The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 173, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Kenneth Irving
Episode originally released on September 27, 2018
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released June 16, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Sunday, September 23rd 2018 starting at 3:55 p.m. in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 173rd episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with Kenneth Irving about the life and work of Michel Gauquelin and some of his research including the famous Mars effect. So, hey Ken. Thanks for joining me today.
Kenneth Irving: Well, it’s nice of you to have me.
CB: Yeah, I’m really glad. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this talk with me because I’ve been wanting to do an episode on the work of Gauquelin for a long time, and it’s hard to find somebody who has enough background in history with this subject to really be able to speak with it authoritatively. But you’re one of the few people that actually wrote a book connected with or co-authored a book connected to Gauquelin’s work, right?
CB: Okay. And–
KI: Which is unfortunately out of print at the moment.
CB: Sure. So the title of that book is The Tenacious Mars Effect. And you co-authored that with Suitbert Ertel. Am I pronouncing his name correctly?
CB: Suitbert, okay. And that was in–
KI: Suitbert, and his last name I could never pronounce as simple as it looks.
KI: Ertel. I would say Ertel.
CB: Sure. So you guys published a book kind of documenting some of Gauquelin’s findings and some of the controversy surrounding it in 1996 which was just a few years after he died in 2000 or in 1991.
CB: And so why don’t we open by talking–let’s do a little bit of an intro and first talk about who he was. So he was born in 1928, and he died in 1991. He’s usually known to astrologers as a statistician who claimed to find scientific evidence for astrology basically, right? Would you say that that’s an accurate premise?
KI: Yes, you have to qualify the evidence for astrology part because there were some things he didn’t find evidence for. He found some evidence for something new in astrology.
KI: That’s probably a good way to put it.
CB: Sure. So, he worked with his partner Francoise Gauquelin who lived from 1929 to 2007. And they worked as sort of a partnership until they separated in the mid 1980s.
CB: But she was kind of like a partner with him in his work.
KI: Yes. She was very, very crucial especially at the beginning.
CB: Sure. So, and his other claim to fame is that he conducted the largest scale statistical tests on astrology ever so far at least in terms of testing timed birth charts using large sample sizes, right?
KI: Yes. Very much so. It’s probably gonna be a long time before anybody matches that record.
CB: Sure, so there’s been like other types of attempts to scientifically test astrology in different ways using like Sun signs or attempting to match charts to biographies or other things like that, tests of astrologers.
KI: Mhm. Yeah.
CB: But this was both the first time that anybody had done a large scale statistical study using hundreds of thousands of pieces of birth data of time charts. But also even since that time, it’s still probably the largest study that’s been done.
KI: The largest group of studies actually because in the 145,000, that’s a birth data that he and Francoise collected. There were multiple professions, there were criminals actually which you never hear much about. He studied longevity, and he approached it from a variety of source of avenues. But mostly, he concentrated on the professions, professional success.
KI: Cuz that’s where the real results were.
CB: Sure. And he ended up publishing many books which included both sort of data collections where he published his actual data that he was drawing on for some of these studies as well as other books that sort of summarize some of his conclusions and presented some of his arguments. Eventually, he became embroiled in a conflict with the scientific and skeptical communities over replicating some of his tests. And then eventually he died in 1991. So that was kind of like the the introduction, so this is basically gonna be a discussion on science and astrology. It has to be the most notable attempts to validate astrology scientifically that’s taken place in modern times basically, right?
KI: I would say so. Yes.
CB: Okay. All right. So, let’s start at the beginning by talking about some background information about Gauquelin. And one of the myths that I sometimes hear repeated still in the astrological community, I heard it again even just a week ago, was that Gauquelin started out as a skeptic who set out to debunk astrology. But then when he ran the test suddenly, he found that it was working and became convinced that it was a real thing. So, could you actually clarify that? Cuz in reality he started out with an interest in astrology from an early age, right?
KI: Yeah, there’s a reason for that behind that myth which is it’s something that he created. Because when he found something after many, many failures in working through astrological statistics that had to do with things like the zodiac, houses, aspects, he spent years doing that as a young man probably a lot even before he entered the Sorbonne. And once he had found something, he realized he was in an odd position because scientists at that time and certainly today were reluctant to get involved in a simple thing like taking an experiment that he had run and then rerunning it to test and see whether or not he was doing his work correctly or whether he was making things up. So, he took on a kind of skeptic attitude about everything. He wrote articles and even probably a book or two that made fun of traditional Western astrology. And he probably continued this up until the early 1970s when he wrote a book called Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior at which time in the preface to the book, he wrote a little essay called Confession in the Form of a Prologue in which he outlined what he had really done and where his interest had come from, that he had been interested in astrology from an early age. And that at one point, essentially in order to answer skeptical people, he set about collecting data which was you could do in France and learning statistics, however painfully at that point. And until finally one day he was caught by a teacher working on a treatise [laughs] on astrology in class. And the teacher essentially said to him, “Well, Gauquelin, you’re not gonna turn out as much of anything obviously because of your interest.”
KI: At which point he decided to become an educated man, learn statistics, and follow the path where it lead.
CB: Right. And if I understand, so it seems like his thinking went through different stages–
CB: –and that he started out in basically high school basically as somebody that was interested in astrology. He learned whatever the standard traditional astrology was at that point in the–
CB: –1940s but then had some of that early criticism at the age of 17 of somebody saying he wasn’t gonna turn out to be anything and decided to go to college and get some serious training in psychology and statistics. And it was in college that he started running statistical tests of astrology and building a large database of time charts to work with essentially, right?
KI: Yes, the date that he marks as the beginning of his serious work was 1949. And by I think 1950 within a year or a year and a half, he had found something that was worth pursuing and that determined essentially the course of the rest of his life.
CB: Right. Okay. And he actually went to and graduated from the Sorbonne which is like an actually prestigious sort of college in France, right?
KI: Mhm. Yes. But that’s also where he met Francoise who became his wife later on.
CB: Sure, so he meets his future wife there. He’s already in the midst of doing these studies. So part of the studies or the background behind the studies is that birth times are both recorded in France cuz not necessarily it’s not in every country. Every country around the world doesn’t necessarily record birth times. But France due to actually kind of a funny historical thing, I think it was actually due to Napoleon, does record birth times. And not only are they recorded but they’re also a matter of public record, right?
KI: Yes. Yes.
CB: So, I think–
KI: Or they were. At some point, I think he burned them down. And they sort of started restricting things, but yes. At the time he was working, they were.
CB: Okay. So he could go into like a sort of public repository, and he could gather up birth times and birth records. And that’s exactly what he did in order to start building this database, and eventually he was able to collect and create a database of over 100,000 timed birth records and timed birth charts.
CB: Okay. So as a result of that, he started first. But then eventually his wife, who became a collaborator, ran the first large scale statistical studies with large sample sizes. And initially they just collected data in France, but eventually they started going to other European countries in order to collect birth data from other places as well, right?
KI: Yes. Other European countries, Belgium, Italy, Germany, there might be one more in there. Some of his data even eventually comes from Scotland which oddly enough, has a birth record tradition that was borrowed from Napoleon. [laughs] So at some point in his work, he actually picked up some data in Scotland. Very late in his career, he picked up a smaller amount of data in the US mostly concerned with that Mars effect thing.
CB: Okay. Cuz there’s some states in the US where birth data is open or publicly available like California, but most states are closed.
KI: Well, yeah. But this was 40 years ago, and things were a little more open then before people started doing things like stealing birth certificates and creating false IDs from them and so on.
CB: Okay, got it. So, yes, he collected the data from other European countries. His wife’s fluency in other languages, Francoise’s fluency in other languages came in handy when they were going to some of these other countries in trying to collect the birth data, I think.
KI: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Oh yes, cuz she was Swiss. She was from Switzerland and, yeah, multilingual. She would have had to speak at least French, German, and Italian. And that was plenty right there.
CB: Sure. Okay. So they ran different statistical tests on the data, and they published a number of books with the results. But his first book which was titled The Influence of the Stars was published in 1955, right?
CB: Okay. And–
KI: And it’s quite a read. [laughs]
CB: In what sense?
KI: He had a very powerful, precise mind. And a lot of it comes through in his popular books in English later on in his life, but there he was framing his life’s work. And he explained exactly how and why he was going to continue collecting data and how he was gonna process it and and so on and the reasons for making various choices. But it is. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s too bad that it’s not widely available.
CB: Right. One of the things that I found interesting when I was just reviewing and re acquainting myself with a lot of this over the past few weeks that I found interesting is that a lot of his core findings or at least his most important one which was the correlation between certain planets at the moment of birth and certain professions, if people would become eminent within certain career fields that that finding is already there in his very first book that early in his life starting in 1955. He had already established that.
KI: Yes, yes. He explained in that book and then later in a sort of synopsis of that work and his second work that was published in 1988, I think it’s called Written in the Stars, that the reason for the data he chose eminent people in specific professions is that those professions were what he called the great poles of attraction for the mind, the arts, government, the military and so on as opposed to, say, going out and looking for people who were street sweepers or clerks and banks or something like that. He said these were the things that people with some vision of being a success in life would be gravitating toward. So that’s why he chose those particular professions.
CB: Sure. And I think it said that the first study he did when he first found the effect was of scientists where he gathered birth data for a few 100 eminent scientists and found that Saturn was more commonly prominent in the chart by either rising just above the ascendant or in the sector of the chart just above what astrologers call the ascendant and following just after the degree of the meridian midheaven or culmination.
CB: That there was a statistically higher chance of eminent scientists having Saturn just after the ascendant or just after the midheaven, and that was the first time that he sort of discovered that which became part of his core sort of findings when he eventually started finding that with other professions in other planets.
KI: Yes. The first one was actually physicians.
CB: Physicians, okay.
KI: But he found the scientists followed very quickly. And in both cases, yes, Saturn initially. And then he started focusing. Yeah, actually, I can tell you in a minute here. Both the doctors and the scientists had Mars and Saturn prominent eventually. At first, the first one was the Saturn and the doctors. And that was what convinced him that he had something there that he should follow.
CB: Right. And so one of the things–And this circles back to something we were talking about earlier, but what’s interesting at this stage then in his thinking when he starts discovering this stuff in college and running these large scale statistical studies is that he was widely read in astrology up to that point. So he knew what the astrological tradition was and what results he should be expected to find based on what astrologers had thought for hundreds of years or what they had written in their manuals. But then he started coming up with results that were in sometimes like confirming some small piece of astrology, but often times it was disconfirming or he couldn’t find a statistical significance to other large swaths of the astrological tradition. And this is the point where he becomes, on the one hand, almost kind of like a skeptic of astrology in some sense because he couldn’t validate large parts of the astrological tradition. And so he tended to almost be dismissive of it in some sense while focusing on the results that he could find.
