which so often proves a treacherousfoundation. That is why the whole superstructure of astrology is soutterly worthless and fallacious.' (August Thomen, Doctors Don't BelieveIt 1938, a survey of medical superstitions.)


'The casting of horoscopes provides a living to thousands of individualsand provides dreams to an infinitely larger number of consumers. ..[But] since the most painstaking studies have shown the inanity ofhoroscopes, there should be a strong rising up against this exploitationof public credulity' (Michel Gauquelin, after analysing the horoscopesof 16,000 famous people, Dreams and Illusions of Astrology 1969.)

'The picture emerging suggests that astrology works, but seldom in theway or to the extent that it is said to work.' (Geoffrey Dean and ArthurMather, Recent Advances in Natal Astrology 1977, a critical review byfifty astrologers and scientists of over 1000 astrology books, 410journal articles, and 300 relevant scientific works.)

Astrology Vs Science Debate

'We are convinced however that astrology does not work. Astrology cannotbe used to predict events of any kind, nor is astrology able to provideany useful information regarding personality, occupation, health, or anyother human attribute' (Roger Culver and Philip Ianna, The GeminiSyndrome 1979, a review by astronomers of years of data collection,tests, and most of the available evidence.)

'Astrology is largely (but not entirely) superstition. However, becauseof the important areas which remain to be investigated, this conclusionmay need future qualification. We should not be dogmatic.' (Hans Eysenckand David Nias, Astrology: Science or Superstition? 1982, a review bypsychologists of the then most recent research.)

'The single fact that astrologers contradict each other at about everypoint, and the firm convictions of their own correctness supported bytheir experience, must call up doubts about the reliability of [their]methods. .. Not a single classical astrological element is shown to beable to resist statistical research.' (Ronnie Martens and Tim Trachet,Making Sense of Astrology 1998, a review of astrological claims.)

Evidently astrology works if studied by astrologers but not if studiedby scientists. How is such disagreement possible? To find out we mustfirst look at what is meant by 'astrology'.

What is meant by 'astrology'?
Astrology means different things to different people and leads todifferent levels of interest. In Western countries there are four broadlevels of interest in astrology as shown below with the rough percentageof the population involved at each level. For comparison the proportionof people who are dentists is roughly 0.05%.

Gnana Guru Jothidam. 4th Street, Gandhipuram. Nadi Astrologers, Astrology services. No 132, 1st Floor, 4th Street, Gandhipuram, Coimbatore - 641012 Get Directions. Astrologer in ramanathapuram coimbatore pin. Om murga Velmaral S.K.SELVAVELKARTHICK, MA., DA (Astrology)., Vedic astrology is an accurate tool for knowing your future. Our intention is to give accurate predictions with a very nominal fee and suggest the simplest/cost-effective remedies that do not bother your pocket too much, at the same time, are the most powerful remedies to nullify the bad, malefic effects of planets and get rid of. Nirmal Kumar Ramamoorthy is one of the leading astrologers in Coimbatore with over 20 years of experience in the field. He is a qualified Astrology who completed B.Sc., DA (Astrology) from Madurai Kamaraj University. He suggests the simplest/cost-effective. ASTROLOGERS In ramanathapuram. Listing Search Results. Found 5 records. SRIYAGAVA JOTHIDA NILAYAM. No 4/1, Sivankoil Sannathi Street, Near Head Post Office, Ramanathapuram H O - Ramanathapuram, Tamilnadu, India - 623501.

Level of interest
1. Superficial -- Reads sun signs, seeks entertainment, 50%
2. Some knowledge -- Has own chart, seeks self-examination, 2%
3. Deep involvement -- Calculates charts, seeks meaning to life, 0.02%
4. Scientific -- Performs tests, seeks answers, 0.00002%

On going through the levels there is a huge falling off in numbers and adramatic change in what astrology means. At the first level are thereaders of sun sign columns. They see astrology as entertainment. At thesecond level are those who have their birth chart calculated and read.They see astrology as an intriguing way of exploring themselves. At thethird level are those who read charts to find meaning in their lives.They see astrology as a form of religion unconnected with theentertainment of sun sign columns. At the fourth level are those whotest astrology scientifically. They see astrology as a popular beliefworthy of study regardless of whether the belief is actually true.

The previous views of astrology by astrologers apply to levels 2 and 3,which also apply to people who consult astrologers. In the USA roughlyone million people a year consult astrologers, which seems like aconvincing vote in favour of levels 2 and 3. But even this number isonly about 2% of the millions of Americans who at any one time areseeking answers to their psychological problems, and is less than 1% ofthose who read newspaper horoscopes. So the popularity of astrologicalconsultations is perhaps no more remarkable than the popularity of anyof 99 flavours of ice cream -- if it exists then some people will tryit. Which of course does not explain why astrologers are convinced thatastrology at levels 2 and 3 really works. For this we need to putastrology to the test.

