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Stephen

Astrologers Taking a Swipe at Brian Cox

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the science of astrology is flawed, it relies on the interpretation of cause and effect based upon objects that exist millions of miles away and therefore unlikely to have any direct influence on us.

It is born out of superstition and coincidence and as such is unreliable at best. Astronomy came about as man wanted to understand his position in the universe, it has therefore proven the above. We are not haters of astrologers, we are haters of the flawed science of astrology.

well that's my last 2 cents on the matter.

I thank you

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Mmm dont know about all this any more but I will tell you what is rubbish.. all those dam clouds out there this evening preventing me from getting out there with my telescope!

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The Guardian article and some of the comments on this thread are absolutely hilarious.

i've never been able to work out whether astrologers genuinely believe in what they do, or if they know it's a load of tosh and are just scared that the gullible will find out and they'll have to get a proper job.
I think the astrologers have lost their way. They used to talk about conjunctions with Uranus, now they just talk from it.

Classic

I always thought Astrology was @?"&*%'s even before I got seriously into Astronomy.

Carole

Edited by carastro

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It makes me want to cry. I mean it's funny... but is it? What are we doing wrong?

Olly

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It makes me want to cry. I mean it's funny... but is it? What are we doing wrong?

Olly

That's why my earlier post on this was a bit more "passionate" than I intended I think - exasperation :)

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I think the human race has an innate nature to search for a reason for things and Astrology gives one so it's held onto like grim death by the believers. I think it's tosh but the problem is, very distant things can and do have an effect upon us; are you telling me the moon and sun don't? This unfortunately appears to give justification to Astrology which perpetuates their belief system.

Edited by Moonshane

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I think the fact that stars were useful to predict certain things (like the seasons) were the start of this. Moonshane is right that it stems from an urge to make sense of a confusing and uncaring universe. This is the same urge that drives science, but whereas science will accept an uncaring universe as a fact, many people find this deeply disturbing, even scary. I always find that the scientific view of the world is at the same time deeply humanistic: if the universe is so uncaring, the burden of care falls squarely on us. We have the duty of care for each other and our companion creatures on this precious planet. Nobody is going to wave a magic wand to make things better, we have to work at it.

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the science of astrology is flawed, it relies on the interpretation of cause and effect based upon objects that exist millions of miles away and therefore unlikely to have any direct influence on us.

You suggest that something millions of miles away can have no effect on us. How about a gamma ray burst whose jets happened to be pointing directly at us, or whatever it is that disturbs the Oort cloud from time to time and flings a few hundred big comets at us. Astrology is bad science. So is the belief that just because something is millions of miles away it can have no effect on us.

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Astrology is bad science. So is the belief that just because something is millions of miles away it can have no effect on us.

But wrapping scientific facts up in mumbo jumbo, having got the facts wrong by a huge amount because of precession of the ecliptic, and then making predictions which vary depending on the time of year you were born is not just bad science, it's absurd. Sure tides have an effect, so would a nearby gamma ray burst, but they don't affect "Pisceans" any differently to "Sagittarians".

Of course the predictions made by astrologers are usually so vague that they have a fair chance of coming true: "sometime in the next year, you will meet a tall dark stranger" rather than "at 13:17 next Tuesday, a tall dark bald man with a moustache will jump out from behind a bush in the park and strangle you".

Simple experiment here, scramble the star signs & predictions, present the results to believers in astrological predictions and see if the "success rate" is any different. If so, astrology has some basis in fact. If not, it's balderdash. Guess where my money is.

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There is another aspect though. The BBC seems to devote a fair time now, "apologising" (expending part of your license fee?) or on paying out re. claims against it's "renegade presenters" - Who seem rather bizarrely fixated on "offending people". :)

Thanks to recent (some might say bizarre) laws, the public are surprisingly well *protected* against astrologers, tarot readers etc. If you don't like the predictions of the "old granny" up the road, you can doubtless take her to court now. You can certainly stop her adding a few tenners to her meagre state pension. :)

For better or worse, Astrology and Divination, form a significant part of Pagan philosophy / religion. From a civil liberties(?) viewpoint, it does no harm to be reminded that "old granny" could once have been burned or hanged as a witch. I suspect THAT is the issue for some organised protest groups. :)

Yes, it's not "nice" someone calls you BY the wrong name - Astrologer, rather than Astronomer. Believe me, I've been called FAR worse though... and, if we include CN, even on Astronomy forums. :)

After all, some folk call Brian Cox a "Rock Star" too. (I doubt he complains over that one). ;)

Edited by Macavity

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The human brain has evolved to detect patterns. It's fantastic at it. We safely negotiate the dangers of our environment and recognise our friends and loved ones' faces within a fraction of a second.

But our brain also lets us down. We see patterns where they don't exist, like animals in clouds, but more interestingly it's this false pattern matching that leads to superstition.

