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Debunking Astrology


Forums Forums Pseudoscience and the Paranormal Debunking Astrology

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 31 total)
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  • #298842
    @carmiecat86
    Participant

    Hi there!  New here, but looking for rational people to provide some insight into my newest dilemma:   Yesterday the guy I’m dating told me about some man that approached him at a restaurant claiming to be an astrologer.  My guy stated the man seemed a little “out there” and for whatever reason found it important to show that he had $20,000 cash with him because of this incredible algorithm he created that can figure out major life events that have happened in someone’s life based on their birthdate and the alignment of the moon and stars… you know the drill.

    My guy was skeptical at first, but then believed the guy when he was able to bring up major life events and correctly guess the dates (give or take a few days) of when they happened.  So now he is sold on this dude.   I still am very skeptical and feel that this is just a very well crafted illusion this crazy old man (I mean seriously, who carries $20,000 cash and tells people openly?!?) has come up with.  But I don’t know how to (or if it’s even worth it to) debunk it.  I wonder if any of you out there can recommend any articles, scientific papers or anything that I can review to educate myself more and show why this guy is a scam?  Or if there is any actual truth to this that you may be aware of, I would love to educate myself on that as well.  I just don’t get a good vibe from this old dude, and it makes me sad that my guy would fall for that.

    Thank you for your time, and I appreciate your rational thoughts!

    #298844
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    Wow, I have $20,000, where I can send it? Does he take PayPal?

    Oh wait, I’m a skeptic. Why does this guy with a briefcase full of cash need other people? How do you make money off of knowing what happened to someone in the past? If he can predict people’s future, just predict Elon Musk’s future, that should be worth a few bucks. BTW, does your “guy” have facebook, or expose any of his personal information on media that is available to anyone in the world?

    Also, look up “cold reading”. It’s a way of engaging someone in conversation and getting them to tell you things about themselves, but has the appearance of mind reading. Read that, then go talk to the guy and watch him use it.

    #298845
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    I’m no magician, so I don’t have a clue how those guys operate. The best thing to do would be to find out how the scammer did his trick, so you can explain it and show how it was done. Look on YouTube for videos of people who debunk this stuff, and you’ll see them explain and perform the tricks.

    Just telling someone that they are wrong is rarely useful. Explaining stuff is usually required and always beneficial.

    #298848
    @carmiecat86
    Participant

    Thank you for your response, @Lausten!  Those are all things that I actually brought up to my guy!  He said the crazy old man “doesn’t like to predict people’s future because it may mess with their heads and then they’ll try to look for that prediction to happen”… -__-   So yes, sounds like a total scam to me.  I have looked up videos and articles about cold readings, and it all makes sense to me. I just haven’t found anything directly related to figuring out dates of events that took place in people’s lives.  The man also apparently said how based on these “charts” how we could have predicted all the major wars because they happened exactly on dates that this chart has pointed out as important dates.  I mean, how can I not laugh???? But yes, I will just have to continue doing research on this and see how I can get both my guy to question this, and the crazy old man to stop scamming people.  And yes– I’ll gladly take his $20,000 🙂

    #298849
    @carmiecat86
    Participant

    @3point14rat – Thank you for your response. Have been doing some of that already, but will have to keep looking and hopefully at some point the trick will come to the surface.  And you’re absolutely right– I don’t want to just say the old man is wrong; I want to be able to prove it.

    #298850
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    In the very early days of the internet I came across a guy who said he could tell the day of the week for any day in history. To prove it, he gave a few examples. In a written post. He followed up with, “see, it’s amazing isn’t it.” There are a lot of people out there who think they’ve done something amazing but don’t know what evidence is, so they can actually fool themselves. What’s amazing is, he gives you an example of his work, but doesn’t show you the chart. I suppose he worries then you’d have the power, and who knows what you’d do with it!!

    #299469
    @bigmouth
    Participant

    The guy was a crook. Your guy was being scammed by the use of a cold reading. Telling a complete stranger he  has $20k in cash is another give away. Any kind of fortune telling also raises the question: if the future can be foretold, doesn’t that abrogate free will?

