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How Do You Explain Away Astrology to People ?

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#1 kel123

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:20 PM

I have had people ask me weird questions bordering on astrology at outreach events. Sometimes, I have had hard time explaining that astronomy is different from astrology and it is all about exploration of the universe and nothing to do with anybody's luck.
This becomes even more difficult when pointing out constellations and then, mention one of the zodiac constellations.

I wonder if I am alone here. Have you run into people who confuse the two? How do you explain it away? Do you tell them that one is science and the other is superstition?

Thanks

#2 AstroBrett

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:25 PM

Astrology is superstition.

 

Astronomy Is science.

 

Period.


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#3 BlueMoon

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:28 PM

First I ask them if they can share the wine or herb they have. Depending on their answer ...

 

Same science/superstition answer otherwise.


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#4 TOMDEY

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 10:29 PM

The astrologers don't call us stupid. I just don't feel it's my mission in life to tell the astrology buffs that they are. We illuminati astronomers get a bit inbred in our own little universe, and lament that ~the others~ aren't as intelligent as us. Live, and let live... that's my motto.

 

Actually, I even offer to show lucky, select people ~their constellation~ ... right there, with a green laser pointer, at the Star Party. "Here's your Scorpius, like this." The imaging guys let out primal screams, and I explain that they are also admiring Scorpio. Then I trace out, "And here's my Sagittarius, and the Teapot like this." We eventually stroll over to my tent... for tea... and to explore the compatibility of Scorpio and Sagittarius. The others are still outside, collecting data and getting all frustrated with their recalcitrant equipment, and cursing the astrologers.    Tom, Dec +90... on top of the world

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  • 129 SAGITTARIUS JPG.jpg

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#5 Gipht

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 10:36 PM

People who are into astrology may feel powerless, and their belief  in astrology may help them feel a sense of control over what may be beyond their control  For some, the world is so complex and difficult to understand, that a simpler way of looking at the world is a much needed tonic.

 

The important  thing to remember is that these people need support, as we all do.  Stay with the facts, but do not administer facts as punishment.

 

Have you ever felt a sense of Karma exists, a balance in the  Universe?  Hopefully, mixing kindness with intelligence will reward you.


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#6 Sky King

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 10:44 PM

I think the answer to this question lies in the history of observing. 3000+ years ago or so it was observed that the major stellar patterns along the ecliptic were made up the 12 constellations of the zodiac. This had to be a significant discovery. So they made up astrology to explain it. Thank goodness we have a long history of people everywhere observing the night sky and wondering why. To these folks this was as strange as dark matter and dark energy is to us. 


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#7 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 12:08 AM

I don't see astrology as any different to any other sky fairy belief system. Of course it isn't empirical science, but neither is anything else that isn't empirical science.

 

Astrology is a subjective ontological belief system, just like any other subjective ontological belief system. 

 

Reality is basically a construct anyway.

 

I don't think I can 'explain astrology away to people', just as I can't explain the Easter Bunny away. 

 

I might have a stab at explaining people away to the Easter Bunny one day.


Edited by Shorty Barlow, 22 July 2020 - 12:13 AM.


#8 TOMDEY

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 01:09 AM

Someday, somebodies... will be amused at our pompous ~scientific~ reality constructs. That may be a hundred, thousand, million, or billion years from now. But they will be screening through the ashes of our telescopes, domes, microscopes, and bones... and grinning at what we naively believed to be ~Reality~. That we thought time was one-dimensional sequential linear, that space was 3D, that events began and ended, and that an eruptive singularity started the clock... And that we were blessed with superior intelligence. Quaint, even charming... and so parochial.    Tom


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#9 sg6

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 02:49 AM

Don't explain it away, explain the differences and so what one is compared to the other. But no point in putting someone down for what they have read and get told. But keep it short and avoid getting dragged into an arguement. Don't put it down, or even defend astronomy over astrology. Lots are there just to "argue". As was said at a talk I went to on something else: "Don't get drawn into their game." That is where/when problems occur or get out of hand.

 

Huge amount of astronomy is still at the theory and so in a way "belief" stage, even it could be argued "blind belief".

 

Show me a pot of Dark Matter. Something that we appear to say exists, with the slight proviso that we cannt see it, cannot detect it, have no idea what it is, but it is everywhere. Passes through us with no influence, no effect or anything. It seems to have assorted Mass associated - I have heard neutrino mass up to Super Massive particals. There is also either 4x more or 5x more or 6x more and up to 10x more of it then all the rest of the mass we see.