Putting astrology to the test
Astrologers claim they can tell your character, abilities, health, lovelife, events, destiny, and more, just from your birth chart. It seemsamazing that a handful of planets could show all this. Indeed, pollsconsistently show that many people don't believe it. But astrologershave the perfect answer -- just try it. Put astrology to the test, theysay, and you'll be convinced it works. What could be more reasonable? Sothis is precisely what research has done.

Take sets of birth charts jumbled up with descriptions of their owners.Can astrologers match charts to owners? In astrology books they do itall the time. So we expect the proportion of successful matches to pileup close to 100%. To date a total of 54 studies have made this testusing a total of 742 astrologers and 1407 birth charts. Despite theseimpressive numbers the average success rate was no different from the50% expected by chance, see figure below. For these astrologers (many ofthem among the world's best) astrology performed no better than tossinga coin.

Astrologers fail to match charts to owners better than chance

Here the results expected by chance were determined by picking matchesat random for each of the 54 studies and repeating 10,000 times. Thedifference between the 51.7% success rate achieved by astrologers andthe 50.0% expected by chance is easily explained by the tendency ofjournals to accept positive results and reject negative results, and isin any case not even weakly significant (p=0.77).

For astrologers this is bad news, which they dismiss in various ways.They say the tests were unduly difficult or were run by people ignorantof astrology (in fact many were run by astrologers). They say you cannottest astrology (which if true would mean they could never know anythingabout it). Or they see the bad news as proof of astrology's subtlety, soit is right even when it is wrong (ditto). But once again research comesto the rescue with an ingenious test that avoids any need to matchcharts with owners.

How well do astrologers agree on what a given birth chart indicates? Todate a total of 28 studies have put this to the test using a total of559 astrologers and 762 birth charts. Typically each test looked at howwell 5 to 30 astrologers agreed on what a given chart indicated aboutits owner. Their average agreement was dismal -- better than tossing acoin but nowhere near the minimum acceptable, see figure below. Againmany of these astrologers were among the world's best.

Astrologers fail to usefully agree on what a chart means

In general no test of individuals is acceptable unless the agreementbetween practitioners or between applications is above 90% where chanceagreement is 50%, that is, where first and second opinions agree betterthan chance in 4 out of 5 cases. However, if we are interested only inlarge differences rather than small ones, as in measuring bloodpressure, then agreement down to 75% may be acceptable provided nothingbetter is available elsewhere. But anything below 70% is generallyuseless because first and second opinions will agree better than chancein less than 2 out of 5 cases. The average agreement among astrologerswas 54.9%, or better than chance in barely 1 out of 10 cases.

The next question is obvious. If astrologers cannot usefully agree onwhat a birth chart indicates, how can they know that astrology works?Indeed, why should anyone bother with astrology in the first place? Itis here that we need to ask what is meant by 'astrology works'.

What is meant by 'astrology works'?
One of the key inspirations of recent research has been to recognisethat astrology, however defined, delivers statements that (likestatements generally) can contain (1) factual information such as 'youhave red hair', and (2) personal meaning such as 'you are here to fulfilyour destiny'. As shown below, the distinction between facts and meaninghelps to explain why astrology can be seen to work even when it doesn't.

At one extreme are people who seek only personal meaning. For themastrology works if it provides meaning. Here 'it works' means 'it ismeaningful.' This kind of astrology does not need to be true, andattacking it would be like attacking Superman comics or a religiousfaith. At the other extreme are people who seek only factual proof. Forthem astrology needs to be true. Here 'it works' means 'it deliversresults beyond those explained by non-astrological factors', of whichmore later.

In between are people who see astrology as meaningful but grounded inthe kind of factual statements ('Leos are generous') that fill astrologybooks. This allows research findings to be welcomed if positive ('itconfirms astrology!') and rejected if negative ('astrology is not likethat!'). But it does not end there.

How to convince yourself that astrology works
Linda Goodman says Leos are warm, generous, independent, and dislikebeing told what to do. So you ask one hundred Leos if this is true.Ninety say yes, the rest say it depends but generally yes. Cautiouslyyou press on. Astrologers say a Mars-Neptune conjunction signifies aperson who is idealistic and concerned with values such as considerationfor others. So you ask one hundred people with a Mars-Neptuneconjunction if they are idealistic. Ninety-five say yes.

