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    (Original post by Simes)
    I don't think you understood that experiment at all.

    The dogs were trained to salivate when the bell was rung.

    It was not a perfect predictor of food being available at all.

    And it certainly does not provide any evidence that astrology is anything but nonsense, ignorance, self-delusion and con-artists.
    I understand the experiment perfectly well. In order to condition the dog, the bell and food were served simultaneously a number of times. Within that time frame, the dog learned to correctly predict that the bell would result in food, until the experimenter stopped doing it.

    The point is that within that situation the bell predicted the food without a causal link, and this is a good example of correlation due to common cause. It's a subtle relationship between things that people don't often realise, because we believe things must be causal rather than correlated.

    We don't wake up in the morning because we want to (exceptions prove the rule), but because our body is evolved to be perfectly synced up with the movement of the earth and the relationship with the sun, underpinned by chemicals in the body etc. Our lives are not some demi-god fairytale plucked out of thin air.

    If anything not yet proven is by default nonsense, then pretty much all possible knowledge we could acquire is currently according to you, nonsense. Skepticism should go both ways in the absence of evidence for or against.

    As previously pointed out, the big boy Cuvier in French biology publicly took the piss out of the idea species could give rise to new species, calling it the same sort of thing as magic tricks and, as you say, the stuff of con artists. Scientific papers are rarely so bullish. The Daily Mail makes up for it.

    Another example of douchey over-confidence comes from an aviation expert back in the day, who declared humanity was 1000 years away from a properly flying plane. He said that 1 year before it was accomplished.
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    (Original post by Simes)
    Astrology is easily demonstrated to be nonsense.
    How?
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    Well that's exactly the issue: how can one hope to unveil reality, truth, or whatever you may want to call it, by the "scientific" method that from square 1 cannot test anything and everything?

    The method itself thereby selects out the type of things which behaves so that it can be found out this way.

    I wouldn't be so pessimistic about being able to experiment with astrology or god though, given a change in perspective. The more one finds out, the less one knows, or realises they know. Unfortunately the scientific method has become a dogma that gives people pre-emptive confidence about things we actually know nothing about. Georges Cuvier, a top scientist in France in Lamarck's time, called the idea of evolution from other species the sort of BS magic tricks are made of.

    Being overly confident about anything is unscientific itself. The first step in science is observation. How can we allow our observation to run freely if we stunt it from the beginning?
    So you're suggesting we diverge from the scientific method in order to test notions such as God or astrology that it isn't good at testing. In that case, I suggest you rename your thread. You are clearly not looking for scientific proof of astrology. Frankly, I don't know what you're looking for.
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    (Original post by the bear)
    i looked up my horoscope for today... it is uncannily accurate:

    "Don’t say anything you’re likely to regret. This could mean that you need to sequester yourself away for the day, as any conflict could turn ugly quickly if people can’t censor themselves."

    explain that scientists with your pockets stuffed with pens.
    That's a very literate-sounding horoscope. :cool: The Times Literary Supplement? Harvard Business Review?
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    That's a very literate-sounding horoscope. :cool: The Times Literary Supplement? Harvard Business Review?
    ermm Atheist Today ( incorporating Evolution for Boys )
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    Good evening all,

    I have found a framework of thought that can allow astrology, considered a pseudo-science, to potentially be true. Here is the outline of the video:

    1. The solar system works cyclically, allowing for the reliable prediction of future events for example that the sun will rise tomorrow. Many aspects of the human condition also work cyclically, such a the life and death of generations of people, growth, learning, etc.

    2. For two things to be connected, there is no need for a direct connection. For example, Pavlov's dog expected food when the bell rang. The bell is not physically or otherwise connected to the food at all, yet the bell's ring worked perfectly as a predictor of food being made available. In scientific terms, this particular correlation is explained by a common cause (the experimenter).

    3. People are reluctant to acknowledge themselves as specks of dust living on a rock in the sky, and this detachment from our environment is the sort of attitude that leads to climate change denying - yet we are inextricably linked to our internal and external environment.

