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Ep. 46 Transcript: Responses to Scientific Criticisms of Astrology

Episode 73 Transcript: The Life of Demetra George

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 46, titled:

Responses to Common Scientific Criticisms of Astrology

With Chris Brennan and guests Samuel F. Reynolds

Episode originally released on September 23, 2015

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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 astrologue@gmail.com.

Transcribed by Gulsen Altay and Andrea Johnson

Transcription released September 15, 2019

Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Tuesday, September 22, 2015. We started recording just after noon here in Denver, and this is the 46th of the show.

In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Samuel F. Reynolds about some common criticisms of astrology from scientists and skeptics and how astrologers respond to them. When we recorded this episode earlier today, our original plan was also to talk about religious criticisms of astrology in the second half of the show. But about halfway through recording the episode, we realized that the first part was running long, so we decided to focus entirely on the scientific criticisms in this episode and then follow up with another episode on the religious criticisms at a later date. So just keep that in mind as you listen to this episode.

For more information about subscribing to the podcast, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. This podcast is made possible by listeners of the show who pledge their support through Patreon. If you enjoy the show and would like to support the production of future episodes then please consider donating a dollar or more through Patreon, and in return you’ll get access to some great subscriber benefits such as access to a private discussion forum, early access to new episodes, the opportunity to take part in one of our live monthly webinars and more. So I’d like to get started with today’s topic by welcoming my guest. 

Hi, Sam, welcome to the show. 

SAMUEL F. REYNOLDS: Hey, Chris. Thank you for having me.

CB: All right. So yeah, I’ve been wanting to do this show for a while, and I think you’re a great person to do this topic. And before we get into it, maybe we should touch on just a few announcements before we get started.

So first, Austin and Kelly and I are doing the October Forecast episode, and that’s actually being recorded live in front of an audience, on Sunday September 27th, at 2:00 PM (Mountain Time). And patrons of the show who subscribe at the $5 and $10 tiers can watch the show as we record it live and participate in the Q&A, so there’s still time to sign up for that if people would like to. 

Do you have any announcements?

SFR: Yes, I do. So we’re going to be having another Zodiac Lounge for those who are in the New York area. We’re going to have a Zodiac Lounge on October 3rd, here in Brooklyn. You can actually find out more information in a day or so at thezodiaclounge.com. And I think we’re also going to be talking about something else coming up for us in October of 2016, so I guess we should talk about that very quick. Chris and I are both going to be presenting at the ISAR symposium. 

CB: Yeah, so ISAR has recently announced that they’re going to have a conference in October on forecasting, and both you and I will be appearing there and have gotten a chance to give talks at that. I’m going to give a talk on zodiacal releasing and timing peaks in a person’s career, and I’ve also accepted a position on the presidential panel at the end of the conference, where a panel of six or seven astrologers are going to get together and make a prediction about the outcome of the presidential election, so I’m looking forward to that.

SFR: Right. We’re going to actually have two panels. There’s going to be an international one–well, I should say a panel composed of astrologers from international places, which of course will also include our buddy, Nick Dagan Best–and then we’re also going to have a domestic presidential panel. Not at the same time, but we’ll have two different views from astrologers around the world.

CB: That’s brilliant. I don’t think it’s ever been done that way before. 

SFR: Cool. Yeah, we’re excited about it.

CB: All Right. Well, so let’s get on with our topic. So the genesis of this show is that astrology is in kind of a weird or unique position where it’s often the subject of criticisms from both the scientific as well as the religious communities, so we thought that it would be a good idea to address some of those criticisms from both ends in the same episode.

And so, we’re going to start in the first half of this show with just talking about some criticisms of astrology from the scientific and skeptical communities and what are some answers to those criticisms from astrologers, and then later in the second half of the show, we’re actually going to get into some religious objections and criticisms of astrology and talk about some answers that astrologers have to many of those criticisms.

You have sort of an interesting background in terms of how you got into astrology that is kind of relevant to that topic, right? Could you talk a little bit about that?

SFR: Sure. I actually have come from both angles in terms of being a critic of astrology and then now becoming an astrologer. I started off at 12-years-old, at my Jupiter return, by going into the ministry, and I went to the gospel or Christian gospel ministry and I was at that particular time very anti-astrological for some reason. 

I think it was partly because I’m born on the ‘cusp’ between Scorpio and Sagittarius, so I didn’t know really what I was, but something about astrology more than most other things really bothered me; I remember even preaching against it. So for the seven years that I was active in the gospel ministry, I was very anti-horoscope, very anti-astrology. In general, the occult was on my not-to-do list but I had strong disfavor. 

Then the pendulum swung in true Scorpionic fashion–because I did learn later I was a Scorpio–and I became a harsh critic of astrology from another angle which was more scientific and socio-historical and sociological. And so, I went to see an astrologer and I had what can only be described as an amazing reading that wasn’t replicable by him once I saw him again-it wasn’t as fantastic–but I think it hooked me enough to kick at astrology for 10 years to figure out whether I was being hoodwinked or not, because that’s what I was convinced was happening. 

I thought it was all some kind of scam or some kind of hoax, so I did research in the way I knew how as a social scientist at the time. I actually did it myself, much like what Richard Tarnas did himself as well. I think the best way to see if you can debunk astrology is actually to try it yourself, so that’s what I did.

CB: I think that‘s a pretty interesting and surprisingly common story I’ve heard from a number of professional astrologers or life-long astrology enthusiasts, that they actually initially got into astrology because they were trying to debunk it or trying to criticize it. And so, they started actually reading up on it and then somehow got hooked on it, or somehow found that there was something valuable. Have you run into other people with that story?

SFR: Absolutely. I mean, there are quite a number of people in our community. Anthony Picco. I mentioned Richard Tarnas already–some other people I’ve met whose names escape me at the moment–but yeah, it’s a very common story.

CB: Okay. Well, then in that vein, maybe we should start by getting into some of the biggest criticisms of astrology from a scientific or a skeptical perspective. For you, what are some of the biggest criticisms that you see that either come up frequently from scientists or the skeptical community that you feel are, let’s see, actual serious criticisms or ones that should be addressed?

SFR: Well, the one that many reach for when I find them on Twitter and in social media will often center on, “Well, astrology’s been debunked.” And of course I do due diligence and ask them how, by what do they say that? And they go to particular tests and various things that have happened over the last 30-40 years that supposedly have debunked astrology without even really knowing the full conditions of those tests and what may have been the problems with those tests. So that’s usually the stats that come to me first. The statistical models for accuracy with the tests show that astrology doesn’t do any better than chance. 

