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Statistical study in astrology
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Papretis



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 346
Location: Finland

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:33 pm    Post subject: Statistical study in astrology Reply with quote

I’ll do what Mark asked and move the discussion from the News, Notices, Books, Links area here. Here’s where it started http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=29666#29666 .

Kirk wrote:
Western astrology is mathematically based (visual and observational astrology is a distant memory) and is rationally approached in sorting out and connecting factors. That's Mercury. But the time comes to take the proverbial leap of faith and receive the 'message'.

I would say that’s Mercury in the modern, narrower sense. But the traditional view of Mercury is more many-sided. Ibn Ezra (my favourite author on planets) says:

Quote:
Of people [he signifies] the philosophers, scientists, doctors, scribes, mathematicians, geometers, merchants, artisans of etching and painting. (---) In his share of human nature are speech, intelligence, education, wisdom, science of the stars, divination, all sort of magic, eloquence, accuracy of language, fast talk, ability to recite and rhyme, knowledge of hidden secrets and prophecy; [also] kindness and compassion and avoiding evil, [as well as] musical talent, love of anything miniature, negotiating, verbal arguments without resorting to blows, all sorts of trickery and deception, and writing forged arguments. (The Beginning of Wisdom)

Al Biruni says:
Quote:
Disposition and manners. Mercury: Sharp intelligence and understanding, affability, gentleness, open countenance, elegance, far-sightedness, changeable, deeply interested in business, eager for pleasure, keeps secrets, seeking friendship of people, longing for power, reputation and approval, preserves true friends and withdraws from bad ones, keeps away from trickery, strife, malevolence, bad-heartedness and discord.
Activities, instincts and morals. Mercury: Teaching manners, theology, revelation and logic, eloquent, fine voice, good memory for stories, ruining prospects by too great anxiety and misfortunes, fearful of enemies, frivolous, eager to buy slaves and girls, busybody, calumnious, thieving, lying and falsifying. (The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology)

Abu Mashar says:
Quote:
It [Mercury] indicates divinity, revelation to prophets, trustworthiness, intellect, speaking, rumors; the various sciences, calculation, surveying, geometry, astrology, omens by birds, sorcery, rhetoric, poetry, the art of writing, poetic anthologies; little joy, corruptions to wealth; commerce, receiving and giving, cunning, swindling, slyness; assistance, patience, friendliness with one who is suitable. (The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology)


Note how it’s not only rationality and math that is signified by Mercury but also divination, magic, hidden secrets, prophecy, theology, revelation, stories, divinity and omens by birds and sorcery! Isn’t it interesting that math, prophecy and divination are put under the same symbol?

What comes to my own personal poetic vision of astrology, you’re saved from it only because English is not my mother tongue. Consider yourself blessed. Tongue Out
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Mark
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Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I feel the discussion of what planet rules astrology is really not the issue here.

The key question is surely whether the statistical approach to astrology is a worthwhile pursuit or is it doomed from the outset?

Will the empirical approach ever prove astrology or any particular technique of astrology? Or is the whole approach of astrological research ,excluding the astrologer at its heart, philosophically misconceived?

Moreover, who are we trying to convince? Just ourselves or the sceptics?

Why has so much of the astrological art proved so resistant to verification by statistical research in the past?
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yuzuru



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 1392

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Personally I feel the discussion of what planet rules astrology is really not the issue here.


Agree. That was a rethorical sideway that come up and that didn´t add anything.

Quote:
The key question is surely whether the statistical approach to astrology is a worthwhile pursuit or is it doomed from the outset?


Don´t exactly agree. No thing is doomed from the outset, altought I am pretty critic of the statistical method in astrology. EVen then, I think one can find something interesting, IF one is aware of the astrology essence, method and logic. AND IF one is aware of the extreme pitfalls of statistical research.


Quote:
Will the empirical approach ever prove astrology or any particular technique of astrology?


Empirical research is extremely useful, but it shouldn´t be confused with "statistical research". See for example "a manual of retification" by Dr. H. Lots of empirical research, none of that statistical. I have made empirical research for me in techniques like animodar, pars fortuna, etc, before I could use it. It is statistical research that I have more restrictions about.

Quote:
Or is the whole approach of astrological research ,excluding the astrologer at its heart, philosophically misconceived?


