Astrologer research ponders what a more collaborative process might look like
Astrologers aren’t overly optimistic this will come about anytime soon. But some dare to think about what a more collaborative process might look like.
Finnish astrological researcher and mathematician Kyosti Tarvainen, PhD, envisions professional astrologers working hand in glove with medical researchers and other scientific investigators to test some basic assumptions about the ancient discipline.
“Since astrology is not a part of university curriculum many believe that science has proved there is no truth in astrology. In fact, no such proof has ever been presented,” he said.
“The simple fact is that, in the 17th century, many professors turned their attention to natural sciences where breakthroughs have come at a rapid pace. At the time science did not have the mathematical methods needed to properly study astrology,” he noted.
Statistics are Game Changer
Dr. Tarvainen is a past president of the Finnish Astrological Association. He says the ability of science to study astrology started to change at the beginning of the 20th century when statistical methods began to develop.
“Some astrologers immediately understood that statistics could be used for studying astrology but lacked knowledge of statistical methods. It was not until the 1950s when French psychologist Michel Gauquelin used his knowledge of statistics to successfully study the subject,” he said.
You may not get this impression if all you read are scientific journals, but Tarvainen says Gauquelin’s results have been successfully replicated several times and are generally regarded today as the best evidence that astrological influences are real.
He observes that since Gauquelin other academics have become involved in astrological testing. Most notably, Psychology Professor Vernon Clark successfully used statistical methods in three tests that were designed to determine if astrologers could match individual case history data with individual horoscopes. And Professor Suibert Ertel used his statistical expertise to successfully defend Gauquelin’s results against what Tarvainen describes as “the preposterous refutations of skeptics.”
In the current decade the Finnish astrologer has completed 10 successful peer-reviewed studies, capitalizing on new computer technologies developed by biologist Jan Ruis and archived data from Gauquelin’s experiments to validate a number of basic astrological tenets. It’s an ongoing process, he suggests.
“For many, a strong argument against astrology is that we don’t know how it physically works. As such, this is not a scientific argument against astrology since scientists generally just describe things,” Tarvainen says.
“For example, we don’t know how gravity works: we just have mathematical formulas and new information about illusive gravitational waves that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein,” he added.
Genetic Factors Considered
Tarvainen says there has been some general speculation regarding how astrology might work but so far no concrete backing has been obtained. One idea is that the cosmic situation at the time of the person’s birth influences the activating of his or her genes.
Astrologers claim that an individual’s physical appearance is influenced by astrological factors, and geneticists tell us our appearance is influenced by genes. A research task for science would be to study whether the activating of genes is different for people with different astrological factors or patterns in their astrological birth charts, he said.
Here’s another possibility. The medical community today is able to make very accurate brain images. The sophisticated computer systems available to researchers today could make it possible to study whether there are differences in brain structure and functioning related to different astrological factors.
“Gene and brain studies could give clues about how astrology works. But for the time being we have to be content with making empirical observations about how a person’s character or temperament is correlated with astronomical factors ,” he said.