RE: [asa] astrology, ID & science

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 21:50:53 EDT

It is really not necessary to carry out your well-thought experiment to show that astrology is not a science since the concepts considered in the supposed predictions, viz., happiness, romantic success, etc., are not expressible in terms of purely physical concepts and so are not scientific terms. Just because something, say, happiness, can be quantified does not make it a scientific term since one cannot develop a scientific theory for it.

 

The issue whether the flagellum evolved or not is more a historical question rather than a scientific one. I am not so much concerned whether the existence of the flagellum is a sign of design or not. Why not consider ever the simple electron as being designed. After all, you need electrons before you can even talk about the flagellum. We may also need to consider whether spacetime is designed our not?

 

Moorad

________________________________

From: Iain Strachan [mailto:igd.strachan@gmail.com]
Sent: Fri 5/4/2007 4:27 PM
To: Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: George Murphy; ASA list
Subject: Re: [asa] astrology, ID & science

On 5/4/07, Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu> wrote:

        Astrology cannot be a science since its subject matter cannot be reduced to data that can be collected, in principle, with purely physical devices. How does one correlate the physical interaction of the universe on a person and use that to make future predictions? There is no such theory or detectable effects.

On the contrary, I would have thought it comparatively straightforward to come up with a double blind trial on a similar level as a clinical trial that would test the predictions of astrology. Astrologers claim that by studying the stars they can predict your mood, happiness, likely romantic sucess, how you're doing in your job.

So here would be my design for a trial:

You get two "astrologers" one is a genuine astrologer who believes it is all true. The other one is a sham astrologer who doesn't believe it and writes down the first thing that comes into his head. The sham astrologer is analogous to a placebo drug.

Both astrologers make predictions about a group of people for whom they have names, date of birth, and whatever info an astrologer is supposed to have.

What the astrologers are not told is that the subjects are divided into three groups A,B, and C. Group A is the treatment group and is notified of predictions from the genuine astrologer. Group B is the placebo group and is notified of predictions made by the placebo astrologer. Needless to say A and B are blinded to which astrologer they receive the predictions from. Group C is a control group, which receives no predictions from either astrologer, though the predictions are still made.

All the subjects fill out a daily checkbox questionnaire about their mood e.g. Happiness, Romance, Energy etc, on a scale of 1 to 5.

Then you just test to see the correlations. If astrology is valid, then Group A correlates better than Group B (Drug outperforms placebo). Also the genuine predictions will be better correlated with Group C than those from the placebo astrologer.

If astrology is false, then I would expect no differences at all (though possibly Groups A and B will show some correlation with their respective predictions, as both will experience the placebo effect).

Easily testable. What is not testable is the prediction that we'll never find a way for a flagellum to evolve because the experiment would take rather too long... :-)

Another way to do it would be to have one genuine astrologer, but only half the data matching the actual subject, and the other data as sham (e.g. give the subjects name but a random birth date and age).

Iain

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Received on Fri May 4 21:54:58 2007

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