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Barometrology

An Allegory looking at Astrology from a Different Perspective


Astrology is a system of future prediction which starts with empirical measurement but then uses a mystical art to determine what's likely to happen in the future.

Is astrology scientific? Sceptics would say not. They say "Astrology can't possibly work. The gravity of the planets can't affect things on Earth". Well, that's not the point. Astrology might work by some other principle. Astrologers might guess why it works, but they don't know. Now let's look at an alternative world where "Barometrology" is involved. Unlike on Earth where barometers are scientifically known to be indicative of the weather, on other worlds it might be different.

Barometrologists may have discovered the barometer much earlier in history. They'd invent a belief-set which says that barometers indicate the weather, and that the needle on the barometer has "influence" on the weather. Barometrologists have a mystical ritual involving careful tap-tap-tapping of the glass on the front of the barometer, the instrument of divination.

Now when Science evolved, those who accept the new scientific approach might be sceptical of such mystical arts as Barometrology. They might say "The needle on a barometer can't possibly influence the weather, and therefore it is nonsense! It's unfounded and can't possibly work".

You may notice the faulty logic. The needle on a barometer doesn't influence the weather. Neither does the weather influence the needle (as it would be the future affecting the past). Instead, scientifically, air pressure and other atmospheric effects, affect the barometer needle now and the weather later. In other words, barometers do indicate future prediction of the weather.

Maybe the same sort of thing is true of Astrology. It's not the "gravity of the planets" that affect people's lives. However, the movements of the planets are rhythmic and associations have been found in their cycles which correlate with things that go on in people's lives.

This allegory doesn't prove astrology is real. However it shows that sceptical criticism of astrology may itself be unscientific. Maybe a truly scientific study needs to be done. Astrologers assert that their predictions have some validity. Well, let's compare the predictions with the outcomes.

Supposing a hundred people have their futures predicted by astrology, and the results are given to an independent referee. Then, later, the people are given a chance to look at the predictions which are anonymised, and we see if they can match up which predictions relate to which people.

The sceptics state there's zero relationship, so it would be interesting to see if that zero success rate is matched by the results. Do the predictions beat random chance? This is something which can be tested scientifically.

Astrology is a much deeper subject than the 12 signs of the zodiac in a newspaper. However, suppose a scientific test were to be set up to test the validity of star signs in the papers. This could easily be done. The twelve separate predictions are extracted from the paper and are labelled with numbers instead of star signs. Then, people look at the brief prediction paragraphs and decide which is most likely to be the one relating to their star sign. They put their answers in a box, and then later the answers are evaluated. Statistics are such that if the sceptics are right, then people would have only a 1 in 12 chance of "guessing" which prediction is for their star sign. However, if they are right more than 1 in 5 times, for example, over a large sample, it would suggest there is something in star signs in the papers!

This is science, scientific research, not belief in nor against astrology.


Barometers measure air pressure. They usually measure the pressure of the air in "inches of mercury", and it's usually in the region of 29 to 30 inches of mercury. This has a factual correlation with the state of the weather. Higher pressure tends to mean better weather.