Talk:Astrology/Archive 14

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When are calling the modern era?

"In fact, astrology and astronomy were often indistinguishable before the modern era" So... your telling me the philosophers and religionist in the middle ages couldn't discern in between astrology and astronomy? I can bring example to the contrary but that would be original research I think? So could I demand sources to the contrary?

Your second sentence does not quite follow from the first one. The first says they were often indistinguishable. The second says they were always indistinguishable. I'm not entirely sure where you're trying to go with the third and fourth sentences--but if you know of sources/examples that can be put to good use here, then please don't hesitate to share them. Cosmic Latte (talk) 20:47, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
A couple afterthoughts: 1) You're probably correct in the implication that "the modern era" needs to be better specified. 2) You're mistaken if you don't think you can conduct "original research" on a talk page. What WP means by "no original research" is that WP's aim is not to publish original lines of thought. So, you wouldn't want to add your own examples to the article. However, talk pages generally don't function to "publish" material; they rather work to guide or underpin the publishing of (non-original) material in the article space. Sometimes it will take some "original thought" to explain, say, a logical or grammatical flaw in the article. Just as long as that "original thought" (as expressed on talk) doesn't run explicitly counter to reliably sourced material (in the article), it's usually fair game for discussion and consideration. Cosmic Latte (talk) 21:11, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
Science folklore has it that Kepler was the last great astronomer who was also an astrologer. It's not a clear-cut as that but traditionally those with astronomical skills were required to produce astrological charts, and obviously this is no longer the case. So things have changed a bit but dating the change might be difficult. --TS 22:41, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
I think the objection to the formulation is valid: they were not precisely "indistinguishable", but so interconnected that there might have been subtopics of astronomy/astrology that couldn't be classified as just belonging to one of those areas. Also, the general public might have regarded astronomy and astrology as synonyms, although astronomers and philosophers didn't. I think the formulation may be improved to be more true without relying on WP:OR. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:23, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
I boldly tried "regarded as synonyms". Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:26, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Also: "islamic science" (science within the islamic cultural sphere) very early regarded them as separate since Muhammed condemned divination. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:27, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Predictive Astrology - Inaccurate

The wiki article currently states "Predictive astrology, in the Western tradition, employs two main methods: astrological transits and astrological progressions.". Actually this isn't the case, the key distinguishing feature here is that Predictive *natal* astrology, in the Western tradition, employs those methods. There is another branch of astrology called Horary Astrology which is exclusively divinatory and therefore predictive. Commonly a question such as "will I get the job" will be put to the astrologer who will then predict the outcome. Horary is practiced in both the Western tradition as well as the Vedic tradition, though there are differences between the two. In the Western tradition, Horary is practiced more commonly in England than in, say, the US. Thoughts on a revision of this sentence to reflect this? Perhaps "Predictive astroloy, in the Western tradition, employs a variety of methods. The two most common being astrological transits and astrological progressions" [etc. then appending to the end] "Horary astrology is another predictive branch of astrology which aims to answer questions posed to the astrologer by their client." Xpaulk (talk) 12:26, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Could pseudosciences become sciences?

I could imagine an experiment somewhat along these lines re astrology. You get x people at random who have never heard of astrology (eg from the African bush or the Brazilian rain forest) and then you cast a detailed horoscope for each one. Using the obvious safeguards, you ask each one to pick out the one which most fits him/her. You work out what the chance result would be, and if the result is significantly and consistently greater than what a chance result would be, then you have something like a theory, which in turn can be subjected to testing along Popperian lines (falsifiabiity etc.) In that case, a pseudoscience would transform into a science. No? If not, why not? So if the claims of astrology are potentially falsifiable, then it is at least potentially scientific (?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.141.67.24 (talk) 23:44, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

You'd need to repeat the experiment many times (Law of Large Numbers), and then show that there is a definite relationship between astrological prediction and your results. Others would have to repeat and confirm your experiments too. Now, if you can link to peer-reviewed studies that have achieved exactly this then you can include it in the article. Rlinfinity (talk) 20:06, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
I read "So if the claims of astrology are potentially falsifiable, then it is at least potentially scientific (?)". In regard to that, in addition to falsifiability, it would also have to be testable for reliability to be "potentially scientific", and then shown over and over again to be more reliable than other propositions to be actually scientific. If it is not testable, it can never be scientific. Also, astrology itself is a conglomeration of numerous propositions/hypotheses. One would need to be careful to not to test "astrology", but to test small, as-specific-as-possible propositions each of which happen to be a part of the set of propositions called "astrology". Make sense? 108.7.10.26 (talk) 05:56, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
Q: "Could pseudosciences become sciences?". A: "Not likely!". This is a confusion between protoscience and pseudoscience, which superficially look very much alike. Pseudoscience is a bunch of persons posing as performing science, while actually violating and not adhering to scientific methods. Protoscience is a bunch of persons performing a set of methods that cannot easily be classified as scientific or not, since they're seemingly conquering a new topic that haven't been scientifically studied before. Astrologers generally are pseudoscientific, while Michel Gauquelin's studies might once have been regarded as protoscientific, currently more like non-repeated flawed science, i.e. a scientific failure. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 09:35, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Actually there have been many scientific tests of astrology. (See "Time Twins" as only one example) The problem is it always fails. Mystylplx (talk) 20:56, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
A: Yes, of course. A topic may be pseudoscientific because we lack the ability to test it. More often, however, pseudoscience involves a pretense of a scientific approach because a scientific approach either fails to support it or actually disproves it. It may be that some small part of astrology will prove to be scientific some day, but if so, it's not going to look much like the popular conception of astrology. Too much of that has already been falsified. — kwami (talk) 07:56, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Do astrologers *believe* that astrology affects humans? -or claim it? -or both?

The lead paragraph reads "Few astrologers believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale." The citation given as support for this claim is "The Dictionary of the History of Ideas", which may or may not be a credible authority on the subject, but frankly, I don't think it comports with the rhetoric used by the majority of astrologers. It is impossible to tell what "few astrologers" or "many astrologers" believe, rather than what they profess, but even a cursory examination of horoscopes in popular culture should dispel the claim that "few astrologers claim that the movements and positions of celestial bodies...directly influence life...on a human scale". Given that disconnect, I think that the sentence should be stricken or entirely re-stated. Bricology (talk) 19:28, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you. bobrayner (talk) 20:17, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
OK, well, here's what I changed it to: "An astrologer may or may not believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale, or they may believe that astrology is a symbolic language, an art form, or a form of divination." It's not perfect, but at least it removes the unsubstantiated claims. I encourage others to do more with it than I have.Bricology (talk) 07:47, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
After all that, Yworo decided to revert my changes. Yworo, please do not just revert edits that others make. Discuss them here first. That's what Talk pages are for. First, "few" and "more common" are weasel words and have no place on WP. Second, you provided one source for the first claim -- "The Dictionary of the History of Ideas" -- a book that may or may not be an objective, credible source, but given that its author's area of expertise was antiquity, and that his study of astrology seems to have extended no further than Byzantium, I doubt its relevance. The sentence here is parsed in the present -- "Few astrologers believe..." -- and you in no way show this to be true. Unless and until you can show that fewer than 50% of astrologers today share this belief, and you back that up with credible external sources, you should not make such claims. I'm removing that claim. If you revert it, I will apply for that section to be protected against edits.Bricology (talk) 18:06, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
I did not write the sentences to which you refer, but they are sourced and we have to assume good faith for the editor that added and sourced them. The sources most likely support what that editor wrote. You are changing the material before a citation without actually reading the source. That's simply not done, as it is more likely to make the article diverge from what the sources say than make it more accurately reflect what the sources say. Do not blindly change sourced material. So-called "weasel words" are only such if they are unsourced. Yworo (talk) 18:38, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Yworo, I don't know where you get the idea that we blindly have to "assume good faith for the editor that added and sourced them". That's dependent upon the source, and upon whether or not the editor is propagandizing. Is that source credible? It's nearly impossible to tell. And it's further muddled by the fact that said book was written 37 years ago. Looking at the WP entry on its author, it's clear that his area of expertise was in astrology in antiquity, not in the present day, as the claim is specific to. You wrote "So-called "weasel words" are only such if they are unsourced." Not so, and for two reasons. First, because the citation, such as it is, is for a page in a book and cannot readily be verified, and second, because the book is never actually quoted; for all we know, it makes no such generalization as "few" or "more common". Indeed, since the author of that book was an academic mathematician, I highly doubt that he would've used such weasel words.

Thus, we are left with the editor's summarizing or paraphrasing of a mathematician who studied astrologers in antiquity, to determine what "few" astrologers in 2010 actually believe. Do you not find this problematic?! Well, I do, so I took the trouble of going through List of astrologers. I read each WP entry on each living astrologer listed there who writes in English. I count 25 of them. I visited their websites where useful, to try to determine if they profess that "the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale", as the entry claims. The result: 16 of the 25 clearly profess that "the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale", 5 if them do not seem to, and with the remaining 3, I was unable to tell. Yes, it's anecdotal, but it's also highly suggestive of what WP-notable astrologers claim for their own beliefs today, not an editor's summation or paraphrasing of 4 decade-old hearsay from a mathematician about what astrologers once believed. Still not convinced? Fine. I'll do a little more research, find primary sources and cite the exact opposite of what the other editor claimed, if that's what other sources assert.Bricology (talk) 06:57, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Because assume good faith is a Wikipedia behavioral guideline. I'm not saying the material can't be changed, I'm saying you need to follow proper process. You can question the reliability of the sources by adding {{rs?}} after the ref citation. You can question that the source verifies the statement by adding {{verification needed}} after the ref citation. You can get the source and check whether it verifies the statement and report on that. If you get the source and determine that it's reliable, you can change the statements to conform better to the source. But you can't change the text preceding a reference without access to that reference to determine whether or not the changes you are making are supported by the source. Yworo (talk) 15:18, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Bricology. The sentence "Few astrologers believe..." is very misleading. In any event surely a wiki article on astrology should deal with what astrologers *do* believe, not what they do not. I've studied astrology and so have a plethora of books on the subject. In the next few days I will source the relevant material from a variety of authors, both modern and ancient, and amend the sentence. Bricology's sentence that "An astrologer may or may not believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale, or they may believe that astrology is a symbolic language, an art form, or a form of divination." seems much more comprehensive to me and more accurately reflects the belief of astrologer's. Of course there is no 'one size fits all' with astrologers as many astrologers believe that astrology is causal, and others that it is symbolic, so this sentence encapsulates that essence. I'll source my material and amend as necessary. Xpaulk (talk) 12:06, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not saying that the changes may not be true, I'm saying that they may not be verifiable in the sources used to support the statements. Changing text in front of a reference without access to that reference is very sloppy editing. You are making the assertion that the reference supports your wording, when you have no idea whether it does or not. This degenerates the verifiability of the article! Also, please be aware that you cannot synthesize from "relevant material from a variety of authors, both modern and ancient". You must find a source or sources which support whatever statement you make directly. Yworo (talk) 15:22, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
That really is a very odd sentence and an odd claim. My impression is that most astrologers believe exactly what the sentence says "few astrologers" believe. And making such a bold and counter-intuitive claim in the lede based on one book doesn't seem like such a good idea. See wp:undue weightMystylplx (talk) 17:51, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Further, the paragraph contradicts itself when the last sentence says, "Despite differences in definitions, a common assumption of astrologers is that celestial placements can aid in the interpretation of past and present events, and in the prediction of the future." So first it says " Few astrologers believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies..." have any influence, then says "celestial placements" can aid in prediction of the future? What is the difference between " movements and positions of celestial bodies" and "celestial placements?" Mystylplx (talk) 18:01, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
You left out the key words in the first sentence "directly influence life on Earth". In general, astrologers do not believe that the planets influence people and events. They do however believe that "celestial placements" (which I'd call planetary positions) can be used to interpret events or even predict the possible courses of future events. It's a valid distinction. It's like saying that people don't believe that newspapers make the news but rather report it. Yworo (talk) 19:01, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Yworo, but what if one source says one thing and another says another thing. Surely the conclusion really is that "astrologers may or may not believe ...". Is this not the case? Either way the entire paragraph should probably be edited. What astrologers generally believe is that there is a law of correspondance whereby celestial motions correlate with mundane ones - the law of correspondance can be summed up as 'as above, so below' from the emerald tablets. Either way, the sentence as it stands is misleading, what I meant in my earlier post was that I would source a less misleading author and amend as necessary. I'm happy to post it here first for scrutiny and debate if you like. Also you suggest that astrologers do not believe that the planets influence people and events. In terms of causation, that is true, but the way it is worded makes it sound like the celestial placements have no relevance to mundane or human affairs, which isn't true. That's probably part of the confusion. "Few astrologers believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies either directly influence life on Earth or correspond to events experienced on a human scale" simply isn't true, most astrologer believe that they CORRESPOND to events experienced on a human scale, just not that planetary motion CAUSES this to happen. I will find the relevant authors etc. and make the correction here first (under a new paragraph probably) for it to be debated. Xpaulk (talk) 15:32, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Personally I don't see how they could predict without influencing. Planetary motions are very regular. They don't change according to what people are doing, so if they have any predictive ability at all it logically must be due to influencing. But that's just logic and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what astrologers believe. Mystylplx (talk) 16:26, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
My proposed reformat of the relevant sentence is: "Astrologers generally believe that the movements and positions of celestial bodies can inform them about events experienced on a human scale or that predictions can be made from them. Many astrologers see astrology as being a purely symbolic language whereas others see the movements and positions of celestial bodies as influencing human and mundane affairs, either causally or otherwise." It's not a well written sentence so by all means consider better wording. My sources for this are 'The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion' [2003] published by Oxford University Press. 'The Contemporary Astrologer's Handbook'[2006] by Sue Tompkins, published by Flare Publications. I chose those specifically because one is written from an academic viewpoint and the other from the viewpoint of a working astrologer aimed toward future astrologers.Xpaulk (talk) 19:18, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
That's some nice wording, actually. It is unfortunate that few sociological studies of astrology and its beliefs have been done as they have for New Religious Movements. The only organization that I know of that sponsors such research is the RGCSA. Perhaps some better sources could be found through their website. Yworo (talk) 19:26, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
No objection to that wording.Mystylplx (talk) 20:33, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks everyone. I've amended the page as per my suggestion here. Would appreciate a more experienced wiki-editor just double checking that everything is as it should be! Xpaulk (talk) 11:53, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Hyperdimensional Astrology

Hyperdimensional astrology, where variations in energy output from planets would be due to the constantly changing hyperdimensional stress due to their relative interactions, and variability in orbits. The “changing interactive stresses in the ‘boundary between hyperspace and real space’ (in the Hyperdimensional Model) now also seem to be the answer to the mysterious ‘storms’ that, from time to time, have suddenly appeared in the atmospheres of several of the outer planets. The virtual ‘disappearance,’ in the late 80’s, of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is one remarkable example; Saturn’s abrupt production of a major planetary ‘event,’ photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994 as a brilliant cloud erupting at 19.5 degrees N. (where else?!), is yet another.” http://www.halexandria.org/dward118.htm, also noted on pg. 52 of Dark Mission by Richard C. Hoagland and Michael Bara (Los Angeles, CA: Feral House; 2007) as an area of potential study worth mentioning.

