astrology been scientifically disproved?
No, the opposite happened, and here is the story
CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims
of the Paranormal) tried to debunk astrology scientifically.
But the results of their work actually corroborated the very
work they were trying to disprove. They then tried to cover
up the results, using personal attacks and similar tactics.
Since then, they have never even tried to use open scientific
means in their work. It is the story of Climate Science all
Context: from "Explaining the Unexplained",
chapter 11 -
from Prof. HJ Eysenck and C Sargent:
We consider that the experiments and facts summarized
in this book constitute a strong claim for genuine
anomalies in the realm of human ability. Human beings…
do seem to influence distant events and objects through
acts of will alone.
Nonetheless, many scientists find it
hard to accept the methods and findings of parapsychology.
ignore the evidence available,
make superficial comments about
claim that it is all due to
or erroneous experimental methods,
or simply assert that the effects
and cannot occur.
There are at least two reasons for this.
One is historical. Parapsychology
still carries with it memories of mediums, dubious materializations
of ectoplasm, and assorted kinds of charlatanry.Scientists
are wary of subject matter so controversial. However,
this is not a rational basis for dismissing parapsychology
as a science.A dubious past hardly disqualifies a science!
After all, chemistry had its origins in alchemy and
astronomy in astrology — Kepler, among many other
early eminent astronomers, dabbled in and was highly
sympathetic to astrology.
The other reason is of more general importance.
Science often handles true innovation very badly.
One has only to consider the mixture of fury, rage,
and vituperative criticism ladled out to the pioneers
of vaccination, the theory of continental drift, hypnotic
anesthesia, and many other genuine advances in knowledge
to realize this. At heart, science is all too
often a deeply conservative process. The suggestion
that scientists are simply being very cautious, wisely
reluctant to accept new evidence prematurely, fails
to explain the irrational emotion displayed by many
scientists when faced with evidence of genuine anomalies.
If this description seems dubiously isolated, consider for
a moment why that might seem so. Think of the many instances
that could exist, unknown, if the story is true (it
has all the appearances of truth and verifiability, and it
conforms with Occam's Razor). Think how hard it might be to
get word out. Think how rare it is to find someone intelligent,
interested, skilled, qualified, and objective enough to record
this in scientific detail. Think how people might need to
rely on this one instance where the evidence has gone public.
Go and check it. Go and read The Field by Lynne McTaggart,
to see exactly the same story, magnified and repeated many
times over, a generation later. Discover the subsequent work
of Prof Benveniste who is mentioned in
the CSICOP story below. I've emboldened passages that illuminate
the parallel with Climate Science.
CSICOP's single attempt at scientific investigation:
their experiment to debunk astrology, the experiment's revealing
of evidence that clearly supports some kind of validity for
astrology, and the abominations CSICOP used to hide their
failure to debunk astrology
from "Explaining the Unexplained",
Eysenck & Sargent, ch 11, continuing...
There exists in the United States an organization calling
itself the Committee for Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal, or CSICOP for short. While
the Executive Council of CSICOP has, in fact, few scientists,
it has assiduously courted distinguished scientists
as members, giving itself the appearance of a scientific
organization, an appearance which it exploits to the
full when its members go 'ghostbusting'. Interestingly,
CSICOP as an organization does not undertake
any research of its own. The reason for this is simple:
it once did, and the results of that research merit
a special place in the history of science.
Between 1976 and 1980 a group of CSICOP's
senior Council members investigated the findings of
the French researchers Michel and Francoise Gauquelin.
The Gauquelins' data, collected over decades, show that
certain special groups (distinguished scientists, artists,
sports champions, etc.) tend to be born with certain
planets in certain positions (sectors) of the sky. Eysenck…
made a special study of this remarkable work and can
testify to the excellence of its method. The CSICOP
group investigated one particular finding, the 'Mars
effect' for sports champions.
One member of the CSICOP group, the statistician
Marvin Zelen, did not accept the Gauquelins' claims
about the frequencies of planets in different sectors
of the heavens… so he proposed a 'challenge' to
the Gauquelins. The 'Zelen test' involved comparing
a small group of 'Mars effect' champions with a very
large 'control' group of non-champions, born in the
same locations and at similar seasons. Next, Zelen (with
CSICOP Chairman Paul Kurtz and astronomer George Abell)
collected a new sample of data for sports champions
to test the claimed Mars effect.
The results of the 'Zelen test' were absolutely
clear-cut. The Gauquelins' statistics were
correct. Their sports champions showed the Mars effect
and the 16,000+ control sample did not — they
showed exactly the theoretical frequencies for the placement
of Mars which the Gauquelins had claimed. The Gauquelins
were wholly vindicated by this finding.
After that things got muddier and more confused.