    Watch the rest here:

    First of all, none of this is proof. All you've done is made links between two things that sound vaguely similar. Now, to break down every point:

    1. You cannot seriously be connecting orbital mechanics with the organic, complex and chaotic process of human life. Using basic physics, you can calculate precisely the dynamics and kinematics of bodies in the solar system. That's not remotely possible with humans, it's completely poss. The fact that human life can be regarded as a cycle is just completely irrelevant. You could just as well make the argument that rocks can predict future events because they take part in a cycle too, or recycling centres can predict future events.

    2. There is a direct connection, it's simple cause and effect. Sound waves travel from the bell to the dog's ear, they're converted to electrical impulses, the brain makes the connection between that sound and food, impulses are sent to the dog's mouth and it salivates. It's a simple chain of causation. There is absolutely no known mechanism which could possibly connect the movement of celestial objects and future events in human lives.

    3. Totally agree with this point... but it's got absolutely nothing to do with Astrology? If this were a debate about climate change then this would be a great point to make, but how on earth is it "proof" for astrology?
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    (Original post by anosmianAcrimony)
    So you're suggesting we diverge from the scientific method in order to test notions such as God or astrology that it isn't good at testing. In that case, I suggest you rename your thread. You are clearly not looking for scientific proof of astrology. Frankly, I don't know what you're looking for.
    In the absence of obvious or satisfying evidence due to the difficulty of obtaining it for certain fields, I am saying it is useful to think firstly whether something is even remotely possible enough to be investigated when the time comes that we are able to investigate it.

    In this case, I am suggesting that viewing observations as correlations due to different ultimate reasons, rather that the current knee-jerk assumption that things are always causally linked, is a starting point in ultimately finding out more about the truth surrounding us, no matter what it may be.

    In the case of astrology, a causal link is seen as too remote or "nonsense" to allow any further investigation, yet if a simple correlation is sought, it suddenly seems far more approachable because no direct relationship would be necessary.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    First of all, none of this is proof. All you've done is made links between two things that sound vaguely similar. Now, to break down every point:

    1. You cannot seriously be connecting orbital mechanics with the organic, complex and chaotic process of human life. Using basic physics, you can calculate precisely the dynamics and kinematics of bodies in the solar system. That's not remotely possible with humans, it's completely poss. The fact that human life can be regarded as a cycle is just completely irrelevant. You could just as well make the argument that rocks can predict future events because they take part in a cycle too, or recycling centres can predict future events.

    2. There is a direct connection, it's simple cause and effect. Sound waves travel from the bell to the dog's ear, they're converted to electrical impulses, the brain makes the connection between that sound and food, impulses are sent to the dog's mouth and it salivates. It's a simple chain of causation. There is absolutely no known mechanism which could possibly connect the movement of celestial objects and future events in human lives.

    3. Totally agree with this point... but it's got absolutely nothing to do with Astrology? If this were a debate about climate change then this would be a great point to make, but how on earth is it "proof" for astrology?
    Thank you for such an elaborate response. Firstly, I am by no means attempting to provide proof of astrology by this thought experiment. I am attempting to provide a potential explanation for it within the scientific frame of mind that is more digestible than any cause-effect explanation or lack thereof. I want to let people know that correlations a) happen all the time b) are not as satisfying to thinking as causations, but c) can nonetheless be exploited as patterns to predict things.

    I would have to disagree that life is chaotic/complex/random in principle. Just because we do not grasp or comprehend the nature of its complexity does not mean it is in essence chaotic at all. Our inability to simulate the movement of a flipped coin just by looking at it does not make the outcome (heads or tails) random. If we could simulate the movement accurately enough, we could easily predict the outcome, and similarly create the necessary flipping motion and power to confidently produce a heads or tails. There is no fundamental chaotic force beyond any control. We just can't influence it hugely at the moment.

    I also disagree in principle with the view that things taking part in cycles cannot be connected. Our diurnal cycle is perfectly synced with the Earth, despite the Earth being rocks and us being organic "chaotic" things. The cycle of rocks can also be connected to the cycle of life, as shown in the co-evolution of the Earth, chemicals available, rocks, and ultimately forms of life that we see today. Birds' eyes manifest quantum physics processes that allow them to follow the Earth's magnetic field to ensure they travel south/north in their migration.