The other one–and I think this is probably going toward the more serious criticisms that I hear when empiricists really have thought it through–is they start asking about the mechanism by which astrology works, which is far more fascinating. They even go with the supposition, “Let’s say for the sake of argument, it does work. Okay, how does it work?” 

And that’s where it really does get thorny, the answers from astrologers, and also the answers that aficionados may give, and this is where actually sometimes I even side with the critics in terms of how we give answers. So we might say, “Well, just like the Moon works on us, we can expect the other planets to work on us.” But that really doesn’t make sense per the ideas of gravity and Newtonian physics, so we really can’t make that appeal, but that’s where many critics will come first.

And then of course those who don’t know as much, they kind of stick more to the statistical models and testings, and they kind of go with the supposition that most astrologers do cold readings in terms of when they meet someone in person, so they’re going off on other cues that aren’t necessarily about the astrology. 

And then of course there’s the notion of confirmation bias in readings; especially when we’re talking about reports and things from Michael Schenker, it’s more about astrological reports. It’s not like he actually has done the work with actual readings, per se, but more with astrological reports, switching around reports and saying, “Okay, well, you read your report. Was it accurate?” “Yeah.” “But it was for someone else with a different birthday.”

CB: Right, the misdirection trick in order to supposedly demonstrate that therefore astrology is false because you’ve been deceived, or trying to demonstrate how easy it is to deceive you, and then they make the jump from there that that’s all astrology is.

SFR: Correct. 

CB: All right. Well, that brings up a few different points that we can really get into. One of them, the first one that you raised is an interesting one because it’s actually more of a historical issue. A point that some people try to make is they try to argue that astrology was debunked or astrology was disproven during the Scientific Revolution. And there’s this assumption that during the time the Scientific Revolution that somehow astrology was suddenly found to be false or that science tested astrology and found it lacking and found that there was nothing to it.

But one of the things that’s interesting if you read historians who talk about the Scientific Revolution and talk about the fall of astrology from popularity in the 16th and 17th and 18th centuries is they talk about it as being this constellation of a bunch of different social and political and scientific and other changes that all happened at the same time which put astrology on the downswing for a number of different reasons. 

But one of the things that doesn’t really come up is that they were not doing hardcore, statistical tests of astrology at that time and that is not how astrology was ‘disproven’. It’s really only in the past century that some serious scientific testing of astrology has started to take place, yet it was already by that point, by the time you get to the 20th century, there’s already this presumption that astrology is false. 

And so, that’s kind of the backdrop that any scientific testing or any look into astrology has taken place in, the idea that this is something that’s not valid: We know it’s not valid for whatever reasons, but we’ll try and test it through some statistical means or some survey. And of course we’re not expecting it to come back positive, and here are the results.

And I think that’s an interesting point just because of an assumption that many people sometimes make about when astrology was disproven, or how it was disproven, or how it came to be seen as so disreputable in scientific or intellectual circles as it is still is today.

Have you heard that come up in terms of people pushing the history back a few centuries and saying that it was disproven two or three centuries ago?

SFR: Absolutely, and their misunderstanding of history. I think what they’re really talking about is the usurping of a Ptolemaic or geocentric notion of the cosmos, and some will even cite Copernicus, where Copernicus actually usurped only part of it, right? As you know, he didn’t get rid of epicycles. That didn’t come till much later until Kepler in terms of dealing with the issue of how planets retrograded, which is what kind of set Copernicus in that particular way by trying to figure out what was happening in the first place. 

So I think a lot of people don’t know the history of science, and this is one of the problems I have with empiricists. They think science is this verified and reified thing that actually exists outside of culture; it’s just truth. And that’s not even what happened historically, especially it’s not what happened historically. 

There was no real, as you said, empirical testing. It was more so because one idea related to astrology, the idea that the geocentric cosmos got usurped, there’s this assumption then that astrology itself and everything associated with it was usurped.

CB: Right. And so, it’s basically the presumption that astrology rests on either the Ptolemaic worldview or just a geocentric worldview, and that’s just patently false. One of the issues is a misunderstanding about how astrology works and for example why you would look at an astrological chart from the reference point of Earth–from the reference point specifically of the location of a person, let’s say in natal astrology, who was born on Earth in a specific location or in a specific spot on the globe, at a specific point in time–rather than casting the chart for somewhere on the Sun for example as your reference point simply because we know now that the Sun is the center of the solar system. 

Fundamentally, one of the things that people don’t understand is that while the downfall of the Ptolemaic worldview of the universe and of the cosmos did have important implications for the conceptualization of astrology and ideas about what the mechanism was underlying it, it didn’t fundamentally change anything about the actual practice and what astrologers do in terms of calculating charts because that was kind of independent of that broader philosophical model that had been the backdrop for a few centuries during the Medieval period.

SFR: That’s correct.

CB: So that’s one good thing to address right from the start.

SFR: Or it didn’t necessarily change some of the, I guess, common practices that many astronomers subscribed to or even work with, or astrophysicists. NASA still uses geocentric calculations on a regular basis for its work. It doesn’t rely solely on heliocentric; it’s just easier.

CB: Sure. Yeah, the point is just that if you’re studying something relative to the standpoint of somebody who’s living on the Earth, and the relative perspective of the observer is relevant then you’re going to calculate the chart relative to that position rather than relative to some other position in the solar system. 

And whether it’s a geocentric or heliocentric cosmos really has no bearing on that or no importance aside from understanding that as the broader cosmological picture and understanding of how the universe is set up and what the implications of that are for the actual astronomy and the calculation of where the planets will be at different points in the future.

So that gets into certain things about the basic model of astrology and other things, but it brings us also up to the 20th century and a question that was raised at that point which has to do with what tests have been done on astrology, what were the results of that. And the biggest one that people bring up and that you brought up is, is astrology a science, or is it a pseudoscience, which is how it’s typically labeled and typically dismissed.

So what’s the answer to that? That’s a good topic to address right away: Is astrology a science, and how do we define science? 

SFR: That’s an excellent question. Historically, science, coming from the root of scientia in Latin, is the idea of knowledge. So in the sense that astrology is related to scientia, yes. But in the modern sense, where science has certain stipulations about how it defines itself in terms of its history, specifically replicable models of physical behavior–of being able to know that something in one laboratory will also prove true in another laboratory on the other side of the world–the idea that it’s all based on what’s observable, and then at the same time the idea that one comes to it do something that has been now identified as a scientific method, all those become the ways by which we can dictate whether something is a science or not.

