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The astrology thread

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Astrology is a pseudoscience.  There is no repeatable evidence, based on the scientific method, that there is anything to it.  The Skeptical Dictionary has an interesting article discussing the history of astrology and opinions about it.  It is worth reading. 
http://www.skepdic.com/astrology.html

     

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Personally I think that out of all the fortune-telling “facilities” astrology is, without doubt, the biggest load of tosh altogether but, in the main, it does no harm (not true though when people rule their lives by it but, thankfully, that’s rare) so I take great delight in throwing this into the mix:

The 13th Sign. Smile

     

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Wow, ok, some heated opinions here.

I’m not much interested in a debate or being proven right, but I think the main broader point I want to make in relation to ‘pseudoscience’ is that I don’t see it as science at all, so as I see it there’s really no conflict. I mentioned my science background so I’d struggle massively with its verifiability if I did view it as science.

I see astrology as concerned with interpretation, meaning and purpose of life on an experiential, personal level so it falls more into the arts or psychology - and I know a few professional therapists who use it and believe in its usefulness in this way. I really don’t see any relationship or overlap with astronomy or any scientific study because of astrology’s beliefs that meaning is inseparable from the universe we live in, and the synchronicity (not causality) of certain phenomena and symbols.

That’s not to say science rejects that the universe has meaning, it’s just not interested in such questions, and that’s why it’s so successful in what it does. The article about getting astrology into universities tries to put it on the same level as other academic fields, and I don’t think it belongs there - the same as I feel about theology and religion. These things are intensely personal, they have little significance outside their meaning to the individual and don’t lend themselves to universal application. They use models of the universe - of creation, of holographic nature, of synchronicity, which can’t be verified, but what really matters is what it means to you. The article calls it “divination”, and I’m fine with that.

(It’s also true that it’s incredibly complex, like psychology, which near-infinite variables, so the talent and intuition of the astrology is a huge factor and this is why I don’t see it as every being a candidate for scientific study - you simply can’t isolate a factor like the Sun Sign and say “a person with Sun in Capricorn is like ______”, which is a belief a lot of people have). This is where it comes closer to an artform, which is similar to a lot of therapies which depend highly on the therapist’s talents.

So I guess I see these kind of criticisms like someone saying to a parent reading a children’s book to their child: “What nonsense! Bears who can talk, a girl who spins hair into gold, goose laying golden eggs - such things are impossible!”. The statements are true, but they miss the point, somehow.

(Flat earth theory on the other hand I see as “pseudoscience” - it makes claims about the material, geometric nature of the Earth which are easily dismissed)

The other thing I would say to Lady Kestrel - if astrology is so irrational, insane and stupid, shouldn’t those who are into it be in a mental hospital, heavily medicated and locked in a padded cell? I’d encourage you to take a look at some astrologers, watch some videos, and see if that’s true (no doubt there are some crazies out there). And then maybe compare that to some of the brilliant scientists in the past who, following their rationality, have invented powerful weapons, guns, nuclear bombs, destructive tools. And if you say, well they only invented them, they didn’t use them, I would reply that if you create something destructive, well, maybe you could do with a little more consideration of the meaning and purpose in your life.

And lastly, a quote:
“I know that astrology isn’t a science… Of course it isn’t.  It’s just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis…. The rules just kind of got there.  They don’t make any kind of sense except in terms of themselves.  But when you start to exercise those rules, all sorts of processes start to happen and you start to find out all sorts of stuff about people.  In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make.  It’s just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge.  The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better.  It’s like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are.  It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that’s now been taken away and hidden.  The graphite’s not important.  It’s just the means of revealing their indentations.  So you see, astrology’s nothing to do with astronomy.  It’s just to do with people thinking about people. 
-Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

     
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If people want to believe in astrology, Vehelon, that’s their business.  Like religion, it can make people feel better about themselves.  However, when astrologers start charging for their advice based on a system that can’t be proven, that’s just wrong.  There are many things that affect our development pre- and post-birth and throughout our lives, but the alignment of the planets just isn’t one of them.

     

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There are 3 assumptions in your post that can’t be proven either. First is that there is a world or external reality existing apart from perception which is real, and secondly that there is something called “me” or “us” separate from the world that is also real, and thirdly that one is capable of affecting the other. Please provide evidence for these.

