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testing astrology with statistical methods
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks - I like the way you put that Penny.

Deb
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Eddy



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Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Deb, I wish you and all forum members too a good and healthy 2010.

I just saw I forgot to link to the Maurice McCann interview, here it is:
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/mccann.html

Deb wrote:
I have never been to understand his objective perspective, expecting horary to perform like a science regardless of the querent’s need to know the question asked.
It seems that here the difference between objective and subjective perspective appears. (More explantation on this in the 'Dark matter' thread, 4 january) The objective approach would speak more for astrology from a technical point of view than the subjective approach, however that wouldn't make the last approach useless. As can be read in several articles the astrology-and-science website the subjective approach deals more with the meaning of astrology. Discussing a problem with someone/client, using the subjective side of astrology (whether it be horary or natal) is more focused on advice and helping the person to cope with some problem. In the chapters on astrology in Keith Thomas' 'Religion and the decline of magic' the 16th/17th century astrologer played a role in life not merely as a 'fortune teller' but also as an advisor like reverends/priests and nowadays psychologists and social workers.

Perhaps I may carefully say that reading Keith Thomas' could make me think that the difference between modern astrology and classical astrology would not be so big after all. However, I don't generally know about the practice of classical astrology so some may disagree with this and even be displeased for the comparison, especially much modern astrology is associated with vagueness and blaming asteroids for any kind of problems. Yet the application and results still might show some similarities.

Quote:
The last time I spoke to Maurice, about a year ago, he wanted it to be publicly known that he had more or less dropped out of astrology. After years of studying horary statistically, and asking questions in order to study the results of his charts, he found it was unreliable.
To me statistical results also have their impact on me. The scientist in me hopes for some objective demonstrable proof and also explains that I have a silent hope that some physical effect of the planets might be revealed one day. Besides that, some of my dissatisfaction may have come from looking too much at my own chart as a study object and trying to find the meaning of transits by observing them. Looking too much at your own chart/and hard aspect transits leads to nothing I'm afraid and especially when you realize that according to probability we can have a difficult transit every year. If one includes the three modern planets and semisquares one could easily conclude that life is a continuous hell.

In reply to dr. Farr, I don't know about the technical details McCann used but reading the interview gives me the idea that he did his work thoroughly and taking everything into account. When I read about horary, I realize that studying it would be a full time job, a thing I couldn't get up to do I'm afraid.

Olivia wrote:
Since we're still in the realm of subjective here (no scientific verification), in my experience, and probably in at least quite a few other astrologers' experiences, horaries about trivial questions simply do not work. I have no idea how you'd quantify that in a science experiment sense - how could one define what's trivial? And wouldn't trying to do that take you right out of the scientific territory you're trying to ground this in?
The question whether a horary question is trivial is up to the astrologer to decide. If for example one asks where the TV remote control is then I would tend to see it as trivial. The question where a passport is because of going to China the next day would be of much importance. So a research could focus on the serious questions and a list could be made afterwards if the object was found in the correct place or not.

I wonder if part of an answer in a horary might be given by the client rather than the chart. When I occasionally look in the horary section of this forum, I see that time is spent on formulating the question. In a session this might be the moment in which the client unconsciously reveals a lot of the question. This then could be unconsciously feedbacked by the astrologer. A research (perhaps with a tape-recorder) could reveal how much time the client speaks and how much time the astrologer is speaking. Although I realise that the idea of use of a tape-recorder could have a disturbing effect.

Perhaps as a lighthearted intermezzo in the serious discussion could be the Jewish humor of the following joke. A man couldn't find his walking stick and suspected one of his friends to have taken it. He went to a rabbi to talk about this. The rabbi advised the man to invite his friends for dinner on the friday night followed by reading the Thora. "After dinner", the rabbi told, "you have to read the Ten Commandments, and when you come to the 8th commandment (Thou shall not steal) then look your friends in the eyes. The one that casts down his eyes will be the one that took your walking stick." The next week the man met the rabbi again and the rabbi asked about the results. The man said: "Well, I was reading the Ten Commandments and when I came to the 7th (Thou shall not commit adultery) I suddenly remembered where I left my walking stick.".

So we may never know how horary and astrology in general works in their mysterious ways. After all there could be another objection to scientific proof of astrology. (Former astrologer) David Hamblin comments:
David Hamblin wrote:
After all, what would happen to astrology if it was proved beyond doubt that there is a connection between planetary positions at a particular time and events on Earth occurring at the same time? It would be taken over, not only by science, but by politics and big business. It would become part of the "system" from which so many of us long to escape. It would do great harm, because of the way in which it would be used by unscrupulous people in search of profit and power. It would lose its magic and its capacity to inspire. How much better that it should remain one of those things (like life after death) that are never proved but remain tantalizingly possible, elusive, just out of reach, offering glimpses of a universe that lies beyond our ordinary experience.
source: http://www.rudolfhsmit.nl/p-reli2.htm
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dr. farr



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After reading McCann's Skycript interview (thanks Eddy for posting the link) and the McCann article link posted by Olivia (thank you Olivia), I must disagree with Eddy when he states that (McCann) "did his work thoroughly and took everything into account" (certainly McCann was completely unaware of Dragons Tail in the 1st, which, according to Martin Lewicki occurs an average of 12% of the time: at that rate of occurence this would have rendered unreliable 1 out of 8 of McCann's horaries-without McCann being aware of it-right from the "get go"!)

