Astrology and Skeptics: When An Opinion Is Not A Fact

2921288464_fec22107eb_z (Astrology Explored) It started innocently enough with a person asking an astrologer to read his palm. I declined to do this, but a skeptic weighed in with this response:

My advice is that you do not attach any significance whatsoever to anybody who claim to be able to tell the future by reading palms, the stars, etc. Palmistry and astrology is pseudoscientific nonsense and it has been thoroughly debunked scientifically.

To which I replied:

Please cite the scientific papers that support your claims.

And this is the response I received:

Comment: “The scientific community rejects astrology as having no explanatory power for describing the universe, and consider it a pseudoscience. Scientific testing of astrology has been conducted, and no evidence has been found to support any of the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions. There is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood, basic aspects of biology and physics. Those who continue to have faith in astrology have been characterized as doing so “…in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary.”

Kindly see citations at the bottom:

en-wikipedia-org/wiki/Astrology

So, of course, I had to respond.

1.) Comment:”The scientific community rejects astrology as having no explanatory power for describing the universe, and consider it a pseudoscience.”

It is not the entire scientific community that rejects astrology, but a specific group that promotes the rejection of anything they consider supernatural. This group us the Humanists who promote atheism. Anything other than a rejection of God or any “supernatural” force is unacceptable to the Humanists. I wrote about here:

Astrology and the Skeptics: Debunkers Tool of a Religious Agenda?

And here:

Atheists, Humanists and Astrology: What You Should Know

2.) Scientific testing of astrology has been conducted, and no evidence has been found to support any of the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions

Again, this assertion that is patently untrue. I wrote about that here:

Astrology and the Skeptics: An Open Letter to Dr. Rebekah Higgitt

3.) There is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood, basic aspects of biology and physics.

Then you are behind in your understanding of quantum physics. You can read my article here:

Astrology and Science: Scientific Determinism’s Dangerous Ground

4.) Those who continue to have faith in astrology have been characterized as doing so “…in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary.”

I refer you again to point 2.

5.) Kindly see citations at the bottom:

en-wikipedia-org/wiki/Astrology”

Lest you think that Wikipedia Editor has presented a true account of astrology, you can read my recounting of the edit war against the people who are best qualified to present astrology—astrologers.

Wikipedia’s War Against Astrology: Jimmy Wales–Are You Listening?

Again, I invite you to provide direct scientific proof that astrology is false, from qualified, unbiased scientists. I’m sincerely interested in that. I’ve been unable to find same, but perhaps you have access to sources that I do not. In the meantime, I submit that you’ve only provided an opinion, which is your right. But opinion is not scientific evidence. Otherwise, we’d still believe the earth is flat.

Sincerely,

Beth Turnage

Photo published under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Marcin Chady

Atheists, Humanists and Astrology: What You Should Know

Minnesota Atheists in Parade (Astrology Explored) One of the most marvelous things about this country is that anyone is can practice or not practice religion. Whatever your belief or lack thereof about God, or a higher power, does not prevent you from enjoying the benefits of living in this society.

So then, it is a curious thing that atheists are organizing a “Woodstock for Atheists” today Saturday, March 24, 2012 on the mall in Washington, DC to “show their power in numbers and change their image”.

Certain segments of the atheist movement believe that American’s don’t like them much, as written aboutin an op-ed piece by two atheists published in the Washington Post. In this piece, while saying that atheism is rarely denounced in the mainstream they posit that atheists are subject to discrimination in the military and that surveys show that in Americans in general won’t marry or vote for atheists. They call this “stunning anti-theist discrimination”.

The Reason Rally organizers hope that by holding this gathering, it will give “closeted” atheists the confidence to “come out” and to show the religious majority that atheism is alive and well in America.

The rally is being sponsored by several atheist organizations, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, and the American Atheists, which is holding its annual convention in D.C. the very same weekend.

Far be it from this astrologer to deny anyone the right to believe what he or she wishes. Go with or without God, be well, prosper.

However, one needs to be aware that the agenda of these non-theists is not so much about what they believe, but what they want you to believe and that is . . . what they believe.

Here is what the American Humanist Association says about themselves:

American Humanist Association – We strive to bring about a progressive society where being good without gods is an accepted way to live life. We are accomplishing this through our defense of civil liberties and secular governance, by our outreach to the growing number of people without traditional religious faith, and through a continued refinement and advancement of the humanist worldview.

In other words, as I’ve said before, they don’t want to be just in their business, they want to be in yours too.

Even though it seems that all there are many organizations involved in this rally, all the organizations above are inextricably tied to the American Humanist Association. Ed Buckner, board member and former president of American Atheists is cited as “a noted Humanist” Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation received the the 2010 Humanist Heroine award by the American Humanist Association. The Center for Inquiry is listed on one website as affliated with the Councile for Secular Humanism, American Atheists and the American Humanist Association. Its list of former speakers reads like a who’s who of American Humanist Association Members. This is small regional group claiming a membership of 400 though only 40 members actively attends meetings but still is helping to sponsor an event where 30,000 people are expected to be in attendance.

So while not all atheists are humanists, it’s the humanists that drive the mission to make our society a secular, atheistic one.

And though the American Humanist Association claims atheists are discriminated against in society, in concert with its ideology it actively denigrates any form of belief that it deems “unscientific”. The paragraph below is taken from its own website:

In the wake of articles in The Humanist which were critical of pseudoscience, the AHA established in May of 1976 the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Through its membership of humanist leaders and scientists, CSICOP launched the Skeptical Inquirer, challenged pseudoscientific claims, and exposed much of the faulty experimentation, frauds, and fallacies of “psychic research.” Now called the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, it is a dynamic, independent consumer-information organization.

The above paragraph makes it seem that CSICOP was only investigating “psychics” but the truth of the matter is that CSICOP and the Humanists took especial aim at astrology. It published “Objections to Astrology” in the Humanist magazine, sponsored the NCGR-Berkeley double blind test which purported to disprove astrology but upon independent peer review was found to be fundamentally flawed, and attempted to skew the peer review of the famous Mars Effect as discovered by Michel Gauguelin by rearranging the data sets to favor their position.

James Randi, another member of the American Humanist Association is a speaker at this rally. He calls himself a debunker of astrology. However his debunking techniques have been debunked themselves, shown as mental “slight of hand” tricks that actually prove nothing.

Various wings of the American Humanist Association have taken quite a few potshots at astrologers calling them frauds and charlatans, and thieves of consumer’s money for taking payment for practicing their profession. It’s just not really called for. Even other skeptics call for a toning down of the rhetoric.

In light of the contempt opponents have for the intellectual abilities of both astrologers and their customers and in light of utter ineffectiveness of their attacks, what is the point of these anti-astrology polemics? What really is at stake? And what really is accomplished?*

What is accomplished? It’s the attempt to further the Humanist worldview of a totally secular society with no room for other viewpoints.

Hey, you want to be an atheist, go be an atheist. Protest your treatment at the hands of the non-secular world. It’s your right. But no one, no one movement, group or organization has the right to foist its worldview on the rest of America. That the Humanists attempt to do so is what makes this astrologer queasy about their agenda.

Photo published under a Creative Commons license issued by user Fibronacciblue as explained on Flickr.