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Christine Arens
Christine Arens is a professional astrologer and teacher who is certified as both a professional and teaching member of the American Federation of Astrologers (AFA). She is professionally certified by the Western States Astrologers, has Level III certification from the National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR), and teaches two chart calculation courses at Kepler College (basic and advanced). She is President Emeritus of Friends of Astrology, Inc. and currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Astrology News Service (ANS).
 
Written by: Nick Kollerstrom, PhD
Researcher Says All Living Things Respond to Motions of the Moon
In recent decades experiments have shown that the metabolism of plants, indicated by such things as their water absorption or oxygen metabolism, responds considerably to the monthly lunar cycle.  Two researchers at the University of Paris have shown that plant DNA changes in tune to this cycle.  Trees have electric fields around them, measurable by the potential gradient up the trunk.  Ralph Markson in the United States monitored this for years and showed how fortnightly and monthly lunar rhythms were present.
Animal oestrus (coming- on-heat) is cyclic, and yet traditions link animal fertility to the lunar cycle.  In the 2nd century AD, the astronomer Claudius Ptolemy reported of the practical, hard-headed farmers of the Roman Empire that they notice the aspects of the Moon, when at full, in order to direct the copulation of their herds and flocks, and the setting of plants or sowing of seeds.  There is not an individual who considers these general precautions as impossible or unprofitable.
I have collected some years of data from a Thoroughbred stud farm, with dates of covering (bringing the stallion to the mare) plus recorded conceptions.  Mating takes place within just a few months in the spring of each year, which makes investigating the lunar cycle influence tricky.  Yet this data does clearly seem to show both increased fertility and increased coming-on-heat on the days around and just after the Full Moon.  If correct, this could have practical implications for horse breeding.
These investigations don’t always support traditional folklore in this area, but they tend to suggest that there is something in it.  They are relevant to beliefs such as that some part of the lunar month is best for pruning trees, i.e., the waning half, while the waxing half if better for grafting; or that calves should not be gelded around the Full Moon.

Applying the Theories
Do seeds germinate better at some point of the lunar cycle?  My experiments with seeds grown at constant temperature tended to confirm the results published by Lilly Kolisko in the late 1930s, namely that seeds would usually germinate better if sown around the Full Moon, and especially on the day or two prior to it.

There were some experiments conducted around 1940 by the John Innes Foundation, reported in what was then the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), to test Kolisko’s claims.  My view is that their results did in fact support Kolisko’s findings, but the report averred the contrary, prejudice against such notions being rather strong at that time.  Kolisko, who had emigrated from Germany in the 1930s, became disillusioned with the negative response to her research.

The vital question of how final crop yield is affected by sowing date has been thoroughly investigated within the bio-dynamic movement. However, deep disagreement exists amongst experts in this area.  For some decades now, Maria Thun has been reporting her results in her yearly Moon calendar, which apparently show weight-yields in accord with the elements of the sidereal or star-zodiac.

We are here asked to envisage four steps of crop growth: first the root (Earth), then the leafy shoots (Water) then the flowers with their airy fragrance (Air) and lastly the summer’s heat dries up the crop, maturing the seed (Fire).   Crops can be viewed as belonging to one of these elements, depending on whether they are a root, leaf, flower, or fruit/seed crop.  From this it follows that there is a proper lunar timetable appropriate for each crop.  For instance, potatoes, as a root-crop, grow best when they are sown as the Moon is passing in front of earth-element constellations (in the astrological zodiac).
This is, the pragmatic may object, more like some alchemical mandala than a scientific theory.  It is indeed simple, but does it work?  Is it really worthwhile – or indeed practical – for farmers to organize their work schedule around it?
In 1975, together with a market gardener, I started to test the theory, by successive crop rows sown over a lunar month.  Since then, British experiments on the topic have involved about five hundred rows sown of diverse vegetables.  I have published many of these results, and have reviewed the researches of others.  My view is that the theory stands up, and that Empedocles could not improve on it.

Not Everyone Agrees
A weighty German Bio-Dynamic textbook makes skeptical references to the Thun-model: the stars do not affect crop yields they say.  In view of the diversity of opinion on this matter, and the diverging instructions given in the lunar-gardening guides now on sale, we should perhaps consider more how plant growth varies in accord with the green fingers and even the expectations of the sower.
The Secret Life of Plants by Tompkins & Bird wasn’t just a hippy pipe-dream of the sixties, and plants are sensitive in ways we tend not to give them credit for.  But folklore ends and science begins when results are obtained that are repeatable.  Replications of the Thun effect – the classic Thun and Heinze results published in the early seventies describing eight years of potato-yields (1964 -71) are in my view sufficiently substantial for some such claim to be made.
Each year about one hundred thousand copies of the Thun calendar are sold world-wide, in 21 different languages.  The aim here has been to introduce the notion that all living things, including us, respond to the motions of the moon.  For growers to use a calendar based upon the moon may be a sensible idea.
Long ago, at the very dawn of British culture, before even Stonhenge, there were two stone circles at the heart of Avebury.  Both a hundred meters across, one was comprised of 29 huge stones and the other of 27.  These signified the two fundamental lunar cycles, as used today in a lunar gardening calendar.  They turn against each other: the 27-day orbit period, and its 29-day waxing and waning cycle.  Did Britons learn to count from these cycles?  Other cycles too are woven into a Moon calendar, and we can feel the turning of the wheel of life by using it through the seasons.



About the author
Nick Kollerstrom, PhD
Nick Kollerstrom, PhD, is a science historian and former honorary research fellow in Science and Technology Studies at University College, London (UCL). He is the author of several books, including Gardening and Planting by the Moon and Farmers Moon, a title recently published by Kollerstrom’s New Alchemy Press. He is a former gardening correspondent for the BBC and, over the years, has published numerous articles in scientific and astrological publications.
 
 
Written by: Dorothy Oja
Astrology’s Reputation is Less Than Stellar and There’s Good Reason for That.
Many people actually think that astrology is the Sun-sign columns found in almost every newspaper and online news media sites. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s not astrology, that’s entertainment, which is what is often stated in the fine print beneath astrology columns. Unfortunately, sun-sign columns are one of the most persistently misleading representations of astrology. An amazing fact, however, is that nearly all people know what their Sun-sign is, and more than 31% of the public give some credence to astrology according to a 2008 Harris poll. In 2001, the National Science Foundation concluded that 41 percent of those surveyed believed that astrology is at least somewhat scientific.
So, if astrology isn’t Sun-sign columns, then what is it?
“Astrology can tell you what, when, where, and how. However, something else will have to tell you why.” – Dr. Joseph (Deepak) Vidmar.

Astrology’s Ancient Roots
Astrology is inextricably interwoven throughout our social and cultural history. In fact, it’s part of the soul of culture – every museum, every city, in either its buildings or monuments has some Zodiacal representation. Museums the world over hold evidence in artifacts of the value society has placed on astrological symbolism since the earliest times of human history. Some remarkable physical remnants also remain, the most notable being Stonehenge in England, said to have been constructed in phases between 3,000 to 2,000 BCE. It may have had several functions, as a healing and sacred burial site, and also as a huge clock or celestial observatory to measure the Sun’s movement and interaction with the Earth, enabling its designers to precisely predict eclipses, solstices, equinoxes and other major celestial events.
Astrology initially developed as a symbolic language for understanding and managing various natural phenomena for agricultural purposes, and to elicit meaning from the contradictions of life. Observing celestial cycles, (most obviously the Moon traveling through its phases monthly) established early on the recognition that there is an inexorable link between the environment around us (including the space above us) and the patterns of our daily lives.
Real astrology is a much more complex process than the simplicity of sun-sign columns. Natal astrology, for example, involves a map of the sky at the time, place, and date of one’s birth. It includes analysis of a minimum of 10 celestial bodies and several other mathematical points derived from the calculations of one’s birth data. The logic behind this is that we are all influenced by the environments into which we are born, both physical and social.

Astrological Symbols Explained
Dane Rudhyar, one of the most respected astrologers of the twentieth century, now deceased, brilliantly explained astrological principles in this article from Horoscope magazine 1971:
“More simply stated: the astrologer observes the interrelated motions of the closest factors in the cosmic environment of a particular locality on the earth’s surface – i.e., the ten astrological planets – and having identified these planets with the most basic functions and drives in the total organism of a particular human being, he deduces from the interrelationships of the planets at a particular time what the interrelationships between the constituent parts of this human being will be…

“In other words, ten variables are considered sufficient to interpret and to attribute meaning to all past and present events and personal crises and to enable the astrologer to predict future developments. Moreover, the relatively simple formula which a birth-chart constitutes is said by the astrologer to define the very character of the “native” – even though human character is quite a complex affair! Obviously, it can only do so if the ten variables represent the basic qualities of existence which may manifest at any and all levels of human personality.

