Re: [asa] astrology, ID & science

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Sat May 05 2007 - 15:02:18 EDT

On 5/5/07, Alexanian, Moorad <> wrote:
> 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.

I think you have it the wrong way round. How do you know anyway that you
can't develop a scientific theory for it? It is commonplace in clinical
trials to use the subjective scoring method. For example a recent study on
the supposed condition of "electrosensitivity" had people exposed to mobile
phones (or sham exposure) for a long period, and to record the subjective
severity of headache produced on a subjective score sheet of 0 to 100.

The outcome was that the curves produced were no different between the real
exposure and the sham exposure. Now I have a friend who claims to be
electrosensitive. As a physicist I can't see the sense in it or any real
possibility of a scientific theory that means you are simultaneously
sensitive to 50Hz mains (she switches off the mains in her house at night)
and 900Mhz microwave radiation from mobile phones.

But if some carefully controlled double-blind study came up and showed a
clear difference between real and sham exposure, then one would have to
conclude there was an effect, due to a bit of science that we don't know
about. It would be no use my saying there wasn't a scientific theory of how
cells in your body are effected by EM exposures over 7 orders of magnitude
in frequency range. We'd have to do reserch into finding out the physical
mechanisms involved.

No such research is necessary because well-thought out tests have been
conducted to show there is no difference between real and sham. Likewise,
if my astrologer experiment showed a clear difference over "placebo", then
we'd have to look into what caused the difference.

Isn't empirical science all about finding patterns (trends) and then
searching for mechanisms to explain them?


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Received on Sat May 5 15:02:41 2007

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