Still cautious, you have your birth chart read. The astrologer tells youthings she could not possibly have known, like you have a sense ofhumour and you sometimes worry about money. Amazingly, everything fits.You are now convinced that astrology works. You haven't the foggiestidea how it works but it certainly works. You conclude that disbelievershave no idea what they are talking about.

For astrologers that is the end of it. Millions of people have testedastrology in this way, and millions have ended up convinced that itworks. For them this is end of story. Astrology really works! No doubtabout it!

Why scientists are not convinced
But scientists are not convinced. They know we can be fooled into seeingfaces in clouds by a whole host of non-astrological factors such ashidden persuaders (reasoning errors and statistical artifacts). Theyalso know that the remedy is simple -- do what astrologers never do,namely use switched data as controls. So they put the same questions tonon-Leos and people without a Mars-Neptune conjunction, and they havetheir chart read after giving the astrologer someone else's birth data.

Is astrology a real science

The results confirm their suspicions. Whereas 90% of Leos said they werelike Leo, so did 90% of non-Leos. Absence of a Mars-Neptune conjunctionmade no difference to people's idealism. And someone else's chart fittedthem just as well as their own -- a point repeatedly confirmed byastrologers whenever they inadvertently use the wrong chart. Many testswith switched data have been made, always with results like these. Whichof course is consistent with the studies shown earlier, where astrologyperformed no better than tossing a coin, and astrologers failed tousefully agree on what a given chart indicated.

For scientists that is the end of it, at least until the evidenceindicates otherwise. Your sun sign and birth chart may fit you exactlybut so do sun signs and birth charts not your own. Astrologers andclients cannot tell the difference. Like the Emperor's New Clothes,astrology seems to be built on self-deception. At which point themessage is clear.

The message is clear
Before deciding whether or how astrology works we need to test switcheddata. We must stop asking if Leos are generous and ask instead if Leosare more generous than non-Leos. Without such comparisons our tests willbe meaningless. But during twenty centuries astrologers have rarelytested switched data. So they cannot claim to know whether astrologyworks. If we bring together the evidence from hundreds of studies, andfrom articles elsewhere on this website, the case for and againstastrology can be stated as follows. First the case against.

The case against astrology
The case against astrology is that it is untrue. It has not contributedto human knowledge, it claims the prestige of science without themethods of science, it has failed hundreds of tests, it does not deliverbenefits beyond those produced by non-astrological factors (hiddenpersuaders), and users do not usefully agree on basics such as whichzodiac to use or even on what a given birth chart indicates. No hint ofthese problems will be found in astrology books, which is why somescientists see astrologers as misguided or even fraudulent. In factastrologers are mostly nice people who genuinely wish to help others.

But the claim that astrologers repeatedly make (astrology is truebecause based on experience) is simply mistaken -- what they see as itsstrength (experience) is actually its weakness (the experience is notassessed using switched data). They show little awareness of the factorssuch as the absence of accurate feedback that prevent learning fromexperience, or of the numerous hidden persuaders that give the illusionof such learning in its absence. Astrologers also show little interestin procedures that avoid the weaknesses of experience, and everyinterest in ignoring unwelcome evidence. Together these attitudes havecreated a case against that is longer and stronger than the case for.

The case for astrology
The case for astrology is that it is among the most enduring of humanbeliefs, it connects us with the cosmos and the totality of things, itprovides a basic means of describing ourselves, and there is a widerange of approaches. In practical terms a warm and sympatheticastrologer provides low-cost non-threatening therapy that is otherwisehard to come by. You get emotional comfort, spiritual support, andinteresting ideas to stimulate self-examination. And new ideas arealways emerging that could raise spiritual awareness. In a dehumanisedsociety an astrologer provides personal support at a very low price.Where else can you get this sort of thing these days?

Much the same applies to sun sign astrology but at a more basic level --and many people seem to want it. Or as historian and social criticTheodore Roszak says in his book Why Astrology Endures (Briggs, SanFrancisco 1980): 'For a growing number of people, the rich imagery ofthese old traditions has become a more inspirational way of talking[about ourselves] .. than conventional psychiatry. The astrologicaluniverse is, after all, the universe of Greco-Roman myth, of Dante,Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake. It has poetry and philosophy builtinto it.'

There is more to astrology than being true or false. But integrity andvalidity are crucial because astrology lends itself to commercial abuse,as in sun sign columns and phonelines, and to exploitation of thegullible. It also faces strong competition from thousands of self-helppsychotherapy books that typically describe a problem and how to attackit, all supported by examples. Such books, especially if based on soundscientific principles, can help as much as psychotherapy does, seeClinical Psychology Review 13, 169-186, 1993. So it remains to be seenwhether astrology can survive such competition once its own true naturebecomes more widely known.