“We, therefore, are leaving altogether the scientific realm of quantitative measurements and in astrology we are operating in terms of the organic interplay between universal qualities or life rhythms. Each of these ten qualities – modified by their positions within frames of reference like zodiacal signs and natal houses – must, therefore, cover a multitude of cases.

“Astrology deals with individual persons; it is meant to help these persons to live a more harmonious and significant, a richer and fuller life. In pursuit of such a goal, quantitative factors are of little value, for what is at stake is the quality of each of the persons’ ten basic bio-psychic organic functions – the Sun function, the Moon function, the Mercury function, the Venus function, the Mars function, etc.

“The specific genius of astrology resides in the astrologer’s ability to relate every trait of character, every mode of behavior, every form of intelligence, every vital feeling-response to merely ten variables. The more complex human existence becomes, the more each of those variables has to be loaded with possible meaning – a process which seems to be in direct opposition to the ever more refined type of analysis developed by modern scientists so specialized that indeed they come to know more and more about less and less.” Rudhyar clearly expresses what all astrologers know so well, that there are as many ways of measuring as there are of understanding phenomenon. The scientific, mechanistic way is not the only one, even though it professes to be and appears to have a firm grasp on modern society – I sense this loosening, as the times we are in demand that we take a deeper look at our place in the universe and what we have been led to believe. 
​It is the distinction and definition of measuring which caused astrology to lose its place of previous honor during the so called Age of Enlightenment, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the concept of a relationship to the divine or a holistic world view was seen by scientists as associated with religion and therefore rejected by the rise of scientific measurements. The words, astrologer and astronomer were one and the same until the advent of mechanistic science in the seventeenth century. After all, it was Galileo, an astrologer, who rocked the world with his theory, proven true, that the Sun was the center of the solar system and not the Earth. He was imprisoned for that discovery and made by the Catholic Church to recant it.
Astrology is a symbolic language and a testament to our humanity as it seeks not to divide but to harmonize and holistically understand the entire system we live within (earth and cosmos) and not only select parts.

World View Challenged
Bernadette Brady explains it well:
“You know how they [science] once thought that the planets’ orbits were circular – they had to be, because of the eight spheres. It was a whole world-view, which was a world-view of God as well; theological astronomy, really. If they weren’t perfect circles then they couldn’t have the eight spheres and the whole theology broke down; so there was tremendous resistance to changing the concept of the perfectly circular orbit…So the whole thing disintegrated with Kepler – and the whole theology had to go, the whole world-view had to change to incorporate the ellipse.

“That’s where we are at with orthodox science now – there are many band-aids stuck on in order to make things fit. I think what is going to happen – fifty or a hundred years from now, I don’t know the timing – is that the whole lot is going to collapse, and the major philosophy is going to be based on fractals and Mandelbrot theory – and the interconnectedness of everything, and the cyclic nature of everything – and how things are reproducing at many levels without scale, time or size.

“I think that then science as we know it will change and we’ll get a world-view based more on fractals; and when that happens, I believe astrology is going to be totally at ease. The big problem astrology has had is that it’s the only ‘science’ (in inverted commas) that couldn’t go over to reductionism. You couldn’t do it, because if you went over to orthodox science – well, astrology is destroyed if we break it into little parts. The very central standing stone of astrology is the interconnectedness of things, so it cannot be reduced to parts, you may be able to play around with positive coding for football matches but not a person.
“Astrology therefore could not go over and jump on the new bandwagon or reductionism, so when a philosophy can’t comply with the orthodox view it tends to be labeled as evil – but I think that’s going to shift, but maybe not in our life time.

“I therefore don’t think that astrologers have to go to science and prove themselves. I think astrologers just have to stand where they are, because I think science is coming to us.”
Paraphrasing Sir Isaac Newton – it’s important to research a topic, or at least delve beneath the surface veneer, before discounting its value or voicing an opinion. As it turns out, astrology is a rich symbolic language with a history that spans all of human existence from the very first time that mankind looked upward at the sky and observed changing celestial phenomena. It has much to offer to the discerning (and open) mind. Astrology is not a science but all its data is based on the sciences of astronomy and mathematics, the calculations of which are used for the interpretation of charts. The best way to determine the personal value of astrology is to experience a professional astrological consultation and then make your own informed evaluation.
Endnotes:
p. 1 – Dr. Joseph “Deepak” Vidmar from his article “Astrologer asks: What if astrology is real” posted on www.astrologynewsservice.com
p. 2 – Statistical Astrology and Individuality by Dane Rudhyar. First Published in Horoscope Magazine, 5/1971.
p. 3 – Bernadette Brady has a MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology from Bath Spa University, UK. Quoted from an interview by Garry Phillipson, 1998. Her newest book is Astrology a Place in Chaos.
p. 3 – From Wikipedia: Mandelbrot believed that fractals, far from being unnatural, were in many ways more intuitive and natural than the artificially smooth objects of traditional Euclidean geometry:
p. 3 – “Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.”
  —Mandelbrot, in his introduction to The Fractal Geometry of Nature
p. 3 – Mandelbrot has been called a visionary and a maverick. His informal and passionate style of writing and his emphasis on visual and geometric intuition (supported by the inclusion of numerous illustrations) made The Fractal Geometry of Nature accessible to non-specialists. The book sparked widespread popular interest in fractals and contributed to chaos theory and other fields of science and mathematics.
p. 4 – Sir Isaaac Newton reportedly said to Edmond Halley, “Sir, I have studied it, you have not.”

About the author
Dorothy Oja
Dorothy Oja is a certified astrological professional. Her studies span more than four decades. Through her practice, MindWorks, she offers Individual consultations, Timing and Electional work (dates for surgery, weddings, business openings etc.), Relationship and Couples analysis, Children's Profiles, classes and private tutoring. An active writer for national magazines and online sites, she has written dozens of articles. Dorothy writes a bi-monthly ezine, PlanetWeather, published for the past 15 years for enthusiastic subscribers, which includes social, cultural and political commentary. She has frequently appeared as a guest on TV, hosted her own radio shows and has been interviewed in the print media. In October 2000, Dorothy published her text, Compatibility & Conflict for Romantic Relationships, as a computer interpretive report, followed by Compatibility & Conflict for Friendship and Business in October 2002. Her first book, Planetary Resonance, Everything Leaves a Trace, was released in May 2012. Dorothy currently serves the community as Chair of the ISAR Ethics & Mediation Committee including Ethics Awareness Training. You can reach Dorothy at DOja07@gmail.com, www.planetweather.net, www.facebook.com/PlanetWeatherNews
 

Stripped to Bare Bones the Birthchart is a Description of the Happiest, Most Fulfilling Life Available to You.


Written by: Steven Forrest   

Stripped to Bare Bones the Birthchart is a Description of the Happiest, Most Fulfilling Life Available to You
A woman has a baby and is blissful about it.  Another one does the same and spends the rest of her life dreaming about how she might have been a ballerina.   The same event: having a kid.  But only one smiling woman.

Nobody has a generic formula for happiness, at least not one that does the trick for everyone.  That’s where astrology comes in.

The birth chart (horoscope) stripped to bare bones is simply a description of the happiest, most fulfilling life that’s available to you – personally.  It spells out a set of strategies you can use to avoid boring routines, bad choices and dead ends.  It lists your resources.  And it talks about how your life looks when you’re missing the resources and distorting the strategies – shooting yourself in the foot, in other words.

All from a map of the sky?

It’s hard to believe, but think for a minute…
“How can the planets possibly affect us?   They’re millions of miles away,” you say.