I find Penny Seator's viewpoint re: statistics to be very strong and I fully support her points and conclusions.

I thoroughly applaud the Hamblin quote! Thank you Eddy for posting this! I share Hamblin's point of view as expressed in that quotation and I really believe that it is wrong to try to convince or prove to the scientific establishment the reality of astrology or its various modes of application. I do believe that research is valuable, not for scientists but for US, in order to help better understand what we do, and to enable us to do it with greater success.
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Atlantean



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proving Astrology will likely never be done by a subjective, delineation-oriented approach. Events can be spelled in too many different ways, astrologically.

That being said, I feel that the way to prove Astrology on grounds that can't be denied would be to take hidden, but well-documented birthtimes and use many events to rectify the chart and find that "hidden" birthtime.

When we have proven that you can take the Events in a person's life and derive the birthtime, it will not be such a large step to (and is an obvious implication that we can) perform the converse. And either way, it will have ALREADY ESTABLISHED a link between Events happening in a person's life and THEIR BIRTHTIME, which is the bottom line.

If we use a fine piece of software like Isaac Starkman's Polaris, then ALL human subjectivity is removed and scientific types are likely to appreciate that pure code and mathematics lead to the answer, rather than a series of clumsily stated "hunches".

Peace

Atlantean
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Eddy



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dr. farr wrote:
..., I must disagree with Eddy when he states that (McCann) "did his work thoroughly and took everything into account" (certainly McCann was completely unaware of Dragons Tail in the 1st, which, according to Martin Lewicki occurs an average of 12% of the time: at that rate of occurence this would have rendered unreliable 1 out of 8 of McCann's horaries-without McCann being aware of it-right from the "get go"!)
Thanks dr. Farr, as I pointed out I know too little about horary to know if someone is using everything thoroughly, perhaps McCann used only the systems that don't use Caput and Cauda.

About the other part of the post I have some remarks, quoting Martin Lewicki:
Quote:
Moon is VOC about 10% of the time. Node would be in H1 about 12% of the time rendering about 22% horarys unreadable. That's still 78% readable. Even with added lots/parts restrictions surely there would enought % charts that are readble - or are there too many restrictions that render horary essentaily useless? Maybe Carr has a point
I see that he adds the chance of VOC to the chance of having Node in H1. I think this is wrong because there can also be situations where both occur at the same time. If for example there is an island with a climate with chance of 50% (6 months) cold winds and a chance of 50% (6 months) rainfall then simply adding both to 100% (the whole year) will exclude any chance of a nice sunny day on the island. However the rainy days and the cold windy days could have an overlap of 2 months and thus covering the year with 5 months rainy days, 5 months cloudy days and a combination of both in those 2 months. That leaves another 2 months for other type of weather. Hopefully some sunshine for that island.

The 12% chance of Node (whether Martin meant the north or the south Node I don't know but not really important for the mathematical example) in H1 is a number I don't understand. If there are 12 houses then there's a chance of 1 in 12 or 8.33%. Houses are of different sizes (if you use unequal systems) but during the whole diurnal cycle the average size of every house will be 30°. Another issue will be the sign where the Node is. If the node is in the two fastest rising signs, for the northern hemisphere this will be Pisces and Aries (for the southern hemisphere the opposite signs), on the average the chance is smaller than 1 in 12. Here it may be important which house system is used, for with these signs rising the houses can vary a lot, Campanus' house I size with Ascendant in Pisces or Aries varies between 50° and 65°. This will increase the decreased average chance. However with Whole (Ascendant) Signs the chance is smaller than 1 in 12. And other house systems might even have a smaller chance than this one. (Campanus' house tables are here on Achernar's site http://www.achernar.btinternet.co.uk/#mainmenu )

On the other side if the Node is in the slow rising signs Virgo or Libra then the chance of Node in house I is much bigger. In London the times that Virgo and Libra rise are from 3h09m - 8h51 Sidereal Time, almost 6 hours. A bit more north (Newcastle) it is 6 hours. So the chance of having these signs rising in the UK is on the average 1 in 4. Campanus' house I sizes vary between 30° and 36°, little affecting the chance.

If we for ease of the example use Whole Signs houses then each period when the node is in Virgo and Aries the chance of getting an according to the horary rules unreadable chart thus is 1 in 4. (If I say something incorrect about the horary techniques please correct me if I'm wrong.)
From December 2004 till December 2007 the Dragon's Tail was in Libra and Virgo. February 2014 till May 2017 the Dragon's Head will be in those signs. This is during 3 years. If both North and South Nodes would give an impossible horary then the periods chances of unreadability would even be doubled.