KI: Yes. Yes. It’s hard to tell for sure, but he may have been in the skeptical mold probably before he entered college because I believe–And the timing is not really precise, but he actually did some of these things like testing astrological aphorisms before he entered college. And that’s the kind of thing–In other words, the teacher that he had that conversation with who said he wasn’t gonna amount to much, he had already begun to have his doubts at that point. Because the simple tests are of signs and aspects and transits and things like that. And so those were fairly easy to do, fairly straightforward. And it was only after he entered college and also with the backing of Francoise who if you read the Confession in the Form of a Prologue, he was his support at that point. He was doubtful. “Should I keep doing this? What should I do? I’ve found something worthy. How should I handle it? And she told him, she says, “Publish. People will read it. They will criticize you, and then you find out whether you’ve actually got something.” which is essentially what he did.
CB: Sure. So what’s interesting cuz this then set up the mold for a large part of the rest of his life which is that while he did find some statistically significant correlations or while he at least thought he did that he published at that point, they were often or sometimes not in alignment with what the astrological tradition said so that this sometimes caused tensions with both the astrological and the scientific communities where the astrologers were sometimes, well, on the one hand they wanted to embrace his conclusions that perhaps he had somehow demonstrated that there was something to astrology statistically or in a scientific context, the fact that he was otherwise saying that there wasn’t for large parts of the astrological tradition. He said he couldn’t find anything with the zodiac. He couldn’t find any statistical correlations with the outer planets or with the Sun or Mercury and even his results that were tied into the ascendant and midheaven, which is theoretically or loosely tied in with the concept of the 12 houses, otherwise did not stack up well with the tradition up to that point and what it thought about the 12 houses. Because the plus zones were on the wrong side of the angular houses. They were on the cadent side of the angular houses which the astrological tradition said should be less active rather than more active.
KI: Yes, because the two primary what he called his Gauquelin zones or sectors in his early research were roughly equivalent with the astrological 12th and ninth houses, Placidus. And these are not the places when you read textbooks that tell you you should search for career success. [laughs]
KI: They go everywhere else. So one sidebar on that, which I’ve run into the whole time I’ve been sort of becoming the Gauquelin person, is that it’s often in a conference I’ll run into somebody, comes running up and saying, “I know why they’re in the wrong place.” And then they explain to me why all these things are in the wrong houses, and it’s always something a little bit esoteric and involving solar arcs and things like that.
CB: Yeah, and we’ll–
KI: But it made it hard to accept.
CB: Sure. And we can unpack more of that later once we get specifically especially into the Mars effect and the controversy surrounding that where it became the most prominent, but basically he became kind of an outsider then with astrologers on some level who were uncomfortable with him rejecting just huge parts of the established tradition. But then he also started having problems with the scientific and skeptical communities because he seemed to be confirming that there was something or there’s anything to astrology that there was some sort of correlation between the planets at the moment of a person’s birth and what would happen later in their life for some reason. And that sort of made him not sort of persona non grata in some sense in the scientific and skeptical communities.
KI: Well, it didn’t. It didn’t because there were certainly a few people, scientists or statisticians who looked at his work. And at least one of them said jocularly he says, “Well, if this is right, statistics must be wrong.” [laughs]
KI: And on the other hand, there were some other people who said, “If this is right, your statistics must be wrong. You’re not doing your work correctly.” But there were some fair-minded people, few.
CB: Sure. And that’ll be kind of a major theme that we’ll talk about a lot later which is the interesting responses that many of the skeptics and the scientists who attempted to replicate his texts and sometimes much to their surprise and dismay did. How they responded to that and how they dealt with it led to some weird and not very great highlights in the history of science.[Kenneth laughs]
KI: Right. Yeah.
CB: All right. So we’ll get to that later, but in terms of setting the stage that sort of gives you some idea of–He published his first book in 1955, and he published at least a dozen or like two dozen books depending on how you qualify that. Would it be about a dozen standard books as well as a bunch of other articles and data collection books?
KI: I’ve never actually made a count. And I actually have a stack of his stuff sitting here, and it’s not a complete collection. Kind of hard to tell sometimes because many times his books in English were published in England first under different titles. But, yeah, maybe a dozen either popularized books or books written on a semi technical level but in clear language. And, yeah. And the data volume’s like maybe two dozen.
CB: Okay. And towards the end of his life, he advocated a new approach to astrology that he called neo-astrology where he proposed creating a new tradition, a new astrological tradition based only on that which had statistical evidence and to sort of reject or just remove from practice anything that couldn’t be validated statistically. So, basically like rebuilding astrology from the ground up empirically and scientifically essentially. And that was the title of his last book that came out in 1991 which was Neo-Astrology: A Copernican Revolution.
CB: And that was a unique approach because suddenly he was saying that we needed to start with a clean slate, we needed to start over again because there was too many built up astrological traditions and ideas that he wasn’t able to validate statistically and that if you couldn’t validate something statistically, then essentially you shouldn’t be using it was sort of the conclusion that he came to.
KI: Yeah. Yes. But I think he had actually come to that conclusion many years before. That’s probably the place in which he stated the most clearly, but then it’s the last book that he wrote. At that point, he was in a way trying to wrap things up. He was trying to say where are we and where should we go from here. I don’t particularly agree with him. I do to some extent. But it’s not possible to come against the kind of tradition that astrology as a practice has around the world where you have 20 dozen traditions involving different kinds of calculations and so on. That’s just a pretty tall order to just come up against and be saying, “Well, you ought to drop all these planets. And do this and–” But I understand why he said it. Let’s put it that way.
CB: Sure. Yeah. And I don’t necessarily agree either, but it’s still interesting to sort of explore his thinking and where he was coming from with that as representing sort of an extreme version of an approach that you could take and that somebody with a more scientifically-minded mind would probably want to take or could take on some level in saying that we should rebuild astrology just based on things that we can validate under his premise that his results were accurate sort of to begin with.
KI: Yeah. Yes. Actually, I tried something like that. I wrote a series of 48 articles in American astrology from 1992 to 1996 in which all of the birth data was presented as Gauquelin sector charts with only the so called Gauquelin planets, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. And I tried various things out. And I don’t know. He tried the same thing, and he was not very successful for technical reasons I won’t even try to go into here. But it’s worth looking at it that way. As long as you keep your vision ready, keep yourself ready to look at other things as well.
CB: Sure. Okay. So, getting into the core of his findings or the core of his results then, that’s probably a good transition point. His most notable studies showed planets following angles correlating with vocation. And this is something we already talked about a little bit. Even though we said at the beginning that the first time that he started noticing that was with physicians and with doctors basically and with scientists, the most famous and controversial of these was the correlation between Mars and eminent athletes.
CB: And he also found correlations with other planets and professions, so there’s a number of these that we’ll get into. And this is important because basically if at all accurate like if this wasn’t in any way statistically accurate or significant, then that would validate from a scientific and statistical standpoint part of the basic premise of natal astrology which is that the positions of the planets at the time of a person’s birth are indicative of some part of their life that will follow.
CB: And that, just in and of itself, just the idea that that could be statistically validated in any way would then give some scientific evidence for astrology basically.
KI: Yes. Yes.
KI: And that’s the reason it was accepted by astrologers who at the same time held his work at arm’s length because they didn’t know what to do with it.
CB: Right. So astrologers didn’t know what to–
KI: They didn’t know how to deal with it.
CB: –to do with it. And scientists and skeptics were understandably also sort of aghast with it because it seemed to be lending credence to that there was anything to astrology when just from an objective standpoint, I think most people can agree you wouldn’t normally think or we can understand why we wouldn’t normally think that there should be any correlation between the alignment of the planets the moment a person is born and anything about their future or their character. But for some reason, he was finding some statistical results that indicated that there very well maybe.
CB: Okay. So other groups tried to replicate some of his tests especially the Mars test, and this became known as the Mars effect controversy. So let’s get into talking about that specific controversy because that became the most notable one that probably had the most ink spilt over it. And to introduce the basis of that, his Mars study was that he found that when a person was born with Mars either just following the ascendant upwards in the diurnal rotation so on the side of the 12th house just after the ascendant or when it was just after the midheaven on the ninth house side roughly just generally speaking, that Mars following the angles at the moment of birth correlated more often statistically with eminent athletes more than it should by chance.
CB: One of the weird things that was also very early on in his findings is that it wasn’t just athletes in general, but it was eminent athletes or people that would become eminent in their chosen athletic field, right?
CB: So what’s the deal with that? Because that’s a big point of contention or that’s an important sort of distinction between saying like anybody born with Mars in these sectors will become an athlete versus saying that they will become eminent in that field. And that’s something that shows up in all of his other studies as well, right? It’s not just about having a planet in a specific part of the chart and then having a greater likelihood of going into that career field, but it’s actually just showing up in the charts of people that are eminent within that field.
KI: It seems so. I don’t think it’s as much of a problem as even Gauquelin thought it was because in order to for example study sports champions, you have to contrast them with somebody. You can’t just, “Here are some sports champions and let’s look at them.” You have to have some kind of difference between either sports or the level of success or you would have to differentiate them from ordinary people or from other professions. And the simplest, most straightforward choice is to take the people who have the greatest success and compare them with people who have had relatively little success, the people who showed up for the whatever sport it was, showed up for the games, did their work, and went home and the other ones who technically speaking hit the home runs, jumped the highest hurdles or whatever. You have to have something to compare with. I’ve gone back and forth about this, but I have looked at some of these things. It’s in some of his actually or tells later studies of Gauquelin where he was able to quantify this comparison. There’s some reason to believe in looking at it that it’s possible that this is also true for ordinary people. But it’s hard to explain why that is. We could get into that later.
CB: Yeah, cuz I wanna be careful to outline what he thought and what the research was especially in his lifetime and what his arguments were versus some of the things that happened later that we’ll definitely get into towards the end.
CB: But one of the points I should have clarified, one of the things I thought was interesting and unique is that he divided the chart in order to plot and show the sort of statistical results. He divided it into 36 sectors starting with the ascendant, and I was always curious why he ended up with 36 sectors and if he was deliberately–cuz that’s also the number of for example decans and if he was deliberately patterning it after the decans for some reason or if he chose 36 for some other reason. Do you know the answer to that?
KI: it’s purely arithmetic. That’s all it is.
CB: Okay, division–
KI: In order to examine the data, he used sectors of varying sizes depending on the size of the sample. And also early in his research he was doing this because he was trying to find out where the pattern extended like as you pointed out earlier. It actually begins below the ascendant and before the midheaven and then carries on afterward. He wanted to be able to measure that and then come to some final conclusion. And the 36 sectors work with most of his samples. He probably began using that sometime in the ’60s or the early ’70s. And when others came along and began to seriously look at his work, they always used the 36.
CB: Okay. So, that’s really important cuz to try to describe for just our audio listeners, his data is sometimes presented in different ways. And the most common one I’ve seen are the ones that ended up on his book covers and stuff where it’s more of almost like a line graph that’s drawn around a chart.
CB: So for example on the cover of his book Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior, it’s like you see this little circle.
CB: And then it shows the peaks right just above the ascendant and just after the midheaven.