Astrology’s critics are fond of rolling out that argument.  But it doesn’t hold water. Go out and gaze at the moon.  What’s really happening?  Incomprehensible energies are plunging across a quarter million miles of void, crashing through your eyeballs and creating electrochemical changes in your brain.  We call this process “seeing the moon.”  Certainly planets affect us.  The question is where do we draw the boundaries around those effects?
Let’s go a step further.
Open your eyes on a starry night.  What do you see? A vast, luminous space, full of shadows and light.  Now close your eyes so tight they ache.  Where are you now?  What do you see?  Again, a vast, luminous space, full of shadows and light.  Consciousness and cosmos are structured around the same laws, follow the same patterns, and even feel pretty much the same to our senses.
“As above, so below.”  Just as the starry night awes us with its vastness, there’s something infinitely deep inside you, a place where you go when you close your eyes, a place that is beyond being an Aries or a Gemini or even a specific gender.  At the most profound level, a birth chart is a map back to that magical center.  It describes a series of earthly experiences which, if you’re brave and open enough, will trigger certain states of consciousness in you – states that operate like powerful spiritual catalysts, vaulting you into higher levels of being.
You are a mysterious being in a mysterious cosmos.  You’re here for just a little while, a blink o God’s eye.  You face a monumental task: figuring out what’s going on!  In that spiritual work, astrology is your ally.
How will it help?  Certainly not by pigeon-holing you as a certain “type.”
Astrology works by reminding you who you are, by warning you about the comforting lies we all tell ourselves, and by illuminating the experiences that trigger your most explosive leaps in awareness.
After that, the rest is up to you.



About the author
Steven Forrest
Steven has been working as an astrologer professionally for more than 40 years and has written several classic best-selling astrology books. He has traveled the globe teaching a practical and transformative style of astrology. And he is committed to practicing his own style of responsible, inspiring, choice-centered astrology. More articles and information about the author can be found at www.forrestastrology.com.

 

Four reasons why planetary distances are not a problem for astrology.

Written by: Robert Currey
When we look up at a clear starlit night sky we are gazing at a magnificent four-dimensional panorama. The crescent moon and the planets are set against the backdrop of a multitude of illuminated specks.  Each wandering star (as planets were termed by the ancient Greeks) can be tracked in two dimensions above and below the projected path of the Sun, which is known as the ecliptic.

To a limited extent, through a process known as stellar parallax, it is possible to gauge a third dimension – the distance visually from the earth. And we also view the starry spectacle in the fourth dimension of time. This is because, from our vantage point on earth, the more distant planets are within light-hours while visible stars can be more than a thousand light-years away. In one sense, some stellar patterns may no longer exist in the form we see them on Earth today.

While astronomers can pinpoint the orbital elements of these celestial objects with great precision, most astrologers work in only two dimensions.  Astrologers locate the planets by their position along the path of the Sun or the ecliptic and most ignore height above or below the ecliptic since most planets are within 3.5 degrees. This one spatial dimension is complemented by the dimension of time, which is measured by the orbital period of the Sun relative to the Earth.

Do Astrologers Ignore Distance?

Critics point out that astrologers fail to take account of planetary distance. They argue that no adjustment is made for the great variation in the distances between, say, Mars and the Earth.  Or they argue Pluto is so distant that it should have no more than a negligible effect.

This flaw so irked Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor from Buffalo, New York, that he and his colleagues persuaded 186 leading astronomers and other scientists to sign a highly critical statement about astrology.  The letter published in the Humanist journal in 1975 and included this comment:

“In ancient times people…had no concept of the vast distances from the earth to the planets and stars. Now that these distances can and have been calculated, we can see how infinitesimally small are the gravitational and other effects produced by the distant planets and the far more distant stars.”
Astronomer Carl Sagan, host of the award-winning TV series Cosmos, refused to sign the statement because he found the tone authoritarian, and the grounds insufficient.  He wrote “No mechanism was known for continental drift when it was proposed.”  All the great geophysicists at the time who were certain that continents were fixed were later proved wrong by the theory of plate tectonics.

At the time, astrologer Al Morrison wrote to all the signatories on behalf of the Congress of Astrological Organizations, publisher of the CAO Times, asking each of the 181 male and five female scientists:  “As an authority in both science and astrology, where were their experiments and evaluations that led them to this conclusion were published.  Not one scientist was prepared to justify their statement.  Kurtz, however went on to found the sceptical organization CSICOP (now known as CSI) and unwittingly provided some of the best evidence to support astrology, but that’s another story.
Distances Not a Problem
There are four reasons why planetary distances are not a problem for astrology:

1.   Cycles and Transits.  The speed of a planet orbiting the Sun is determined by its distance from the Sun.  So a distant planet like Neptune travels both slower and over a longer orbit than Mercury, which zooms closely around the Sun by comparison.  In 2012, Correlation journal published a simple formula in which this author combined Kepler’s Third Law with Euclidean geometry.  It sets out how the distance from the Sun, the orbital period and the speed of each planet are all in the same proportion.
Consequently, the most distant outer planets have long ranging slow cycles.  Astrologers interpret their movements in a natal chart on a generational and collective level.  For example Neptune may reveal how an individual fits in with the ideals of their generation.  In addition, the length of a transit varies according to the speed of a planet.  A transit of the Moon lasts around four hours and a Neptune transit lasts around two and a half years.

2.   Retrograde Planets.  Besides tracking planetary cycles and transits, astrologers take account of distance in yet another way.  An Ephemeris (planetary tables) log the periods when each planet travels retrograde.  Retrograde motion is when a planet temporarily appears from Earth to be travelling backwards.  Venus and Mercury only travel retrograde when closest to the Earth.  When Mercury is retrograde, astrologers consider it as a time to rethink, review, rewrite and even reroute journeys.
When any of the planets beyond the Earth’s orbit (such as Mars or Pluto) travel retrograde, they are on the near side of the Sun and therefore closer to the Earth than when their motion is direct.  Some astrologers adapt their interpretation specifically for a retrograde planet.  But all will notice on the birth chart that the planet is in the opposite hemisphere to the Sun, Mercury, Venus and often Mars in the birth chart.  This alignment tends to result in planetary oppositions, which require a particular interpretation.

3.   Relevant Distance.  Is a quantity such as distance relevant to astrology at all? Even though astrologers take distance into account in so many techniques, is distance so critical in astrological practice?  Scientists work with quantitative data, so distances for them are a vital statistic.  Astrologers place emphasis on qualitative planetary properties such as archetypes, which do not vary according to distance.

4.   The Scientific Objection.  Of course, the first three reasons still leave the scientific objection – how can astrology work over such distances?  When critics claim that distant planets are too weak to have any influence, they assume astrology can only work by a force that is governed by the Inverse Square Law.
Newton’s Law states that the strength of a radiating force or energy such as gravity, electromagnetism or sound is inversely proportional to the distance from the source. Yet our understanding of these forces is far from complete.  In particular, gravity appears to have a number of unexplained anomalies.  Within our solar system resonance has the effect of enhancing forces such as gravity even over considerable distances.  In a paper published in Correlation Journal in 2013 entitled the Solar Matrix, this author detailed how gravitational resonance has led to a pattern of significant ratios and geometrical relationships between planetary orbits.  A possible mechanism for this high level of interconnectivity within the solar system, termed astrotaxis, was proposed.
The wide-ranging application of astrology suggests that, like weather patterns, it may be subject to the mix of several complex mechanisms.
  • One possibility comes from the field of quantum physics.  Experiments in China in 2012 have shown how two separated atoms can be entangled in such a way that a signal is generated over distances of up to 97 kilometres.  Austrian quantum physicist, Professor Aspelmeyer speculated that quantum entanglement could occur over much larger distances in space.
  • In 1958 Carl Jung, in collaboration with theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, published his theory of synchronicity.  This model based on the quality of time rather than the quantity of space has become popular among astrologers.  With synchronicity, distance is irrelevant.
  • Even models based on conventional physics, such as those of astronomer Percy Seymour, involve all the planets in the solar system despite the huge distances. He writes that: “…the movement of the Sun about the common centre of mass of the Solar System is controlled by the orbiting of the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus”.
Dr Seymour continues: “All the planets at various stages of the solar cycle will through their tidal tug on the magnetic canals of the Sun, contribute to the triggering of sunspot activity. At the start of the cycle, the conjunction of Mercury and Venus will play a major role.”
Fluctuations in the solar cycle lead to variations in the geomagnetic field via the solar wind, resulting in biological and other consequences on Earth.
 It is understandable that critics are inclined to believe that a measuring system that was established some two thousand years ago should be inappropriate given today’s superior technology.  Remarkably, it turns out that the two dimensional geocentric model of the solar system is sufficiently comprehensive for most astrological applications.  What is less understandable are those who obstruct scientific research by ignoring the lessons of history.
So many discoveries, such as the compass, gravity, the battery and aspirin, have all been of value without knowing how they work.  In some cases the evidence is hard to demonstrate.  Researchers who discovered the transmission of germs, plate tectonics or the link between smoking and cancer were dismissed and ridiculed for years by so-called experts.  So it is unwise and not good scientific practice to dismiss astrology on the basis that the mechanism is not yet known.
 
References
Aspelmeyer, et al. (2003) Long-Distance Free-Space Distribution of Quantum Entanglement, Science 301, 621-623.
Currey, Robert (2013) Our Solar Matrix, Correlation Vol.29 (1) pp.5-38
Currey, Robert (2013) A Formula for Orbital Synthesis, Correlation Vol.28
Ertel, Suitbert, (2009), Appraisal of Shawn Carlson’s Renowned Astrology Tests, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol.23, #2. pp.125-137
Euclid, (ca. 300BC) Elements, Proposition 2 of Book XII. “Circles are to one another as the squares on their diameters.”
Fraknoi, Andrew (2012) The Universe At Your Fingertips Activity: Activities With Astrology, Astronomical Society of the Pacifi c
Jung, C.G., Pauli, W. (1958) Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters. 1932-1958, Princeton University Press (2001) Edited by C.A. Meier. Translated by David Roscoe.
Kepler, Johannes (1619) Harmonices Mundi (Harmony of the World).
Kurtz, Paul, Bok, Bart., Jerome, Lawrence et al. (1975) Objections to Astrology. A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists.  Jointly published by the American Ethical Union and the American Humanist Association.
McRitchie, Ken (2011). “Support for astrology from the Carlson double-blind experiment”.  Astrology News Service
Rosenfeld, W. et al.(2012), Heralded Entanglement Between Widely Separated AtomsScience 6 July 2012:Vol. 337 pp. 72-75
Scientific American (2007) Quantum Spookiness Spans the Canary Islands. Researcher envisions beaming entangled photons into space. Article by J.R. Minkel. Physicist Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna says. “I am dreaming of an experiment where you do it [entanglement experiment] between Earth and [the] moon.” March 9, 2007
Seymour, Percy (1997), The Scientific Proof of Astrology, Quantum pp.176-177
Juan Yin, et al. (2012) Teleporting independent qubits through a 97 km freespace channel. Nature 388 pp.185-188
 

The magical realm of quantum physics holds key to understanding how/why astrology works, he believes.

written by Edward Snow

As implausible as this may seem, the idea that mainstream science might one day stumble upon a rational explanation for why and how astrology works is not completely over-the-top.
At least some investigators are beginning to look in the right places.

Speaking at a Cycles and Symbols Conference in San Francisco almost 20 years ago, the late Victor Mansfield, an astrophysicist and author who taught in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Colgate University in New York and authored books that boldly attempted to bridge the divide between science and spirituality, offered his thoughts on where answers to this burning question might lie: in the magical realm of quantum mechanics.

Prof. Mansfield was that rare, brilliant, transitional academic who, in addition to cosmology and astronomy, wrote thoughtful books and lectured on such topics as synchronicity, Jungian psychology, Tibetan Buddhism – and astrology. At the Richard Tarnas-organized Cycles and Symbols Conference, Prof. Mansfield pointed out that the typical argument against astrology from the science side begins with the idea that there are four forces in nature: the gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces. Only two of them, gravity and electromagnetic, are long-range forces that act over macroscopic distances. The movements of free charges easily shield electric forces, and magnetic forces decrease with distance even more rapidly than gravity. Ergo, the only force of significance that might account for astrological influences is the gravitational force.

The late Carl Sagan, like Mansfield schooled in astronomy and physics, summarily dispatched this notion by arguing that the gravitational forces of the doctor and nurse are much greater than anything from the planets. “It makes more sense to worry about whether you had a nurse in the fifth house or a doctor in Capricorn,” he quipped.

Only Kills Straw Men
But destroying simple mechanisms for a physical explanation for astrological influence “only kills straw men and does nothing to illuminate the possibility of more sophisticated ideas,” Prof. Mansfield countered. “Because astrology purposes a unified view of the world, it is best understood through a quantum world view that has acausal interconnectedness, observer dependence and unity at its core,” he suggested.

In classical Newtonian physics causality or causal influence refers to one well-defined thing affecting another by an exchange of energy or information, such as the sun and moon’s gravitational field causing tides on earth. In the natural world we instinctively identify with cause and effect and accept its defining influence in our lives, i.e., the harder one steps on the gas pedal the faster the car goes.

Early in the 20th century Albert Einstein’s expanded the Newtonian universe with his general theory of relativity, which provided a theoretical framework for understanding macroscopic events occurring in an expanding universe. His relativity theory revolutionized the way cosmologists visualized time and space but remained inseparably linked to Newtonian rules dealing with actions and reactions. Relativity theory also set a cosmic speed limit for energy coursing through the cosmos: 186,000 miles-per-second, the speed of light.

Weird is the word most often used to describe quantum reality, but spooky works as well. Quantum mechanics deals with the disparity between the way things appear to work in the world of appearance and how they actually unfold in the unseen world of the infinitesimally small. Unlike the seemingly solid objects we observe all around us tiny subatomic particles do not have well-defined properties independent of observation. Experiments have shown that without someone or something to observe them, illusive subatomic particles may not exist at all.

It’s not simply that our observation of these very small systems disturbs them but that they are intrinsically indeterminate prior to observation, Prof Mansfield explained. Effectively, the tiny quantum particle is in all possible states simultaneously as long as we don’t look to check. Any effort to measure both the velocity and position of a subatomic particle at the same time fundamentally changes what it is.
It’s the measurement itself that causes the particle to be limited to a single possibility. This phenomenon is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and has been described by Stephen Hawking as “a fundamental and inescapable property of the world.” As a practical matter, when fragments are as small as a subatomic particle, the only way to predict the likelihood that a particular particle might behave in a certain way is to do the math; that is, check out the statistical possibilities.

Spooky Action at a Distance
This is where it gets spooky. All of the matter we interact with in the material world is comprised of atoms which are, in turn, comprised of subatomic particles. Incredibly, physicists have been able to demonstrate that, in the unseen world of particle physics, every subatomic particle knows what every other subatomic particle it has ever interacted with is doing – no matter how great the distance between them becomes.
Once subatomic particles become entangled (bump into each other) the simple act of measuring a particle at one location will instantaneously produce a response in what it is called its “correlated” pair – no matter how great the distance between them becomes. The particle twin might be sitting in the lab next door or embedded in surface dust on the dark side of the moon.  Or perhaps it’s floating somewhere in a parallel universe; It doesn’t matter. If something causes an entangled particle in one location to spin in a certain direction its entangled particle twin will instantaneously spin in the opposite direction. This phenomenon, which Einstein called “spooky action-at-a-distance” provides spectacular physical evidence that the cosmos is interconnected in ways not previously imagined.

“Astonishingly, this quantum view is not merely an artifact of its current mathematical formulation. Analysis and experiments, independent of the present formulation of quantum mechanics, show that nature is so deeply acausal and nonlocal that any future replacement for quantum mechanics must have nonlocal connections that work without any exchange of energy or information between the parts of the correlated system – without any causal connection. This is an extraordinary fact that should play a central role in any approach to understanding nature in general and astrology in particular,” Prof. Mansfield opined.

In his talk the astrophysicist identified the need for what he called a new Theoretical Astrology to explore the underlying structural ideas and presuppositions inherent in astrology, its philosophic and scientific underpinning.
“It is not enough to say that astrology presupposes a united worldview, one replete with acausal connections. For astrology to take its place in broader circles it needs a much more secure theoretical foundation.
“Today is a golden age for astronomy. Thanks to the combination of a powerful theoretical understanding of nature combined with a vast array of sophisticated modern electronics and computing, the growth of astronomy is dazzling. I suggest that, with a coherent theory and the modern tools of psychological testing, sophisticated statistical methods and modern computing astrology can make a similar leap into a golden age of its own,” he said.
More information on Prof. Mansfield can be found at www.lightlink.com/vic

About the author
Edward Snow

Edward Snow is managing editor of the Astrology News Service (ANS). He is a former news reporter, publicist and public relations executive who has studied astrology for many years.
 
