Talk:Astrology

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Good article Astrology has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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July 11, 2006 Peer review Reviewed
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"Pseudoscientific divination"[edit]

Is this really needed? No system of divination was ever scientific.

True, but we don't want to misinform people and have them think this is real.ThePlatypusofDoom (talk) 22:52, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Problems with the third paragraph[edit]

The third paragraph is giving undue weight to science in an article that is not about science. For example, in the sentence Astrology is now regarded as pseudoscience, since it has been shown to have no validity or explanatory power for describing the universe. I edited it and added "in a scientific way" in the end. That seems correct, since there are many other ways to explain the universe (religion, mythology, etc), but @Isambard Kingdom: reverted me [1]. May I ask why? What do you mean by slippery slope? Thanks. Outedexits (talk) 03:05, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

The paragraph is really bad and extremely biased. Not everything is science, and you can't use excessive amount of scientific points of view in an article that is not about science. Anyway, I'm hesitant to start a new discussion. We are most likely to not get anything done here Outedexits (talk) 03:17, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

The "According to science ..." and "... in a scientific way" qualifiers are simply trying to hedge plain facts. "since there are many other ways to explain the universe (religion, mythology, etc), " All ways of describing the universe are not equal. This article is part of an encyclopaedia with an educational mission. Part of that is taking science seriously and not trying to phrase science as "just another opinion". We don't say "According to science the earth isn't flat". We just say, the earth isn't flat. The reason we think it's not flat is because of all that evidence we have. The reason we think astrology is false, is because of the actual evidence against it. We don't say "According to science, atoms exist", we just say atoms exist. A holocaust denier is denying a fact about history. Etc etc. Wikipedia isn't a relativist project. Second Quantization (talk) 09:09, 4 November 2015 (UTC)
there are many other ways to explain the universe but very few (as few as only one) actually follow a logical path in showing their explanations to be correct. Remember: Science does not explain the universe of itself, but rather of what can be discovered. That is: science that not prescribe a description, but seeks to develop one from the ground up based on the evidence that can be obtained through observation. I doubt one can claim there is a better way to explain something than by observing it, forming explanations and then testing those explanations to see if they work, and changing them otherwise. That's science, and as long as no one can suggest a better way to understand anything, be it the universe or a jug of milk, there's no reason to claim some system has better descriptive power at a universal scale despite not having any way of reliably explaining the simplest phenomena.
As for "not everything is science" - the moment Astrology claims to have either predictive power (in the futurist sense) or a diagnostic power (describing character traits etc.) then it is subject to testing like anything else. Also, you should keep the chronological order of events. The scientific studies came last and are a last definition. Cheers. François Robere (talk) 15:25, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

The only issue I see with the third paragraph is that it's the third paragraph after two that are too long for the intro section. There's a lot of minutia about the history that would be better placed in the history section. I'd advocate something simpler and shorter, such as:

Astrology comprises several systems of divination which are based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications.[1] Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition. It was accepted in political and academic contexts, and was connected with other studies, such as astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine.[3]
At the end of the 17th century, new scientific concepts in astronomy and physics (such as heliocentrism and Newtonian mechanics) called astrology into question. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in astrology has largely declined.[4] Astrology is now regarded as pseudoscience[5][6][7][8][9]:1350 since it has been shown to have no validity or explanatory power for describing the universe. Among other issues, there is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood basic aspects of biology and physics.[10]:249[11] Scientific testing of astrology has found no evidence to support any of the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions.[12][13]

