Astrology: Is it Real?
I am all too aware of the critical limits of Twitter for any kind of intellectual exchange. But I nonetheless felt it useful to memorialize a recent dialogue on astrology, which follows below.
A viewer wrote me this morning, “I hope people don’t admit being into astrology now because of how easily it’s proven to be nonsense. No offense to anyone who believes it.”
It is easy to breeze past this kind of statement. If you consider astrology valid, as I do, you may feel comfortable turning the page (you’ve heard it before); and if you agree, it is just as easily digested.
But let me offer a moment of consideration. Firstly, astrology is experienced as pertinent in the lives as a vast range of seekers and everyday people, including members of the Vedic faith to whom it is a basic tenet of belief, although with different coordinates than the Western system.
On a different scale, the rejectionist view highlights the nature of our intellectual habits. I do not expect the skeptic to study astrology. He has neither the time or priorities. Hence, the skeptic relies, as we all do, on trusted experts. What the skeptic does not realize, however, is that the experts upon whom he is relying have not necessarily studied it either.
Now, the rationalist in me honors the search for empiricism. The Belgian Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Phenomena Reputed to be Paranormal set to disprove astrology and instead found career correlations (1972). Mine is Saturn rising coupled with journalism.
Researcher Michel Gauquelin (d. 1991) focused on this: “Examining the birthdates of more than 2,000 prominent Frenchmen, Gauquelin found certain planets appeared prominently in the charts of specific professions.” (see this article in The Guardian for my quote and a general overview of Gauquelin’s work here.)
Speaking specifically of astrology, philosopher Paul Feyerabend observed in his “Science in a Free Society” (1978): “scientists are prepared to assert their authority even in areas in which they have no…