Variability of solar phenomena -- such as solar flares, coronal disturbances, mass ejections -- in terms of the sunspot cycle -- 11 years (or closer to 20 for the complete solar cycle). The observation of short-wave radio communications and their connection to the sunspot cycle, and to the motions of the major planets of the solar system, the latter an astrological correlation between the orbits of all the planets (but especially, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), and major radio-disturbing eruptions on the Sun! What had been “rediscovered was nothing short of a ‘Hyperdimensional Astrology’ -- the ultimate, very ancient, now highly demonstrable angular momentum foundations behind the real influences of the Sun and planets on our lives.” The research also noted that when Jupiter and Saturn were spaced by 120 degrees [an astrological trine -- interpreted as an excellent aspect] -- and solar activity was at a maximum! -- radio signals averaged of far higher quality for the year than when Jupiter and Saturn were at 180 degrees [an astrological opposition -- interpreted as challenging], and there had been a considerable decline in solar activity! In other words, the average quality of radio signals followed the cycle between Jupiter and Saturn, rather than the sunspot cycle!! http://www.halexandria.org/dward118.htm

"...the ultimate, very ancient, now highly demonstrable angular momentum foundations behind the real influences of the sun and planets on our lives." And "the changing planetary geometries affecting not just the sun, but the other planets simultaneously as well, just as 'conventional' astrologers have claimed, via James Clerk Maxwell's original 'changing scalar potentials'(i.e. torsion fields ...)." Also per http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_hyperphysics3.htm and http://www.enterprisemission.com/hyper_confirm.htm . See Maxwell's Original Equations http://www.rexresearch.com/maxwell.htm .

These are appended here to stimulate thought among those who can better understand this non-orthodox take on Maxwell's mathematics than can this User. RJBaran (talk) 07:09, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

It's not unorthodox, it's simple bullshit. It reads like a politician explaining how hiring prostitutes isn't cheating on his wife. — kwami (talk) 09:21, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

incoherent lead

The wording of the lede is incoherent, and I don't know how to fix.

Many astrologers see astrology as being a purely symbolic language whereas others see the movements and positions of celestial bodies as influencing human and mundane affairs, either causally or otherwise. Despite differences in definitions, a common assumption of astrologers is that celestial placements can aid in the interpretation of past and present events, and in the prediction of the future.

"either causally or otherwise": how do you influence s.o. non-causally?

"a purely symbolic language ... in the prediction of the future": this doesn't make sense to me. If you can use it to predict the future, how is it only symbolic? Or is this a convoluted way of saying that some astrologers think that the planets reflect human affairs without influencing them? — kwami (talk) 00:02, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

How about:
Many astrologers see astrology as a purely symbolic language rather than a causal system where the movements and positions of celestial bodies directly influence human affairs. Despite differences in approaches, a common assumption is that understanding celestial placements aids in the interpretation of past and present events, and in prediction of the future.
Better? Ocaasi (talk) 01:14, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Maybe. I still don't understand what "symbolic" is supposed to mean. And how is it a "language"? Plus all languages are symbolic. — kwami (talk) 02:26, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
You're right, all languages are symbolic, but this is about scope. 'Symbolic' here means that the astrological concepts don't reference definitive objects (like chair) but rather broad themes that may need interpretation (love, death, etc.) It's a difference between literal, concrete language and metaphorical, abstract language. They're on the same spectrum, but are so far apart in this case that they might as well be considered different things entirely. Maybe we can take out 'language' and call it a 'symbolic vocabulary', although maybe the explanation here is enough to clear it up. Ocaasi (talk) 02:38, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
But I don't understand what a "symbolic vocabulary" would mean either. The phrase is entirely opaque to me in this context. The way I would read it, these astrologers think that astrology is just something fun, like fortune cookies; a topic of conversation, maybe, but of no relevance to the external world. But then we go on to say that a 'common assumption' is that astrology can be used to predict the future, which goes beyond party games. — kwami (talk) 02:41, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I see the contradiction. It's fuzzy, and maybe the common assumption is not so common. I think what we're trying to say is that:
Many astrologers see astrology as a purely symbolic language rather than a causal system where the movements and positions of celestial bodies directly influence human affairs. Despite differences in approach, a common assumption is that studying celestial placements can help people understand past and present events and prepare for, if not predict, the future.
That may be a bit of a fudge, but at least it is coherent. Ocaasi (talk) 03:10, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
So, does that "symbolic language" means it's just a game? Is it contrary to the frequent belief that it's predictive? Or are they compatible? I still have no idea what "symbolic" is supposed to mean here.
Also, I object to your wording in the lede implying that astrology is not pseudoscientific, but only considered such by a certain limited community. It *is* pseudoscience; it's the prototypical pseudoscience. — kwami (talk) 03:23, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
See the above section for the pseudoscience discussion. I didn't mean to imply that it was a limited consensus, only that it is a consensus tied to actual humans rather than an inherent property of the field itself. Way to accomplish both?
A symbolic language is literally a collection of symbols that have broad interpretive meaning. The planets and their movements are the symbols, and together they operate as phonemes or words in a collection of emotional and metaphorical themes. I don't think that is a problematic concept, since as you pointed out, all language has symbolic qualities. Alternatives to 'just a game' might be that it is a tool (like the i-Ching), an art (like story-telling), a craft (like the non-scientific aspects of psychotherapy, namely the search for analogies and personal insights), a figurative analysis (like the study of omens in literature), etc. I'm trying to make this more clear but the truth is that astrology doesn't always take a clear stance on this. Sometimes astrologers merely present astrological signs and charts in a very general way, such as, "this is what the chart suggests..." or "these charts are associated with..." or "these changes reflect..." The disconnect is over whether or not there's a literal, causal connection, or just an association or just a distant relationship (as in, 'the position of the planets harkens to a period of personal strife'). This is not all that different from many religious practices where all variety of symbols, artifacts, events, and rituals take on a meaning that is not scientifically connected but still provides a conceptual basis for beliefs and actions. You might check out the [(ritual)] article, which is not about intense groups but rather the broader aspects of religious practice. Ocaasi (talk) 03:43, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I get that the 'meanings' may be abstract, but I still don't understand the contrast between "symbolic language" and "causal system". Why are those two things presented as if they're incompatible? They seem like independent parameters. Does abstraction conflict with causality? — kwami (talk) 06:16, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Court order

I see that the "court order" part has been removed by Kwamikagami. That's what the sources there say. There may well be other reasons, such as tradition, but you'll need to find another reason for not following the sources. There's not much point in using two sources that both deal with court orders if we don't mention it. -- Brangifer (talk) 14:48, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

It had been worded to suggest that teaching astrology was supported by court order, and even that the courts had determined it to be a science:
In India, because of a court order, vedic astrology is taught in some universities as a science.
As I read it the court merely refused to intervene, saying it was a matter for the university to decide. Unless I've missed s.t., it would seem that what we have is a decision by some universities to start teaching astrology, over the objections of the scientific community. (In an earlier incarnation, we'd used the same sources to claim that astrology is considered a science in India, which is not supported either.) — kwami (talk) 14:55, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Let's include it with more accurate phrasing then: "In India the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a case in which universities were ruled to be allowed to teach astrology as a science, over objections from the scientific community." And/or. "In India, some universities teach astrology as a science, a position which was ruled permissible by the courts and declined an appellate hearing by the Supreme Court." Ocaasi (talk) 16:53, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Excellent improvement suggestions. I wasn't completely satisfied with the existing wording either. I like Ocaasi's first suggestion best because it covers the context well. -- Brangifer (talk) 18:06, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, those sound fine. — kwami (talk) 22:21, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Proposal to split off the Scientific criticism of astrology

This article is NPOV as a description of astrology. It has become a soap box for editors who have spent a lot of time altering the description to bring out in an elaborate manner the scientific case against astrology. The recent effort to bring the labeling of astrology as a pseudoscience to the forefront of the description is a case in point. The material should be split into two articles. One would give the basic description of what astrology is. Presently, the article is missing a lot of information about what astrology is. A seperate article on the scientific case against astrology should then be created, where much of the material now belongs. Sorry, but as it stands the article is too slanted to be tenable as a description of astrology proper. Erekint (talk) 12:18, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

That sounds, to me, like a POV fork. "The generally accepted policy is that all facts and major points of view on a certain subject should be treated in one article". Can you point out any specific bits of text that are problematic? bobrayner (talk) 12:51, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
All of it. The overall structure and emphasis is not about astrology but the scientific case against astrology. The idea is not to hide anything, but that a section on the scientific case against astrology would remain in the main article. The section would then reference the article proper on the scientific case against astrology. Erekint (talk) 12:57, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
There is actually very little about refutation. The scientific response could be spun off, and a redundant critical sentence here or there removed, but very little else would change. — kwami (talk) 13:15, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it would be appropriate to move hard evidence into a separate article; the content left in this article would be severely unbalanced. bobrayner (talk) 13:17, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
It would be a POV fork to split the science piece. If we're missing info about astrology, please add it. If the article gets too long, we'll switch to summary style with content forks. But the current lead is a compromise that can still be worked on with specific constructive proposals. Scientific criticism of astrology is part of its history and present. We shouldn't hide that, we just shouldn't either let it interfere with describing core aspects of the practice in full, and without constant skeptical commentary. Currently I think we're not far off from that, but it's not perfect. Ocaasi (talk) 13:45, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Listen, I respect what you are trying to do and the article is thoughtful and well done in many respects. However, I find the presentation to lack balance, by overemphasising the "scientific response" and by failing to account properly for the inherent complexities of astrological inquiry. This relates to the issue that while a formidable case is made against astrology in the article, in actual fact it is not as strong as it is made out to be. To try to make that issue clearer, a short article Astrology and science has quickly been cobbled together. It borrows from the main article on astrology and adds to it. The aim is to offer a balanced view of the complexities involved in the contentious debate. Perhaps some flavour of this article could be added in the discussion and the stand-alone article could then be deleted or overhauled and/or renamed if that is useful. Erekint (talk) 13:59, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

The science seems to be under-emphasized, if anything. It was tried before to split off the Astrology and science section, but the sub article became larger than the original, since there are extensive sources for scientific tests of astrology. As it stands the one small section in the much larger article seems fair to say the least. Mystylplx (talk) 14:50, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
A few points:
  • The scientific response is mentioned in the last sentence of the first paragraph, the fourth paragraph, and the section specifically on Science. That's not a lot, and the rest of the content is not addressed at all. If there is a lack of balance, it's mainly because we're just lacking rich information on Astrology. More of that will help correct the balance.
  • There's a debate at Chiropractic where I've attempted to let the subject be described in full and neutrally rather than solely from the perspective of current medical consensus. These articles are very tricky to chart a POV path through, and the question of how to incorporate or situate skeptical or scientific criticism and consensus is an old problem around here. Just don't make the situation more inflamed, and we can all keep working it towards a thorough and neutral presentation, hopefully with few remaining points of dispute.
  • The article you created is basically an unnecessary fork, because this article is not long enough to warrant a separate section, and most of that information can and should be incorporated here. You make efforts at that article to emphasize that the variety of astrological practices makes blanket determinations of pseudoscience impossible. But I can't think of any branch of astrology that has plausible mechanisms for causality, any history of reliable experimentation, or any basis for systematic logical refinement. Since any of those are necessary for science, I don't see how any of the branches could avoid being considered pseudoscience (unless they just made absolutely no claims to predictive accuracy or specificity). That, of course, doesn't mean astrology is incorrect or powerful; it might turn out to have been right by chance in some cases, and it might give people great insight for parallel reasons that have nothing to do with the system itself. But neither of those make it scientific.
Ocaasi (talk) 15:21, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Ocaasi, a speedy delete of the Astrology and science article is ok. It was put together to draw out the complexities. The point about the many complex systems should not be dismissed lightly, especially as scientific research into astrology has only begun to scratch the surface of a very complex field. For instance, not many scientific studies have been done of the astrology that is practiced in India. Incidentally, why does it have greater acceptance there than astrology in the West? Is it because Indians are less well educated and less science literate than Westerners as this article suggests, quoting Pingree? Or is their very different system simply giving a better result? Apparently, astrology is used at all levels of Indian society. Food for thought. Even if I find the astrology article burdened by POV and failing as a neutral description, removal of the POV tag on it is also ok, given that there are four in disagreement with the proposal, and only one for it. Good luck with the article. Erekint (talk) 15:46, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for being reasonable Erekint. In the future, if you want to mock-up an article, you can do it as a WP:userspace or WP:talkspace draft so it doesn't attract extra attention.
You asked a complex and somewhat heavy question about India. I'll be technical at first and say, it doesn't matter how many people or which people accept an idea; none of that makes it scientific or unscientific. Any suggestion that an idea is or isn't acceptable because of who believes it (or who denounces it) is just a mix of ad populum and argument from authority. The great thing about our current definitions of science are that they're process oriented: testability, falsifiability, etc. So I don't have to say anything about India or Indians to make the point that astrology is still pseudoscientific no matter where it is practiced. That's because in Indian astrology, just like American astrology, there are a priori assumptions that don't have a rational basis; there is a lack of reliable experimentation; there is not a rigorous effort to challenge current thinking and to identify anomalies; there is not a rational basis for revision of ideas, etc. Some of those things can be said of 'mainstream' science at times, but that fair critique doesn't change the terrain: good science is good science anywhere, and bad science masquerading as science is either pseudoscience or pathological science or junk science anywhere.
To really answer your question, though, I think that Indians and Americans on average are both phenomenally religious people whose worldviews are filled with mishmashes of different systems of belief that are not scientific. And I don't think American astrologists are any more or less scientific than Indian astrologists. I do think that American scientists are more scientific than Indian astrologists. I also think Indian scientists are more scientific than Indian astrologists.
Frankly, I think there is more cultural respect for non-scientific traditions in Indian than in the U.S. mainly because of the sociological connection between the caste system in India and religion. As you probably know, top of the food chain was for centuries and centuries, the Brahmin priests. And that mixing of religion and power was indeed split in the U.S. as a result of our persecuted protestant roots and early separation of church and state. It came to a head in the U.S. during the Scopes trial which wasn't that long ago, and in some sense is still continuing with our debates over Intelligent design. I don't think Indians are backwards, but in terms of having their society erase any vestige of religious thinking from its public sphere and academia, we're probably slightly further along. That's a stab at an explanation which doesn't require the bias you suggested. Thanks for your feedback and please chime in with specific criticisms or additions where you have background knowledge or good access to sources. Ocaasi (talk) 16:36, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Ocaasi, the Chiropractic article is impressive and seems well balanced and with a discussion of controversy at the end (in its place), and without most of the material having been massaged to arrive at the conclusion like in the astrology article. As for your musings on India, while reflecting knowledge and good insight, I don't think they quite get it. Here is why I think so.
The difference between the USA and India is one of paradigms or outlooks. Westerners, including those who believe in God, tend to see the world as material and mechanic. Everthing has to have a logical explanation. If A, through some process B, can be shown to lead to C, they'll need to know about B, before they believe it. If they can't explain how something works, they'll believe it doesn´t. Somehow is not part of their lexicon and, when push comes to shove, they only believe in facts. As you assert, "there is no rational basis for astrology". By comparison, the Indians are more mystical and circumspect, being idealist in their outlook. They will accept an insight from astrology if their experience leads them to have confidence in it, even if it comes without the full causal explanation. They don't need to pigeonhole astrology into the square hole of science, if they find that it works (A leads to C). Indeed, they may see the failiure of science to explain astrology as a problem of modern knowledge and science, and not a problem of astrology.
Moreover, the Indians also don't try to forecast like there was some straight mechanical relationship. For them, astrology involves the mysterious law of karma, which is seen in the birth horoscope. It can get expressed in a strange way. Just like human life is strange and unfathomable in all its complexity, the Indian astrologers make predictions for positive or negative trends and significant events in specific areas of life, which can then take a number of forms. Karma is related to God's grace, and the almighty can intervene to spare a God fearing and good person from experiencing the full brunt of past karma, as seen in the horoscope. For the Indians, astrology is not an exact science, either. Based on a person's horoscope given the birth time to the minute, Indian astrologers will give answers to questions like "when will I find work", "should I go abroad for work", "when will I get married", "should I marry this person", "will my child succeed in their studies," "will I get out of my troubles", "when should I start up a business", "will I have off-spring", etc, etc. The answers will be in the positive or negative, often remarking for the best time. As in all fields, good practitioners are likely to give a correct insight while bad ones are less likely to do so. A number of astrologers develop impressive reputations based on consistent repeat accurate predictions.
The astrology of India has been unchanged for at least two millennia, while Western astrology was lost during the fall of Rome and rise of the Church. When it was rediscovered in the Renaissance, it was in a piecemeal state and has since arrived into modernity in a twisted and adulterated form that has become relatively meaningless. As a result, many western astrologers regard prediction as a futile art, best left to others. When they make predictions it is likely to come out a chance (50/50). Indian astrologers do much better than that. The trick is to find one who is willing to become a guinea pig. Without any rancor, my bet is that most editors here, as good Westerners, won´t have any of the above insights as they go beyond the basic outlook and presuppositions, formed based on a study of the imprecise Western astrology. At the same time, the consensus of editors in the English Wikipedia on such subjects suggests the Sociology of epistemology is a good idea for an article :) Regards. Erekint (talk) 20:57, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
That was a very coherent explanation of why science may not capture all operating mechanisms in the universe; however, mechanisms which cannot be captured by science or tested by science but are promoted as predictive are basically the definition of pseudoscience. That may mean that they also contain an esoteric, unknowable-by-conventional-scientific-epistemology process, but they're still pseudo-science until we have a way to discern between the esoteric and the imaginary. Also, you cogently explained how karma involves only general trends and not specific predictions. That's also basically an admission of no meaningful statistically significant relationship, which again, fits within pseudoscience. For the last point, it's possible that the Indian astrological system is more 'pure' and consistent with its roots, but science--for all of its practical flaws--takes the remarkable stance that the roots of a thing don't matter, only its effectiveness. And a notable aspect of science is that you don't have to 'find a good one', in reference to a qualified astrologer, since replication of results by any scientist under similar conditions, is a hallmark of scientific method. It doesn't require a specially gifted practitioner, just the right experimental protocol. Maybe there are psychics and astrologers who are uniquely but untestably effective; I can't disclaim it for sure. Maybe people benefit from going to see these people, even if they are pseudoscientific (harder to justify in the long run, but possible). Either way, it's still pseudoscience (as well as a rich cultural tradition, a mystical interpretative process, and a conceivably helpful tool for personal exploration). For what it's worth, I wouldn't mind having most of what you just wrote IN the article, just as the internal, how-the-field-sees-itself view, rather than the encyclopedic or scientific view. Ocaasi (talk) 22:12, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Ocaasi, as far as I understand it, you have a very good understanding of science. However, that's a remarkably benign explanation of the word pseudoscience. Normally, the prefix pseudo carries a negative connotation, to be "false, counterfeit or fake". In other words, the meaning of the statement that astrology is a pseudoscience, is that it is "pretending" to be what the word in the affix is, or in this case, a science. That's not what astrology "is". Astrology is not masquerading as science. Astrology has existed through millennia, thousands of years before science existed. That said, it is not impossible to imagine that astrology could benefit by science, if the scientific method is applied to it in a sensible way. However, in this article it is stated that astrology has been rejected by the scientific community, based on failing in some tests. There is little interest in the fact that these were causal tests of a form of astrology, Western astrology, that may or may not be the right one. Moreover, the tests may have overreached by testing for some simplistic mechanical causality. Perhaps the traditional form of horoscopic astrology as practiced in India is a more effective form of astrology, but in the way the Indians approach it? One would think that it should be possible to apply the scientific method to the question of what astrology purports to explain or know, and then apply it to the most consistent form of astrology known. If the effort is to succeed, the scientific research project would need to employ a deft understanding of the paradigm and limits of astrology and what it claims to explain or know.
In short, the word pseudoscience is used in this article to state that astrology is not really a science, as a way to know the world. Yet,there is no admission of the limits of science or modern knowledge to explain astrology! The statement of the 186 leading astrologers in 1975 to "reject" astrology flat out, without knowing it beyond some heresay, is paraded as proof of the falseness of astrology. As Feyerabend points out, in this effort the leading scientists failed in being objective, by assuming more knowledge of astrology than they actually possessed. As some see it, the editorial consensus involving this article is to somehow use the scientific measuring rod to disprove astrology or to warn readers about it. The effort is certainly not a benign attempt to give some insight into astrology's relationship with science. Rather it is bluntly stated that astrology is a false science. It is for this reason that I think the article is highly POV. There is a pretense of judging that which cannot be easily judged by the hard and fast rules of science as if astrology were some mechanical law. If I were to suggest a model for describing this topic, it would be the Chiropractic article, which you have had a hand in editing. Kudos, as it seems quite balanced. Again, I am just sharing these views for whatever benefit the editors of this article may derive from them. I'm perfectly happy to to let the matter now go. In this day and age of the internet, the truth has a way of ultimately coming out, whatever it is. A wise person does not pretend to be able to stop the tide from rolling in, or out. :) Erekint (talk) 07:10, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
But astrology *is* a false science. It would be irresponsible of us to say otherwise. — kwami (talk) 09:20, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

