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Astrological theory unpacked. Beliefs, research, criticism, and relationship to science are explored through postulation, evaluation, and discourse in peer reviewed articles.

There are three key questions that astrological theory needs to answer:

  1. What is the physical correspondence between the individual and the celestial environment that surrounds the individual? This theory would develop mathematical frames of reference based on natural symmetries.

  2. What are the essential operations of the signs, houses, aspects, and planets when reduced to definitive meanings? This theory would develop an astrological taxonomy that would account for empirical observations.

  3. What is the psychological mechanism of astrological interpretation? This theory would develop the assessment of astrological patterns and dynamics drawn from astrological tradition and wisdom.

How the galactic center replaced the constellations:
A competing paradigm for the Great Year and astrological ages

The lack of unanimity regarding the timing of the ages in the Great Year precessional cycle has been problematic for astrology and is a perennial source of derision emanating from the scientific community, where it is sometimes incorrectly argued that Ophiuchus should be a zodiacal sign. Despite the minimal role that the precessional ages plays in the practice of astrology, this is one of the main issues today that prevents astrology from entering into modern acceptance and the potential it would otherwise offer for research. Even after many years of effort, the precessional problem in astrology cannot be educated away to the satisfaction of critics and the time is overdue for a change of paradigm. This proposal argues that zodiac meanings are derived from observations separate from the constellations and that a more modern consideration of galactic structure will resolve the issue of the astrological ages. More >>

Support for astrology from the 1985 Carlson double-blind experiment

The Carlson double-blind study, published in 1985 in Nature (one of the world's leading scientific publications) has long been regarded as one of the most definitive indictments against astrology. Although this study might appear to be fair to uncritical readers, it contains serious flaws, which when they are known, cast a very different light on the study. These flaws include: no disclosure of similar scientific studies, unfairly skewed design, disregard for its own stated criteria of evaluation, irrelevant groupings of data, rejection of unexpected results, and an illogical conclusion based on the null hypothesis. Yet, when the stated measurement criteria are applied and the data is evaluated according to normal social science, the two tests performed by the participating astrologers provide evidence that is consistent with astrology (p = .054 with ES = .15, and p = .037 with ES = .10). These extraordinary results give further testimony to the power of data ranking and rating methods, which have been successfully used in previous astrological experiments. A critical discussion on follow-up studies by McGrew and McFall (1990), Nanninga (1996/97), and Wyman and Vyse (2008) is also included. More >>

The good science of astrology: Separating effects from artifacts

Assumptions of causal mechanism, influence, and credulity are examined with regard to the astrological premise. The Hermetic maxim, which is widely accepted in astrology, suggests that symmetrical processes mathematically associate microcosmic and macrocosmic features and take precedence over causal mechanisms. The astrological literature suggests that influences should be interpreted as interactions within these cosmological symmetries between individuals rather than between planets and individuals. The literature further suggests that effects should be evaluated by inclination or "eminence," which means that correlations should be ranked or rated by magnitude to objectively separate effects from artifacts. This method has proved to be successful in astrological research and should be universally adopted. In this light, classroom Forer-type tests, which are presumed to support subjective validation arguments against astrology, are scrutinized. It is questioned how these tests, which are typically composed of selectively assembled non-astrological artifacts found in horoscope columns, or for that matter, any of the leading empirical studies that have claimed to repudiate astrology, can rationally stand up against more objective studies that have tested for eminence effects. More >>

The students' critical thinking guide to science and astrology:
Lessons for informed evaluation

Student essays on astrology at most universities are usually expected to demonstrate the weaknesses of astrology and this article has been named so students can easily find it when they write their papers. It offers criticism but is intended to transform what students should write about. Students should not rely upon rhetorical arguments against astrology, which are often expounded under the guise of "rationality" or "critical thinking." Rhetorical arguments are often flawed, and properly evaluated evidence of astrology is often overlooked. The new requirement, as advocated by this article, is that students should learn how to empirically evaluate astrology and to engage in discourse rather than rhetoric. More >>

Astrology and the social sciences:
Looking inside the black box of astrology theory

Astrology texts provide details of astrological practice and interpretation, but astrology theory has not been well described. One approach to theory is to consider astrology as a study of natural symmetries rather than a study of causal interactions. Simplified versions of astrological frames of reference bear a suggestive resemblance to various patterns of personality and behavior that are identified within the social sciences, particularly those that deal with shared values, skills, and beliefs. Astrological operations within these frames of reference similarly suggest identifiable patterns of love, development, and a mechanism of psychological projection. A research program of further study should confirm and account for these similarities through a cross-disciplinary analysis and correlation of empirical findings. More >>

Is There Really a "Mars Effect?"

This is psychologist Michel Gauquelin's last published article (1988), which summarizes the replications by other scientists of his most frequently tested astrological discoveries regarding highly successful professionals. This article includes the scientific realization, by Suitbert Ertel, that the astrological effect increases with professional eminence, which had been Gauquelin's original but hitherto untested hypothesis. The application of the eminence test, a rigourous and highly sensitive analysis (in this case) of citatation frequencies, eliminates selection bias, which had been the chief suspicion of Gauquelin's critics. The research performed by Gauquelin and the scientific breakthrough provided by Ertel provides historic evidence that the astrological properties of the planets are scientifically verifiable. More >>

Environmental cosmology:
Principles and theory of natal astrology

Written in response to the need for a theory of astrology, this book is a conscientious attempt to find a common ground that can realign the discourse between science and astrology. Skeptical views of astrology are critically examined and recent developments in statistics, psychology, and chaos science are used to clarify key concepts in astrology. Astrological concepts may appear to be counterintuitive but have rational consequences, and this leads to the discovery of coherent theories. Through a process of abductive analysis and theory reconstruction, a thesis emerges that positions astrology as not so much the study of planets, stars, or even people, but of the relationships between mind and natural symmetries in the environment. More >>


Theory of Astrology © 2001-2013 by Ken McRitchie. Last updated June 19, 2013