4 December 2010

Latest zine up on Growth - not a good idea?

So Saggi time and time for a Christmas special - also some links to Julian Assange and when Mercury might be involved in some festive miscommunications...

and All Change now..

Dr. Brian Cox vs. Astrologers

"Astrology is Total Bollocks"
This week, Dr. Brian Cox delivered the Huw Wheldon Memorial lecture on 'Science: a Challenge to TV orthodoxy.' Part 2   Part 3. And that's what he said - having yet another dig at astrology and astrologers or astrologists as he incorrectly calls us.

Now I like a good challenge and I don't have a problem with people who are sceptical about astrology - some of my best friends are, so to speak!
And Brian is welcome to an opinion - it raises discussion and that's all good. But I wonder why he keeps singling us out. Doth he protest too much?

I think he is a very good and clear speaker and he does a lot to get science back into the picture. His Wonders of the Solar System was fantastic. All the astrologers I know loved it and they love science. We see no clash between the two disciplines.

But there has been much outcry from astrologers and also from the Global Warming camp. And I think justifiably. Not because he has an opinion but because of where and how he does it. And he is NOT scientific and sometimes he is just plain wrong.

Let's take a look at what he said:
Evidence is more important than opinion - agreed and agreed that many astrologers don't have this.
He shows a clip from Feynman -  one of his 'greatest scientists' who says there are 3 stages to science.
1- guess, 2- compute consequences, 3 experiment and if that disagrees then the theory is wrong.
No issues there. But Feynman also says it doesn't matter who says it - it's either right or wrong.  The number of people who believe it also doesn't matter. For Cox that's fine except if an astrologer says it apparently. Or if enough scientists say it - that's means there's a consensus arrived at by peer review so that's more truthful.

Hmm peer pressure - I thought as a Pisces :) he might be a bit more creative than that. And with that spark of Aries a bit braver. (Go on Brian - give us your birth time so we can really have a go at you!) Peer pressure resulted in a simple cure for ulcers being denied to sufferers by the scientific community for years. And there are numerous examples of this - more like peer bludgeoning when it comes to some scientists.

There was an interesting statement he refers to in Wonders. Apparently when we get it right - Jupiter does have some kind of influence as we astrologers have always said  (although I think not in the way most scientists try to imagine that) -  we are still wrong. Lucky guess?  Wonder what he thinks about the Moon containing water and silver?  Astrologers have had that association for pretty well ever.  Another lucky guess?

But of course we are so trivial that it is inconsequential.  Apart from the fact that astrologers ( or New Agers as he refers to us) are "undermining the very fabric of our civilisation." Wow shouldn't we do something about that? That doesn't sound too trivial!  What power we have - no wonder scientists want to get rid of us.

Some more comments from the learned doctor.  Astrology is essentially a faith system - now sorry Brian but this IS total bollocks. You really don't know anything about the body of knowledge - still stuck in the ideas of the wonderful ( but misguidedly outdated views on astrology) Carl Sagan.

Cox raises the issue of the complaint the astrologers raised with the BBC about the episode of Wonders. It stated 'Astrology must be presented in a balanced way - according to BBC guidelines.' He settles this quickly by saying, "This is incorrect fortunately".

Has he read the BBC guidelines?  Astrologers have done a lot to get these altered and the new ones actually do say this - not astrology as such but any subject. So he is just plain wrong here. "Impartiality is at the core of BBC committment to its audience." Go figure that one.

And then there is a bit of schizophrenia - I guess Pisces does swim both ways:) - some statements:
"The right to express an opinion is the lifeblood of democracy. If you know little about a subject how are you to make up your mind?  How can your audience truly understand and appreciate something if you skip over necessary information in the misguided cause of simplification. One needs facts and accuracy.
Apparently not if you are Doctor with an impressive scientific record going out on a major television channel seen by millions  You can then truly conclude that astrology is total bollocks without any scientific facts. That helps your viewers make up their minds. Thanks for that.

Let's face it - it does matter who says what and being a public science guru carries weight and responsibility.  I expected and hoped for more from young, dashing, modern, hip scientists.

I may sound angry but I'm not - it's sadness that I feel. Astrology can offer a lot and it can and is being tested in a scientific fashion - it's just not the way many scientists believe in  - that's scientism -  and often it involves looking for a physical cause. Astrology must be experimented with qualitatively.

What a pity really good scientists rule out working with people with unorthodox views. Thank God for people like Dr Rupert Sheldrake who is taking on the scientific community at their own game. At least he has some gravitas. But we are back in universities so there is some hope.

And as a last comment - if you want a fight Dr Cox - let's play fair! Give us a right of reply...
The sky was ours long before it was ever yours! And I would like to see you prove the awe that you and most people feel when you look at a sky like this...