Written by: Ken McRitchie

​The research experiment conducted by Shawn Carlson, “A double-blind test of astrology,” published in the science journal Nature in 1985 as an indictment of astrology, is one of the most frequently cited scientific studies to have claimed to refute astrology. A Google search for the title as a quoted string returns over 6,600 links.1 Although the Carlson study drew initial criticism for numerous flaws when it was published, a more recent examination has found evidence that the study actually supports the claims of the participating astrologers. This support lends further credence to the effectiveness of ranking and rating methods, which have been used in other, lesser known astrological experiments.
The Carlson astrology experiment was conducted between 1981 and 1983 when Carlson was an undergraduate physics student at the University of California at Berkley under the mentorship of Professor Richard Muller. The flaws that have been uncovered in the Nature article include not only the omission of literature on similar studies, which is expected in all academic papers, but more serious irregularities such as skewed test design, disregard for its own criteria of evaluation, irrelevant groupings of data, removal of unexpected results, and an illogical conclusion based on the null hypothesis.
In concept and design, the Carlson experiment was not original. It was modeled after the landmark double-blind matching test of astrology by Vernon Clark (Clark, 1961). In that test astrologers were asked to distinguish between each of ten pairs of natal charts. One chart of each pair belonged to a subject with cerebral palsy and the other belonged to a subject with high intelligence. Another influential study was the “Profile Self-selection” double-blind experiment, which was led by the late astrologer Neil Marbell and privately distributed among contributors in 1981 before its eventual publication (Marbell, 1986-87). In that test, participating volunteers were asked to select their own personality interpretations, both long and short versions in separate tests, out of three that were presented.
In both of these prior studies, the participants performed well above significance in support of the astrological hypothesis as compared to chance. The Marbell study was extraordinarily qualified as it involved extensive input and review from astrologers, scientists, statisticians, and prominent skeptics. Carlson neglected to provide any review of these scientific studies that supported astrology or any other previous related experiments.
The stated purpose of Carlson’s research was to scientifically determine whether the participating astrologers (members of the astrology research organization NCGR and others) could match natal charts to California Psychological Inventory (CPI) profiles (18 personality scales generated from 480 questionnaire items). Additionally, Carlson would determine whether participating volunteers (undergraduate and graduate students, and others) could match astrological interpretations, written by the participating astrologers, to themselves. These assessments, Carlson asserts, would test the “fundamental thesis of astrology” (Carlson, 1985: 419).
From the time of its release, the Carlson study has been criticized for the extraordinary demands it placed on the participating astrologers, which would be regarded as unfair in normal social science. As with any controversial study, all references to Carlson’s experiment should include the scientific discourse that followed it, particularly the points of criticism that show weaknesses in the design and analysis. Notable among recent critics has been University of Göttingen emeritus professor of psychology Suitbert Ertel, who is an expert in statistical methods and is known for his criticism of research on both sides of the astrological divide. Ertel published a detailed review in a 2009 article, “Appraisal of Shawn Carlson’s Renowned Astrology Tests” (Ertel, 2009).
From a careful reading of Carlson’s article in light of the ensuing body of discourse, we can appreciate that the design of the experiment was intentionally skewed in favor of the null hypothesis (no astrological effect), which Carlson refers to, somewhat misleadingly as the “scientific hypothesis.” Some of the controversial features of the design are as follows:
•    The astrologers were not supplied with the gender identities of the CPI owners, even though the CPI creates different profiles for men and women. (Eysenck, 1986: 8; Hamilton, 1986: 10).
•    Participants were not provided with sufficiently dissimilar choices of interpretations, as the Vernon Clark study had done, but instead were given randomly selected choices. This may give the impression of a fair method, but given the narrow demographics of the sample, there is an elevated likelihood of receiving similar items from which to choose, which makes it unfair (Hamilton, 1986: 12; Ertel, 2009: 128).
•    The easier to discriminate and more powerful two-choice format, which had been used in the Vernon Clark study, was replaced with a less powerful three-choice format, which further elevated the chances of receiving similar items (Ertel, 2009: 128).  No reasons are given for this unconventional format, although it can be surmised that Carlson was well aware of the complexities of a three-choice format from his familiarity with the Three-Card Monte (“Follow the Lady”) sleight of hand confidence game, which he had often played as a street psychic and magician (Vidmar, 2008).
•    The requirement for rejecting the “scientific hypothesis” was elevated to 2.5 standard deviations above chance. In the social sciences, the conventional threshold of significance is one standard deviation (Z = 1.64, with probability less than p = .05) (Ertel, 2009: 135).
•   Failure to consider the astrologers’ methodological suggestions or give an account of their objections. Carlson credits astrologer Teresa Hamilton with giving “valuable suggestions,” yet Hamilton complained later that “Carlson followed none of my suggestions. I was never satisfied that the experiment was a fair test of astrology” (Hamilton,1986: 9).
Given this skewed design, the irregularities of which are not obvious to the casual reader, Carlson directs our attention to the various safeguards he used to assure us that no unintended bias would influence the experiment. He describes in detail the precautions used to screen volunteers against negative views of astrology, how the samples were carefully numbered and guarded to ensure they were blind, and the exact contents of the sealed envelopes provided to test participants.
The experiment consisted of several separate tests. The astrologers performed two tests, a CPI ranking test and a CPI rating test. The volunteer students performed three tests, a natal chart interpretation ranking test, a natal chart interpretation component rating test, and a CPI ranking test.
In the CPI ranking test, astrologers were given, for each single natal chart, three CPI profiles, one of which was genuine, and asked to make first and second choices. There were 28 participating astrologers who matched 116 natal charts with CPIs. Success, Carlson states, would be evaluated by the frequency of combined first and second choices, which is the correct protocol for this unconventional format. He states, “Before the data had been analyzed, we had decided to test to see if the astrologers could select the correct CPI profile as either their first or second choice at a higher than expected rate” (Carlson, 1984: 425).
In addition to the ranking test of first, second, and third best fit, the astrologers were tested for their ability to rate the same CPIs according to a scale of accuracy. This task allowed for finer discrimination within a greater range of choices. Each astrologer “also rated each CPI on a 1-10 scale (10 being the highest) as to how closely its description of the subject’s personality matched the personality description derived from the natal chart” (Carlson, 1985: 420).
As to the results of the astrologers’ three-choice ranking test, Carlson first directs our attention to the frequency of the individual first, second, and third CPI choices made by the astrologers, each of which he found to be consistent with chance within a specified confidence interval. This observation is scarcely relevant, given the stated success criteria of the first and second choice frequencies combined. Then, to determine whether the astrologers were successful, Carlson directs our attention to the rate for the third place choices, which, as already noted, was consistent with chance. Thus he declares that the combined first two choices were not chosen at a significant frequency.
“Since the rate at which the astrologers chose the correct CPI as their third place choice was consistent with chance, we conclude that the astrologers were unable to chose [sic] the correct CPI as their first or second choices at a significant level” (Carlson, 1984: 425). This conclusion, however, ignores the stated success criteria and is in fact untrue. The calculation for significance shows that the combined first two choices were chosen at a success rate that is marginally significant (p = .054) (Ertel, 2009: 129).
As to the results of the astrologers’ rating test (10-point rating of three CPIs against each chart), Carlson demonstrates that the astrologers’ ratings were no better than chance within the first, second, and third place choices made in the three-choice test. He shows a weighted histogram and a best linear fit graph to illustrate each of these three groups of ratings. Carlson directs our attention to the first choice graph as support for his conclusion for this test. The slope of this graph is “consistent with the scientific prediction of zero slope” (Carlson, 1985: 424). The slope is actually slightly downward. The graphs for the other two choices are not remarked upon, but show slightly positive slopes.
The problem with Carlson’s analysis of the 10-point rating test, however, is that this test had no dependency on the three-choice ranking test and even used a different sample size of CPIs.2According to the written instructions supplied to the astrologers, this rating test was actually to be performed before the three-choice ranking test (Ertel, 2009: 135). These 10-point ratings should not be grouped as though they were quantitatively related to the later three-choice test. Confirmation bias from the claimed “result” of the three-choice test, which Carlson presents earlier in his paper, suggests acceptance of irrelevant groupings in this 10-point rating test, presented later. When the totals of the ratings are considered without reference to the choices made in the subsequent test, a positive slope is seen, which shows that the astrologers actually performed at an even higher level of significance (p = .037) than the three-choice test (Ertel, 2009: 131).
