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ASTROLOGY, SCIENCE & CAUSALITY


By David Cochrane
Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved
INTRODUCTION:
In a consideration of the relationship of astrology to science, one must first have a clear sense of what
science is and what science is not. Ironically, although we are surrounded by the fruits of science in our
lives, from light bulbs and computers to modern medical treatments, etc., our intuitive sense of what
astrology is may be more accurate than our intuitive sense of what science is.
WHAT IS SCIENCE?
We think of science as an approach to understanding that is precise, rigorous, and down-to-earth. This
impression of science is generally accurate. We may then also think that science is based on theories
and the importance of cause-and-effect relationships; this, however, is true in only certain areas of
science, and the areas in which this is not true is not limited to the study of sub-atomic particles.
Many well-educated people are aware that in the study of the vast reaches of space, Einstein's theory
of relativity is critically important, and Einstein's theories defy common sense and causal relationships
appear to break down.
According to modern physics, mass (which we can think of very roughly and technically inaccurately as
weight) and speed are connected, as are time and space, and these relationships, among others, defy
common sense and our natural inclination to believe that there are tangible causal relationships
between physical things. The educated non-scientist may also be very familiar with general concepts in
quantum theory that in the study of the sub-atomic world defy common sense.
There are also popular books that clearly explain how physicists like David Bohm describe the universe
as an integrated whole with an implicate order. Bell's Theorem is a kind of capstone in the theoretical
edifice of physics that establishes that the human tendency to seek tangible and clear causal
relationships is, in fact, not the way that the universe exists in reality; this need is a limitation of the
finite capacities of the human mind and not the nature of reality. Note that the theory of relativity,
quantum theory, and Bell's Theorem are not "just" theories; they are accepted by physicists and have
huge amounts of data to support them.
NON-CAUSALITY IN PHYSICS THAT WE EXPERIENCE:
What may go unnoticed is that even in the explanation of common everyday phenomena, physics is
unable to develop simple causal mechanisms to explain phenomena! Scientists and non-scientists alike
have been guilty of perpetuating a myth that all science is based on hard-nosed, common sense linear
thinking, with a possible exception here and there from a frame of reference that is either too large (the
vast expanses of outer space) or too small (subatomic particles) to be of any practical or immediate
concern for us. As we shall see, the emporer has no clothes; physics and mathematics often dwell in
the mysterious, illusive, and mystical, even in describing visible and tangible phenomena.
Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion:
Kepler's discovery of planetary motion published in the year 1609 is widely regarded among historians
of science as the marker of the transition to modern science. Kepler discovered that the path of
planets is a geometric shape, an ellipse, and a simple mathematical formula can describe with very
good precision the planetary positions. Kepler's relentless battle to determine this formula and his
intuitive sense that planetary motions could be understood mathematically also marks the attitude that
is often needed in scientific and mathematical endeavors: persistence and a belief that a discovery is
possible.
Kepler's laws of planetary motion are not a statement of causality; they are a statement of the
application of mathematics to the physical world. Kepler's laws of planetary motion state that physical
reality conform to mathematical principles. A reason why the planets should move according to these
laws is not provided. Kepler's breakthrough and this monumental breakthrough to modern science is
founded principally on the application of abstract mathematical models to physical reality.