On those grounds, I do not see astrology as a science mainly because most of what it can do or what it does isn’t strictly replicable in the empirical sense; it is replicable in the qualitative sense. And one of the things that empiricists are really reluctant to observe or recognize is that there is a specific difference between how something becomes quantitative and how something is qualitative. And most of the behavioral sciences, or most of the behavioral aspects of human understanding operate more on the qualitative, they don’t operate on the quantitative. That’s true for economics, that’s true for psychology, for sociology.

Many of the ‘degrees’ that you can get from a university that say ‘bachelors of science’, ‘masters of science’, ‘doctors of science’, some of those behavioral models are going to have some of the same problems if we look at them as closely as astrology.

CB: Right. And oftentimes, things like psychology do come under criticism from the hard sciences because of the difficulty in testing them or backing them up through statistical models or quantitative methods like you said.

I agree. And I think when it comes to this issue, there’s an issue because whether something is a science or is scientific has become the litmus test in contemporary society for what is real and what is valid versus something that is not real or something that is not valid. So it’s like a method for trying to determine what is really happening in reality versus what is not, or what is an imagination or an illusion of some sort in contemporary society. And as a result of that science has become sort of the litmus test for what is true and what is false.

So it becomes a big issue for people. Astrologers oftentimes will get defensive especially when attacked and will desperately want to call astrology a science, and they’ll want to be able to take on that mantle of science because of the perception in modern-day society that that’s sort of designation or the red line between what is true and what is false.

One of the issues though is that astrology was first developed, in its rudimentary form, about 3,000 to 4,000 year ago, and in something like its modern-day form–in terms of Western astrology with the fourfold system of planets, signs, houses and aspects–it was developed about 2,000 years ago. So we’re talking about a system or a practice–not just a practice but a technical system that was developed prior to the advent of modern-day science. And so, in a very broad sense, you could call astrology a science, if you’re using a really broad definition of it. 

For example, just a quick Google search for science, Google defines it as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” So astrologers would argue that it is a systematic study, that it’s a body of knowledge, and that it involves some observation or some empirical element where astrologers are observing things and recording what works and what doesn’t, or recording what happened in the past and then making experiments and assumptions about what will happen in the future based on that, and so there is a type of experimenting that occurs within the course of that. 

But one of the problems in defining it as a science is that the modern term ‘science’ usually has this implicit underlying assumption that anything that’s a science today also has employed the scientific method in order to come to its conclusions about its fundamental premise or some of the fundamental ideas involved in the study, that the scientific method was used in order to come to those conclusions and built it as a science.

And that’s the piece I think that astrologers are missing that makes it so that we probably cannot classify astrology as a science in the strict modern usage of the term because the system itself was not developed using the scientific method in the strict sense. Also, astrologers today are generally not using the scientific method in the strict sense because they are not doing the type of strict experiments with controls and control groups that would be necessary in order to fully meet the restrictions or requirements of calling it science or calling it the scientific method.

SFR: Right. Do you think it’ll make a difference though if we did?

CB: If we use the scientific method?

SFR: Yeah. Do you think we would discover it as a science if we used the scientific method and had control groups and the like?

CB: I think the closest attempt to that in this century was Michel Gauquelin. He started towards the end of his life advocating a type of astrology that was just that, and that actually gives you the best picture of if astrologers wanted go that route that’s what you would have to do. And he was willing to go there as somebody who felt like he had validated some pieces of astrology, and therefore in some sense was an astrologer, but also had a very serious scientific background. 

What he advocated–he was calling it ‘Neo-Astrology’. And he was saying we should rebuild astrology anew based only on concepts and techniques that can be validated through statistical means. And for him, he could only actually validate some small pieces of astrology through scientific means. For example, he could validate, or at least he felt he could validate that certain planets–not all of the planets, but certain planets–when they are in certain sectors of the chart had a more dominant effect on the person’s personality and potentially career/vocations that they would be inclined towards. 

And so, you could use part of the houses, you could use the four angular houses essentially in your astrology, but he was not able to validate for example anything related to the zodiac. So in his system, you’d have to completely get rid of the zodiac because he wasn’t able to find any statistical correlations in terms of the placements. What you get then is a very stripped-down, bare-bones approach to astrology which has only certain elements of it that can be validated in this way. That’s still astrology, but it’s not the full technical apparatus of astrology that most astrologers are used to today.

SFR: Right.

CB: So that’s one option if people did go that route. The likely direction that you would end up going is a much more stripped-down system. The other question is, is that even a viable route? 

This brings us to the question that a lot of astrologers had; the crisis that occurred in the early 1990’s after about a decade or two of some scientific testing being done, but it coming back not looking very good for astrology. Some astrologers, some of the more intellectual astrologers had sort of a crisis about what does this mean that astrology and many of the techniques that we seem to be using are not being validated scientifically, and different astrologers came to different conclusions about that. 

One of the conclusions that certain astrologers came to was questioning if this is a valid practice that we all practice on a day-to-day basis. We’ve seen it validated in our own lives and our own experience, but yet we’re having difficulties validating it through this seemingly objective means. One of the directions that certain people went with was, is it possible that astrology can’t be validated in that way through statistics or through scientific means, and if so, why? And what would that mean, or what would the philosophical implications mean? 

And so, that was one of the directions that certain people went with it, for example, with Geoffrey Cornelius classifying it as divination and trying to make an argument there about why–if it is divination, as it had classically been defined 2,000 years ago–it couldn’t be validated in that way because divination wouldn’t be amenable to the scientific method. It wouldn’t be something that you could replicate in an exact way over and over and over again because of the uniqueness of every chart. That’s actually doing a real disservice to the complexity of his argument, but it’s something like that. I’m actually hoping to talk to him in a couple of months here in an interview on the podcast.

So what do you think? Do you think that’s a good route to go? I know you were trying to make a distinction between qualitative versus quantitative. So is that your answer in terms of if astrology is more qualitative, therefore it can’t be or it’s harder to validate it scientifically?

SFR: Especially in light of Gauquelin’s study and other things that people are doing like David Cochrane. I’ve been really interested in David Cochrane’s work and the work of many of the harmonic astrologers because they have attempted to see if there’s a statistical means of validating astrology beyond just the use of what we normally do and the techniques we normally do. And I know that because of how we can now crunch big data with particular programs and particular other models that David has been open about publishing some of his findings even via YouTube, so that’s been interesting. 