CB: And it’s sort of written like that. It’s more of like line peaks, but you sent me another diagram today that you have in an article that I thought was interesting because it shows it more within the context of those 36 decans. Let me see if I can share that really quickly for the people watching the video version of this. And for those watching just the audio version, let me just describe it. But imagine you have a chart that has the ascendant, and then you divide it starting with the ascendant into 36 10 degrees segments starting at the ascendant but then moving upwards. It actually moves sort of clockwise in the order of the diurnal rotation where the Sun rises in the morning, and then it moves upwards and culminates in the middle of the day. And then eventually it sets in the evening.
CB: So if you set it like that and you divide the, let’s say, diurnal rotation or what astrologers associate with the houses into these 36 10 degree segments, the so-called plus zones which are the zones where if a planet falls in that sector of the chart, it tends to coincide with greater tendency according to Gauquelin of a person being eminent in a specific career field. It actually starts with the first decan just below the ascendant. So, on the first house side the first 10 degrees below the ascendant or a plus zone. But then the rest of the plus zone for that sector is actually the three decans upwards above the ascendant on the 12th house side, right?
CB: Okay. And then the next sector starts with the first decan on the left side of the quadrant midheaven. So the first 10 degrees, let’s say, roughly before the degree of the MC. But then the rest of the sector or the greater part of it actually follows in the next three decades, so the next 30 degrees following the MC on the ninth house or the cadent side.
CB: And that’s the other major sector?
CB: Okay. And the effect supposedly also follows for the seventh house and the fourth house or the IC, but statistically it’s much lower or it’s–
KI: It’s weaker, yeah.
CB: It’s much weaker than the midheaven in the ascendant?
CB: Okay, got it. So, that’s just setting up the visuals. And in terms of Mars and the eminence factor, so what he found was that Mars in those sectors especially around the ascendant and midheaven showed up in the charts of eminent athletes more commonly than it should according to just chance.
CB: And so this is one of the early results that he presented in his first book in his first books. And he published these works, and then he tried to encourage other scientists to test his results and replicate it because that’s part of what you’re supposed to do in science is you’re supposed to do a test, and then you’re supposed to publish it and and see if others can replicate it. And if it can be replicated, then that’s supposed to confirm or help to confirm the results, right?
KI: Yes. That’s exactly right.
CB: So he encouraged other scientists to try to replicate his results, but it seemed like initially there was a lot of foot dragging. And there was a lot of delays, and other scientists were not quick to attempt to try to replicate his studies. But over the course of his life eventually, there were three separate skeptical groups that did run tests on the Mars effect specifically to see if it was true that Mars in those sectors at birth coincided with a greater amount of eminent athletes. And what ended up happening is that some of the scientific groups initially actually did replicate Gauquelin results much to their surprise and somewhat dismay, right?
KI: Yes. Actually the first one that he approached like the Mars effect where he issued that as kind of a challenge to skeptics. Cuz as I said, there were a few fair minded people who looked at his work and thought there was merit to it. The first one that he wrote a letter to and said, “Please, would you like to look at my data?” It was a committee, that was the skeptic committee that tested claims of the paranormal. And the letter he got back said, “Well, we’ve studied this subject a priori, and we already know that it’s false. So we don’t wanna look at your work.” [laughs]
KI: Eventually, those people came back and did it. And–
CB: So this was a Belgian skeptic group that was eventually–
KI: That was the Belgian skeptic group, yes.
CB: Okay. And initially they tested it, but then it took forever for them to actually publish. One of the things in his last book Neo-Astrology, he does a pretty good job of writing a synopsis, a very brief and concise synopsis of his career and some of the back and forth that he had with some of these groups. And he complains about them taking forever or really dragging their heels to even publish the results once they had done the tests. And eventually in 1968 they did publish the results which confirmed that they seemed to have replicated his results. But that said, they still dismissed it saying that it must have been some sort of error of some sort that they couldn’t identify or couldn’t articulate.
KI: Yeah. Well, actually the initial study was done in 1968. And it wasn’t forever. It was only eight years. [laughs]
CB: Eight years, okay.
KI: It took them eight years to publish it. And that was only because of pressure from the next skeptic group in line which is a long story. I can tell some of it if you want at this point.
CB: Sure. Yeah, just briefly.
KI: Yeah, okay. As you said, they had done internal test of a normal sort that you would do if you think something really needed to be worked further. And they could not find anything wrong with it. So they decided that, “Well, since there must be something wrong with it, we’re just going to leave it on ice.” But in 1975 I think, there was a famous episode when a magazine called The Humanist issued a challenge to astrology and had a lot of these scientists signing on to say it was bunkum and so on. And they got–
CB: Well, it wasn’t a challenge. There was a–
CB: Right. A group of scientists felt that astrology was becoming too popular in mainstream culture cuz it was at that point from like the 1960 late 1960s forward. And some of these scientists and skeptics got alarmed by it and decided to gather together, they circulated a memo or something to get signatures from 100 and something. Scientists and Nobel Prize winners saying that there was no scientific validity to astrology.
KI: Yeah, yeah. But, almost immediately, they got into trouble. Because in the magazine where that was published they had a couple of articles, one of which pretty much condemned Gauquelin’s work as phony, fake, not very good. And the fellow who did it was supposedly a science writer. He was not very good. He didn’t know what he was talking about. So the Gauquelins, Michel and Francoise, at that point wrote an article to answer that and point out where he was wrong. And this then began the humanist group which by that time had become the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal CSICOP had been formed around this whole thing. And they began their own tests, their own procedures to see what they could do.
CB: Right. Cuz I can see from Gauquelin’s perspective that he had published his initial findings back in 1955, he’d been trying to get other groups to verify them and to replicate his studies. He was eventually able to get the Belgian skeptic group to do so, and they replicated it. But then you have this manifesto coming out in 1975 that says there’s no scientific validity whatsoever to astrology, and there’s no studies that have ever been done that have confirmed any part of it.
CB: And I’m sure Gauquelin at that point was saying, “Hey, what about this study, all this data that I’ve been publishing in the past two decades?” And his responses to that then motivate a second skeptical group that had just formed in the United States to do a second study which– Was that published in 1977, or was it just done in 1977.
KI: I’m not clear on that at the moment, but it actually consisted of two different tests. The first of which required the Gauquelins to go out and gather new data which they took a sample. The skeptics said, “Here’s a group of your own athletes. And you’ve got the birth data, and you’ve got the Mars. So now go to the places where these people were born and find everyone born on that same day as each of these people. And that will show right away whether or not what you’re saying is possible.”
KI: And he won the test. They won the test after like–I don’t know how long it took them to gather the data.
CB: By won the test, do you mean that they did again replicate the results and the results came back statistically significant?
KI: Yes, people who were born on the same day who were not super athletes, did not have Mars more or less in those sectors than the athletes did. The athletes had more Mars than the people born in the same towns on the same day.
KI: And the answer to that, without going into all the technical jargon, was that the report that CSICOP wrote that the two people who wrote the article on that monkeyed with the statistics, and it did things that somebody who was in his first semester statistics course would not do in order to prove that what the Gauquelins had already shown to be true was not true. Which–
CB: So the Gauquelins did that, but then CSICOP did their own study or own analysis of that?
KI: And then that one test, that first test led to the second one which was they said, “Okay, we’re now going to go out and gather our own sports data for US sports people and see what happens.”
CB: Okay. And so that study was published, but then that created a lot of controversy both in responses from Gauquelin who said that they didn’t do a good job and that they violated some basic sort of like scientific tenants in how they approached that but also created a lot of controversy because even skeptics within the organization itself ended up writing articles complaining about the procedures that they used to being flawed and that bias from the skeptics was being introduced and unduly influencing the results or something to that effect.
KI: Well, the basic proposition which was, even by the time the article appeared in the CSICOP magazine, they had to put footnotes on it explaining that they had not cheated on [Kenneth laughs] the data that they collected, that everything was okay, everything was copacetic. The problem with it was this, Gauquelin showed that Mars in these sectors was there more often than it should be in the case of champion athletes and what CSICOP showed was that it was significantly less in those sectors for those champion athletes that they used in their sample. So immediately, even the fellow who did the astronomer who did the calculations for CSICOP to figure out the sectors and where the Mars was, he was very suspicious and he wrote an exposé about the whole thing.
CB: Right. So, this is Dennis Rawlins who was one of the founders or early leaders in CSICOP wrote an article titled Starbaby in 1981 which was like an exposé of not just the issues surrounding how the skeptic group had conducted the test, but he also, if I remember it correctly and you have to correct me if I’m wrong, he also alleged that there had been a cover up because he said that initially, they had actually confirmed Gauquelin’s results, but then they kept it under wraps for a while because they were so convinced that astrology couldn’t be valid, that they thought that they must have made a mistake in order to validate the results and that they didn’t actually publish or release anything until they could figure out how to make it look like there wasn’t an effect or how they could figure out what their mistake was. And his criticism was that eventually that Rawlins the skeptic thought that Gauquelin had made errors that would have made the Mars effect disappear but that the skeptic group in their concern about covering up the initial results that seemed to be positive, made an error in doing something essentially unscientific by covering it up instead of just doing more studies in order to figure out what the underlying problem was or something like that.
KI: Well, Rawlins actually thought that the Gauquelins were that their work. He never thought the Mars effect. He was a skeptic and absent anything that will explain what it was or what physical thing or astronomical thing there was that was doing this, he wouldn’t accept it. But he did say that they had done their statistics correctly. What happened with the internal investigation, the internals of the CSICOP episode was that it was entirely run by the head of the organization, Paul Kurtz. Now, Paul Kurtz had to hire Rawlins to do the calculations, the astronomical calculations to locate the Mars positions. But at one point, he had done three batches and after the first batch came in and there was the Mars effect. They seemed to be on their way to it. The stance sample at that point wasn’t quite large enough, so they would have to get more and Kurtz asked whether or not he could have an advanced peek at the next batch which he shouldn’t have been asking for. It was the wrong thing to do. So, Rawlins went along with that reluctantly. And what happened was in the end, there were three samples and they went downhill, bang, bang, bang. Each succeeding sample was smaller than the next until finally, as I said, the result was that it was a negative Mars effect in a sense which was [Kenneth laughs] what can I say?
CB: So that’s important because the chance distribution should have been like 50-50, but instead it was going too far in the opposite direction so that it indicated that something was off.
KI: Oh, yes. Something was so obviously off. As I said, when they published on it, they had to explain why it was really okay and they really hadn’t done anything wrong. And Rawlins even defended Paul Kurtz at the time. It’s what I call the dumb defense. He said, “Well, here’s the thing. Kurtz couldn’t have monkeyed with the sample even though he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to do because he didn’t know how to do the calculations.” But in their own article, in a footnote, they pointed out that the sectors which at that time they were using the 12, were roughly equivalent with Placidus houses. And this was the era when there had begun to be astrological calculation services. For a couple of dollars, you could buy a chart. You didn’t have to be smart. All you had to do was write a check which at certain points in the controversy that followed was pointed out very clear. In fact, I wrote a long letter to Paul Kurtz about this, I’m not going to go into all the details, in which I explained to him you don’t have any defense here because of what I just said. You could go and pay somebody a couple of bucks and calculate all this stuff and then throw things out as you needed to throw them out. But anyway, that’s-
CB: How is that? I’m trying to understand how that’s relevant because Dennis Rawlins was an astronomer and so he was doing all the calculations to make the charts basically, right?
