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I need to prove that astrology has no predictive power whatsoever

  1. Jul 29, 2007 #1

    siddharth

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    I need to prove that astrology has no predictive power whatsoever!!

    How do you effectively tell an intelligent family member, who knows basic science, that astrology has no predictive power whatsoever, is a pseudoscience and worthless in predicting the future, without sounding partisan or offensive?

    How do you tell a person not to take every statement printed in an astrology books as a fact, and to search and try to find out if that statement has been independently and objectively tested?

    How do you tell a person that while astrology has no physical basis, that astronomy is real and so much more interesting, grander and awe inspiring?

    This is part rhetorical, and part dejected.
     
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  3. Jul 29, 2007 #2

    daniel_i_l

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    |"How do you effectively tell an intelligent family member, who knows basic
    |science, that astrology has no predictive power whatsoever, is a
    |pseudoscience and worthless in predicting the future, without sounding
    |partisan or offensive?"

    Do a simple experiment, ask him to make a testable prediction and see if it comes true.

    |"How do you tell a person not to take every statement printed in an
    |astrology books as a fact, and to search and try to find out if that
    |statement has been independently and objectively tested? "

    You should do that with any book.

    |"How do you tell a person that while astrology has no physical basis, that
    |astronomy is real and so much more interesting, grander and awe inspiring?"

    That's all very subjective.
     
  4. Jul 29, 2007 #3

    siddharth

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    Ah, but it's so easy to cherry pick predictions. Especially with all the vague language used

    Yes.

    I disagree. IMO, any rational person should be able to realize that astronomy is the real deal, and much more exciting.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2007
  5. Jul 29, 2007 #4
    Some people just don't want it. A certain family member of mine, for example, loves watching things like "What the %$*& do we know". There's nothing to be done, really.

    Now you're just sounding bias and partisan. Don't be silly. The stars being able to predict how your love life is gonna turn out is easily more exciting than astronomy. That's why it sells.
     
  6. Jul 29, 2007 #5

    siddharth

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    Hah, you're right.

    Just sad, really. Saddened that an otherwise intelligent and rational person, suddenly falls for such stuff.
     
  7. Jul 29, 2007 #6

    Moonbear

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    Unfortunately, there often isn't anything anyone can do to stop people from believing in such nonsense. The vast majority of people realize there's no basis for it and just treat it more like a form of entertainment, but for those who believe it, it's unlikely you can talk them out of that belief.

    Edit: Actually, one way that might work if they believe in horoscopes, just to point out how it's the overly vagueness of them that makes them sound believable, is to swap them around give them one for the wrong sign. If they think it came true, then show that it's the wrong sign. Or give them all of them with the names of the signs cut off and tell them to let you know at the end of the week which was theirs, because that one will of course be the one that comes true if it's that good at making specific predictions...they won't be able to do it, because any of them could be theirs with the vague wording.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2007
  8. Jul 29, 2007 #7

    Alkatran

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    You probably can't convince them by talking. They might as well try to convince you it's true.

    The way to test astrology claims is NOT to see if predictions come true. That has a ton of problems with confirmation bias, etc. You need to get multiple predictions, of which only one is for them, and have them try to pick it based on their experiences from the last week. If astrology is true, they should pick theirs more often than the others.
     
  9. Jul 29, 2007 #8

    G01

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    You could explain to them that the signs of the zodiac don't even appear during the months that astrologists assign to them. This is one thing they can't deny. The astrology calendar was invented 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire. Since then, the precession of the equinox(I think this is what caused it, correct me if I'm wrong.) has caused the signs of the zodiac to shift, appearing in different months.

    They probably won't care if they are really into astrolgy, but it at least points out one undeniable logical flaw (out of MANY) in the practice.
     
  10. Jul 29, 2007 #9
    This is probably where you should start


    But there are so many kind of 'prediction crackpottery', with increasing complexity, that it's difficult to convince believers out of it.

    Oh, and here's something useful: http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/astrology.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  11. Jul 29, 2007 #10

    radou

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    You sure about this part? :tongue2:
     
  12. Jul 29, 2007 #11
    While it is sad, they have the right to believe in what ever thay want. If they are a family member, I would respect that. Actually, even if they were a friend, I would still respect there right to have their own beliefs.
     
  13. Jul 29, 2007 #12

    Moonbear

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    Yes, that would be another good starting place. Instead of taking an adversarial stance, take them out to view the stars and point out the constellations, explain the astronomy side of it, what's special about the location of the constellations that are part of the zodiac (it's the path the sun and planets follow, which is why those constellations were given importance), and what it means to be a sun sign (the sun is IN that constellation). Then you can point out where the constellations actually, are, which ones you can see, and comment how the actual positions of the constellations are a month or two out of phase with what the astrologists list for things like newspaper horoscopes. This might get the point across that what they are reading as predictions makes no sense, because they weren't really born in the sign the horoscopes list. Of course, they might just decide they've been reading the wrong sign, and that would "of course" explain the things that don't quite fit (because then they'll notice those) and that they just need to read the horoscopes for the sign they were actually born in. :rolleyes: If that is their reaction, I suggest just dropping it, because it'll indicate their belief is far too ingrained to get them to see the flaws through educating them.
     
  14. Jul 29, 2007 #13
    My wife believes in fortune telling in general whether it be palm reading, tarot cards, astrology, or any other. I do not try to change her and that is why I am alive to tell the tale. I have gotten her to agree that almost all the people who pass themselves off as psychics are fakes. But this does not alter her perception that our fate is written in the stars and in our palms and the cards and elsewhere if only we can read it.
     
  15. Jul 29, 2007 #14
    My mother reads tarot and likes astrology but my mother only reads people that she knows well, and her wisdom and advice may not be in the cards or stars. In fact I believe it's in her mind, thus I feel little need to challenge wisdom, or to point out that here knowledge is not worth my time.

    Generally it's harmless, it's just removing our wisdom from ourselves, deflecting the responsibility for our thoughts and ideas to something we have no control over. A way of removing our views or responsibility for them from ourselves and thus diminishing our ultimate responsibility, not necessarily a bad thing; luckily we have the ability to discriminate, we can look to the stars or we can look to common sense, whatever the source it more often seems to work if we value the opinions of our mystics :smile:
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2007
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