 

Usually proof of DM is the result of some model which can be argued is in favour of showing DM exists.

 

Astrologers can at least say "I was born under that sign". If they believe that it then influences their lives then let them. If your birthday was say Feburary then you could have been taught to ski as a birthday present once and now celebrate your birthday on a ski slope around the world. Isn't that an influence?

 

Will say always have an escape route if possible.

Try "There are likely a good number of astronomers who are into a bit of astrology, so the two are not incompatible." Tends to stop people. If asked are you, easy reply is neither for or against it.

Then look round for someone else who obviously needs your help.lol.gif  lol.gif


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#10 kel123

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 04:36 AM

Hmmmm. So many words of wisdom here. Please keep it coming.
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#11 Greyhaven

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 05:55 AM

I don't try to separate the two. Why bother? Anyone seriously confusing the two are beyond redemption by me so when I get home I sacrifice a chicken and ask the Gods for Divine Guidance.

Grey 


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#12 SupernovaDust

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 06:48 AM

I usually tell people that astrology and astronomy were not distinguished up until 16th or 17th century. People observed the sky but could not explain what they saw and so they made things up, similar to how ancient people thought that some giant is carrying the sun over the horizon. With deeper understanding of what was going on, science was introduced to the skies and more knowledge was gathered, reducing the need for myths. Astrology prevailed and diverged from astronomy, holding on to a system based on experience and beliefs while astronomy is based on observable facts and experiments. The former implies that we are not masters of our own faith, the latter does not concern itself with such topics at all and rather tries to understand why the world is the way it is. So I tell them to ask themselfs: do you like the idea that your well-being is controlled by something out of your influence? If yes, why?


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#13 MarkGregory

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 07:46 AM

Astronomy, Astrology. They sound so much alike to most people and they both deal with the sky and stars. A quick explanation of the differences usually clears up the matter immediately for novice sky watchers. I don't see it as a big deal. However, I do think as a society we should introduce Astronomy in schools much earlier. I didn't learn about Astronomy until I was in college, when I took an entire course on the subject. Where is Astronomy 101 fro 8th graders? 


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#14 TOMDEY

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 09:37 AM

I recall, with some amusement, how most college students got introduced to astronomy. Back in the early 1960s, the Ivy League "Liberal Arts" Schools sill required that we students experience an eclectic Renaissance potpourri of disciplines. Math, music, languages, law, history, horticulture, philosophy, philology, astronomy, astrology, religion, rhetoric, sports, and swimming... endless list. You couldn't get away with focusing on your one and only interest, ignoring the others. Ever notice how many of your friends dismiss some of those, out of hand, out of ignorance? Not you, of course... just your friends...

 

My upbringing was Catholic Prep schools, then Liberal Arts. Although my interests were math and science, we were forced to at least consider and learn the others, if not intimately embrace them. The alternative was to get slapped around by the nuns, Basilians, and Jesuits. Actually, a very good system. Forces the kids to stretch beyond their comfort zones, and experience the cornucopia which is truly diverse thought. The output is well-rounded individuals, who appreciate all disciplines.

 

What I'm intimating is... if you dismiss astrology, and many other schools of thought - at least ask yourself ~why?~ Have you immersed yourself enough to understand the nuances of alternative thought, or are you just stuck in an exclusive, single-minded, mutual admiration society? It's a big universe out there!  Tom


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#15 MarkGregory

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 09:43 AM

I don't try to separate the two. Why bother? Anyone seriously confusing the two are beyond redemption by me so when I get home I sacrifice a chicken and ask the Gods for Divine Guidance.

Grey 

Thanks, you made me laugh out loud. 🤣


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#16 Arcamigo

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 10:24 AM

I look to Carl Sagan for the best answer. We could compare the lives of twins, or my favorite quote, "How could it possibly work? How could the rising of Mars at the moment of my birth affect me, then or now? I was born in a closed room, light from Mars couldn't get in. The only influence of Mars which could affect me was its gravity, but the gravitational influence of the obstetrician was much larger than the gravitational influence of Mars. Mars is a lot more massive, but the obstetrician was a lot closer."


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#17 BrettG

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 10:46 AM

I am not one to actually discuss anything with the hardened believers of Astrology - I usually get too worked up.

 

But these are the things to thing about to me, if you want to have someone apply their critical thinking skills to the subject

 

If Astrology were a real science, we'd have known about Pluto long before the 1930's.

