ForumTouchy Subjects ► Astrology
Please explain why anyone takes this seriously.
  
Humans are very good at recognizing patterns in cause and effect. This is a very useful survival trait, but sometimes our cause-effect processors are overzealous and interpret coincidences as causally linked. Over time this can lead to very complex systems of superstition.

But I suspect that most modern, western consumers of astrology understand that it's not real and are just having fun.
  
I always thought it was funny how earth slowly presessed into making all the zodiac sings wrong. Like I'm technically a capricorn instead of an aquarius now.
  
I think there's meaning to it, I don't think its in the newspaper horoscopes, but different cultures have been looking to the stars for meaning for thousands of years. I think there's something there worth looking at.

I mean its not that crazy that western people believe in it. There's tons of deliberate astrology in the Bible, the most famous one being the Star of David, but there's tons more, especially in their prophecies and later in the book of Revelations.

What I find crazy is that there are people who believe a dude was born to a virgin and then died and rose from the dead, and the same guy says, "Wait, you mean God put meaning in the stars? That's crazy, ressurection, virgin conception, I can believe that, but its too far fetched to believe that there's a rhyme and a reason to heavenly bodies that He created even if he literally says in the Bible that there's meaning there."

Edit: It would make sense to me that a full atheist would believe there's nothing to it.
  
Or the opposite, which I've encountered many times. People who openly mock Christianity, and in the same breath explain how moving your furniture brings you good luck, crystals heal illnesses, and Scorpios shouldn't date Capricorns.
  
I think there's meaning to it, I don't think its in the newspaper horoscopes, but different cultures have been looking to the stars for meaning for thousands of years. I think there's something there worth looking at.
There's a straightforward explanation for that why that is, viz. the one I gave. Humans look for patterns in everything. You say you don't think there's meaning to newspaper horoscopes but there might be merit to other forms astrology, so maybe you could be more specific and name one such astrological belief.
I mean its not that crazy that western people believe in it. There's tons of deliberate astrology in the Bible, the most famous one being the Star of David
The Star of David is not mentioned in the Bible, and its earliest use as a symbol in Judaism dates to after the completion of the Bible (Jewish or Christian). I assume you mean the Star of Bethlehem (see below).
but there's tons more, especially in their prophecies and later in the book of Revelations.
Symbolism != astrology.
What I find crazy is that there are people who believe a dude was born to a virgin and then died and rose from the dead, and the same guy says, "Wait, you mean God put meaning in the stars? That's crazy, ressurection, virgin conception, I can believe that, but its too far fetched to believe that there's a rhyme and a reason to heavenly bodies that He created even if he literally says in the Bible that there's meaning there."
The biggest difference between miracles and astrology is that the former are purported historical, singular events, while astrology is purported to be a consistent governing force of the universe. Miracles are inherently untestable (admittedly quite problematic from an epistemic standpoint), and astrology is not. Even if we assume that, say, the Star of Bethlehem was an actual miraculous sign intended by God to signify Jesus' birth, that's a one-off event whose cause is the same as basically every other supernatural event reported in the Bible: God communicating to people through special acts of revelation.

I understand that metaphysical naturalists may be inclined to dismiss both miracles and astrology with equal derision. But in my personal estimation - even as someone who believes in supernatural reality - overactive human pattern recognition is a much more parsimonious explanation for perceived astrological effects than causality of largely arbitrary projections of the positions of heavenly bodies (which in the case of stars are lightyears away) onto our sky. And arguably, belief in the untestable is a little less ridiculous than belief in the provably false.
  
I'm one such metaphysical naturalist. I think miracles are -- as Hydrogen said -- an untestable belief that a personal God bends the rules sometimes for our benefit. I don't buy it but I can't say that if God existed he couldn't do that and it wouldn't change how the world works.
Astrology requires accepting that the entire universe organises itself in such a way that humans are able to interpret their own personal future in it. Kinda like crystal healing, astrology forces you to make actual physical statements about how the universe works that can be disproved.
  
I an curious about how harmful astrology is.

There are many superstitions and pseudoscientific practices that are harmful. Misinformation seems to be the greatest barrier to sensible politics in a democracy as well as ethical consumerism and preference toward cheap easily marketable crap vs quality products in the capitalist economy.

If adolescents and children were taught a profound respect for philosophical skepticism, pragmatism and empiricism followed by research methods alongside the scientific method as a matter of moral principle rather than a simple a term learned for a textbook test, then I imagine that many problems in the modern world would disappear. If people's standards for being informed are low, then their judgement will be impaired to the degree they are misinformed.
  