But one of the things that it’s brought up is that astrology when validated statistically doesn’t look like the astrology we normally would practice, which is what you said about Gauquelin. And I don’t know if astrologers are prepared to, one, face that because it may mean that how we have talked about astrology in terms of rulerships and all these different things that we associate with it may just have to go out the window. 

And it also brings up some interesting questions about astrology’s relationship to astronomy and then how the empirical notion of astrology works, period. For instance, we talked earlier about how astronomers and scientists–during the beginning period of the Enlightenment and then even subsequently up until the 19th century–weren’t running real statistical models on how they defined astrology to be false. 

What’s also true is that astrologers didn’t necessarily run any empirical models on why we have certain associations; why Mars works as Mars in the way we define Mars, or Venus works as Venus. Now that brings up some interesting questions when we start thinking about the history of astrology and its history vis-à-vis the idea of science or empiricism.

For instance, going along with the Gauquelin’s study, why does Mars work as a validation for talking about athletes? Is it possible that we could also look at that in relation to say Saturn, which Gauquelin found more in relation to scientists? How did that come to be? Why do we have these particular associations? They weren’t arrived at by, as far as we can tell, any notion of empiricism. We don’t have a catalog of astrologers who said, whether they’re Babylonian or they’re Greek, “Looking at the sky, we can validate that Mercury does deal with communication because X, Y and Z happens,” it became a means of association, so that’s one thing. 

Now that has direct implications for the future of astrology because in terms of keeping up with science and models and ideas of science, we usually take the lead of astronomers and we go with the names that they give of new planets that we discover–Sedna, Eris, all these different names–as they’re influenced by the whimsy or whatever kind of inspires the astronomer to name them. Then we dig into the myth and say, “Oh, yes, Eris deals with this, and Sedna must deal with this, and Quaoar deals with this,” whereas as we have no real empirical notion on these planets describing what we think they describe.

So it does bring up some thorny questions as we push more for scientific validity. Are we really talking about an astrology that is an astrology of a philosophical bent–I actually do share some very strong opinions similar to Geoffrey Cornelius–or are we talking about an astrology that is empirical? And again, it brings up this question of the mechanism. So by what way does it work, and why?

CB: Right, that’s a really good point. The question of was astrology really developed empirically, the answer is not necessarily or at least not entirely. There is some empiricism in astrology. We do have some of that in the Babylonian tradition or the Mesopotamian tradition where you have centuries of astrologers, generations of astrologers who were writing down observations like “celestial omen occurred in the sky and such-and-such event occurred on Earth,” and building that up as an empirical tradition over the course of generations so that you do have some empirical element to it. 

But then the other hand, you have other elements that were clearly not developed empirically. Robert Schmidt always likes to make the point that the Arabic parts or the Lots–which are these mathematical points that are derived from three points in the chart; they’re like these mathematical abstractions–were clearly not developed empirically, but instead they have other philosophical and symbolic motivations underlying their calculations and underlying why they’re used in astrology. 

It wasn’t that somebody kept noticing this one point come up in their chart and then they back-formed it or whatever in order to come up with this really obscure calculation that they could use every time to come up with that point in the chart, but instead they started with some idea in mind and then they created the technique out of that in a way.

SFR: Correct.

CB: And then with the other planets that’s another really good example where, on the one hand, you kind of get both. Like you said, with some of the modern planets in the 20th century, one of the assumptions that’s made by astrologers–Demetra George wrote one of the first books and one of the more authoritative books on the asteroids and on the interpretations of asteroids in astrology. In the past few years, she’s written some papers explaining the theoretical rationale for assigning meaning to some of these new bodies in the solar system.

And one of the arguments that she makes that’s both representative of what most astrologers think, but also puts it in a sort of intellectual framework is the notion that the name that is given to a celestial body that’s discovered at a specific point in time has some symbolic importance, and that the name that’s ascribed to it is ascribed to it in a meaningful way.

Even though it’s not something where the astrologers gave a name to it–oftentimes there was a testing period where for astrological reasons a certain name was assigned to the placement or to the planet or asteroid or what have you–whatever name was given to it is meaningful in it of itself, and therefore symbolically will actually be representative of what that planet means. Because the name was given to it at a specific point in time that will sort of–I don’t want to say magically–synchronistically line up with something about its actual meaning in astrology. She does a better job of explaining that.

SFR: I missed the name. Who is this?

CB: Demetra.

SFR: Oh, Demetra George, okay.

CB: Yeah, Demetra George, and it was in a paper, I think. She explained it in the Research Journal that I published with the AFA. So Volume I of the Research Journal in 2010; and she does a much better job of explaining it than I’m explaining now. 

But your general point is true that at least in that instance, when astrologers are taking the name that’s been recently ascribed to a new planetary body–like Eris or Sedna or what have you, even Uranus or Neptune or Pluto–and then they start drawing meaning from that and making assumptions about what that planetary body or that asteroid means in a chart just based on the meaning of the name or the mythology associated with that name that’s been ascribed to that body, that’s actually not empirical. You’re not developing the meaning based on an empirical understanding, but instead you’re developing them based on more of a symbolic word association with that placement.

But on the other hand, we do have stories sometimes like with the discovery of Uranus…

SFR: Right.

CB: …and we have the story about John Varley and how he…

SFR: The house on fire.

CB: Yeah, exactly. It’s like this really famous story where you have this painter named John Varley in the 19th century or 18th century, and he keeps putting Uranus in charts because he’s really interested in figuring out what it means. It’s a newly-discovered planet that’s been discovered within the past century and not a lot of astrologers had worked out what it means yet. He keeps putting it in charts, and he starts to develop what he thinks that it means, and he thinks that it means something unexpected and something not good–a negative disruption of some sort–and he starts developing keywords. 

And then he calculates, at one point, where it’s going to be in his chart, and he comes to this specific day where he thinks something really significant is going to happen with Uranus but it’s going to be bad. And so, he shuts himself inside for the entirety of the day, and then the appointed time comes and goes. 

And right around that time, suddenly he starts hearing a lot of commotion outside, and he goes to find out what it is. It turns out that his house is on fire and it caught on fire from I don’t know what. But we have this image of him then sitting down and furiously scribbling in his notebook his new discovery as his house burns to the ground with all of his possessions, because he’s so focused on this discovery that he’s just made and this empirical confirmation that he’s just had. 

It’s weird, because in the astrological tradition you have to acknowledge that we get a little bit of both. We get sometimes these symbolic derivations of the significations of certain placements by the mythology or the name or other symbolism involved in the placement, but then sometimes we do have at the very least some instances of astrologers making an observation about what kind of events they see correlated with the movement or the placement of a certain planet and what they experience in their life, and then taking that into account as part of their picture of that and how they describe it in the future, which is a little bit more empirical.