    Regarding the dog, you show the cause-effect in the process of salivation linked to hearing the bell. I am pointing out to the link between hearing the bell and expecting food. The dog could not explain why the bell would result in food, because there is no causal relationship at all. It's an artefact of the experimenter doing everything. The bell and food are correlated for the dog, rather than causal. Despite this "inferior" relationship between the two items, the dog can usefully use the circumstance to know that food will follow the bell (until it stops).
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    Thank you for such an elaborate response. Firstly, I am by no means attempting to provide proof of astrology by this thought experiment. I am attempting to provide a potential explanation for it within the scientific frame of mind that is more digestible than any cause-effect explanation or lack thereof. I want to let people know that correlations a) happen all the time b) are not as satisfying to thinking as causations, but c) can nonetheless be exploited as patterns to predict things.

    I would have to disagree that life is chaotic/complex/random in principle. Just because we do not grasp or comprehend the nature of its complexity does not mean it is in essence chaotic at all. Our inability to simulate the movement of a flipped coin just by looking at it does not make the outcome (heads or tails) random. If we could simulate the movement accurately enough, we could easily predict the outcome, and similarly create the necessary flipping motion and power to confidently produce a heads or tails. There is no fundamental chaotic force beyond any control. We just can't influence it hugely at the moment.

    I also disagree in principle with the view that things taking part in cycles cannot be connected. Our diurnal cycle is perfectly synced with the Earth, despite the Earth being rocks and us being organic "chaotic" things. The cycle of rocks can also be connected to the cycle of life, as shown in the co-evolution of the Earth, chemicals available, rocks, and ultimately forms of life that we see today. Birds' eyes manifest quantum physics processes that allow them to follow the Earth's magnetic field to ensure they travel south/north in their migration.

    Regarding the dog, you show the cause-effect in the process of salivation linked to hearing the bell. I am pointing out to the link between hearing the bell and expecting food. The dog could not explain why the bell would result in food, because there is no causal relationship at all. It's an artefact of the experimenter doing everything. The bell and food are correlated for the dog, rather than causal. Despite this "inferior" relationship between the two items, the dog can usefully use the circumstance to know that food will follow the bell (until it stops).
    Concerning the chaotic behaviour of life, technically speaking, you're wrong. Humans are examples of systems that are mathematically complex and chaotic. You can find order in chaos and that doesn't mean it's impossible to make predictions about human lives because chaotic systems have attractors, but human life is fundamentally different from the movement of celestial bodies. At least in the time frames we're interested in, you can precisely predict the exact motion of the stars and planets - this is completely impossible with humans. You can make broad statements like "You are going to die some time within the next 100 years" but you're modelling two fundamentally different systems. At a fine scale, life and planetary motion is not comparable.

    I never said cyclic systems cannot be connected, I simple said that the fact that two systems are cyclic does not mean they're connected. There is a perfectly rational reason why we have a diurnal cycle that is synced with the motion of the earth. Most advanced forms of life use visible light as one of their main sensory inputs so it is considerably easier to find food and carry out processes necessary for life when it is light than when it is dark. Senses are incredibly important for life and since the rotation of the earth controls the accessibility of one of life's key senses, it isn't a surprise that a lot of living organisms follow the day/night cycle. And yes, geological cycles also have had important effects on life and vice versa. This is all completely true. None of this in any way provides an iota of evidence that observing astrological phenomena now allows us to make predictions about human lives in the future. Not only is there no proposed mechanism (which in itself is more than enough of a reason to discount astrology), but there is absolutely zero experimental evidence that suggests it works.

    I don't know what point you're trying to make with your last paragraph. It's irrelevant if the dog doesn't understand the processes, the dog isn't sentient. We do understand it. The argument that "Astrology might be true, we just don't understand the mechanism" is just as flawed as the argument that "God might exist, we're just not enlightened enough to see him". Both of them might technically be true but neither is scientific. A scientific theory has to have a proposed mechanism (which astrology doesn't). It has to be able to make predictions that are testable (which astrology does), but in order to be valid, those predictions have to match reality (which it doesn't, at least not better than any other model).
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    You claim to be a scientist.

    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    blah blah blah

    exceptions prove the rule

    blah blah blah
    Fair enough, you are a scientist. An exceptional one.