Excised material can be integrated into other sections below the fold. I don't have a strong opinion about whether the pseudoscience label appears in the first sentence or waits until the second paragraph. But I do find my eyes glazing over when reading the current intro and I'm sure many readers will have the same experience, and not getting the important point that Astrology has no basis in science. (BTW, I agree with the points made by Second Quantization and François Robere.)Mr. Swordfish (talk) 16:42, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, the intro is too long and I've committed myself to improving it some time ago, but haven't had the chance to get into it yet (or some other appropriate excuse). François Robere (talk) 19:05, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Don't you guys realize the paragraph is too hostile and arid? In an article about a belief you simply have to explain what the belif is. You should not briefly explain what this long-existing and worldwide tradition is and then shit all over it with your "science". Second Quantization said that the purpose is to educate the readers, and I agree, but a simple mention of it being pseudoscience is already fair enough; you don't have to go overboard. As I said before: "I'm an atheist. I could go to the lead section of the God article, say in the first sentence that God doesn't exist or is very likely to not exist and cite a ton of books by atheists. That wouldn't be a nice thing to do, would it?" . And I still agree with this. Both the god article and this one should simply explain the belief. That's it. But ok, I'm done debating with you. You're all way to stubborn. I just suggest you keep the word "pseudoscience" out of the first sentence to avoid further controversies and debates in future. This discussion happened way too many times. Also, you should keep the chronological order of events. The scientific studies came last and are a last definition. Cheers. Outedexits (talk) 17:00, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Way too stubborn. Right enough, I could've been a cat. Cheers! François Robere (talk) 19:05, 4 November 2015 (UTC)
P.S. You could change the lead in God to this: In monotheism and henotheism, God is a fictional being conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith. Subtle enough, doesn't it? François Robere (talk) 19:08, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Outsider opinion: Intro is fine. Explains what it is, where/who practiced, why it doesn't work today. Overall good quick summary. Third paragraph reads fine, and it's not cutting or sarcastic. It brings science only because astrology was a pre-science way of explaining the world. Go look up the page for alchemy. Same deal. Since astrology has all the practical relevance of fortune cookies, that is good to know in the intro. 68.229.212.186 (talk) 14:01, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

Lead[edit]

I think that "has been shown to have no validity or explanatory power for describing the universe or predicting human events" was slightly better than "has been shown to have no predictive power". FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 01:31, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

I agree, but then some of this phrasing is mine. The breakdown allows for rejecting both the theory (description) and its practical use (prediction); the short elaboration in the second part is important, as "predictive power" has two meanings in this case: scientific or experimental (which is human-agnostic) and human (which is the reason astrology exists). It's not a perfect sentence, but then - Wiki. in general was designed by committee. François Robere (talk) 23:09, 3 December 2015 (UTC)
Your edit here badly damages the lead of this article and should be reverted. Where is the evidence that it has been discussed and agreed upon? In answer to your question about what is wrong with your version, I think that it is poorly written among other things ("Astrology is the general name for several systems of divination that are based on the premise of a close relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world" is bad writing). FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 20:33, 4 December 2015 (UTC)
As recently as last month (you can see on this page), as well as multiple times in the last year.
My edit "does" the following:
  1. Reorders the information into distinct paragraphs with distinct subjects
  2. Removes redundant information, including names, dates and historical details that are not essential to the subjects represented in the lead
  3. Redefines the subject correctly ("astrology" being not a single system but an overall term)
  4. De-emphasized Hellenistic, or Western, astrology - the lead was clearly written from a Eurocentric perspective, which is unjustified in the case of a global anthropological phenomenon like astrology
Or, in short: Organization, accuracy and conciseness. What are your objections? François Robere (talk) 22:58, 4 December 2015 (UTC)
No, you made a change without discussing it or reaching agreement, and you also restored it immediately after being reverted, which is inappropriate. If the lead had to be discussed multiple times, then clearly that indicates that agreement was not reached, contrary to your claims. Your edits are extremely harmful and need to be reverted. There was nothing wrong with the structure of the previous lead or the way astrology was defined. The previous lead defined astrology as follows: "Astrology comprises several systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world". In other words, it was already clear that "astrology" is not a single system. Your wording ("Astrology is the general name for several systems of divination that are based on the premise of a close relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world") is extremely poor, as already noted. I flatly disagree that the information you removed was not necessary to the lead. I will be reverting your destructive changes. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 00:14, 5 December 2015 (UTC)
  • I submit that it is much more "inappropriate" to revert an obviously meticulous edit just because you don't like it, with no explanation whatsoever as to why it is disadvantageous.
  • Multiple discussions in which concerns about the length and the quality of the lead were raised.
  • Changes don't have to be discussed before being made (See WP:BOLD).
  • Can you explain the structure of the previous lead?
  • See "Comprises". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House.  "Comprises" is used to denote parts of a whole, and as different astrological systems evolved independently and remain unrelated to one another in anything but the most general themes (eg. Mayan and Western astrology) one cannot say they constitute a whole. This, then, is a basic semantic error.
  • Can you explain the relevance of "chaldean wisdom", the Zhou dynasty and Alexander's conquests to the subject matter? The question a good editor must answer with regards to the lead is "what is the least I can have here that will answer the essential questions regarding the subject?". I submit that "who conquered what and when" is not essential to this subject, and that one can suffice with mentioning that Western astrology originated in Babylon and spread from there to the rest of the Middle East and Europe. François Robere (talk) 12:07, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well, I see you cannot respond to the points I raised. Your version of the lead is badly written. Wikipedia should avoid bad writing. Your version begins, "Astrology is the general name for several systems of divination that are based on the premise of a close relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world", which is awful. Announce that something is the "general name" for several other things and you are, in effect, denying that it is a real, identifiable phenomenon and the article is reduced to being about an otherwise disconnected series of subjects that have nothing in common but the word "astrology". Please let us avoid such nonsense. I find your point about "comprises" to be unimportant, but I realize that other users may disagree. You should seek agremeent from other users before trying to change "comprises", but if a better word can be found and agreed upon, then by all means make the change. Of course you are wrong to try to completely rewrite the lead if it is really only one word you don't like. You object to the mention of "Chaldean wisdom", but as "Chaldean wisdom" is mentioned several times in the main body of the article, why should it not also be mentioned in the lead? If you were really serious about objecting to "Chaldean wisdom", then you would remove it from the rest of the article too, but you have done no such thing. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 23:30, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