 

Or any of the other millions of bodies that actually make up our solar system, since apparently their locations matter.

 

Also the sun has passed through Ophiuchus for quite a long time - why is it ignored in "Zodiac Astrology"?



#18 Arcamigo

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 10:55 AM

In situations like this, I find it helpful to listen very carefully. They will almost always provide you with material with which to weaken their own beliefs. Then ask them to critically consider what they just said. Astrology, flat earth, politics, it's all the same. Lecturing and pontificating seldom works.


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#19 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 11:05 AM

 

If Astrology were a real science, we'd have known about Pluto long before the 1930's.

 

 

AFAIK it's never purported to be a 'real' science. Of course, it depends on how you want to define reality. When you can realistically define reality as 'real' as opposed to something that is essentially constructed inside your own consciousness I think you may be nearer an answer. 

 

I don't know about Pluto now. I probably need a bigger Barlow.


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#20 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 11:07 AM

 Astrology, flat earth, politics, it's all the same. 

Oddly, I've never met an astrologer that believes the Earth is flat.


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#21 Lister85

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 11:23 AM

I mean, it really depends, doesn't it?

 

If you're showing someone the sky and they say they "love astrology," you can politely correct them and explain the difference between the two. I don't think this is an invitation to tell that person that astrology is bupkis and it's stupid to believe in it, whether you feel that way or not. If we're talking about outreach, we're trying to get people interested in the universe, not pass judgment on them.

 

If you're talking about a conversation with someone and explaining your position, I always like to tell people that our solar system could have worked out in lots of other places in the universe. If our solar system were located somewhere else, we'd see different stars in different patterns. We'd interpret those patterns to be different constellations, and we'd ascribe different meanings to them. The mythology would change, but ultimately, they'd have the same effect on our lives as they do now - none at all.



#22 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 12:19 PM

Another thing that intrigues me is that I've never met an astrologer with much of an idea about astronomy. When I've pointed out Taurus, Leo, Cancer and other zodiacal constellations in the night sky to astrologers I know personally, they seem surprised that the constellations can actually be seen. Which always struck me as odd. 


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#23 lkannard

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 12:59 PM

At a Public Star Party, It’s worse to get the Astrology person at your telescope, followed by the Flat Earth Dude.
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#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 01:16 PM

It's not an issue I normally address.

 

There are many forms of astrology/astronomy associated with a great variety of cultures.

 

I know one man, he's from Tibet, he runs a Tibetan store in San Diego and does Tibetan astrological readings. 

 

http://tibetanastroscience.com/

 

He received his education at a Tibetan astronomical school in India.. unlike western astrologers, they do actual astronomical calculations.. For example he can calculate lunar and solar eclipse's. I was impressed by that.

 

The school had a small telescope to verify their calculations but it was either damaged or stolen so I donated a small refractor for their institute which he took to India on his last visit.

 

I personally do not believe in his astrological predictions but he is wise in spiritual ways and anyone who knows the Dali Lama must have something going for him.

 

There's a story I once read about Nils Bohr. 

 

Supposedly, he had a horseshoe on his office wall and apparently the horseshoe was pointed up as is proper, it prevents the good luck from flowing out.

 

Anyway, a visitor asked him if, as a man of science, he believed in the horseshoe.

 

He said he did not.

 

But then he added, "They say it works whether or not you believe in it."

 

Personally I believe astrology offers insight into a culture and has value in that regard. A culture's myths are important clues to the culture itself.

 

Historically the stars were used to time and predict. The rising of the Pleiades at dusk was a sign of harvest and the coming winter for some southwestern Indian tribes.. 

 

It's not hard to imagine thinking other things might also be governed by the stars.

 

Jon


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#25 Tony Flanders

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 01:42 PM

How to explain something obviously depends on your audience. I can usually guess pretty well based on the tone of their question how they will take various answers.

 

I always prefer non-confrontational approaches if possible. Fortunately, I know a fair bit about astrology, and a great deal about the history of astrology, which is intimately tied to the history of astronomy. So I can talk at length about astrology without being condescending. I can also explain exactly when and why they diverged.

 

Incidentally, not all astrologers are stupid. It somewhat boggles my mind that highly sophisticated intellectuals can and do take astrology seriously -- but it is an observed fact that some of them do. It's worth reading some of their writings, just to sober you up a bit. In any case, I find astrology far less harmful than some other pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific beliefs that are rampant in the modern world, especially in the U.S.


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