You can find more on tests of astrology in Research results, which givesabstracts for 91 studies typical of those made in the 1980s and 1990s,and in Meta-analyses, which gives overviews of all studies made inparticular areas. Both articles are on this website under DoingScientific Research.

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January 18, 2011


The late Arthur M. Young was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, philosopher and astrologer whose life’s work included notable accomplishments in both physics and metaphysics. He was, for example, the inventor of the Bell helicopter. But he also was founder of the Institute for the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley, California.

Mr. Young once noted that in the three hundred years since the Copernican revolution, when science got its start in Galileo’s and Newton’s discoveries of the laws that account for the motion of the planets, science has repeatedly revised its theories to accommodate new discoveries or facts. In the pattern that has emerged over centuries, science has progressed by revising its beliefs, not by insisting on them.

Examples abound. Although his claims met with initial resistance, Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding marked the cosmological end for the almost universally accepted “steady state” theory. And earlier in the 20th century, Max Plank’s major finding that light was radiated in “quanta” or units of action, such that their energy divided by the frequency was always the same, was not generally accepted for more than two decades. However, once again, theory was forced to yield to facts. Quantum theory, which recognizes uncertainty, replaced the determinism of classical theory.

The Institute for the Study of Consciousness founded by Arthur Young remains philosophically committed to the idea that science (and our concept of universe) should not be exclusively limited to that which can be physically measured. Young studied astrology for many years and once made the point that thoughtful people who study the subject find sufficient evidence for its validity. Despite a lack of quantitative precision comparable to some science, there is general agreement among those who practice astrology that they can employ the same rules and get the same results.

Art Young was not content to leave it at that. He also suggested that since the objection of science to astrology is theoretical (astrology could not be true because there is no explanation for it) it must eventually follow that the facts of astrology would win out and make it necessary for science to revise its theories, as has happened so often before.
How likely is this?

Astrology is in the unenviable position of having once been “disproved” by science based on a simple but profound discovery: the planets and even more distant stars are a lot farther from earth than once believed. In fact, the distances are so great that no mechanism known to science (gravity, electro-magnetic energy, etc.) could account for the discipline’s curious claims, or so it seemed. But then along came the next major scientific revelations and with them festering doubts.

It was bad enough that quantum physics was able to demonstrate that in the unseen world of particle physics every subatomic particle knows what every other subatomic particle it has ever interacted with is doing no matter how great the distance between them becomes. Once subatomic particles become entangled (bump into each other) the simple act of measuring a particle at one location will instantaneously produce a response in its “correlated” pair. The particle twin might be sitting in the lab next door or embedded in surface dust on the dark side of the moon. Or it could be floating aimlessly somewhere in the Ort Cloud; it doesn’t matter. If something causes an entangled particle in one location to spin in a certain direction its entangled particle twin will instantaneously spin in the opposite direction.

This phenomenon, which Einstein called “spooky action-at-a-distance,” provided spectacular physical evidence that the cosmos is interconnected in ways not previously imagined. And then, as the 20th century was drawing to a close, cosmologists began to converge on the idea that most of the universe is comprised of mysterious dark matter and energy.

That the universe contains more than the physical matter we can see and measure was first suggested by Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky in 1934. However, his idea was ridiculed and corroborating evidence didn’t begin to turn up for another 40 years. Today, cosmologists mostly agree that unseen dark matter and dark energy are what’s holding galaxies together in tight clusters while expanding the fabric of space.

Although no one knows what either is, according to some estimates these invisible forces are believed to account for about 90 percent of everything in existence.
Among other things, what this would appear to suggest is that the formidable scientific case against astrology is solely based on the 10 percent of reality that can actually be measured by the tools of man. Which, by scientific standards, is a relatively paltry sample size upon which to hang one’s hat.

So is it possible that astrology will win out and science will revise its opinions on the subject anytime soon?

It will probably take more than dark matter, dark energy and “spooky action at a distance” to cause a seismic correction in scientific thinking on the subject. But this doesn’t change the fact that, in the current era, cutting-edge research continues to expose serious flaws in the physical arguments scientists have used for centuries to debunk astrology. Simply, as methodologies and technologies have improved, researchers have been finding that few of the interesting new things they’re able to observe in the natural world fit existing scientific theories all that well. Increasingly, the evidence reveals a cosmos that is more coherent, connected and “informed” in ways not previously imagined.

Of course, none of this necessarily “proves” the validity of astrology; kicking the props from under dated scientific arguments is only the first step in a process. But its also true that many of the new revelations occurring in the fields of physics, biology, cosmology and the new field of consciousness research are more fundamentally compatible with basic astrological assumptions than some would have us believe.

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