Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not "Eureka!" but "That's Funny."

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but...... "That's funny."

Isaac Asimov is credited with that quotation. I wonder, will there ever be a "Hmmmm.....that's funny" moment for scientists regarding astrology?

A word appearing frequently in scientists' arguments about astrology is "artifacts". Artifacts, in the context of cognitive reasoning, are so-called fake effects (in this case astrological effects) which could have ordinary explanations. Whilst I can see how artifacts might account for some seemingly good results in pieces of astrological research, I fail to see how we can continue to be misled by them in astrology generally. Too many brilliant minds, and too many ordinary folk like me can see SOME of astrology working day by day. I check the status of my own beliefs regularly - there's a latent skeptical streak in my nature. Astrology would have been given the heave-ho by me long ago, had I sensed that there was nothing at all in it.

It seems to me that there's a parallel between discoveries about some herbal medicines and what might happen in the future in regard to astrology.

Herbs have been used as medicine, and for recreational purposes, as far back in history as it's possible to see, and almost certainly well beyond that. For example, cannabis is said to have been used in ancient middle-eastern countries, hemlock and belladonna were used as poisons in Greek and Roman times, and some believe that the holy drink of the ancient Aryans mentioned in the Vedas -- soma -- was a concoction involving ("magic"?) mushrooms.
(See here.)

The Foxglove plant had been used in folk medicines for centuries, some say as far back as the time of the Druids, before later pharmacists discovered that it contains digitalis, proven to be effective in treating some heart diseases. Similarly, the plant Feverfew, used in folk medicines, has been found to contain chemicals which do have ingredients which can produce effects observed by our ancestors, namely reducing fever or dealing with some kinds of headaches.

Whether our early ancestors came by their knowledge of the medicinal value of these plants by accident or by careful sampling, or whether specific knowledge had come to them from an unknown source, isn't recorded. We now know that there was validity in some of the ways they were using the plants. We are now able to understand the reasons why these plants proved effective, reasons which our ancestors would have been incapable of understanding or discovering.

A similar line of thought can be applied to astrology, its origins and its future. Scientists might discover one day an element as yet unknown, which we are as yet incapable of understanding. This unknown element could validate, at least in part, astrological principles.

Astrology continues, and will continue to be used because, as in the case of ancient medicines, it's not perfect, but observation and experience has shown sufficient positive results to put an indelible mark upon our memory.


Gian Paul said...

This is a provocative post indeed, Twilight! Scientists (new formation that is, with no respect for "obscure, traditional, ancient knowledge", blinded by their current discoveries) have no ear - or no time for some non-scientific knowledge (in their subjective view) like astrology.

They prefer "modern" stuff, i.e. ill conceived theories about climate change (Gore and his cohordes falsifying data...) or economists (they are receiving "scientist recognition") screwing up the economy (Bernanke will go down with egg in his "academic, pretty face).

Or - oh so many drug discoverers - who even without falsifying (not uncommon) their results, had to shamefully retreat.

Life is all about "trial and error" and astrologers are part of that. The honest ones (as you say) will admit that they are constantly testing, doubting, trying to know more or at least that they are prepared to change their minds.

Wisewebwoman said...

Thought of wherein lies the disease therein lies the cure.
It must be the same for astrology, there are more and more answers linking to our stardust.
I also thought you (and perhaps Himself) might enjoy this link sent to me by my daughter today.
Which sort of links to our brave new world and your post.

Wisewebwoman said...

not a good link T:
here goes again:

that should work!


Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ We're on the same page - apart perhaps from your comment about climate change.
I think Al Gore did a good job raising awareness on this. He might have exaggerated - don't know - but to get anybody in the USA to listen you have to exaggerate and yell from the housetops - even then they don't wake up.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks for the link - interesting presentation. Made me feel a bit "out of it" though. Me with only the desktop, a land line (which hardly ever rings, nor do I ever use it except for appointments with the doc once or twice a year) and one basic cellphone between Himself and me which we hardly ever use.
My cyberness is all bloggish. ;-)

Gian Paul said...

On Gore: It's on public record that he knew about climate data falsifications going on - and did nothing about spreading lies. It fell right back on him and this tarnished him quite seriously, if not in the US, abroad. "God punishes well" (Deus castiga bem, in Portuguese).

PS. News is in that the US Supreme Court has to reconsider it's dismissal of probes into O's citizenship. Drudge Report carries the story. Even if biased, that's democracy at work...

PPS. As an afterthought: I did not want to single out politicians as being "patented public liers". It happens all the time, with scientists, businessmen (and women) etc. Where we (the people) have a right to protest is when this "seigneurs", being public figures, contribute to obscuring truth - and a healthy moral environment. Marx was right: Opium for the people, all over the place, no need to single out the churches!

Gian Paul said...

Just came accross what is today's "opium for the peolple", at work: David Plouff, your President's latest Senior White House Advisor, has a benchmark for everything he does these days in advising his boss: "How will it play with a middle aged white woman in Ohio?"

Nancy Reagan maybe had better intuitions by consulting an astrologer...

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~
"Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see."
(Benjamin Franklin).

Still good advice isn't it!?

I have a soft spot for Al Gore, in spite of what you say, GP. I sense that he's a good guy. He might have been unwise on occasion, and he should have fought VERY hard against the Court's decision to put Bush in the White house in 2000. But still - I can't help liking him.

Re the "How will it play with......" It's insidious manipulation pure and simple isn't it? We are forewarned now, more and more people are awakening to what's going on.

We're getting there - but slowly.