This leads to another interesting issue. If the Ascendant indicates the querent and the chance of either Virgo or Libra rising is 1 in 4 then slow planets in these signs might affect the horary during a long time. Saturn, momently hanging around in 0° Libra is now in the middle of an about 5 year period of the high chance of these signs rising. I wonder if horary astrologers have noticed an increased 'Saturnine effect' in the horary readings or in the querents.

Atlantean wrote:
If we use a fine piece of software like Isaac Starkman's Polaris, then ALL human subjectivity is removed and scientific types are likely to appreciate that pure code and mathematics lead to the answer, rather than a series of clumsily stated "hunches".
I remember a discussion on the Skyscript forum in which Isaac Starkman displayed his methods and emphasized the accurateness of this method. It's not my intention to discredit Isaac but in that discussion he gave an example of a prediction. I kept that prediction in mind and now I can say that he was completely wrong.

Here's the thread with the prediction, http://www.skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4388&start=15&sid=9a49d6dc9e38fd3d51141c39c441d1fd
The post at the top of page 2, 21 may 2009 9h48m
Quote:
Here is example of prediction for Benjamin Netanyahu: (...)

Around 1st Oct 2009 he will have the following primary directions (...)

What will happen to him?
The first possibility is the death of his father (age 100!), because there are aspects with Saturn/MC, Sun/Saturn, 5 aspects with Neptune (mourning), 3 aspects with 8th house, 2 aspects with NN (separation).
The other possibility is trouble as PM, defeat, etc

The facts anno 2010:
- Netanyahu's father is still alive.
- In October Netanyahu didn't have more troubles as usual in for politicians. Moreover the prediction is too vague, as a politician always will have to deal with troubles in parliament. Especially Netanyahu who is seen as controversial by his opponents.
- To make matters even worse, Netanyahu became a first time grandfather
on the 1st October 2009 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1118202.html . So all the applied symbolism in the prediction to show death, mourning, separation, trouble, defeat is absolutely wrong. I'm afraid that any interpretation to change the symbolism would be seen as artifice and 'hindsight astrology', not only by opponents but also by astrologers.

It's interesting to check ones own astrology, and I think it is also necessary. Especially in case of concrete prediction. Before one would apply this in practice (with clients etc.) one should assure oneself to be correct. Imagine what a devastating impact the prediction of a father's death would have had if this was told to a client. Again, I don't mean to use this as an example to degrade a certain method. I would put my own work under a similar scrutiny.
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Steve



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
dr. farr wrote:
I do believe that research is valuable, not for scientists but for US, in order to help better understand what we do, and to enable us to do it with greater success.


Well put!! I have found with my experiences the more charts I analysis/research with birth times backed-upped with birth certificates or hospital records, the more I learn about my chosen branch of astrology. This would apply to any field of astrology regardless of one’s chosen branches of astrology. How could we expect any scientist to accept any statistical research pertaining to astrology, when that scientist is without the personal experience that is so important in studying astrology? True personal experience only comes with a lifetime of studying any field of endeavor that eventually reaches our heart level.

Regards, Steve
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(certainly McCann was completely unaware of Dragons Tail in the 1st, which, according to Martin Lewicki occurs an average of 12% of the time: at that rate of occurence this would have rendered unreliable 1 out of 8 of McCann's horaries-without McCann being aware of it-right from the "get go"!)


The idea that horaries can be given a ‘reliability percentage’ doesn’t match with my experience at all. I’m not sure its fair to speculate on McCann’s work, so I’ll leave that aside, but even if it were the case that he totally ignored this, there’s no reason to conclude that all horaries become unreliable when they contain the South node in the 1st house. This would be a 'consideration', requiring only that the astrologer take it into consideration as part of the judgement.
(Also, I don’t understand the calculation that this occurs 12% of the time – perhaps this should have said ratio of 1/12, which is closer to 8%?) Then we would have to introduce weighting for the fact that this only becomes a prominent feature when close to the ascendant … but why waste such time? These are elements that astrologers consider whilst compiling an integrated judgement. Every part of every horary takes its meaning from the chart as a whole and a chart that is based upon a focused question will allow the omission or addition of some astronomical technicalities, whilst remaining reliable overall. (I’m talking about ‘reliability’ as subjectively assessed by the individual who expresses the concern – the opinion of everyone else is irrelevant because they have no soul connection to the query). As far as I’m concerned *all* horaries are reliable if the question is appropriate, sincerely asked, and directly expressed, so I have never been able to relate to discussions about percentages of charts that work, or percentages of information that we can get from charts.

Deb

PS - Just catching up with the thread, I see Eddy raised the matter of the calculation too.
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Ficina
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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In her interview on this site, Bernadette Brady claims to have got 72-75% accuracy on her Australian football predictions, using her particular method.
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/brady.html
This statistic sounds pretty impressive. I wonder what the scientists would make of it.

Of course there are two ways of measuring the success (or otherwise) of sporting predictions - 1) accuracy and 2) profit from betting. Betting profit/loss is fairly easy to monitor but as far as accuracy is concerned I haven't a clue what my percentage rate is. It would be interesting to know whether others who make sporting predictions on a regular basis keep a record of their success rate.
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Estebon_Duarte



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These discussions always remind me of the idea of prediction. Practicing Astrology and making Predictions are two very different things, I have found the charts of "professional" astrologers and "diviners" can be extremely different.