predictive/determinative

"Some see astrology as predictive, with the planets controlling human destiny; others see it as determinative, with the planets determining our personalities and who we are."

Not sure I understand the distinction. One determines the future, the other how we got to the present? They both seem like part of the same mechanism to me; is there a difference between them? Ocaasi (talk) 22:51, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I thought maybe that's what you meant by the "symbolic language" stuff. If not that, I still have no idea what you do mean.
This is a common refrain: do the "stars" actually determine our destinies, or just influence us? If you read astromancy, s.o. had written it to claim that "astromancy" is the former, and modern "astrology" the latter. — kwami (talk) 01:02, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I see the difference. One is a general influence which we may also be able to choose or reject; the other is deterministic and people can only be informed of (but never avoid). I think we've identified two different spectrums: specific to general; and optional vs. deterministic. I guess that astrologers vary along these two with some thinking readings are very specific and unavoidable (you will die tomorrow, sorry), others general and unavoidable (you will find love somewhere, for sure), some specific and avoidable (you're supposed to die tomorrow, but you can stop it), others general and avoidable (there is danger in your future, but I think you can change it), and everywhere in between. Can we work with that, the two spectrum set-up. Maybe:
Astrologers vary in terms of how specific or general their predictions are. Some use astrology as a very broad symbolic language with much room for interpretation and personal accommodation; others forsee more definite events. Astrologers also differ as to whether predictions are deterministic, inevitable. Some astrologers, for example put ultimate choice in the hands of the individual; others read events and trends from the chart as fated and unavoidable.
Ocaasi (talk) 01:37, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I interpret the latter as fate vs. personality: you will find love because it's foretold in the stars, vs. you will find love because the stars show you are charismatic. — kwami (talk) 01:48, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Both forms offer predictions; one form claims that certain events will happen to somebody because of a quirk of planetary positions in the sky when they were born; the other form claims that people will go through their lives with distinct personality traits because of a quirk of planetary positions in the sky when they were born. Both these predictions are testable; a cornerstone of science. However, on testing, both types of predictions fail. This is a large part of what makes it pseudoscience. bobrayner (talk) 07:35, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

'pseudoscience' in first line

I'm sure this has been argued ad nauseum, but I haven't been following the article. We've got an edit war going on over whether the article should start out "Astrology is a pseudoscience/pseudoscientific ...". If that is left out, we're left with the statement "Astrology is considered a pseudoscience or superstition by the scientific community ..." in the 2nd paragraph.

Now, WP:Fringe states,

When discussing topics that reliable sources say are pseudoscientific, editors should be careful not to present those views alongside the scientific consensus as though they are equal but opposing views.

That would be violated if we leave 'pseudoscience' out of the 1st line, as we then say present astrology as if it were a reasonable field, with the disclaimer that BTW it is considered a pseudoscience by a particular faction, as if there were equal but opposing views. As a serious encyclopedia, we do need to be clear that it is simply a pseudoscience, correct? (I'm speaking of the present day, of course; there was no such distinction in the pre-scientific era.) — kwami (talk) 07:49, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Astrology is first and foremost a set of beliefs and systems. It is, secondarily to that, considered pseudoscientific to the scientific community. The article already reflects that without pseudoscientific needing to be reiterated at the beginning. Astrology is also considered satanic by certain churches, but we don't have 'Astrology is a satanic set of beliefs'. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not a opinion board for what science deems pseudoscientific or not. That it is considered a pseudoscience needs to be mentioned and it is. We don't need to introduce it as pseudoscientific any more than introduce it as satanic, though we might include that some churches consider it as such later in the article. As an example consider the homeopathy article which begins as follows "Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners treat patients using highly diluted preparations that are believed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by the patient." The first sentence introduces the concept of homeopathy, the latter sentences expand upon opinion on homeopathy. Similarly astrology's first sentence should just state what astrology is, namely a set of systems and beliefs pertaining to the movement of planets. That it is considered pseudoscientific is secondary to that. Similarly we might amend the article for every religion or belief system and prefix the sentences with 'pseudoscientific', "Christianity is a pseudoscientific belief system..." Xpaulk (talk) 11:05, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
It's misleading to compare astrology with homeopathy in this context. While homeopathy is of course a pseudoscience and we have good references for that, astrology is the single pseudoscience that always comes up as a typical pseudoscience in philosophical discussions of the science/pseudoscience demarcation problem. In the same way that psychoanalysis regularly comes up as a difficult case and a test case for specific attempts at drawing the dividing line.
While I agree that the character of astrology as a pseudoscience does not have to be in the first sentence, and while I think the article would read better without mentioning it so early, it does actually have factual content beyond just saying astrology is unfounded nonsense. There are many sets of "systems, traditions, and beliefs" that are not pseudoscientific at all. That this one is pseudoscientific is evident to every sensible reader from "which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies [...] and related details can provide information about personality, human affairs and other 'earthly' matters". While I personally subscribe to using the principle Show, don't tell in encyclopedia writing, a lot of people think that it's better to make things explicit, and in the context of a lead I generally agree. Hans Adler 14:13, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Xpaulk, there's a difference between fact and opinion. It's not possible to demonstrate that astrology is satanic, so that can only be presented as an opinion, if it's even notable enough to be included. However, it is demonstrably pseudoscientific. Religions, on the other hand, generally don't present themselves as being scientific, so they are not pseudoscience. (I would agree though that some of them do, and are.)
As for Hans' point that this need not be said up front, I think it's telling that the reason given for removing the word is the claim that it is not pseudoscientific, that it's biased to call it that, and that it's only considered as such by some faction. That's patently false: as Hans also notes, astrology is the textbook case of pseudoscience. — kwami (talk) 15:48, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Not all astrologers and supporters of astrology claim that it's a "science". The first line says: "Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs". Moreover, there are some astrologers who claims that there is not enough research about the subject for validating it or not. The article states correctly that it's considered pseudocientific by the scientific community, and it's true and enough. The word "pseudocientific" in the first line is definitively biased. Fsolda (talk) 17:45, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
There may be a chance to remove the word pseudoscience from the first sentence, but claiming that astrology is not actually one, or that it's a matter of POV, is just about the least strategy that is likely to succeed simply because it's so absurd. The following is from an article [1] in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, written by Sven Ove Hansson. He criticises Karl Popper's definition via falsifiability because on closer inspection it fails to cover the pseudosciences that make falsifiable predictions and stick to them long after they have been falsified:
"Astrology, rightly taken by Popper as an unusually clear example of a pseudoscience, has in fact been tested and thoroughly refuted (Culver and Ianna 1988; Carlson 1985)."
In the further discussion, he mentions that Popper himself criticised Kuhn for proposing a definition of pseudoscience which under Popper's reading would not have included astrology. The one thing practically all philosophers agree about is that any meaningful definition of pseudoscience must include astrology. The unusually detailed and nuanced treatment in Paul Thagard's Why Astrology Is A Pseudoscience is particularly worth reading. Hans Adler 23:18, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
Hans, that's excellent. BTW, those who "stick to them long after they have been falsified..." are called true believers. Falsifiability is an essential aspect in determining whether something is a pseudoscience or not. Without it "pseudoscience" is the wrong label. I have written more about this in my archives.
There is often a historical progression that ends with true believers: a superstition --> becomes a widely held belief --> evolving into a prescientific concept before the scientific era --> whose adherents make falsifiable claims in the scientific era --> which are then falsified/disproven and rejected by mainstream science --> but continue to thrive as a fringe belief still advocated by true believers as if it were fact, IOW they are still making falsifiable claims (like astrologers do) about it and believe it's totally true in a scientific sense, sometimes while advocating it as a "belief", rather than a "science". Any religion or metaphysical system that makes falsifiable claims is vulnerable to accusations of pushing a pseudoscience if they are pushing false beliefs as falsifiable fact. OTOH, if the ideas aren't falsifiable, then they don't qualify for the PSI label and are just religious beliefs. -- Brangifer (talk) 03:54, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm not a supporter of Astrology; I'm actually neutral about it, whether it's real or a superstition. But I have friends and relatives who are astrologers, and I know a little about it. First of all, it's right to state that its a belief and both astrologers and scientists agree about it. But not all the astrologers claim that astrology is a "science". Moreover, there are disputes even between the astrologers. For example: some consider Pluto a valid planet; some don't consider it a planet. Some considere aspects like Quintil and others as valid aspects; some not. Some consider that the astrology has influences about the life of the people in aspects like marriage, diseases and others, while other consider that the astrology rules only the spiritual influences in the persons. The Astrology is more closed to the religion than to the science. And - in my opinion - even the word "pseudoscience" is pejorative and authoritarian (not only for Astrology); the word "belief" is more neutral.Fsolda (talk) 01:41, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Fsolda, we use pejoratives here all the time because RS use them. Wikipedia is uncensored and we are required to document things as they are by not censoring what sources say. We don't "neutralize" them. That would actually violate NPOV. As to your comments about some not claiming that astrology is a "science", see my comments right above yours. They are still making falsifiable claims, so they are engaged in a pseudoscientific endeavor, whether they realize it or not. -- Brangifer (talk) 03:54, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Addendum: The first paragraph of the article about "pseudoscience" states: "Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.". And, since many astrologers don't present it as "scientific", then it cannot be a "pseudoscience". Fsolda (talk) 01:51, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

The first paragraph of the article about "pseudoscience" states (I bold three factors)':

  • "Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.".

Using that definition, I will show how we actually have at least two different situations that both deserve to be labeled as "pseudoscience". They both involve "science", "falsifiability", and "evidence", but in different ways:

1. The first situation (which uses the sentence from the article) is based on ludicrous claims the belief is scientific. They have tied the noose around their own necks:
  • "Pseudoscience is an unfalsifiable claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status."
  • (Note that I have just moved the falsifiable ("testable") part to the beginning. I haven't changed the meaning. The sentence from the article already recognizes that falsifiability is an essential factor. That statement is limited strictly to unfalsifiable claims ("cannot be reliably tested"), as in where a religion makes explicit claims that their ludicrous and unfalsifiable idea is scientific. In this case the judgment is based purely upon false claims that an unfalsifiable idea can make claims to be scientific. Per Popper that's wrong: if it's not falsifiable, it's not science.)
2. The second situation is where untrue, but falsifiable, ideas are claimed to be scientific:
  • "Pseudoscience is a falsifiable claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status, and has been falsified."
  • (Note that here I have moved the falsifiable ("testable") part to the beginning and the "lacks supporting evidence" to the end in the form of "proven" lack of evidence.)