KI: He was doing them mathematically. He was doing them astronomically and mathematically. But in order to do a Mars effect study, you could just use charts with Placidus houses and get roughly the same result as Gauquelin, but instead what you got was something less than that.
CB: Okay, so this created a lot of controversy within the skeptical organization and obviously with Gauquelin himself who’s objecting to the results in the methodology, Rawlins writes this big expo in 1981 and he publicly leaves the organization because of how they handled it and there’s a lot of controversy and back and forth basically over the next few years, right?
KI: Oh, yes. The controversy continued until at least… Well, in 1981, in fact, when Rawlins left, other people left. There were four people involved in the Mars effect in what CSICOP did with the Mars effect. One was Rawlins, another one is a Harvard professor, last name is Zelen, another was an astronomer George Abell and the other one was Paul Kurtz. And Zelen and Abell wrote a public apology to Gauquelin and they said, “We had not behaved properly scientifically.” Now they were talking about the test as a whole. They had nothing to do with the thing that Kurtz ran. So, between four people who ran the test, they all left. One wrote an exposé, two wrote a public apology to the Gauquelins and then you were left with Paul Kurtz who to his dying day would tell you that the Mars effect was bunkum.
CB: Sure. And I thought in Rawlins’ exposé of his insider view of all of this, it seemed like James Randi was also involved in the test or in the skeptical organization as well at the time.
KI: Yeah, but he didn’t really have anything to do with it. He’s a trickster. He’s a magician.
CB: Sure. You mean he’s not like a trained scientist is what you mean?
KI: Not at all. Not in any way is he a trained scientist. He’s the guy with the big mouth. [Kenneth laughs]
CB: Sure. Well, I mean, it’s a relevant criticism in terms of and that’s one of the most interesting things about the skeptical movement at least in popular culture over the past few decades is a lot of the major celebrity skeptics are magicians who because of their background and using misdirection and other things like that, they think that that’s what all other paranormal fields must be doing is pulling some sleight of hand in order to trick or fool people and that becomes their main argument for what astrologers are doing is that they’re just tricking people or something like that.
KI: Yeah, and that’s actually a reasonable position. And there were other people in CSICOP who were magicians who unlike Randi who is more or less just a debunker. This is what I meant by the mouth. Nothing was ever true. Whatever he saw was always fake phony whatever. But there were several people in there who were magicians either as a hobby or at some point as a profession who were much fair minded and I can’t at the moment, there’s one fellow I’m trying to think of, but who went on to leave CSICOP, started a magazine called Zetetic Scholar which was about investigating the paranormal, not debunking it. And in that little magazine, after all of this stuff was over and CSICOP I think brushed it out of the way, it didn’t say a whole lot of it after this whole thing happened. There were other places like the Zetetic Scholar or something called the Journal of Scientific Exploration that began publishing some real work on this as opposed to stuff that was supposed to be debunked.
CB: Sure, right, because that became one of the critiques and I think one of the results of the Mars effect controversy and CSICOP’s involvement in it is that they didn’t continue doing tests like this directly themselves after this era.
KI: That’s right. They made a pact with each other’s that we’re not going to do this anymore. Let other people do the tests, we’ll publish the results.
CB: Sure. So eventually, part of the results from this were that Gauquelin himself was accused of introducing bias into the results partially due to data selection. And also, there were some issues surrounding some of his responses, it seemed like focused on issues and arguments surrounding factors like eminence being a key component in working the data set which partially has to do with some questions surrounding what constitutes eminence and things like that.
KI: In fact, most of the reasonable controversy during the whole run of the skeptics, which eventually involved three different organizations, was squabbling over what constituted eminence. A simple example, when Kurtz was doing the sampling that people saw out in the open, in one of the volumes, he was choosing not sports champions but everybody in that place including coaches and things like that. So, well, they’re in the volume here, they must be famous. And these were things that were arguable in a reasonable fashion and it became very detracting.
CB: Yeah. I mean, because that is a good question or that’s a reasonable objection what constitutes eminence. Like so for example, maybe eminence would be somebody that’s won let’s say, a swimmer who’s won like a gold medal in the Olympics for swimming. That would be somebody that we would view as that’s like an objective criteria for eminence, let’s say?
KI: Yes, those are the kinds of criteria that Michel chose only. For each sport, there have to be different criteria, you know? Some people win gold medals in the Olympics, somebody else might not be an Olympic sport so you have to choose what criteria there are for each sport. So, in that sense, sports was unfortunate. It was fortunate because sports champions have a short life, short career life so you were able to always have a supply of data coming along to conduct new tests on. But yes, the criteria were important and admirable.
CB: Sure. So, I could see how on the one hand, there could be problems with if somebody just completely disregards that and starts including birth data from anybody who’s tangentially related to some specific sport and throwing their data that that could mess up the whole sample. But then I could also see some of the objections to saying that perhaps Gauquelin’s criteria for determining evidence that that could be hard to establish and that there could be some gray areas sometimes when it comes to what constitutes eminence versus non-eminence, let’s say a specific sport. Sure. Okay. So, and that becomes subject of controversy that became ongoing even after Gauquelin’s life in terms of trying to understand his results and if they were valid or not and a lot of it ended up focusing on that. So that’s the Mars effect controversy basically in a nutshell and that was actually the focus of you guys documented in your 1996 book, The Tenacious Mars Effect. A large part of it was focused on basically documenting that research and the subsequent controversies and attempts to replicate it, right?
KI: My part of the book, yes. The primary part of the book by Suitbert Ertel was actually going over the evidence and doing so based on an objective way of assessing evidence without having to appeal to prizes in this sport or that sport. It’s very simple actually. And in fact, it’s something that one of the last skeptic organization accidentally used on its own. But it’s very simple. It’s called citation counts. You gather together, you go to a reference library and you say I need all the reference volumes you have listing people who are in sports. Suppose you end up with five, six, seven, eight and whatever them and then you go through and you gather all the names and then you cross compare them to see how many of these volumes each person was cited in and then you can apply that to the data that Gauquelin already collected and it’s a simple measure, then it becomes a simple matter of measurement. It’s very straightforward, which is a reason that that you will hear people saying that it’s a little bit overblown, but they say or tell by doing this, save the Mars effect. Well, in a sense, he did. But he also applied that and this is unfortunate. We have the numbers that he gathered for the Mars effect but he did it for all of the professions and that’s unavailable at the moment.
CB: Okay. Let’s see. That then is actually a nice transition point into talking about the correlations between other planets and professions. But first, before we wrap up this section, there was a third group. So, the first group that initially replicated Gauquelin’s results but said there must be still problems with it was the Belgian skeptic group around 1968. The second was the American skeptic group around 1977. And then there was a third group that tested the results and published their findings which is a French skeptic group in 1996, I believe, right?
KI: That’s when they finally published their work, yes. But like the Belgian group, they took years in order to do it which is unfortunate because after having been bruised like Charlie Brown with the football twice, Michel insisted that there be a written protocol, what would be done, how they would determine eminence, how long it would take that there would be constant communication, so on. And what happened was they signed the protocol. And I believe, essentially, Michel never heard from them until several years later when they wrote to him and they are saying, “Oh, now we’re circulating all the stuff that we gathered and here it is.” That letter actually reached him the wrong place. I don’t know whether it was… He was somewhere. He was probably in California working at Astro Computing Services where they were helping with his research and yeah, it was the same treatment that he had received before. They didn’t actually fully publish their data until after he had died.
CB: Right. So, he died in 1981 and they didn’t actually end up publishing the results until 1996. So, he never himself at least got a chance to respond to-
KI: He did in fact respond to them from I believe, maybe it was 1990 when they sent him. They said to him, “Well, here it is.” And he did respond and he was very critical of what they had done and they squabbled back and forth as usual over what was eminence and what was sport which was still continuing even though Ertel had written his thing a few years before that offering them a second way, so to speak. So, there was some squabbling back and forth. And then they took advantage of the fact that when they published it in 1936, he was dead, he couldn’t say anything anymore and about I’d say a third of the book is them publishing this correspondence back and forth and saying, “See what he’s doing here? He’s being selective.” This his whole thing is like, look what he’s doing here. It was just like essentially picking on a dead man and saying bad things about him, not always a nice way either. So, I wrote a long review of the book at one point and it’s on my website, Planetos planetos.org.
CB: And the title of their book was The Mars Effect: A French Test of Over 1000 Sports Champions published by the French Committee for the Study of Paranormal Phenomena. That essentially was negative. It said that there was no Mars effect that any effect was the result of bias on Gauquelin’s part and that was it and that was one of the last major studies published by a skeptical organization or a scientific organization, right?
KI: Yes, they pretty much gave up after that. And in fact, it turned out that the reason that the CFEPP as I recall, why they took so long was the organization was falling apart. It wasn’t well organized. People were leaving. The guy who was originally supposed to oversee the test died. And so, they were just mostly disorganized. It was finished up by somebody in the Netherlands who I don’t think was actually even a member of the organization, so he just had to take things and put them together and draws on conclusions. But the fact is that at that time, by that time because of Ertel’s work, he could take which he did the two supposedly failed skeptic tests and subject them to his criteria citation counts and show precisely that they did in fact show the Mars effect even though they had been monkeyed with. The data had been poorly sampled, let’s put it that way.
CB: So Ertel had developed a better way for removing bias from the eminence factor and ran the skeptical tests and claimed to have still been able to validate it when he ran that control on the test?
KI: Yes, in fact, it’s in The Tenacious Mars Effect book and it was also published in several places, probably mostly in Correlation the AAS Journal in England.
CB: So, Correlation is a long running for the past few decades. It’s a journal that’s published by the Astrological Association of Great Britain which is specifically designed to publish papers and studies related to the scientific study of astrology.
KI: Yes, yes. And all of the work that Ertel or others did, their entire collection is online. You have to be a member to access it, but it’s not a major expense to join the AAS and you will have access to all of that. Another journal which is entirely open to the public that one I mentioned earlier, the Journal of Scientific Exploration also published a great deal of his work that is everything that they’ve done since they were founded around 1981 is available online in PDF form and indexed and everything. So, a lot of what Ertel did especially during the ‘90s, he studied the Mars effect, he worked on the Mars effect and the other planetary effects from the mid-80s to about the early like the first five years, maybe 20 years ‘86 to ‘95. And after that, he had other things he wanted to take care of that he’d been setting aside. But during that time, a lot of what he published was essentially clean up, following up on these skeptic tests and always in the same way that he did in that book just demonstrating graphically and with numbers that what had been done on the Mars effect was actually fairly consistent all the way through despite the fact that people were disagreeing over sampling eminence and in some places just being bad actors. So, in other words, it’s all there.