SFR: Right. Yeah, that does happen. Still the looming question, as we continue to expand how we look at astrology with new bodies and in tandem with astronomers, I have a question about how do we keep a philosophical core–and not even just a philosophical core. If astrology isn’t just on the basis of philosophy, and it does have this empirical aspect to it, how does that really work? Which brings us back to the question by which we went to this tangent anyway: Is it possible to have empiricism in astrology and still have it recognized as astrology?

CB: Sure. Yeah, I think it’s possible, but again, you run into the issue like with Gauquelin about what that would look like and how potentially restrictive that would be. All right, we’re about 45 minutes into the show. 

SFR: Yeah, we’re having fun.

CB: Yeah. We could have a choice here: We can either continue this broader discussion about astrology and science–which is a discussion I’ve been meaning to have for a while actually with somebody–or we could just go through quickly some of the specific criticisms of astrology and what of some of our answers would be. Do you have a preference?

SFR: I like the second option. We can go through what are the criticisms and what our answers may be, and then we’ll get to the religious part as well.

CB: Okay. All right, well, let’s do it. First one, we already touched upon this briefly, but no clear mechanism for how or why astrology works. What’s your answer to that? 

SFR: I think it works due to the same dynamics as language and culture; that its mechanism isn’t necessarily something that works by some known, actual energetic force, per se. One could say that’s God but you can’t prove that, so I’m not going to appeal that. But language still works whether we do subject-verb-object, whether we do subject-object-verb, however, we have particular ways of describing things. 

There’s a way in which the planets have some measure of signification. Whether you think of that signification as direct influence or just description that’s still a looming question in astrology: Is it symbolic or actual? But whether you look at it or not, I think the mechanics rest on the explanatory power of language. 

CB: Sure. Like you said, there’s always been historically, especially over the past 2,000 years, a distinction between astrologers who believe astrology works through the planets causing events to happen through some sort of force–either a known force or some unknown force–or it works as a result of the planets and stars acting as signs or omens, basically correlating with things through synchronicity but not necessarily causing them to happen as a completely separate model for astrology, and so either of those could be viable.

The fact that we don’t have a clear physical mechanism right now I don’t think is necessarily as debilitating of an objection that most skeptics or scientists think it is, because it could still work even if the mechanism is unknown and some mechanism could be discovered or could be worked out at some point. 

SFR: Absolutely. We didn’t know how the compass worked until the 19th century.

CB: Right. I mean, we didn’t have a working model for gravity until Newton came along. So you have one guy who comes along at one point and literally explains or comes up with the theory which ties together so many different fields and makes everything makes sense suddenly, but it just happens like almost out of nowhere. Not completely out of nowhere…

SFR: Right.

CB: …but there’s obviously a turning point at different points where progress is made in terms of our understanding of the universe. And just because there might be a phenomenon that exists and is doing something today but we can’t really fully account for why that would be, or our current models of the universe don’t really make sense of it within that context, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be that way permanently.

So it is a good objection in terms of astrologers should probably not appeal to current physical mechanisms like gravity, which probably are not good explanatory mechanisms for astrology…

SFR: No.

CB: …but that doesn’t necessarily mean just because we have no clear mechanism today that that’s sort of the end of the story.

SFR: Exactly.

CB: So that’s one. Let’s see, cold readings. So one of the allegations is that astrology doesn’t work and there’s no validity to it, but instead what astrologers are doing is just cold reading clients when they do consultations–which is basically picking up on cues in physical body language, or the tone of a person’s voice, or things that they subconsciously are saying or doing in order to then feed those back to the person as if they’re insights they’re getting from the chart rather than from subtle cues–and that that’s all astrology is. 

What’s your response to that?

SFR: I guess those people haven’t had a Scorpio rising in their chair because they don’t often give off anything.

CB: Yes.

SFR: What’s interesting for me when I hear that is that at this particular point in my career, 75-80% of my consultations are by phone. And I can say that through most of those consultations, I would say I do probably 80% of the talking. I can’t pick up on any cues. I’m not necessarily listening for pauses when I say things. 

I either say things, and I do ask, “Does that make sense?” or “Does that resonate?” or I just kind of go on. But what I do hear back from my clients, they say, “Yeah, that was spot on,” or “What you said here was right there.” So in that particular sense, I can’t say I’m doing cold readings, or what I’ve seen from other astrologers that they’re doing cold readings, especially when it’s more by the phone. 

The other interesting thing is that even though you could talk to 10 different astrologers and get some strong differences, I also think you can get some strong similarities. So you may find that any astrologers who see your Sun in Leo in the 1st house, they may say similar things. I can’t imagine most of them are going to say, “I think you’re a wilting wallflower.”

CB: Right.

SFR: So I don’t think that comes again by the guise of ‘cold readings’.

CB: Yeah. And another piece of that, the argument that astrologers are just doing cold readings is being put forward by trained and long-time, experienced stage magicians like James Randi or Penn & Teller, or basically mentalists or magicians like that. One of the things that’s funny is most of the people, if you meet actual astrologers, none of them have any sort of training in anything like cold reading or any real ability to do it. 

It’s like even if you make that allegation that all astrologers are just doing cold reading, if you actually meet some astrologers and you tried to get them to do something like that you realize that that’s not actually what they’re doing. Instead, they’re actually looking at the chart and applying this symbol system to the person’s life, and then they’re making deductions and inferences about the person’s life based on that. Regardless of whether you think that that’s valid or that system that they’re using is valid or not, you can see that that’s really what they’re deriving virtually all of their deductions or their conclusions about the person’s life from. 

Additionally, I guess the main point is just that cold reading somebody like that is actually something that requires the sort of training that astrologers actually don’t have and that most of them would probably suck at if they tried to do it in the first place. It would probably be hilariously bad to see them fail if you tried to get an astrologer to do just cold read somebody; they probably wouldn’t do a very good job of it.

SFR: I agree. Yeah, that’s true.

CB: So that brings us to the next point then which is confirmation bias in readings and astrological reports, and the allegation that that anytime astrology seems to be valid to a person, to an individual subjectively, it’s because of confirmation bias in the person, and the phenomenon where people are more likely to notice the hits and more likely to overlook the misses basically. 

Past cold reading, the next argument that comes up is then, well, even if it does seem like it works sometimes to people or in your experience subjectively, it’s just because of confirmation bias. How do you respond to that?

