Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Astrologer's Karma Runs Over A Skeptic's Dogma

First of all, I urge you to take nine and a half minutes out of your life to watch this video:

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My comments:

0:45 - Vedic astrology is "far more accurate." I don't want to start any brawls here between Western and Vedic Astrologers (they can do that fine on their own, thank you). But, speaking as someone who uses both Western and Vedic techniques, I understand where the occasional smugness of the Vedic crowd comes from. It's downright spooky the stuff a decent Vedic astrologer can spot in a birth chart.

Having said that: I think the biggest (and most accurate) criticisms of Western Astrology that the jyotishis have is based on...

0:59 "I got out of astrology because I realized that what I was really doing was practicing psychology without a license."

Bingo. One of my biggest problems with how astrology is practiced... particularly of the Western variety... is that it's more psychology than astrology. My own educational background is in psychology, so I'm not knocking that. And of course, as an astrologer, I'm not knocking astrology. The problem with a lot of astrological consultations is that psychology is a vital part of a consultation, and too many are practicing it without a decent grasp of psychology and counseling techniques.

Of course, my own background may bias my opinion. And God knows there are plenty of valid criticisms of modern psychology. How many Universities have a Department of Psychology? And is there a consistently effective treatment for chronic depression out there yet? Say what you will about astrology, it stands up nicely to Freudian or Behavioral or Humanistic views of how the mind works... without nearly the same amount of research funding.

Put another way: if you stopped being an astrologer because you realized that you were "practicing psychology without a license," the problem isn't astrology... it's that you aren't a psychologist. Regardless of one's level of astrological skill, mucking about with people's thoughts and feelings and past and future demands a lot of knowledge, wisdom, and self-discipline. If you haven't got that... please, find another job.

1:45 "This is a woman who probably plucks her eyebrows." Well, um... duh. We're told this woman is a business executive, so maintaining a crisp, clean appearance is going to be important. But the point here is that if I doubt she'd say "wow" to this observation unless (left to their own devices) her brows really were on the bushy side. And honestly... anyone who thinks this astrologer could "bond" with a woman over pointing out her bushy eyebrows obviously knows very little about women... let alone astrology or psychology.

Besides... whether they "bonded" or not... the astrologer was right.

3:05-9:28 - As a lawyer would say, res ipsa loquitur... "the thing speaks for itself." A cumulative result of 77% effectiveness? Booyah!

Pick any currently available antidepressant... each one the result of years of scientific research and millions of dollars of laboratory time... and you tell me if it works 77% percent of the time. Go ahead, look it up. I dare you.

Now... where's MY lab coat, tenure, and corner office, dammit?

And finally... thanks to both Michael Schermer for allowing this to surface in the first place... and to Jeffrey Armstrong, for kicking ass.

4 comments:

Twilight said...

I found that very interesting, Matthew. Thanks!

It'd be even more interesting to conduct the same experiment with a western-style astrologer, then compare/contrast the two results.

What he said about each person was pretty basic, and you could almost tell where it was coming from - if using western....but how different would it all have been using western, I wonder.

Starry Night Astrology said...

Matthew,

Your comment on my site got buried in the spam filter because of the link, but it is all good and approved now for the world to see.

Later,

Beth

Nathan said...

Thanks for pointing this out, Matthew. A very interesting demonstration of how Vedic astrology holds out against testing, when the astrologer knows his stuff. I am not surprised with the results, but makes me wonder what processes are at work here. I am pretty blaze about the Western/Vedic arguments partly because either system could play out accurately being based on similar principals. All the same, I have only investigated Vedic astrology on a superficial level as there is very little literature comparing both systems and Western is predominant here, even though that seems to be slowly changing. Am I right in my belief that interpretation of astrological symbolism is the same in both systems? That is, Western uses the Cardinal/Fixed/Mutable:Fire/Earth/Air/Water structures for symbolic extrapolation and Vedic follows a similar method for determining interpretation of each astrological sign?

Matthew The Astrologer said...

It's... you know, the more I think about it, the more I think that the similarities and differences between Western astrology and Vedic are sort of like the differences between English and Hindi. Although they sound radically different, they both derive from the same basic roots. Theoretically, we could boil both down to a common "language."

That particular task would take approximately three reincarnations... and I've already wasted at least half of this one just trying to pay the bills...