    :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Simes)
    You claim to be a scientist.

    Fair enough, you are a scientist. An exceptional one.




    :rolleyes:
    Thank you.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    but human life is fundamentally different from the movement of celestial bodies. At least in the time frames we're interested in, you can precisely predict the exact motion of the stars and planets - this is completely impossible with humans. You can make broad statements like "You are going to die some time within the next 100 years" but you're modelling two fundamentally different systems. At a fine scale, life and planetary motion is not comparable.
    Completely impossible with humans? Do we really know nothing about what people are about to do? Can we not be certain that people behave accordingly to their "programme", that they will sleep every day, eat, and seek fulfilment of several types of urges? That they will avoid negative feedback and seek the positive? Have we escaped the confinement of our bodies and the necessity to obey its laws? We accept that animals' behaviour is predictable, and take advantage of that in farming, hunting, experimentation, etc. Are we not just "higher" animals? The overwhelming patterns of human life are entirely homogeneous and certainly more or less predictable.

    I never said cyclic systems cannot be connected, I simple said that the fact that two systems are cyclic does not mean they're connected. There is a perfectly rational reason why we have a diurnal cycle that is synced with the motion of the earth. Most advanced forms of life use visible light as one of their main sensory inputs so it is considerably easier to find food and carry out processes necessary for life when it is light than when it is dark. Senses are incredibly important for life and since the rotation of the earth controls the accessibility of one of life's key senses, it isn't a surprise that a lot of living organisms follow the day/night cycle. And yes, geological cycles also have had important effects on life and vice versa. This is all completely true. None of this in any way provides an iota of evidence that observing astrological phenomena now allows us to make predictions about human lives in the future. Not only is there no proposed mechanism (which in itself is more than enough of a reason to discount astrology), but there is absolutely zero experimental evidence that suggests it works.
    This is exactly what I am trying to address. There is no proposed mechanism because a) we generally don't know much about anything, for example the physics required to make sense of a planet-human interaction, but mostly b) the irrational assumption that the link has got to be causal. A mechanism of action could exist by my proposed alternative possibility of a correlational link rather than causal, where there is no direct interaction between planet-human, but an indirect one due to a separate process that governs both entities/cycles/systems. No, we don't know the mechanism, but I propose that a correlation is more approachable as a starting point for further investigation, than a causation (which appears nonsensical at this time).

    I don't know what point you're trying to make with your last paragraph. It's irrelevant if the dog doesn't understand the processes, the dog isn't sentient. We do understand it. The argument that "Astrology might be true, we just don't understand the mechanism" is just as flawed as the argument that "God might exist, we're just not enlightened enough to see him". Both of them might technically be true but neither is scientific. A scientific theory has to have a proposed mechanism (which astrology doesn't). It has to be able to make predictions that are testable (which astrology does), but in order to be valid, those predictions have to match reality (which it doesn't, at least not better than any other model).
    I don't see how me saying astrology might be true, in the absence of evidence, is a flawed argument. It is the only rational conclusion. The strong opponents of it are the ones making a flawed argument, because in the absence of evidence, what is their confidence based on other than observation - which is equally a feeble metric as someone else's opposite observation? To have any stance on something with great gaps of knowledge so forcefully is neither logical nor scientific, and detrimental to both pursuits.

    The analogy with god is fair enough. I don't think debates concern themselves with the existence of some higher consciousness as much as the effects of versions of that belief manifested through religions. The concept of god, whatever it may be, is harmless enough, and certainly worthy of a is it/is it not question; humanity in its religious expression doesn't focus on that at all. Religion is a hot topic because of its very earthy manifestations that have nothing to do with the cosmic context of "god".

    If all unknowns are assumed non-existent by default, and dismissed right after the very first step - observation - how can one pursue the scientific method on them?
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    Completely impossible with humans? Do we really know nothing about what people are about to do? Can we not be certain that people behave accordingly to their "programme", that they will sleep every day, eat, and seek fulfilment of several types of urges? That they will avoid negative feedback and seek the positive? Have we escaped the confinement of our bodies and the necessity to obey its laws? We accept that animals' behaviour is predictable, and take advantage of that in farming, hunting, experimentation, etc. Are we not just "higher" animals? The overwhelming patterns of human life are entirely homogeneous and certainly more or less predictable.

