Archetypal astrology tarnas
First, by definition no true skeptic assumes anything in advance.
If they do view the universe as a soulless void, it is the consequence of empirical tests subject to disconfirmation by further tests or by critical philosophical review. Second, the implication that an open mind and proper investigation will automatically support Tarnas's views is demonstrably wrong.
Archetypal Prism Astrological Counseling
Proper investigation In it was precisely with this attitude that Arthur Mather and I, with the help of over fifty relevant experts, began a critical review of the astrological and related literature. Like Tarnas we had observed striking correspondences with birth charts and were convinced that it deserved scientific investigation. Eventually we managed to summarise material from astrology books out of over consulted , astrology journal articles, and scientific works. The result was Recent Advances in Natal Astrology: A Critical Review , a book of pages and references published in and now long out of print and just as well because it dated very quickly, see Origins under the Historical section on this website.
We concluded: "The picture emerging suggests that astrology works, but seldom in the way or to the extent that it is said to work" p.
We uncovered many reasons such as the Barnum effect for thinking we might be fooling ourselves into seeing validity where none existed. Even events which are about as straighforward as you can get because they either happen or don't happen proved problematic. For example Chester Kemp, an astrologer renowned for precise working, compared the chart of a fictitious person CS Forester's Horatio Hornblower with more than 30 fictitious major events, all of which fitted with precision and striking symbolism.
Nevertheless we noted that "charts are often so exactly right in such unlikely ways that coincidence or gullibility would seem to be ruled out" p. There were also a number of seemingly positive findings such as those of Vernon Clark matching tests , John Nelson radio quality , John Addey harmonics , and Michel Gauquelin planetary effects that warranted further investigation. Much was uncertain but the door on astrology was far from being closed.
Thus far our views were essentially the same as Tarnas's. But they changed once we and others looked more closely at the ways we might be fooling ourselves. We also checked the seemingly positive findings using computers and meta-analytic techniques, none of which were available in the s. This subsequent work occupied us for nearly 30 years. In effect we applied the procedures and precautions that have long been accepted in experimental psychology and which Tarnas has so far failed to apply. Today the uncertainties about astrology have mostly disappeared and the door is much closer to being closed.
The new procedures and precautions uncovered only artifacts non-astrological effects that we and others had mistakenly seen as astrological effects. Hundreds of rigorous tests found not a single effect size commensurate with astrological claims. As a result we had to change our previous positive view. As Rudolf Smit shows in his autobiographical Astrology my passion on this website under Applied Astrology, a change of view can be traumatic for believers in astrology.
But the chips fall where they may.
It is now easy to see huge flaws in Tarnas's book. Huge flaws Tarnas's thirty-year labour and familiarity with diverse sources is impressive, and his aims are clearly noble. But others in the field with equally noble aims have laboured just as long and have produced just as impressive a volume of findings Witte, Ebertin, Barbault, Carter, Addey, Harvey, Lewis, Church of Light, to name just a few , using the same looking-at-charts approach but with conclusions that often conflict with Tarnas's.
Exploring Astrology with Richard Tarnas
For example Charles Carter, the leading British astrologer of his time, did not agree that astrology can give only archetypal results, just as his successor John Addey did not agree that astrology is untestable by science. My point is not whether these views are right or wrong but that Tarnas's book fails to note that he is on a well-travelled path, so it gives the wrong impression that he is some sort of pioneer. For example, Tarnas tells us that he carefully read through many astrology books including Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nick Campion and Charles Harvey Aquarian , updated , but he does not tell us that this work comprehensively sets out the links he claims to have discovered, and more.
The above authors also identify the real pioneer in this field, whose name and work are not mentioned by Tarnas: "the resurrection and systematic reconstruction of mundane astrology on a methodical basis is due almost entirely to the industries of one man, Andre Barbault They add that an analysis of Barbault's predictions for , which included the Algerian war, by Jacques Reverchon in his self-published Valeur des Jugements et Pronostics Astrologiques found them to be characterised by vague generalities, hazy language, and a level of accuracy no better than that achieved by informed guessing: "what most surely appears from this analysis is the perfect inanity of the astrological undertaking As shown below, similar wrong predictions by other astrologers are not hard to find:.
Wrong prediction from the North Queensland Register of 24 December Ralph Shirley was also editor of The Occult Review. At the very least we deserve a survey of previous work and the reasons why we should believe Tarnas rather than contrary views.
