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Review of the recent NCGR Research journal

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Chris Brennan

Joined: 22 Sep 2005
Posts: 193
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA

Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:51 pm    Post subject: Review of the recent NCGR Research journal Reply with quote

Deb just informed me that Joseph Crane's review of the recent issue of the NCGR Research Journal that I edited last year has just been published:

I'm opening this thread up for comments on the review, or additional reviews of the journal itself. I'm interested in hearing what you guys think.

The journal and the seminar that it was based on didn't come out quite as well as I had planned, although I hope that it will at least spark a few interesting thoughts and discussions over some of the topics that were addressed.
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Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 355
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris. I can't offer any specific commentary on either the review or the journal, as I have not seen the issue in question and was not a participant in the seminar which gave rise to it. But I do find Crane's review well-written and - most importantly, for me - a departure from the bland and blanketly-accepting pieces that typically pass for reviews within the astrological community. I'm very, very glad that we have finally arrived at the day when conferences such as the one you organized - and the journal it generated - are seen as meritorious. Thank you for posting the link, and especially for your excellent work in bringing to the fore astrological traditions that inform, enliven and engage thought in the 21st Century.
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Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris, I am not a NCGR subscriber, so was able to read only the introductory editorial and Robert Hand's article on Mesopotamian astrology. I also read Jospeh Crane's review. Based on both, I would like to read the entire issue.

I thought Crane's review was balanced. Sometimes we find reviewers who will write a certain amount of criticism, so as to justify their praise. In academia, as I imagine in communities of astrologers who know one another, there is a certain amount of reciprocal back-scratching. Consequently when reviewers want to show that they are not engaging in a mutual admiration society, we will find them structuring a review with plus and minus columns. And fair enough. Crane mostly pointed to articles' lacunae, rather than castigating any of the authors for not writing the kind of papers he would have preferred.

Most journal editors and authors have to work with page limits. So I assume that the authors might have elaborated on Crane's wish-list had they been asked to write longer articles.

Just a few items that I didn't see in Crane's review--and assume (perhaps incorrectly) that they did not appear in the articles themselves:

1. It seems to me that the home computer and astrological software (whether free at Astrodienst or for purchase) have completely revolutionized astrology in the past 30 years. On the plus side here is a democratization of astrology of the type that was unthinkable when charts had to be calculated by hand. All kinds of astrology ranging from harmonics to midpoints to planetary lines on maps can now be done almost instantly, which has no doubt encouraged more astrologers to explore techniques that once had to be laboriously calculated. On the minus side, the kinds of uninformed and even incorrect astrology that legitimate astrologers have complained about at least since the days of Ptolemy are becoming more widespread more rapidly. (Cf. the recent flap about astrology's "13th sign" and precession.)

2. The Gauquelin studies do not seem to have held up to criticism by people with statistical backgrounds. Maybe the Mars Effect has held up, but that is not much to go on. Strong correlations in statistics are only as good as the data and assumptions that go into them. I once looked up horoscopes for prominent French artists (painters) in the Rodden (now Astro-DataBank) data base thinking they made a case that France kept birth records with birth times back into the 19th century. I was flumoxed to see that most of the birth times prior to ca. 1920 or 30 had been rounded to the nearest hour! What this would do to the "Gauquelin power zones" located in relation to the angles I don't know, but it doesn't look good.

3. Hand's paper on Mesopotamia, which is on-line, was written, I thought, in an easy-to-read accessible style, while apparently based upon research by scholars. I couldn't always tell from the footnotes who these scholars were, but possibly this material has moved into the domain of "common knowledge."

I wondered why Hand did not start with Sumer, and why the important role of religion in the astrology of this part of the ancient world was not stressed more. As a modern reader, I can appreciate an author's decision to write to today's mostly secular audience, but the danger is a kind of presentist model that overlooks what would have been the heart of astrology for ancient people.

4. I was pleased to see in your editorial the call for more cross-fertilization between both modern and traditional astrologers. Hear, hear.
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