I think that it depends on lots of things. For example, questions about "which zodiac is right" implies that either we, or the yiotish, are wasting our time and are idiots. But I have seen astrologers like Zoller or Birchfiend doing an extremely good work with natal, and so I have seen vedic astrologers. This way, I can admit that two zodiacs could be "right" IF they are using different techniques and work within their own logic and essence.

Altought some things in astrology, like horary, are extremely linked to who casted the chart, I think we should be careful about the excess of poetry. We expect that astrology combines both art AND technique, and to be grounded on reality. Natal, unlike horary, has only one chart to every astrologer and technique. Meaning that there is something, a reality, which is not subject to interpretation in some level. Or we would have our episthemological base grounded in the awful "it works for me".

That´s the virus which corrupts western astrology, and made us incapable of even agree on common, basic terms like "malefic", "peregrine", "void of course", rulerships, etc. In vedic astrology the student will first learn the basic, then learn to master it, then he will be allowed to have an opinion.


Quote:
Moreover, who are we trying to convince? Just ourselves or the sceptics?


It´s always a good question. In astrology, I am convinced that any one trying to "prove" astrology to sceptics is doomed to fail. Why ? Because they are sceptics !
Besides that many people are trying to prove to themselves that astrology is "worthy", meaning, have scientific base. The same goes to numerology, "cristal healing", etc. All of them wants to be scientific. In the case of astrology, this usually represents lack of philosophical grounds, as the researcher usually relies in scientific metaphors, like "chaos", "fractals", "quantun phisicis", and "theory of relativity", instead of using astrological theories.

Quote:
Why has so much of the astrological art proved so resistant to verification by statistical research in the past?


Easy, because statistical is everything BUT an reliable method.
I know, many people worship statistics, but as in general I have to teach methodology, is a topic that I am well aware of the mistakes which goes on in the scientific community. Papetris, for example, commited some mistakes, but she didn´t do anything that thousands of papers that are published today in economy, medicine, etc, don´t do. In reality they do it all the time, and much worse !

There are so many pitifals in statistics, that I strongly feel that it is not useful to the specific practice of astrology.

Best regards
_________________
Meu blog de astrologia (em portugues) http://yuzuru.wordpress.com
My blog of astrology (in english) http://episthemologie.wordpress.com
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Malcolm Ramsay



Joined: 13 Apr 2008
Posts: 73
Location: Lincoln, England

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kirk wrote:
Quote:
I can only see statistical analysis of methods as an indication of lack of confidence, of a fear of going in the 'wrong' direction with the 'wrong' techniques, and, ultimately, a way of proving to oneself whether astrology even works.
If you'd left out the word only, I could agree with this completely - it can of course be that. But when there is real confidence then I think statistical analysis offers a way of refining the structure of the art, leading to a clearer vision; to my mind, Mercury provides a framework that Jupiter expands and takes into other realms, but what Jupiter produces can never have a finer resolution than the original framework. But then the insights that follow from that leap of faith provide material from which Mercury can create a finer basic structure ... which then improves the clarity of the insights that Jupiter provides. It's only through a continuous interaction between the two principles that we continue the development of our understanding.

Quote:
... leading to doubting his/her choice of methods and questioning their usefulness.
Is this a bad thing? Aren't there times when doubt is a necessary precursor to deeper faith? I find opening myself to doubt strips away peripheral beliefs that have no real foundation, but generally leads to reinforcement of my core beliefs, whereas repressing doubts causes them to fester, and corrupt the way that my core beliefs manifest.


I think it's important to distinguish between two different classes of statistical study; there are studies that have some potential to show the essential validity of the subject and, very likely, those studies don't have any value to the practice of astrology - their potential value is in the effect they might have on the relationship between astrologers and the rest of the world.

Then there are studies which take the validity of the subject for granted and simply explore the differences between different techniques - whatever the results, they have value to the practice because of the mental processes involved in producing and digesting them. But we have to remember, as Amelia pointed out a couple of months ago in the 'Hopeless evidence' thread, that they are all 'of the moment' - as in horary, a question is being asked and an answer is being given, but the answer is what is useful for the querent/researcher/reader to believe at this time, rather than an absolute truth. (Why ever do scientists have difficulty with astrology?)
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###



Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1380

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Papretis:

Quote:
Note how it’s not only rationality and math that is signified by Mercury but also divination, magic, hidden secrets, prophecy, theology, revelation, stories, divinity and omens by birds and sorcery! Isn’t it interesting that math, prophecy and divination are put under the same symbol?