But I agree with you that people shouldn’t charge money unless their therapies work. For me personally, that would include any medical doctor or health professional who have given me advice about mental health, and any pharmacist I have bought antidepressants from. All of these failed to work, despite being “proven”.

     
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The brain is a complex part of us that science has been struggling to understand for a long time.  There have been many breakthroughs and setbacks on the road to understanding and improving mental health.  Personally, I have been very close to two people who have been helped by therapy and drugs and one who still struggles with her inner “demons” despite everything she has tried.  I’m sorry you are upset by my posts, but this is as far as I’m willing to go with this subject matter right now.  I wish you well in your personal quest.

     

I’m not weird.  I’m a limited edition.

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Karlok - 15 July 2020 08:16 PM
Celebreon - 15 July 2020 05:35 PM
Karlok - 15 July 2020 01:06 PM

Flat Earth, anyone?

Did you notice that I wrote about my experiences with it, explained my skepticism and distaste for astrology, and asked follow up questions to try to facilitate conversation?

Not really, I read the thread diagonally.

Vehelon has been really active and really kind on these forums.

Yes. I have nothing against Vehelon. I have nothing against you. On the contrary.

But I find we’ve ventured into not nice territory, and the forum guidelines suggest that we be nice to each other.

Nice? I’m the forum bitch. (Well… unofficially.) But frankly, I don’t see much difference between the responses from Timovieman, LadyKestrel, and me. They all express disbelief. What was it about my response that was too close for comfort?

 

Does it come with a sash? Because I will gladly relinquish you of the title if you’d like ;]
Only problem I had was that it added very little, only existed to take a jab at someone, where as Lady K had something that we could actually discuss, the idea that astrology exists as some generic self-affirming bias is an idea that has existed long before I was born, but shows a really shallow more mainstream knowledge of what kinds of things get discussed in Cosmopolitan magazines or whatever.

You still need to follow the guidelines, and I’m not above scolding someone.  ^_^  Have fun!

 

     
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Vehelon - 18 July 2020 11:20 AM

There are 3 assumptions in your post that can’t be proven either. First is that there is a world or external reality existing apart from perception which is real, and secondly that there is something called “me” or “us” separate from the world that is also real, and thirdly that one is capable of affecting the other. Please provide evidence for these.

But I agree with you that people shouldn’t charge money unless their therapies work. For me personally, that would include any medical doctor or health professional who have given me advice about mental health, and any pharmacist I have bought antidepressants from. All of these failed to work, despite being “proven”.

Now THIS is my bag!

1. I love that weird spooky observer effect in quantum mechanical theories and experiments which suggest things exist only as waves of possibility until observed, and then collapse into particles of measurable experience. Do you guys remember when scientists fired photons through a filter with slits in it to see if wave interference patterns would emerge or particles would be filtered predictably?  What does this mean for Newtonian physics (probably nothing? maybe?  IDK, I’m not a physicist)

2. I personally maintain that I am in fact not a separate entity in anyway from the ‘objective real world.’  My conclusion is not founded in science, but mostly in subjective experiences of doing too much drugs, and my consciousness feels as though it expands beyond myself and rejoins with the other forms in the universe.

I imagined the Universe in it’s infancy racing out into forms of ‘being’ only to eventually coalesce into stars and systems, some of which might facilitate life that debate the merits of life and world philosophical stances on a forum committed to adventure gaming, and how small, brief and insignificant this life can be, becoming momentarily self-aware, only for me to die having not made a difference whether I existed or not.  If I am an extension of the universe, an infinitesimally small sense organ of the universe, why do I feel separate and distinct?  Am I delusional into thinking that I am separate, simply because of emergent properties that I think make our human race special?  Can I be certain that I am in fact a simple piece of the whole of existence?
Most importantly, why do people fear death as the human form?  Existential dread I think they call it. 

My head hurts now.  Although the last few times I thought about things like this, I had a panic attack.  So progress I suppose?

Oh also Vehelon, which medications did you try?

I liked Sertraline quite a bit as a SSRI, but I had to be on a specific dose because not enough had no effect, and too much made me sick.  My depression comes with symptoms of dissociation, insomnolence, body-dysmorphia, severe anxiety, anorexia, ruminating thoughts (also sometimes referred to as disordered thinking) and on very rare cases catatonia and hyper-somnolence, with a good dash of drug use disorder thrown in.

I had to explain to my dr. and therapist that while the medications are not magic, I still experience a lot of symptoms, but they did help me find my symptoms more manageable.

