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Astrology inquiry

 
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kepler



Joined: 30 Jul 2013
Posts: 11

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:31 pm    Post subject: Astrology inquiry Reply with quote

Dear friends,

I'm doing a research about astrology and astronomy.
I would like to ask for you help.
I have a survey in my website intended only for astrologers - from amateurs to professionals.
The objective is to contribute for a important work of investigation about astrology and astronomy to be published.
Please be so kind to take a look. Thanks.
The link is:

http://cosmos.pt/survey/index.php/689951/lang-en

Please fill the ENTIRE QUERY - incomplete responses will be deleted.

Thanks for your kindness.

Clear Skyes,

Kepler
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Paul
Administrator


Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 1543

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following is taken from a PM I have sent to Kepler with regards my thoughts on this survey.




I have taken the survey myself, however I did have one or two doubts/reservations with the scientific nature of the question:
"Which of this scientific arguments against astrology do you think, honestly, might be more dificult to explain?"

I wasn't convinced that every statement was in fact a scientific argument.

Regarding the outer planets being abandoned - there was no scientific argument given for why anyone would do this or why there is a logical conclusion that additional information renders a reduced set of information null for example.

Also arguments of "why are astrologers not rich" is a straw man argument - indeed many astrologers ARE rich, but similarly many scientists are not rich, despite having access to great scientific knowledge. There is also an assumption inherent in the idea that astrologers do actually regularly state that they can foresee events to a level that is 'punctual and precise' without any additional caveats. Is this honestly true?

Really I thought this question was the weakest as it presupposes that a scientific argument is being made (by the question) when often no arguments are made, instead rhetorical questions are asked. Rhetoric may be a good debating device, but tends to be restrictive and not appropriate to convey the opinions of a surveyed group. My personal opinion is that this questions is misleading - I believe I chose "No answer" as I didn't think any of the rhetorical questions posed were really scientific arguments and those which were were based on either a misunderstanding of the claims astrologers make or were easily defended.

One other problem I have, with you reaching your conclusion, is that the test assumes a priori that the astrologer taking it is A) Tropical and B) Deterministic, as all the questions are posed with this assumption in mind. For example the question regarding the constellational boundaries of Taurus. If we accept that the constellational boundaries are something somewhat open for debate, by which I mean we cannot 'find' the beginning of Taurus exactly in the sky, we must agree upon a convention for the beginning of that constellation, then we can choose to adopt the IAU boundaries (which is one convention) or we could choose to adopt the convention of anyone simply observing the sky and 'deciding' where they are. So the idea, inherent in the question, that there is the constellational boundary is somewhat flawed from the beginning, but we can assume by this you mean either the IAU definition or even just a 'rough fit' with that part of the ecliptic. Well sidereal astrologers would argue that from a 'rough fit' point of view, their zodiac sign, in the case of Taurus at least, does indeed occupy roughly that same space. So we must assume that the question is posed particularly to tropical astrologers.

Similarly there are no real answers that would be indicative that the astrologer takes a free will approach to astrology. All the conclusions and the answers for which one must tick a box all assume that the astrologer has a deterministic view of astrology. There are no answers which would properly convey within a result that the astrologer, for example, does not believe in prediction (of which there are many).

I think a lot of the problem is that surveys such as these, with the questioning methods employed, seldom actually examine the claims of astrologers, and instead examine the claims that popular media attribute to astrologers. The end example with the quote from Sagan regarding twins is an ancient criticism of astrology going back millennia and has been addressed in many ways, but really the reality is that today I think you would struggle to find an astrologer who makes the claim that the birth chart is an inoperable mould from which events are destined to befall you and so indicate a script that you, the mindless puppet, play through. This idea of that level of determinism is an increasingly rare philosophy for an astrologer to hold. Obviously, again, it is not a scientific argument but rather a rhetorical device based on the assumption that astrologers actually make those claims. The problem is, of course, that they don't.

I think ultimately that the survey is flawed in its assumptions and shepherds the astrologer to reduce their real understandings and opinions of astrology into the assumptions that they hold a deterministic and tropical viewpoint - and not every astrologer does.
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Survey Reply with quote

I must concur with some of Paul's criticisms of the survey methodology, especially (but not only) regarding the last question.

To take the last question first: there is a list given of supposed 'scientific problems' that are presumed by the question to be difficult for astrologers to reconcile with the claims of astrology. Yet the question, in asking only which is the 'most' difficult to reconcile thus, is not going to get you meaningful quantitative data at all. When I looked at this question, all but one of the supposed scientific problems was in fact easy to reconcile with the claims of astrology; some of them are standard received errors of astronomers that show their lack of understanding of the foundations of astrology. Only one of them is potentially difficult to explain, and then only from a certain point of view. The question presumes they are all problematic to varying degrees when this is not actually the case at all.

So when you get my answer that one of the points is the most difficult, what I was in fact implying was that it is only mildly so at that, and none of the others is at all. Your limited question format does not allow for this kind of subtlety of response and therefore will produce misleading data.

A better way of approaching these points, a much more scientific one, would be to put each of the supposed scientific objections in turn across, and ask to what degree (from not at all to very much) it might be problematic for astrologers to reconcile with the claims of astrology, and then beyond that, invite comment to explain the answers. This would give you much more solid data and more meaningful results.

Further, several of the earlier questions quote points of view expressed in somewhat flowery language and ask to what extent the respondent agrees or disagrees. Again, this will not produce useful results insofar as the flowery language is poorly defined and an agreement or disagreement on that basis is not very meaningful to evaluate. It would be much more suitable to make precisely defined statements that leave no room for doubt as to their meaning, and then ask to what extent the astrologers agree or disagree. Or if you are unable or unwilling to make precisely defined statments, at least leave a blank space allowing the astrologer to account for his / her answer in terms of how he / she interprets the question as well as in terms of how he / she understands astrology to operate.

I strongly suggest an overhaul along these lines before you attempt to run with this survey in its present form.

Kind regards,

Philip
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waybread



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 964
Location: Canada

Posted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kepler, I come from an academic background, in which it is mandatory to exhibit the principle of "informed consent" of your participants in any survey research. If you intend to publish the results of your study, do you have a publication venue in hand, and if so what is it? Please say something about the intended study. Are you an independent researcher? Do you guarantee the anonymity of your participants? How will they benefit from the results of your research?

Frankly I'm a little nervous about logging into a survey instrument written by an anonymous researcher. You can't be too careful these days.

Finally, given the sorts of issues that Paul raised, would you be better off with a more qualitative, open-ended questionnaire?
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