“Scientists” and Astrology

Mark Pottenger

How many of you remember a little item in the papers a couple years ago about a statement signed by 186 “scientists”? They said they didn’t approve of astrology. If you hoped they would wake up and shut up, think again—they’re still at it and getting worse.

The magazine in which the original attack appeared (The Humanist) is now defunct, but the crusaders have a new one devoted solely to debunking (The Zetetic). Kurtz’s Crusaders now call themselves “The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal”. The attack remains on the same low level it started on.

The first salvo, in the September-October 1975 issue of The Humanist, consisted of the “statement” and two articles. Of the 186 “scientists” who signed (out of 300 asked to—62%), most have never actually investigated astrology in any way. One of the articles consisted of the assertion that astrology is magic (so what?) and an attack on Gauquelin’s statistics by a man who doesn’t know the difference between a sign and a house. The other article is by a man who says he won’t even begin to research astrology until someone shows him a material cause.

Since then The Humanist has had something on the subject in just about every issue. With all this material, the successful replication of Gauquelin’s work and its success with a new test has somehow not been published in two years.

The performance in The Zetetic has been only a little better. In the first issue there was a good article suggesting that the “scientists” do not satisfy the requirements used in courts for an “expert witness”. Immediately following was an attempt by Kurtz to tear the article to shreds. (The attempt failed.)

The second issue has a statistical test of Sun signs—by a man who says “effects claimed to be associated with the rising of one of the planets could be, and probably are, the result of the fact that more people are born in the morning hours than in the evening hours”. Does he think all the planets are like Mercury and Venus and always stay close to the Sun? The time of day at which other planets rise is independent of the times of sunrise and sunset. They can and do rise at any time of day.

The Committee has to date devoted a remarkably large proportion of its efforts to debunking, and remarkably little to investigating.

I urge all astrologers to support efforts to conduct serious research, so there will be too much solid evidence for even crusaders to ignore. Techniques to increase public knowledge of serious astrology are also desirable. If people like the Committee leaders have their way, astrologers are in real danger of losing their right to speak freely.

Anyone interested may write us for a copy of a reply to the “scientists” Dr. Dobyns wrote when the attack started. Also, I will do a detailed critique of Humanist or Zetetic articles if there is sufficient interest.

Copyright © 1977 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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