François has done a good job in revising the text of the lead. I've made some modifications to emphasize that astrology is recognized to be pseudoscience. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 23:44, 5 December 2015 (UTC)
No, he has not. Neither have you done a good job in responding to me, as you have simply ignored every point I have made. François Robere removed a large amount of useful information from the lead without any real justification. I will not necessarily be reverting all of his changes, but I will be restoring much of that information, absent any convincing explanation of why I should not. You and he should also review WP:NOTDICTIONARY. As I noted here, "Astrology is the general name for..." effectively implies that the article is about the word astrology rather than the subject, which is unacceptable. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 04:38, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
I concur. Why should obviously relevant material be removed from the lead? I see no justification for this at all. As far as Chaldean wisdom goes, see the top of this page, where I objected to the apparent incongruity, and François Robere defended the strange usage ("You should check the sources in Astrology#Greece and Rome.") zzz (talk) 09:38, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

I see you cannot respond to the points I raised

I responded point-to-point to everything you said, and just to make it clearer I even used similar wording (eg. "inappropriate", "discussions", "structure"). In case I wasn't clear enough, we'll use talkquotes from now on.

Announce that something is the "general name" for several other things and you are, in effect, denying that it is a real, identifiable phenomenon

The same applies for witchcraft ("Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) broadly means the practice of, and belief in..."), behavior ("Behavior or behaviour (see spelling differences) is the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals...") and medicine ("Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.") and many other subjects. They are all general terms that denote a variety of phenomena that share a certain number of traits but are otherwise unrelated. You may define it differently (eg. "An astrological system is...") but you certainly cannot suggest in that all astrological systems are part of a whole, and it has nothing to do with whether astrology is a "real" phenomena.

the article is reduced to being about an otherwise disconnected series of subjects that have nothing in common but the word "astrology"

No, it does not. And this is not just a "word", it is a concept and a term, and plenty can be said without claiming a relationship between the otherwise disconnected systems that it applies to.

I find your point about "comprises" to be unimportant

You find semantic errors unimportant? Now that is nonsense (again as per your phrasing).

You should seek agremeent from other users before trying to change "comprises", but if a better word can be found and agreed upon, then by all means make the change

I've no problem with that, but as I said - and contrary to your claim earlier - there was no need for that prior to the change.

Of course you are wrong to try to completely rewrite the lead if it is really only one word you don't like

That's a pure straw man, and putting that up after I've already elaborated on my changes is just silly. Copy & paste time:
My edit "does" the following:
  1. Reorders the information into distinct paragraphs with distinct subjects
  2. Removes redundant information, including names, dates and historical details that are not essential to the subjects represented in the lead
  3. Redefines the subject correctly ("astrology" being not a single system but an overall term)
  4. De-emphasized Hellenistic, or Western, astrology - the lead was clearly written from a Eurocentric perspective, which is unjustified in the case of a global anthropological phenomenon like astrology
Or, in short: Organization, accuracy and conciseness.