    This is exactly what I am trying to address. There is no proposed mechanism because a) we generally don't know much about anything, for example the physics required to make sense of a planet-human interaction, but mostly b) the irrational assumption that the link has got to be causal. A mechanism of action could exist by my proposed alternative possibility of a correlational link rather than causal, where there is no direct interaction between planet-human, but an indirect one due to a separate process that governs both entities/cycles/systems. No, we don't know the mechanism, but I propose that a correlation is more approachable as a starting point for further investigation, than a causation (which appears nonsensical at this time).

    I don't see how me saying astrology might be true, in the absence of evidence, is a flawed argument. It is the only rational conclusion. The strong opponents of it are the ones making a flawed argument, because in the absence of evidence, what is their confidence based on other than observation - which is equally a feeble metric as someone else's opposite observation? To have any stance on something with great gaps of knowledge so forcefully is neither logical nor scientific, and detrimental to both pursuits.

    The analogy with god is fair enough. I don't think debates concern themselves with the existence of some higher consciousness as much as the effects of versions of that belief manifested through religions. The concept of god, whatever it may be, is harmless enough, and certainly worthy of a is it/is it not question; humanity in its religious expression doesn't focus on that at all. Religion is a hot topic because of its very earthy manifestations that have nothing to do with the cosmic context of "god".

    If all unknowns are assumed non-existent by default, and dismissed right after the very first step - observation - how can one pursue the scientific method on them?
    To address your first point, your fundamental flaw which you've ignored in my previous arguments is that there is no correlation. You have yet to present me with one valid report that indicates such a correlation exists in the first place. If there were a correlation, then we could possibly start thinking about causation but that correlation is non-existent. You can't just start proposing links between two things that not only have no known causative link but no correlative link either. I might as well start saying that the destiny of humanity is hidden in a code in the CMBR. It's just madness, there's literally no reason to even start supposing there's a link.

    Saying something is "possible" because of the absence of contradictory evidence isn't an argument, that's the default position. Everything is technically "possible", it's "possible" that the atoms in my body will spontaneously morph into the figure of a sentient hippopotamus-leopard hybrid through a quirk of quantum uncertainty. That doesn't mean I'm making any kind of a ground-breaking statement by telling the world that it's possible. If you're going to be ultra pedantic then yes, astrology is "possible". But that's the kind of statement a GCSE student might be proud of making, it's not an intelligent argument.

    You pursue the scientific method after generating a hypothesis based on observations you've made. Given that there exists no evidence that suggests the claims made by astrologers is in the slightest bit reasonable or even that a correlation exists in the first place, it isn't something that it makes sense to investigate. You're welcome to investigate it yourself.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    To address your first point, your fundamental flaw which you've ignored in my previous arguments is that there is no correlation. You have yet to present me with one valid report that indicates such a correlation exists in the first place. If there were a correlation, then we could possibly start thinking about causation but that correlation is non-existent. You can't just start proposing links between two things that not only have no known causative link but no correlative link either. I might as well start saying that the destiny of humanity is hidden in a code in the CMBR. It's just madness, there's literally no reason to even start supposing there's a link.
    The correlation as a conclusion is non-existent, but as an observation it does exist, hence the community of people who jointly "observe" it over time. In the absence of evidence, which is obtained further down the scientific method cycle, there is no need to dismiss the observation itself, which is what opponents of astrology do. An observer whose subsequent investigation turns negative has "found something out", whereas an observation denier simply contributes to the process being likely to be shut down before any evidence is even acquired. We would all probably wish to know if astrology were in fact true. If experimentation isn't being carried out, it's reasonable to say that at this point it is because of such a status quo "pseudo-science" perspective of it. I appreciate your later point though regarding being free to test it. That is very important, and in many times and places even contemplating something new or different would be forbidden.