Yes it is. It's noteworthy that there are traits, activities and qualities listed here that you will seldom or never hear associated with Mercury, even in contemporary traditional astrology circles! However, are these authors talking about the techniques and applications of divination (Mercury) or about hearing and translating the voice of the divine (I say Jupiter, as shown by its domicile rulerships of Sagittarius and Pisces)? I can see the argument that they are assigning Mercury to the actual divinatory activities and methods, such as in the old days of sitting down and drawing up a chart and planetary positions by hand. That process for them may have been the divination. In fact, I've read of 'old school' astrologers still preferring to do it by hand because it's the gradual production and drawing forth of the chart that puts them in the focused frame of mind: A Mercury process leading to a Jupiter illumination.

Abu Mashar, with his “It [Mercury] indicates divinity, revelation to prophets,...” looks especially challenging to my argument, but what may have changed in translation? We are forced to have faith in our translators. It's amazing what can be changed with choice of vocabulary and subtle changes of sentence structure. To complicate things: Was it translated directly from Arabic or by way of Latin? Or was he a lone voice who seriously changed and amplified the signification of Mercury? Or am I simply wrong?Shocked

But this wasn't my main point, which was that looking for a high number of accurate hits isn't a productive way to develop astrological abilities. For example, if a person wants to go Sidereal or feels drawn to the Egyptian terms, then he or she should just do it. They're responding to the vague “resonance” I mentioned, subtly picked up through exposure to astrologers and the history of astrology. Why should there be numbers telling us it's OK to use a technique we feel drawn to? Prophets are an out-of-the-ordinary bunch, few in number, so why should their techniques be required to produce high numbers in group studies?


Last edited by ### on Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
if a person wants to go Sidereal or feels drawn to the Egyptian terms, then he or she should just do it. They're obviously calling with the vague “resonance” I mentioned, subtly picked up through exposure to astrologers and the history of astrology. Why should there be numbers telling us it's OK to use a technique we feel drawn to?


Hi Kirk,

I would not agree with all your points but I am totally with you here. I once heard Noel Tyl say ' orbs are consciousness'. On reflection though I think its more accurate to say 'astrological techniques are consciousness'.

As you state the 'right' technique is the one our consciousness resonates with and allows us to practice heart felt astrology. Where is the heart or the listening to that still inner voice in a statistical approach to the selection of astrological practice?

In my case fixed stars is a technique I particularly strongly connect with.Even if research appears tommorrow showing they do not work according to the most thorough blind trials its not going to stop me using them in the slightest. Sceptical materialists like Richard Dawkins would say that is because I am blinded by irrational prejudice in the face of clear cut evidence to the contrary. However, I am reminded of Carl Jung when asked if he believed in God? He stated 'I don't believe in God, I know God'. In a similar way I think an astrological technique we have worked with and resonate with is not a belief but an experiental tool we know works.

The problem for traditionalists is that we often slip into a chauvanistic attitude that our astrology is more accurate or better than other traditions. I confess I harboured these views myself at one time. My view now though is that traditional astrology is what I resonate with. That does not invalidate other astrologers who resonate with a sidereal, Uranian, psychological approach etc.

There is an interesting comparison to psychotherapy here. Numerous studies have shown that the training/school of therapy the counsellor claims to follow is not that crucial to its effectiveness for clients. Rather it is the personal qualities of the individual therapist that count regardless of their supposed therapy techniques. This ties in to the point made by Kirk earlier about the consciousness of the astrologer being the more crucial factor , not the bag of astrological techniques they have to play with.

In hellenistic times astrologers like Vettius Valens might call this following our Good Daemon.

William Lilly made a similar point in his 'Letter To The Student of Astrology'

Quote:
for the more holy thou art, and more neer to God, the purer judgment thou shalt give.
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amelia



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
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Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As you state the 'right' technique is the one our consciousness resonates with and allows us to practice heart felt astrology


I agree. I find it strange that some astrologers only think there can be one way, because astrology itself tells us that we all have different charts that all resonate to something different. And if we believe that in the eyes of the universe each individual chart is equally valid, ( and there is no single truth -...woah; too much esoteric philosophy for a Tuesday afternoon), then the fact that we resonate to different methods should not make one or other method more valid in general - just more valid for that astrologer.