Sertraline was pretty good for most of them, but clonazepam at a low dose had most therapeutic effect for anxiety and sleeplessness, and harmful ruminating thoughts.

I used to be on Lunesta, but it’s incredibly habit-forming.

Sadly without continued therapy, they’re just more pills.
***
Lastly, I don’t like the way we are throwing around words like “proven”

No scientist ever uses words like proven, law etc.
Mathematicians and physicists can because they just point at the numbers and say look at the the proof.  But certainly no biologist, pharmacists, or any life sciences and medicines researchers would use the word “prove” or anything related.

“Suggest” is popular among science journals.  Hell it’s rare to even see people claim something as having a “causal” relationship.

     

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Celebreon - 19 July 2020 06:02 PM
Karlok - 15 July 2020 01:06 PM

Nice? I’m the forum bitch. (Well… unofficially.)

Does it come with a sash? Because I will gladly relinquish you of the title if you’d like ;]

NO WAY!


Tongue

     

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Lady Kestrel - 18 July 2020 04:06 PM

The brain is a complex part of us that science has been struggling to understand for a long time.  There have been many breakthroughs and setbacks on the road to understanding and improving mental health.  Personally, I have been very close to two people who have been helped by therapy and drugs and one who still struggles with her inner “demons” despite everything she has tried.  I’m sorry you are upset by my posts, but this is as far as I’m willing to go with this subject matter right now.  I wish you well in your personal quest.

I respect your decision, although I feel compelled to say your statement about the brain is part of what we’re talking about. If we take the brain as the sole causative agent (a matter of philosophy, not science), then it follows that this discussion (and astrology) is nonsensical. If some of us aren’t open to other models, then it’s a good idea to end the discussion. Thanks for your comments.

Celebreon - 19 July 2020 06:26 PM

1. I love that weird spooky observer effect in quantum mechanical theories and experiments which suggest things exist only as waves of possibility until observed, and then collapse into particles of measurable experience. Do you guys remember when scientists fired photons through a filter with slits in it to see if wave interference patterns would emerge or particles would be filtered predictably?  What does this mean for Newtonian physics (probably nothing? maybe?  IDK, I’m not a physicist)

Sure, that was a landmark finding in physics. When I learned about it at university I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been taught that all the physics I learnt in high school could be challenged. That there is no particle or wave that exist independently of observation of it, I mean that has huge implications when you extend it beyond the confines of the lab and the journals.

You still don’t see it talked about much, because there’s not much practical value to it. But it’s there, I’ve got a little book by Heisenberg, one of the greatest 20th century physicists, where he concludes that “there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian Maya)”. Of course, this is nothing new in general terms, but it was unusual for a physicist to come out and say it in the 1930s. Although since then there’s been plenty of others.
Newtonian ideas, time as a fixed constant, etc, are still the assumed reality. 20th century physics still isn’t mainstream

2. I personally maintain that I am in fact not a separate entity in anyway from the ‘objective real world.’  My conclusion is not founded in science, but mostly in subjective experiences of doing too much drugs, and my consciousness feels as though it expands beyond myself and rejoins with the other forms in the universe.

I imagined the Universe in it’s infancy racing out into forms of ‘being’ only to eventually coalesce into stars and systems, some of which might facilitate life that debate the merits of life and world philosophical stances on a forum committed to adventure gaming, and how small, brief and insignificant this life can be, becoming momentarily self-aware, only for me to die having not made a difference whether I existed or not.  If I am an extension of the universe, an infinitesimally small sense organ of the universe, why do I feel separate and distinct?  Am I delusional into thinking that I am separate, simply because of emergent properties that I think make our human race special?  Can I be certain that I am in fact a simple piece of the whole of existence?
Most importantly, why do people fear death as the human form?  Existential dread I think they call it.

Yeah, I’ve had most of those thoughts as well.
The metaphysical model I find useful in explaining how this works, if we follow on from Heisenberg quote above is something like this: that the order of causation goes in this order: desire->belief->thought->feeling->perception.

So beginning from the assumption that there is only one thing, which being One it’s not possible to say anything about but is unlimited in potential, could be said to have created a universe of almost infinitely varied forms, bodies, laws believed itself to become those separate forms, forgetting its nature. A universe of cause and effects is then perceived but the real (unconscious) cause hidden. Although, it’s still hard to get my head around this because when we talk about belief we think about personal beliefs, but when you consider there are also collective beliefs, and this could account for the effects of drugs. And looking at fear, we only think it comes from seeing evidence that we can die.