I wear a particular pair of pants to a game and my team wins. I do it again the next week and we win again! Interesting. On the third week I wear some other pair of pants and we lose, and from that point on I'm going to wear my "lucky pants" to every game. Or, much worse, I have a "system" for winning at roulette based on the patterns I've observed, when in fact the ball falls randomly. We have a "run of luck" or a "winning streak" when in fact neither exist.

It's no wonder therefore that ancient people saw patterns in the sky and related them to patterns in our lives. They even make sense in some cases because I can use those patterns to decide when to sow or reap. Borne along on this success we take the whole thing to another level, and then another and and another, and before long we're using the stars to guide our lives.

The thing is, we're at a level now where we know that our brain behaves this way. We've developed the scientific method to help us seek real truth, and when you apply the scientific method to astrology, or homeopathy, or mediumship or any other woo-woo they all fall down.

Edited by NickMilner

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its not the first time they've had a pop at him :)

Science works on proving theories to become fact

Astrology works on proving nothing

i know who im backing :)

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its not the first time they've had a pop at him :)

Science works on proving theories to become fact

Astrology works on proving nothing

i know who im backing :)

Theories do not become fact! Hypotheses become theories or laws, but not facts. Only observations are facts (muddled, noisy, erroneous facts perhaps). Some theories have survived so much scrutiny they are almost solid facts, but something may come along to overthrow the idea.

Einstein once compared science to trying to determine the mechanism of a watch you could not open. You can experiment and observe, and draw up the simplest possible mechanism that describes everything about the watch, but you will never know if it is the right one.

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I sense a LOT of people have "had a pop" at old Brian? Back in 2008, he was receiving death threats for his part in the LHC. :)

Or perhaps, for being, for the first time, a "popular" particle physicist? LOL. Of course, some signed themselves "Ph.D. (retd.)" etc. I doubt they were (primarily!) astrologers? :)

On the other hand, given THAT experience, if I'd have been asked for a PUBLIC statement on Astrology, I'd have smiled sweetly and politely said "No Comment". If I was disposed to "activism", perhaps not? BUT, if so, I might be prepared for some flack. "Simples" as the Meerkats would say? :)

I'm prejudiced (naturally)... In my experience SOME scientists were hugely WISE in other areas of life... philosophy, politics... even of admirable faith? Others, although "outspoken", on popular issues, are simply not! If in doubt, do what you're best at... SCIENCE. ;)

Ultimately, this is the price of modern-time "Celebrity". <shrug> Maybe, in the fullness of time ASTRONOMY can find an advocate who doesn't act like "Mystic Meg" had dropped her crystal ball on his/her foot. [teasing] <G> This is surely a "storm in a teacup" - More dregs, than even a TASSEOLOGIST (qv) could deal with. :)

Edited by Macavity

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Of course, some signed themselves "Ph.D. (retd.)" etc. I doubt they were (primarily!) astrologers? :)

Ph.D. (retd.) should be Ph.D. REVOKED if they believe in astrology :)

A Ph.D. thesis should be a piece of work that proves you are a scientist or scholar capable of working independently. If you believe in astrology your judgment as scientist or scholar is in serious doubt.

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Theories do not become fact! Hypotheses become theories or laws, but not facts. Only observations are facts (muddled, noisy, erroneous facts perhaps). Some theories have survived so much scrutiny they are almost solid facts, but something may come along to overthrow the idea.

Einstein once compared science to trying to determine the mechanism of a watch you could not open. You can experiment and observe, and draw up the simplest possible mechanism that describes everything about the watch, but you will never know if it is the right one.

ok but im sure you know what i mean

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I apologise if my sentence "the science of astrology is flawed, it relies on the interpretation of cause and effect based upon objects that exist millions of miles away and therefore unlikely to have any direct influence on us." having re-read it, I see that it misrepresents my thoughts.

The theory that a select range of objects being in a certain position in the sky millions of miles away, at the time of your birth determines the likely outcome of events for the rest of your life is ludicrous. if that object were to emit Gamma, Beta or dried porridge flakes at me when I was born it can not determine the person I am or the outcome of events in my existence. Yes it may have an effect on me now, in the same way that it has an effect on the person sat next to me. The tall dark stranger that walks past the both of us today, may have been predicted for me but not you. Astrology uses the same methods that Spam and Phishing mail does on your computer. It is designed to please / catch a small percentage of people willing to believe or are too ignorant /stupid to disbelieve.

As I stated the premise of Astrology is based on coincidence and superstition, invented by people who did not understand the universe around them. Astrology is still theorised that the earth is the central body of the universe, let alone the solar system, hence why they explain retrograde bodies. that may have effects.

