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MEDIA WATCH - Bad Science 0
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Frank



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 52
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:51 pm    Post subject: MEDIA WATCH - Bad Science 0 Reply with quote

Another flawed "study":


http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-11-2008/0004735130&EDATE=

or

http://tinyurl.com/22w8kj
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Frank Piechoski
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 3458
Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the remark that "astrology is big business." I wonder what scientific study they used to reach that conclusion. I'll bet all those rich astrologers were shaking in their indoor swimming pools when their butlers brought them that news release.

Tom
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mattG



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Greenwich UK

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject: Bad Science Reply with quote

It is a stock trick question. If an astrologer is rich it is because he is exploiting the gullible because astrology does not work. If he is poor it proves that astrology does not work otherwise he could win at the races or pick rising shares. Ho hum - at least we are not cloning animal / human hybrids or poisoning animals with overdoses of food supplements
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Tom
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I couldn't resist. I found a name to write to, but that was not easy as they preferred to receive snail mail. I sent the following off a few minutes ago:

Quote:
“Many people start their day by reading their horoscope. A smaller number literally run their lives by their horoscopes. An even smaller number consult astrologers and often pay large fees for a ‘reading.’ In fact, astrology is big business.”

Gentlemen:

I would like to know precisely what research was done, if any, to validate the above statements. I am particularly interested in the statement that astrology is big business when you claim that small numbers of people run their lives by horoscopes and a smaller number consult astrologers and often pay large fees for a reading. If the numbers are so small, how can astrology be a “big business?”

As for the study, you could have saved yourself a lot of time and money by reading the research of Michel Gauquelin who came to the same conclusion about 50 years ago. Or you could have consulted a legitimate astrologer and he would have agreed that Sun Signs do cannot predict occupations. In short at this point the score is at worst even, but if you read much Gauquelin’s work particularly “The Mars Effect,” you might be forced to conclude, though his work is not the last word, that Astrology pulled ahead 1 – 0. That work is about 50 years old as well and despite the protestations and attempts at fraud by “science,” it has not been refuted.

Sincerely,

Thomas Callanan


I'll let you know if I receive a response

Tom
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aquirata



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 157
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent Tom! Curious to see their response. Smile
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Frank



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 52
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had some e-mail exchange with the contact person there yesterday. If you'd like, I'll post the exchange (which is already on some other venues) when I return home this evening.
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Tom
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Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure post it. I didn't know that or I probaby wouldn't have bothered.

Tom
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is what I got back. It is just dismissive and does not address their claim that astrology is "big business."

Quote:
Thanks for the historical information, I’ll pass it along. Go to www.mediacurves.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the graphic in the lower left-hand corner. The detailed results are there. More than 2,000 consumers provided us with their birth signs and occupations.


At least he wrote back

Tom
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aquirata



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 157
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right. How about a letter to the editor?
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Peter
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Tom
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Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to live in Flemington, NJ, the location of this company. It has become very affluent (since I left) , but it is still mostly rural. The only local paper is the Hunterdon County Democrat which despite its name is not a house organ for a political party. It is a weekly paper with a county wide audience. I doubt any editor would publish a letter and if he did, it would be only for purposes of ridicule.

I don't think this company is very influential and if you go to their website there is one discussion titled: "Is Christianity Easy?" So this may be nothing more than a PR group for one or another group of Evangelicals. Let it go.

Tom
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aquirata



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 157
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree Tom. Better to focus on more important things.
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Peter
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Tom
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Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like I have nothing better to do today. So I went to the site and looked at the data. I am coming around to my own suggestion that this is not a legitimate research group but a PR group or an advocacy group. I have no problem with that, I just would hope for a little more honesty.

Anyway I checked out the details of the astrology study. They compared 12 professions or job titles and distributed them among 12 Sun signs. There are two tables that purport to show all the results of the study. Although Capricorn is missing on one of the tables.

http://www.mediacurves.com/Culture/zodiac/Report.pdf

What caught my eye was that Mars ruled signs, Aries and Scorpio, are heavily represented in the sales/marketing jobs. If I were to put any stock in this sort of thing I would expect this result. Aries types are assertive and self starters which is what sales requires. But that isn't the point. There are some pretty conspicuous absences from the list of professions. Science is the one that I noticed right away. Religious vocations are also missing.

The health care field is over represented in that it gets two groups: medical doctor is one and nurses, pharmacists and similar fields get another. If we lump those two together, Pisces is over represented.

Gauquelin limited his studies to the top performers in a field not just occupants and he did not use sun signs when he found a correlation. He used planets and angles.

Why am I annoyed by this obvious nonsense?

Tom
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Frank



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 52
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is yesterday's correspondence:

------------
Dear Mr. McGourty:

Could you please provide me with the correct link for detailed information
on the study, "How well do Zodiac Birth Signs Predict Occupations?" The
link in the article on the Web merely directs me to your home page.

It is hoped that details will include an abstract, research methods, and a
clear conclusion.

Could you also tell me if any astrologers were consulted when undertaking
this study?