How is a material "scientist" going to "prove" Astrology?
How is a "practicing" Astrologer going to use "science" to prove Astrology?

-make a prediction-

nothing shuts a materialist-atheist up like telling them something thats going to happen to them before it does Surprised
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Olivia



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No it doesn't. They'll carp that you were 45 minutes wrong on the time so therefore the entire prediction was invalid. Or you'll tell them something so accurate that atheist-materialism aside, they'll cross the road and start making the sign of the evil eye when they see you.

I guess the second way does shut them up but you certainly won't win any popularity contests from it.

So - don't make predictions for atheist-materialists. Don't even talk to them about astrology if they fancy themselves debunkers.

I'm not keen to try to prove astrology by statistics anyway, and outside of very limited applications, I don't think it's possible. We're talking two entirely different worldviews and they don't match well. Plus if the would-be debunkers (and it's always them) don't know the first thing about astrology....remember STARBABY?
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penny seator



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Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Steven, for your very thoughtful post. I'm going to interlineate some thoughts. (Your thoughts are too interesting, and my reply is long, but I want to address your points and explain mine.)

steven wrote:


Quote:
Statistical tests study the meaning of undetermined universal significators and usually find that universal significators are meaningless.


It is especially the statement that universal significators are usually meaningless that, in my opinion, quit wrong. The determination of planets is in three ways: naturally, accidentally and specifically. Their indications and significance is based on these three elements. Their universal or "natural" significations are just that; universal.


It's worse than you think. But I also have to correct something. I should have said that undetermined universal significators are meaningless. According to Morin they are always meaningless--and tests usually find them to be. Actually what I should say is not "meaningless"--but that they mean nothing: no thing. And I should qualify: They have no actual and effective meaning until determined to particular meanings and effects in the houses of the chart. They refer to a repository of potential meanings, all the meanings in the category they rule. So you're right I was wrong in stating it carelessly.

Morin talked about it (in translation) in these terms:

Quote:
No planet can cause or indicate anything in the horoscope except according to these methods of determination. Astrologia Gallica, Book 21, p. 4. (Trans. Baldwin 2008).

But the Sun does not have any influence on earth, or any animal born on it, except very generally, but not specifically--as on the health, profession, etc.--because no such specific influence exists except that which is brought about through these houses. Astrologia Gallica, Book 21. (Trans. Baldwin 2008), p. 10. (emphasis supplied)

For example, the Sun stands for the health, the father, the rank or position, etc. But because this analogy is based on the essential nature of the Sun and the influence of the Sun is completely universal and indifferent, the Sun could not by analogy alone indicate the health any more than it could the father, the husband, the king, or the position, although the Sun's naure does indicate the persons or circumstances which are illustrious, public, and distinguished, rather than obscure and of little importance. But because of this general indifference one could not assume the Sun means any one of these things more than another. If it were taken to stand for everything--that is, the father, husband, position in life, etc.--everyone would agree that that would be absurd and contrary to experience. Astrologia Gallica, Book 21.(Trans. Baldwin 2008), p. 18. (emphasis supplied)


Lots of quoted words, but they are revealing, and also point to places in the text for easy reference.

Morin said that universal significators mean everything in the category they rule, but mean nothing in particular until they are determined to meanings by the houses of the chart. As the signs work through the planets in Morin's system, the planets' influence is realized through the houses. So, yes, universal significators mean everything in the category they rule, but those meanings are potential until actualized through the houses.

steven wrote:
But that testimony may be (and I can't lay any percentage on how often) weaker than its accidental or specific just as often as not!.


This is an interesting point. Morin said that a planet's natural meanings are actualized only as they are determined to meanings and effects through the houses. In consideration of planetary nature (universal significations), celestial state (essential dignities, plus more, like retrograde, combust, etc., which remain universal because still undetermined through the houses), determinations through the houses (accidental significations) Morin put emphasis on how those different considerations function rather than how much they each influence. How much is about strength of position in the chart (e.g., angular, disposing key planets, etc.).

Nature is the first consideration in Morin's system. It is by a planet's nature that we see first whether the matter of the house(s) it influences will be realized or not before we use the factors of state to qualify nature, and strength of position to quantity nature's effects.

steven wrote:
This is why trying to prove anything statistically, perhaps could be measured but absolutely not with the methods presented so far. A statistical method would have to be able to seperate and show clear lines between the differences that occur in signification. That is a very difficult thing to do since one might arrive at a type of profession, for example, because of the testimony of the lord of the 10th and another with the same type of profession where the indications are because of an angular planet joined to another. Because there is no "one" and only means of determination, then how do you separate and distinguish a characteristic?

Morin does not ignore natural significations, just read his delineations. I can show you dozens of examples of real people who have the same type of work (for example I have many charts of architects and engineers), and no two of them are alike in their determinations! But if you consider all the elements that we are reminded by the ancients to use, then we will find that charts are individuals and are each unique but give "similar" indications.


Yes, I completely agree. This is an important point, and one that traditional astrologers get, as your comments suggest, by thinking about how we do the art.