CB: And to mention since it ties together to those points before we move on, just like a couple of weeks ago, I just got in the mail, the latest issue of the Correlation journal which is volume 31, number 2, 2018 and it’s actually dedicated to it as a compilation for Ertel who died just last year in 2017 and this actually contains a few articles including an article you wrote about your interactions with him. Okay. So that’s a good recent resource that people can take advantage of as well if they want to look into this. So, let’s see. Before we move on one last point, people should do a search for I think it’s really worthwhile whether you’re an astrologer or whether you’re a skeptic of astrology to read Rawlins’ 1981 article Starbaby which you can access online just because it’s a really insightful behind the scenes look into that whole debacle with the second group’s attempt to replicate Gauquelin’s results and what happened when they thought at first that they accidentally had replicated the results and just some of the issues that go into potential bias if you’re a group dedicated to debunking something or actively proving things wrong versus doing more neutral scientific testing, what some of the potentials are that go along with that? It’s worth reading regardless of what your background is.
KI: Oh, yes, yes. And he’s very much on point all the way through.
CB: Sure. All right. So, moving on from the Mars effect controversy, why did the Mars end up being the study that was replicated? That’s one of my questions because he from a very early stage as we said found that there were other correlations between planets and profession. So, he found that there was a Jupiter correlation where if Jupiter was in the plus zone sectors especially just above the Ascendant or just to the right of the midheaven in a person’s birth chart, that Jupiter tended to correlate more commonly with people that were eminent actors, playwrights, politicians, military leaders, executives, or top executives and journalists. Saturn tended to correlate with scientists and physicians. Mars tended to correlate with physicians, military leaders, sports champions and top executives, and the Moon correlated with writers and politicians while interestingly, he could not find any effect or any relevant profession that correlated statistically with the planets, the Sun and Mercury, or with the other outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. I mean, before we get into those, why did Mars end up being the study that everybody focused on? Was that just like an accident or chance that that ended up being the one that the replication studies focused on or was there a specific reason that the first group tried to focus on the Mars study versus others?
KI: It was entirely on purpose and it was Gauquelin’s plan because for one thing, it was one of the stronger effects, it was very stable and as I said previously, there was a larger and continuing supply of sports champions than for these other professions. So, it was very easy to pose the question to I think the first time was 1956, the one that said no, we studied this a priori. And it went from 1956 through 1996, 40 years and there was never any question about there being enough data.
CB: Okay, that makes a lot of sense because athletes will tend to peak much earlier in their life or people tend to be younger when they hit the high point of their athletic abilities and there is also somewhat objectively measurable due to the nature of having competitions or contests like the Olympics where there is some like objective judging factor.
KI: Yes, even at the point where he was forced to use individual criteria for individual sports, it still was something he, and even though there was argument over it, people who actually looked at these arguments could assess them in a rational way. Let’s put it that way. So, up until Ertel came up with the citation counts, even though they were squabbling, there was still a way for someone to look at it and try to understand it. Although I have to say that people that I’ve talked to in the sciences who know about this shy away from it because it’s still hard to figure out in a way. It is too far out of their specialty for them to understand it.
CB: Too hard to figure out just trying to replicate or how you would replicate any of his results or trying to figure out-
KI: Just to understand it from a scientific point of view. When the book was being finished up, The Tenacious Mars Effect, we were looking for somebody to write an introduction and we approached one astronomer, there’s a fairly well-known astronomer and a skeptic as well who was married to an astrologer. And I pointed this out to Suitbert and he says, “Well, let’s ask him.” So, we sent the manuscript and I talked to him about it and he says, “Well, this could be right. It looks like it’s well done and everything.” He says, “But it’s just too hard for me to sit down and go through this and see it in something in a new light like this.” He says, “I couldn’t write an interaction because I can’t be sure that I’m understanding correctly and then I’m therefore judging it correctly.”
CB: Sure, that makes sense because this is a lifetime, this is Gauquelin’s life work and he expended an extreme or not extreme extensive amount of energy even just in the initial phases of data collection. Data collection is something that is extremely time consuming just to go out and actually collect all those different pieces of data and then in his early days, he would have been calculating all the charts by hand although you alluded to the fact that later in his life as computers started becoming more common and there started being software companies or companies that you could go to like Astro Computing Services to get the charts calculated electronically that that sped up the process. So, he was taking advantage of some of those early advancements in technology to accentuate or help speed up some of his research.
KI: Oh, yeah. In fact, that was a large part of it. Astro Computing played a big part in extending his research, but I’m not sure when they started. I had thought it was as late as 1977. It might have been much earlier than that so I’m digging around and trying to find the answer to it, but they took his entire professional database for sure or maybe the whole thing and computerized it. It was just two people, Neil Michelsen and Tom Shanks. Neil was the businessman and Tom was the statistician. And he ran it through various rigors and looked at various questions that the Gauquelins had had up to that point and settled them but only because they could just do all these massive calculations. And at one point, other people started coming in and using the database and doing their own research although none of that was really very successful.
CB: Sure. But that at least, yeah, I could imagine it wouldn’t have been until the ‘70s or especially the late ‘70s forward that that probably would have become available. But I can also understand just going back to the point you were making just before I said that it just takes a huge amount of work to even just gather the data let alone then run all the different statistical studies on it. I can understand how other people, even if you think astrology is valid and you have motivation to want to validate it or try to demonstrate its validity by getting together all this data and then running the tests on it, that would take a lot of work even if you believed in it. And I can imagine that if you didn’t think astrology was valid or if you assumed that the tests were going to come back negative how it would seem like even more of like a waste of your time or something that you wouldn’t be interested in doing to actually spend all of that time of months or years running that data, crunching that data in order to demonstrate that the results were invalid. So, I can imagine that even some of the skeptical groups even though Gauquelin himself was often expressing aspiration with them taking years and dragging their feet to do this stuff, I can imagine that a lot of different groups, it would have been hard to motivate a group of researchers to want to devote their life to testing this stuff.
KI: Very certainly. To give you a small idea of the energy involved, I think this was the last time I talked to Michel on the phone and it was in probably December of 1990. And at one point, I mentioned that it was my birthday and he says, “So, how old are you?” And I said, 43. And he sighed and he says, “You know at that age, I can go out and I can play tennis all morning, come in at noon, have lunch, and then work until midnight.” And when he said work, he meant sitting down with index cards and writing things like all clerical work because that was what it took on his part and up to a certain point and Francoise’s part to get this stuff done. And I mean, just imagine to being driven to like not have a vacation for years because your vacation was spent going over to Italy [Kenneth laughs] or Belgium or someplace else and gathering birth data and then coming back and then processing it all by hand because I never saw it, but their laboratory and Fran in Paris was nothing but cabinets full of index cards and then birth documents all of it processed by hand.
CB: Right. That was actually one of the questions I’ve been wondering over the past few weeks is I don’t even understand how he funded all of this research over the years or how he was able to even do all of this. Was it through like the proceeds of publishing? Because he did publish all those books, I’m sure there’s some proceeds from that, but how did he otherwise fund this? I guess he had side jobs or he alludes to having side jobs when he was younger.
KI: Oh, yeah. By the time he was finished at Sorbonne, he and Francoise I think they worked in psychological clinics and they had day jobs for a while. She was good at investing apparently and he wrote, I don’t know how many books he wrote. And I’m sure those were the days when you could get an actual advance for writing a book especially if you had a platform as he did if people knew who you were and they had bought your books before. So, there was a point at which those were probably bringing a lot of money, but for the rest of it, yeah. And then at the point when ACS came into it, Astro Computing, their time was just donated. This was Neil Michelsen. He had worked for IBM. He loved astrology. He knew how to do computing. At that time, he had very good equipment. So, when that happened, they moved a whole lot faster. Let’s put it that way. But they were still doing things by hand because I still have some of the volumes that he published, not the whole collection, but if you look at them, there tend to be a graft or they’re xeroxed and then they’re stapled together by hand. Maybe he had money to hire assistance from time to time and a lot of this they just did themselves.
CB: Sure, as just a labor of love or as part of this lifelong passion for investigation. All right. So back to these other correlations with planets. So even though the Mars effect became the thing that everybody focused on, his studies actually showed these other planets correlating with other eminent people in specific locations. One of the things that though made astrologers feel sometimes uneasy is that he didn’t find any correlations with the Sun or Mercury or with Uranus or Neptune or Pluto which is kind of interesting.
KI: Well, it was interesting to him because I’m quite sure that when he came up with this when he first started getting results that looked astrological, he was maybe a little put out himself that there was nothing for this. And in fact, there are times in some of his books where at least for the Sun, he’ll say “I don’t have a Sun anywhere. [Kenneth laughs] Where’s the Sun? What’s the biggest thing there?”
CB: It’s not like he was like happy about this or like to disprove some underlying tenant of astrology especially in that era of like the 1950s and 1960s, Sun sign astrology I’m sure was becoming really popular at that point. In 1968, you had the publication of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs book and you have all the generation coming into the astrological community at that time and then you have this guy who’s doing the first large scale statistical studies and he’s saying I can’t find any statistical correlation with the Sun at the moment of birth.
KI: In fact, nor were Sun signs because when he was a teenager back in France, he had dispensed with Sun signs entirely. That was one of the things he did this test, that test, the other test and couldn’t find anything. He just finally said, “I’m not going to bother with this anymore.”
CB: Right. He couldn’t actually find anything with the zodiac, the 12-sign tropical zodiac, he couldn’t find any statistical correlations at all in anything or at least never published anything that he found or couldn’t find anything, yeah.
KI: Yeah, well, yeah, I was just this afternoon looking at one of his later diurnal volumes which was all on the failed stuff, the outer planets of the Sun and he talked about it in his books up to that point. This was the publication. And it was further professional, all the same thing for the same professions and they were just flatlines all the way through. Like I said, he gave up out that pretty early, but he covered his bases and eventually published the results to show people this is what I did, this is what I came up with. It did bother him. I know it certainly bothered him in respect to the diurnal stuff and in respect to those sectors that there didn’t seem to be anything there because he always felt that there should have been.
CB: Sure. So, one of the interesting things though is that he didn’t think that in terms of these planetary correlations of planets rising or culminating or just after rising and culmination coinciding with certain people eventually becoming eminent in certain career fields, he didn’t think that the planets were causing eminence. But instead, one of the early conclusions that he seems to have drawn was that it had to do with people having certain character traits and thinking that people with those character traits would be more likely to achieve success in a specific field and that ended up being… Because one of the things is once you find these results, then the immediate question is, how could it all be possible or why would it be possible for Mars rising or culminating to correlate with people who become eminent athletes? And so, he speculated that maybe it had to do with character traits at that time for some reason.
KI: Well, yes. And in fact, these two things are related. They’re related to what Ertel called the three pillars of Gauquelin’s work and one was, of course, the basic results. The other was the character traits and the other was heredity. Because character traits are in part determined by your chromosomes in part. So, he framed this very early I think it is 1960 book his second book where he said “Here’s a plan. Here’s what I’m going to look at from now on.” And heredity, eventually it seemed to work and then eventually, it didn’t because further samples that in fact when he began working at Astro Computing and they recalculated the data and everything, the numbers went down a little bit so then he decided to do some more samples and then it turned out that it just didn’t seem to be there. He really did seriously give up on that.