Sincerely,

Frank Piechoski
Media Watch Chair
Association For Astrological Networking (AFAN)

-----------
-----Original Message-----
From: Vince McGourty [mailto:Vince.McGourty@hcdi.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:47 PM
To: Frank Piechoski
Cc: grkessler@hcdi.net
Subject: RE: How well do Zodiac Birth Signs Predict Occupations?


Frank:

You can go to www.mediacurves.com to see all of the data on the study.
The data is in the form of PowerPoint slides. We conducted a national
study during which we asked birth dates and occupations. We then matched
the data to determine if there was any direct correlation.

The press release is essentially the abstract for the study. No,
astrologers were not consulted.

Thanks for your interest.

Vince McGourty

---------------
Dear Vince:

Thank you for your prompt response. Could you please provide me with a
direct URL to the PowerPoint slides - I seem to be unable to find a link on
the www.mediacurves.com site.

On another point, don't you think it's a bit strange to engage in a research
study without actually consulting experts on, or practitioners of, the
subject you are studying?

Also, was your study self-selecting based on driving respondents to a Web
site to answer the questions? Or was a true random sample taken? Was any
attempt made to look at more than Sun signs? Were birth times provided?
How was the submitted data verified?

Would you be willing to turn over your raw data to researchers who would
examine and attempt to replicate your study?

Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Frank Piechoski
------------

From: Vince McGourty [mailto:Vince.McGourty@hcdi.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 3:18 PM
To: Frank Piechoski
Subject: RE: How well do Zodiac Birth Signs Predict Occupations?


We did a nationally representative random quantitative sample. We didn't
consult experts because our objective was to simply correlate birth date
with profession.

We saw no reason to consult with experts.

Vince
----------

Dear Vince:

Thank you gain for your response.

Unfortunately, you've neglected to include all of my previous message, so
I'll re-include my expanded points below.

I understand what you've said, but that doesn't answer the questions posed
previously.

1. Could you please provide me with a direct URL to the PowerPoint slides -
I seem to be unable to find a link on the www.mediacurves.com site. I did
find a .PDF that shows some results, but no metion of methodology. How do
those numbers relate to your hypothesis (if you have one)?

2. Also, was your study self-selecting based on driving respondents to a Web
site to answer the questions?

3. Was a true random sample taken? How was it accomplished?

4. Was any attempt made to look at more than Sun signs?

5. Were birth times provided?

6. How was the submitted data verified?

7. Your assertion that, "The press release is essentially the abstract for
the study." is spurious at best. It has neither the information contained
in, nor is in the format of, a formal abstract.

8. "No astrologers were not consulted." "We saw no reason to consult with
experts." These statements speak for themselves. How would you expect a
study to be taken seriously when you admit this?

9. What exactly was your agenda for publishing this piece?

And something new:

10. How do you explain that the sign Cancer shows a much higher percentage
in category P9 - in fact the highest percentage (29%) in ANY category -
[Other Healthcare Professional (e.g., nurse, physician assistant, diabetes
educator, pharmacist)]. Are you even aware that the sign Cancer is
associated with nurturing? It seems that at least on this one point, your
company's research is showing exactly the opposite of what your press
release claims.


Sincerely,

Frank Piechoski
Media Watch Chair
Association For Astrological Networking (AFAN)
----------------

From: Vince McGourty [mailto:Vince.McGourty@hcdi.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 4:25 PM
To: Frank Piechoski
Cc: grkessler@hcdi.net
Subject: RE: How well do Zodiac Birth Signs Predict Occupations?


1. www.mediacurves.com ---all results are there.
2. No -- used random sampling scientific recruiting methodology
3. Yes -- see answer above.
4. No -- birth signs and occupation.
5. No.
6. A professional staff of analysts.
7. It's a summary of results.
8. Individuals make their own decision to take it seriously or not.
9. Entertainment
10. Wouldn't attempt to explain -- I leave that to the experts.

------------

Dear Vince:

Thank you again for your response. If you are unable or unwilling to give
complete answers to my questions, could you please point me toward someone
who can?

I'm mostly concerned with the "random sampling scientific recruiting
methodology" - what methods were used? I'm familiar with various recruiting
methods, I just want to know the exact methodology.

As far as your answer to number 9 was concerned, why didn't you state in
your press release that it was "for entertainment only?" I find it
difficult to believe that there was no other agenda behind this "study."

Who funded it?

Sincerely,

Frank Piechoski
-----------

And I haven't heard back since about 5 p.m. EST yesterday.
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aquirata



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 157
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Same old, same old. People with an agenda masquerading as scientific researchers, pushing their agenda, misrepresented as a scientific study, down the throat of a gullible audience via the news-hungry media.

What's the best astrological configuration for this?
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Peter
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Tom
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Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the trouble Frank. More than ever I am persuaded that this is an advocacy group. I don't know anything significant about the proper methods of performing such a research project, but I wonder why a media group would do so without being paid to do it. They're pushing something.

Tom
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