Hart deFouw makes this point in his Jyotish classes. So does Douglas Kyle Pierce in ‘Reconciling interpretive and statistical significance’. In M. Pottenger (ed.), Astrological Research Methods, Vol. 1: an ISAR Anthology (pp. 113-117). Los Angeles: International Society for Astrological Research (1995). Pierce urged that researchers study groups that are “homogeneous with respect to their astrological signatures rather than to their observable behaviors.” He said that researchers should “base…research goals and methods on the thoughtful examination of astrological principles.”

Astrology is for predicting (using the word in a broad sense rather than to distinguish approaches to or views of astrology) from the chart what we will see in the world--with a fruitful and necessary interactive relationship in which the astrologer looks from world to chart to world and back again time after time. I think Deb suggested in this string or another: That astrologers don't work in a vacuum in which the chart is set apart from life. (This may turn out to be a reason statistics can't catch us doing what we do--because statistics has to isolate and hide things and maybe won't be able to see enough of what astrologers do, anymore than ones who hold the dissecting knife see the antelope run when they dissect the corpse).

Astrology is not for looking at the world and guessing what the chart might be. Of course we do that. I can't imagine an astrologer who doesn't do that--as a way of life. But we're not judging a chart when we do it. We're seeing the universal symbols play through life. There's also the special case of rectification, which, for similar reasons if I understand, Atlantean, you mention as a way to deal with this problem of statistical test design which is about how statistical researchers cast their questions and design their tests the wrong way round.

Eysenck and Nias in Astrology: Science or Superstition (1984) failed to make this distinction when they prescribed what kind of test astrology must pass. (That was their idea--I don't think astrology has to pass any kind of test except that it's done well and right and works for the purposes for which we use it in life.) That prescription, or the ideas underlying it, have defined the basic approach to tests that purport to test astrology--and they've been the wrong approach.

steven wrote:
This is what irritates many people today who read these ancients texts; one astrologer tells us to look at one thing and another tells us to look at another. Has it ever occured to someone that either are valid under certain conditions? - and people give up on traditional because one technique does not work 100% of the time. This is consistent with the thought that instead of trying to cast rules into stone, we have to know many circumstances and the results of those particular circumstances and weigh them all to each nativity which is unique in itself and unlike any other.


Yes, again I completely agree. This multiplicity of techniques is like having a tool box filled with everything a guy or gal might need to fix any sink or bathtub that has a leak. Techniques are our tool box stuffers. But, as you say, we need to know what they do and how to use them, how to prioritize and weight them, and how to use them along with other techniques. This is why method, and theory, become important--and a teacher who points the way and repeatedly demonstrates the method in various circumstances, and why we need to make constant cross-reference to life. And cosmology becomes essential for this reason as well, as also the accompanying philosophical and ethical systems in which astrology is culturally and traditionally embedded. All these factors tell us how to array and use the stunningly rich collections of techniques that clamor in the traditional texts.

One way to address this problem of the multiplicity of techniques reported in traditional texts is through principles of exegesis. Jyotish shastra is written in poetry, and needs to be read as such. It is also a cardinal principal of Jyotish tradition that the teacher and the teachings of a lineage add to, interpret and show us how to use the texts. Hart deFouw emphasizes this point in his Jyotish classes.

As you said, Steven: "A statistical method would have to be able to seperate and show clear lines between the differences that occur in signification." Again, I completely agree with you. And it goes to the heart of what I want to communicate. We start with a method set within astrological theory, cosmology and natural philosophy, and use it systematically according to principle and rule in a structured approach. It's not the techniques that tell us which technique to grab in a given moment from the tool box. It's the method, and the skill and instinctual knowledge that becomes deeply ingrained in how we see and relate to a chart. There are clear lines, and they lie in the theory and particularly in the method, not in the techniques.

steven wrote:
I stopped trying to justify astrology a long time ago. Because even if I could devise a statistical approach which took consideration of all the factors of "determination" or "disposition", still the modern scientific mindset would never accept that I understand something because of "wisdom". So I'll let people continue to argue and theorise on the subject. As for me I just continue to practice it, everyday and on real live people and their problems and victories.


I should just get a little emoticon that specifically means: "I agree with you completely, Steven" because that's again true.

I completely agree that astrology doesn't need to be justified. I do think that we need--I might say even desperately need--clear understanding and, most important, use of astrological method, and clear theory, cosmology and natural philosophy to put the great art to the best use--and understand what the heck it is we're doing with it. True, different ones of us can do different things, and thank goodness for that. But in my view we need to understand what we're doing and put it into perspective that clarifies our worlds and our art. I think traditional astrologers are the ones who understand what that would mean and get a sense of what that would look like.

These to me are foundations of astrological practice. Ptolemy devoted the first three chapters of Tetrabiblos to foundations, or preliminaries, of astrological doctrine and practice. But it's the edifice built on the foundations that we care about, and how we live in and with it.

