Oh My Stars

beliefnet is astrology a science matthew currie

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

First of all, if you haven’t read it yet, here is my March Editorial — Why Panic Over Astrology? — in which I discuss the recent American National Science Foundation poll that shows Americans appear to be getting smarter about science… and are also embracing astrology more.

For me as an astrologer, the big question raised by all this remains the one the poll actually asked : “Would you say that astrology is very scientific, sort of scientific, or not at all scientific?” Unfortunately, there wasn’t an option for my answer: “Sure… now ask me how science itself is ‘sort of scientific.'”


Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote books like The Panda’s Thumb and Wonderful Life (which will blow your mind in exactly the way science books ought to) was a proponent of the idea of “non-overlapping magesteria”: essentially, the idea that science has a realm in which it is the legitimate way to address questions, and that religion/spirituality has its own realm, and never the twain shall meet. Or as Gould put it: “the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).”

There’s lot to be said for this formalized phrasing of “let’s agree to disagree,” and in a perfectly ordered Universe this scheme would prevent a lot of name-calling in Internet discussions and dinner parties alike. The problem is that Science and Spirituality aren’t really two well-fenced nations living side by side and blissfully ignoring each other — they’re more like two different countries with unmarked borders and a heavily bombarded Crimea / Kashmir / Falkland Islands between the two of them. And to many, when something they think doesn’t belong in one territory attempts to claim citizenship there, shots ring out faster than you can say “Richard Dawkins.”

We all know which magisterium is equipped to answer questions like “does two plus two equal four?” or “what will happen when I let go of this brick I’m holding?” or “is Faith alone without Works enough to get into Heaven?” or “will it balance my Karma if I kick this dog now but adopt one from the shelter later?”

If you are a fan of the Scientific Magisterium, it’s easy to ignore that (despite billions of dollars every year in research) anti-depressants are often depressingly (ha!) little more effective than a placebo (despite psychology being “a science”)… and it’s all too easy to pick apart the many studies done by the much more poorly funded branch of psychology called “parapsychology” that precognition can, in fact, beat “random guessing.” On the other hand, if you traditionally root for Team Spiritual, it’s pretty easy to ignore that the objective evidence for life after death in any form is pretty slim, for example.

Me? I personally love to point out that “Economics” is considered a science… and yet the average Capuchin Monkey’s successful stock choices tend to match or beat those of the experts over time. And don’t get me started bout “nutritional science.” Oat bran and margarine… saving your life or making you fat? Discuss.

When someone tells you something is “scientific” or not, often it’s an “appeal to authority” rather than an answer to what is often the real, unspoken question: “does it work?”

So… re you asking me if I think astrology is scientific? Well, it follows rules, it gets results, and it keeps on working despite all the objections. Want to call it science? Let’s do some research and establish that with greater clarity… and as long-time readers of my blog already know, there are those with a vested interest in making sure things like astrology never get that kind of attention. Yes, I’m looking at you, Michael Shermer. and yes, I’m looking at you, James Randi Educational Foundation and your shoddy debunking.

So call me loony if that makes you feel better about yourself. I haven’t got all day to argue it with you. I’ve got clients who I’m busy giving real help and guidance. Get back to me when JREF responds to my Ten Dollar Challenge.


Questions about your birth chart, or astrology in general? Write me… I’ve got answers!

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