In both situations claims to be scientific exist and falsifiability (or explicit lack thereof) is also a factor. Is that clear enough? If so, can we use this to develop the definitions in the pseudoscience article? -- Brangifer (talk) 05:04, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Okay, I agree, but it's also explained in the second paragraph: "Astrology is considered a pseudoscience or superstition by the scientific community, which sees a lack of statistically significant astrological predictions, while psychology explains much of the continued faith in astrology as a matter of cognitive biases.". It's true, but enough. The discussion is not about the falsiability of the astrology, but about whether it's presented as scientific or not. If we call as "pseudoscience" all the beliefs which cannot be tested and lack supporting evidence, then the religions are "pseudoscientific" as well.Fsolda (talk) 11:41, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Only if they also claim it's scientific or real, like $cientology does. If they just say it's what they believe and admit it's not scientifically proven, then it's just a belief and that's the end of it. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:12, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I think the second paragraph might be okay if it weren't so weasely. It's not just considered pseudoscience by a certain community, it simply *is* pseudoscience. As long as the 2nd P is worded that way, we need a separate statement of what it is. Note that the objections to that statement contest it being pseudoscience, and they evidently read the 2nd P as not being strong enough to be bothersome. That's the rub.
There may be astrologers who do not present astrology as scientific, but that is how it's generally presented. Religions, a few like Xian Science and Scientology excepted, aren't. — kwami (talk) 21:51, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
The statement that "it simply *is* pseudoscience" is invalid, since - as I said before - not all of the astrologers and supporters of astrology regard it as a "science", and saying that it's generally presented as a "science" is something controversial. For validating this statement, we must make some survey with a great deal of astrologers with the question about their position about the astrology (if it's a science, or simply a belief, or something else), and if most of them state that it's "scientific", then this argument is valid, but, otherwise, it's not valid. It's different, for example, of some cases like the scientific creationism and homeopathy, which are undoubtly pseudosciences since all their supporters claim them to be scientific.Fsolda (talk) 23:46, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
You are confusing astrology itself with its promoters. Just because some promoters don't claim it's scientific doesn't invalidate calling it pseudoscientific. Even they are engaging in a pseudoscientific endeavor, whether they realize it or not. Astrology itself is a pseudoscience because it is defined by its claim that the positions of the stars provide information about personality, human affairs and other "earthly" matters. That's just plain BS. There is no scientific evidence it's true, and when tested the claims don't prove to be true. If it was all defined as a board game with no implications for real life, it would be a different matter. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:12, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Consensus?

Reading all of the above, I think there's consensus (but correct me if I'm wrong) that:

  • Astrology is not scientific
  • Scientists consider Astrology to be non-scientific and/or pseudoscientific
  • Scientific opinion needs to be mentioned in the article and in the lead
  • This opinion should be attributed to the scientific community not stated as a plain fact
  • The word pseudoscience does not need to be in the first sentence of the lead, but nor should it be buried.
  • Not all astrologists claim to be scientific, so the pseudoscientic label doesn't always apply

If all of that sounds uncontroversial, then the recent edits I made to the lead should stand up. If not, well, we can keep going... Ocaasi (talk) 03:26, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Kwami, the issue has to do with whether it is always pseudoscientific, and in whose eyes. Astrology is always non-scientific, but whether it is pseudoscience or not depends specifically on whether Astrologists are claiming to be scientific. If an Astrologer admits it is only a belief system with no pretense to causal or logical predictive abilities, then the pseudoscience label is inapt. We can use the 'pseudoscience' label, but we should put it in its proper context. Ocaasi (talk) 03:30, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
It *is* a plain fact that astrology is pseudoscientific. It's almost the definition of pseudoscience. It's also pseudoscientific whether or not all astrologers claim it's a science. (There may be Christians out there who do not claim that Christianity is a religion, but that doesn't mean it isn't one.)
If there is a significant believe among astrologers that astrology has no predictive value whatsoever (I'm still not clear on that below), then we should have a discussion on what that entails, but mainstream astrology would remain pseudoscientific. — kwami (talk) 03:34, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
This is a key point and it's a technical one about the definition of pseudoscience. I am not, at all, suggesting astrology has ever been scientific. I'm saying that the definition of pseudoscience requires that: a) practices which are not scientific b) are presented as if they were scientific. That's where the pseudo part comes in. If a practice is not scientific (e.g. religion) but is not presented as scientific (e.g. some religions) then the religion is not scientific. Please check out Pseudoscience for more on the definition. I agree that astrology fits as a classic example of pseudoscience, but that is different than saying it is--by definition--pseudoscience. Ocaasi (talk) 03:53, February 11, 2011 (UTC)
That article uses astrology as the first example of pseudoscience. There may be homeopathic practitioners who will say that homeopathy is simply the placebo effect, but the field is pseudoscientific even so. It sounds from what you're saying below that there are not astrologers who state that astrology has no predictive, explanatory, or causal value in human affairs, and since each of those would be pseudoscientific (they can be tested, and they fail the test), astrology as a whole is pseudoscientific. Saying a field is "considered" pseudoscientific by a certain community is the first step in denying that it's pseudoscience: that community is biased, ignorant, part of the conspiracy, etc. It's like saying that adherents of sect X are considered infidels by adherents of sect Y. We have overwhelming support for characterizing astrology as pseudoscience. — kwami (talk) 06:11, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Kwami is correct. If there is any subject that deserves to be labeled pseudoscientific in the definition, it's astrology. It's consistently listed as the classic example. Sometimes one just has to tell it like it is, and RS do that. -- Brangifer (talk) 07:31, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Astrology becomes scientific if it is based on the scientific method. Who are Kwamikagami and BullRangifer to say that all astrology does not use the scientific method or that all astro theses are not confirmed? Their insistence on inserting the word Pseudoscientific in the lead sentence is creating unnecessary discord about this article - and not consensus.Erekint (talk) 08:02, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Could you give us some examples of the scientific method being used by the astrological community? Perhaps some controlled tests, or some empiricism. I find it difficult to believe that astrology could be anything other than pseudoscience first and foremost; but if you have evidence to the contrary... bobrayner (talk) 11:14, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
This is exactly why we need to state that it is pseudoscientific up front. That's the thing w pseudoscience: there's a constant attempt to evade the fact that it's been debunked; anything other than a clear statement that it's nonsense will be presented as proof that there's legitimate debate. — kwami (talk) 13:59, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
A case of astrology as a science is M. Gaugelin's correlation of planetary placements and human characteristics. His finding that astrology has merit is debated. In view of even a single such case of scientific research into astrology can we honestly claim that ALL astrology is a pseudoscience? Hardly. Hectarion (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:37, 11 February 2011 (UTC).
Hectarion, have you ever edited here before under another username? -- Brangifer (talk) 17:29, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I see the slippery slope issue, but defining the problem away is still not the best approach. It's not classy, not encyclopedic, smacks of Skepticism, and generates more heat than light. Better to just use stronger language: Astrology is unequivocally considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community. And leave it at that. It wouldn't matter if it was the snake-oil salesman himself, 'labels' should be secondary to definitions and we shouldn't mix the two for pragmatic purposes. Ocaasi (talk) 16:45, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Erekint and Hectarion, you're using the word "science" very carelessly and superficially, so much so I'd be tempted to think you are small children playing around with Wikipedia. While the scientific method does involve system, just having a scientifically systematic working method doesn't mean the subject is a science, at least not in the modern sense of the word. In its broader sense "scinece" just means "knowledge" and is still used in that sense in India where pseudosciences like "Vedic science" misuse the word. They're just using it in the "systematic study and analysis of knowledge" sense, just like theology, but many of their adherents misuse it to claim scientific credibility, using court orders to keep it as "science" classes in universities, which is absurd and nonsensical in this day and age. To be truly scientific, it must also exclude bias, account for confounders, must be formulated in a falsifiable manner, be controlled, use blinding, be independently verified and duplicated, and its claims and conclusions must be proven to be true. The results will be true for everyone, everywhere, independent of culture, and not just for believers. The evidence must follow the method. Just having the method isn't enough. It's not fair to ignore the evidence aspect. No, using scientific vigor and system doesn't justify calling astrology a "science". Even nonsense can be approached with scientific vigor. Even syllogisms are logical and systematic, but can ignore some glaring logical fallacies. They can be very logical and funny, yet prove nothing. -- Brangifer (talk) 17:29, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── To make my position clear... there is no consensus that "the word pseudoscience does not need to be in the first sentence of the lead,..." I believe it definitely should be there as a defining aspect. There are other pseudoscience articles where we, for various reasons, aren't as bold and we use the word in the lead, but not in the first sentence, but that shouldn't be necessary here. If there is one subject that is consistently mentioned as THE classic pseudoscience, it's astrology. As long as there is a single astrology group or association which makes falsifiable claims that the position of the stars has any influence on individual personality traits or the fate of our lives, it will be legitimate to classify it as the ultimate pseudoscience. When the last association publically proclaims that its former claims were not true and have no scientific basis, and that it's now just a parlor game, then we can remove the word from the first sentence. -- Brangifer (talk) 17:44, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

My statement ("defining aspect") requires some explanation. We are supposed to include a definition in the lead. Our definition (just like other parts of the lead), per WP:LEAD, is based on the contents of the article, and isn't limited to an official definition from some dictionary or society. IOW, we create our own definitions here. Definitions found elsewhere are created based on their limited or one-sided content, but Wikipedia's NPOV policy means our articles are all-inclusive, covering the subject from all significant angles, which means our definitions should be better than any other definitions. We look at our content, see what the RS say, and then build our definition based on that. -- Brangifer (talk) 18:14, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm not a stickler for OR when it comes to situations like this, as I see what you're describing as one of our unique strengths. My concern, however, is that by incorporating the label into the definition we are crossing a subtle NPOV boundary. We can even put the word pseudoscience in the first sentence but not as the primary adjective before 'system'. It's a matter or proportion in the definition and putting pseudoscience as the first word is out of proportion to me. Why not call it a 'mystical' or 'pseudoreligous' or 'magical' or 'divining' system. Picking a word doesn't just involve accuracy but primacy. I'm not sure pseudoscientific is the first word that should describe anything. Maybe the second. Probably the sixth. Ocaasi (talk) 19:29, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there are lots of adj we could use. The question is which would be most informative to our readers. I don't think 'pseudoreligious' or 'magical' would be accurate, but sure, 'mystical' and 'divinational' sound fine to me. (Unless 'divinational' is not generally appropriate either: see next thread.) The problem with mystical, however, is that it doesn't actually say very much, whereas pseudoscientific does. (Note that no-one has been pushing for us to add any of your proposed adj.) This is because astrology circles spend a lot of time and effort denying that they're pseudoscientific. They don't deny that they're mystical or divinational; in fact, they're proud of those aspects. When a topic is constantly barraged by disinformation, IMO it is our responsibility as a reference work to dispel that nonsense immediately. Thus 'pseudoscientific' should IMO take priority. A wording that also notes that it is mystical or divinational might be nice. Can you think of anything? — kwami (talk) 22:30, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm still angling for a separation. Perhaps: "Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs based around the notion that relative positions of celestial bodies (the sun, moon, and planets) can provide insights into personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters. As a craft it is a combination of basic astronomy, mysticism, divination, and prophecy. For its claims to be able to meaningfully predict events by reading celestial movements, it is widely considered to be a classic example of pseudoscience." That'd be my approach, but I like words.
I do specifically disagree with you in terms of our role here. Wikipedia is not designed to right great wrongs or to counter gross misinformation. That may be the end result of good encyclopedic writing, but it should not be an explicit purpose. I think that goal has lead to a lot of conflict. We just represent all views on subjects neutrally. Putting pseudoscience in the definition itself just isn't neutral. The view is accurate, verifiable, and significant, but I think we're pushing NPOV and WEIGHT around by using it as the primary adjective and inserting it as if it's an inherent quality of a very old, varied, and culturally rich practice. So it's full of sh*t. That doesn't mean we describe it as "a full of sh*t system". There should be a separation between these issues for reasons that have nothing to do with the accuracy of the claim. Ocaasi (talk) 23:34, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I like your rewording. It's clear and flows well. The only exception I have to it is the weasel wording "it is widely considered to be". (Slippery slope, as you noted earlier.) IMO 'fate' might should be in there somewhere as well. Maybe,
Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs founded on the notion that the relative positions of celestial bodies (the sun, moon, and planets) can explain or predict fate, personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters. As a craft it is a combination of basic astronomy, mysticism, divination, and prophecy. It is the a classic example of pseudoscience, as it ... ...
kwami (talk) 01:56, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, sounds like we're just about there. How about: "a classic example" rather than "the classic example", which I think requires actual RS to specifically say that of all the pseudosciences, astrology wins the prize. Ocaasi (talk) 11:29, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Good point. It's funny how a single little word can make such a difference! -- Brangifer (talk) 19:00, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Okay. What about at the end, the reason it's a classic example? — kwami (talk) 19:14, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Looks good to me. Nice work! bobrayner (talk) 21:36, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Good, but I don't want to put it in the article with an end that causes problems. How about finishing it, It is a classic example of pseudoscience, as it makes testable claims which have been consistently ... what, falsified? disproven?
Oh, it's already there. I'll use 'disproved' until/unless s.o. thinks of s.t. better. — kwami (talk) 00:17, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
You might also want to take a look at astromancy. That article was written from the POV that what religion and science criticizes about astrology is really "astromancy", which contemporary astrology now rejects; however, the criticism bit is clearly false (at least for science, but I would suspect for religion as well), and AFAIK more generally 'astromancy' just means the modern, non-astronomical aspects of astrology. — kwami (talk) 01:28, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the comments made by Xpaulk (26 Jan 2011) who argues that the introduction to the subject should concentrate on defining the subject in its own terms; and with Fsolda (26 Jan 2011) who calls our attention to the opening definition by David Pingree, which is also offered by the ‘The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion’: “Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs …”
Since Wikipedia’s primary definition of the subject makes no essential comparison to modern science, it is not relevant to state what the modern scientific opinion of astrology may or not be, not at this preliminary stage at least. Wikipedia’s policy of maintaining a neutral point of view does not require that a subject which is believed in should be shown as unworthy of belief. The Wikipedia page on Christianity, for example, does not begin with a statement on what atheists make of Christianity – it simply explains the Christian doctrine for what it is, so that those who are interested can be informed on the main points of significance, before reading on to understand the subject in greater depth.
The use the term pseudoscience in relation to astrology at such a preliminary stage is highly controversial and contentious. Currently the opening paragraph on astrology states “It is a classic example of pseudoscience, as it makes predictive claims and connections which either cannot be falsified or have been consistently disproved”. There is much to be argued here, and since it is given as a stated opinion then the point deserves to be raised and discussed appropriately within the section that allows exploration of that issue. The opening paragraph is certainly not the appropriate place – no credible encyclopedia would create an entry that began with a dismissal of a subject before it has even been outlined and explained.
Therefore I suggest that the opening reference to pseudoscience is removed from this position where it rightly attracts strong criticism, whilst allowing the point to be made in the science section where it holds relevancy. If not there should be some qualification to the current remark, to explain why the modern western scientific view of astrology is considered so important that it defines the subject, even though it contradicts other cultural views and the historical treatment of the subject. But do we really want that in an introductory outline of the subject? The simplest and most sensible solution is to remove this controversial remark from the opening paragraph, which calls for a broad but reliable definition of what astrology essentially is, and leaves points of controversy and divided opinion for later exploration.Costmary (talk) 13:17, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Many, if not most, astrologers claim that astrology has the power of prediction. This has been shown to be false. It is, therefore, a false science. Per WP:PSEUDOSCIENCE, "the pseudoscientific view should be clearly described as such". The defining line of the lede says astrology "can explain or predict fate, personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters." This is demonstrably false, so we need to say so. We're not here to appease unscientific POVs by being polite about their being unscientific. Christianity, on the other hand, makes no predictable claim. We also characterize it as a religion, which pretty clearly sums it up: Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings. We don't even say it's based on the teachings of Jesus, we specify "as presented in the canonical gospels". We don't just say "it's a set of systems" or something equally uninformative. Astrology is not a religion; I suppose we could call it a superstition, but it isn't really that either, and in any case I suspect that astrologers would find that the more offensive term. "Pseudoscience" is what we're left with: it's succinct, it's accurate, and it tells the reader what they're dealing with. That's our job. — kwami (talk) 13:40, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