Statistical tests are a tool of knowledge. So are other things—like tarot cards, for example. I don’t need tarot cards to confirm astrology, even though they do confirm it in their very use of astrological symbols. If statistical tests don’t confirm astrology, it says something about the limitations of statistical tests, and/or the nature of astrology and its practice. I do care that we have clarity in discussions of astrology, including in discussions of astrology’s relationship to statistical tests. I have a sense of needing to to sort out the state of astrology as it burgeons into new life with all the wonderful work that’s going on now in traditional methods. I’ve needed to think through these things. For me, straightening this out for myself is like cleaning up the desk to set to work. I think we astrologers have a somewhat cluttered theoretical and methodological desk.

There’s another reason that this topic began to seem important to me. It is this: Statistical tests proceed as though the practice of celestial arts that is often referred to as “modern astrology” is the art. By approaching astrological theory and method as a question about the problem with statistical tests, my hope is that not only statisticians and testers but also astrologers will begin to formulate different questions and see things in a somewhat different way. Astrological theory would benefit, and so method and practice would benefit.

Those who design statistical tests don’t make a distinction between the traditional art that reflects cosmos and modern celestial arts that make unstructured, unmethodical, unsystematic and undetermined use of universal significators tied only incidentally and when the spirit moves to the houses of the chart. Many people prefer the energy and suggestiveness of the symbols themselves to their highly structured, rule-based, methodical, saturnine, artful and crafty use. But such an approach will never be something that statistical tests can grasp.* It may be they can grasp something of the traditional art--which won't matter to many practitioners who know what they're doing and don't much care what anybody else thinks about it. I entirely respect that attitude, and once my desk is clear, likely will pretty much settle down and only tidy up now and then.

*It just occurred reading this over to purge errors if I can, that this may be related to questions about horary, which it seems to me sits in a very interesting relationship to these questions, as the posts in this string show. Horary uses a lot of structure and rules yet we use it as the spirit moves--which is not to say we don't use rules before judgment. I would call traditional horary scientific because it reveals the structure of cosmos. And our relationships with charts and people born with those charts also always includes, after the method is honored, the rules applied and many considerations sorted and weighed, how the spirit brings it all to life.

olivia wrote:
It wouldn't hurt if the scientists understood the astrology, either, but it's not something you can pick up overnight.


I completely agree, Olivia--but I would take it a little further: Researchers must be properly educated, well versed and skilled in the method they seek to study before they are competent to study it. How would it be if I set out to test Einstein's theory of relativity and I never got past high school algegra and flunked out of trigonometry and have never heard of calculus. Well, I could try, but I wouldn't be a very good choice to run those tests.

(I do apologize for the length.)

Thanks for your thoughts, Steven, and for those of others as well,

Penny
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elumen



Joined: 06 Jan 2010
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Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In defense of Morin, I'd like to point out that he was an astrologer and scientist of great repute, had had been in service of Cardinal Richelieu for almost 20 years and was known for the accuracy of his predictions (often mean, such as predicting the time of death to his enemies). So I do not agree that his only contribution is that he reiterated what the ancients were saying. His main argument that the local determination of the planets is the most important in judging the nativity, is hard to argue with. And, the only positive statistical tests of astrology have to do with local determination of the planets (i.e. them being on the angles of the chart in Gauguelin's tests.) I think it depends on the perspective. If you are interpreting the subjective and psychological states, than the general indications are valuable, but if you're interpreting the practical experiences and events in life, than local determination is more crucial.
With that said, I agree that Morin discounted some techniques that do have verification in experience. For e.g. he considered secondary progressions a pure fiction. In my experience (limited as it is), I saw that the Sun Venus aspects in sec. progressions indicated marriage in many cases of my clients and friends.
Astrology is highly symbolic and it is a divination system. So sometimes I wonder if it is similar to divining on tea leaf or cards, the intuition of the reader (astrologer in this case) simply picks up the associations between the symbols of the chart. So, I think some causality is there (i.e. the planet A causes the effect B), but it is much more systemic, and there is a lot of hidden connections. The intuition of the reader synthesizes the symbols that seem meaningful into something of coherence.
Anyway, I much appreciate this discussion, as I'm writing my dissertation on symbolic meaningfulness of astrology and wonder myself why statistics have not validated it more. I like the "dimensional ontology" view proposed by Frankl. If you look at a three-dimensional object from a two-dimensional point of view, you'll only see the partial or distorted view of it. It seems to be the case with applying statistics to astrology. Still the practical experience of astrologers confirms it on a daily basis.
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penny seator



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Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your thoughts, Steven.

steven wrote:
With regards to Morin, I have to be honest and say that on some points I agree (because he in fact is only re-iterating what many of the ancients had to say) on others I do not (his throwing out important considerations such as term rulers and changing the triplicities; whose concepts have very long histories which he is completely ignorant of).



steven wrote:
A good example of his mind set and the questions it raises is found in the quote you gave above. I will remove your emphasis and add mine Very Happy

Quote:
For example, the Sun stands for the health, the father, the rank or position, etc. But because this analogy is based on the essential nature of the Sun and the influence of the Sun is completely universal and indifferent, the Sun could not by analogy alone indicate the health any more than it could the father, the husband, the king, or the position, although the Sun's naure does indicate the persons or circumstances which are illustrious, public, and distinguished, rather than obscure and of little importance.