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appears to be based on a clear cause-and-effect model. The Earth attracts objects to its surface and
causes objects to drop to the ground. Ironically, Newton had to abandon this common sense notion to
imagine his law of gravity, which states that the gravitational pull of an object to another object is
actually based on the gravitational pull of both objects to each other and can be measured by a simple
formula based on the masses of the two objects and their distance from each other.
The huge problem with Newton's law of gravity is that it involves the dreaded "action at a distance", a
concept that many physicists, like most people, find difficult to accept. Gravitation occurs
instantaneously between objects that are separated from each other. How can the earth pull objects to
itself without sending out some kind of force to pull the objects in and this force would require time to
reach the objects?
Newton's law of gravity just does not make common sense and does not involve a cause-and-effect
mechanism. This bothered Newton but he was unable to develop a theory to explain why his formula
works. His formula works and it works extremely well, but it does not involve causality.
Einstein:
Einstein offered a more detailed explanation of the mechanisms by which gravity operates and he
devised a formula that is more accurate than Newton's, but Einstein's explanation involves such almost
literally mind-bending ideas as the curvature of space, which also defy common sense and any sense
of simple cause-and-effect relationships.
Causality is Missing In These Basic Scientific Concepts:
Gravity and the motions of planets are not phenomena that are outside the scope of human
experience. The impression that science is consistently the work of people with fixed, concrete, linear,
and materialistic ideas that demarcates a small circumscribed physical reality is a widespread fallacy.
Clearly the emporer has no clothes; modern science from its early beginnings with Kepler and Newton
has often been driven by a search for the mind of God, for patterns, and abstract formula, and the
discoveries have often pushed us away from a reliance on common sense and cause-and-effect
thinking.
In many ways the evolution of science has been a dismal failure in applying the principle of causeand-effect. In other areas of science, however, causality and common sense have been wonderfully
validated. There are areas where common sense and causality remain supreme and other areas
where they appear to irrelevant.
Quantification, measurement and abstract mathematics:
Kepler, Newton, and Einstein did something that we do associate with science quantification. All of
them applied a formula that made it possible to accurately measure, determine, and quantify
relationships. This ability to measure and quantify has made it possible to have modern space
exploration programs and other wonders of modern science.
Despite the fact that quantification and measurement are not necessarily related to a linear,
materialistic view of the world, many scientists and non-scientists continue to perpetuate the myth that
any form of quantification involves a materialistic frame of reference, a "Newtonian" view, as it is often
called. The term "Newtonian" in this context is ironic because Newton's law of gravity has no causal
basis and is therefore rather mystical and baffling. Newton himself was a bit eccentric, inclined to a
vegetarian diet, alchemy, never married or traveled, did not share with the world his monumental
discovery of calculus, and in his later years spent time studying religious literature.d
Kepler, Newton, and Einstein utilized careful, exacting, critical thinking skills, sophisticated
mathematics, an extraordinary imagination and vision. They have a belief in a grand order and design,
and a profound genius that somehow seems to transcend what humans are normally capable of. These
geniuses utilized the best of several modalities of thinking.
LINEAR, MATERIALISTIC SCIENCE: A Lineage of Thought that Affects Psychology:
There is another stream of thought in science that does not incorporate all of the elements that Kepler,
Newton, and Einstein utilized. This stream of thought has roots going back to the ancient Greek Stoic

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philosophy, and, in a sense, culminated in the 19th century view of the universe as a giant clock; a
mechanical world completely based on physical laws and causality. This kind of thinking impacted
psychology in the mid 20th century with B.F. Skinner's view of the human mind as a blank slate on
which anything could be written and the philosophy of John Watson.
Experimental psychology had noble beginnings in the work and philosophy of Fechner, Wundt, and
Helmholtz in which the physiological basis of sense perception and other psychological phenomena
were studied. The experimental approach reached a crescendo in Skinner's behaviorism, which
attempted to apply the experimental procedure to a domain outside the range of which experimental
methods can fully succeed. Nevertheless, some basic principles of conditioning are, in fact, vitally
important, relevant and important in understanding human behavior. There are times when we humans
behave in ways that are reminiscent of Pavlov's dogs. Behaviorism has born some good fruits for
psychology but behaviorists are a dying breed and for good reason: there are many other perspectives
in psychology that are valid and useful.
Because of the strangling effect of behaviorism and linear materialistic thinking in psychology,
psychologists have utilized many alternative paradigms to free itself of the limitations of Skinner's
approach. Psychologists, like many other people, can easily see science as the materialistic ogre that
strangles the life from their work. Astrologers who employ psychological principles, are especially
inclined to feel an urgent need to free astrology and psychology from the stranglehold of a scientific
paradigm that they perceive as inadequate for both astrology and psychology.
Note this statement by Professor Glenn Perry, a psychological astrologer, in the ISAR International
Astorloger Journal (Vol XXXIII, Number 3, Summer, 2005, page 42): "It cannot be overstated that
quatitative (experimental/statistical) research is rooted in the mechanistic paradigm of modern science,
why by definition excludes the possibility of any type of causality other than physical causality. Linear,
material causality is based on a billiard ball conception of the Universe in which one thing smashes into
another thing and causes it to move."
If one interprets "rooted" as meaning based in modern psychological research, then Professor Perry's
statement is correct. However, there is a dangerous conclusion that one can draw from this statement:
you might be disinclined to any kind of quantitative study because you might believe that quantitative
studies necessarily incline you to this philosophical premise.
For someone such as myself who is steeped in the traditions of physics and mathematical thinking, as
well as psychological thinking, quantitative analysis and linear, material thinking are closely allied only in
the minds of modern day psychologists, but are not allied in reality! It is an unfortunate historical fact
that the application of quantitative methods to psychological principles had its roots in thinkers who
followed the stream of thought from the ancient Greek Stoics to the Positivists like Auguste Comte and
to Skinner and Watson.
Quantitative Analysis and Linear Thinking Are Not Necessarily Related:
To identify quantitative analysis with linear, materialistic thinking is to equate the worst limitations of
human thought with quantitative thinking. By analogy, we can attack all astrology as silly because
modern astrology is primarily practiced by self-educated individuals who have gleaned a few ideas
here and there without the systematic and comprehensive study that a college education affords. Here
is where Professor Perry and I disagree: I see quantification as a part of the Platonic idealism and
vision of giants such as Kepler, Newton, and Einstein, and not as a imposition of a linear, materialistic
framework on a study of consciousness.
Quantification does not necessarily strangle the life and magic of a subject; ironically, it often reveals it!
The laws of planetary motion, gravity, quantum theory, relativity, and mathematical laws like the
Fibonacci series, group theory, and the study of geometry reveal a magic and wonder in the universe
that demonstrate how our simple, finite minds can never grasp the entirety of reality while at the same
time we can catch glimpses into the magical universe we inhabit. Quantification for me is spiritually
liberating, as each discover reveals greater magic and wonder and raises more questions that it
raises. Astrologers should read the book "The Golden Ratio" and "Symmetry" by Mario Livio if they
would like to become liberated from a view of science and quantification as areas that are materialistic