The other part of Carlson’s experiment tested 83 student volunteers to see if they could correctly choose their own natal chart interpretations written by the astrologers. Volunteers were divided into a test group and a control group. Members of the test group were each given three choices, all of the same Sun sign, one of which was interpreted from their natal chart (Carlson, 1985: 421). Similarly, each member of the control group received three choices, all of the same Sun Sign, except none of the choices was interpreted from their natal charts, although one choice was randomly selected as “correct” for the purpose of the test.
For the results of this test, Carlson shows a comparison of the frequencies of the correct chart as first, second, and third choices for the test group and the control group (again ignoring his stated protocol to combine the frequencies of the first two choices). He finds that the results are “all consistent with the scientific hypothesis” (Carlson, 1985: 424). However, he does note an unexpected result for the control group, which was able to choose the correct chart at a very high frequency. He calculates this to be at 2.34 standard deviations above chance (p = .01). Yet, because this result occurred in the control group, which was not given their own interpretations, Carlson interprets this as a “statistical fluctuation.”
Yet the size of this statistical fluctuation is so unusual as to attract skepticism, particularly in light of Carlson’s other results. It is reasonable to think that the astrologers could write good quality chart interpretations after having successfully matched charts with CPI profiles. Yet, according to Carlson’s classification, the test group tended to avoid the astrologers’ correct interpretations and choose the two random interpretations, while the control group tended to choose the selected “correct” interpretations by a wide margin, as if they, the controls, had been the actual test subjects (Ertel, 2009: 132). This raises suspicion that the data might have been switched, perhaps inadvertently, but this is unverifiable speculation (Vidmar, 2008).
Like the participating astrologers, the student volunteers were also given a rating test; in this case for the sample chart interpretations they were given. They were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the accuracy of each subsection of the natal chart interpretations written by the astrologers. “The specific categories which astrologers were required to address were: (1) personality/temperment [sic]; (2) relationships; (3) education; (4) career/goals; and (5) current situation” (Carlson, 1985: 422). This test would potentially have high interest to astrologers because of the distinction it made between personality and current situation, which is a distinction that is not typically covered in personality tests. Also, the higher sensitivity of a rating test could provide insight, at least as confirmation or denial, into the extraordinary statistical fluctuation seen in the three-choice ranking test.
However, based on a few unexpected results, Carlson decided that there was no guarantee that the participants had followed his instructions for this test. “When the first few data envelopes were opened, we noticed that on any interpretation selected as a subject’s first choice, nearly all the subsections were also rated as first choice” (Carlson, 1985: 424). On the basis of this unanticipated consistency, Carlson rejected the volunteers’ rating test without reporting the results.
As an additional test in this part of the experiment, the student volunteers were asked to choose from among three CPI profiles the one that was based on the results of their completed CPI questionnaire. The other two profiles offered were taken from other student volunteers and randomly added. Of the 83 volunteers who completed the natal chart interpretation choices, only 56 completed this task. As usual, Carlson compared the results of the three choices for the test and control groups taken individually (instead of the frequency of the first two choices taken together). Furthermore, in contravention to the logic of control group design, Carlson compares the two groups against chance instead of against each other (Ertel, 2009: 132). He found no significant difference from chance for the two groups.
There are plausible reasons that could explain why the test group was unable to correctly select their own CPI profiles, even though the astrologers were able to a significant extent as we have seen, to match CPI profiles with the students’ charts. The disappointing number of students who completed this task, despite having endured the 480-question CPI questionnaire, suggests that the students might have been much less motivated than the astrologers, for whom the stakes were higher (Ertel, 2009: 133).
The CPI matching tasks, for both the volunteers and the astrologers, were especially challenging because of the three-choice format. The random selections of CPIs made within the narrow demographics of the sample population of students would have elevated the likelihood of receiving at least two CPI profiles that were too similar to make a discriminating choice and this would have had a negative impact on motivation.
Despite its numerous flaws and unfair challenges, the Carlson experiment nevertheless demonstrates that the astrologers, in their two tests, were able to match natal charts with CPI profiles significantly better than chance according to the criteria normally accepted by the social sciences. Thus the null hypothesis must be rejected.3 As such, the Carlson experiment demonstrates the power of ranking and rating methods to detect astrological effects, and indeed helps to raise the bar for effect size in astrological studies. The benchmark effect size that had been attained by the late astrological researcher Michel Gauquelin was merely .03 to .07. Although these were small effects, they were statistically very significant due to large sample sizes (N = 500-1000 or more natal data) and had to be taken seriously (Gauquelin, 1988a). In Carlson’s experiment, which applied sensitive ranking controls, the effect size of the three-choice matching test with p = .054 is ES = .15, and the effect size of the 10-point rating test with p = .037 is ES = .10 (Ertel, 2009: 134).
The evidence provided by the Carlson experiment, when considered together with the scientific discourse that followed its publication, is extraordinary. Given the unfairly skewed experimental design, it is extraordinary that the participating astrologers managed to provide significant results. Given the irregularities of method and analysis, which had somehow remained transparent for 25 years, it is extraordinary that investigators have managed to scientifically assess the evidence and bring it into the full light of day. Now that the irregularities have been pointed out, it is easy to see and appreciate what Carlson actually found.
However, because of the unfairness and flaws in the Carlson experiment, this line of research needs to be replicated and then potentially extended in further studies. If natal charts can be successfully compared with self-assessment tests, as the Carlson experiment indicates, then astrological features might be easier to evaluate than was previously believed. New questions must now be raised. What would the results be in a fair test? Why did the astrologers choose and rate the CPIs as they did? Which chart features should be compared against which CPI features? Could more focused personality tests provide sharper insights and analysis? The door between astrology and psychology has been opened by a just crack and we have caught a glimpse of hitherto unknown connections between the two disciplines.
Notes
1.    By comparison, a Google perusal of some other peer reviewed journal articles on astrology, searched as quoted strings, returns the following: “Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?” (Dean and Kelly, 2003) 8800 hits; “Are Investors Moonstruck?—Lunar Phases and Stock Returns” (Yuan et al, 2006) 3700 hits; “Objections to Astrology: A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists” (The Humanist, 1975) 3500 hits; “A Scientific Inquiry Into the Validity of Astrology”  (McGrew and McFall, 1990) 2160 hits; “Raising the Hurdle for the Athletes’ Mars Effect” (Ertel, 1988) 1350 hits; “The Astrotest” (Nanninga, 1996) 970 hits; “Is There Really a Mars Effect?” (Gauquelin, 1988) 630 hits.
2.    Carlson presents the 10-point rating test as a finer discrimination of the 3-choice ranking test, but the sample size is not the same. A sample of 116 natal charts is used in the 3-choice test (Carlson, 1985: 421, 423) and a different sample size is used for the 10-point rating test, which adds to the discrepancies already mentioned between these two tests and further emphasizes that they cannot be considered as a single test. Carlson does not give the sample size for the 10-point test, but it can be determined by measurement of the first, second, and third choice histograms in his article (Carlson, 1985: 421, 424). Each natal chart had to be the “correct” choice in one of these three “choices.”  By adding up these “correct hits,” Ertel shows 99 charts (Ertel, 2009: 130, Table 3). A more exacting scrutiny of the histograms by Robert Currey (in a forthcoming article) determines 100 charts.
3.    Carlson had concluded: “We are now in a position to argue a surprisingly strong case against astrology as practiced by reputable astrologers” (Carlson, 1985: 425). Ertel points out the logical flaw that such a conclusion cannot be drawn even if the tests had shown an insignificant result. “Not being able to reject a null hypothesis does not justify the claim that the alternate hypothesis is wrong” (Ertel, 2009: 134).
References
Carlson, Shawn (1985). “A double-blind test of astrology,” Nature, (318): 419-425. http://muller.lbl.gov/papers/Astrology-Carlson.pdf, retrieved on 2010-12-04.
Clark, Vernon (1961). “Experimental astrology,” In Search, (Winter/Spring): 102-1 12.
Ertel, Suitbert (1988). “Raising the Hurdle for the Athletes’ Mars Effect: Association Co-varies with Eminence” Journal of Scientific Exploration, (2): 4.
Ertel, Suitbert (2009). “Appraisal of Shawn Carlson’s Renowned Astrology Tests,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, (23): 2.
Eysenck, H.J. (1986). “A critique of ‘A double-blind test of astrology’” Astropsychological Problems, 1(1): 27-29.
Hamilton, Teressa (1986). “Critique of the Carlson study” Astropsychological Problems, (3): 9-12.
Marbell, Neil (1986-87). “Profile Self-selection: A Test of Astrological Effect on Human Personality,” NCGR Journal, (Winter): 29-44.
McGrew, John H. and Richard M. McFall (1990). “A Scientific Inquiry Into the Validity of Astrology,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, (4) 1: 75-83.
Vidmar, Joseph (2008). “A Comprehensive Review of the Carlson Astrology Experiments,” http://www.astronlp.com/Carlson Astrology Experiments.html, retrieved on 2010-08-01.