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Similarly Tarnas is not the first to categorise historical events. So almost at a glance the reader can see what is happening and when. More distressing is Tarnas's failure to refer to the large body of research findings already mentioned, some of which like the findings on inferential and cognitive biasses could hardly be more relevant, see later. The nearest he gets is a brief mention of Gauquelin's planetary effects for eminent professionals pp.
Interestingly, Tarnas's belief seems to receive academic support from Roy Willis and Patrick Curry in their book Astrology, Science and Culture Curry teaches graduate astrology courses focusing on cultural astronomy at Bath Spa University College in England. Like Tarnas they argue that our disenchanted world can be saved by astrology. But contrary to Tarnas the astrology that will save us is divinatory astrology, which Tarnas sees as an "unexamined and often problematic conflation of See this website under Book Reviews for a review of Willis and Curry.
Deep trouble Unfortunately Tarnas dismisses statistical studies as "methodologically inadequate for entering into the archetypal frame of reference central to the astrological tradition" p.
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Consider Tarnas's approach to historical events. He looks at the astrological interpretation or "archetypal dynamics" of major aspects between the five outer planets using an orb permissible inexactness of degrees on either side p.
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And vice versa. If correspondences are found he concludes that astrology is proven. Now, unlike Tarnas, apply some arithmetic. Among five outer planets there are ten possible pairs, of which Tarnas considers six. With his orbs, and regardless of the historical event chosen from an almost unlimited supply, there will nearly always be several pairs in major aspect to compare it with. Since a whole pageful of words may be insufficient to describe the archetypal possibilities of each pair, finding a correspondence in all this mess will be even easier than finding faces in clouds, and just as meaningful.
With so much going on up there, one wonders how the Dark Ages managed to be so Dark. Similar problems arise when Tarnas looks at birth charts, where the orbs he uses 5 degrees for transits and rather more for natal aspects would be seen by most astrologers as overly large, if only because large orbs create too many factors for synthesis.
Which leads to an even worse sin: Apart from rarely giving the birth chart or even the birth data the "trust me" syndrome , Tarnas's chart interpretations routinely break the 1 Golden Rule of Astrology, perhaps the only rule that astrologers have ever agreed on, namely no chart factor shall be judged in isolation. Only the whole chart with nothing left out can mean anything, just as we cannot extract tomato from a pizza and conclude it is tomato pie.
But Tarnas rarely looks at the whole chart. Astrologers sensitive to standards in astrological writing might well reject his book out of hand. Tarnas stresses that "astrology is not concretely predictive but, rather, archetypally predictive Tarnas does not let on that millions of Eastern astrologers might disagree with him. Thus a strong Mars does not indicate bullying or trading in knives but only the "archetypal dynamics" of Mars energy, assertiveness whose precise nature can be seen only after the event.
Since we all have to be energetic and assertive at various times just to survive, a positive match is guaranteed. Why be disenchanted when you can have nonfalsifiability? Tarnas might of course see the above as yet more evidence for his claim that astrology "presents an epistemological challenge that transcends the competence of quantitative testing" p. But recall his claim in the Astrological Journal cited above, that astrology "is testable.
And every one of us can test it.
How It Works
So let us look a little closer. Need for controls Recall that Tarnas considers only positive cases. But as every first-year psychology student knows, positive cases do not necessarily indicate a correspondence. So we need to know if Tarnas's positive cases can also be found for control events and control birth charts. If so, we conclude that no correspondence exists unless more rigorous tests show otherwise. But Tarnas does not use controls or even hint at their importance in drawing conclusions, let alone weighty conclusions about world views and the future of mankind, despite being helped by "more than thirty trusted colleagues Such an abuse of elementary reasoning might be forgiven in a newspaper horoscope but not in a Penguin Viking book by a professor of philosophy helped by thirty trusted colleagues.
As it happens such controls have already been applied in astrology, either inadvertently, as when astrologers unknowingly use the wrong birth chart, or deliberately, in the same way that psychologist Ray Hyman famously gave reversed indications in his palmistry readings. The results show that wrong charts match people and events just as well as right charts.
Is Archetypal Astrology the Rosetta Stone of the Human Psyche? with Stan Grof & Rick Tarnas
Which is exactly what we would predict from the ambiguity of the astrological symbolism and the cherchez-la-correspondance way in which it is applied by astrologers including Tarnas. Dozens of more rigorous tests where astrologers match birth charts to case histories including events, or where people try to pick their own chart reading, both under blind conditions, show when meta-analysed no evidence to support Tarnas's claims.
In fact tests have found that astrologers do not usefully agree on what a birth chart means in the first place.