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Statistics applicable in 'traditional' astrologies?

 
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lihin



Joined: 14 Dec 2009
Posts: 470
Location: Mount Kailash

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:48 pm    Post subject: Statistics applicable in 'traditional' astrologies? Reply with quote

Good afternoon,

Although the formulae considered to be of primary importance in contemporary mathematical statistics were developed from the 18th CE century onwards, nevertheless the compilation of statistics and use of statistical methods date from antiquity, as the following quotation from Wikipedia shows:

Quote:
"The use of statistical methods dates back to least to the 5th century BCE. The historian Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War describes how the Athenians calculated the height of the wall of Platea by counting the number of bricks in an unplastered section of the wall sufficiently near them to be able to count them. The count was repeated several times by a number of soldiers. The most frequent value (in modern terminology - the mode ) so determined was taken to be the most likely value of the number of bricks. Multiplying this value by the height of the bricks used in the wall allowed the Athenians to determine the height of the ladders necessary to scale the walls.

In the Indian epic - the Mahabharata (Book 3: The Story of Nala) - King Rtuparna estimated the number of fruit and leaves (2095 fruit and 50,000,000 - five crores - leaves) on two great branches of a Vibhitaka tree by counting them on a single twig. This number was then multiplied by the number of twigs on the branches. This estimate was later checked and found to be very close to the actual number. With knowledge of this method Nala was subsequently able to regain his kingdom.

The earliest writing on statistics was found in a 9th-century book entitled: "Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages", written by Al-Kindi (801873 CE). In his book, Al-Kindi gave a detailed description of how to use statistics and frequency analysis to decipher encrypted messages, this was the birth of both statistics and cryptanalysis."


Many astrologers practising historic or even modern methods apparently often shun statistics in astrology or even claim that 'astrological truths' must be apprehended by intuition, which, it seems, is held capable of greater veracity than investigative methods. On the other hand, the same astrologers openly embrace the uses of other mathematical branches, ex. gr. astronomy, geometry and spherical trigonometry as bases for astrology.

In their extant writings, renowned 'traditional' astrological authors including Klaudios Ptolomaios left out examples altogether or included only a positively selected limited sample.

Are statistics and 'traditional' astrologies mutually exclusive? Why or why not?

Best regards,

lihin
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Mjacob



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 412
Location: Kent - England

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Many astrologers practising historic or even modern methods apparently often shun statistics in astrology or even claim that 'astrological truths' must be apprehended by intuition


Good day Lihin.

I know that astrological reaction to the Gauquelin research was not wholeheartedly in favour as many assertions were not found to be borne out by statitistics but I not seen many people say that intuition is a factor.

Indeed quite the opposite. Many assert that astrology requires no psychic or intuitive abilities and are quite emphatic on that point.

There is no difference of attitude between traditional and modern in this regard either as most traditionalist at present were first trained in C20th astrology where they learnt this non-psychic doctrine.

In any case the first astrologers can only have worked out likely outcomes of star activity by comparing records of star appearances and mundane happenings as they had no tradition to rely on. Unless they used intuition of course

I do not see why tradition should exclude statistics. After all the aforementioned study looked at midheaven in natal charts and likely professions as an astrologer would have done in the past.

Regards

Matthew
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spock



Joined: 10 Apr 2011
Posts: 51
Location: Evansville, Indiana

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Statistics applicable in 'traditional' astrologies? Reply with quote

lihin wrote:
Many astrologers practising historic or even modern methods apparently often shun statistics in astrology or even claim that 'astrological truths' must be apprehended by intuition, which, it seems, is held capable of greater veracity than investigative methods. On the other hand, the same astrologers openly embrace the uses of other mathematical branches, ex. gr. astronomy, geometry and spherical trigonometry as bases for astrology.

In their extant writings, renowned 'traditional' astrological authors including Klaudios Ptolomaios left out examples altogether or included only a positively selected limited sample.

Are statistics and 'traditional' astrologies mutually exclusive? Why or why not?

If modern statistics can tell if a belief is valid, which I believe it can, it doesn't matter if it's applied to traditional astrologies, modern astrologies, or anything in between. So statistics can be applied to traditional astrologies. The question is, can it be applied fruitfully, so as to increase the degree and accuracy of our understanding of astrological phenomena? In the first place, if astrology is improved by research it will be research done by astrologers, not by those whose only motive is to prove there's nothing to it. As far as the latter are concerned astrological effects don't exist; astrology is nothing but a superstition. Our knowledge of astrological effects can only be advanced by those who believe they actually exist.