    In my experience, no fortune teller of any kind will be specific; The ‘medium’ will NOT say “I am in contact  with Myrtle Bloggs, who died and  X date, and wants to speak to her friend Ida Brown, about her missing pearl necklace”. They will often use initials, or something general enough to generate  a ‘hit’ ;Eg “in her 80’s, born in the country, had a stroke’

    The skeptic James Randi offered  $1 million to anyone who could demonstrate any kind of paranormal or psychic powers. None claimed the prize  the several years it was offered .

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    A bit more on astrology ; Nobody know exactly where Astrology was invented .Babylon seems popular, up to 3000 bce. It was based on the observation of the five planets visible by the naked eye ; Mercury, Venus, Saturn Mars and Jupiter. The Sun and Moon  also counted as planets.

    Until the enlightenment, the stars were studied for divination, especially on the life of a ruler. There was no discipline of  ‘astronomy’.

    Astrology has always been a pseudo science; it uses actual  positions of the planets at the day and time of a person’s birth. Modern astrologers use ephemerides, small booklets published  each year, which show the position of planets on a given day. The astrologer calculates adjustments  for his country.

    Astrology uses a GEO CENTRIC System

    Oh, extremely accurate astrological computer programmes have been around for  at least ten years of which I’m aware. They will cast a natal chart, and print out a nice picture, AND do a detailed interpretation.

    When I was much younger, I spent 5 years learning and practising astrology. I could cast a chart and do a detailed interpretation. I had a teacher and read books going back to William Lilly (1602-1681). Astrologers like to claim Lilly predicted the Great Fire of London. He didn’t.

    I truly wanted Astrology to be real.  I always only did ‘blind readings’, not having met the subject.  I kept records; a copy of every chart, and every interpretation.  Then I followed them up in 12 months: “Hits” :ONE; I wrote that the person would make a good teacher. That was in fact her career. There were no other accurate interpretations.  At the five year mark, I concluded that Astrology is woo. I have not changed my mind in the decades since.

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    COLD READINGS (the full article is worth reading)

    Cold reading is a set of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums, illusionists (readers), and scam artists to imply that the reader knows much more about the person than the reader actually does.[1] Without prior knowledge, a practiced cold-reader can quickly obtain a great deal of information by analyzing the person’s body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold readings commonly employ high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, then emphasizing and reinforcing chance connections and quickly moving on from missed guesses. Psychologists believe that this appears to work because of the Forer effect and due to confirmation biases within people.[2]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading

    #299483
    @timb
    Participant

    There is no libertarian free will, so one could determine the future within certain probability parameters, IF one could know all of the myriad of relevant factors that will go into the actualization of a particular future occurrence.  But each factor would entail a certain probability of resulting toward a certain occurrence or not, thus, potentially increasing the complexity of what the subsequent factors could be. The factors would decrease if the event to be predicted were to be in a very short time, but the longer the time, the complexity of factors would increase (probably exponentially). So effectively predicting a future occurrence (even just a day away) is never going to be a sure thing.  However, weather forecasters have gotten pretty good at it. But they are by no means able to predict with certainty even for just one day in the future.

    The position of stars would not be a salient factor, typically, in the potential occurrences of events in some individual’s life.  IOW, astrology is a ridiculous concept.

    #299489
    @bigmouth
    Participant

    Sorry Tim, don’t understand the phrase “there is no libertarian free will”.  Looking at the following sentence it seems you are arguing soft determinism (?) .  I am most interested in hearing your your explanation. Because  as you seem to have made a claim, be interested in hearing your proof.

    Is astrology a ridiculous concept?  Well, no it isn’t. It is a pseudo science which has been around for thousands of years. Like just about every widely held human belief, it has its own logic.  From my perception , astrological belief is based on a logical fallacy still widely used; “after this, therefore because of this”  (latin; post hoc ergo propter hoc) Even though flawed, the logic is persistent and satisfying to believers  as far as I can tell.

    This logical fallacy seems to me to be the basis forth the placebo effect, also beloved of say anti vaccination froot loops EG; “My friend had her son  vaccinated against X. Three months later he was diagnosed autistic. THEREFORE the vaccination caused his  autism”

    I think it’s simplistic to dismiss any widely practiced human behaviour as ‘ridiculous’. In my experience such behaviour meets a need., perhaps many needs.  I think astrology has similarities to religion in the needs it meets;  perhaps the deep human need for order, or perhaps a need for the illusion of control.

