Science Demands Objective Truth
Astrology Yields Subjective Truth
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As a pathway to validation of astrology, qualitative research is not quite as promising as its proponents seem to imply. (I explained why this is so in the previous post in this series.) Assuming for a moment, however, that it is possible to validate astrology through qualitative research, the obvious next question is, “Which astrology are we talking about? Do we mean Western Tropical or Western Sidereal or Vedic or Hellenistic or Uranian or Cosmobiology or Mesoamerican or Chinese or Tibetan or Evolutionary or Shamanic or Experiential Astrology, or what exactly do we mean? Whose astrology are we talking about?” Is there such a thing as Astrology? Or are there many possible astrologies, some that have already been explored and others that have yet to be conceived?
Most astrologers I know greatly value our eclecticism. I know I do. But if we are going to call ourselves a science, it is important to understand that science is a quest for objective truth – that is to say, a truth that rests not upon eclectic variety, but upon consensus. This is true, regardless of whether we use quantitative or qualitative methods to do our research. Although qualitative research allows for flexibility in the collection and analysis of data, the goal – according to the scientific method – is still generalized agreement within a given field of inquiry (1). This is why science demands replicable experiments as validation of its hypotheses. It is not enough for one scientist to conduct an experiment and find something to be true. Other scientists must be able to conduct the same experiment and come to the same conclusion. In this way, after rigorous testing, science becomes reasonably sure that its conclusions are objective.
If we translate this requirement to a scientific approach to astrology, then the expectation is that two astrologers looking at the same birthchart will draw the same conclusions. Does this ever happen? At least 28 scientific studies so far have shown that astrologers given the same birthchart fail to come to any kind of meaningful consensus of interpretation. In fact, an aggregate analysis of these studies showed that agreement among astrologers was only 54.9% versus 50% by chance (2).
Science’s own studies have shown that the observer affects what is observed. But rather than take this into account, science attempts to negate the impact of the observer through double blind studies, and other techniques that cancel out observer bias. Most practicing astrologers would go into cardiac arrest if they were told that as observers of the birthchart, they should not bring their own subjective experience, philosophy of life, or personal wisdom to the consultation. If we value the role of the individual astrologer in the reading of a birthchart, and value our eclecticism as a strength rather than a weakness, then we can’t call ourselves scientists, because science demands objective consensus and uniformity of results.
The next post in this series is Astrological Symbols Vary in Meaning with Context and Consciousness
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