The Gordian Knot

Astrologer Robert Curry's main page is called Why it is no longer acceptable to say astrology is rubbish on a scientific basis, and on this page you can find the following quote: "Astrology goes far beyond the popularised Sun-Sign columns published in newspapers and magazines."

If that is true, then why do astrologers write the Sun-Sign columns? I think Robert Curry and his fellow astrologers owe the public an explanation for this contradiction in the astrological profession. There is a moral / ethical issue at stake here: If sun sign columns are rubbish, then follows logically that any astrologer, who produces Sun Sign columns, is a scammer and a fraudster. Or else there is a reasonable explanation, which hasn't yet been articulated.

However, the problem remains: How can you expect scientists or skeptics to take astrology seriously, as long as astrology also contains popular sun sign columns? The problem for most astrologers is of course that the sun sign columns constitute an important part of their financial income. They couldn't do without it. Somehow Robert Curry's struggle is empty, as long as he hasn't solved this dilemma.

Of course one solution would be to discriminate between pop-astrologers (the ones who author sun sign columns) and more serious astrologers, but the question is then how to define the "serious" astrologers. Michel Gauquelin had a very strict definition, which excluded any kind of "fortune telling", the psychologically oriented astrologers have another definition, and the people behind the magazine Correlation have a third definition. And as long as the astrologers cannot even agree on such a definition among themselves, it is hard to expect any kind of recognition of astrology from the rest of the world.

A simple solution to this problem is at hand: Any part of astrology, which fulfils Karl Popper’s criterion of falsifiability, can and shall be regarded as science:

"A falsifiable theory is one that makes a specific prediction about what results are supposed to occur under a set of experimental conditions, so that the theory might be falsified by performing the experiment and comparing predicted to actual results. A theory or explanation that cannot be falsified falls outside the domain of science. For example, Freudian psychoanalysis, which does not make specific experimental predictions, is able to revise its theory to match any observations, in order to avoid rejecting the theory altogether. By this reckoning, Freudianism is a pseudoscience, a theory that purports to be scientific but is in fact immune to falsification. In contrast, for example, Einstein’s theory of relativity made predictions (like the bending of starlight around the sun) that were novel and specific, and provided opportunities to disprove the theory by direct experimental observation. Advocates of Popper’s definition would seem to place on the same level as pseudoscience or nonscience every statement — of metaphysics, ethics, theology, literary criticism, and indeed daily life — that does not meet the criterion of falsifiability." (Quote: The Folly of Scientism by Austin L. Hughes)

Actually Robert Curry has collected a list of such scientific projects and published it here. The question is if such projects elevates astrology as it is practiced into a science.