It always sounds great to ingrain scientific principles early, but it would probably be received as well as "evil-lution" or the Pythagorean theorem.

I think skepticism is healthy, but easy to misdirect when opinions of what constitutes evidence get mixed up, as we're currently seeing in this "age of information."
  
For sure. Anti-vaxxers think they're just being justifiably skeptical of claims that they can't independently verify, after all.
  
no matter how well you teach people they'll always have a finite amount of time, and hardwired thinking shortcuts that bypass critical thinking. It's good to strengthen the skills people need to discern truth, but perfect rationality isn't a magic bullet or even a possibility really.
Plus it is largely amoralโ€”inputting different sets of values will produce different outcomes
  
Does the same logic then apply to teaching evolution or sex-ed? Of course, kids will cling to their parents values, but better they have the education anyway. There are rational minds trapped in irrational families, friend groups and religious or superstitious dogmatic values.

I was one such kid. My family life was rife with wild conspiracy theories, including anti-vax nonsense and a distrust for modern medicine. I was raised to believe homosexuals deserved to be executed, that vaccines cause autism, that sex-ed caused people to become homosexual and that homeopathic herbal medicine was not only superior to modern medicine, but that traditional medicine was more likely to kill me and cause conditions like cancer from simple x-rays. That's only a taste of what I was raised to believe. I was sent to christian private schools and later "home-schooled" which somehow allowed my parents to avoid state-laws regarding sex-ed and evolution; so I never knew anything about those things. I went into my early adulthood this way and one year of college put me in a state of crisis as I had to sort through years worth of bullshit to ultimately leave almost everything I was taught behind and have to catch up on years of learning. The most fundamentally powerful thing to help me sort through the bullshit was rationalistic philosophies like empiricism, skepticism and logic; following that it was easier to change my world views and accept evolution and sex-ed as well as develop an entirely new set of ethical principles founded on pragmatism.

The damage was done for me and luckily I was able to challenge my worldview and move past it. Those rational minds stuck in irrational families and social settings deserve to have knowledge of those principles and that knowledge available at an age appropriate level of development so that during those adolescant years of questioning things, you have resources. I grew up without the internet, which probably would have helped me access new information but then as an adult forum arguments and reddit discussions did almost nothing to change my mind as well as the learning environment in school.

I find the attitude towards education and the values of the youth both despondent and cynical that you wouldn't find it necessary or useful to teach scientific philosphy and values to the youth, when that was exactly what I needed and did not have. I was stricken by epiphanies that I would've easily been able to grasp at an earlier age had I only been able to have access to a source of learning.

Had the knowledge been accessible sooner, perhaps I would've denied it, but my curiosity, my innate doubts and tendency to prefer logic would've helped me avoid falling so far behind the curve.
  
I'm despondent because I know who is in charge of implementing the classes. We don't even have competent math and science teachers currently. Straining the curriculum further is not going to help the total disconnect between science and science education. We need more scientists to teach science, but the pay sucks and they get no respect and it isn't seen as worth it to the few people who study science.

Peoples' general attitude to science is that it's a useless curio they personally sucked at (try telling people you want to do a PhD in physics and getting a second conversation). Asking (sometimes proudly) scientifically illiterate people to implement skeptical and scientific thinking in classes will not necessarily go well.
  
Not everyone gets that experience and I agree that educational institutions are far from ideal, similar to anything in government for that manner. Any sort of rhetoric, including support for the values of science, can be similar to the marketing bell curve. I think it's even worth it if we have to cut some of the existing courses short such as art, history, foreign language, and english.
  
You're massively mistaking where I'm coming from: I want people to understand science better and respect the methods used. The trouble is, there aren't qualified teachers and there isn't a concerted effort to get more. Until you make teaching a respected profession and a financially appealing one to scientists, you're pissing into the wind because the people teaching "love of science" classes will probably lack sufficient background in the subject.

Every semester of undergrad we were borderline begged to consider teaching. I heard through the grapevine of grad students that the dearth of science teachers is so bad that even private schools are having to leverage government fast-track programs to entice scientists and mathematicians to teach. Best way to get a passion and respect for a subject is to have good teachers who love the subject and no amount of extra subjects and curriculum adjusting will fix that.
  
It seems to be a feedback loop where poor education causes a lack of interest in it and leads to less funding which leads to poor education. The only solution then is to use effective rhetoric that generates more interest in science; to develop politically motivated people to fund public education and teachers.
  