About the author
Ken McRitchie
Ken McRitchie is a Canadian poet, astrologer, technical writer, and member of the Center for Objective Research in Astrology. He is the one-time editor (1985-89) of Above & Below: Journal of Astrological Studies, and is the author of Environmental Cosmology: Principles and Theory of Natal Astrology (2004). 
 
Written by: Edward Snow    

Psychology professor finds ingenious way to test controversial astrological assumptions

When in the last century French statistician Michael Gauquelin published the results of his ground-breaking statistical studies examining some basic tenets of astrology response from the academic community was anything but kind.

Gauquelin’s work extended over a period of 23 years between 1949 and 1973. In a series of studies he statistically tested how the planets influenced everything from character traits to heredity, athletic prowess and the career paths taken by professionals who are eminent in their fields. Mostly, it was the studies dealing with eminent professionals and elite athletes that created such a ruckus in the scientific community.

Initially, in a study involving 508 births, Gauquelin impressively demonstrated a correlation of Mars and Saturn with physicians at a chance level in the millions to one range. Simply, in the birth charts of prominent physicians, Saturn or Mars were either rising or culminating in so-called Gauquelin “plus zones” with a significantly greater frequency than expected by chance.
One of the Gauquelin plus zones straddles what astrologers call the ascendant or rising sign on the birth chart’s eastern horizon. Another hugs what astronomers call the meridian plane and astrologers refer to as the midheaven. Traditionally, planets posited near these “angles” in a birth chart are believed to express their influence more powerfully in the individual’s life. Gauquelin had similar success correlating other professions with the planets traditionally identified with them. For example, Mars turned up in the plus zones for elite athletes, Saturn was there for scientists, the Moon for writers and Jupiter for actors and politicians. The significance level for some of these correlations was also in the millions to one chance level. However, this result applied only to eminent professionals and elite athletes and was not present in the birth charts of ordinary athletes or professionals who were not eminent in their fields, which gave critics some contentious talking points.

Canines to the Rescue

Michael Gauquelin is not the only researcher to demonstrate that planets rising on the Eastern horizon or culminating near the midheaven are more influential. A novel study by another French scientist, the late Prof. Suzel Fuzeau-Braesch of Paris University, sought to determine whether the behavior of 500 pedigreed puppies from 100 different litters would measurably correlate to rising or culminating planets in their birth charts. She was advised in this unique project by Michael’s wife, Francoise Gauquelin, a statistician who also was closely involved with her husband in his work.
The whelping of a litter of puppies can extend over a period of several hours with as little as 15 minutes – or as much as two hours – between births. So birth charts lay out differently for every pup in a litter. The pups were closely monitored through the first eight weeks of life, but the hypothesized results were apparent almost immediately. Prof. Fuzeau-Braesch discovered that the dominant pups – the more aggressive, assertive, tail-wagging leaders of every group – had either the Sun or Jupiter rising or culminating in their birth charts with a frequency that far exceeded the threshold of significance established for the test.
Depending upon whatever else is going on in the heavens at the time, astrologers might describe humans with these same prominent planetary placements as charismatic, dominant, strong, sociable or influential. And psychologists might use the term extrovert when labeling these same essentially positive, outgoing personality traits. At Johnson State College in Vermont, Psychology and Counseling Professor David Fink studied the Gauquelin results and came up with an ingenious way to test whether planets in the plus zones could predict introversion-extraversion behavioral traits as measured by the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) questionnaire.
Prof. Fink directs Johnson State College’s master’s program in counseling.  He first encountered Gauquelin’s research in the 1980s and describes his interest in the statistician’s work in this way:
“My field is the training of counselors and psychotherapists. We are vitally interested in any tool that helps us understand people and the challenging issues that bring them to seek help in therapy. The Gauquelin research stimulated my interest in examining whether the astrological birth chart might prove useful as an empirically defensible tool for assessing personality dimensions.”

A More Promising Approach

Rather than testing the birth data of eminent professionals, Prof. Fink found a more promising – and less controversial – way to test the Gauquelin plus zones. Over a period of 15 years he administered EPI tests to 932 college students at three universities: Johnson State, the University of Vermont and the University of Maine. He was especially interested in the EPI test’s “E” scale, which is a measure of introversion-extraversion. A high score on the “E” scale equates to extraversion and a low score to introversion.
Astrologers associate the planet Jupiter with expansive, outgoing personality traits and Saturn with caution and reserve. Prof. Fink hypothesized that individuals with Jupiter in one of the plus zones identified by Gauquelin should test higher on the “E” scale while those with Saturn in these locations should test lower.
To analyze the collected data he reached out to astrological researcher David Cochrane, who at the time was enrolled in graduate classes in research methodology and statistics at the University of Florida. Cochrane is a past president of the International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR) and is Chairman and founder of the Cosmic Patterns astrological software company. At Florida University he got approval from the head of the Research and Evaluation Methodology Department to do the analysis as partial fulfillment for a three-credit independent study course. A professor in the Sociology Department, Monika Ardelt, mentored the project, providing “important suggestions that improved analysis of the results,” he said.

A Statistically Significant Result

“Statistical significance is the gold standard for an experimental design that evaluates whether a hypothesis is true or not. A result is generally regarded as being statistically significant if the probability of obtaining it is less than 5 percent, or what researchers call a p value of .05. Researchers should collect enough data to potentially obtain this level of significance,” Cochrane explained.
He points out that the placement of Jupiter or Saturn in one of the plus zones is only one variable among a great many possible astrological variables that might affect the “E” score.  Also, non-astrological factors like genetics and the environment may factor into the outcome as well. With 982 cases, the researchers wanted to determine whether the effect of a single variable could be detected.  It was.
“The result for this data analysis, which is known in statistics as a 2-tailed t-test, was significant at the .05 p value level. In a more sophisticated test that included age as a predictor of the E score the result was even better with a 2 percent probability. Effectively, the hypothesis was clearly stated and was confirmed by the result. Because the students did not know how Prof. Fink would analyze the data at the time they were tested there was no way for their test scores to have been influenced by the hypothesis tested,” he added.
According to Prof. Fink, if results of the research eventually are replicated in future studies with a similar design the significance will be twofold.  For one thing, it will present to scientists in other fields suggestive evidence of the birth chart’s validity that will be difficult to dismiss out of hand without further serious investigation. Also, it will provide practicing astrologers with more precise guidelines for interpreting the strength of angular planets located in the Gauquelin plus zones.
Prof. Fink says his primary interest in the subject revolves around approaching astrology “as an alternative language system that can help clinicians assess and conceptualize their clients with different terminology, and also communicate with clients in vocabulary that is less stigmatizing to them than the psychopathologizing categories we traditionally employ in the mental health field.
“I speak to my students about the study after first describing to them the ground breaking work of the Gauquelins, and the reluctance of most empirical scientists to engage with the Gauquelin results. Students are generally fascinated with the work, but at the same time are somewhat daunted by the statistical and methodological issues that inevitably must be addressed,” he noted.

About the author, Edward Snow

Edward Snow is Managing Editor of the Astrology News Service (ANS). He is a former news reporter and publicist who has managed PR programs for national and regional clients. He has been a student of astrology for many years.