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Ph.D. (retd.) should be Ph.D. REVOKED if they believe in astrology :)

A Ph.D. thesis should be a piece of work that proves you are a scientist or scholar capable of working independently. If you believe in astrology your judgment as scientist or scholar is in serious doubt.

Ah... There was me thinking it was testament to my abilities as a (fair to middlin') scientist with a (modestly original) contribution to science! Above all, regardless of ANY personal beliefs. I assume your remarks are tongue in cheek, but maybe not... :)

If I were a Richard Feynman, doubtless I could have (anecdotally) "Played bongos in a brothel" (LOL!), and still be the darling of Physics. Idem, Brian Cox? Joking aside, I sense though (and I know!) "morality & beliefs" figure significantly in advancement prospects in the world of professional science. Scientists are often VERY staid and small-minded guys... ;)

Noone is asking Brian Cox (any scientist) to be the new "Gypsy Petulengro" (LOL), but maybe JUST capable of holding more than ONE belief re. "life"? Maybe he might progress (euphemistically and practically) beyond the confines of the "CERN Restaurant"... To "Live(!) and Let Live", a little more? :)

Edited by Macavity

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Noone is asking Brian Cox (any scientist) to be the new "Gypsy Petulengro" (LOL), but maybe JUST capable of holding more than one belief

Astrology is incompatible with science. End of story.

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Ah... There was me thinking it was testament to my abilities as a (fair to middlin') scientist with a (modestly original) contribution to science! Above all, regardless of ANY personal beliefs. I assume your remarks are tongue in cheek, but maybe not... ;)

If I were a Richard Feynman, doubtless I could have (anecdotally) "Played bongos in a brothel" (LOL!), and still be the darling of Physics. Idem, Brian Cox? Joking aside, I sense though (and I know!) "morality & beliefs" figure significantly in advancement prospects in the world of professional science. Scientists are often VERY staid and small-minded guys... :)

Noone is asking Brian Cox (any scientist) to be the new "Gypsy Petulengro" (LOL), but maybe JUST capable of holding more than ONE belief re. "life"? Maybe he might progress (euphemistically and practically) beyond the confines of the "CERN Restaurant"... To "Live(!) and Let Live", a little more? :)

The (modestly) original piece of science is that proof, as you may have deduced, and my remark is only partly tongue in cheek. Science may not be able to prove if there is or is not a god/afterlife (Einstein for one was deeply religious), or whether ghosts, spirits, or a soul separate from the physical body exist. I have no objection to spirituality in scientists or anyone else. However, a scientist holding a spiritual belief which flies in the face of a tonne of evidence is not behaving as a scientist should (namely willing to change belief if evidence requires it). I applaud the ability to believe different things, or keep an open mind, but if you beliefs are inconsistent, or incompatible with each other, as a scientist you should think again. At the very least you should then say: either A is true or B is true but not both, and I have not decided which.

What science can prove (and has proven) beyond a huge measure of doubt is that astrology, as presented by serious astrologers does not work. Scientists can once and for all disprove things, not prove things. Astrologers are of course free to come up with newer models and have them tested scientifically. A physicist (or astronomer) who believes in astrology is comparable to a biologist who denies evolution (I have met one or two). If they want to keep their scientific credentials intact, they have to play by the rules of science and scrutinize their beliefs thoroughly.

As a scientist I really am alarmed at many forms of pseudo science, especially when it can do harm. Hence my sometimes passionate objections.

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Very interesting.. I have had experiences in my life that have convinced me that God does exist but I can never prove that to others and would not try to because it is not a matter of proof but of faith in what you experience. I am sure that science can one day explain those experiences more fully but for now faith is what has led to my convictions not proof as proof is not always there. However I dont think that astrology adds up in the end it reminds me of people that worship the sun or the moon which I think is very strange given what we know understand. But calling it rubbish is not helpful or constructive.

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To MFHW(!) and others: It's clear that my (partial) playing, and sundry messings, are (predictably) not going down well. Despite the "lounge" nature of the forum, people clearly feel STRONGLY about these things.... and I respect that. I'll desist forthwith. :)

I AM genuinely surprised by:

However, a scientist holding a spiritual belief which flies in the face of a tonne of evidence is not behaving as a scientist should...

:) <modestly shocked>

Clearly, in fundamental way, and at many times, I was not BEHAVING as a scientist should... ;)

P.S. In RL, I'm grateful that (once unwelcome) early retirement relieved me of the mantel of being "a scientist" - It allowed me to get into many other interests: Occasionally "spiritual" - Even becoming a (more practical!) Amateur Astronomer? But, "Over and OUT", re. this thread, is the best policy, I think. :)

Edited by Macavity

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Personally I pretty much only believe in evidence based information, but have no problem with others believing in whatever they want.

But when a scientist on a science program is told off for stating his point of view and astrologers request their point of view be put forward I think its getting silly. They can have their programs, and newspaper columns. Let us have ours.

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