Comments on Valerie Vaughan's
the Debunkers" (2000)
By Ivan W. Kelly Note
University of Saskatchewan, Canada
My analysis (Kelly, 1999) of astrologer Valerie
Vaughan's (1998) debunking of skeptics led to a wordy, rambling
rebuttal in Vaughan (2000). The central issues regarding the
status and evidence for astrology were not confronted, whereas
most of her response sidetracked to the meaning of 'astrologer',
criticism of CSICOP, lack of funding for astrologers, qualifications
to research astrology, name calling Note
2 , and misinterpreting statements and
projecting them onto critics as 'logical fallacies' Note
3. Her earlier debunking article (Vaughan, 1998) in the
Mountain Astrologer criticized debunkers for being
uninformed about astrology. In response, I (Kelly,1999) pointed
out that her article did not address informed critiques. In
'Rebunking the debunkers' (2000) she again did not address
this issue. There exist many informed critiques of astrological
tenets such as Dean and Mather (1977), Eysenck and Nias (1982),
the critiques of Michael Gauquelin, along with a large number
of articles in Correlation. These informed critiques
are nowhere examined by her, and are generally ignored by
the astrological community.
and Negative Research on Astrology
Vaughan (2000) says the negative findings on
astrology are the product of biased, uninformed debunkers.
Properly conducted studies, we are to infer, would provide
only positive results. Further, she says articles by debunkers
cite the same negative studies from their own camp (CSICOP),
and ignore the "original astrological research by Michael
Gauquelin or John Addey, [and] the astrologically-informed
studies of Percy Seymour, Patrick Curry, and John Anthony
West". This really takes chutzpah. First of all, most of the
negative research cited, or alluded to, in Kelly (1999) was
published in the astrological research journal Correlation
, and Advances in Natal Astrology (Dean & Mather,
1977) a book which was sponsored and sold by the Astrological
association of Great Britain. Second, Vaughan's proposed 'astrologically
informed studies' do not provide the support she misleadingly
tries to convey to her astrological readers. Many of Gauquelin's
findings were negative concerning the claims of classical
astrology (regarding zodiac signs, planetary aspects, and
the whole horoscope), and his (very weak) positive findings
on planetary configurations at the birth of eminent professionals
were inconsistent with the grandiose claims found in astrology
books (see Kelly, 1997, pp. 1039-40). As the astrologer Lois
Rodden (undated) points out:
"It must be stated that even if one accepts
the Gauquelin plus zone results, they fly in the face
of traditional astrological understanding of the weakness
of cadent houses and have no practical value for consulting
Percy Seymour is interested primarily in the Gauquelin research
and attempts to explain it with speculative sunspot related
magnetic disturbances. One might well ask, if solar disturbances
of the geomagnetic field are of astrological relevance then
why have sunspot numbers, known for centuries, not long ago
been integrated into birth charts? It is also of relevance
that Seymour does not put the emphasis on date of birth that
John Addey contended that astrologers writing
in magazines like the Mountain Astrologer are doing
it wrong. Addey hoped to unify astrology on the basis of his
theory of planetary harmonics. Traditional astrology regards
planets as related to each other in a horoscope when they
are at particular angles to each other (such as 0° , 60°,
90° and so on). Addey believed that astrologers should,
instead, view planets as having cyclic effects around a circle.
Here both positive and negative halves of each circle would
contribute to a continuous degree of relationships. Consequently,
Addey found fault with most of tradition unless it was reinterpreted
in terms of harmonic wave functions. Finally, Patrick
Curry is a historian and not a researcher, and neither is
West a researcher. Neither Curry or West have published research
studies examining astrological claims. West wrote a survey
of evidence for astrology with the same blind eye to negative
results shown by Vaughan (see Dean's review of West's book,
Nature of Astrology
As with many astrologers, Vaughan's writings
are never clear regarding the nature of astrology. At times
she tells readers that scientific approaches are irrelevant
or peripheral to astrology. At other times, we are told the
opposite, indeed, that scientific research has provided 'proof'
of astrology. For example, in Vaughan (1998) we read, "here
are a few reasons why the scientific method cannot be applied
to astrology..." and astrology is a "non-scientific endeavor".
