Is astrology a science? An unbiased look of scientist physicist
Is astrology science or fiction? This question is regularly asked to me by those who are equally far from both science and astrology.
Spoiler. Natal astrology is an art, a form of folklore, but not a science. Horary astrology and some medieval techniques of natal astrology can be considered natural sciences.
What is natural science? It is any developing scientific theory.
What is a scientific theory? it is a logically and mathematically consistent hypothesis that
- can be confirmed or disproved experimentally,
- was confirmed experimentally (within the specified measurement errors)
Can Astrology be Considered a Science?
Let's divide astrology into astropsychology and predictive astrology.
Astropsychology deals with the description of a person. And this branch of astrology does not stand up to criticism.
The convincing experiments were carried out, which showed that astrology and science are incompatible. Astrologers read the same horoscope. They always described different people. That is, the apparatus of natal astrology turned out to be contradictory and multivariate.
Moreover, the descriptions were vague and poorly verifiable. Indeed, how to measure inclinations and talents, in what units and with what instruments? Furthermore, clients have always agreed with entirely different interpretations of their horoscope.
That is, all the conclusions made by astropsychologists were not only vague but also false.
- Contradictory (multivariate in reading)
- Not verifiable
- False in its judgments
Thus, this branch of astrology cannot be considered scientific in any way.
Now we turn to predictive astrology. We will also divide it into two types - advisory and, in fact, prognostic (judicial).
Advisory astrology gives guidance on what to do and when to avoid danger or attract good luck. And the predictive branch states the dates and details of future events and the sequence of their occurrences.
2. Advisory Astrology and Science
The statements like "You should do this and that for such and such to happen" cannot be verified.
When a predicted event occurs, we cannot say with certainty whether it would have happened if the person had not followed the recommendation or not. It is called alternate history tracking. But this is neither theoretically nor practically possible.
Moreover, the recommendations are often highly abstract, like "you should be..." or "you should treat something this way and that way." And the predicted events themselves are often expressed in the vaguest formulations, for example
- "improving financial condition."
- "luck in love" and so on.
It is entirely unclear what to consider an improvement in financial condition (there are no adequate criteria), how to measure the attitude towards something, or adherence to some internal rules (which are necessary for positive results).
The bottom line is that the advisory branch of astrology is not verifiable and cannot be considered a science. The entire modern natal astrology belongs to this branch.
Yes, natal astrology is pseudoscientific. And it's hard to argue with that.
3. Predictive (Judicial) Astrology
This type of astrology formulates predictions as clearly as possible. For example, "After 21 days, you will lose your current job, but they will offer you a new position within the same company. It will be a promotion".
Such an event is easy to check. That is, we can verify this kind of forecast. And accurate verification makes astrology a science.
The forecast does not arise as a result of prophecy, intuitive associations but as a logical consequence of exact mathematical formulas.
It is important that according to these rules, ten different astrologers will give the same answer - the same hypothesis (i.e., forecast of the future). That is, the mathematical apparatus underlying such predictions has the property of consistency.
Moreover, here it is appropriate to talk about probabilistic outcomes and measurement errors. In the above example, you can calculate the expected probability of a future event.
For example, what is the probability that
- the person will lose his position? 50%
- he will not be fired but stay in the company? 50%
- he will be promoted rather than downgraded or kept in a comparable position? 1/3, i.e., 33%
- the event will occur on a specific day within the next month? 1/30, i.e. 0.3%
What is the mathematical expectation that all these four events will happen simultaneously? Approximately 0.27%.
That is, we can calculate the mathematical expectation of the outcome. In our case, this is 99.7%.
We can make different predictions and set up experiments (that is, measure the results). We can calculate the mathematical error if not all of the named events come true, but only a few.
We now have a basis for scientific verification of a mathematically consistent hypothesis.
Thus, only the predictive branch of astrology can be considered a science. Everything else can be attributed to folklore, art, or forms of creativity, but not to science.
Predictive astrology includes
- Horary astrology. Its apparatus is formalized (see list of techniques)
- Some medieval natal astrology techniques
These forms of astrology can be considered a science, while the most common modern natal astrology can be attributed to art or a purely humanitarian discipline.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about horary astrology, take a look at our course for beginners, "Make your 1st Forecast in Under 2 Hours", which is available on Udemy.