What you say is “demonstrably false” is not demonstrably false, and the whole discussion raises argument that is misplaced in the opening paragraph. Whatever your views on this, the use of that comment at that place in the page does not allow the article to open with a non-controversial, informative account of what astrology essentially is. You have set out a definition of astrology that only a sceptic would agree entirely with – as I said before, no credible encyclopedia would create an entry that began with a dismissal of a subject before the subject has even been outlined and explained. That’s why this is not about whether the page includes reference to a stated view that it is pseudoscientific, but that it is inappropriate to lead-in with sceptical views on a subject before the subject has been properly introduced. Costmary (talk) 15:48, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, but we're an encyclopedia, not an apologia to whatever you happen to believe in. We note that pseudoscience is pseudoscience; that is part of "what astrology essentially is". This is no different really than saying that Jesus rose from the dead or that Muhammad was the last prophet: we are careful to frame such claims as being the claims of a particular religion, and do not simply state them as fact. Closer to home, the first paragraph at homeopathy states, "The collective weight of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo." “Remedies” is even placed in scare quotes. Homeopaths may take offense at this, but that's not our concern. — kwami (talk) 22:29, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
For balance, perhaps we can include the entire body of evidence that Astrology is accurate in the opening. It will fit. Guyonthesubway (talk) 22:52, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Costmary is correct. Astrology is a very interesting example of how the goalposts have been moved to try to eliminate it from science. Nothing yet has worked to support this belief. Let's take the criteria of Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend.
Popper's criteria (astrology makes no testable claims): There has been no scientific study yet that has falsified astrology, and the non-falsifiability claim is less than an assumption; it is an unsupported opinion or belief. The gold standard used to be the controversial 1985 Carlson study, which has many flaws, including: no disclosure of similar scientific studies, unfairly skewed design, disregard for its own stated criteria of evaluation, irrelevant groupings of data, rejection of unexpected results, and an illogical conclusion based on the null hypothesis. According to a critical assessment in 2009 by Professor Suitbert Ertel, when Carlson's stated measurement criteria are applied and the data is evaluated according to normal social science, the two tests performed by the participating astrologers provide evidence that is consistent with astrology (p = .054 with ES = .15, and p = .037 with ES = .10). This "extraordinary" reversal of results gives testimony to the power of data ranking and rating methods, which have been successfully used in other astrological experiments with positive results for astrology, eg. Clark, Marbell, Hill/Thompson, and Ertel (Mars eminence effect). Studies that do not use these methods tend to fail, unless very large datasets are used e.g. Gauquelin (Mars effect). Ertel's criticism is forcing scientists to rethink their position on astrology. How do you explain these positive results, or the others? http://astrologynewsservice.com/articles/support-for-astrology-from-the-carlson-double-blind-experiment/
Kuhn's criteria (astrology does not give rise puzzles and puzzle solving): Astrologers were confronted with the new planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as other newly discovered bodies. This presented puzzles, which using traditional methods of evaluation (e.g. modeling and case studies), astrologers were able to solve. Uranus turns out to have astrological properties that many, if not most, astrologers would recognize as more closely associated with the character of Prometheus than Uranus. This new awareness has led to proposals by Richard Tarnus and others to actually change the name of the planet for the purposes of astrology. Pluto presents a problem to solve for astronomers (is it not a planet?) and for astrologers (is it not more like Dionysus?). It seems astronomers are not as good at naming planets as they used to be when they were also astrologers.
Feyerabend's/Thagard's criteria (astrology does not proliferate alternative theories to increase empirical content): Psychology presents astrology with empirical content and many astrological theories have proliferated to try to incorporate modern psychology into the framework of astrology. By using its traditional methods of observation and lively discourse, astrology has developed far richer theories of personality and development than psychology. Astrology is much different than it was at the time of Ptolemy and there are many new theories. No one who reads the literature can think otherwise.
In short, there is no criteria that would exclude astrology as a science, so Coastmary is perfectly right to ask that the term "pseudoscience" be fairly regarded for what it is, an opinion, which is neither supported by any empirical evidence or the other critical criteria, which have been unsuccessful efforts to exclude it from science. This problem should be acknowledged in the article. It may be introduced as a problem in the introductory paragraph, or as Costmary suggests, later in the Science section of the article. The first consensus point above needs to be amended. Astrology is not scientific, but scientific studies have been made of astrology, and astrologers have participated in a number of these studies. Apagogeron (talk) 02:59, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, Apagogeron has shown how contentious this point is. Astrologers are, in my experience, not pushing to have a scientific face, but are willing to be open and transparent about the data-evidence of astrology, and keen to have astrological experiments, and their results, looked at critically. But this is a matter that deserves informative coverage in the appropriate place, so that the necessary discussion and references are provided in the section where astrology’s relationship with science is explored. It is because this is an encyclopaedic reference which strives towards providing reliable and substantiated points, that the argument about whether astrology is pseudoscientific or not, should not be stated as a matter of fact without proper explanation. And as I have said before, the introduction to a subject should steer from controversy and seek to provide the most agreed upon outline of what astrology is, what it aims to do and how it is supposed to work. We should explain the astrological argument first, and then consider the criticisms against it – that is just standard academic procedure; it’s not about being apologetic.
This section of the talk page holds a confused discussion as to whether it’s appropriate to label astrology as a pseudoscience at all, alongside whether this should be done at the beginning of the entry. Having looked through this there is a clearer consensus of opinion that the argument does not need to be made as an introduction to the subject, since the opportunity to cover the different views and stated opinions can be made in the full treatment which is given to the scientific angle later in the page. Because there is a consensus on that I will make the edit, and ask that further discussion on this particular point not concern itself with whether astrology is a pseudoscience or not; only whether such a contentious issue needs to be raised so early, and if so why? (Given that a more substantiated discussion on this can be offered in the section that relates to it). Costmary (talk) 10:53, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
What is needed here is just a clear explanation of the experiments of note and their findings, drawn into a summary conclusion based on the best evidence. The layman should refer to this page and get informed rather than bogged down in debate. Giving the attention to the pseudoscience label right at the start makes this page look biased and untrustworthy instead of evenly informative. So I agree its best to cut the early comment and make the later explanation clearer in its summary.Gary PH (talk) 12:17, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, folks, but the consensus is that pseudoscience needs to be labeled as pseudoscience; we do not give it legitimacy by burying a discussion over how study A found X but study B found Y, as if there were any real debate over it in the scientific community. Of course, no matter how many times that the consensus is established, True Believers will complain that the articles are biased against their Truth, and most of us are simply tired of debating them. The lack of debate, however, does not mean that their POV is now consensus.
If you wish to change the consensus, you can't just do it here, but need to engage the wider WP community who established that consensus by bringing it up at WP:Pseudoscience. — kwami (talk) 12:27, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree that the matter should be raised and discussed more fully, probably best to use the link you suggest. In the meantime the discussion here is that it's not a relevent comment for the introductory paragraph, since it makes no recognition of the pertinent fact that the practice of astrology is not considered to be a science but an art. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Costmary (talkcontribs) 17:23, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
"While pseudoscience may in some cases be significant to an article, it should not obfuscate the description or prominence of the mainstream views" WP:FRINGE/PS. Having the mention of pseudoscience in the lead section would be such an obfuscation that this guideline warns about. The claim by True Disbelievers is highly disputable not because it is biased but because there exists no actual support for it that is based on empirical studies. It is in fact a groundless opinion. If anything, the scientific evidence goes the other way. Some falsifiable studies, known and discussed among True Disbelievers, for which there is public documentation, have been repeatedly replicated and have remained unfalsified for over 20 years. This fact can be included in the Science sub-section. It would not be equating astrology to science, but rather scientific evidence to a common scientific belief. Apagogeron (talk) 00:19, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

ironically not the stars

This wording was removed, and I agree it lacked context. However, I do think it's worth saying something along these lines. The stereotypical perception of astrology is that it "reads the stars", your future is "in the stars", etc., so it's quite ironic that, AFAIK, the stars have nothing to do with it. IMO this is a key concept that really should be in the lede.

For example, Psychology: a modular approach to mind and behavior says, under "Problems in the Stars", that Astrology is probably the most popular pseudopsychology. Astrology holds that the positions of the stars and planets at the ... There are astrology books like Read the Answer in the Stars and Love Is in the Stars, suggesting that even some astrologers don't get this. Life magazine wrote, Miss Kingsley, 49, married twice, reads in the stars that she will marry again.kwami (talk) 21:43, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Think we can just put something in the lead like: Although astrology often refers to "reading the stars" there are actually no other stars involved aside from the Sun. One sentence, just about anywhere in the first half of the lead would work for me. Also, is that true universally (no pun intended)? I mean, do none of the astological branches look at other stars? Ocaasi (talk) 22:13, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't know. All I know of astrology is planets in the signs, and the signs do not correspond to the stars. I don't know about Hindu or Chinese astrology. — kwami (talk) 22:23, 14 February 2011 (UTC)


I am new to this and this is my first attempt at using the talk feature, so I hope I am doing this correctly.
I recently tried to change some of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in this article - being well informed on its history, theory and practice I felt these would be appreciated in this endeavour to collectively create a reliable page on this topic. But I have to say that I am disappointed in the way that nearly all my attempts to amend inaccuracies have been swiftly undone by members who don’t seem to understand the practical details of the subject.
Like here, there seems to be an attempt to point out an ‘irony’ in the suggestion that astrology claims to ‘read the stars’ - which is stated to underline an assertion that astrology doesn’t even use or is not based on the stars. This element of irony needs to be removed because it has no factual basis. Although Western astrology defines celestial movement through ecliptic longitude, and makes positional references and draws meaning from the tropical signs of the zodiac, it is common practice for western astrologers to incorporate meanings drawn from planetary and angular relationships to stars. This is an irrefutable fact which is relevant to the history, tradition and conventional practice of western astrology. See for example, this website which is a popular source of information for Western astrology students and practitioners and is entirely dedicated to the use and meaning of the stars: http://www.constellationsofwords.com; or see these web-pages which demonstrate recent natal chart discussions that show how the so called ‘fixed-stars’ are incorporated in modern western astrology practice: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/shelley.html & http://www.skyscript.co.uk/bb1.html
I hope it is acceptable therefore that I will edit the comment again to replace the misleading and incorrect comment “The relevant bodies are the sun, moon, and planets, and although astrology is commonly characterized as "reading the stars, Western astrology is not actually based on the stars", (which adds no reliable and substantial content to the introduction to the subject) to read as follows;
In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the Sun, Moon and planets, although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest”.
This is more appropriate, informative and accurate, so may I ask that this is not simply ‘undone’ by someone who is wanting to underline the irony of a situation that does not actually exist? Costmary (talk) 16:17, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
You may have a point, but let's establish that here first.
The irony is not within astrology itself, but stems from the inaccurate translation of aster or stella as "star". The Greek & Latin terms meant a light in the sky. Astrology certainly refers to these. The irony is that while "star" is the most generic translation of aster, what astrology (primarily?) uses are not what we now call "stars" (what the Greeks and Romans called "fixed stars"). It's the same kind of irony as marketing the Nova car in Latin America: nothing wrong with the name, just an ironic interpretation in the local language.
Your first ref appears to be s.t. the guy just made up. Perhaps he was put out because astrology does not refer to the "stars", and set out to fix that?
It's hard to wade through the thick sludge of SkyScript, so maybe I'm just missing s.t. But he says things like "What does it mean? I truly have no idea except to think that there are star voices out there that we can no longer hear." And then, "As a result, the astrology we have developed is what can more aptly be called planetology or solarsystemology, as it is really about the relationship we have with the planets and the seasons on earth and very little to do with the dome of the starry sky. [...] Therefore, the prefix of astro which means "of the stars" should not really be used." So, he's actually supporting our point. Is he just making the rest up?
He is, of course, mistranslating astro-; we don't insist on calling astronomers 'planetologists' just because they study the planets; planetology is a subfield of astronomy, not a separate science; if you're specifically studying the stars, it's 'stellar astronomy'.
Again, you could well be correct, but I'd like to see a reliable source on this. If there's a minor strain of stellar astrology, we might reword the intro to reflect that ('stars play a minor role', 'most don't use the stars', etc). — kwami (talk) 17:15, 1 March 2011 (UTC)


Kwami my comment was entirely reliable and accurate, and so I don’t understand why you have rushed to replace a factually correct and appropriately representative neutral comment with one that intentionally causes bias and generates confusion and misunderstanding on the topic of this page.
You say: “The irony is that while "star" is the most generic translation of aster, what astrology (primarily?) uses are not what we now call "stars" (what the Greeks and Romans called "fixed stars").”
But you are mistaken, and the third reference I gave clearly demonstrated this, even in its title “Shelley: A Tragic Romantic – A study in Fixed Stars” which then went on to demonstrate the very common practice of incorporating fixed star meanings within modern natal astrology. Even if you find it too much trouble to read the evidence in the link I gave you, the meaning of the title is clear enough.
"Your first ref appears to be s.t. the guy just made up."
This is not so, and if you take the trouble to read the content (put together by a woman actually) you will see that it represents a life work of astrological interest, which creates an encyclopedic resource of astrological information which is used by modern astrological practitioners. The information is clearly appropriately cited to its relevant historical sources.
The incorporation of star knowledge does not move the field from astrology to ‘stellar astronomy’ – as I said, we are talking about knowledge and information that is relevant to the history, tradition and conventional practice of astrology because it is incorporated within the use of astrology as my (now edited remark) clearly demonstrated.
I find it incredible that more references have to be provided to support the use of a basic astrological feature, and I’m not sure how many you need; but here are the details of 10 ‘classic’ astrological texts which detail this subject. The historical texts are still in print because they remain required reading for astrological students – which testifies how important and long established the incorporation of star meanings within western tropical astrology actually is. Costmary (talk) 18:35, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Allen, R.H., ‘Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning’, (Dover, 1889: in continued publication)
Brady, B. ‘Brady's Book of Fixed Stars’, Weiser, 1999.
Ebertin – Hoffman, ‘Fixed Stars and their Interpretation’, 1971 (1976 edition, translated by Irmgard Banks), p.11.
Firmicus, ‘Matheseos Libri VIII’, 4th century, VIII.VII; (Ascella reprint 2003).
Lilly,W. ‘Christian Astrology’, 1647 – third volume.
Manilius ‘Astronomica ’, (Loeb Classics, 1st century: G.P. Goold translation 1977).
Morse, E. ‘The Living Stars’, Amethyst Books, London, 1988.
Ptolemy, ‘Tetrabiblos’, (Loeb Classics, 2st century: F.E. Robbins translation 1940)
Ramesey. W. ‘Astrologia Restaurata; or Astrology Restored’, R. White, London, 1653
Robson, V. ‘Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology’ 1923; Ascella Reprint, 1994.
My comment was correct in its details and appropriately representative, by stating that “In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the Sun, Moon and planets, although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest”.
This is because the star meanings are used as descriptive modifiers to planetary alignments and chart angles – my comment informs about the correct placement of fixed star knowledge in astrology, whereas the comment you want to maintain denies the reality of astrological history and current practice, and presents a distorted (and apparently illogical) stance. Since I have now established the point I was making – offering legitimate sources of verification and online examples of the practical application of this technique will you now restore my comment which was neutral, representative of historical and current practice, and factually correct? Thank you. Costmary (talk) 18:57, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Let's see what others who know more about the subject than I do have to say.
The only one of those books I'm familiar with is Allen, and that isn't even about astrology!
Many of your sources are older than the distinction between astronomy and astrology. We could perhaps say "in modern Western astrology".
Brady appears to be saying (from what I've skimmed) that the stars were abandoned by astrology, and she's attempting to reconstruct their use. So, again, she seems to support our claim; perhaps we would need to modify it to one of the wordings I suggested above ('stars play a minor role', 'most astrologers don't make use the stars', etc.).
And of course, from your earlier ref, "the astrology we have developed [has] very little to do with the dome of the starry sky. [...] Therefore, the prefix of astro which means "of the stars" should not really be used." That's pretty clear.
One problem I have with your wording is that it's rather opaque. IMO it's best to keep the lede as clear & straightforward as possible. — kwami (talk) 19:10, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
But I think that you can see clearly enough what others have to say by following the ample links and sources I have already given - all of the other works I listed are astrological texts and they are all well known (and Allen's is used as a reference book by astrologers). The fact that you are unfamiliar with all of them demonstrates that you are not very familiar with the practice of western astrology, so perhaps you are not the best person to be trying to define it. I should also have added 'Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology' by George Noonan (AFA) as a recent wll known work of reference, and Diana Rosenberg is shortly to publish her own volumous exploration of fixed star meainings in what is expected to be a top-selling astrology title. Just run a google search for these titles to verify their existence. It is impossible to deny the astrological practice of incorporating fixed star meanings, and since your argument was based on your confusion on what 'aster' meant, why hesitate to have the misleading information corrected? My point is self-evident and not a controversial one - is there some reason why I have to wait for your personal approval before making a correction to this page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Costmary (talkcontribs) 19:44, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I've followed several of your sources, and they either do not support your opinion, or even support the current wording. Who cares if Allen is used by astrologers? He's not a reference that astrologers use fixed stars. Two of your other sources say that astrologers have abandoned the stars. There's no rush to get this done, so let's get some other feedback.
Your latest ref, Noonan, says basically the same thing: modern astrology has abandoned the stars, and he's resurrecting classical usage. Your point is hardly "self-evident" when your own sources support or do not refute our claim that (modern) W. astr. is 'not based on the stars'. — kwami (talk) 20:03, 1 March 2011 (UTC)