You object to the mention of "Chaldean wisdom", but as "Chaldean wisdom" is mentioned several times in the main body of the article, why should it not also be mentioned in the lead

As I said - the lead is to be as succinct as possible. "Chaldean wisdom" is a time-dependent term which is no longer used, is relevant to just one astrological system (Hellenistic astrology), that contributes nothing to the understanding of "what astrology is", and raises more questions than it answers ("'Chaldean'? Huh?"). Hence its place is not in the lead. In other words - is it very far from the essentials of the subject, and is just one of numerous other facts the article is dotted with that are not, and should not be, part of the lead section.

If you were really serious about objecting to "Chaldean wisdom", then you would remove it from the rest of the article too, but you have done no such thing

I've already noted what the role of the lead is:

The question a good editor must answer with regards to the lead is "what is the least I can have here that will answer the essential questions regarding the subject?"

You seem to disregards that the lead does have a role other than a verbatim summary of the article.
As for unanswered points:
  • Can you explain the structure of the previous lead?
  • Can you explain the relevance of "chaldean wisdom", the Zhou dynasty and Alexander's conquests to the subject matter?
François Robere (talk) 13:49, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
François Robere, "The question a good editor must answer with regards to the lead...": see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section for the generally accepted approach. zzz (talk) 14:02, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
And..? Does it in any way contradict what I said? Also: Should I assume you agree with all of my above remarks considering that thus far you raised no specific objections of your own? (by "specific" I mean other than an abstruse "not an improvement") François Robere (talk) 18:09, 6 December 2015 (UTC)
Well, it certainly doesn't agree with what you said...zzz (talk) 10:48, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Because..? (Again you're putting up a claim with no argumentation whatsoever) François Robere (talk) 11:49, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
I already linked the article. Read it, and you will see: it contradicts your stated aim of "what is the least I can have here that will answer the essential questions regarding the subject?". (No argumentation required). zzz (talk) 18:35, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Now this is the point where I say "I already read it and it supports my position perfectly", and you reply by "no it's not, can't you see?", to which I answer "see what? I'm obviously right" etc. etc. Is this the kind of discussion you're trying to lead, or are you actually going to discuss? François Robere (talk) 21:02, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
François Robere, this is not a debating website. Minutely analyzing my every comment is not going to help you. It is going to frustrate other users and discourage them from discussing anything here. To respond, briefly, to just a few points, however. You wrote that, "the lead is to be as succinct as possible." According to whom? According to you? Where does any guideline actually say that? The lead is meant to be a summary of the article, and if the article discusses "Chaldean wisdom", then by all means it should be mentioned in the lead. That you would complain that it is "a time-dependent term which is no longer used" shows that you really have no idea how to edit the lead of this article, and helps explain why you have made such destructive edits. Obviously the term is relevant to the subject's history, and the lead should try to explain that history. If readers want more information about it, then they can read the rest of the article. Its presence in the lead poses no problems at all, and I shall be restoring it. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 23:52, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
If I recall correctly, it was you who complained that his comments aren't being rebuked (when the clearly were), so how can you complain when they're being treated with the utmost detail? As for the subject matter:
  • I'd rather if you responded to all points, rather than going round and round the subject.
  • That that the lead should be as succinct as possible is pretty much common knowledge, but just for the sake of the argument:
Norton Field Guide to Writing (2nd ed., 2009):

Abstracts are summaries written to give readers the gist of a report or presentation... Abstracts are brief, typically 100–200 words, sometimes even shorter.

WP:LEAD:

a lead section should contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs

And a table follows which defines 1-2 paragraphs in lead for every 3000 words, give or take. In other words - succinct.
  • The article does not discuss "Chaldean wisdom", it merely mentions it, and if we are to include in the summary every single fact mentioned in the article, then it wouldn't be a summary. A scale must be introduced, and that scale is importance to the core of the matter (as I previously stated several times). See also WP:LEAD:

emphasis given to material should reflect its relative importance to the subject

  • Actually my mentioning of it as time-dependent is very much in concert with various style guides, including Wikipedia's:

    A good lead section cultivates the reader's interest in reading more of the article, but not by teasing the reader or hinting at content that follows.