CB: And let me just explain some background. So, the three pillars are the three main conclusions or initially early in his studies, the three main what he thought were positive conclusions indicating some astrological correlation. And the first one was planets rising or culminating essentially correlating with profession which was the main one which includes the Mars effect as well as other planets correlating with different fields. The second one is heredity where initially one of his initial conclusions is that he thought he had found a statistically significant correlation where parents with planets in certain plus zones like let’s say rising or just following culmination, were more likely to have kids with the same planet in one of the four plus zones. So that means… Could you give me an example of that? So, let’s say somebody, a parent who has Mars just after the midheaven, he thought was more likely to have a child that would have Mars in one of the four plus zones so either just after the Ascendant, the midheaven, the Descendant, or the IC?
KI: Yes. And in fact, it’s interesting to me that I see this thing on a case-by-case basis all the time, so it’s odd to me. It seems like it should be there and it seems like it is there in some sense. I mean, with Jupiter rising, I have a daughter with Jupiter on the midheaven, so what’s the problem? But just couldn’t prove it with data.
CB: Sure. And I think early in his studies, he started thinking that that could have been part of the explanatory mechanism as well was something connected to heredity that was being passed down either generationally or in terms of character traits from parent to child was something that was because he was trying to figure out what the mechanism is. Because the question is once you find this correlation between planets rising or culminating and profession, the next question is, what could possibly be causing this correlation to be happening?
KI: Not necessarily to explain it, but the three avenues of study were in order to broaden the picture so to speak so that you can then begin to work on things that would be more familiar to science. Let’s put it that way.
CB: Sure. So, the first one was the professions, the second one was heredity which is one that you said later in his life I think Ertel criticized and Gauquelin himself ended up moving away from and not thinking was as important later in his life. But then the third pillar was character traits that he started doing a separate study at some point I think with Francoise of biographies and character traits and certain planets coinciding not with profession necessarily, but specifically with certain character traits.
KI: Yes, in fact. What he did briefly was, for example with Mars, he knew what he had found and then he would test athletes with these character traits that he had gathered from biographies that proved out and then he would take those same character traits and he would apply them to the other professions because they all have Mars someplace. And when he did this, he found that even in these other professions, people with Mars in those Gauquelin sectors would match these character traits to some extent. That was the way he did it.
CB: Okay. And their selection process is they would read through biographies and extract traits. Okay. All right. So those are the three pillars. And in other areas, one of the other interesting things about the profession study is that some plus zone studies, it wasn’t just about planets being in certain zones like the Ascendant or around the midheaven coinciding with a greater amount of eminent let’s say, athletes or eminent people in a certain profession, but he also noticed a negative correlation where certain placements correlated with less of a likelihood at a person being eminent in a certain professional field. There was both a positive and a negative effect.
CB: For example, he said that Jupiter being placed in a plus zone coincided with a lower frequency for scientists and physicians.
CB: Or I think Saturn was a lower frequency for actors, journalists, writers, and painters.
CB: Mars was lower for painters, musicians, and writers. And the Moon was lower for sports champions.
KI: Yes. That was all the way through, so there were two sides to the Gauquelin effects in other words.
CB: Sure, which then introduces an interesting additional sort of facet of all of this where there’s something else that’s curious about it that’s going on where it’s not just planets being prominent indicating something. But there’s something else going on with planets being prominent can suppress a certain profession or lead to that profession not occurring as frequently.
KI: Yes. And what is even more interesting is that he showed this very early on, I think in his first book. He said, “Well, there’s a pattern here. There’s an interesting pattern here.” But I don’t think it was until after his death that–I know three people, I was one of them. And it’s probably because we were all thinking he had died and where do we go from here, and so they were looking very carefully at things. And they noticed that there was a pattern to these results that was actually very astrological that you could actually find in astrological texts. So even though the initial finding of the sectors and the rising of the setting’s on, where the planets were was a problem for astrology. But the actual patterns created by these planets was something that was very, very much astrological.
CB: And the pattern you’re talking about, is this the thing that connects with the temperaments in the medieval temperament model?
KI: Yes, exactly.
CB: Okay. Part of what happened–
KI: But you can find that on the website that I mentioned, too. My website–
CB: I just pulled the graphic from that article you sent me earlier that you’re working on. And let me share it. It’s not very high resolution cuz of the way I copied it, but here it is. But cuz part of what the context that’s interesting is that in his last book I found it interesting in Neo- Astrology in the 1991 book, it’s like he is looking back a bit into history and he is kind of curious about that. But one of the almost unfortunate things that happened is it was just a few years after his death that the revival of interest in traditional astrology and some of the translation projects that were for the first time translating some ancient texts and recovering old conceptual models and techniques that had been lost started being discovered starting in like 1992 and 1993 when Project Hindsight was formed.
CB: And so one of them that was found was this old temperament model that was connected to sort of on one hand like Aristotle’s conceptualization of the differences between the qualities of hot and cold and wet and dry and then how this tied into some medieval models for determining a person’s character or temperament.
KI: Yes. Consider it as two dimensions, the hot, the cold, the moist, the dry. If you look on the hot side, you see Mars and Jupiter on that side. And then you see Venus and Saturn on the other side. On the other hand, if you look at the dry versus the moist, you see Mars and Saturn on the same side together. And on the moist side you see the Moon and Jupiter. Let’s leave Venus out for the moment. And this is exactly what is going on in the results as a whole is that when Jupiter is active, Mars may be active but Saturn will not. When Mars and Saturn are active, Jupiter will be out of the picture and so will the Moon. As I said, this was probably around 1992 or ’93 when I became aware of it. And I started writing about it in a column I was writing at that time, and a British astrologer Graham Douglas noticed the same thing and published something on it. And then there was a German astrologer Arno Muller who also noted this. That’s very much around the same time. And as I said, it was probably because we were all looking for the next thing. And I don’t know what that means in terms of this diagram, but there is something meaningful there very definitely.
CB: Sure. Well, yeah. And not just looking for it, but there was new information that was becoming available for the first time at that point where there wasn’t translations of like medieval or Greco-Roman astrological texts up until that point which sadly wasn’t until just a few years after Gauquelin died.
KI: Yes, yes. That’s exactly right. There was this sort of little break there. Quieted down after that. [laughs] But the researchers went off and did other things and so on. I’m still doing things on this. I’m not writing about it so much, but I work on it every day.
CB: Sure. Sure. Let’s talk about that post Gauquelin era in just a second. But before we wrap up this section, the last thing I want to mention is just he did say at one point–And I was curious if this is still true. I think he said that the plus zones did not seem to work for induced births or for C-section births or that the effects seem to disappear. Is that true? Am I remembering that correctly?
KI: Yes. But–
CB: Whether there was something about induced births that was an issue or a factor in looking at the results.
KI: Yes, essentially what he was getting at and what he believed but couldn’t prove was that this was in a way a response to the environment and just the way each one of us responds to the environment in different ways. Some people like rainy days, some people like sunny days and so on. This was an environmental response and it was the infant–cuz the infant is the one that triggers birth unless the doctor shows up with a knife or the chemicals to induce the birth. So he felt these things were very much the same.
CB: Okay. And that was a conclusion that he drew after seeing the effect not show up as strongly or not showing up at all in the statistics if it was an induced birth, or is it something where he’s trying to understand things after the fact and trying to come up with models that make sense and thought it must be a natural thing and that interrupting the natural order could be problematic that he was more speculating on? I guess that wasn’t clear, that point.
KI: I suspect that when he just looked at this–And maybe around that time he was starting to do the heredity or the experiments that he felt that then if he compared induced births with other births–I think, yes, this would have been around the time he was doing the heredity stuff, that it essentially would not be there. Or if he could find among his data, he could find people that he knew had been delivered by caesarean that they would not show the effect and so on. But it was never anything that was exactly proved. There was no way to be sure of it except that I think in the case of the Mars effect he did since he was able to study it over a longer period of time. He said that during the years when it became more likely that a person would be delivered by odd schedule, so to speak, usually by an induced birth, chemically induced birth, that the effect appeared to lessen. Not disappeared necessarily, but in a database it would lessen. But he couldn’t be sure that that was the reason.
CB: Okay, so he maybe started seeing a drop off in the correlation in some of the later studies that were using birth data for people that would have been born later versus the earlier ones where it was showing up more frequently. And so it may have been a speculation on his part because he was aware that from like the ’60s and ’70s onward especially that C-section started becoming more popular.
KI: Right. Yeah.
CB: Or more common, I should say.
KI: Let’s say it was an informed speculation, but it wasn’t something you could directly prove.
CB: All right. It’s just tricky because it’s not even something that’s usually recorded on like a birth certificate whether it was an induced birth or not that’s usually just has the birth data and the time, so I’m sure it would be something that’s a little bit difficult to study in the same way that he did for just large scale study of timed births where you can get the birth certificate.
KI: Well, yes. Exactly. But as I said, with where he could extend the data over a long period of time, it was in the 20th century and toward the middle of the 20th century that–Like for example with the sports data that if you lined it up by a decade or something like that, you would find that it seemed to be going down. And he assumed that that was evidence for, as I say, an informed speculation.
CB: Right. And that’s even more problematic now cuz I know I sat in on a lecture, and I was hoping to do an interview sometime with Wendy Stacey from the UK who did a study showing that induced births and C-section births are becoming more and more common. And it’s leading to a disproportionate amount of people being born during the day during like normal business hours because that’s when doctors are at the hospital and they can schedule it when it’s convenient which kind of has interesting implications sort of astrologically and in terms of this certainly if Gauquelin’s speculation is true that the effect disappears if it’s an induced birth.
CB: Yeah. All right. So, that kind of brings us to the last part of this. So, Gauquelin’s final book came out in 1991. I think he was found dead in his apartment in Paris earlier in 1991 in May of 1991 in an apparent suicide, right?
CB: Okay. Do you know what was going on with him? And I’m always surprised if skeptics don’t try to make this argument more. But was he dealing with depression due to some of the fights with the skeptics and the lack of his results being accepted? Was he dealing with personal issues? I know that his marriage with Francoise ended in the mid 1980s or early 1980s, and I don’t know if that’s relevant. I think he was remarried or something. What may have led to that happening?
KI: Well, for one thing, the conversation that I relayed would have been six months, five months before he died. He was feeling his age. And he was actually an amateur sports tennis champion in France. So, being physically fit was natural to him. And it was part of the reason he was able to exert this energy to do the research that he did. So that was part of it. In fact, I think back to two conversations. One in 1989 plus the other one, the more recent one that I mentioned. And what he mentioned to me in 1989, a lot of it was about Francoise. Because I had sent someone to the UAC. That was at 1989 in New Orleans. I had sent somebody there to interview a group of people, and he was one of them. And Francoise was one of them, too. There were five or six. So the interviewer Jim Erickson calls me up and he says, “Michel is refusing to be interviewed.” He says, “If you’re going to interview Francoise, he’s not gonna talk to me.” So I had to call him up and try to convince him. He understood me, and we worked pretty well together. Not we worked that much, but we understood each other. And he felt that I was on the up and up, I guess. And I convinced him. I said, “Look, don’t worry about it. We’re not looking for scandal or what you say about each other or anything like that. She just has a different perspective, and she’s done some different things than you have.” And so he eventually relented. But in between that, he told me about all these things. And at one point because of what had been going on with her, he says it’s not fun anymore. He says, “I’m ready to take all of this and tell Francoise, ‘It’s all yours. I’m finished with it.'” And that was kind of the way he closed out the congress. That was toward the end of the conversation. So then in December when I talked to him now the next year, he first of all said, “I’m tired.” and blah blah blah. And then he said Neil Michelsen, who he had been very close to because he helped him with his work, had died. And then he said his best friend from back when he was young had killed himself. And also he was having a dispute with Ertel over the character trait work.
