Against this, the rest felt there was nothing wrong with funding something that most Indian people believe in. But the protests were without effect because, in Indian law, Vedic astrology is seen as a scientific discipline. Nevertheless, in , several scientists asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court to stop the UGC from funding courses in Vedic astrology because it was a pseudoscience, it would impose Hindu beliefs on the education system, 4 and it would reduce the funds available for genuine scientific research.
However, the court dismissed their case on the grounds that it was not correct for a court to interfere with a UGC decision that did not violate Indian law. In , an appeal under the act that bans false advertising was made to the Mumbai High Court. Astrology is a trusted science and is being practiced for over years. Here the performance of astrology in predicting the results of events has been very poor.
The nearest we have are follow-ups to predictions of public events such as elections, where failure is the norm.
For example, the elections in were a showdown between Indira Gandhi and her political opponents. The Astrological Magazine was filled with predictions by amateurs and professionals, most of whom predicted that Gandhi would lose. In fact, she won with an overwhelming majority. The elections attracted another frenzy of predictions, most of which saw Gandhi losing. For example B. Also in , at a large international conference organized by the Indian Astrologers Federation, both the president and secretary of the Federation predicted a war with Pakistan in , which India would win, and a world war between and All wrong!
In the West, books critical of astrology are not hard to find, but in India the reverse is true. Some excellent books exist, such as Premanand et al. Unfortunately, given the low level of income and high level of illiteracy of the masses, web sources may not be very effective in general. Pune itself has a population of about 3. So volunteers from the Committee for the Eradication of Superstitions went to different schools and collected the names of teenage school children rated by their teachers as mentally bright.
They also collected names from special schools for the mentally handicapped. The destinies of these cases could hardly be more different, so they were ideal for testing the above claim. From the collected data we selected bright and mentally handicapped cases whose age distribution is shown on the next page. Birth details were obtained from their parents because birth certificates are rare in India. Professional Indian astrologers routinely assume that birth details provided by parents are correct, so our procedure followed the norm.
Each horoscope birth chart was calculated by one of us PG using commercial astrological software. All horoscopes were coded and stored in safe custody by Professor Kunte at Pune University, so that neither the experimenters our group of four nor the astrologers could know the identities of the individuals. We announced our experiment at a press conference in Pune May 12, , and invited practicing astrologers to take part. We explained that each participant would be given forty horoscopes drawn at random from our set of and would have to judge whether their owners were mentally bright or handicapped.
We also invited established astrological organizations to take part, for which they would be given all horoscopes, a respectably large sample size. The press conference, which was reported in almost all local and regional newspapers, proved to be an efficient way to reach astrologers. We asked them to send us their names, experience, and method of prediction used, together with a stamped self-addressed envelope for mailing the forty horoscopes.
They were then allowed one month for making their judgments. In due course, fifty-one astrologers asked for horoscopes, of which twenty-seven from all over Maharashtra sent back their judgments.
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The rest did not tell us why they chose not to participate. We assured them that the skepticism of data collectors had no active role in running the experiment, and that the experiment was of the double-blind kind to make sure it was entirely fair. But they were not convinced, and tried unsuccessfully to dissuade other astrologers from participating. A month later, at a Pune astrological seminar, we explained that tests, indeed many tests, are necessary if astrology is to establish itself as a science.
In India, leading astrologers have their own astrological organizations, and so we wrote to those on our list about a dozen inviting them to judge all horoscopes. Two responded with expressions of interest, of which one sent in its judgment. The other remained silent. Among other things he gave us a rule for predicting sex and another rule for predicting intelligence, both of which he claimed were correct in 60 percent of cases.
But when applied to our set of horoscopes, the predictions were respectively 47 and 50 percent correct, which offers no advantage over pure guessing or tossing a coin.
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Of the twenty-seven astrologers who participated, not all provided personal details, but fifteen were hobbyists, eight were professionals, nine had up to ten years of experience, and seventeen had more than ten years of experience. So they clearly formed a competent group.
Their average experience was fourteen years. In fact the highest score was of twenty-four hits by a single astrologer followed by twenty-two hits by two astrologers. The remaining twenty-four astrologers all scored twenty hits or less, including one professional astrologer who found thirty-seven intelligent and three undecided so none were mentally handicapped!