Which contrasts with your advocacy of teasing the reader with unfamiliar words:

If readers want more information about it, then they can read the rest of the article

In summary - in your words:

That... shows that you really have no idea how to edit the lead of this article

A little humility and staying on-topic would've made this discussion much more pleasant. François Robere (talk) 15:30, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
zzz FreeKnowledgeCreator If you've no further objections, I would assume consensus has been reached. François Robere (talk) 13:24, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
François, I like the lead section that you've developed. It is succinct and accurate. As for recent squabbles about the first defining sentence, I think the thing to do is draw upon reliable sources. After getting several together that define astrology, develop a lead defining sentence that represents those sources, use that in as the first sentence, AND cite those sources. That should, I hope, satisfy the resistance you've received. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 14:03, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
Hey Isambard, thanks for your comment. You can see in the section below that OED, Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com more or less agree with my definition. You're right that I should cite them in the article itself - I'll do that. Thanks again. François Robere (talk) 22:33, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
Isambard What do you think about the current definition? I tried not to quote either source verbatim, but both have very concise definitions and it's hard to avoid in parts. François Robere (talk) 22:32, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
François, I had a look at the cited sources (two dictionaries), and I would say that you have developed a good defining sentence for this article on astrology. One question: Is the Oxford Dictionary that is linked as [1] the *same* as the Oxford English Dictionary? Thank you, Isambard Kingdom (talk) 00:26, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
Sorry about that. You're of course correct. I wondered about it myself, and for whatever reasons thought it's an abbreviated version of the classic, but it's actually a dictionary of contemporary use. I've corrected the citation. Thanks. François Robere (talk) 13:48, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It is presumptuous to tell me how I should or should not respond to your comments "(I'd rather if you responded to all points, rather than going round and round the subject"). I will respond to anything you say that I consider worthy of a response. "Chaldean wisdom" is one of the significant things mentioned in the article, and owing to its significance it should also be mentioned in the lead. It was wrong of you to remove that and other facts. You tried to argue that it should be removed because the term is not currently used ("time-dependent term which is no longer used") then irrelevantly quoted several style guides as though they supported you on this, which clearly they do not. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:47, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

Aren't they? I think they does. By the way - Alexander's conquest is as relevant, and so is the Arabian conquest of Egypt, and so is Tycho Brahe. I'm almost insulted that you won't fight for them. François Robere (talk) 22:55, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

Definition[edit]

I've changed the definition at the beginning of the article to something more specific, while removing the use of plurals in the definition of 'astrology'. Here there is a problem: as the term refers to multiple systems rather than a single definite one I would've preferred "an astrological system is...", but that would be problematic diverge from the title and common usage; another option is be "an astrology is...", but "astrology" is an uncountable noun and that would be problematic stylistically. I chose, then, to define it in the singular ("astrology is...") despite subsequent usage that implies multiple "astrologies". It's slightly odd, but for the time being it would do. François Robere (talk) 13:57, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