The question I ask myself is on what grounds does Morin make this distinction; i.e. how can he discriminate between one natural signification and another and say these natural significations must be determined to houses while this one doesn't? His point becomes ludicrous because he turns around and does what he accuses others of doing mistakenly.


I think the point you raise here can be settled by interpretation of the words. As I interpret this passage (as translated) the words are meant to refer to Sun’s nature as it is determined in a chart—but in a kind of passing way: “does indicate persons or circumstances which are illustrious, public and distinguished.” The local determinations are implied by “persons or circumstances.” Thus, when in the 1st (assuming good enough state, etc.) the Sun indicates the native (a person) is illustrious. When in the 10th indicates the career (a circumstance) is so; when in the 7th, the spouse, and so on.


steven wrote:
and universal significators are meaningless then what is indicated?


My error was misleading. I should have said ‘undetermined universal significators mean nothing—no thing—until their meaning is determined through the houses of the chart. Then, their determined meanings are absolutely of first importance. He’s talking about bringing the Sky down to Earth. The Sky is definitely still there, and is what the houses bring down—the fish we’re out to catch in local determinations—and the Sky’s influence, which comes through the planets, is nature and celestial state. I think Tom mentioned the relationship between nature and state also in a recent post, as I recall the same one referred to above. I think he was talking about Morin’s example of Saturn in good state in the 10th. In a recent string on malefics in high honor, I think it was.

I’m coming back to edit a couple of posts I wrote in this string that failed to focus on the point I wanted to make and to say what I wanted to say. The main point I wish to make is that statistical tests as they are currently designed test astrology only by chance.

Two things make this failure of statistical tests clear. One is that astrologers who use a traditional system or approach to astrology can see that the statements tested in statistical tests as results predicted from identified astrological factors are not statements that would support the occurrences predicted in the tests. This is a practical argument. For example, astrologers would not predict a fatal accident from no more than Mars and the ascendant come together by direction or progression. Yet tests just like this Mars/ascendant/death test is typical of the design of statistical tests that purport to test astrology. Informed observation of a skilled traditional astrology who uses a method of determination tied to the wheel (or square) of houses reveals how astrology works and, therefore, something of what it would take to test it. A test that finds, consistent with traditional astrological practice, that Mars directed or progressed to the ascendant is not predictive of fatal accident does not in any way call astrology into question.

Understanding of a second failure of statistical tests’ efforts to test astrology depends on a theory of astrological signification and determination. In horoscopic astrology, celestial configurations are determined to particular meanings and effects through the ascendant—called the horoscopos (‘watcher of the hour’) in Greek astrology, the source of the name commonly used now to refer to an astrological chart as a whole. In a theory of astrological signification on which Morin’s method and system rest, undetermined universal significators refer to a whole category of natural meanings without distinction among things that the category comprises. Universal significators, because they refer to no thing in particular, mean and effect nothing in particular except as they are a determined to particular meanings tied to the ascendant and the wheel of astrological houses. Because statistical tests as they are designed usually test, except by chance, for the meanings and effects of undetermined universal significators, they correctly find that undetermined universal significators do not mean or effect any one or more of their natural meanings.

Researchers have assumed that they can test astrology by testing for the meaning and effect of astrology’s undetermined universal significators by using a frequentist statistical approach like that used to study, for example, the relationship between diet and body weight.

Eysenck & Nias, in Astrology: Science or Superstition (1984) depended on this analogy to assert that a frequentist statistical approach that tests undetermined universal significators is appropriate to test astrology. It is not. The practice of traditional astrology makes that clear, as does a basic theory of astrological signification and determination that Morin stated and demonstrated in his work.

Eysenck and Nias asserted this analogy as the only support for the approach they said is suitable to test astrology. Several considerations show their assertion by analogy is incorrect. I enumerate some of those reasons in the paper I cited above on astrological prediction and statistical tests.

Significant positive results in tests that tie planets to the angles of the chart suggest that Morin's theory of astrologicla signification and determination is true and that statistical tests might be designed that could test that possibility. Those tests include, for example, the tests that estblish the Gauquelin Mars effect, the Hill & Thompson redhead studies and a test and a preliminary test of angular Moon that Kenneth Irving reports.

At the very least, researchers who sought to test horoscopic astrology would need to (1) test in accord with basic astrological theory and method and, therefore, test the meanings and effects of astrological signatures as they are determined by the horoscopos and through the wheel of houses; (2) test a system of astrology with the system intact; (3) proceed with a structured approach to the chart that prioritizes and weights factors in a manner prescribed by and appropriate to the system tested, and (4) imitate as well as possible what an astrologer does. It is at least conceivable that this latter requirement might be sufficiently well simulated with some kind of computer simulation of the use of astrological theory, method, system, principles of weighting and prioritization, approach to the chart, rules, techniques and judgment—something like the kind of thing that a computer chess program does, perhaps.