KZA (Kurtz, Zelen, and Abell) started finding all kinds
of reasons why the results of the Zelen test didn't
please them. They began to chop up the data for sports
champions in ways which were not part of any pre-agreed
statistical analysis, dropping female champions on the
bizarre grounds that 'women have not had the same opportunities
men have had to pursue sports', dividing up the Gauquelins'
sample of champions in post hoc ways in an attempt to
discredit their Mars effect, collecting their own sample
of champions without an agreed written protocol for
doing so and erroneously claiming it disproved the effect,
and so on.
Many of the issues surrounding KZA's research
are technical, and it would be too time-consuming to
go through them all here. The reader who wants
to know how CSICOP operates must check the reports cited
in the Bibliography. To prove our point about
CSICOP we will quote the reactions of skeptics among
CSICOP's own membership.
The first to break ranks was Dennis Rawlins,
a CSICOP ex-Fellow, who remains highly skeptical
about the Mars effect but who nevertheless felt that
the KZA research was being conducted along illegitimate
lines. Very simple errors were being made, despite Rawlins'
best efforts to point them out. His attempts
to circulate his comments on the problems of the research
were systematically suppressed by CSICOP, which refused
to allow him to speak at meetings and denied him access
to their own journal while continuing to publish misleading
accounts of the research findings and conclusions. Although
Rawlins repeatedly warned KZA about the errors in their
research, he was ignored — and then suppressed.
Finally he was dropped from the list of CSICOP's Fellows.
The cover-up had begun.
When other CSICOP members began to hear of
Rawlins' treatment, some of them (to their credit) started
making enquiries about his criticisms. When
they did so, they found themselves barred from publishing
what they had learned in CSICOP publications (which
continued to carry misleading accounts of the research).
One of those so excluded was Richard Kammann, a professor
of psychology who has co-written very critical papers
of his own on the subject of parapsychology.
Kammann's final account of the treatment
he received from KZA and the CSICOP organization is
staggering. If the reader is motivated to read only
one of the many books and papers in our Bibliography,
Kammann researched the entire affair from start
to finish. His conclusion was that KZA had 'persisted
in offering to the public a set of demonstrably false
statistical arguments against the Mars effect in spite
of four years of continuous and steadily mounting criticism
of their illogic.... The striking feature of all these
fallacies was not just their unmooring from the anchors
of logic but their unsinkability in four years of competent
statistical bombardment by Michel Gauquelin, Elizabeth
Scott, Dennis Rawlins and Ray Hyman.' Scott, a statistician,
and Hyman, a psychologist, were both involved with CSICOP
at the time. 'Like the other Fellows of CSICOP,' Kammann
continues, 'I couldn't accept that Dennis Rawlins was
the single honest and correct person on a nine-man Council
consisting of men of such stature and reputation as
Martin Gardner, Professor Ray Hyman, the Amazing Randi
and Kendrick Frazier. After seven months of research,
I have come to the opposite conclusion. CSICOP has no
defense of the trio's Mars fiasco and has progressively
trapped itself, degree by irreversible degree, into
an anti-Rawlins propaganda campaign, into suppression
of his evidence, and into stonewalling against other
Kammann also lists the ways in which he, like
Rawlins and anyone else who criticized CSICOP from within,
was subjected to ridicule, suppression of criticism,
denial of access to publications, and prolonged stonewalling.
His article is as damning an indictment of CSICOP as
one can possibly imagine, because his skepticism and
integrity were not in question and he was, at the time,
a CSICOP member. Another CSICOP member, the
Dutch journalist Piet Hein Hoebens, has said that he
regards Kammann's account of the KZA affair as 'an eminently
fair, highly readable and — given the circumstances
— remarkably restrained statement from a distinguished
skeptic who has gone to almost incredible lengths in
his attempts to help CSICOP free itself from its Martian
But not even KZA could go on stonewalling forever.
After publication of a long summary review by the wholly
independent British scholar Patrick Curry, and seven
years after the Zelen test had first been proposed,
The Skeptical Enquirer (CSICOP's house magazine)
finally published a 'Reappraisal'. In this, KZA admit
their post hoc dabbling with the champions
sample from the Gauquelins was wrong and that they should
have agreed a protocol for their own research with the
Gauquelins (to determine what predictions the Gauquelins
would have made for the data). But it was a grudging
and mean-spirited retraction, with no apologies to Rawlins
(whose name was deleted from the list of those who were
'involved in [our] experiments'), no apologies to the
Gauquelins for the baseless insinuations made about
the trustworthiness of their data, and no recognition
of most of the criticism from CSICOP's own ranks.