Seems there's some resistance to this "new" definition, so I'll explain the thought behind it (in addition to the above):
  • "Based on the premise" - my own definition - while correct, requires deduction from "divination" and "premise" to understand that astrology tries to predict events etc. through observation of astronomical phenomena. Using "glean" is clearer.
  • The word "events" was used in a broad sense, as astrology also attempts to elucidate states (eg. personality types) and not only events. In a previous version of the "science" paragraph of the lead I mentioned both intents. However, for the definition I suspect it wasn't clear enough, so I changed it to "information about...".
  • "Astronomical phenomena" was inaccurate - a relic from an older definition. As far as I know they don't actually observe any (or many) astronomical phenomena other than positions and relative positions, so that suffices.
  • cf. OED, Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com François Robere (talk) 15:48, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
I think it would be a waste of time to discuss this. You made several bad suggestions, then showed that you actually realize that they are bad suggestions. Why not simply leave the wording that was there before your most recent round of reverted edits? FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 23:46, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Because it was bad. Now, do you have any concrete objections or not? François Robere (talk) 15:38, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
I object to your total pattern of behavior at this article, which it would be excessively polite to call high-handed. You have been disruptive in the extreme. For example, you have just recently changed the definition of "astrology" again, clearly without any proper discussion or consensus first. The lead should be reverted to way it was before your edits. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:38, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
If you will look just several lines above, you will see that I changed it at the advice of another editor and subject to references to both OED and Merriam-Webster - the same ones to which you replied with "it would be a waste of time to discuss this". François Robere (talk) 22:50, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
The dictionaries are in one sense correct - astrology used once to make predictions about terrestrial events - but in the past few centuries this branch, "Mundane astrology", has hardly ever been practised, and indeed there are hardly any reliable sources on its practice (the article on the topic was indeed deleted and redirected here). So to introduce the subject with a bold statement that gives equal weight to terrestrial/mundane events is at best unfortunate, and gives an object lesson in the weakness of relying on dictionary definitions rather than more scholarly sources. In addition, mundane is just one of several minor branches that could be mentioned, such as judicial astrology. Rather than introducing dictionary sources in the lead, with definitions that are somewhere between misleading and frankly wrong, it would be preferable to have an introductory sentence based on the article itself, as indeed we did before. Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:20, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
"Terrestrial events" can certainly be removed, but I do have my reservations: First - Astrologers still make predictions about "grand" human affairs, eg. war, geopolitical situations and the results of drought; many readers would classify those as "terrestrial events" rather than strictly "human affairs", so mentioning those two levels of prediction is beneficial. Second - as the majority of the article - and indeed, of astrology - is historical in context, having a historically-correct definition is valuable, especially as it does not diverge so much from its contemporary use in the strictest sense. Third - apparently they still make such prediction - see these: [2] [3] [4] [5]
Just for reference, here are a few past definitions:
(17.11.15) Astrology comprises several systems of divination which are based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world.
(7.12.15) Astrology is a method of divination that attempts to glean information about the human world from the relative positions of celestial objects. (My definition [one word removed], that I was generally content with, but you can see above that it had its objectors)
(current) Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events. François Robere (talk) 14:23, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
Ok, well done finding some kind of evidence that mundane astrology is, after all, not quite dead. We ought perhaps to create an small article on it. Chiswick Chap (talk)
Thank you. For the time being I'm satisfied with it being a part of a larger article, not unlike what Elvis sightings should be. François Robere (talk) 20:48, 13 December 2015 (UTC)
I tried to follow Wikipedia's ARB regarding to pseudoscience. It was reverted by the user User:Signedzzz and then by User:FreeKnowledgeCreator. I should have checked the Talk page before, I know that now. That being said, it is wrong to say "Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events." without at least mentioning there that is a pseudoscience. I've read most of this mess of a Talk page and besides User:Signedzzz's beligerance, I haven't been able to find out why the right thing is to leave that phrase as it is. If I were to know about astrology for the first time in my life, and I read that line, I'd believe that Astrology can really divine information "information about human affairs and terrestrial events.". And I'm sorry if you don't like it User:Signedzzz, but any claim about the physical world is a scientific claim. Astrology is a pseudosience, it's just what it is, let us name it that way correctly. Nmaxcom (talk) 15:32, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Hey there, the definition is not in question, and as you can see the lead mentions it in the third paragraph. The question, then, is whether it should be mentioned earlier - in the first sentence, as you suggest. You have two arguments against and one for: the first is that it is a "second order" or "second tier" fact (ie. "astrology is..." would be first tier, and "that that astrology is is..." would be second tier), and hence no relevant enough for the opening sentence; the second is that "pseudoscientific" is contained in "divination" an is thus redundant and stylistically-undesirable. "For" would be that regardless of any other reason it is an important enough fact about the subject to be mentioned in the very first sentence, and that it is not immediately obvious from the use of the term "divination" (at least to a lay reader). Myself I've no preference either way, as long as the discussion does not repeat itself. François Robere (talk) 01:09, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
My preference against the current version is that it describes astrology with "study of" without qualification. That's a phrase usually used to describe fields of academia and especially science, so it can add undue connotations of legitimacy. I'd want to use something that's more clearly value-neutral, like "use" or "practice," or one of the previous definitions. Sunrise (talk) 05:50, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
Interesting point of view. While I agree that it's often seen as related to academia, it is by itself neutral and reflects the nature of astrology correctly; it is also accurate as per the cited sources. As for "use..." and "practice..." - that'll require elaborating on the "what", which in this case is "the study of...". François Robere (talk) 22:24, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

Number of people mentioned[edit]

The article names about two dozen individuals of historical significance in the first half alone. Can we agree that not all of them are relevant to the lead? It seems to me that naming four artists in whose work the subject is mentioned is more than enough. François Robere (talk) 22:35, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