SFR: I think reports are very different from readings. The problem with reports, every astrologer who’s written one will tell you–especially when they do a natal report, it can be a little more specific when you’re doing a planet-designated report or a particular kind of event–when you’re doing it for a natal, you’re going to have contradictions in the report because there are different things that come up in the program as they’re put together. The key thing is that the astrologer definitely writes the material, but there’s a programmer and a program that assembles all the different notes and ideas and some of those contradict.

As you said, there’s some people who are going to focus on the things that are hits and not the misses, whereas when you’re getting a reading, it usually has a tendentiousness. And by virtue of having that certain kind of tendentiousness, in terms of where the astrologer is synthesizing information and even doing the pruning him- or herself, I think there’s a lot more focused and a lot more of a reduced chance of confirmation bias. I think there is a heightened, greater chance of confirmation bias with reports just because of the nature of how reports are assembled.

CB: Sure. And one of the assumptions also when the skeptics or mentalists or magicians do that–like with James Randi’s famous video demonstration of that, when he did it in front of a classroom that a lot of people have subsequently copied–is they’ll write them in the most general way so that they could be applicable to everybody under the assumption that that’s what the astrologers do.

SFR: Right.

CB: In fact, in a consultation, astrologers will often say some pretty specific things that will elicit a positive or a negative reaction from the client. And actually most astrologers that are practicing professional astrologers will tell you, if you say something about a person’s life that is not true they will let you know.

SFR: Right.

CB: So it is not the case that everything that an astrologer says to a client is just something that’s so general or vague that the client’s immediately going to associate it with something in their life and immediately going to be inclined towards saying, “Yeah, that’s true.” In fact, astrologers do strive to be specific enough to actually say things that are personally relevant enough to the person’s life based on their chart that if they get something wrong, I think it’s pretty clear when they get it wrong, and that’s part of the consultation in terms of getting that. 

And that’s actually a good point in terms of why the oral consultation–which has always been how astrology consultations are primarily done, which is verbally either in person or through some other means over the phone to have that verbal dialogue and exchange about the person’s life or about whatever astrological chart you are focusing on–because then the astrologer does get that immediate feedback. If they’re going on a certain route with an interpretation of something and that’s wrong, the client will immediately tell you and give you that feedback.

SFR: Absolutely.

CB: Yeah, I don’t think it’s all just confirmation bias. And additionally, while that test seems superficially plausible, the argument is they’ll get a classroom of students, they’ll hand everybody a piece of paper with their supposed horoscope, and it’ll be written very generally. And then each person will say, “Yeah, that really describes either who I am or what I’m going through right now.” And then the person will say, “Aha! You all got the same exact horoscope,” or written report or whatever it was that they handed out. And then they’ll say, “See, therefore you can draw the conclusion from that that astrology is false. That’s all astrology is: You read something and then you’ll automatically just assume it applies to you.”

While that test seems superficially plausible, it’s not actually a good argument. It argues that there can be this tendency sometimes for people to take things that are written about themselves for granted or to take it as applying to them and sort of affirm that. But it’s not a full argument against astrology in the sense that you can’t immediately jump from there to say all astrology is false or that’s all it is; that’s just one argument about a potential issue that could come up when you’re dealing with something like astrology, but it’s not a conclusive, universal argument against it.

SFR: Yeah, and not all reports are the same. One thing I have found interesting is that over the years I’ve used Cosmic Patterns software–specifically Kepler and Sirius–and one of the things that I used to do a lot more than I do now is that I would give out free natal reports. I bought and have the Merlin Report, and I also had another report that they have with the software which is a life pattern report; it’s a general report. And what’s interesting is that the report I bought, Merlin, is not as well-received as the other report which is based on harmonics also in terms of placements.

So I’ve also found it interesting that there’s no ‘one’ universal way of appreciating reports even from the same company, from maybe even the same astrologer. It’s kind of, I won’t say dishonest, but it’s unfair for sure to say that, “Oh, everyone’s going to greet an astrological report the same way even if you change it up.” 

I could give the report to the same person based on the same data and give it in a different way. Maybe the other report that people do like is a lot more specific and fine-tuned, whereas I know the Merlin Report has like a lot more of the “Hey, baby,” and the kitchen sink in it as well.

CB: Sure. Another element that’s not addressed there is the assumption that all astrology is psychological or is based on character interpretation which is a little bit more fuzzy; but in fact, most astrologers also deal with timing and have different timing techniques. 

When astrologers start making statements about events happening at certain points in your life, let’s say a career peak, for example, I use zodiacal releasing which can time career peaks in a person’s life. You had an active period in terms of your career on this date–so from March of this year until September of this year was an important turning point for you–that’s a statement that can be validated or can be rejected as false pretty easily in a pretty objective manner. There’s other types of timing statements like that that are more objective and not as open to interpretation or as open to confirmation bias in that way. 

I think maybe you could still try and argue that there’s the potential for confirmation bias there, but one of the things that often gets overlooked is there’s different applications of astrology, and astrologers are making varying levels of specific statements depending on what they’re trying to accomplish and some of those can be falsified more readily than others.

SFR: Yeah, that’s a good point, I mean, especially for those of us who do predictive astrology. My clients will tell me–and I ask for that feedback when I’m right and when I’m wrong–and I want to know. Like you said, when you predict something and it doesn’t happen or it does happen that’s pretty immediate feedback.

CB: Right, or like horary astrology where it’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to a specific question, “Will I get the job?” You know very soon whether the person got the job at that point…

SFR: Right.

CB: …if you’re a practitioner of horary. With this show, I think we’ve blown our time just in terms of being able to cover everything. So maybe we could just address a couple of additional scientific criticisms and then maybe do a second show at some point to cover the religious criticisms.

SFR: Okay.

CB: Would you be up for that?

SFR: Yeah, yeah, it sounds fun.

CB: Good. All right. Yeah, because I’m really enjoying this discussion. It’s like we’re getting really into it, so I don’t want to do a disservice to the religious criticisms by condensing them down to 10 minutes or something.

SFR: Right.

CB: All right, so the two other big ones in terms of the scientific criticisms, one of them is the zodiac controversy that sort of exploded more recently in 2011 when it became a big media debacle. It’s really something that’s been going for much longer than that, which is the issue of precession and the argument that that the sign of the zodiac that most Western astrologers say you are is not your actual sign of the zodiac, but instead all of the signs are about 30 degrees off or about one sign off and what the response is to that. 

I mean, that almost deserves a whole show in it of itself. But maybe just in terms of responding to this specific controversy from a few years ago and how that’s gone, what are your quick cliff note responses to that? 