    My position in this matter is based on the notion of structural functionalism. It is the result of observation and formal study .However, it is just one approach. I don’t make any truth claims.

    #299503
    @timb
    Participant

    I believe that everything we do is determined.  Thus free will does not exist with the exception that it can be defined to exist as “compatiblist free will”.

    I think that I can stand by my statement that the underlying tenet of Astrology (that the position of stars and planets from some location and time on earth can predict individual behaviors and events) is ridiculous.  That believing in astrology has value of sorts to believers, that indeed must be quite true.  As does believing in religion and other superstitions and even propaganda, and even someone’s alternate version of reality.  But the many values it may have for individuals is probably not ultimately what could be most functional for them or for society. Thus I am of the very strong opinion that the act of believing in any false notions or superstitions, ultimately merits ridicule.  And I strongly doubt that my ridicule will convince many if anyone to immediately abandon such ultimately dysfunctional fictions, but I plant the seed.

    Choose truth, choose verifiable facts, choose narratives to believe that are at least based on facts, rather than fictions that don’t reflect reality.

    Note: I have always empathized with anti-vaccine parents, because they are desperate to do what they think is best for their individual child.  The odds that a vaccine will have harmful effects on a tiny % of vaccinated children, may be infinitesimal but it is not zero. OTOH initiation of the characteristics of the autism spectrum will often occur at the same approximate time in early development, as some vaccinations are given, so it is possible, if not likely, that even in most of these few cases, there is no causal relationship.  So what is ridiculous in the respect of being anti-vaccines, is going against the very high probability that one’s child will have no severe ill effects from a virus.  And it is also a bad idea, because the vaccine may very well protect one’s child.  And it is also a bad idea for the larger society, because it reduces the possibility of herd immunity.  It would only NOT be ridiculous if one had strong particular facts compiled that suggests that the one child might be among the tiny % of children who might have ill effects from a vaccine.

     

    #299504
    @timb
    Participant

    Oh!  I see where I truly mis-spoke when I said “…so one could *determine the future within certain probability parameters, IF one could know all of the myriad of relevant factors that will go into the actualization of a particular future occurrence.”  *Honestly, the word that conveys what I meant would have been “predict” NOT “determine”. I was trying to say how one might legitimately attempt to “predict” the future, as you can see, subsequently in the post, I do use the word “predict”.

    #299513
    @bigmouth
    Participant

    edit

    #301555
    @loisl
    Participant

    TimB

    Oh!  I see where I truly mis-spoke when I said “…so one could *determine the future within certain probability parameters, IF one could know all of the myriad of relevant factors that will go into the actualization of a particular future occurrence.”  *Honestly, the word that conveys what I meant would have been “predict” NOT “determine”. I was trying to say how one might legitimately attempt to “predict” the future, as you can see, subsequently in the post, I do use the word “predict”.

    Humans have been attempting to predict events since the first humans inhabited the earth. Their ability to predict events has been shown to be extremely weak. No better than empty guesses.

     

    Lois

     

     

    #301564
    @timb
    Participant

    And yet, the ability to predict with less inaccuracy has improved in the case of the weather.

    #301570
    @bigmouth
    Participant

    “Humans have been attempting to predict events since the first humans inhabited the earth. Their ability to predict events has been shown to be extremely weak. No better than empty guesses.”

    Indeed. One of the handiest tools has been a common logical fallacy “After this, therefore because of this” (post hoc, ergo propter hoc) Using this tool, shamans and witchdoctors of all kinds have been using  coincidence as predictive. IE when X happened, Y also happened. Therefore X caused  Y .

    In terms of premonitions which come true: One simple answer is that we don’t remember the premonitions which do NOT come true. I can’t think of the term for this particular  reality.

    Actually, a lot of prophecy  has been uncannily accurate. Of course, it wasn’t actually written down until after the event.

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    Speaking of remembering. One pieces of graffito which has stuck in my mind :

    “Religion: Man’s attempt to communicate with the weather” (Cambridge, England, 2000)

     

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Patrick D.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Patrick D.
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