François Robere, the comment you just made in an edit summary here, ("You've been out of this discussion for a while, so how is it "multiple editors"?") is grossly disingenuous. I do not have to respond to your every comment on the talk page in order for you to know that I disagree with you. As I said, it is inappropriate to continue trying to press through your preferred version of the lead when multiple editors have reverted you - which is indisputable evidence that they disagree with you. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:36, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
No, but you should be able to comment on-topic on the main points, which I have elaborated on most clearly. You have for the most part ignored my explanations, then claimed I did not consider your objections, eventually resorting to personal remarks which more than backfired on you. If you could keep to the subject matter it would be much more productive. François Robere (talk) 22:52, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
I join here with deep reluctance, but it seems that I need to mention that I agree with FreeKnowledgeCreator on this point. It may be worth saying that I wrote much of the historical part of the article and brought it to GA status, though I am not one to stand on ceremony. I noticed this week that an IP editor had some months ago added two Spanish playwrights to the lead without explanation or citation in the text. One of them was removed quickly, the other not. Both of them in fact wrote works based on astrology, as described in reliable secondary sources, so I have added a brief account of these facts in the literature section, and restored the IP's correct (but at that time unjustified) addition to the lead. The IP may well have been motivated to add some international balance to the lead, a goal I can warmly share given the tendency here on English Wikipedia to find English sources more readily. I therefore believe that mentioning the names of both Spanish authors is more than justified. All the best, Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:07, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
Reserve your reluctance. The article is excellent and there's no doubt those names, and plenty of others, should be mentioned in their respective sections. The question here is not about that, but about what should be mentioned in the lead. You can see in the discussion above that FreeKnowledgeCreator refused any change to the lead, including the removal of less significant facts or repetitive name-dropping. That's the context of this sub-section of the discussion, and if you agree that having one representative of each country / time period / artistic style mentioned in that context in the lead is more than enough, then we are in concert.
Oh, and one more note Re: English Wikipedia: Look up "Eurocentric" on this talk page - you'll see it mentioned in my reasoning for redoing the lead. François Robere (talk) 14:36, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
There's no reason to limit ourselves to one person per country, period, or style; it's purely a function of the relative prominence of people and countries in a given subject area. If there were more decently-documented people to mention outside Europe, we'd cheerfully include them. Until then, cutting a name or two is not an improvement. Chiswick Chap (talk) 17:28, 13 December 2015 (UTC)
Not significant enough to argue about. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 18:02, 13 December 2015 (UTC)
I've already removed Marlow from the lead and no one noticed... I hate how we're playing favorites with de la Barca. François Robere (talk) 20:43, 13 December 2015 (UTC)

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Scientific analysis and criticism[edit]

In this section (Scientific analysis and criticism), there is a statement: "There is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood, basic aspects of biology and physics."

This is the core argument in that section, and yet it is easily debunked: Electromagnetic force is the key mechanism by which celestial bodies influence matter on Earth. Biological cycles, such as human menstruation, are obviously influenced by the moon. The question then becomes what other celestial influences are there impacting life on Earth? This question must be seriously addressed before anyone can criticize astrology. I will remove the statement quoted above from the article sometime in the near future if nobody has an explanation. Rtdrury (talk) 01:29, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Your proposed course of action would be unwise. The arguments you propose are what Wikipedia calls "original research"; that is, your own deductions rather than statements from an authoritative source. Shock Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 01:42, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Are you proposing a mechanism as per the section? Well then - go and write a book or an article about it, get it published in a reputable journal, and then it could be included here. Otherwise Boris's assertion holds. François Robere (talk) 19:54, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
I was ready to jump on this and bring up OR too, but I think the original post does point out that there is an issue with the wording, not the sentiment, of the statement. Even given that it's buried deeply in the context of astrology, the sentence taken by itself is overly broad. Of course there are natural, non-mystical forces (gravity, etc) exerted by at least some celestial bodies (moon) that can demonstrably impact people. I think we're fine as is, because it is deep in the context such that we get the meaning, but it could probably benefit from a clarification that we're referring to the positions and motions, as understood by astrology, not in a general sense. It is not original research to point out that the way in which the sentiment is currently written states more than it was intended to. The intent was to state that the mystical, etc, forces attributed to the movements/positions of the bodies by astrology has no scientific basis, not that no impact by celestial bodies is possible.12.11.127.253 (talk) 20:52, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
I've edited the sentence for accuracy. I think further elaboration would over-complicate the sentence, and is not needed in context. As for the OP's intent, it seems he wanted to open a whole new discussion about mechanisms, which would indeed constitute "original research". François Robere (talk) 17:00, 23 August 2016 (UTC)