Who cares if Allen is used by astrologers? He's not a reference that astrologers use fixed stars.”
Please see this page, and specifically the comment qualified by footnote 6:
Starlore of the Constellations: Cetus the Whale - http://www.skyscript.co.uk/cetus.html
This is astrological information, presented on an astrological website, making use of that book as a reference for the astrological use of the fixed stars.
“Two of your other sources say that astrologers have abandoned the stars”
This is your suggestion based on your ‘quick skim’ of the texts, by which you have taken Bernadette Brady’s comments out of context. Her motivation is to increase awareness of star knowledge and so she may argue that astrologers need to increase their attention of this matter, but she would not argue that the practice is not current. Even if she did, why have you ignored all the other sources I gave?
Also, can you please cite your sources when making your arguments as I have done, because you are certainly taking such comments out of context if you are trying to maintain that astrologer’s do not incorporate knowledge of the stars, and that this has not always been important historically. Why then is Vivian Robson’s book on Fixed Stars and Constellations one of the most popular and enduring of 20th century astrological works? Please take a look at that and see how directly relevant the work is.
Your point is hardly "self-evident" when your own sources support or do not refute our claim that (modern) W. astr. is 'not based on the stars'. — kwami (talk) 20:03, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
The claim ‘is not based on the stars’ is a recent amendment after I corrected the earlier assertion that astrology does not make any use of the stars. As the history of this discussion shows, that incorrect fact was used to create a sense of irony, hence the reason to use the phrase ‘reading the stars’. This allows the creation of a nonsense remark that appears to be designed to make nonsense out of astrology (ie., although astrology is supposed to ‘read the stars’ it doesn’t actually use them …). It’s because the motivation behind the comment is biased and unsubstantiated that the whole remark calls for revision, and this is what I have done. My comment causes offense to no one and makes it clear that modern western astrology is not intrinsically dependent on the use of star meanings, but incorporates their use. Western astrologers use knowledge of the stars to varying degrees, some making light use of them; others being heavily dependent upon their use. My comment also demonstrates the incorporation of other elements that are important to varying degrees to western astrologers. As an astrologer I make no use of planetoids or asteroids myself, and don’t advocate that technique, but it is a fact that many Western astrologers do, and so if this Wikipedia page is to have any credibility as a neutral source of information then the relevant information should be given, free of bias, which is what my comment achieves.
In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the Sun, Moon and planets, although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest”.
As I am new to this I would very much appreciate an answer to my earlier question about whether I need your personal approval to make the change I have suggested. Am I breaking a Wikipedia policy by seeking to correct information without your approval, ie - is there an hierarchy of editorship in place here which means that I need your approval? It does seem strange to me that it is necessary to make this much argument in order to substantiate an obviously reliable comment that explains the matter clearly, to replace a rather silly and misleading remark, which creates confusion and only serves to highlight some imagined point of irony.Costmary (talk) 22:34, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
No, you do not need my permission, but given that this was discussed before adding it to the article, it would be politic of you to wait for the other editors to respond.
Robson certainly does support what you're saying. I don't know how influential she is; maybe the others will have a better idea.
As for the passage being intended to make astrology look ridiculous, that's your reading of it. I find it ironic, but that's not the same as ridiculous. The SkyScript site you keep referring to makes the same point, even saying that "astrology" is a misnomer because of it. (I find it doubly ironic that an astrologer doesn't know what astro- means.) — kwami (talk) 23:37, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for answering my question. In that case then I think I have done the appropriate thing and have demonstrated the good sense and factual reliability of my revision through the discussion I have placed here – one reliable reference should really have been enough for what is an obvious improvement which causes no offence. For the record, Vivian Robson was a man, and his work has been very influential, as has Ebertin and Hoffman’s ‘Fixed Stars and their Interpretation’ (Reinhold Ebertin having made a very detailed survey of planet-star transits using data drawn from several centuries). In addition, the list of books I gave above includes the two most important, influential and widely circulated texts of western astrology, so your statement that you are unfamiliar with all the works except the one that is not specifically astrological causes concern. Anyone with more than a superficial interest in western astrology will certainly be familiar with the works of Ptolemy and Lilly and know of their importance and significance, if not possess a copy of their famous astrological texts, since demand keeps them in print. I therefore think it is important that this encyclopedic reference page is not prevented from improvement by a desire to cling to pre-established content which, unfortunately, contains many errors which are in need of critical assessment.
With regard to your comment on Skyscript, again you do not cite a specific reference. What is clear is that the Skyscript site demonstrates ample evidence of the use of the ‘fixed stars’ in astrology, as the list of pages categorized as being related to this topic proves: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/books.html#sc. For another reference on another leading mainstream astrology website see: http://www.astrologycom.com/fixedstars.html. I could give many others but the point has been made, and these references together have fully supported my argument. My proposed change is relatively minor but accurate and improves the quality of the page. I would therefore hope that anyone wishing to effortlessly and thoughtlessly revert my edit (as has happened with so many of my previous edits) should take the trouble to discuss first and cite strong references to support their argument, as I have done myself. Costmary (talk) 12:02, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

I didn't think you needed a link, since you provided it. But here:[2]

Brady contradicts you. She says that she wants the stars to have a secondary role in astrology, but that currently they don't:

As a result, the astrology we have developed is what can more aptly be called planetology or solarsystemology, as it is really about the relationship we have with the planets and the seasons on earth and very little to do with the dome of the starry sky. Indeed the only star that is represented in the map is Helios our sun and the planets in a horoscope are measured in one dimension in relationship to Helios' journey. Therefore, the prefix of astro which means "of the stars" should not really be used. However, do not misunderstand my sentiments here. I regard planetology as a very powerful technique; nothing is more revealing than a horoscope with its circle of the ecliptic and the sun and planets located on this band, falling into houses, zodiac signs and geometrical relationships with each other.
...
As we can see from the great bear, planets are not the only celestial lights to walk upon our earth and although the Greek approach effectively ignores the star's own language and position in the sky and thus removes this voice from astrology's sacred maps, the myths and deep symbolic meanings with which humanity has empowered the stars - here I mean the stars, not the planets - are still walking amongst us. The stellar myths and stories are still involved in humanity's relationship with the sky and the earth. In Sean Kane's (1998) opinion old gods do not die but have found refuge in the trees and rivers. In the case of astrology where our trees and rivers are the stars and the constellations, they have not died; it is just that we have stopped listening to their stories.
...
Maybe I am star-dreaming but with a pole star back in the centre of the visible world it may just be possible that astrologers will start once again to reach out for the stars. We need to remember that astrologers are the traditional guardians of this sacred relationship between the earth and the sky and by stretching our awareness beyond ecliptocentric thinking and including the whole dome of the sky, we can open our minds once more to the other voices of the sky, the old myths and stories placed by our ancestors onto our "trees and rivers".

"it may just be possible that astrologers will start once again to reach out for the stars"?? I think it's fair to say that the stars play, at best, a minor role. And that is ironic, if you think that astrology is "reading the stars", which most people seem to. — kwami (talk) 12:55, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

As for you latest bout in this edit war, you say that we've had a "full discussion". We haven't. You've discussed, I've pointed out that several of your references disagree with you, and you've basically ignored it. We haven't had any outside opinion.

Also, with the general principal that when explaining s.t. shorter is better, I wonder if you can justify you addition of meteorology, philosophy, geometry (apart from what's already present in astronomy), and psychology. I've never heard of astrology factoring in the weather; I thought it was supposed to be beyond such things. And psychology? Astrologers may attempt to explain the mind with the stars, but I'm not aware of them investigating the mind itself, at least not as a defining element of the art. — kwami (talk) 13:04, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

PS. You might want to read WP:BOLD. I should have mentioned that earlier. — kwami (talk) 13:12, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Brady does not contradict my point – if the argument you are making, that the use of the stars has no place in western astrology, was her point, then why would her book on the meaning of the stars in astrology be one of the top selling astrology books? And I have not provided you with merely one author’s opinion, I have provided you with many substantial references. This is not an ‘edit war’, but a concern that the appropriate information is given. What is it about my comment ““In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the Sun, Moon and planets, although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest” that you feel is incorrect and unworthy of publication?
It is bizarre that you are so uninformed on western astrology that you are unfamiliar with its most well known texts and haven’t even heard of it being put to meteorological use, or incorporating elements of philosophy and psychology (the whole subject is an exploration of mind); and yet you still remove my comments, as if you have an all-embracing and defining knowledge of the subject. This page is a collaborate effort and not your personal territory. I have justified why the earlier comment was in need of improvement, so please have the courtesy of explaining the reason why you have a problem with my correction of a misleading statement (which provides an informative and non-offensive solution) before simply removing it as if I have not already taken pains to discuss and explain the salient points.Costmary (talk) 14:32, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
As Chair of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, and appropriately informed of the practice of astrology, I fully support Costmary's definition, 'In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the Sun, Moon and planets, although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest' as a valid, accurate and non-contraversial definition of western astrology. Wendy Stacey, BA, MA.Wendy Stacey (talk) 15:12, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
And what of the other unreferenced points, such as meteorology and psychology?
The fact that Costmary's first reference supports the irony of the modern understanding of the name means it's still valid. I can even use it as a ref. How is any of the deleted wording incorrect? — kwami (talk) 21:53, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
I generally agree with your perspective here, but I don't feel your most recent reversion of the lede's definition was an improvement. In particular, I think that the prior "allows reference" wording was more succinct and appropriate than "actually play a minor role", which smacks to me of a non-NPOV. Note that neutrality of presentation is still a crucial consideration, whether or not the views presented are pseudoscientific. /ninly(talk) 22:48, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
The point I'm trying to get across is the irony of the common understanding of what astrology is. It has nothing to do with it being pseudoscientific: If the common understanding of zoologist was someone who works in a zoo, we'd address that misunderstanding in the lead as well. Here we have a notable astrologer saying that the word "astrology" is a misnomer because it is divorced from the stars! I find it ironic that an astrologer would take that view, but it does reflect the common understanding of the word: that astrology has to do with the stars, when in fact here we have several sources saying that astrology should have s.t. to do w the stars, or we need to recapture that aspect of astrology which has been lost. The wording "allows reference" (which BTW is still there) completely misses the point. But we also point out why the name is not a misnomer, because astro does not mean 'star', but includes the planets as well. — kwami (talk) 23:17, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Part of the problem too is that Costmary isn't using RS's for her(?) claim: she's using sources promoting fixed-star astrology to gauge the importance of fixed-star astrology. It turns out that several of these sources admit that it is practically non-existent, but they refer to the Classical period when, they say, the stars were more central. However, if we look into RS's of Greek astrology, we find that the stars played a minor role even then: "Fixed stars play in general a minor role in astrological works." O. Neugebauer & H. B. Van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes, 1987 [1959] p 170.[3] You have to go back to Babylonian astrology before the stars and constellations start taking on a greater role, and even then the texts are difficult to interpret, with some scholars going so far as to say that the fixed stars were "a dead chapter" in Babylonian astrology. That may be an exaggeration.[4] But regardless, astrologers generally only go back to the Greeks, since those are the oldest texts we can read with any real confidence. — kwami (talk) 23:36, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
Kwami says: "Part of the problem too is that Costmary isn't using RS's for her(?) claim: she's using sources promoting fixed-star astrology to gauge the importance of fixed-star astrology."  ??? - I have already pointed out that two of the sources I gave are the most influential and well read texts of western astrology ever written - the methods of which are still studied and applied by astrologers even today. These texts were not 'promoting' fixed star astrology; just including it as astrologers do. And I have given a good selection of well known easily accesible modern texts. Kwami, you can't just keep saying that I haven't given reliable sources when I clearly have, or that I haven't answered your queries when I have taken considerable time to do that - just read back through what has been written above. The system "allows reference to the use of the fixed stars" as this page now accurately states.
(And astrologers do go back beyond the Greeks to recover whatever information is available about astrology's ancient foundation. Thanks to the work of scholars such as Pingree, Rochberg, Brown, Koch-Westenholz, Jones, etc; there are many things that can be said with confidence now about ancient astrology; so I hope this page doesn't have to be restricted in every sense to what you Kwami are personally aware of, or feel you understand). Costmary (talk) 11:51, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Please read WP:Reliable sources so that we're on the same wavelength.
I don't have access to all of your sources. But several that I do say that the stars have been lost from astrology, and that they're trying to bring them back. That isn't a detached description of the state of astrology, but someone pushing a particular POV. They are therefore not a reliable indicator of how widespread or well accepted that POV is within astrology. The best I could do with that is say that several popular authors are pushing for a return to the stars in astrology. What would be nice would be to have a non-astrological source that describes the dominant beliefs of modern western astrology. That's what I provided above for Greek astrology. — kwami (talk) 12:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
No one says that "the stars have been lost from astrology" (except you, when you made some very uninformed and categorical statements to this effect, which you now don't seem willing to correct in spite of all the evidence). I gave you a non-astrological source earlier when I listed Allen's work, but then you rejected that because you said it "isn't even about astrology!". What you meant was, it isn't about the whole system of astrology, because Allen's work is focused on star lore and star meanings, which is why it is full of refrence to what astrologers have said and recorded about star meanings, despite the fact that it is written by a general scholar rather than an astrologer. In general, primary sources are better than secondary sources. Costmary (talk) 15:27, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
I know what reliable sources are since I have had peer-reviewed papers published myself. What you have here is all the reliable sources I have provided, along with my clear arguments, and the Chair of the Astrological Association of Great Britain adding her professional support that my statement is "valid, accurate and non-contraversial definition of western astrology". I am not pushing a particular POV but have simply defended an accurate fact against all your attempts to misrepresent astrology, by squeezing it into a narrow and inappropriate defintion that no one who knows the subject can relate to. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Costmary (talkcontribs) 12:50, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry if I sound dubious, but when your first refs either do not address the topic at all, or else support the version you're contesting, you do not inspire confidence. In the end, we aren't going to take your say-so, since we can't very well verify who you are, but only your sources. You have also failed to provide sources that astrology is based on meteorology or psychology. — kwami (talk) 13:15, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
The first refs I gave do address the topic, including the Allen text. References on meteorology and psychology are given below.Costmary (talk) 15:35, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
What sources have you provided Kwami, other than your own misinterpretation of what you think you believe someone else is trying to say (which has already been denied by others who are qualified to know)? But I will answer your points, again, on this last occasion. I will also revert your latest edit for the reason that you basically took something which made clear sense to any reader and filled it with many points of potential misunderstanding.
For example, you inserted the comment “All were ‘stars’ in the Classical sense” without explaining what you mean by that and simply pointing to a reference that does not even relate or explain that point (presumably to cling to a argument you made earlier on this page that was rejected by others). You removed the term ‘Western astrology’, which now makes it seem that the definition which was carefully constructed as a definition of the western practice of astrology is not differentiated from other systems. You made the definition more verbose and added in terms like ‘abstract points in the zodiac’, for which readers can only guess at your meaning. And you replaced the term ’mathematically calculated points of interest’ with ‘various geometric points of interest’ – although the main additional points of interest, such as what are known as the Arabic Parts, etc, are not geometric points; they are mathematically calculated points. In addition, my definition used terminology approved of by the professional bodies of astrology (who prefer the one-word definition of this subject to be ‘study’ rather than ‘craft’) and you used an illogical four word definition of what combines to create the study of astrology, adding only ‘mysticism’, ‘divination’ and ‘prophecy’ to astronomy (for which you insist on adding the unnecessary word ‘basic’ even though the astronomical concepts involved in astrological calculation can be very complex and advanced). Mysticism, divination and prophecy are all too closely saying the same thing, and so this fails to give an accurate presentation of what the breadth and depth of the rationale that astrology comprises of.
My definition deleted your superflous word prophecy and added meteorology, philosophy, numerology, geometry, psychology and symbolism – a few extra words here yes, but these are the necessary and essential features that combine into the development and study of astrology. You questioned meterology and psychology, so let me answer on those points. From its ancient foundations and throughout its traditional practice, astrology has been concerned with predicting forthcoming weather, the direction of the winds and general meteorological conditions. The practical application of this is largely a part of what is known as ‘mundane astrology’ (meaning’earth-related), although as a philosophical principle it is embedded into the basis of natal astrology too. Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos for astrology, (the defining text of traditional western asstrology), sets out a defense of astrology that assumes that individuals are characterised by the humoral quality of the prevailing ‘air’ or ‘ambience’ which defines their predominant ‘humour’, in the same way that a plant has suitability to a certain season or meteorological condition. This view was predominant in the traditional treatment of astrology. For an example of how a modern astrologer works in this field see Carolyn Egan’s website http://weathersage.com/
And as I stated earlier, astrology is largely a study of the mind (always has been) and even before modern psychology was defined, astrological practice has always required understanding of human mental and emotional inclinations in order to facilitate understanding of psychological conditions and how these define predictable patterns of behavior. Therefore most astrologers are familiar with psychological principles, Jungian principles in particular. For an example of how influential this is in modern western astrology refer to the website of the Centre for Psychological Astrology at http://www.cpalondon.com/
So what I have presented is a definition which is concise and accurate, and as you can see from the comments of others, generally approved of. I have made a request to see if this matter can have an external review. Until then I won’t continue to justify this point, which has already been thoroughly explained and supported, and is suffering because you are stubbornly entrenched to a position that you are unable to maintain, having admitted that you don’t know much about the theoretical literature that relates to astrology, or the practical application of it in its traditional or modern sense. Costmary (talk) 13:31, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── An external review might be a good idea. Vsmith was right in directing you to dispute resolution; you might want to try Wikipedia:Third opinion or one of the subject noticeboards.