CB: Right. Cuz Ertel while starting to get into in the mid 1980s Gauquelin’s work and validating and thinking there was something to the profession correlation like the Mars effect when he looked at the other two pillars of Gauquelin’s work, the heredity studies and the character type studies, he felt that those were not valid. And he thought that Gauquelin had accidentally introduced bias in the data collection, and therefore the effect was not real. So, it meant that while there was this new researcher, Gauquelin himself is like coming off at this point two or three decades of fighting with the skeptics in order to even have his tests replicated and then fighting to acknowledge that. And then Ertel comes along, and he’s sort of an ally in some sense. And then he’s actually validating some of his work, but in other areas he’s saying it’s not real or he’s sort of disproving some of it.
KI: Yes. Well, that was exactly it. And there was an episode when they were having their internal discussions, Ertel had had one of his students who he was supervising a PhD focus on this and do something on the character trait work. And he showed what the conclusions were, and they were not favorable. So Michel had said, “Can we discuss this further before you publish on it?” And Suitbert said, “Sure, of course.” And then unfortunately in a lecture, somebody came up. It was okay for him to lecture on it. He lectured on it. Someone came up to him after the lecture and said, “Oh, can I have the handout thing you’re using?” Cuz he always read his speeches. “Can I have this because I’m gonna write an article on it? And so this would help me to get the background right.” Well, what happened was the article ended up published in the NCGR journal. And of course Michel, that was it for him and Ertel. He says, “Well, you agreed with me to do this. And now you did this.” And Suitbert just couldn’t get him to understand. He says, “I did not do this on purpose.” That was–
CB: That was an accident?
KI: Yeah, that was part of it. But finally–
CB: And part of that with the character study was that he thought that Michel and Francoise when they went through and read the biographies and collected the character traits that they introduced bias because the people doing it knew what the plus zones were and what the correlation should be.
CB: And so he thought that that introduced bias into it.
KI: Yes. I agree with Ertel, the bias was there. I don’t agree with actually either Ertel or Gauquelin. I think there’s evidence for not character traits but personality in there if it’s done the right way. But yes, the data itself was bothered, so to speak, by having this foreknowledge of the sectors and so on. I guess that was the final thing. He had those three things going. And I’ll tell you after he died and I was going through all kinds of changes about it, I went to the library. And I looked up some books on suicide. But the first one I opened had all of these markers like a list of 10 or 15 for men who killed themselves. Over 60, trouble with relationships, trouble with colleagues or your work. It’s like 10 out of the 15 were him and–Oh. And, yes, people that he knows having committed suicide. So there were all of these markers there. And it was the kind of thing where you felt like if I thought about this– And I’d only actually talked to Michel twice in person over the years from when I first met him. And if I’d known this–
CB: Okay. In person, but you had corresponded with him a lot?
KI: Corresponded with him a lot. Talked to him on the phone occasionally. I thought if I had known this, I would have gotten on a plane, go to Paris and said, “Let’s talk.”
CB: Yeah. There’s been a lot of discussion about that. It seems like just the past couple of years where there’s been a lot of celebrity deaths or deaths of musicians where one musician has committed suicide and then a close friend of theirs like a few months later does the same thing and this idea of in some instances if you’re prone to that if there’s somebody close to you that does it, for some reason that can raise the chance that you–
KI: For sure, the line. Yes.
CB: Okay. He passed away in May of 1991. And I’m looking at the intro to his last book Neo- Astrology, and they refer to him on the cover or the inside jacket almost in passing. So it seems like this book must have come out later in 1991 after he died, right?
CB: Okay. And it’s a really great synopsis of his work and everything that I would really recommend. Do you recommend this as being an okay starting point for his work for understanding it?
KI: Yes, especially at this point. I think Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior which is earlier, that’s still available. There’s a publisher that’s picked it up.
KI: But Neo-Astrology, you can find almost all of his books. They sold well enough that they’re still around, and you can buy them from Amazon, AbeBooks, or places like that. And I recommend it.
CB: Sure. Sure. So he passed away in 1991. Ertel came in and was already doing some of his analysis where initially he was skeptical about Gauquelin’s work, but then he came to see the results or some of the results as valid.
CB: He attempted to encourage other scientists to take the studies more seriously and actually look into it. I’m not sure how successful he was in doing that. He also analyzed and attempted to fix some of Gauquelin’s mistakes in his studies and continued to publish papers and things in the years after Gauquelin’s death to do some of that to both confirm the results that seemed valid but also to point out the areas where he felt that Gauquelin had weaknesses in his work in order to remove those.
KI: Yes, yes. Exactly. And he did a good job of it.
CB: Sure. Ertel found that, as we said earlier, only the profession correlation to be valid. But he did not find the heredity or the character traits to be valid. And Gauquelin himself had moved away from heredity but tried to defend the character traits study towards the end of his life.
KI: Yes. And as did I believe, Francoise after he died, I believe she had an ongoing discussion with Ertel about it when he eventually convinced her that the problem that he had seen was there.
CB: Sure. And Francoise actually–
KI: So I’ve heard, I don’t know for sure.
CB: And Francoise actually continued the work. She continued this research until about 1997 or so before she retired and then ended up passing away in 2007.
CB: Okay. And I noticed she even started looking into some of the ancient texts that were being transmitted at that time and started trying to apply some of that to some of the results as well which I always thought was kind of interesting. Anyway, but so this brings us to the the past like two decades almost three decades now since his death and the sort of post Gauquelin era where to me looking at this like two decades later and trying to track things that have happened, it seems like a lot of the excitement surrounding scientific research of astrology died out in the 1990s especially after he died. Just for me, looking back I only got into astrology around the year 1999 or 2000. But it seemed like it went from a few decades where astrologers thought that astrology was about to be validated scientifically or that it could be to a lot of disappointment where there were tests that were either not coming back positive or were disputed heavily so that it didn’t end up being like a win for astrology necessarily or a clear cut win for astrology. And because there are other tests outside of Gauquelin that also didn’t do terribly well or were sometimes poorly done but nonetheless didn’t do very well. And astrologers began talking more about how science couldn’t validate astrology. And this is where you get works like Geoffrey Cornelius’s The Moment of Astrology in 1994, I think. But even Gauquelin in some of his later works like Neo-Astrology is already referring to this trend. So it seems like that was already going on at some point in his lifetime towards the end of it of astrologers initially being excited about his work validating astrology. But then either when he was saying that large parts of astrology didn’t work or when his results themselves are being questioned, astrologers started sort of turning away from doing scientific research on astrology in general. Is that an accurate perspective on things, would you say?
KI: Yes. I think so. I think I have an entirely different view about all of this and astrologers in general. And it has to do with an edition of Correlation that I edited. The editorial in the front was entitled The Mantic and The Metric. Frankly, I’ve felt this way ever since I came to astrology largely because of Gauquelin in the early ’70s that the horoscope, that standard horoscope has two layers to it. And one is what I call the metric layer which is the measurable layer. The planets, their diurnal rotation, their orbits around the Sun, where they are, their relationships, their geometrical relationships with each other, those are all measurable. On the other hand, what I call a mantic layer really is not. Because it consists, say, of things like house rulers and points and parts that are derivatives of different configurations in the chart. And actually, that’s something that Geoffrey Cornelius, I feel, covers very well. Because another name for the mantic layer is the intuitive layer. I don’t think that that is invalid in the sense scientifically. The only way that it can be addressed is by looking at what astrologers do with it. It’s been a high, a lot of research done on that. But it’s not to worry that Gauquelin’s work does not address the layer that most astrologers use in their everyday work. They are two different things. They can work together. But most of the time, who knows whether they do or not?
CB: Sure. I guess there’s two points. One, Cornelius and some of those people in the aftermath of the ’70s and ’80s in the failure of some of the scientific tests were trying to explain the failures of these tests under the premise that the attempts failed in trying to address the question of how could astrology still work but not be demonstrable statistically if that was the situation that we had run into. But then there’s a question with the distinction you’re making there. It sounds like you’re making a distinction between, there’s the astronomy which is just the measurable part essentially. And then there’s the interpretive aspect which might be mantic or divinatory is basically what Cornelius argued, and I had him on in a past episode where he explained why he thinks that astrology is divination and why he thinks therefore if it is divination, then it’s a misconception or it’s not understanding the subject properly to even attempt to think that you could validate it scientifically or statistically in that context. But it sounds like with the distinction you’re making that it’s not completely the astronomy over here. And then you have the divination interpretation aspect over here because if Gauquelin’s work was true at all, then there would be some small piece of astrology that would be statistically observable where there would be something that’s not divination that’s an objective correlation between the planets and human life and that there would be some small part of astrology that would therefore be scientific and part of the natural world rather than being something that’s purely divinatory or supernatural or what have you.
KI: Yes. [laughs] I think he just used the term natural science. Some years ago I was having a discussion with Goeffrey, and he knew my background and everything. He says, “How do you see astrology?” And I said, “Well, astrology as I study and as I use it, I consider it a natural science.” And he almost choked on his–We were eating dinner. [laughs] He kind of had this little start. I’m thinking he knew what the answer would be. There would be something like that. But I do see that side of it, but I don’t dam the other side of it. That’s the thing is I think that what he thinks and what Gauquelin thought can coexist. Put it that way.
CB: Sure, that it might be elements of both. And it doesn’t have to be like one or the other in an extreme sense.
KI: Yeah, you don’t have to wait for the man with a calculator to tell you what you can do. You just go ahead and do it. Something like that.
KI: But you have to understand what the man with the calculator is doing. And if you do, you’ll be better at what you do.
CB: Right, that there’s certain things that you can gain from approaching the subject and understanding what are the parts of astrology that could perhaps be validated scientifically and that there’s something about attempting to do that even if it’s only some small part of astrology that can be validated in that way that’s worthwhile to take the work to do and that that’s an honorable or otherwise good thing to pursue.
KI: Yes. Yes.
CB: Okay. In terms of the conclusions, there was some questions I had at the end to just wrap this up of things like what’s the legacy of Gauquelin? What’s the take-home lesson for astrologers? Is the quest to validate astrology scientifically still a worthwhile quest even though it seems like many astrologers have almost given it up? Is it a feasible quest to validate astrology scientifically which we kind of just touched on? And if it is feasible, what can we learn from Gauquelin to improve those efforts in the future? In this paper you sent me this morning, you actually had two conclusions that kind of touched on a lot of that where you said, one of your conclusions is that when research proves negative answers, it may be because we don’t understand how to ask the right questions. And two, that when research is successful showing results that match our expectations in some respect, they are often at the same time quite different from our expectations and in ways we couldn’t necessarily anticipate.