    Saying something is "possible" because of the absence of contradictory evidence isn't an argument, that's the default position. Everything is technically "possible", it's "possible" that the atoms in my body will spontaneously morph into the figure of a sentient hippopotamus-leopard hybrid through a quirk of quantum uncertainty. That doesn't mean I'm making any kind of a ground-breaking statement by telling the world that it's possible. If you're going to be ultra pedantic then yes, astrology is "possible". But that's the kind of statement a GCSE student might be proud of making, it's not an intelligent argument.
    Your example of spontaneous morphing versus astrology makes the point that it's not particularly useful to think that all imaginable possibilities should be investigated - point taken. However, unlike your example, observations gathered surrounding astrology have persisted enough to warrant slightly more attention than spontaneous morphing. I must emphasise again the first step in science which is observation. I suppose no one has ever witnessed spontaneous morphing, whereas different cultures and peoples over time have pandered to astrology. It's not proof of anything, but it's certainly what observation means. Some observations are true, some aren't, but really they are the only thing we "have".
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    The correlation as a conclusion is non-existent, but as an observation it does exist, hence the community of people who jointly "observe" it over time. In the absence of evidence, which is obtained further down the scientific method cycle, there is no need to dismiss the observation itself, which is what opponents of astrology do. An observer whose subsequent investigation turns negative has "found something out", whereas an observation denier simply contributes to the process being likely to be shut down before any evidence is even acquired. We would all probably wish to know if astrology were in fact true. If experimentation isn't being carried out, it's reasonable to say that at this point it is because of such a status quo "pseudo-science" perspective of it. I appreciate your later point though regarding being free to test it. That is very important, and in many times and places even contemplating something new or different would be forbidden.

    Your example of spontaneous morphing versus astrology makes the point that it's not particularly useful to think that all imaginable possibilities should be investigated - point taken. However, unlike your example, observations gathered surrounding astrology have persisted enough to warrant slightly more attention than spontaneous morphing. I must emphasise again the first step in science which is observation. I suppose no one has ever witnessed spontaneous morphing, whereas different cultures and peoples over time have pandered to astrology. It's not proof of anything, but it's certainly what observation means. Some observations are true, some aren't, but really they are the only thing we "have".
    I genuinely do not understand your point. You admit that there is zero evidence in favour of astrology, yet you think it's worthy of scientific investigation because people believe in it? That's just like saying it's worth trying to investigate homoeopathy scientifically despite the fact that all of the available evidence strongly concludes that it's no better than a placebo. We've already done investigations into both, all of which conclude that it doesn't work. We don't need more evidence, we have the evidence - or the lack of it - already. There is no point in investigating something that you know isn't true, and things that there exist no reasons for you to presume it's true in the first place. If you don't believe investigations that have come up negative in the past then fine, of course you can test it again, but you're obviously not going to get funding from any body apart from a body with vested interests in astrology because no reputable organisation would see any point in wasting money in investigations we know the answer to anyway.

    And I completely disagree that it's worth investigating because people believe in it, as I think the homoeopathy point proves. We already have negative data for them. People believe in things because they want to believe in them, not because they actually want. The fact that people believe in things like astrology and homoeopathy does not mean there might be some truth in them - because we know beyond reasonable doubt that there isn't - its because of a psychological phenomenon. And we know how that psychological phenomenon works too.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    I genuinely do not understand your point. You admit that there is zero evidence in favour of astrology, yet you think it's worthy of scientific investigation because people believe in it?
    People "believing" something is precisely the definition of "peer review" for scientific papers. Despite being an obvious fallacy, "majority rules" still operates in this world. Regarding the justification of investigation because people believe it - yes, that is what observation means, and that is what all science bases its starting points on.

    That's just like saying it's worth trying to investigate homoeopathy scientifically despite the fact that all of the available evidence strongly concludes that it's no better than a placebo. We've already done investigations into both, all of which conclude that it doesn't work. We don't need more evidence, we have the evidence - or the lack of it - already.
    The only existing investigations into astrology are very limited and poorly done studies that leave enormous gaps in knowledge. You want to just stop there and call it quits? Scientific endeavour involves lots of belief. All the studies so far show that cancers are hard to "cure". Do we stop? No of course not. There are very few areas of research that are truly "accomplished", with all mechanisms of action well established. That's why ongoing research is happening.

