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Is astrology an art or a science?

  1. May 23, 2012 #1
    I've read in an online article that astronomy, the science as we know it, developed from astrology, which many people today consider as a pseudo-science? Do you think it is fair to believe that astronomy had its roots in astrology? And wouldn't be the astronomy facts, as we know it, become null and void if their foundation rests on pseudo scientific assertions in astrology? Feel free to post your thoughts!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2012 #2
    Well, just because people started paying attention to the stars for stupid reasons doesn't mean that astronomy still somehow depends on those superstitions.
  4. May 23, 2012 #3


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    Astrology is crackpottery pure and simple. The fact that some early observations of astronomical events were misinterpreted in ludicrous ways does not in any way invalidate anything about astronomy as we know it today.
  5. May 23, 2012 #4
    I think the following video fits here:


    It touches on the difference between astrology and astronomy. Basically, astronomy gives answers on what happens and tries to quantify things. Astrology tries to answer "why" things happen. That astrology fails and is utter crackpottery, doesn't invalidate the observations of astronomy.
  6. May 23, 2012 #5


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    Astronomy is not rooted in astrology. Both were part of one system of knowledge at one time that was called "astrology". Over time, the study fissioned into the two disciplines we have today, one of which is also called "astrology", but it's not the same astrology as before; nowadays, we basically put everything that's falsifiable and mechanistic in the astronomy category.

    So what happened is that the semantics changed with the fissure, so astrology doesn't mean the same thing anymore; it now just means all the crap we cut away from astronomy.
  7. May 23, 2012 #6


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    astronomy and astrology both take measurements from the sky and made predictions from them but at some point in the past they parted ways. It was easy for ancient man to believe that the heavens affected life on earth considering the moon's clockwork relationship to the tides and to then further extend it to a persons destiny.

    They differ in that the astrologer believes that planetary movements affect your destiny and has developed a cookbook of interpretations to reference that was at best anecdotal ie make a reading of someone, characterize their destiny and then extend it to others born on the same day but with slight variation in planetary positions.

    The astronomer in contrast is trying to understand the relationship of the moving planetary bodies with each other and trying to come up with a physical model to predict their motion.

    I loved the scene in the I Claudius series where the court astrologer kept getting Tiberius's destiny wrong while Tiberius was in exile. He comes back one day from a walk to see Tiberius sitting at his table going over the charts. When the astrologer asked what he was doing, Tiberius replied: "I'm going over your chart Astrologer and its not looking very good. I want to see what will befall you should the next messenger from Rome not bring good tidings." The scene ends with the messenger bringing word that Tiberius is to return to Rome at Augustus' request. They both laugh, the astrologer more nervously as he dodged an arrow (hey didn't have bullets back then).
  8. May 24, 2012 #7
    People who don't believe in astrology are ill, they should take homeopathic treatment. (Sarcasm)
  9. May 24, 2012 #8


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    Even if this were true it would not matter. Alchemy is often credited with being a pre-cursor to modern chemistry. Does that make your aspirin invalid?
  10. May 24, 2012 #9
    The guy in that clip makes a fool of himself though in the first 3 or 4 words. "The Mayan Indians", he says? Wrong continent buddy.
  11. May 24, 2012 #10


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    Richard Feynman is a fool??? Pahahahaha :rofl: Do you not know who he is? Did you not listen to the whole video?

    Historically the phrase "Mayan Indian" was used but probably fell out of fashion around the same time as calling Native American's Indians did. The fact that an old man in an old video used an old term that does not match your modern day terminology does not make him a fool.
  12. May 24, 2012 #11
    It was a joke, although I do think that it's ridiculous to say Mayan Indians, unless your talking about Mayan Indians.
  13. May 24, 2012 #12
    One of the most interesting factoids I've happened across is that it was part of Galileo's teaching duties to teach astrology, and, in his capacity as a learned man in this field, to cast horoscopes for the local Nobles and wealthy people. There is no indication he balked at this. Apparently he took it in stride. I would guess that's because it got him access to movers and shakers in the area. It allowed him to become friendly with important people.

    The split between astrology and astronomy, though, must have become definite due to him. The Starry Messenger upset everyone's concept of the heavens.
  14. May 24, 2012 #13
    Both astrology and astronomy are very interesting fields of study. If you can carry out an experiment based on measurable factors and come to logical conclusions based on that experiment, its a science.
  15. May 24, 2012 #14


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    Well, that's a bit overly-simple and in any case, astrology does not DO that.
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