She even goes as far as to say, "Analyzing astrology with
the tools of science is as inappropriate as trying to measure
consciousness with a spoon" (Vaughan, 1998). Similarly, in
Vaughan (2000) we find, " The point is (and it cannot be repeated
too often), the scientific viewpoint is one way of observing
the world, and astrology is another" Note
4. In the same article, Vaughan (2000) then seems to give
science a limited contribution to astrology: "When the scientific
approach is used with astrology, there must be a clear understanding
of the limits of scientific analysis." These limits seem to
be conveniently forgotten when Vaughan finds any indication
of scientific evidence for astrology, so in Vaughan (1996)
we are told West's book The Case for Astrology provides
us with "experiments that have proven the validity
of astrology" and " perhaps the best known proof of
astrology lies in the voluminous files of Michael Gauquelin"(italics
mine). These are strong claims indeed! No caveats or reservations
regarding the scientific method are expressed here Note
5. Further, Vaughan (1995, 1996) considers all sorts of
empirical correlations as evidence for astrology. To muddy
the waters even further we are told, "And when we are dealing
with matters concerned with meaning (such as astrology), other
non-scientific tools may be enlisted for more appropriate
analysis "(Vaughan, 2000) So, is the 'proof' obtained by Michael
Gauquelin now inappropriate, or only marginally relevant?
And what are these non-scientific tools, and how do they help
resolve conflicts between astrologers, or contribute toward
separating valid from invalid tenets in astrology? And where
are the studies using these tools? We are not told. No wonder
funding of research into astrology is a problem.
Studies and Astrology
An interesting example of Vaughan's (2000) ambivalence
about the relationship between scientific research and astrology
is found in her discussion of studies of moon phase and crisis
calls. In a commentary on a study on crisis calls in British
Columbia by Bickis, Kelly, and Byrnes (1995) she notes, in
a after-the-fact analysis, that the days of Nov 5 , 1991 (when
the Sun, Moon, Mars, and Pluto were conjunct in Scorpio) and
Dec 17 and 18th , 1990 (when the moon was conjunct
a massive alignment of Venus, Uranus, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn,
and the North Node in Capricorn) were associated with unusually
high numbers of crisis calls. This is said to be astrologically
revealing. But what does this after-the-fact search tell us?
We were not warned publicly by astrologers to be careful on
these days. Vaughan engages in no exploration of past associations
of similar conjunctions with terrestrial disturbances to give
credibility to the post hoc analysis. No suggestions are made
that other studies on crisis calls be examined, covering the
same time period as the Bickis et al study, to confirm the
importance of these post-selected days. We are not even told
what should have been astrologically expected on these days.
Does the astrological symbolism suggest an increase in
crisis calls in British Columbia? An increase in calls
In the Bickis et al. study, over the first two
years (of a three year study) the 10th and 25th
days of the lunar cycle were found to have more crisis calls
than other days of the lunar synodic cycle. These days 10
and 25 did not show up in the third year of the analysis.
However, Vaughan (2000) says that astrologers have warned
us about these days of the lunar cycle: we are told that astrologer
Jeff Mayo warned about the 3rd, 18th,
10th and 25th days of the lunar cycle,
astrologer Erlewine talks about the 10th and 25th
days Note 6, and the poet Hesiod warns
about the 25th day. Apart from internal differences
among these sources, for example, they differ in subsets of
what days are noteworthy, it is not clear that the meaning
assigned to these days is the same within the three sources.
For example, Erlewine mentions that the Eastern astrological
traditions relate the 10th and 25th
days of the lunar cycle to masculine and feminine energies
respectively. What follows from this? It doesn't follow that
both energies will be expressed in the same (negative) way
or in terms of elevated crises. Further, if these two days
are of such importance, then one would expect the same days
to be prominent in other studies. Vaughan makes no attempt
to find out. The reader can examine over 25 studies conducted
on crisis calls, and the 10th and 25thdays
do not stand out in other studies, again suggesting nothing
particularly significant about these days. It seems that for
Vaughan, one part of a study is noteworthy if there is a whiff
of potential support for astrology, ignoring both the other
failed replication part of the same study, and failures to
replicate with other studies. Furthermore, the 'support' conflicts
with what she and other astrologers say elsewhere, since the
two lunar days are isolated "lunar day" factors! Astrologers
[see Vaughan (1998)] are continually telling people (especially
skeptics) that testing isolated factors is inappropriate since
this ignores the complexity of astrology Note
7. It seems that for many astrologers, whether isolated
factors can be tested or not depends on the results: if the
findings are positive, testing isolated factors is appropriate;
if the results are negative, the argument regarding the complexity
of astrology is brought up to explain them away Note
Vaughan's discussion of research on the moon's
anomalistic (apogee-perigee) cycle is also noteworthy for
what it leaves out or muddies over. Many astrologers have
alluded to the moon's tidal or gravitational pull on the earth
as relevant to astrology. The classic line by many astrologers
(check out astrologers' web sites and popular writings) has
been "If the moon can do that to the tides, imagine what it
can do to you!" Note 9. Furthermore,
many popular 'moon madness' theories attribute more undesirable
behavior to stronger lunar pull (which occurs at perigee),
see for example, Katzeff, (1988) Moon Madness and Lieber,
(1978) The Lunar Effect. One might well ask,
are lunar studies of folklore relevant to astrology? Our own
research assumed not, and most investigators of lunar relationships
with human behaviour do not make a connection between the
two, but Vaughan equivocates here. In Vaughan (2000) she criticizes
those who equate lunar studies of folklore with astrology,
and asks of the Bickis et al crisis call study "What does
this study have to do with astrology?" Indeed, astrology was
not even mentioned in the article. Elsewhere, Vaughan tells
us otherwise. In Vaughan (1996) we are informed that extraterrestrial
-celestial correlations provide evidence for astrology, and
Katzeff's (1988) Moon Madness is mentioned as providing
such evidence. Note 10 . But, in Vaughan
(2000), the same type of studies cited in Katzeff are considered
tests of 'folklore beliefs', and viewed analogous to the sin
of considering newspaper horoscopes as serious astrology.
(For more on Vaughan's confusions between science and astrology
see Kelly & Dean, 2000).
Vaughan's (2000) confusion regarding what is
involved in providing an explanation for phenomena is evident
in her discussion of 'self attribution'. An explanation must
tell us why things are like this and not like that. The hypothesis
of 'self-attribution' refers to peoples' prior knowledge of
astrology influencing their answers to questionnaires or influencing
their decisions. Eysenck ( Eysenck & Nias,1982) found
that his own initially positive results on zodiac signs (published
in 1978 with the astrologer Mayo) were found to only hold
with individuals with some knowledge of astrology. The self-attribution
effect was a very weak group effect, but would account for
the similarly very weak effects found in zodiac sign studies.
Since the attribution effect was subsequently
replicated in a number of studies, it became a factor that
was important to take into consideration in astrological studies
where prior knowledge of astrology could confound the findings.
Therefore, studies not controlling for this factor could have
results that were ambiguous. Self-attribution cannot be considered
a 'speculative flaw'( as Vaughan claims), in studies that
do not control for prior knowledge because it has already
been shown by Eysenck and others to be a serious competing
explanation in such studies. The importance of considering
self-attribution was also emphasized by Gauquelin (1983, pp.134-136),
who told readers, "If astrology is potentially a science,
then it demands extra caution in field research. One must
never lose sight of the possibility of 'alternative explanations',
as the scientific jargon has it, and this involves finding
out whether positive results can be accounted for logically
and simply, quite apart from any astrological law."
The self-attribution hypothesis would not
be a competing hypothesis where prior knowledge of astrological
tenets was unlikely, as for example, with studies of asteroid
or orb symbolism, or on topics associated with signs that
study participants would be unlikely to know (and this could
be independently checked). Vaughan, on the other hand, criticizes
the notion of self-attribution by saying that it could contaminate
all studies and surveys. Indeed, it may be one factor among
many, that influence people's beliefs. Some other factors
may be age, gender, religion, educational level, socio-economic
status, ethnic background, and so on. Social psychology and
sociology are interested in exactly these kinds of influences.
She asks, when people are tested for their beliefs in studies
completely unrelated to astrology, do the people suddenly
drop their beliefs that may have been influenced by astrology?
Of course not, any more than they drop their religious beliefs
in studies unrelated to religious topics. The questions about
self-attribution Vaughan raises have been known and discussed
by social scientists for over a century. Vaughan seems to
be under the mistaken impression that sun sign self-attribution
is a very powerful effect that can really subvert all studies.
Its relevance is important when sources of belief are considered,
and especially when astrology itself is the topic of investigation,
just as in studies examining what people know about learning
disabilities one should examine prior sources of knowledge
such as media exposure on the topic.
Vaughan (2000), still on the topic of self-attribution,
says "how will we be able to tell whether someone is truly
an extravert or just another person who thinks he's one because
he knows his Sun-sign?" Well, it must be repeated again that
self-attribution is not the only factor, nor even a strong
contributing factor, to people's beliefs about themselves.
Whether one considers oneself an extravert will be influenced
by many sources of information, such as: first hand experience
in the company of others (do we enjoy the company of others
and spend a lot of time interacting with them), verbal feedback
from others ('You are very outgoing'), by comparisons of our
behaviour to that of others, and so on. Our view may also
be influenced by our knowledge of the characteristics associated
with our sun sign, or by readings in numerology, palm reading,
or psychology (prior knowledge can be checked here as well).
Unfortunately, this reasoning of Vaughan's can
boomerang back on astrologers in a more virulent way. Vaughan
suggests the explanation of self-attribution is an all-round
excuse trotted out by skeptics whenever positive findings
emerge. This is really ironic. We know of situations where
self-attribution does not apply, and we can determine the
strength of any attribution effect relative to other contributions
to behaviour. Now let us ask similar questions of astrology:
What are the limitations of astrological explanations? How
strong are astrological contributions to temperament and behaviour?
Are there situations where astrology does not apply to humans?
Do astrological factors interact with psychological, sociological,
and heredity factors? Or perhaps both psychological and heredity
phenomena are considered manifestations of an all encompassing,
underlying, mysterious astrological or symbolic reality? (And
if the latter, how could we show this, and could we ever find
out otherwise?) On the perspective which seems to be prevalent
among writers in astrology magazines like The Mountain
Astrologer, the astrological worldview is all encompassing
and related to everything that happens. In The Mountain
Astrologer (described on the web site as 'widely acknowledged
as the best English-language astrology magazine in the world
today'), astrologers relate every mishap, calamity, and happy
event, in both their own lives and those of others, to planetary
configurations. From this metaphysical perspective, whatever
happens is almost by definition, consistent with the astrological
symbolism. While such self-sealed systems and their resultant
stagnation may be popular in many segments of the astrological
community, debate and change characterize disciplines elsewhere.
Should Research and Write on Astrology?
A recurring theme throughout Vaughan (2000)
is the issue of who is competent to conduct research on astrological
claims, or even write about astrology. In the first two pages
of Vaughan (2000) she tells readers that the possession of
appropriate research skills and training in astrology
are required to conduct research. She mentions that while
astrological institutes do not require research skills (the
recently opened Kepler College seems to be an exception),
astrologers may have learned these skills elsewhere. A central
issue is why conduct research at all if it makes no difference
to astrological theorizing or practice? Has Gauquelin's or
Addey's research had any impact on astrological practice?
Where do articles in the Mountain Astrologer or the
Astrological Journal take into account such research
findings? Have the reviews of research published in Eysenck
and Nias (1982) or Dean and Mather (1977) led astrologers
to drop techniques or claims not supported by research? Not
As for the credentials required of those writing
about (rather than researching) astrology, Vaughan is less
clear, but she asks for "evidence of debunkers actually studying
astrology...just as biologists study biology...". She suggests
at the end of her article that "passing a certification test
in astrology" would be sufficient evidence. Unfortunately
this creates problems for the astrological community. Have
all the writers in The Mountain Astrologer passed certification
exams? Are many not self-educated? Cannot debunkers similarly
be self-educated in astrology? She mentions the "astrologically
informed studies of Percy Seymour, Patrick Curry, and John
Anthony West." Have these 'astrologically informed' individuals
passed certification tests? In Vaughan (1996) readers are
recommended books that provide support for astrology and "should
be important additions to the astrologer's library". The authors
of these books include Paul Katzeff, Hans Eysenck, and Edward
Dewey, none of whom passed astrological certification exams,
nor likely studied astrology in any depth, nor were practicing
astrologers. Eysenck (the psychologist who emphasized the
importance of controlling for self-attribution in astrological
research) writes in Astrology: Science or Superstition?
(one of the books Vaughan suggests to readers):
"We [Eysenck and Nias] do not claim to be experts
in astrology, and we could not interpret a birth chart
with any degree of confidence; but that is not important.
Training in psychology and statistics enables us to evaluate
evidence for the kinds of statements made by astrologers."
Should Vaughan now remove this book from her suggested reading
list? It most certainly seems that, for Vaughan, the honorific
title 'astrologically informed' is applied utilizing criteria
that have no discernable consistency.
1 . I would like to give special thanks to Mogens Winther,
Geoffrey Dean, Rudolf Smit, and JW Nienhuys for their helpful
comments on an earlier draft of this response.
2 . Critics of her articles are pathologized by Vaughan
(2000) as "troubled voices", and those "who didn't like their
rigid ways of thinking disturbed." Even astrologers associated
with The Mountain Astrologer who express views at variance
with her own are maligned. The astrologer Brad Kochunas (1999)
describes several of my articles as "marvelous" and thought
provoking. Vaughan (2000) is outraged, and says, "Mr. Kochunas
evidently lacks the will or the insight to see through the
flimsy arguments of debunkers." Geoffrey Dean, an ex-astrologer
and skeptic, is similarly marginalized as a "turncoat" and
a "shadow." She ends her article with "Mr. Kelly apparently
knows so little about astrology that it is difficult to conduct
a real dialogue." Other astrologers know better. Nick Campion,
a historian and past president of the British Astrological
Association, and author of many books on astrology writing
in the March 1998 Astrological Newsletter Transit,
says, "Unlike many skeptics, Ivan Kelly is well-informed.."
Further, over the last decade all three editors of the astrological
research journal Correlation have asked me to be on
their editorial board. Would the top journal researching astrological
claims, owned by astrologers, ask uninformed people to be
on its review board?
3 . Vaughan (1998) complained that astrologers receive
no funding for research, unlike those in other disciplines.
My response (Kelly, 1999) was that astrologers need to incorporate
research courses into their training institutions, since "astrologers
generally have no training in how to conduct or evaluate
research and therefore could not do it even if they had funding."
Vaughan (2000) rephrases my statement as "Since astrologers
have no research training, they will therefore never
be able to perform research even if they had funding." (my
italics). Note how dropping the word 'generally' and adding
her own 'never', changes the original sense of the statement.
By adding further assumptions of her own, she manages to pull
off some remarkable inferences from her revision of my statement.
Another example: Vaughan (1998) accuses skeptics of scientism.
I respond (Kelly, 1999) by pointing out that labeling people
does not mean that one can a priori dismiss their arguments
without examination: "Even if scientism were typical of debunkers,
they could still be right about astrology. After all, human
history is full of rakes, bounders, racists and sexists, all
arguably as disreputable as disciples of scientism, who have
nevertheless sometimes been right about some things." One
might think of sexists like Schopenhauer, and racists like
David Hume. Or those like Descartes who thought animals were
non-sentient machines. However, by ignoring the word 'disreputable'
in my quote, and deliberately misrepresenting it, Vaughan
(2000)infers the following howler: "he has evidently suggested
some approval of racists and sexists, as well as their affinity
with debunkers like himself." Such inferences belong in a
Monty Python argument skit or a Seinfeld episode
4. Vaughan, at times, seems to view astrology as an
alternative worldview to science. She often uses the term
'paradigm'. But can astrology be considered a paradigm? There
is a paradigm when practitioners in an area reach agreement
over fundamental matters, including agreement on theory, instrumentation,
and appropriate methodology for solving problems and investigating
the world (Kuhn, 1970, 1977). Where is such a consensus within
the astrological community? Paradigms can, moreover, unlike
astrology, eventually be undermined from within by
the accumulation of unsolved anomalies, and from without
by replacement by more successful paradigms. Certainly Kuhn
did not consider astrology an alternative paradigm. In the
case of astrology we seem to have schools of astrology, each
consisting of their own set of non-negotiable dogmas. Entering
the new millennium, astrology is a caldron of conflicting
voices with little agreement on anything , the nature of astrology
itself is in dispute, and its relationship to science is unclear
(see Kelly, 1997; Cornelius, Hyde, & Webster, 1995, pp.
140-145). At best, after several millennia, astrology can
now be considered to be in a pre-paradigmatic state.
5 . In addition to the purported empirical support,
Vaughan (1996) states that there is also theoretical scientific
support for astrology: "Some of the greatest scientific minds
have shown that time-travel and other conditions necessary
for UFO's and intuitive arts like Astrology are theoretically
possible. Yet scientists continue to deny that astrology has
any validity." Vaughan's jump from 'theoretically possible'
to 'has validity' is a non sequitur. Further, if time-travel
is a necessary condition for the plausibility of astrology,
then problems in the notion of time-travel also reduce the
plausibility of astrology [See Grey (1999) for a discussion
of some of the conceptual and metaphysical difficulties with
the idea of time- travel].
6 . An examination of the data provided by Erlewine
(no date ) cited by Vaughan indicates that both have misrepresented
the findings. Vaughan (2000) writes, "This particular lunar
cycle [synodic cycle] has also been discussed in a recent
article by astrologer Michael Erlewine, who points out its
relationship to cycles of geomagnetic disturbances. He notes
scientific studies showing that the 10th and 25th
days are important days in the cycle of Polar Cap Absorption,
and how this correlates with the significance attributed to
these same days by ancient Eastern astrological traditions."
Erlewine (undated) says, " The Kp-geomagnetic index varies
with the lunar phases. When the moon is less than 3 ½
degrees from the plane of the eclipse, geomagnetic activity
reaches a mimimum during the 2nd lunar quarter
and a maximum during 3rd lunar quarter....There
is also a minimum in the Kp-geomagnetic index during 2nd
quarters when PCA and Forbush decreases re at a maximum. It
has been suggested that at 2nd quarter the moon
may least disturb the geomagnetic field, which is, at that
time, most active. There is a sharp rise in the Kp index just
prior to full moon and continuing into third quarter." An
examination of the Bell and Defouw (1966) article referred
to by Vaughan and Erlewine show that it is not so straightforward.
The plot in Fig. 1 of the article indicates the position of
maximum magnetic influence clearly shifts with lunar declination.
To complicate things further, the lunar declination varies
each month from just over 5 Deg N to 5 Deg S, with a period
of approximately 27 days. In addition, the Kp scale is defined
within general geophysics on a kind of logarithmic scale.
As a consequence of this logarithmic definition, the 'sharp
rise in the Kp index' is extremely small compared to the magnetic
disturbances during the solar induced auroras; not to mention
the magnetic influences (geomagnetical and technological)
depending on how and where you live.
If effects related to Kp and geomagneticisme should have any
astrological relation, astrologers should discuss not only
the geographical latitude and longitude itself, but also allude
to the magnetic latitude and longitude when constructing a
horoscope (the present magnetic north is actually placed in
Northern Canada, and as a consequence, people in the Northern
USA have a relatively higher chance of observing auroras than
people living at the same geographical latitude in Europe).
How many astrologers do this? [If crisis calls and astrology
are related to geomagnetic activity, as suggested by Vaughan
and Erlewine, why did astrologers not give us advance warning
before March 13, 1989, when a most powerful solar eruption,
followed by Polar Cap Absorption, high Kp values, and widely
visible auroras, caused power failures/blackouts in parts
of Canada and Sweden? Unfortunately this event happened on
day 6 in the lunar cycle--a day not mentioned in the extensive
list of Vaughan's astrological bad luck warning days. One
of the greatest PCA events recorded also happened on March
13, 1989, parallel to a magnificient aurora display that was
observed as far south as the Caribic]. Finally, modern research
indicates the PCA events mentioned by Vaughan and Erlewine
are not related to lunar factors, but instead related to phenomena
(a.o. active sunspots) on the sun (see Ranta, et al. 1993).
PCA is absorption of radiosignals according to modern research
(Ranta, et al. op cit), during periods of high solar energy
(eruptions). The Solar Proton Events, may ionize our upper
atmosphere, thus imply the absorption of HF and VHF signals
in the upper atmosphere: "Solar energetic particles events
produce a particular type of disturbance called Polar Cap
Absorption (PCA) that lasts up to days. The deep ionization
produced by the solar protons also alters the path taken by
the waves reflecting from the ionosphere" (see http://www.nas.edu/ssb/spwpt5nw.html).
7 . Within classical astrology, lunar influence depends
on which house the moon is passing. These houses are related
to the daily motion of the earth. For example, Abraham Avenarius
says, " The moon in the 8th house will give misfortune--that
is to say, heavy headaches---mostly with a tragic end" (cited
in Moberg, 1969, p.3). But concerning the astrological houses,
the moon will pass ALL houses during 24 hours. [For birth
charts, astrological theory says that if someone is born with
the Moon in 8, then the psychological and practical consequences
going with this position apply all the native's life. But
Vaughan is alluding to lunar days in regard to astrology here.]
Another factor of astrological significance may be the passage
of the moon within the zodiac signs. As Moberg (1969, p.38)
says "moon within Gemini implies a deformed, disfigured, ill
dressed person", however, typically this takes more than two
days. A few classical works on astrology emphasize a bad influence
when the moon is 'burned', that is, too close to the sun.,
a new moon: "Moon burned ....means, that nati will get a short
life..." (Moberg, 1969, p.31). Strictly speaking, the total
duration of burned out ranges from minus 6 Deg to minus 16'
- and again - from +16' to +6Deg. However, these intervals
affect all together slightly less than half of the last day,
and less that half of the first day within the lunar month.
So in general, the notion of lunar day should not be of much
interest to astrologers.
8 . For example, in Vaughan (1998) both debunkers and
scientists who investigate the claims of astrology (and have
the audacity to obtain negative results) are flayed for oversimplifying
astrology, that is, by testing only isolated factors in their
studies. On the other hand, when Gauquelin tested isolated
factors such as the diurnal position of Mars at the birth
of eminent athletes, or Smithers looked at sun sign in relation
to occupation in the 1984 Manchester Guardian , Vaughan
ignored this 'flaw' and claimed the studies supplied support
to astrology! It is the result that counts for Vaughan.
9 . Apparently such astrologers don't know that the
strength of tides is directly related to the size of the bodies
they work on. So their line should be: If the moon does only
that to a relatively static ocean, imagine how small its effect
will be on a person that is five million times smaller and
is usually in motion.
10 . Vaughan equivocates between different definitions
of astrology. At times astrology is viewed as anything involving
celestial-terrestrial correlations, at other times, astrology
involves an entire worldview tied to symbolic associations
and mythology. For example, the durability of astrology is
used by Vaughan (1996) as an argument in its favour as follows:
"the 'principles' of medical science are changing all the
time, whereas the astrological premise (that celestial-terrestrial
correlations exist) is much more stable and has withstood
thousands of years of change in the practice or interpretation.".
Notice the easy slip between astrology defined in the wide
unspecified empirical sense (astrology = celestial-terrestrial
correlations) to the impression that somehow this supports
astrology in the larger Grand narrative sense (involving claims
like 'Hard Saturn-Neptune contacts in a natal chart indicate
a predisposition toward depression'). Note also the implicit
assumption in the durability argument that astrological knowledge
has been cumulative over the centuries with additional information
(e.g on newly discovered planets, etc) conserving basic ancient
insights and elaborating on them. Interestingly, the whole
notion of paradigm that Vaughan uses quite frequently, is
at variance with notions of cumulative knowledge over time
(Kuhn, 1970). Further, where are the arguments or studies
that demonstrate that modern astrology is more successful
than ancient astrology?
Bell, B., & Defouw (1966) Dependence of
the lunar modulation of geomagnetic activity on the celestial
latitude of the moon. Journal of Geophysical Research,
Bickis, M., Kelly., & Byrnes, G. (1995)
Crisis calls and Temporal and Lunar Variables. The Journal
of Psychology, 129, 701-712.
Cornelius, G., Hyde, M., & Webster, C. (1995).
Astrology for Beginners. Trumpington, Cambridge: Icon
Dean, G. (1993) Astrology Strikes Back----but
to what effect? A review of Perry's 'Astrology's complete
book of self-defence' and West's 'The Case for Astrology'.
Skeptical Inquirer, 18, 42-49.
Dean, G., & Mather, A. (1977). Recent
Advances in Natal Astrology: A Critical Review 1900-1976.
Rockport, Mass.: Para Research, Inc.
Erlewine, M. (undated) Science and the Lunation
Eysenck, H., & Nias, D. (1982). Astrology:
Science or Superstition? New York: Penguin.
Gauquelin, M. (1983). Birthtimes. New
York: Hill and wang.
Grey, W. (1999). Troubles with Time Travel.
Philosophy, 74, 55-69.
Katzeff, P. ( 1988). Moon Madness and Other
Effects of the Full Moon.New York, NY.: Citadel Press.
Kelly, I.W. (1997). Modern Astrology: A Critique.
Psychological Reports, 81, 1035-1066.
Kelly, I.W. (1999). Debunking the Debunkers:
a Response to an Astrologer's Debunking of Skeptics. Skeptical
Inquirer. 23 (6), November/December: 37-43.
Kelly, I.W., & Dean, G. (2000). Are Scientists
Undercover Astrologers? (Forthcoming)
Kochunas, B. (1999) Why Astrology Works. http://www.mountainastrologer.com/kochunas.html
Kuhn, T. (1970). The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions (Second edition). Chicago, Ill: University
of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, T. (1977). The Essential Tension: Selected
Studies In Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago, Ill:
University of Chicago Press.
Lieber, A. (1978). The Lunar Effect.
Garden City, NY.: Doubleday.
Moberg, S. (1969) Medicinsk Astrologi (Medical
Astrology). Svend Mobergs Forlag. (Moberg's quotations
are mostly based on the classical "Speculum Astrologiae"--a
collection by Franziscus Junctinus (1523-1580)-German translation
by Karl Kiesewetter, Walter Gunlmann, Herman Moller, and Johannes
Ranta, et al. (1993). D-Region Observation of
Polar Cap Absorption Events During the EISCAT Operation in
1981-1989. Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics,
55 (4/5), 751-766.
Rodden, Lois (undated) Lois Rodden's Astrodatabank.
Vaughan, V. (1995) The Art of Self-Defence for
Astrologers: Lesson 1 - Fighting at the Level of your Opponent.
NCGR Member letter (Aug/Sep). Revised version at http://www.onereed.com/articles/revise.html
Vaughan, V. (1996). The Acceptance of Astrology
in the 'Real World': Revival or Revisionism? The Mountain
Astrologer, (Dec), Revised version at http://www.onereed.com/articles/revise.html
Vaughan, V. (1998). Debunking the Debunkers:
Lessons to be Learned. The Mountain Astrologer, (Aug/Sept).
Complete version at http:// www.onereed.com/articles/debunk.html
Vaughan, V. (2000) Re-bunking the Debunkers,
West, J. (1991). The Case for Astrology.
New York: Viking Press.
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