I've restored a couple of you points, 'Western astrology' & 'mathematical'. I changed 'abstract points in the zodiac' to 'signs of the zodiac'; pls tell me if that meets with your objections. I had already removed 'prophesy' as redundant, per your objections.

The lede is supposed to be a summary of the text. Therefore if we say that meteorology is a basic element of astrology, the point should be explained in the text. Certainly most readers would have no idea what we're talking about otherwise. These may very well be good additions to make ('numerology' and 'symbolism' don't seem likely to raise any eyebrows, though they seem a bit redundant with 'mysticism'), so let's see if some of our previous editors come back and have any comments.

As for 'basic' astronomy, that does seem to be the case. As far as I can see, astrology makes calculations of orbits and things of similar complexity. In calculating, say, the path of a solar eclipse across the surface of the Earth the math can get involved, but the science itself is rudimentary: nothing more than Kepler's laws and basic optics. That's something we should be able to ref. — kwami (talk) 14:22, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

About your Third Opinion Request — I'm a Third Opinion Wikipedian. I've removed your request from the request list at the Third Opinion Project because between somewhere between four and more than six editors are involved in this dispute. The 3O Project is for simple disputes in which exactly two editors have come to a standstill on a point as to which both of them tacitly admit that they could be wrong. (One particularly wise Third Opinion Wikipedian, RegentsPark, once succinctly put the purpose of Third Opinions like this, "It's sort of like if you're having an argument on the street in front of City Hall and turn to a passer-by to ask 'hey, is it true that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale?'.") With the number of editors involved here and the clearly entrenched nature of their views, this dispute clearly does not come within the guidelines of the 3O Project. Let me recommend that you do a request for comments or take it to some higher level of dispute resolution. Best regards, TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 15:33, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Oh. Sorry for the bad advice. — kwami (talk) 15:51, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Actually Kwami I think most readers would not have the resistance to the ideas that you have, and after all this discussion on a comment that others have agreed to be reliable, accurate and uncontroversial, I can’t help but feel that you only want to present astrology in a deliberately shallow light. I am not biased towards presenting astrology in a favourable light; I firmly believe this page should be neutral in tone, informative in its content, and balanced in its representation – including details of valid and relevant criticisms. But as others have agreed above (at the end of the ‘consensus?’ section) the introduction to the article should be an uncontroversial statement which aims to give a broad but accurate definition of what astrology is and what it’s supposed purpose and basis is. My suggestion in that discussion has been well supported, and yet you have ignored all the arguments and comments that contradict with your view, to insist on an opening statement that distorts the reality of astrology and concludes with a dismissal of the subject, even before the subject has been properly introduced and explained.
To refer specifically to your suggestions, the study of numerology and symbolism is not the same as mysticism (that’s why there are separate Wikipedia pages for them that I have linked to). The knowledge of both of these requires understanding of self-referential principles, with those of numerology and geometry providing the main rationale for the astrological use of aspects, which cannot be intelligently justified by ‘mysticism’ alone. The information I provided on meteorology could be provided as a footnote, or I am happy to write something into the body of the text in an appropriate place. The omission of philosophy is a serious omission, since astrology has a very strong and clearly argued philosophical logic which is why most of its well known historical practitioners were also illustrious philosophers. Your attempt to summarize astrology as a ‘craft’ rather than a ‘study’, which is only a combination of “basic astronomy, mysticism and divination” is inaccurate, and doesn’t portray what is actually involved in astrology’s theory and practice.
Also, you have now created an unnecessary repeat of the reference to the stars, presumably to maintain some kind of irony whilst now admitting that astrology does use the stars after all (nor would most astrologers describe what they are doing as ‘reading the stars’ rather than astrology; this seems to be a label you have mined in order to create a sense of inconsistency, an attitude which allows this page to lose its neutral POV). You state that the stars “actually play a minor role” but that’s your subjective assessment, having only reluctantly admitted that they do indeed play a role at all! As I mentioned earlier, some astrologers make a light reference to the use of the fixed stars, but for others they are much more central and important. Why create a blanket definition which is disputable and controversial when there is no need to? You are just adding extra words that generate confusion and misunderstanding. And why insist on such a controversial conclusion to the opening paragraph, using a phrase which is the subject of such significant debate at a place where it cannot be verified or substantiated?
So in summary, your proposal, which has not found common approval is this:
Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs founded on the notion that the relative positions of celestial bodies can explain or predict fate, personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters.[1][2] The primary bodies are the sun, moon, and planets; although astrology is commonly characterized as "reading the stars", the stars actually play a minor role in Western astrology.[3][4] The main focus is on the placement of the seven planets relative to each other and to the signs of the zodiac, though the system does allow reference to fixed stars, asteroids, comets, and mathematical points of interest. As a craft, astrology is a combination of basic astronomy, mysticism, and divination. It is a classic example of pseudoscience, as it makes predictive claims and connections which either cannot be falsified or have been consistently disproved.
Whereas the introduction I suggest, with a replacement for the final controversial remark is this:
Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs founded on the notion that the relative positions of celestial bodies can explain or predict fate, personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters.[1][2] In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the sun, moon, and planets; although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest.[3] As a study, astrology is a combination of astronomy, meteorology, philosophy, numerology, geometry, psychology, symbolism, mysticism and divination. Although not recognised as a modern science, its practice being generally termed ‘an art’, astrology has impacted upon the historical development of science.
In fewer words you have a more accurate and neutral introduction, which demonstrates what astrology is and is not, without needing to get controversial or cause offense to anyone. Then all of the valid criticisms can be raised in the place where they can be expanded upon. (And reference number 4 should definitely be omitted because you have mined this purely to find an unrepresentative remark that you feel supports your view that astrologers don’t know the meaning of the word astrology, and don’t make use of the stars; so the incorporation of this footnote is another example of information being placed here through a motivation of distorting the issues rather than clarifying them).
This is my view, but I now think that others, and not you and I, should look over this so that it doesn’t become entrenched in any individual’s personal opinion. My concern is that there is a prevailing attitude on this page, that prevents the information being improved upon, because of an underlying hostility (or at least disrespect) that some of the editors have towards the subject. Costmary (talk) 16:17, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Since there seems to be a significant divide of opinion, here and in the principle of making the pseudoscience asserion in the opening paragraph - do you agree that we should make a request for mediation?Costmary (talk) 16:33, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
There are two primary issues here. (I take it the various fields included in astrology are a relatively minor matter that shouldn't be too contentious.) Pseudoscience: I can't in good faith submit to arbitration, because this isn't my opinion to change. It's a general convention of WP as an encyclopedia: when it comes to pseudoscience, we call it as it is, up front, without trying to be inoffensive. I'm sure some Christians may be offended at being told that Jesus as the Son of God is a religious teaching rather than a simple fact, but nonetheless we need to describe it as a teaching, and can't accommodate those who might be offended. — kwami (talk) 17:47, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
And similarly, we should talk about the teachings of astrology on this page.
I didn’t ask for arbitration, I asked for mediation – because you are clinging to comments that go against the grain of the consensus. There are some remarks that you are insisting on for which no one else shares your POV. In regard to the pseudoscience comment, there are three or four arguing strongly that this should be included (not necessarily at the very beginning), but the majority clearly do not feel it is necessary to make this kind of declaration at the start,* before the subject has been properly defined and introduced; and no one has said that they are not willing for the remark to be discussed in the science section where it is relevant, and where we can look at the reason why it has been called such, and by whom, etc. Wikipedia policy does not say that astrology must be declared to be a pseudoscience in its introduction; it only says that it may contain the information. For the sake of neutrality and relevant issues I also believe that it is a point of criticism against astrology that needs to be given clear coverage on the page. But we should do that where we can explain it.
(*In addition to my own comments see the recent comments of Xpaulk 26 January, 2011; Fsolda 26 & 27 January, 2011; Erekint 11 February 2011; Hectarion, 11 February, 2011; Apagogeron 3 & 4 March, 2011; Gary PH 3 March 2011) Costmary (talk) 12:47, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
For the other, the minor role of the stars, you're assuming bad faith. I'm not saying this to make astrology look ridiculous. "Astronomy" also involves the planets. The ref I used was the first one you gave me. The fact that you gave me such an ignorant author does not inspire confidence in your sourcing, but nonetheless I think it's the perfect one to use, because Brady has the same take on it that a lot of lay people do: "Why is it called 'star-study' if it doesn't study the stars?" The fact that stars play a minor role in astrology rather than no role doesn't change that incongruity: they are not fundamental, and often not used at all. The answer, of course, is that the word "star" has changed in meaning. The same thing happened with "fish": why is the whale in Jonah called a "fish"? Why is a starfish called a 'fish'? The reason, again, is that the meaning of the word "fish" has changed: it used to be most any animal in the sea. Same with why mincemeat pie doesn't have any meat in it: "meat" has changed meaning since the word mincemeat was coined. (Actually, some people put meat in mincemeat pie because of the name!) I'm not saying the current wording is the best we could have, but I think this really is an important point to make: when I was a kid, I though the writers of of the Bible must have been idiots because they didn't even know what a whale was, not understanding that the meaning of the word "fish" had changed. And it's hardly an 'unrepresentative remark': Brady's entire essay (the second page I looked at) bemoans the fact that astrology neglects the stars. That paragraph simply sums it up and so makes a good quotation. — kwami (talk) 17:47, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
[Edit conflict from before kwami's last post] Given a few tweaks, I still prefer Costmary's wording as more succinct and neutral overall, and certainly clear enough on the ideological and etymological misconceptions about stars vs. planets. I do think, to retain consensus here, the word pseudoscience has to stay, probably even more strongly than in my version:
Astrology is a set [...] and other earthly matters.[1][2] In western astrology, the main astrological focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the sun, moon, and planets; although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various other mathematically calculated points of interest, although these are not central to astrological work.[3] As a field of study, astrology is a combination of astronomy, meteorology, philosophy, numerology, geometry, psychology, symbolism, mysticism and divination. AlthoughAstrology is not recognized as a modern science and is generally considered a pseudoscience or an "art".[by whom?]its practice being generally termed an "art". Historically, however, astrology has impacted upon had significant impact on the development of science.[citation needed]
More references for inclusion of the different related fields (meteorology, etc.) are probably desirable, but I don't see this list as especially contentious. /ninly(talk) 17:56, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
"field of study" seems fine. A couple problems with your wording, though:
"other mathematically calculated points": A star is not a mathematically calculated point, but an object.
"pseudoscience or art": No, it's a classic example of a pseudoscience. That's clear, and we don't want to hide it.
"significant impact on the development of science": Is this true? After the split of astrology and astronomy, which of course has a grey area of several centuries, how has astrology had any impact on science at all?
I agree we don't need refs in the lede for characterizing the fields involved, as long as they are supported in the text. Currently meteorology, psychology, etc. are not, and until they are, they don't belong in the lede, as they would leave the reader hanging. — kwami (talk) 17:19, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Re impact on science: for one example, Kepler built his Laws of Planetary Motion on his understanding of principles embedded into astrological theory. The irony is that his Laws still stand although the original reasoning is now rejected. But see below for my suggestion that this is changed to “has had an historical impact upon the development of scientific and cultural knowledge” so that we don’t have to get into an argument about how significant it was, and when it stopped being significant. Also suggest the discussions on 'Consensus' and 'Where are Dean's Time Twin studies' get attended to, which show that the information on this page which supports the pseudoscience argment is not very well supported (the Carlson study also mentioned has been revised in favour of astrology, and the page does not show this). In any case, by making a clear statement that astrology is not recognised by modern science we can present a comment that everyone agrees to and which is not subject to controversy. Costmary (talk) 13:29, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: meteorology, psychology, etc. If Kwami giveshis agreement in principle I will find some time later to look at how the section headed 'branches' can be updated to include this information. It is fairly important so this section needs amendment. Or I can give you good, up-to-date academic refs for others to originate the text. For meteorology it can include the French medieval scholar Nicole

Oresme's definition of astrology as subdivided into five branches: the second of which was the study of the atmosphere and the weather, usually called astro-meteorology. The psychology element can be added as a modern branch which has historical support from the fact that astrologers have always sought to understand the 'soul' as the animating impulse which is similar to principles in Jungian doctrine. See for example, the comments regarding psychology with relation to Alkindi's work, directly accessible this link: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/al-kindi/#Psy Costmary (talk) 13:29, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

It wasn't my intention, but I see what you mean by "other mathematically calculated points of interest". The old version with "various" should work there.
Your point about the word pseudoscience is exactly why I retained the word in my revision. I just don't see much likelihood of a consensus here without its inclusion. However, I do find Apagogeron's recent comment (in another section, above) pertinent [Gary PH's comment below, also /ninly(talk)]. While astrology may well fit the definition of pseudoscience, that may not be what it is (functionally speaking) to its mainstream audience. This is a tricky topic.
I'm not certain about the impact on science, whether significant or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if arguments could be made about astronomy, parallel with the notion that alchemy has had certain foundational influences on chemistry and physics. But I agree, this would need to be objectively referenced if it is to be stated. Same goes for mentioning meteorology, psychology, etc. /ninly(talk) 21:13, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, I cannot understand the twisted logic that would make you want to cite a certain author on the public page, whilst referring to her as an “ignorant author” on the discussion page. I only want to pass over your remark but will add that Brady is a much respected astrologer who will shortly complete her doctorate on the subject. The only thing that would be ignorant is to quote her out of context to contrive an argument that doesn’t exist. And your understanding of the original terminology is fundamentally flawed, but that’s not relevant to this discussion here and would just turn into another digression. Costmary (talk) 21:48, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
How is my understanding flawed? It is relevant to the discussion: if aster really did mean "star" in the modern sense, then Brady is correct in saying that the term astrology is a misnomer.