Oh also Vehelon, which medications did you try?

I haven’t tried that much, escitalopram and one other I can’t recall the name of. I just knew while I was on it that it was covering up the problem. I don’t consider that a cure. It might be in medical terms, but I wanted a permanent solution, not a temporary balm.

Lastly, I don’t like the way we are throwing around words like “proven”

No scientist ever uses words like proven, law etc.
Mathematicians and physicists can because they just point at the numbers and say look at the the proof.  But certainly no biologist, pharmacists, or any life sciences and medicines researchers would use the word “prove” or anything related.

“Suggest” is popular among science journals.  Hell it’s rare to even see people claim something as having a “causal” relationship.

Very true. Although I kind of see this as dishonest, because when you’ve spent some time in medical and scientific academia, you realize people accept certain things they should really be questioning more. When an experiment didn’t work for me in the lab, I always saw it as a fault in my method or application instead of questioning the theory

     

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Vehelon - 22 July 2020 12:26 AM
Celebreon - 19 July 2020 06:26 PM

1. I love that weird spooky observer effect in quantum mechanical theories and experiments which suggest things exist only as waves of possibility until observed, and then collapse into particles of measurable experience. Do you guys remember when scientists fired photons through a filter with slits in it to see if wave interference patterns would emerge or particles would be filtered predictably?  What does this mean for Newtonian physics (probably nothing? maybe?  IDK, I’m not a physicist)

Sure, that was a landmark finding in physics. When I learned about it at university I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been taught that all the physics I learnt in high school could be challenged. That there is no particle or wave that exist independently of observation of it, I mean that has huge implications when you extend it beyond the confines of the lab and the journals.

If you haven’t already, both of you should play Outer Wilds. Seriously.

 

     
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@ Karlok

LMAO at the comic.  I love Linus and Snoopy <3
And yeah, Outer Wilds has been on my to do list, but I thought it was just like a open-world RPG thing.  I didn’t know it flirted with science too?
Is it kind of like in Bioshock infinite, how the floating island is supported by REAL concepts behind quantum levitation (ultra-thin, super-cooled, super conductors) just taken an extra fictional step to support an entire city!

Also I keep getting outerwilds mixed up with outer worlds.

@Vehelon
Yeah I had the same attitude about medications at first, truly.
But similarly with my skin condition, I had to accept that “cure” was a thing that might not happen in my lifetime.  So I weighed my other options.

And in terms of people accepting things they should question more, the sad truth about science journals is there is a large bias to publish things that are either

a] positive results as opposed to negative results (although they should be of equal value)

b] ‘repeatable experiments’ are an important part of the scientific process, but it’s rare that non-novel experiments get much attention, especially not before the misinformation has spread.

     

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Celebreon - 23 July 2020 03:47 AM

@ Karlok

LMAO at the comic.  I love Linus and Snoopy <3
And yeah, Outer Wilds has been on my to do list, but I thought it was just like a open-world RPG thing. I didn’t know it flirted with science too?
Is it kind of like in Bioshock infinite, how the floating island is supported by REAL concepts behind quantum levitation (ultra-thin, super-cooled, super conductors) just taken an extra fictional step to support an entire city!

I’m in this tiny, cosy adventure game niche, where games like Bioshock can’t find their way in, so I don’t know if Outer Wilds is anything like it. But it’s certainly not an RPG, and there’s no fighting. An open world to explore and to figure things out. Non-linear, no handholding whatsoever. It’s best if you don’t know anything about it. Don’t read the reviews because most of the time reviewers give a lot of information you might want to discover yourself. In the case of Outer Wilds too much info. Take a leap of faith and go in blind. And if you don’t like it you will know you can never trust my recommendations again. Smile

 

     
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Celebreon - 23 July 2020 03:47 AM

Also I keep getting outerwilds mixed up with outer worlds.

I think you may have done so here as well.

Outer Wilds = Groundhog Day in space
Outer Worlds = Fallout: New Vegas in space

     

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TimovieMan - 23 July 2020 07:48 AM

Outer Wilds = Groundhog Day in space

The game description mentions a time loop, so that’s hardly a spoiler. But that’s the only thing it has in common with Groundhog Day.

 

     

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