But the way astrologer-statisticians use that tool, and the likelihood that their efforts will contribute to the further development of astrology, depends on their epistemological stance, how they arrive at their astrological beliefs. For virtually all astrologers the very idea that there are correspondences between celestial objects and life on earth, especially human life, is compelling. But that general idea doesn't in and of itself specify which celestial factors correspond to which terrestrial factors, or the ways in which they correspond. The body of beliefs that constitute an individual's knowledge of astrology are almost always derived from authority what textbooks say, what well-regarded astrologers say, what ancient astrologers have said sometimes added to by using the logic implicit in the examples (paradigms) by which one learns to "do" astrology, and validated or modified by personal experience the ubiquitous "it works for me."

Hence when astrologer-statisticians do studies it's normally not in order to discover what works (since they think they already know) but to show that it works, often with the tacit aim of persuading non-astrologers. When study after study, even those approved by astrologers, failed to confirm astrological claims during the second half of the 20th century, many astrologers lost faith ... in statistics. Astrology is too complex and subtle for statistics to measure, they said. Science 'disproves' astrology by leaving out the astrologer, they said. Any empirically immature form of knowledge is going to need fudge factors in order to seem to work, because it won't be pursued and be further developed if no one believes in it. Astrology is still very underdeveloped at this time so the fudge factor is pretty large. It consists of having lots of factors and plasticity, with a razzle dazzle metaphorical verbal facility (i.e. symbolism) to make it all go. If it was more empirically adequate, if we could more reliably predict which factors go with which 'effects', all that self-inflicted verbal smoke and mirrors would be unnecessary.

Because astrologers know astrology works, and don't doubt that basically all of does, it's difficult for them to appreciate the significance of the Gauquelin work, which does seem to validate astrological effects, but only a small set and not the ones astrologers expected. That the Gauquelin work by itself describes only a very limited astrology doesn't mean that's all there is to it. It more likely means there's a lot more that hasn't been discovered yet. The Gauquelin effects all involve the relevant planet's angular distance from the birthplace aspects but we need to know more accurately what the angular distances and orbs are (I suspect conjunctions, squares and oppositions, possibly also trines), what system of measurement most effectively defines if a planet is 'in aspect', and more precisely what the effect is.

But statistics is not for the most part generative. It doesn't create new ideas but more precisely than other ways tests existing ones. What statistics has been showing us the last half century or so is that virtually all specific astrological beliefs tested so far are not valid, although a few might be crude approximations of a valid idea. Sometimes a wrong idea might be close enough to a right one that a statistician testing the former stumbles across the latter. That's what happened with Gauquelin. Most of the ideas he tested didn't pan out. One of them was Leon Lasson's interpretations of planets in houses. Like most astrologers he believed it makes a difference where in the birthchart a planet is, in this instance in one of twelve interpretive boxes based on the location of the subject at birth. Although I don't know the details I assume Lasson wrote that Mars in a certain house indicates athletic ability. Gauquelin found that not to be the case, but because he happened to use famous athletes stumbled across the fact that Mars was distributed nonrandomly, like Lasson thought, but not in the way he thought. Eminent athletes tend to have Mars 'in aspect to' the birthplace, which with further research into the personalities of champion athletes led to the deeper insight that Mars aspecting the birthplace corresponds to a trait or suite of traits that's advantageous to have if one happens to be an athlete but which doesn't necessarily predispose a person to become one.

Although eventually statistical tests should be used in tandem with methods that can generate ideas capable of passing such tests, it makes sense, if one can do so without abandoning astrology, to treat existing rules and interpretations, whether from 'traditional' or 'modern' systems, as possibilities to check out. Like Edison in his quest for the electric light we can at least find out what doesn't work on our way to finding out what does. But we should expect a very high mortality rate for recent ideas, and an even higher one for older ideas, because an idea has be pretty precisely right, not just a rough approximation, for statistics to show significance. In that sense I believe the answer to your question is, no, statistics and 'traditional' astrologies are not mutually exclusive, albeit I think statistics will end up validating few or none of the specific correspondences contained in the latter. Nonetheless, when we use other empirical methods to generate ideas that do pan out, I think we'll discover that many existing notions are vague, one dimensional anticipations of the more precise, three dimensional conceptions uncovered by experiment and theory.
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