Enemies of Reason

Listening to Skeptics explain why “Sun sign” astrology is useless reveals the usual juxtaposition between the esoteric realm of astrology and the empirical world of science. When addressing the idea of Sun signs within the astrological framework, scientists often exhibit reluctance to delve deeper into what they consider a realm of “pseudo science.” Instead of engaging in an in-depth exploration, they tend to touch upon the topic superficially, dismissing it as a matter of little scientific significance. Critics of Sun sign astrology argue that its predictions and insights are based on vague and generalized descriptions that can apply to a wide range of individuals. This lack of specificity and empirical evidence undermines the credibility of astrological claims in the eyes of the scientific community. Astrologers contend that Sun signs alone cannot adequately capture the complexities of human personality and behavior, as they ignore other crucial factors such as the exact time of birth.

However, it’s important to note that not all skeptics approach astrology with a blanket dismissal. Some have expanded their thinking beyond the Sun sign alone and acknowledge the potential for deeper exploration of astrology’s underlying mechanisms. These skeptics, often open to considering more nuanced interpretations and complex astrological systems, contribute to a more balanced and informed dialogue between the realms of mysticism and science. Despite the evolving perspectives, a significant portion of the scientific community continues to rely on the conventional and widely recognized Sun sign astrology portrayed in newspaper columns. This reliance on simplified astrological interpretations can lead to a perpetuation of stereotypes and misconceptions, inadvertently reinforcing the idea that people of the same Sun sign should exhibit similar behaviors and traits. This oversimplification, as argued by the article in Cosmic Citizen:

“This result was of course unacceptable to those who’d suggested that newspaper astrology columns should include health warnings. After some rather acrimonious debate, Rawlins resigned from CSICOP and wrote a long “Star Baby” article for the paranormal magazine Fate, accusing CSICOP of covering up results that appeared to support an astrological influence. The same month, CSICOP instituted a policy of not conducting research itself. The irony of all this was rather cosmic, and no doubt lost on the committee… This, however, wasn’t the only piece of irony operating in the vicinity of Cosmic Citizen. A prime, somewhat justified, complaint of the speaker was that CSI was an advocacy group that was more interested in propagating propaganda about ‘Science’ and ‘Reason’ than any genuine investigation of the facts. However, an outsider might say the same thing about a study day where only one side of a controversy was presented.

This was picked up by Chris French, who was invited to comment on the talk. He agreed that no-one came out of the “Star Baby” incident very well, but pointed out that many of the criticisms of extreme skepticism (inflexibility, selective presentation of facts, lack of interest in alternative points of veiw, etc.) could also be levelled at extreme ‘Believers’ in the paranormal. He compared this ‘mirroring’ effect with cold-war psychology, where American students saw Russian students as underhand, rotten, dishonest liars without the guts to see the truth and Russian students saw American students as underhand, rotten, dishonest liars without the guts to see the truth.”

Enemies of Reason by Richard Dawkins: