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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Perhaps it's better to think carefully about what it means to be closed minded about something, in this case astrology. You can take the position that yes, there is something we and armies of scientists don't know about and astrology is never the less true, or you can take the position that no, there are no grounds to the claims that astrology makes and it is not.

    Of course, you then need to ask which of those two positions is closed minded? Is it more open minded to believe something to be true, or to

    • I hope you don't take this personally. I don't mean it that way!

      quidity wrote:

      You can take the position that yes, there is something we and armies of scientists don't know about and astrology is never the less true, or you can take the position that no, there are no grounds to the claims that astrology makes and it is not.

      As a rule of thumb, I rarely, if ever, take either position when I encounter a new subject. I start asking a question: "does a particular belief make testable assertions?" In the case of religion, for example, this is often "no". (e.g., if I'm a good boy, I go to heaven when I die) However, astrology makes a claim that there are certain factors about human behavior that are influenced by the position of heavenly bodies at the time an individual is born. Why birth? Why not conception or their third birthday? Also, what is the source of the influence? It ain't gravitation as the chair I am sitting on exerts a greater gravitational force on me than Jupiter. I don't see astrologers saying "your chair is rising". Well, astrologers like to wave their hands at this point and start talking about the limitations of science, but if they make predictions, we can look to see if those predictions come true with a greater frequency than random chance.

      They don't.

      There was a great study published in the December, 1985 issue of "Nature" where a double-blind study was performed with the participants being 30 of the strongest American and European astrologers (as chosen by their peers) interpreting natal charts for unseen people. Results showed the astrologers could only match one out of three charts to the correct personality -- the same results predicted by chance.

      My favorite study, however (and I can't find the reference, darn it), is one that, if I recall correctly, was sponsored (or at least published by) CSICOP (http://www.csicop.org/). To counter the claims by astrologers that all of the scientific studies were biased, a study was drawn up that the scientists and the astrologers both agreed was not biased. The astrologers still didn't do better than random chance. When the astrologers heard the results, they started attacking the scientists and still accused them of bias. In the ensuing 'self-defence', not a single astrologer attacked the methodology of the study.

      So, I have to wonder once again: if something is demonstrably false, am I required to believe in it in order to be "open minded"? Or worse, am I not allowed to question the assertions? Until I see some pretty strong (note, I did not use the word "irrefutable") evidence to suggest (not even "prove") that there is something to astrology, I'm going to have to go with the strong evidence that it's nothing more than random chance.

      And I'm still not going to listen to those people who tell me that I have to accept every last piece of drivel I hear in order to be "open-minded".

      Ugh. This conversation makes me feel depressed. I was just hoping to get this off of my chest. I had a very nice woman tell me in no uncertain terms what she thinks of me for not believing the way she does. She refused to apply for a job she really wanted because she thought the horoscope in the newspaper told her not to (admittedly, even most astrologers say those are bunk). Maybe I'll come back later and just delete all of this :(

      • Maybe I'll come back later and just delete all of this :(

        I'd rather you didn't, myself. Just an opinion.

        A feedback loop exists within many of these people that merely reinforces whatever they happen to believe. Nothing escapes their framework, and nothing could possibly contradict it. Everything is because of X, or X's effects.

        So you say, "But what effect is it that causes this? How does it work? How can X cause this?"

        And internally they go, "X told me to expect doubting people today!" whether

        --

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        You are what you think.