The focus of the argument is on horoscopic astrology. It uses natal astrology to make its argument for simplicity’s sake—and because one branch of astrology is sufficient to make the basic point. The point I wish to make is neither that astrology can nor should be testable with statistical methods, nor that astrology needs to be proved in any way except by its practice as a way of life. The point I wish to make is that has not been tested by statistical methods. The design of statistical tests along frequentist statistical lines fails to represent astrology and therefore fails to test it.

This argument about statistical tests of astrology and astrological determination raises questions about what cosmos is and how astrology relates to cosmos.

Penny


Last edited by penny seator on Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Eddy



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Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Quote:

It wouldn't hurt if the scientists understood the astrology, either, but it's not something you can pick up overnight.

(.....) Researchers must be properly educated, well versed and skilled in the method they seek to study before they are competent to study it. How would it be if I set out to test Einstein's theory of relativity and I never got past high school algegra and flunked out of trigonometry and have never heard of calculus. Well, I could try, but I wouldn't be a very good choice to run those tests.

There may be quite a few researcher who tested astrology with only a cookbook at their disposal, however people like Geoffrey Dean and Rudolf Smit were professional astrologers with clients, before they quit astrology. Arthur Mather was an amateur astrologer.

The following was something I found very interesting from a sociological point of view.
Quote:
As a person I have very little respect for the man . (Morin)

(.....)

I will not emulate or follow someone devoid of any of the virtues necessary to give real understanding and wisdom of the human condition.
I don't want to argue this standpoint but I'd like to point out that I believe this shows the difference between the objective and the subjective view on astrology. If a certain astrological technique would statistically be proven to be working, then this would be a fact to be viewed separate of the one who taught it. In science Isaac Newton for example is said to have been an unpleasant man who had people sent to the gallows, however modern society would (technically) have been nowhere without his science.

On the other side when people teach a certain religion, then it is much more important how the teacher is. How can people take a priest seriously if he teaches certain moral values but doesn't live by these values himself. (The values though need not to be an absolute truth provable by science, they only have to be believed and maintained by the priest and believers, like premarital virginity, abstinence of porc etc.)

So the objective view of astrology, studying the technical part is much more dissociated from the one who teaches it than the subjective view. In the latter case a sympathetic teacher with high moral standards is almost necessary.
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penny seator



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Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddy wrote:
There may be quite a few researcher who tested astrology with only a cookbook at their disposal, however people like Geoffrey Dean and Rudolf Smit were professional astrologers with clients, before they quit astrology. Arthur Mather was an amateur astrologer.


Hi, Eddie,

I just reread all the posts in this string. Practicing astrologers have weighed in with reasons based on their astrological practice that lead them to suspect, believe or know that statistical methods cannot capture what they do. I ,made a partial summary of them for myself just now to collect different astrologers’ thoughts about this question. (If anyone would like me to post it, I'd be happy to.) It’s quite a rich and well-reasoned, experience-based statement of views, many of them taking the view that astrology is either difficult, impossible, or certainly quite unusual as a thing to test with statistical methods.

These are practicing astrologers’ views, the views of people who’ve spent a long time not only doing the art, but studying it, thinking about it, talking about it, using it for life and making it a way of life. All of them are questioning how and whether statistics can capture astrology. Some reject the idea, especially for horary, based on what they know about what works in what they do.

I mentioned before in this string that Rudoph Smit published an essay on his website, I believe it’s called “Astrology, My Passion” or a similar title, in which he made a brief report on something that he considered to be a test of astrology. His report provides a clear and simple example of a glaring problem in attempts to test astrology. Mr. Smit started to collect charts in which Mars and the ascendant came together by progression (it may have been only conjunctions, but I don’t recall). He looked for fatal accidents among those charts and found that there was no statistically significant relationship between the “astrological signature” and death by accident. This lead Mr. Smit to doubt astrology.

No practicing astrologer who knows the art believes that a progression in which Mars and the ascendant come together is likely, without more, to signify fatal accident. The idea contradicts “experience and reason.” I haven’t tried to count up, and wouldn’t know how, but I suspect that if this were a basis on which to predict death, the streets in every place where people who have Mars in their birth charts congregate would be littered with corpses pretty much all the time.

Here’s a set-up for some questions:
1. Mr. Smit made a study of whether death by accident is statistically associated with the Mars-ascendant progression he mentions.
2. He found that it is not.
3. No astrologer would predict fatal death from this Mars-ascendant progression.
4. Mr. Smit concluded that his ‘test’ called astrology into question.

Here are my questions:
1. Is this good science and good reasoning?
2. Does this make sense as a way to test astrology?
3. If results of a test are entirely consistent with astrological principles, practice and rules, do those results call astrology into question?

My answer to these questions is ‘no.’

I’d like to ask you a question, Eddy, if you feel that you’d like to answer it. As a person interested in modern scientific views and methods, how would you answer those questions? Or, how do you think that Mr. Smit or Mr. Dean or their colleagues should answer those questions, applying good reasoning to a good assessment of the facts?

This has nothing to do with Mr. Smit personally and is in no way an ad hominem argument. It's just that the example he gave is a clear and simple instance that highlights what I see as the most glaring error--so big and bright and simple that we didn't see it right away--in statistical tests of astrology.

Penny
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