My first book is now on sale (official website should be up the end of next week)
and I am a very happy and proud first-time author. I haven’t yet held a printed edition in my hand, and dare say that will only add to my giddy pride.
It may appear strange that a self-confessed skeptic is writing a book on a scientific approach to astrology. But the wiggle room that is allowed in circumscepticism makes this the perfect subject for examination. Science says the book is closed on astrology. I say, not quite.
The opening to my media release reads:
“Astrology does not work. This may come as a surprise to the thousands of practising astrologers throughout the world. But traditional astrology has not fared well under the scrutiny of science. Indeed, according to premier astrology researcher Rudolph Smit, astrology has been tested in more than 600 scientific studies.”
Rudolph Smit’s site is the most comprehensive site on the subject, and I thoroughly recommend it for those who are interested in the tendentious relationship between science and astrology.
Basically the conclusion Mr Smit, himself a practicing astrologer for many years, arrives at is that:
“Today, for the first time in twenty centuries, we can say with some certainty that no, the heavens do not reflect our destiny.”
“The case against astrology is that it is untrue. It has not contributed to human knowledge, it claims the prestige of science without the methods of science, it has failed hundreds of tests, it does not deliver benefits beyond those produced by non-astrological factors (hidden persuaders), and users do not usefully agree on basics such as which zodiac to use or even on what a given birth chart indicates. No hint of these problems will be found in astrology books, which is why some scientists see astrologers as misguided or even fraudulent. In fact astrologers are mostly nice people who genuinely wish to help others.”
So why does astrology work?
For most people, astrology works if it provides meaning. It does not need to be true, and, according to Smit, attacking it would be like attacking a religious faith. Faith needs no facts: it is all a matter of belief. And many beliefs seem to thrive on contrary facts. Smit says:
“In practical terms a warm and sympathetic astrologer provides low-cost non-threatening therapy that is otherwise hard to come by. You get emotional comfort, spiritual support, and interesting ideas to stimulate self-examination. … In a dehumanised society an astrologer provides personal support at a very low price. Where else can you get this sort of thing these days?”
And further, quoting historian and social critic Theodore Roszak from his book Why Astrology Endures (Briggs, San Francisco 1980): “For a growing number of people, the rich imagery of these old traditions has become a more inspirational way of talking [about ourselves] … than conventional psychiatry. The astrological universe is, after all, the universe of Greco-Roman myth, of Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake. It has poetry and philosophy built into it.”
In short, it has enough ancient mysticism and promise of self-knowledge to attract a wide audience who believe it can supply them with answers. And generally, people cannot be shaken from their cherished beliefs, so I try not to expend too much energy in trying to do so. But that is not the same as trying to make a good case for or against something, and I think “Planetary Types: the Science of Celestial Influence” does that very job.
So, on the subject of whether or not the scientific book is closed on astrology, my media release continues:
“… astrology has been tested in more than 600 scientific studies. All have failed. With one exception.
“Michel Gauquelin tested hundreds of thousands of subjects in numerous experiments to prove that the planets influence character, but his results are disputed by scientists, despite the sheer mass of evidence.
“Author and researcher Tony Cartledge has re-awakened the debate over planetary influence, and is approaching the Gauquelin findings from a new and exciting angle.”
Hard-core skeptics believe they have demolished all Gauquelin’s findings. That may be so, but my book introduces new elements into the mix, that make testing for planetary influence and planetary types much easier, and much less prone to debate. Any results from the testing I propose in the book will leave little doubt as to whether there can be such a thing as a science of celestial influence.