The reason we have detailed this shameful affair
at some length is that CSICOP — despite having
abandoned research of its own, possibly mindful
of Curry's judgement that the KZA debacle 'must call
into question any further CSICOP involvement in research
on the Mars effect, and possibly other "paranormal"
areas' — has continued to flourish as
an organization and uses its influence to attack any
area of science which it dislikes, and to harass and
suppress researchers in controversial areas of science.
A recent , infamous, example of this
was the Amazing Randi's extraordinary behavior in the
laboratory of French researcher Prof. Jacques Benveniste.
Benveniste published biochemical findings which appeared
to support homeopathic medical theories in the highly
prestigious Les Comptes Rendus de I'Academie des
Sciences, the journal of the French Academy of
Sciences. An investigating team was despatched by the
journal Nature to investigate these highly
controversial findings, and Randi was one of the investigators.
Benveniste's laboratory literally became a circus while
Randi was there. Rather than bore the reader with the
details, we will simply note that this time even The
Skeptical Enquirer published articles questioning
the validity of the investigation, accusing it of 'careless
criticisms', 'squander(ing) credibility', and 'preconceived
bias'. Randi, during a public lecture on the affair,
'mimicked the Gallic mannerisms of Benveniste and made
highly derogatory comments about "French science".
Many in the audience were offended.'
Quite simply, CSICOP is not a scientific organization.
The preponderance of conjurers and media people in its
higher echelons show it to be a propaganda movement,
dedicated to 'ghostbusting' and to extirpating 'irrational'
beliefs. Unfortunately, due to its expertise
in media manipulation and the sympathetic attitude of
many academics who vaguely feel that 'ghostbusting'
is a good idea although they remain blissfully ignorant
of the facts, CSICOP members have had a baneful effect
on parapsychology and retarded its development…
I have other stories concerning the fraudulent
claims of former CSICOP member James Randi. He seems to have
made a career out of fraudulent attempts to debunk people,
not bad people doing fraudulent work, but good people doing
good, precious, unique work. I believe he was obliged to step
down from CSICOP when something of this became apparent. I
dislike this man! And there is another whose unfortunately
fraudulent debunking also needs revealing some time, though
on other grounds he is, probably quite justly, well-regarded.
His name is Carl Sagan - the matter concerns The Demon-Haunted
World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. The story needs
to come to light because it is an important milestone in Science's
journey into the irrational - the irrational debunking of
good evidence concerning matters that merely SEEM irrational!
How can we summarize the lessons in this remarkably
clear parallel to today's corruption in Climate Science, masterminded
by the IPCC, Al Gore, the heads of the scientific establishments
and publications, and activist brownshirts?
- CSICOP claims to be "the" scientific authority
- but it is a propaganda movement
- run by the media and by tricksters
- dedicated to "extirpating irrational beliefs"
- while itself abandoning scientific method
- in its attempt to discredit true practice of science.
- Challengers are denied a voice to speak up
- and denied access to information
- while misleading accounts are published
- and challengers are ridiculed.
- More inquirers cannot believe this is happening
- but eventually find out the truth.
- CSICOP is eventually forced to own up
- but it signally fails to apologize;
- moreover it continues to function,
- still claiming to be scientific
- and its expertise in media manipulation
- still fools many academics and others
- and it continues to have a baneful effect.
There is another lesson regarding the investigation
of solar cycles - Landscheidt et al. From the above story,
we see that there is good scientific evidence of the validity
of planetary influence at some level (statistically significant
results) that is clearly related to, if not exactly identical
with, the views of traditional astrology. Astrology has NOT
been debunked, least of all has it been debunked by CSICOP
or any other scientific investigative body. Moreover CSICOP
never again (at the date of publication of Explaining
the Unexplained) conducted its own research after its
own failed attempt to discredit astrology.
So anyone claiming that "Science has debunked
Astrology" should be referred to this piece of evidence.
The same usurping has happened here, as has happened in Climate
Science: the "official" organizations claiming purity
of Science for themselves, while energetically vilifying the
truly scientific work.
Prof. Benveniste reached
the top in his line of research. An experiment that did things
it "couldn't have done" prompted Benveniste to investigate.
A colleague familiar with homeopathy noted the apparent similarity
of the behaviour of some of his "pure water" to
the behaviour claimed by homeopathic practitioners but generally
dismissed by mainstream Science. Subsequent investigation
showed the principle of homeopathic dilution unmistakeably
at work. After a token acceptance for publication by the prestigious
science journal Nature, they set to work to discredit him,
bringing in the unscrupulous professional debunker James Randi,
and Benveniste was cast out of his profession. But, interestingly,
Benveniste continued his research, under severely straitened
conditions, but producing more and more interesting results
- read about his subsequent research in The Field
by Lynne McTaggart.
Updated 1st January 2009