On the other hand, of course, this means the astrologer can't automatically expect all other astrologers to agree with and adopt his or her methods. Cool

Although I have to qualify this with the fact that I am referring to an individual astrologer's tried and tested techniques and not those picked by throwing darts at a selection of techniques on board after a large bottle of claret..... But then again, maybe if the astrologer has a Mars /Neptune square that would work perfectly................... (i might try it this weekend)
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
if we believe that in the eyes of the universe each individual chart is equally valid, , then the fact that we resonate to different methods should not make one or other method more valid in general - just more valid for that astrologer.


I think this is a bitter pill for many astrologers to swallow. The alternative though all to easily slips into astro-fundamentalism.


Quote:
this means the astrologer can't automatically expect all other astrologers to agree with and adopt his or her methods.


Yes annoying isn't it? Sad


Its far more reassuring to know you have truth, justice and the astrological way on your side! Lala Happy

Rather than trying to prove one kind of astrological technique is
superior through statistics I would prefer to see them used to profile the kind of astrologers attracted to different techniques/traditions. For example, is it just me or is there a disproportionate number of people with a heavy emphasis of earth signs involved in traditional astrology? Would a sample of Uranian practitioners differ substantially in elemental or modal balance? Thats the kind of research that interests me along with the Astrodatabank type analysis of particular groups. I think its also interesting to test out astrological assumptions with real data such as Sari has done with angular planets. I am just less convinced we get very far by trying to demonstrate the superiority of sidereal vs tropical or different systems of bounds etc.

As I perceive it, any research that moves away from the mentality of superiority/inferiority to the recognition of human diversity at its heart is in harmony with the core principles of astrology.
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Malcolm Ramsay



Joined: 13 Apr 2008
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Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(and there is no single truth -...
Not even an infinitely complex one, Amelia?
Quote:
-... woah; too much esoteric philosophy for a Tuesday afternoon)
Sorry, but that was the only thing I could find in your post to disagree with. Confused

Mark wrote:
Quote:
Where is the heart or the listening to that still inner voice in a statistical approach to the selection of astrological practice?

I find there are some things where I'm positively drawn one way rather than another, other things where the inner voice is silent - and others where it whispers "What do the numbers say?". I think it's because sometimes even the inner mind doesn't know.

Kirk wrote:
Quote:
Why should there be numbers telling us it's OK to use a technique we feel drawn to? Prophets are an out-of-the-ordinary bunch, few in number, so why should their techniques be required to produce high numbers in group studies?

It's not that we need numbers to tell us the good techniques are OK, Kirk, it's more that we need something to tell us that the poor techniques aren't. False prophets are ten-a-penny, and many of them sincerely believe that they are genuine - how do we ensure that we're not among them? How do we distinguish between faith and wishful thinking?
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I find there are some things where I'm positively drawn one way rather than another, other things where the inner voice is silent - and others where it whispers "What do the numbers say?". I think it's because sometimes even the inner mind doesn't know.


The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
Baba Ram Dass

To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Chuang-tzu

If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
Dogen

At the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know that place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot

When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding, even one word is too much.
Fen-Yang

To set up what you like against what you don't like -- this is the disease of the mind. Sheng-ts'an
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KyleP



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Michigan

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malcolm Ramsay wrote:

I think it's important to distinguish between two different classes of statistical study; there are studies that have some potential to show the essential validity of the subject and, very likely, those studies don't have any value to the practice of astrology - their potential value is in the effect they might have on the relationship between astrologers and the rest of the world.

Then there are studies which take the validity of the subject for granted and simply explore the differences between different techniques - whatever the results, they have value to the practice because of the mental processes involved in producing and digesting them.


This distinction seems very valuable; I would like not only to make comparisons between techniques, but also to sharpen my intuitive skills, by learning to approach the same subject matter from two very different places.

I have been looking into the possibility that statistical tools can be useful for solving practical astrological problems, rather than 'validating astrology' which is a tall order to say the least. I began with a general question that could be tailored to a variety of chart-pattern problems. Given two sets of planetary positions from two charts, what is the probability of finding an aspect between two specific planets in these charts?