SFR: Oh, my God. Yeah, it’s still a huge issue even among astrologers. And interestingly enough, there are some people, especially in segments of the black community, who believe sidereal astrology is more the truth. The bottom line is that there are really technically three zodiacs, right? There’s constellational, there’s sidereal, and tropical. 

The one thing I like to always emphasize to my students and people who ask me about “Well, is Ophiuchus really a sign?” this is what convinced me that astrology was more a philosophical model of itself than an empirical one, especially the sidereal and tropical zodiac in terms of using the 12. It really goes with a conception of time and wanting to have a neat and relatively easy conception of time to use, which is why we use 360 degrees by 12.

If we actually went with the constellational model, which nobody really does, then of course the division of time would be ‘accurate’ but completely different. So for instance, there would only be 8 days or 9 days of Scorpio, and then we would have some days of Ophiuchus, and then we might have 40 days of Pisces or Virgo because those are bigger constellations, but that’s not the real conception or meaning of astrology. So it’s not looking to have an exact correlation with the physical cosmos as much as an analog conversation, and I think that’s the key thing to keep in mind in talking about the zodiacal model.

This is where I kind of challenge some empiricists and I think they get a little lost with it. What’s the empirical evidence for using the sexagesimal system dividing the sense of an hour by 60 or a minute by 60? Why do we do that? The real answer I’m looking for that really is the only thing is it’s an aspect of culture. It’s something that the Babylonians and Chaldeans started 3,000-4,000 years ago that we have continued to use. That’s it.

So I think the same kind of idea comes up with the zodiac. Well, why 12? Why wasn’t it 13, or why wasn’t it 14? Which one is right? Is it sidereal? Is it tropical? I think it’s the one that’s related to our particular ends or means. But the truth of the matter is not even astronomers in their calculations and not even our months are based on the 13-sign system.

CB: Right. I guess the main point for me here is just that when it comes to the tropical versus sidereal zodiac issue, what’s important is just these are two different reference systems that are being used deliberately, and ‘deliberately’ is a really important point to make there. Admittedly, astrologers do have an issue in terms of working out the sidereal versus tropical issue, and there is a legitimate dispute or disagreement or divergence there in the astrological community in terms of two different communities of astrologers using two different reference systems for essentially or largely the same purposes. 

Despite that, the way that the argument is usually framed when it comes to this issue is completely false, and this is done in a really sketchy way, especially with the zodiac controversy. The argument is usually framed that astrologers are doing it accidentally and do not realize that the constellations have slipped out of alignment with the tropical/zodiacal signs, so that it’s a big mistake. 

What was even more underhanded or kind of quasi-diabolical–I don’t want to ascribe–maybe ‘diabolical’ isn’t the word to use here. But the thing that was the most slippery about the 2011 zodiac controversy was the argument that astrologers are not just doing it accidentally, but that they don’t know that this has happened, and that’s really sketchy.

Astrologers, at least the ones that use the tropical zodiac, have been using it deliberately for about 2,000 years now, since the 2nd century when Claudius Ptolemy explicitly went out of his way to define the start of the zodiac as the Vernal point, thus establishing the tropical zodiac as his main reference point when calculating the signs and the rulerships and everything else. So for scientists or skeptics or astronomers to claim that astrologers are doing it accidentally and don’t realize it or what have you is a really sketchy argument to make. 

One of my main responses to that criticism is that while astrologers have a legitimate conceptual and philosophical and practical or technical issue where there is this divergence in the two systems that’s not usually what the argument is focused on. Instead they’re usually focused on making this false argument about the signs being off and astrologers not realizing it, or worse, that it was only recently rediscovered. 

A big part of the 2011 controversy is that many of the news organizations picked up and started running with this story as a recent development that has taken place that has thrown the signs off by a full 30 degrees and this is something that recently just happened. Even though precession has been known about since the time of Hipparchus in the first few centuries BC, it’s been recognized by astrologers certainly at least since the time of Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE. 

And even this whole argument itself about astrologers and an argument about the zodiac issue in terms of being used by skeptics dates back to–it actually wasn’t a scientist or a skeptic who first made it, but you can actually find the zodiac controversy argument first made by the Church father Origen in the 3rd century CE. 

He’s pointing out the precession issue and how the constellations are slowly slipping out of alignment with the tropical signs as an argument against astrology. So this argument has been made by critics of astrology for a long time now, and it’s not something that astrologers just woke up one day and found out about because some astronomer in Minnesota or wherever pointed it out to us.

SFR: Right, at a community college. The thing that’s really important too with this is for people to understand that there is some measure of an ongoing hostility. Now I’m going to get a little bit mythological with it, but I think you’ll follow me or people will follow me with it. 

There is an ongoing antagonism between astronomers and astrologers, and I think it’s more so from astronomers to astrologers. It almost reminds me of the dynamic between Saturn and Uranus where there’s an open rebellion, with the scientists being more Saturn and attempting to emasculate Uranus, us. And even though I’m not going to buy Uranus as the symbol for astrology, I think it’s still apt in terms of what Saturn, the scientist, the hard nose is attempting to do.

And so, one thing for people to recognize–I won’t necessarily use the word ‘diabolical’–there is a certain inimical, antagonistic notion that astronomers have toward astrologers and it goes along many different levels. I mean, we’re philosophically threatening to the idea of their work and mission, which is that there’s a cosmos that is without meaning, per se–that we don’t have to be as concerned with meaning–which for them seems to be the legacy of Ptolemy and wanting to free themselves of that. 

And it also comes down to even some very basic things that I imagine happens to astronomers all the time. You go to a party and you say, “Oh, I’m an astronomer,” and someone who’s not as educated about it goes, “Well, what’s my sign? Can you guess my sign?” “No.”

CB: Right.

SFR: I think there’s built-up frustration about what they think is the wholesale ignorance of the public related to what happens in the heavens and they kind of point the finger at astrologers. Some things are ongoing legacies of hardened feelings that have happened between the disciplines over the last 300 years, so I think that’s another thing to really address.

I’ve come to believe they do it on purpose, and it literally seems to be a cycle of almost every four years. So maybe sometime in early 2016, the story might get regurgitated again.

CB: Yeah.

SFR: We went through a similar thing on MySpace, you remember that?

CB: Oh yeah.

SFR: It was 2006-2007, something like that.

CB: Right. Yeah, I’m not sure what that is or why it’s that way, but it is pretty regular and it does seem to come up at a fixed interval of every few years. 

