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Patterson concludes by pointing out that truth in astrology is tested by how well it matches the symbolism.

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Anything that passes this test is seen as true, not because it is actually true but because it could be true. Being able to say that the truth whatever it is is consistent with the symbolism is not terribly useful.

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Which is why astrology is so hard to learn Patterson Western astrologers use the tropical zodiac tied to the seasons, while Eastern astrologers use the sidereal zodiac tied to the stars. Around ad, the two zodiacs coincided, but today precession has put sidereal signs almost one sign ahead of tropical signs. So have their meanings changed? British astrologer J.

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Sunley spent ten years comparing meanings between tropical sign X and sidereal sign X as given in astrology books. In principle, their meanings should be mostly different, but he found they were mostly similar—which is consistent with signs having no meaning at all except in the minds of astrologers. It explains why tens of thousands of Western tropical astrologers can agree that in their experience Scorpio is intense, while hundreds of thousands of Eastern sidereal astrologers can look at much the same piece of sky—which they call Libra—and agree that in their experience it is not intense but relaxed.

So much for experience. But if relative sign meanings are okay, as in Leos get on well with Sagittarians, what is there to worry about? Despite possible conflict with other factors in the two charts among sun sign astrologers this is the default explanation for awkward findings , if the claim is true then it should show up in a large enough sample: ten million marriages, for example.

Voas notes that completion errors are problematic. Census forms are typically completed by one member of the household, who for some reason may enter their own birthday for that of their spouse. If dates of birth are illegible or missing about 0. Voas carefully removed all such artifacts but was unable to find evidence for useful sun sign effects. But none of the possible sun sign pairings differed significantly from chance alone.

In terms of predicting compatibility, sun signs absolutely did not work. You will not find this result in astrology books. British astrologer and former journalist Dennis Elwell — was noted for his eloquence. If some piece of research proves a dead end, I do not question the authenticity of my experience, I question the competence of the research, or its underlying assumptions.

He held that failures to verify astrological claims were caused by the wrong approach because the right approach always worked.

One of his favorite examples was how the birth chart for the Declaration of Independence on July 4, , showed strong links with the Statue of Liberty. And so on through dozens of events and associated people. Indeed, the statue is an innovative Uranus national monument resting on Sun-ruled granite and lit by electricity Uranus. Everywhere we look we find the predicted Sun-Uranus links.

Odd-numbered signs from Aries onward are said to be extroverted. The rest are said to be introverted. When taken together with opinion polls, the results suggest that one in three people believes sufficiently in sun signs to measurably shift their self-image in the believed direction—of which a tiny fraction may believe sufficiently to bias their choice of partner as in the previous section. Charles Carter, the leading British astrologer of the s, was noted for exceptional clarity of expression.

Could astrologers match them correctly? The outcome was maybe yes but mostly no. Since then, more tests have been made that bring the total to sixty-nine, and new ways have been developed to analyze the results. For example, the correlation between a reading and reality can be plotted against sample size to clarify what is happening.

The plots in Figure 1 show how it works. The studies in Figure 1 are too numerous and too consistent with hundreds of other studies to be easily dismissed. Also, their subsequent meta-analysis shows that the differences between results are entirely explained by sampling errors, which leaves nothing for astrology and astrologers to explain; to paraphrase Pierre-Simon Laplace, we have no need of such hypotheses.

But for completeness, we should still look at some of those other studies as shown in Figure 2. The power and sensitivity of our tests so far are beyond anything the ancients could have dreamed of. For his PhD in psychology, German astrologer and psychotherapist Peter Niehenke circulated copies of a item questionnaire for testing astrological claims.

It was advertised in two newspapers and a New Age magazine and by notices at Freiburg University. He duly received 3, responses requiring more than reams of paper , of which 3, provided usable birth data, of which 62 percent were from birth certificates. The questions had been tested in a pilot study to make sure they were free of problems. Each was relevant to a given factor planet, sign, house, or aspect to see if the subjects identified with that factor regardless of whether it was actually in their birth chart. Overall, no result was consistently in support of astrology.

In , U. But when applied to actual birth data grouped by, say, occupation or events, the results if positive which was not often failed to replicate. There was no evidence that astrological claims were valid: nothing actually worked. He asked for an explanation, but nobody had a clue. So he abandoned astrology to follow other interests.

Do astrologers get right answers from wrong charts? If they do, then their fundemental premise as above so below is disconfirmed. The idea might seem difficult to test—what astrologer wants to read wrong charts? The astrologer gives a reading that satisfies the client but the wrong chart has been used. It makes no difference how wrong it is—by hours, days, or years—the chart still works. Astrologers recognize this but see it as some occult property of astrology that puts it beyond human understanding. Skeptics may disagree.

They used statistical testing and large samples mostly from the nineteenth century. Their results for traditional astrology signs, aspects, transits were consistently negative. Nothing worked. Therefore they were surprised to obtain positive results for what was later called the Mars effect and, later still, planetary effects because the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn were also involved : the tendency for eminent professionals to be born when the planet matching their occupation such as Mars for sports champions, Jupiter for actors had just risen or culminated.

Planetary effects were new in that, unlike previous factors, they were critically dependent on the hour of birth. Statistically, the effects were often very significant, which to astrologers meant strength. So the effects were actually weak and were significant only because large samples were tested typically more than 1, Indeed, the effects were so weak that if applied to clients, on average only two would get readings more accurate than tossing a coin—and even then only if they were among the one in 20, who were eminent.

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Yet the effects replicated and were not explainable by faulty procedures see Figure 3. Ironically, planetary effects created baffling puzzles even for astrology. Why only five planets? Why no effect for the sun or for signs and aspects?

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Why occupation and not personality? Why contrary to all expectations are planetary effects larger for less-precise birth times? And why are there such strange effects in the first place?

For forty years, nobody had a clue. Astrologers predictably saw the effect as proof of the higher realities in which astrology is said to operate. But after eight years of work, I uncovered a new artifact capable of explaining all the puzzles—namely the misreporting of birth times to match the pop astrology of the day Dean The level of misreporting was very small, but then again so were the planetary effect sizes—and as opportunities for misreporting disappeared, so did planetary effects.

In any case, planetary effects are far too weak to be of practical use to astrologers. But might consolation be found in Indian astrology, claimed by Indian astrologers to be vastly better than anything available in the West?

Indian astrology is hugely different from Western astrology. It is more complex, uses the sidereal zodiac, and fortune-telling is the norm. The scientific revolution that eroded astrology in seventeenth century Europe did not happen in India, so it has had a free run ever since. Today it is firmly entrenched at all levels of Indian society. They gave each of twenty-seven volunteering Indian astrologers mean experience fourteen years a different set of forty timed charts each, and a team of astrologers timed charts a larger number than in any Western test , to see if they could tell bright children from mentally retarded children.

This is a commonly accepted claim in India, but neither group outperformed tossing a coin. At a given moment, the birth chart supposedly indicates trait X, the next moment it is trait Y, and so on.