Brady makes a good citation regardless of whether I think she's ignorant. My comment was specifically re. her statement that astro- means "star"; if I'm wrong in contesting that, as you suggest, then my comment is refuted, but she remains a good citation because many people believe that astro- means "star". — kwami (talk) 17:19, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

The Latin astro comes from the the Greek aster which was used to refer to the stars or the luminous celestial bodies. We don’t need a citation for that because it’s an uncontroversial derivation. Up to the 18th century astronomers and astrologers frequently used the word star, or 'stellar' in reference to the planets (just as they used the word 'planet' in reference to the Sun). That’s why Latin titles of older astrology works such as De judiciis astrorum were translated into English as ‘Judgment of the Stars’. The Greek word planet was used to distinguish the 'moving stars’ from the 'fixed stars', as I explained when I inserted the text for footnote 3: “The Greek phrase plánētes astéres 'wandering stars' was applied to the seven visible planets (including the Sun and Moon) because of their observable movement against the 'fixed stars'”. In ancient astrology the planets were also referred to as “the star of Mars”, the “star of Saturn”, etc. So the word astrology is not a misnomer because it is historically applicable to both 'fixed stars' and the planets as 'moving stars'. It would be confusing to include a footnote saying that astrology ought to be properly known as planetology or solarsystemology, because without having the understanding that Brady’s readership is expected to have, a layman might take that literally. It isn’t meant to be taken literally, Brady is using it to make an argument to astrologers that they should use more star reference than they do. That's not because other astrologers don't use the stars, but she uses them to a far greater extent, even offering astrology reports that are purely based on star alignments and associated meanings. I'm not sure if no one else does that, but it wouldn't be considered common practice. Costmary (talk) 16:32, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for adding your thoughts ninly. In the main I like your suggestions for making the text cleaner and clearer, but would like to propose a couple of points following on from yours.
I would keep the first suggested omission of the word "although", specifically to make it clear that these extra points of reference are in addition to the main focus on the planets and not part of the main focus - and then I don’t think we need to have the extra comment “although these are not central to astrological work”. (This is not particularly troublesome, but I don’t feel the extra words are necessary, do you?).
Otherwise the wording works very well. The pseudoscience reference is troublesome at this stage however, because it doesn’t give a representative global view of the subject as a whole, and isn’t, for example, balanced by the fact that in other cultures astrology is deemed to be a trustworthy body of knowledge. For example, what about last month’s ruling in India which dismissed a case that astrology was not properly “tried and tested”, upholding its judgement that astrology has made its case historically, and so should be legally recognized as a “time tested” practice that has been trusted for over 4000 years? (See refs below). Within the science section the discussion on whether astrology is a pseudoscience can take place in purely scientific terms, but within the initial introduction the presentation of the subject in global opinion needs to be balanced and representative of all formal definitions.
Since it’s such a complex point of discussion, and we don’t want to get tied up in knots, do you think it would work if it ended with a statement as simple as this:
"Astrology is not recognized as a modern science. Historically, however, astrology has had significant impact on the development of science.[citation needed]"
This surely makes the point as clearly as it needs to be made. Astrology is not recognised as a modern science – this makes the relevant statement ‘up front’, without leaving the implication that astrology even pretends to be a modern science.
With regards to the necessary citations, if others don't I can provide these when the text is agreed. Two relevant references for the India Supreme Court ruling, and how this offers significance for western astrologers are: Astrology is a science: Bombay HC - The Times of India, online at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Astrology-is-a-science-Bombay-HC/articleshow/7418795.cms (retrieved 08/02/2011); and Astrology is a Trusted Science rules India’s Supreme Court – What is the Significance for Western Astrologers? APAI, Spring Bulletin, 2011, #66; online at http://www.skyscript.co.uk/astrology_a_trusted_science.html (retrieved 08/02/2011).
Thanks again for looing at this from a neutral and objective perspective. Costmary (talk) 21:48, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Do you have a reference that "astrology [does not] even pretend to be a modern science"? You follow that with citations that claim instead that "astrology is a (trusted) science"! — kwami (talk) 17:24, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
They were my own words, based on long experience of the subject and its practitioners. Astrologers don't actually get concerned about scientific approval because they recognise that modern science is now operating in a different field. Also, you should check the link I gave you in addition to the newspaper report. Here you have a western astrologer explaining that the Indian report's use of the word 'science' does not equate to the way that the western world uses the word, and showing how astrology separated from modern studies like cosmobiology in the 17th century. Note an astrologer is making the point, so I suppose you could use that as a reference if you need one. Costmary (talk) 13:29, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

(editing break)

I don't want to be accused of trying to own the article or of editing unfairly while the article is protected. However, if you agree, I'm willing to change wording that we can all agree on, such as changing 'craft' to 'field of study'. — kwami (talk) 17:29, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Maybe best to give time to the discussion first as one of the problems has been edits made and then changed back again too quickly. The way I see this Astrology has modern developments etc but most people see it as an historical/philosophical subject -if they take it seriously- or light entertainment if they don’t. I don't get why there has to be mention of science in the introduction anyway. It raises the science interest higher than it needs to be. If there has to be something then it makes sense to simply say its not recognised by modern science and move on. No need to start off the page with a big issue about that. Gary PH (talk) 18:50, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I missed some of the new comments because I expected the dialogue to continue at the end, but now see that new comments have been placed inbetween earlier comments. I have tried to answer all outstanding points in the same way where they were raised. If you feel that any of your questions have not been answered Kwami, please let me know.
Following the recent discussions, and assuming that everyone will be happy with my provision of relevant material to cover the astro-meteorological and psychology elements (to be discussed to find agreement) this is what I would now suggest for the opening paragraph:
Astrology is a set [...] and other earthly matters.[1][2] In western astrology, the main a focus is given to the interactions and angular placement of the sun, moon, and planets; although the system also allows reference to the meaning of visible stars, planetoids, asteroids, comets and various mathematically calculated points of interest.[3] As a field of study, astrology is a combination of astronomy, meteorology, philosophy, numerology, geometry, psychology, symbolism, mysticism and divination. Astrology has had an historical impact upon the development of scientific and cultural knowledge, but is not recognized as a modern science.
Can we find out where we are at this point, and if there are any disagreements on the above? If so, can we have the uncertain words marked with an explanation of why there is a disagreement? Also, would it make more sense to place all new comments below, because this thread is getting too long to check it regularly for new comments that might appear but go unnoticed. I also think that we should wait and find agreement between ourselves before making piecemeal edits on the main page Costmary (talk) 13:46, 6 March 2011 (UTC)


I tried picking at the words but I can't warm to the paragraph. The last sentence means nothing. People are trying too hard to create a definition around the scientific view, and we don’t need all this discussion on the stars. I fiddled around a bit and propose the following to introduce what astrology is and why it matters –or not!


Astrology is a set of systems, traditions, and beliefs founded on the notion that the celestial bodies can explain destiny, personality, human affairs, and other earthly matters.[1][2] Focus is placed on the relative positions of the sun, moon, and planets; with the system also allowing reference to stars, visible phenomena such as comets, and mathematically calculated points of interest.[3] Astrology combines information from the studies of astronomy, numerology, geometry, psychology, symbolism and mysticism, and is traditionally described as “a mathematical art, subject to the principles of natural philosophy”.[4] Historically astrology was regarded as a very technical and learned tradition, sustained in royal courts, cultural centers and medieval universities, and closely related to the studies of alchemy, meteorology, and medicine.[4] But astrology has always been a controversial subject, because the extent of its determinism has been debated, as has its limits of reliability in practical application. Astrology lost its standing as a science in the 17th-18th centuries when it became disowned by the age of reason. It continues to maintain widespread interest and popular support however, and whilst Western nations look upon astrology as a pseudoscience[citation] Eastern nations tend towards the view that its 4000 year heritage entitles it to respect as a trusted body of knowledge. [citation for Indian ruling].
4] Kassel, L. ‘Stars, spirits, signs: towards a history of astrology 1100–1800’. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (2010) 67-69.


Some points:
I took out “divination” as this is the result of the study, not a contributing factor to it. Also, mathematics and philosophy are both important contributors to astrology, but this point is made in the description. We don’t need to list asteroids, etc, because the phrase “such as” covers this.
This also makes a smooth connection to the next paragraph.
Comments anyone? Gary PH (talk) 23:24, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
I would prefer not to have the word pseudoscience mentioned at all in the lead paragraph, but I could live with this because it doesn't steal attention away from defining astrology. I agree this makes a much better introduction because it outlines what the subject is and is clear and nicely worded. It's good.Costmary (talk) 12:28, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I've got to go soon, but a few quick comments:
I think it's worth stating explicitly that astrology is not based on the stars, when even one of what Costmary IDs as a foremost astrologer says that the word "astrology" is a misnomer because of that. (Erroneously says, but nonetheless: it's a common misunderstanding that astrology is about "reading the stars" in the modern sense of the word "stars".)
Astrology is not "considered" a pseudoscience, it is a pseudoscience. Also, the East-West divide is not supported: Eastern scientists see it as pseudoscience just as Western scientists do. The Indian court case certainly is not a pertinent ref: all it says is that the university, not the court, is the relevant authority when deciding curriculum. — kwami (talk) 22:11, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Kwamikagami, I get concerned when I see you state things like "astrology is not based on the stars". The signs of astrology, whether tropical or sidereal, have their original reference in the signs of the zodiac, which in turn are based on the stars. How can you twist this around to reach such a conclusion? Astrology is all referenced to the visible stars - the cosmic background to the planets. CostMary has also explained to you the reason for assigning the word planet to the Sun and Moon. So, why then do you persist with this line of reasoning? Your comments about eastern astrology also provoke similar concerns. While some objected to the teaching of astrology as a science at the university level, the courts upheld the right of universities to teach it as such. Why may we ask? Because the practice of astrology in the east is socially respected and sanctioned. It was not a mistake of judgement as you infer. Also, astrology is not defined by science. It is not a variant of science. It came thousands of years before science. It is focused on the expression of human concisousness and karma as a natural law involving the cosmos. It is a more complex field of knowledge than science with its simple correlation tests can easily judge. The worth of horoscopic astrology - and confidence in it - emerges through accurate interpretation and prediction based on an assessment of many, sometimes contradicting factors. I warned you that putting pseudoscience so prominently in the lead would create problems for people who view astrology differently than you do. You didn't listen and it has. Your reaction was to lock down the editorial process. If you and some other editors here were to approach this article with a little more respect for basic facts and the subject matter, the editorial process would be a lot easier and this article better. A helpful step to fix this article would also be to take on board balanced and thoughtful suggestions by the likes of CostMary and Gary PH. Regards. Erekint (talk) 23:03, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
The signs of the zodiac are not based on the stars, at least not any more. They are abstract regions of space named after the zodiacal constellations. Even taking precession into account, they never corresponded to the actual constellations very well, as they are equidistant and the constellations are not. — kwami (talk) 10:32, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I’m, not sure if Kwami has seen my response to him of 16:32, 6 March 2011 (UTC), but his remaining argument about the stars and why the author was making the point she made, was fully answered there.
If he feels that this needs a public declaration his concerns could be addressed by amending the final comment preceding the content box so that it reads something like:

The word "astrology" comes from the Latin astrologia itself from the Greek αστρολογία: ἄστρον, astron ("star" or "celestial body") and -λογία, -logia ("the kowledge/study of"). This differentiates astrology from astronomy (L. Astronomia: astro + nomos "naming”); the latter concerned with developing the known extent of the cosmos and its mechanical basis, the former with the significance of the effect of celestial cycles. Ancient astronomy did not clearly differentiate between the terms for star and planet and it was usual for Babylonian astronomers to refer to the planets as “the star of Mars”, the “star of Saturn”, etc. [citation] The word “planet” derives from the Greek phrase plánētes astéres “wandering stars” which was applied to the “seven visible planets” (including the Sun and Moon) because of their observable movement against the apparently static frame of “fixed stars”.[ref to explain FS do move]. Up to the 17th-18th centuries astronomers continued to use the words "star" or "stellar" in reference to the planets, but modern astronomy adopts strict terminology in which the Sun is the only “star” in the Earth’s solar system and the Earth’s Moon is not a solar system “planet”. Even modern astrological texts adhere to the traditional language of astronomy and so include the Sun and Moon within the “planets” of the astrological scheme, which can sometimes cause confusion to non-astrologers.

To say that astrology is “considered a psuedoscience” is more than adequate and meets all policy requirements. It is also a Wikipedia policy that editors should be prepared to bend and compromise when there are edit disagreements. There are many who feel the word pseudoscience should not be included at all in the lead paragraph, so Kwami I think you should be prepared to bend a little too, and give us your agreement to make these changes, since you appear to be the only one opposing them.Costmary (talk) 10:18, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Bend in my opinions, but not on WP policy. Again, if you want to change this, bring it up at the WP pseudoscience discussion.
I have compromised on the other point, to the extent that your sources warranted. We currently state that the role of the (fixed) stars is minor, and indeed your sources demonstrate that it's minor. I did not understand her comment that "astrology" being a misnomer was not to be taken seriously. I'll have to reread it, but it would seem she and I were making somewhat the same point. — kwami (talk) 10:25, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
No WP policy is being broken. The Wiki policy on this states "Pseudoscientific theories are presented by proponents as science" (see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Pseudoscience and related fringe theories) This is clearly not the case here. Also note this comment: "When discussing topics that reliable sources say are pseudoscientific, editors should be careful not to present the pseudoscientific views alongside the scientific consensus as though they are opposing but still equal views. While pseudoscience may in some cases be significant to an article, it should not obfuscate the description or prominence of the mainstream views." (see Wikipedia:Fringe theories#Pseudoscience). Again, this is clearly not happening here! Also see the comments at the end of the 'consensus?' thread where this and simlar points have already been made.
There is also clearly a consensus here, so I suggest that Gary PH's proposed paragraph is submitted to the administrator for approval, in the hope that s/he will be able to check the policy against the arguments and check this thread to see how the disgreement is coming form one singularly obstinate editor based on an argument that no one else agrees with.Costmary (talk) 13:02, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Astrology has clearly been presented as a science historically. Todays astrologers may be backing away from that claim, but it's part of the history of the subject. It also claims to make accurate predictions about peoples characters and destinies. It's a pseudoscience. Mystylplx (talk) 16:54, 8 March 2011 (UTC)