SFR: Mm-hmm.

CB: But I think that’s a great point in terms of what you said about astronomers often being more antagonistic towards astrology and astrologers. They have a chip on their shoulder about astrology because they often get confused with us by the public and they view that as negative because they view astrology and astrologers as disreputable, and therefore they don’t want to be associated with that. So they tend to, I don’t know, be more antagonistic for that reason as well as others.

The very last topic, if we have just a few more minutes, if you’re interested, is an accusation that’s becoming more and more prominent–I’m seeing it used by more and more skeptics–which is the argument that astrology is a form of bigotry or prejudice because it makes presumptions about people based on the day that they were born. 

How do you feel about that argument?

SFR: Well, I always laugh. I remember the writer–I don’t know if he’s actually even a scientist–who came out with that. Didn’t it come out in a major news outlet like Newsweek or something like that online? I don’t remember.

CB: Yeah, it’s becoming more and more popular, so it was somebody not long ago that wrote a piece on it.

SFR: I definitely can weigh in on this. Let me tell you a brief story. So I mentioned earlier that I came from the social sciences, but specifically I came from African-American studies. So I had come from very deep studies in looking at the history and constructions of racialism and race and racism over thousands of years: from how we articulate what we call the West, in terms of embracing what we call Western heritage and history and looking at the construction of that.

And it was a really hard time, it was around my second Jupiter return. I won’t go into all the reasons why it was hard; the work wasn’t difficult it was more of the politics and things like that, but it was dispiriting. And one of the things I remember saying when I got more into astrology was that here’s something that actually has more historical freedom because I can’t recall when anyone’s been killed for being a Libra or…

CB: Right.

SFR: …an Aries or whatever, but I had dealt with the history and legacy of racism. So I think it’s absolutely ridiculous and belittles a real understanding of what racism and bigotry is in our public. No one can find any structural means by which one particular sign is maligned in terms of their life chances because they’re a particular sign. No one can show me that Scorpios better not go to the bank or whatever. 

There are people who might have certain feelings, but there are other people who have other feelings that may be more positive. So there’s no endemic, historical or structural means by which we can talk about the articulation of an -ism based on one sign, not in this universe. Maybe some parallel universe developed it, but not this universe, so I think that’s inane.

CB: Sure. And because most astrologers view any astrological placement as having both a positive potential expression and a negative potential expression, oftentimes, it’s up to the individual in terms of how they choose to actualize that or play it out. Especially in the modern psychological astrology, most professional astrologers and most astrology enthusiasts would view developing a prejudice or a bigotry towards somebody’s sign of the zodiac or towards something astrological as a misuse of astrology or as a sort of perversion of astrology in a way. 

So basically my main objection to it is you could misuse anything, or you could misuse any sort of categorization system or system of classifying things and grouping things into different categories if you wanted to and if you had that sort of inclination as a person. But nonetheless, if it’s used in that way as more of a misuse or a perversion of it rather than something that’s built into it–saying that astrology is inherently prejudicial or inherently going to lead to bigotry–I think is not necessarily true. While that potential may exist, it’s not a given that astrology will necessarily turn into that or necessarily result in that.

SFR: Right. Unless it becomes something that is structural, and it’s not. When you go to apply for a job or for a housing, you often don’t necessarily have to put your birthday. I think in some places, for particular jobs, you don’t even have to divulge your age, or you can’t necessarily ask for that. So for someone to say that astrology leads to these things or actually is fashioned this way is just patently false.

I will say that there are some astrologers, there are some practitioners of astrology, there are also some people who study astrology who do fall into certain biases. We all have moments ourselves where we say, “Okay, I frequently have these tensions with Leos,“ or with a certain sign. But I think the reasonable astrologer or person or student would realize that it’s more often some reflection of a challenge that you experience within your own chart. So there’s no absolute, inherent or empirical aversion that one should have to any particular sign as much as the encounter one has with one’s self. 

I used to have a problem with Sagittarians, and I had my own little pet peeve and idea about Sagittarians until I realized that was my own pet peeve about something related to myself. The moment I got past that and could accept that sensibility, I started having more Sagittarians in my life. Next thing you know, I’m married one, a double Sag; a Sag and Sag rising. 

CB: Your former self what have been cringing.

SFR: Horrified, right. 

CB: You could draw that conclusion and say, “I’ve always had bad experiences with Scorpios,” or “I’ve always had bad experiences with some other sign,” or people with something more advanced like let’s say Mercury retrograde on the Midheaven or something like that. If you then take that observation that you’ve had problems with people with that placement in the past, and then you meet somebody new, they have that placement, and then you immediately draw negative conclusions about that person as a person–morally or ethically or personality-wise or what have you–that’s more on you. 

If you’re going to make that leap and make that decision to then classify all people in the future in that way, or at least to make that negative moral judgment that’s like a personal choice the person is making based on their own personal issues, or personal beliefs, or application of astrology or what have you, but that’s not necessarily inherent to the astrology itself that it has to be used that way. And I would argue that most astrologers would say that that’s not an appropriate use of astrology to take it in that direction and to make blanket, universal assumptions about people just based on one placement from that point forward.

SFR: Correct.

CB: All right, so that covers most of our main topics here when it comes to this. There’s some that we didn’t get a chance to, but I think this is a good starting point for a discussion about criticisms of astrology. Hopefully, I can have you on again sometime soon and we can go over some of the religious criticisms as well.

SFR: Yeah, I think the religious criticisms are probably far more ‘challenging’–maybe that’s the better word–to astrology than the scientific ones. Religion at least speaks a common language as astrology, and so there’s some particular charges that were very interesting for me to think and rethink once I converted to a new religion after being an astrologer for so long.

It really was interesting to see a religious perspective from a different way and see astrology from a different angle. And it actually was kind of chilling for a week or so for me to think about the religious side of it because the scientific was far more familiar to me and some of it and I had already made peace with.

CB: Sure. Well, yeah, let’s do that then as soon as we can, and we’ll make that I guess part two of this….

SFR: All right.

CB: …this episode. All right. Well, once again, people can find out more information about you on your website which is unlockastrology.com. And you have some events coming up pretty soon with the Zodiac Lounge that you organize in New York. 

SFR: That’s correct. So if you’re in New York or tri-state area, come out to the Zodiac Lounge, more information at thezodiaclounge.com. We meet at a space here in Brooklyn, and it’s going to be October 3rd, from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. 

CB: PM, okay. All right, well, thanks for coming on the show.

SFR: Thank you for having me, Chris. 

CB: All right, well, that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.