CB: Are those some of your conclusions from Gauquelin’s work?
KI: Right. Yes. Yes, they are. And I will say one more thing about his legacy. I think his legacy is possibly going to improve by findings in other fields coming from another direction. And in fact in the Correlation issue I mentioned in the back of it I have a thing titled, A Brief Memo on LST Effects meaning local sidereal time. Because some years ago a fellow named Spottiswoode, who was really a researcher on what’s called psi and that’s the modern term for ESP, had gone over, had collected a bunch of what are called remote viewing experiments which is people sitting in a lab somewhere and looking at things that are like 10,000 miles away and describing them. There was a military project on this. So he took these remote viewing experiences, they all have scores. And he lined up the scores and compared them with solar time, just the clock, and sidereal time. And what he did what he found was in the initial paper he says, “First of all, the effect seems to become narrower as latitude is greater.” Cuz he had the longitude and latitude of the places where the experiments were done. And he said also the maximum effect. There was an effect of sidereal time. Here’s the sidereal time, and here’s where the maximum effect occurred. And if you translate that into Gauquelin sectors, what he was saying was that the exact measurements he gave are a Gauquelin sector for the latitude of 37 north. But only if you consider it, only if you look at one thing that he also skates by in his paper which is the Galactic Center. And I hate to mention that because I know there’s been all this hoo-ha in the past few years about things that were going on with the Galactic Center, and people get all mystic about it.
KI: Nothing mystic about this. When the sidereal time that he mentions is the maximum sidereal time where there’s a maximum effect where the scores are the best coincides with a Gauquelin sector at the latitude where the mean of these experiments were conducted. That’s a mean lattitude where these experiments were conducted. Who knows what this is? And as I understand it, this researcher is going back and forth over the years. He’s not sure that what he found initially was really there, and then he thinks it is and so on. He’s sort of going back and forth about it. All I know is the numbers add up. And it doesn’t make any sense. And in fact Suitbert had at one point, he was in the psi toward the end of his life. He was becoming involved in psi studies, and he approached this guy. And he says, “You’ve got something here that seems to be a cosmic effect.” And he asked him to sort of compare it with some of the Gauquelin stuff. They exchanged data and everything, and apparently that didn’t work out. So maybe that means nothing. But the point is it’s very possible that what Michel was hoping to prove–He did prove something obviously. But what he was hoping to prove as far as, I don’t know, cause and effect or to this being a broader thing, then he was able to find will possibly come from outside. Maybe that Spottiswoode work is not what I suspect it is. Maybe somebody else will come up with something. Who knows? But I think it’s a real thing. And therefore, it’s got to have some kind of connection with the rest of the universe outside of the astrological universe, so to speak.
KI: That makes sense?
CB: Yeah, definitely. And that who knows where this could become relevant or where some of those results could become relevant again and have some support or may need to be revisited at some point in the future?
CB: And for astrologers presently it seems like one of the major take-home lessons or one of the major issues that came out of all of this and out of Gauquelin’s work was the issue with attempting to fit the results into traditional astrology versus seeing them in their own light. And this question of sometimes like when to modify the tradition seems like a major factor with Gauquelin’s work. If you did take his results to be valid with Mars and other planets for example being more prominent or more indicative of certain career eminence when they’re in the cadent side of the ascendant and midheaven if that means the astrological tradition should be modified as a result of that and changed and some of the questions surrounding that. But one of the interesting things about his work is just that he came up with results that he didn’t necessarily always expect and sometimes had to draw conclusions and develop a form of astrology that was different than he might have anticipated at first, and that might be something that people need to understand going into something like this that the results may not be what you expect.
KI: Yes. Yes. And I also think one avenue to be explored is something that I did in the articles I mentioned in American astrology. Part of what I was trying to do was trying to find how to put what Gauquelin did in an interpretive setting. And essentially what I came to by the end of it was, I was trying to teach people who do standard charts, regular astrology how to at least use those ninth, 12th, sixth, third house things how to use the planets in those places in the context of the regular chart work. And by the end of the four years when I did this, a couple of my regular writers were starting to do this. One was a sidereal writer, the other was tropical, like very standard. And they were both starting to use these things in the way that I had been exploring and sending me articles using Gauquelin stuff and regular old astrology together. Now, that was just exploratory, experimental. And it wasn’t scientific by any means, but I do think it’s possible to bring it into the light that way.
CB: Sure. So, you tried to sort of merge a little bit of traditional or contemporary astrology with the Gauquelin results and try to figure out a way to reconcile it versus he was taking more of an extreme approach of trying to rebuild astrology from scratch just based on what you could confirm statistically.
KI: Yeah. Something like that. But I was flying by the seat of my pants although the whole entire series was based on data. I had data, Gauquelin sectors. And I would study biographies and I’m saying, “How can we pull something out of this to turning it into something that can be used every day?” And I hope to get back to that. I don’t know whether I will. I’m not sure that I really liked the whole series of articles itself, otherwise I might just take them all, put them together. Cuz I was really trying things out that sometimes were risky and sometimes were silly probably.
CB: Sure. Sure. And ironically it’s interesting that today a few decades later, it’s like there’s databases where you couldn’t run the Gauquelin database or certain parts of it on your personal computer at home to test different things, right? Is the entire database now available in different software programs or is it just–I think it’s part of the database at least.
KI: I’m not really sure who has done how much on this actually. I don’t know if there’s for example if one of the standard programs where you can read everything in and then have it calculate sectors, aspects, whatever you want to. I don’t know for sure exactly where that stands. I do know that David Cochrane of Kepler has been exploring this.
KI: And so, yeah, that possibility is there. The only problem with that is that there is a lack of discipline even among people who understand statistics and scientific process. There is often a lack of discipline so that people will come up with very easy to read this stuff and come out with great-looking graphs that really don’t tell you anything.
CB: Right or the result of like artifacts and not realizing that they think they’ve found some great correlation with something, but then it turns out that there’s some factor that they’re not taking into account that’s not astrological that’s causing the results to look that way that they just don’t know about or haven’t taken into account.
KI: Yeah, yeah. And there’s also a lot of mixing and matching and taking things that have no relationship to each other like house rulers and Gauquelin sectors or something and trying to mash them all together and turn them into something. As I said, it’s like taking those two layers that I think constitutes a horoscope and mixing them together when they don’t really belong there. They have to be integrated here, but they can’t be integrated scientifically.
CB: Sure. Well, one of the things may be a good take-home lesson is that anybody that wants to approach the statistical study of astrology if you wanted to do that in the future needs to take Gauquelin’s work into account if for no other reason then he’s run into a lot of the different artifacts and other issues that you need to be aware of and be careful about when you do these types of large-scale statistical studies in astrology. And instead of repeating all of those same mistakes over again, it would be better to sort of build on his work and sort of stand on those shoulders rather than starting over from scratch and perhaps making a mistake that Gauquelin made but then learned from 50 or 60 years ago.
KI: Well, yes. And probably the best way anybody who wants to make any use at all of the Gauquelin data should probably start with the book I mentioned earlier called Written in the Stars which is a very concise summary, goes into a lot of the technical problems and so on and explains it very, very well. You can start with that, if you can get hold of the French works. You should start with that, and you could read French. You just start with those.
CB: Who’s the other author of Written in the Stars?
KI: Michel Gauquelin.
CB: Oh. Okay, I got it.
KI: That’s his–
CB: Is that his second book? Or is that–
KI: No, no. This was published in 1988.
CB: Okay. So it’s one of his later books, Written in the Stars?
KI: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not in print anymore, but as I say a lot of these things you could get it online pretty easily.
KI: That will explain to you a lot of the technical problems.
CB: Okay. Perfect. And one last question. One of my friends Patrick Watson recently was trying to experiment with the Gauquelin data and figured out how to import part of it in the Solar Fire. One of the issues that he ran into though is that for a lot of older birth times they often are rounded and how much of an issue that is versus more recent times that aren’t rounded or seem to be more exact in terms of filtering this out and figuring out what’s relevant versus what’s not. Cuz sometimes we don’t know how widely rounded a time is.
KI: Especially the European data and especially the French data up to a certain era, I’m not sure what. It was reported that way. Sometimes it was reported the quarter hour, the half hour whether or not the parents–The parents were supposed to register this, but it may have been common practice or in the law or whatever to register the birth to the nearest chunk rather than the exact minute. It’s just in the data as it came from the birth registries, and it’s been studied to see whether it had any effect on the Gauquelin facts in particular Tom Shanks who I mentioned earlier. And as for computing, he did a study of this and found that it really didn’t affect anything. So it’s not important.
CB: Sure. If somebody wanted to build a new database anew, I could see that as being a factor that you might take into account of is a birth time rounded or not. It was just a discussion that came up on a recent episode on rectification and that question of some astrologers believe that every chart should be rectified because every time might be rounded or might not be exact in some of those questions surrounding the exactitude of recorded birth times.
KI: Yeah. But the rectification is an art.
CB: Right. Yeah.
KI: It’s an art. Everybody does it differently. Everybody has their own perfect thing that they can do. If you’re dealing with data, you just take it as it comes. Because you’re dealing with data in an aggregate, not an individual. And you take all the data as it comes to you, and then you just do what you need to do.
CB: Sure. I guess it would just be important to take into account that not assuming every time you’re using and it is an exact time but understanding many of them may be rounded perhaps could be relevant when you’re approaching the study to some extent.
KI: Mostly, it just doesn’t matter. If you’re sure of the source of the data, if its source is a, like I say, a government source or some other data source where people have collected this, you just use what you get. You don’t mess with it.
KI: You just get your time zones right and all that and your daylight savings time right, but just leave it as it is. Cuz if you start messing with it, you don’t know what you’re gonna come up with.
CB: Yeah, you definitely don’t wanna introduce bias into it or worse, attempt to rectify it and then run statistical tests on rectified data.
KI: Sure. Exactly.
CB: That would be bad. All right. Cool. Well, I think that that kind of brings us to–we’ve covered a lot of ground here. Are there any points that we need to cover in sort of wrapping this up that I–or questions I should have asked that I didn’t that you can think of?
KI: I don’t know. If you have another week. [laughs]
CB: Right. Yeah. Well, we covered a surprising amount of ground in two and a half hours. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me and to share this. I really appreciate.
KI: Okay, thank you. It was an enjoyable discussion. It was–
CB: Yeah. And I hope people enjoyed it. If people have questions, can they get ahold of you? Or where can people find out more information about you or your work?
KI: Oh, they should go to the website that I mentioned especially the–I have two websites but that one–I’m about to move it. But if they write to me at, say, firstname.lastname@example.org, that would be probably the quickest way to get hold of me.
CB: Okay. And what was the URL? It was Planet Toast?
KI: .org. o r g
CB: .org. Okay. Awesome. All right. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today.
KI: Okay. Thank you.
CB: All right. And thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons who supported it. Please be sure to like and subscribe, and we will see you next time.