    There is no point in investigating something that you know isn't true, and things that there exist no reasons for you to presume it's true in the first place. If you don't believe investigations that have come up negative in the past then fine, of course you can test it again, but you're obviously not going to get funding from any body apart from a body with vested interests in astrology because no reputable organisation would see any point in wasting money in investigations we know the answer to anyway.
    The point about the funding and interests involved is another key point regarding the wider scientific debate. It is of course a massive issue.
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    People "believing" something is precisely the definition of "peer review" for scientific papers. Despite being an obvious fallacy, "majority rules" still operates in this world. Regarding the justification of investigation because people believe it - yes, that is what observation means, and that is what all science bases its starting points on.

    The only existing investigations into astrology are very limited and poorly done studies that leave enormous gaps in knowledge. You want to just stop there and call it quits? Scientific endeavour involves lots of belief. All the studies so far show that cancers are hard to "cure". Do we stop? No of course not. There are very few areas of research that are truly "accomplished", with all mechanisms of action well established. That's why ongoing research is happening.

    The point about the funding and interests involved is another key point regarding the wider scientific debate. It is of course a massive issue.
    Majority rule amongst scientists, not ordinary people. Peer review works through the validation by people trained on building opinions on rigorous and scientifically valid method. The fact that things like homoeopathy and astrology are laughed at by the scientific community is precisely why it's so non-scientific. The fact that many people believe something (not majority, most people do not believe in astrology) does not mean it's true. Majority rule only works when discussing the opinions of the groups who are in the best position to judge something and given the fact that you won't find a single respectable astronomer or psychologist in the world who think there's an iota of truth in astrology or a single respectable pharmacologist or doctor in the world who thinks that homoeopathy is any better than a placebo means that it's totally irrelevant in this case.

    I'm really tired of this argument now, to be honest. I don't know if you're just playing the devil's advocate and trying to be as pedantic as possible or if you genuinely believe this. I don't understand what kind of investigations you're asking for into astrology. You have yet to present me with a shred of evidence - "poorly done" or not that suggests astrology works. There is no reason to believe that it's worth investigating. You don't investigate links between two random variables that you have no reason to suspect are connected. Investigating whether or not astrology works is just as nonsensical as me investigating whether the colour of t-shirt I wear today influences the storm patterns on the surface of Jupiter. If you honestly think we need to do research on astrology, I don't think you really understand how science works.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    Majority rule amongst scientists, not ordinary people. Peer review works through the validation by people trained on building opinions on rigorous and scientifically valid method. The fact that things like homoeopathy and astrology are laughed at by the scientific community is precisely why it's so non-scientific. The fact that many people believe something (not majority, most people do not believe in astrology) does not mean it's true. Majority rule only works when discussing the opinions of the groups who are in the best position to judge something and given the fact that you won't find a single respectable astronomer or psychologist in the world who think there's an iota of truth in astrology or a single respectable pharmacologist or doctor in the world who thinks that homoeopathy is any better than a placebo means that it's totally irrelevant in this case.

    I'm really tired of this argument now, to be honest. I don't know if you're just playing the devil's advocate and trying to be as pedantic as possible or if you genuinely believe this. I don't understand what kind of investigations you're asking for into astrology. You have yet to present me with a shred of evidence - "poorly done" or not that suggests astrology works. There is no reason to believe that it's worth investigating. You don't investigate links between two random variables that you have no reason to suspect are connected. Investigating whether or not astrology works is just as nonsensical as me investigating whether the colour of t-shirt I wear today influences the storm patterns on the surface of Jupiter. If you honestly think we need to do research on astrology, I don't think you really understand how science works.
    Cuvier was a brilliant scientist, all scientists were brilliant scientists, and they laughed at the evolution of species theory. Laughing at things is certainly not how science works.

    Scientists are not above "just people"... They're not gods. Peer review is a bunch of sheep half reading someone's half incomprehensible paper and nodding, until it's proven wrong and they proceed to nod to whatever the trendy consensus happens to be at the time.

    Have you read the astrology or homeopathic papers you talk about? They are up for criticism you do realise, they're not the bible that has to be believed, written by gods not subject to arguments.