 
Written by: John Anthony West (As summarized by Maria Mateus from The Case For Astrology)    

Michel Gauquelin was a graduate in statistics and psychology from the Sorbonne who, together with his wife Francoise, conducted the most significant body of statistical research in astrology to date. While his work does not substantiate some canons of traditional astrology, it conclusively vindicates astrology’s fundamental premise: that there is a relationship between the planets’ positions at the moment of birth and the direction of individual lives.
The body of Gauquelin’s work extends over a period of 23 years (1949 –1973) and involved research into questions of professional studies, heredity studies and character trait studies. By far the studies receiving the most notoriety involved correlations between the [position of a planet in the natal chart and a person’s chosen profession. Because of its extremely significant positive results, the most famous of these studies is commonly known as “the Mars effect.”
Gauquelin’s preliminary profession findings involved two studies: the one comprised of a group of 576 birth charts revealed a correlation of Mars and Saturn with physicians at a chance level in the millions to one. The second study involving 508 births revealed the same results for other professions correlating them with their traditionally related planets: Mars with athletes, Saturn with scientists, the Moon with writers, and Jupiter with actors and politicians. Those findings only applied to eminent professionals and were not present in the charts of average professionals. The significance level for some of these correlations was also in the millions to one chance level. The research was published in 1955 in L‘influence des Astres, where Michel argued that what he was demonstrating was not evidence of astrology, but some other celestial influence. This work was ignored by his academic colleagues until Michel set about seeking professional peer review.
The Skeptics Respond
After much cajoling by Gauquelin for a peer review, the 1st critique came from Marcel Boll, a well-known French science writer and member of the Belgian Committee for the Investigation of Paranormal Phenomena (The Belgian Para Committee hereafter). His main objection was that the study used only birth data from France, which he claimed resulted in a national fluke. Had Gauquelin selected birth records from other countries, went Boll’s logic, the results would be no better than chance! Any statistician would know that this objection was statistically ridiculous.
Professor Dauvillier, a Professor of Cosmic Physics at the College of France, replied that the correlation was a result of insufficient sample size.
Gauquelin Answers
Michel answered both challenges (even though the first was an illogical criticism) by collecting a database of 25,000 birth records in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. (England did not record birth times back then). The results of the replication study with European data were identical and just as significant, showing the same planets in key sectors of the chart correlating with eminence in specific professions. There were some national variations but the result repeated significantly in the same direction as the original studies. A control group of non-specialized professions did not show any affect. The European studies were published in 1960 in Les Hommes et les Artre at the Gauquelin’s own cost.
The Heredity Studies
During the 1960s, the Gauquelins conducted another massive study that examined astrological relationships between parents and their children. The 30,000 size sample of ordinary French citizens and their children revealed that when parents had certain planets in Sectors 1 and 4 of the charts, their children were also likely to have the same planets in the same sectors. The correlations between particular planets – such as the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – were stronger in that order. The significance level was 1 million to 1. Induced or Caesarean births did not show this pattern.



The Character Traits Studies
In the 1970s, Gauquelin then ran character trait analyses studies which grouped the 4 previously studied professions according to personality traits – collected from the biographical data – which comprised a profile for each profession. The results correlated the profiles with the same planets in the same sectors. The atypical profiles also correlated negatively with the significant sectors. In 1980, this study was replicated in America, yielding identically positive results.
Gauquelin vs. The Belgian Para Committee (1965)

Five years after having addressed the Belgian Committee’s ridiculous demographic objection to his original profession studies and subsequently being ignored by them, Gauquelin again proposed replications of his Mars effect on sports champions study by both he and the Committee. The procedural details were agreed upon and each side conducted their own tests, The results for both sides exactly matched the findings of Gauquelin’s original experiments. The Committee refrained from publishing their findings until Gauquelin decided to publish his own. Although they could not identify any problems with the methodology they had agreed to, the Committee nonetheless explained away the results as a product of a demographic error which they did not identify or show evidence for.
The Gauquelin controversy reached the U.S. in 1975 when a manifesto attacking astrology and signed by 186 eminent scientists appeared in The Humanist magazine. Gauquelin found his work ignorantly attacked and was forced to defend it through his own reply to the scientific publication. A professor of statistical science at Harvard and member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP hereafter) by the name of Marvin Zelen got involved in the debate and proposed his own study to test the “demographic error” argued by the Belgian Committee. The Zelen test, as it became known, examined the charts of average individuals born on the same day and general location as the Mars sports champions in the Gauquelin study. The idea was that if the effect was due to demographics and not the planets, the same effect would show up with ordinary citizens. The results not only vindicated Gauquelin, but also served to demolish the demographics argument once and for all. Not wanting to publish findings supportive of astrological effects, CSICOP changed the rules and re-spun the study of non-champions into a re-examination of the Mars effect on sports champions. Knowing that the group of 303 would show an effect, the test group was broken down into smaller sub-samples so as to water down the effect into meaninglessness. Even so, the KZA (Kurtz, Zelen, Abel*) report could not hide the smell of nonscientific conduct.
The American Replication (1979-80)
Knowing how badly the Zelen test made them look, the KZA report concluded that an American replication with someone other than Gauquelin collecting the data was needed, Gauquelin happily accepted and provided CSICOP the exact procedures he had followed in his Mars Effect studies. These stipulations required that the sample only include eminent sports champions since the effect was not present in non-eminent professionals. Paul Kurtz (Chairman of CSICOP) collected the data and astronomer Dennis Rawlins conducted the statistical analysis. As Kurtz sent Rawlins the data (and unsolicited cash) he asked Rawlins to give him confidential periodic advanced looks at the results. As the batches of names came in, the sample for percentages for Mars in the key sectors kept mysteriously declining. What was initially an expected effect of 22% for the first batch of names, incrementally dropped not only to the 16% expected by chance, but it ended at 13% (below what chance would indicate p=.02) with the submission of 82 late inclusions that Kurtz had “accidentally forgotten” to send. Naturally, the doctored findings published in the Skeptical Enquirer did not confirm Gauquelin’s work
Dennis Rawlins and STARBABY (1981)

We would have been none the wiser to the behind-the-scenes shenanigans exhibited by CSICOP and might have found the American findings of both the Zelen test and the Mars replication perfectly legitimate were it not for the excommunication of one of their involved members, Dennis Rawlins. The acrimony between Rawlins and CSICOP began with the Zelen test and continued through the replication study even while he himself was conducting the statistics. Rawlins’ own account of the events that transpired during the Gauquelin investigations provides testimonial evidence that KZA knew they were in trouble and not only deliberately butchered the Zelen test, but doctored the data in the replication study as well.
The Aftermath
Gauquelin challenged the study in a series of voluminous correspondence that was selectively published and edited in the Skeptical Inquirer. Rawlins was not permitted by the magazine to voice his dissent (hence, the sTARBABY publication in the 1981 issue of Fate magazine). Subsequent objective investigations by historian Patrick Curry concluded that the U.S. study was not a legitimate replication of the Gauquelin study, which prompted Gauquelin to propose a new European replication with written down rules and an airtight verification treaty. When he did not get a reply, Gauquelin carried out the study himself with the usual expected results he and others had obtained countless times before. Suddenly CSCOP came alive only to attack the methodology after the fact. In “A Reappraisal” published in the Skeptical Inquirer, KZA admits to varying degrees of carelessness in handling of the U.S. studies and in neglecting to mention that the Zelen test actually confirmed the chance level calculations in the non-professional samples, but evade Rawlings’ published charges of academic dishonesty and fraud.
The Ertel Report
While CSICOP was still insisting that there was some as yet undetected bias in Gauquelin’s selection criteria for the Mars samples, they did nothing to try to detect it. Instead, an unaffiliated psychology professor from Gottingen University by the name of Suitbert Ertel set about establishing a more rigorous and consistent way of defining eminence, hoping in the process that this might be the flaw that accounted for the extraordinary correlations. Thus, when the athletes were separated out into groups with varying degrees of eminence, Ertel found that the results precisely indicated what Gauquelin himself had found – that the more eminent the athlete the stronger the effect.
Furthermore, when Ertel corrected for Gauquelin’s inconsistencies in methodology from one study to the next, the Mars effect was enhanced, not diminished. Ertel’s study not only put to rest the notion that there was a selection bias – either unconscious or deliberate – in Gauquelin’s methodology, it also vindicated his findings. The Skeptical Inquirer refused to publish Ertel’s report claiming that the language was too technical, despite the fact that it boasts among its readership some of the most brilliant scientists and academics. The work was published instead in The Journal for Scientific Exploration.
Notes
* George Abel was a Professor of Astronomy at UCLA and an early warrior in CSICOP’s war on astrology.

About the author  John Anthony West (As summarized by Maria Mateus from The Case For Astrology)
With Jan Gerhard Toonder, historian John Anthony West authored The Case for Astrology, a definitive history of astrology from ancient times to the modern era. He also has written books and documentaries on ancient Egypt, including the Serpent in the Sky and The Travelers’ Key to Ancient Egypt.