Yall are using too big of words for me to understand but might I throw another question into the loop: If things like evolution and the big bang theory haven't been proven as fact, why are public schools allowed to teach those subjects but not the religious theories of how we came to be? If none of it is for sure, why are schools allowed to teach the anti religion religious perspective but not the religion based religious perspective?
  
Do you guys not have religious studies? That really comes down to whoever is designing your curriculum. Creation mythology isn't science, that's a whole other subject and if your curriculum makers don't think it's valuable to learn then it's not going to happen. It's also not schools' responsibilities to teach literally every piece of information a person might need to know in life because that is an impossible task. The line must be drawn somewhere and things priorities over other.

I stopped paying attention to this conversation so I missed why you're talking about teaching scientific method. I don't know shit about science but I remember being taught basic methodology. I also think there is an expectation that that's something to be taught in higher education and I definitely did a hell of a lot of it when I studied social sciences. Regardless, schools teach a foundation for it and most subjects, if not all,will cover critical thinking skills. Is this perfect? Absolutely not but the foundation should be there (huge generalisation, every school is different). Additionally, you can bring a horse to water but if that horse doesn't want to apply itself then it's going to leave the water trough not having any critical thinking skills whatsoever.

Circling back to astrology, should the aforementioned critical thinking skills been taught effectively to a person then I think you need to trust that they're capable of recognising the validity of astrology. Not everyone is capable of this, such as people who straight up refuse to interact with signs who apparently clash with their own. And in that I can see it being harmful discrimination.

For the most part I think it's harmless fun, like those personality tests, and most people can recognise this. I think some sticks in the mud get irrationally angry about astrology because it's popular and not grounded in pure logic. But who gives a shit? Let people have fun if they're not hurting anyone.

Anyway, this was a big ramble and I forget what my actual point was.
  
Yall are using too big of words for me to understand but might I throw another question into the loop: If things like evolution and the big bang theory haven't been proven as fact, why are public schools allowed to teach those subjects but not the religious theories of how we came to be? If none of it is for sure, why are schools allowed to teach the anti religion religious perspective but not the religion based religious perspective?


Because science falls into the "this isn't certain" category, while the religious argument for creation falls into the "this certainly isn't" category.
  
Grayseff said:

Because science falls into the "this isn't certain" category, while the religious argument for creation falls into the "this certainly isn't" category.


๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜
  
I see you weren't being sarcastic...

When we say Evolution or the Big Bang Theory aren't proved, it means something very different from "this is a theory on the same footing as every other theory." Both theories fit all existing evidence, but a scientist should not say that either is 100% true because one day we may find some evidence to the contrary and that would make us wrong.

That said, if either theory happened to be wrong, it would have to be replaced by a theory that fit all the same evidence and not just some random one we happen to like. Funnily enough, there is an example from physics of people just picking whatever theory they happen to like: Quantum Mechanics.

We know as much is it is possible to know something that Quantum Mechanics is correct. It has never ever failed any experimental test ever and we use its principles everywhere because we trust it so much, but no one knows how to interpret it. In physics it's almost taboo to talk about interpretation because it's nearly impossible to prove and it's largely speculative. Laypeople and theorists still continue to debate what they feel is correct constantly.

It's important in these conversations though to remember that just because we don't know what happens at the collapse of a superposition doesn't mean all theories are equally valid, it doesn't mean "gremlins" are as likely as Bohmian Mechanics or the Multiverse or Bayesianism or my preference "it just kinda picks one."

How does this relate to religion? If it turns out the Big Bang Theory is wrong "Jesus did it by magic" will remain just as wrong as it is now: completely.
  
The statement "Jesus did it by magic" is just as correct as "We evolved from monkeys". It's useful to educate yourself on other viewpoints, otherwise any valid points that you make are covered by your ignorance on other parts.

Anyway, I am just a stupid person who doesn't understand things like Quantum Mechanics after all. You guys can proceed with your deep, well thought out science talk. I shall return to the normal side of TwoCans where I belong. This dip into the genius world was too scary for me.
  
I feel like "Just as correct" is a bold statement. To paraphrase Feynman: No one understands Quantum Mechanics, but to say anyone here is "just as correct" as Feynman is an obvious pisstake. I understand the religious argument and it's basically "take magic seriously." QED
  
Grayseff said:
I understand the religious argument and it's basically "take magic seriously."


If that's what you think, then you certainly don't understand it.
  
It involves a God using unexplainable, untestable, unobservable forces to achieve the natural world, that's magic however you cut it.
  
Forum > Touchy Subjects > Astrology