So if I am struck by a particular set of aspects in a synastry case study, I will want to know how unusual this pattern is. The point is that by contrasting the individual findings with what tends to be found in general, I can identify what is most eccentric or rare about that case. This is quite different from looking across many cases to find out what patterns they have in common. The latter kind of query is driven by the idea that some quite predictable or consistent relationship will show itself when looking across many charts to correlate astrological factors with empirical observations. But if this idea sums up what is usually meant by 'astrological statistics', maybe what I'm describing should go by some other name, since the motivation is so different.
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Malcolm Ramsay



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Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kyle

What you're suggesting is very much along the lines that I'm working on. I don't know if there is already software available to do that kind of analysis, but it probably wouldn't run under Linux anyway, so I'm in the process of writing my own.

Certainly I came to the conclusion fairly early on that rareness is the main factor that distinguishes powerful combinations of transits, and that a similar thing applies in synastry ... which raises an interesting question about how we respond to people with whom we have unusually few inter-chart aspects. I toy with the answer that our paths never cross, but I'm not sure how we might establish that.
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Papretis



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Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malcolm Ramsay wrote:
It's not that we need numbers to tell us the good techniques are OK, Kirk, it's more that we need something to tell us that the poor techniques aren't. False prophets are ten-a-penny, and many of them sincerely believe that they are genuine - how do we ensure that we're not among them? How do we distinguish between faith and wishful thinking?

Hi Malcolm, Kirk and others,

Yes, this is my concern too. “Astrological alphabet” is a good example about this, and it has influenced modern Western astrology enormously. Let’s take the 12th house as an example. In modern astrology it has become to signify solitariness, retreats, quietness, privacy, going deep into yourself, floating in your inner world, hiding, sanctuaries, spirituality, etc., and this is because of its association with tropical Pisces and Neptune. Most modern astrologers would swear that the 12th house as the private sanctuary works perfectly well, and their intuition tells them that it simply is so. The 12th is the house of private loners, there’s no doubt about that and it’s proved by hundreds of charts.

But then we frequently have to wonder why such extremely public people like Madonna (Sun in the 12th), David Bowie (Mercury, Mars and Sun in the 12th), Barack Obama (Saturn, the Asc ruler, and Jupiter conjoining in the 12th) and Tony Blair (Venus, Mercury and Sun in the 12th house, also Mars/Jupiter separating from the Ascendant to the 12th house) have such an emphasized 12th house. It's statistical study that shows us that actually it’s not unusual at all for people like actors and pop stars to have planets in the 12th house http://koti.welho.com/jmetsovu/symbolical_meaning/the_12th_house.htm .

This observation gives an interesting angle for Barack Obama’s horoscope: John McCain has tried to dismiss him by comparing him to such figures as Paris Hilton, and he has been criticized by being all about glamorous public presentation with no real substance or political skill. There is a danger that he’s merely playing the role of the savior and leader (and doing it well). Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for electing Obama for the president of the US, but there is this interesting 12th house twist anyway in his horoscope giving him some pop star like glamour. (And remember how Tony Blair liked to hang out with pop culture people and associate himself with the fancy youth – he’s also been accused of manipulating the media together with his press secretary Alastair Campbell.)

Sari
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Malcolm Ramsay



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Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sari wrote:
Quote:

Let’s take the 12th house as an example. In modern astrology it has become to signify solitariness, retreats, quietness, privacy, going deep into yourself, floating in your inner world, hiding, sanctuaries, spirituality, etc., and this is because of its association with tropical Pisces and Neptune.

I'm very much drawn to the idea that the diversity that we see comes from the interaction of a very small number of archetypal energies, so I don't have a problem with the 'astrological alphabet'. In the example that you give of 12th house/Pisces/Neptune it seems to me the problem comes from looking at that 12th principle too narrowly: if you think of it as embodying enchantment (an old meaning of glamour) and consider that it can operate either inwardly or outwardly - either drawing the individual in, or flowing out through them - then I think that contrast that you comment on makes quite a lot of sense.

Malcolm
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KyleP



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Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malcolm Ramsay wrote:

What you're suggesting is very much along the lines that I'm working on. I don't know if there is already software available to do that kind of analysis, but it probably wouldn't run under Linux anyway, so I'm in the process of writing my own.


I'm glad to hear of your work, tell me more if you like. I found a statistical app written in Java that has been very useful for solving some interesting problems (along the lines of "what are the odds of that?"). It's available at: www.statistics101.net -- It should work on Linux, I think.

I have used this program to try out some simple models for studying the kind of problem I mentioned before: what is the probability of finding a cross-aspect between two specific planets in a pair of charts. Of course it can't do any astrology; you have to translate the problem into terms the software can handle. This is an interesting exercise in itself.
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