    Worth investigating is anything that sparks someone's imagination. Anything from the internet, the structure of DNA, the solar system itself, planes and rockets - all these things seemed ridiculous and not worth looking into at some point. That was foolish. Being close-minded is never better for science than being open-minded. Science is not a nazi.

    We can agree to disagree dear sir It has been wonderful arguing with you.
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    (Original post by Flying Cookie)
    Cuvier was a brilliant scientist, all scientists were brilliant scientists, and they laughed at the evolution of species theory. Laughing at things is certainly not how science works.

    Scientists are not above "just people"... They're not gods. Peer review is a bunch of sheep half reading someone's half incomprehensible paper and nodding, until it's proven wrong and they proceed to nod to whatever the trendy consensus happens to be at the time.

    Have you read the astrology or homeopathic papers you talk about? They are up for criticism you do realise, they're not the bible that has to be believed, written by gods not subject to arguments.

    Worth investigating is anything that sparks someone's imagination. Anything from the internet, the structure of DNA, the solar system itself, planes and rockets - all these things seemed ridiculous and not worth looking into at some point. That was foolish. Being close-minded is never better for science than being open-minded. Science is not a nazi.

    We can agree to disagree dear sir It has been wonderful arguing with you.
    We're talking about astrology, not evolution. With evolution, regardless of how much opposition and disbelief there was amongst many people, it was spearheaded by a number of very reputable scientists. Not one reputable scientist would vouch for astrology and there's an obvious reason why. There is zero reason to suggest it's even possibly a remotely valid idea.

    Scientists are not gods, but they're the best trained group to 1) understand the scientific method and 2) critically analyse scientific theories. I think you've got a pretty unfair and misinformed view of peer review. It is not a perfect system but generally it works decently as a method of quality control. Journals have a limited number of papers they can publish and it's not difficult to understand why they'd want to limit crackpot ideas. If you start allowing highly dubious papers into your journal, quality is going to nosedive. Of course you're running the risk of very, very occasionally missing out a good idea but it's better than the alternative of zero quality control whatsoever.

    And yes, I have actually read these papers. I read a very in-depth systematic review of all papers published on homoeopathy which very clearly demonstrated that, out of the many, many papers published, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that it's better than placebo.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    We're talking about astrology, not evolution. With evolution, regardless of how much opposition and disbelief there was amongst many people, it was spearheaded by a number of very reputable scientists. Not one reputable scientist would vouch for astrology and there's an obvious reason why. There is zero reason to suggest it's even possibly a remotely valid idea.
    (you replied, ok let's continue :lol:) What you say about evolution is nonsense. All reputable scientists of the time laughed at it - sound familiar? It also had no evidence to back it up, at least not definitive evidence. It took a lot of time for it to be taken seriously, and both Darwin and Lamarck were fully conscious of the reputation hit they were likely to take when publishing their, at the time, crackpot ideas. These are all facts.

    Scientists are not gods, but they're the best trained group to 1) understand the scientific method and 2) critically analyse scientific theories. I think you've got a pretty unfair and misinformed view of peer review. It is not a perfect system but generally it works decently as a method of quality control. Journals have a limited number of papers they can publish and it's not difficult to understand why they'd want to limit crackpot ideas. If you start allowing highly dubious papers into your journal, quality is going to nosedive. Of course you're running the risk of very, very occasionally missing out a good idea but it's better than the alternative of zero quality control whatsoever.
    Fair enough. I do think that the current process actually encourages very low productivity in very narrow fields of research. Despite these quality control measures, bad papers still creep through, and what is deemed publishable is still very low down on the "what else is new?" list. Basically I think the conservatism has reached the point of diminishing returns.

    And yes, I have actually read these papers. I read a very in-depth systematic review of all papers published on homoeopathy which very clearly demonstrated that, out of the many, many papers published, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that it's better than placebo.
    I haven't read the homeopathy papers, by the way I would also read the primary references because often reviews pass through another layer of (mis)interpretation. I'm not disagreeing with homeopathy being placebo (even though placebo is still better than no placebo I.e. If people benefit from kidding themselves, let them :lol:) but I did read the very old and poor astrology papers and they are definitely not proper evidence.

    Regarding the point about why bother with an unlikely idea - either because you want to test your observation, or because it's an idea that would have a big impact.
 
 
 
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