The average for all twenty-seven astrologers was So much for the benefits of their average fourteen years of experience! Certainly no scientific theory would survive such a poor success rate! The institution whose team of astrologers had judged all horoscopes got hits, of which fifty-one were bright and fifty-one were mentally handicapped, so their judgments were, again, no better than tossing a coin. Tragically, our statistician, Sudhakar Kunte, died in an accident in , and the security he imposed on data storage has so far made it difficult for us to perform further tests, such as whether the astrologers agreed on their judgments, whether they could pick high IQ better than low, and whether the three astrological methods used Nirayan, Sayan, Krishnamurty differed in success rate.
We hope that the access to this data will eventually be possible. In Clark twenty astrologers averaged 72 percent hits for ten cases of high IQ paired with cerebral palsy, but this famous result could not be replicated by Joseph , where twenty-three astrologers averaged only 53 percent hits for ten cases of high IQ when paired with the severely mentally handicapped.
It is also consistent with the few tests of Western astrologers who practice Vedic astrology, for example Dudley Our experiment with twenty-seven Indian astrologers judging forty horoscopes each, and a team of astrologers judging horoscopes, showed that none were able to tell bright children from mentally handicapped children better than chance.
Our results contradict the claims of Indian astrologers and are consistent with the many tests of Western astrologers. In summary, our results are firmly against Indian astrology being considered as a science. The Department of Statistics, Pune University, and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, provided infrastructural support while this experiment was being conducted.
A brief account appeared in Current Science 96 5 , —, My special thanks to Geoffrey Dean of Perth, Western Australia, for providing information on tests of Western astrology as well as giving me a general background of astrology in the West versus the East. Babylonian omen ideas arrived in India around BC during the Persian occupation, followed, around AD, by Greek astrological ideas based on planets. To these were added new ideas to suit Indian culture.
The end result was largely the Indian astrology still in use today, which exists in numerous schools disagreeing over details most schools of astrology, Indian or Western, disagree over details.
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The main differences from Western astrology are a preoccupation with reincarnation and karma, use of the sidereal zodiac instead of the tropical zodiac they now differ by nearly one sign due to precession , exclusion of the non-classical planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in favor of the two lunar nodes Rahu and Ketu, use of twenty-seven lunar mansions or nakshatras, and progressively smaller and smaller subdivisions of the signs Stein and Rao Braha , xiii warns that the complexity can be dealt with only by intuition and experience, so Indian astrology cannot be properly learnt from books.
But tests of Western astrologers have found that neither self-rated use of intuition nor experience raise their success rate above chance Dean and Kelly So why should Indian astrologers be any different? At one time Rao ran a computer horoscope service but without predictions. According to ancient Hindu texts, each believer has 8,, rebirths from which they are released only by attaining enlightenment. At say, fifty years per birth, and no change over time, the allocated rebirths span more than million years, roughly the age of the earliest hominids.
But some come close. For example Rakesh Anand used astrology to make several important decisions in his life, but the results were disastrous. So he prepared horoscopes for twenty-four celebrities and nine personal friends, changed their names, and was able to get astrologers from everywhere in far northern India to predict their life and events.
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According to the Faculty of Astrological Studies, astrology "explores the meaningful connection between mankind and the wider cosmos, the relationship between the movements of the planets and the inner world of human consciousness and motivation. Put like that, it sounds absurd, yet unlike many practitioners of alternative medicine who like to hide the absurdities behind complex terminology or assertions of mysterious energies, even fairly "advanced" astrology is still pretty open about the fact it's predicting the future based on staring into the sky.
This widely believed idea has never produced any worthwhile and conclusive predictions, in spite of having several different formulations across disparate cultures. As far as astrology produces falsifiable predictions, it has been thoroughly falsified as no better than guesswork. As all the "evidence" that it is true is only anecdotal , selectively reported , or made up, it is an excellent example of a woo explanation for something quite mundane.
Because astrology is an ancient pseudoscience , its historical form can differ from the modern-day version. Indeed, there are many astrological traditions that vary from culture to culture, many associated with religions. Wide definitions of what constitutes astrology have been provided by historians and anthropologists.
Patrick Curry defines astrology most broadly as: . Astrology today is the common computation and consultation system used by modern astrologers to explain personality types and factual events of today in terms of planetary movements and positions in their system. This is slightly more complicated than using birth month which is used in horoscopes , as many people are familiar with , although it is no less accurate.
Indeed, thanks to a few seasonal factors see birth month , below this may actually be less useful.
However, it allows astrologers to sell personalised readings and give the impression that they've actually put some work into it. From astrology — Wiktionary , astronomy — Wiktionary , and the Liddell-Scott Lexicon , both words are derived from Classical Greek ones, astrologia and astronomia , and both words were used back then for discussions of celestial entities.
It is only later that "astrology" got specialized to star divination and " astronomy " for star science.