Richard Dawkins and the Astrology of Skeptics

Description=Richard Dawkins Photograph: Jeremy Young 05-12-2006The conversation in the comments thread to the last post inspired me to look at Dawkins’ chart and I confess I am quite fascinated with the strong Neptunian signatures that lie therein: Pisces Moon and Mercury, with Pisces Venus opposite Neptune, two very mystical signatures that counteract the Grand Trine in earth signs, which Twilight says she also possesses and makes a case for a low number of astrologers in this age group (born 1941).

Dawkins also has an unaspected Sun in Aries. Unaspected, or singleton Sun makes it difficult to forge an identity and can result in extreme behavior, particularly in Aries where it demands attention. You know how they always say that homophobes are afraid of their own homosexuality; I think the same may be true about skeptics. It is their own vulnerability inherent in the mystical site of their personality that they disown and can’t understand.

The patron skeptic of this blog, our friend Paul, had a similar dynamic: a strong Neptune and Pisces signature along with an equally strong Aquarius nature with all of its reason. There is no Aquarius in Dawkins’ chart, but there is that earthy base and the singleton Aries trying to find expression.

Dawkins said something in an interview that adds weight to my theory:

“At the age of about 13 when I was being confirmed, I did have a fairly active fantasy life about a relationship with God, and I used to pray and I used to have fantasies about creeping down to the chapel in the middle of the night, and having a sort of blinding vision and things. . . .

It was a fantasy which happened in my head and it’s not surprising that it should […]

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By |2019-08-26T13:46:17-04:00August 14th, 2007|People|Comments Off on Richard Dawkins and the Astrology of Skeptics

Christopher HItchens and Pluto in Sag

Christopher Hitchens has a new book out called “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” While I totally agree with his premise that religion (Sagittarius) has poisoned many things and created more wars than anything else, I am saddened by his obvious need, like so many skeptics, to throw out any sense of wonder in life’s magic for the sake of objectivity and “science.”

In an article last week Hitchens lumps astrology together with other hoaxes of religion:

Astrology is widely considered to be discredited because of certain very obvious objections:

1) It gives people the impression that they are the center of the universe and that the constellations are somehow arranged with them in mind.

2) It suggests that there is a supernatural supervision of our daily lives, and that this influence can be detected and expounded by mere humans.

3) It bases itself on the idea that our character and personality are irrevocably formed at the moment of birth or even of conception.

Who does not know how to laugh at the credulity of those who fall for this ancient hoax? And why would it matter, except that religion, too, believes that the cosmos was created with us in mind, that our lives are supervised by an almighty force that priests and rabbis and imams can interpret, and that – by way of doctrines such as “original sin” – our natures have been largely determined when we are still in the womb or the cradle.

All the points Hitchens makes are indisputable. Astrology is indeed centered on the person, which is why it is geocentric (with the planets and luminaries orbiting the earth) rather than heliocentric (with the sun in the center). There is indeed […]

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By |2020-11-03T13:27:49-05:00May 31st, 2007|Religion|Comments Off on Christopher HItchens and Pluto in Sag

Astrology and Pseudoscience

I’ve been thinking about the classification of astrology as a “pseudoscience” ever since the now well-known study appeared that indicated an “unsettling growth” in the belief in pseudoscience such as astrology and visits by extraterrestrial aliens.

In the first place, the lumping together of astrology with extraterrestrial alien visits is puzzling, but this is likely the result of the media and most scientists believing that sun sign “horoscopes” are astrology, and then horoscopes and alien visits become fodder for tabloid journalism.

Richard Tarnas in his excellent book Cosmos and Psyche writes that as human intelligence has become more scientific there has been a loss of a sense of connection with the natural world; a loss of a sense that the universe is magic and soulful. (For a fascinating philosophical discussion of this book and its implications see this debate on an Amazon discussion board.) As we astrologers know, everyone is wired differently; some of us have strong Neptune/Pisces influences that impel us to seek out experiences beyond the realms of “reality.” Some have strong Uranus/Aquarius influences that require a logical basis for their belief system.

From Wikipedia:

Popper considered astrology to be pseudoscientific simply because astrologers keep their claims so vague that they could never be refuted, whereas Thagard considers astrology pseudoscientific because its practitioners make little effort to develop the theory, show no concern for attempts to critically evaluate the theory in relation to others, and are selective in considering evidence.

I confess to being one of these practitioners that shows no concern for critically evaluating whether astrology works or to prove it to others. For me and most other practitioners the question is this: Does it help me? […]

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By |2022-10-15T13:31:25-04:00March 2nd, 2007|Science|Comments Off on Astrology and Pseudoscience

Some things just work.

Recently these pages witnessed a dramatic debate over whether astrology could be or had been proven in the now defunct Skeptics Challenge. (I learned my lesson – as revealed by a commentator, skeptics don’t have an open mind but require scientific, not experiential, proof.) At any rate, this appeared in our local newspaper column, the People’s Pharmacy: No Science Behind Soap Remedy.

Sometimes a remedy defies logic. Usually there’s no science to support it either. That’s certainly the case when it comes to putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet to stop leg cramps or restless legs.

One reader (who happens to have doctorates in biomedical engineering and physics) took us to task for suggesting this remedy. He asked, “What is the mechanism of action for a bar of soap under your sheets for relieving any type of pain? Answering that this is anything but an old wives’ tale discredits everything you have done in the name of science.

“As a fellow scientist and university faculty member, I feel it is your responsibility to educate your readers using accepted scientific principles. When you do not, you are performing a disservice to the rest of us.

We can’t pretend that soap under the sheet is anything more than a folk remedy. We can’t explain how it would work, and we don’t know for sure that it does. Nonetheless, we have been impressed with readers reporting success.

One wrote: “I’ve been a long-time sufferer of sciatica. Recently, I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease resulting in tarsal tunnel syndrome in my left foot. The pain was nearly unbearable. After your column on the soap mystery, I could not believe it but I thought I have little to lose.

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By |2019-08-26T13:51:14-04:00February 19th, 2007|Astrology, Favorite posts|Comments Off on Some things just work.

What I learned from the skeptics challenge

For the past few years I have written to anyone who wrote a post or an article debunking astrology offering to do a free reading for them so that they can try it for themselves before making a judgement on a subject they knew little about. I received no response from any of these people. Last summer someone undergoing a painful experience wrote to me – he was skeptical of astrology but open to hear what I had to say, and we had a very meaningful exchange that was helpful for him and the process he was going through.

Then Paul came along, a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, in response to my post quoting Richard Tarnas that skepticism without magic is an empty prison. Paul responded to the Skeptics Challenge and I sent him a short reading of a few of the major points in his chart, requesting that he reply to my email and let me know what he thought of it. He did not reply to that email, so I sent a second email, to which I also received no reply. However, a reply to his comment referred to his blog so I went there to take a look and found there a challenge to me for a scientific study of astrology. I thought it peculiar that he didn’t contact me directly about this challenge but instead posted it on his blog with no real way for me to find it except for a link in a post.  You can find out more about what happened here.

My goal for the Skeptics Challenge was that in showing these individuals what a real […]

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By |2021-12-27T14:32:52-05:00February 10th, 2007|Miscellany|0 Comments