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and linear. Skinner, Watson, and Comte were linear and materialistic in their thinking. Quantification is
not linear (except in the minds of people like Skinner, Watson, and Comte).
Professor Perry and I work from different lineages of knowledge. In the early 70's, before finishing my
undergraduate degree in psychology, my interests had already began shifting from psychology and
sociology to mathematics and physics, as backdrops to the study of astrology. The epistemological
efforts in the field of psychology do not interest me as much as the epistemological efforts of
scientists. Ironically, the approach of some physicists and mathematicians is, I have found, more
mystical and wondrous while simultaneously more exacting and precise, than that of many
psychologists. The field of psychology can get mired in discussions of the validity of quantitative versus
qualitative research while from the point of view of Platonic mathematics and physics, both are part of
an indivisible reality that have appropriate uses and functions when used properly.
A Wholistic Approach to Astrology Accepts Varying Approaches:
An excellent article on qualitative and quantitative research in psychology by Professor Trochim of
Cornell University is at this website address: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualdeb.htm In
this article, Professor Trochim shares the controversy in social sciences of the value of qualitative and
quantitative research, and concludes that both approaches are valid and actually are different sides of
the same coin. Professor Trochim states "To say that one or the other approach is "better" is, in my view,
simply a trivializing of what is a far more complex topic than a dichotomous choice can settle.". He states
that the debate of qualitative versus quantitative research is often "much ado about nothing".
Professor Trochim's views agree with my own and fit nicely with the view that a student of
physics and mathematics would have: there is a mysterious and wondrous indivisible reality
which we gain a greater understanding of through various means and mechanisms and different
times.
To align any particular approach to astrology, whether it is quantitative research, qualitative research,
the practice of psychological astrology, or divinatory and psychic astrology, with necessarily having
certain philosophical limitations can simply deny the validity and usefulness of these various
approaches at various times.
Einstein's famous dream as a teen inspired his discoveries of the theory of relativity. August Kekule's
discovery of the benzene ring after a dreamy vision of a snake eating its tail are inspiring images for
astrologers; we can utilize many different styles of understanding to reach the truth.
To raise qualitative research above quantitative research and to see quantitative research as mired in
linear, mechanistic thinking is not helpful to astrology. There are many problems with quantitative
research in astrology and following the linear, mechanistic thinking of the Positivists is certainly one of
them.
Very often I read a quantitative study in psychology or astrology with the feeling that the researcher is
trying to lasso a wild horse with a shoe string. Quantitative methods can be woefully inadequate for
understanding a subject as dynamic and fluid, and removed from the physical, material, and causal as
astrology. This is one of the many problems which a quantitative approach to astrology can have, and
Professor Perry's brilliant writings alert us to these problems. The problems are not insurmountable
and there is another very vibrant and important tradition of scientific thinking and quantitative analysis
that is valid and important for astrology: quantitative research that catches glimpses of a reality that is
acausal and can never be completely circumscribed by quantification and yet whose secrets are
revealed by careful measurement and analysis.
Despite all of the limitations of science, we do fly in airplanes, watch television, and turn on our
computers. I believe that strology will begin to fly only when all resources are utilized, including the
quantitative approach. A wholistic approach to astrology that incorporates the benefits of different
approaches, rather than pitting qualititative agaisnt quantitative, is healthier and more useful for
astrology.
CONCLUSION:

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In conclusion, the ultimate foundations of astrology are almost certainly not causal and are most likely
very much as Professor Perry describes them. Scientific methodologies very often, contrary to popular
opinion, are not confined to causal, linear models and, ironically, can liberate astrology and accelerate
the advancement of the mystical and wondrous aspects of astrology, as well as help demarcate the
formula by which that astrology operates.
Differences of Opinion regarding Quantitative Research are Mostly Illusory
The differences between Professor Glenn Perry's philosophy and approach to astrology and my own
is, I believe, more of an illusion than a reality. Perry is warning astrologers of the problems and
limitations of following a paradigm for astrological study and research based on simple "if this, then
that" rules. The sophisticated and complex tools to approach astrological research quantitatively are so
new and the tools for this kind of research are just in recent years being developed, and the data for
these kinds of study are still largely unavailable. Perry is addressing the realities of what astrologers
typically currently face in their study and research of astrology. I am pioneering new pathways for
astrology to proceed in order to unravel what I preceive as an intricate and wondrous cosmic tapestry.
Perry warns the astrologer of the many treacherous problems in the journey. I am pointing the way to
a fresh approach to quantitative research that is based more on the philosophy and thinking of Platonic
mathematicians and physicists rather than on the materialistic, linear thinking of Skinner, Watson, and
Comte.
In short, the work of Professor Perry and myself are, for the most most part, complementary and in
agreement, although superficially they map appear to be contradictory. To apply quantitative methods
to psychological phenomena is often like trying to lasso a wild horse with a shoe string; it simply does
not work. Finding a way to utilize quantitative analysis for research of psychological phenomena at time
is like the treacherous journey of Odysseus, with the threats of Scylla and Charybis threatening one's
journey. Perry warns us of the dangers. My work points the way to a quantitative approach that avoids
the very real dangers that Perry identifies.
I am concerned that in the concern for the failures of linear and materialistic thinking, higher order
quantitative analysis will be regarded as being in the same category as linear, materialistic thinking. I
am concerned that the wonder and magic or higher order technical analysis will go unrecognized and
unseen by astrologers as they turn their backs on Skinner and Watson and run towards qualitative
research.
As Horacio warned Hamlet, there is more to life than is contained in our philosophy. Analysis that
involves careful measurement and quantification is not necessarily myopic and dull-witted, although in
practice it may suffer from exactly this problem more often than not. The problems of the quantitative
approach are the problems of misapplication of a tool rather than the tool itself.
Quantitative Thinking in Astrology:
Avoiding quantitative thinking in astrology is impossible.
If astrologers deny the importance and relevance of quantitative analysis in astrology, they will only
perpetuate the current confusion and lack of coherency in astrology because astrologers too often can
be caught in a self-contradiction from which there is no escape except quantitative analysis.
Imagine hearing this statement from an astrologer: "Transiting Uranus is exactly square Bill's
Mars next month, and in the middle of the month transiting Mars squares his natal Uranus. Also,
progressed Mars is closely approaching conjunction to his natal Uranus".
An extraordinary coincidence of factors such as this is quite remarkable but not impossible. Now, what
astrology can hear this without thinking "accident"? Over 90% of astrologers will think of accidentproneness or unexpected upsets of some kind, perhaps violence or other disturbing changes. This
thought relates to a measurable phenomenon. Disturbances are measurable in various ways. None of
the measurement methods is perfect; this is why scientists use statistics.To use statistics for this kind
of analysis does not imply that astrology causes the accident. In Statistics 101 courses we learn that

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correlations do not imply causality.


A study of extreme and unusual pure type behaviors (such as an accident, which occurs very rarely
and is extreme) does test the validity of the astrological analysis of astrologers. The great majority of
studies that can test astrology, such as vocation or a behavior such as alcoholism which can various
complex root causes, is nearly impossible to analyze astrologically. There are, however, some kinds of
behaviors, such as accidents which can be effectively used to test the assumptions that astrologers
use to interpret charts.
Quantitative research is difficult but not impossible
Quantitative research does not imply causality and is not limited to one factor at a time, as some critics
of the application of the scientific method to astrology claim.
As astrologers, we cannot help say "accident prone" or "likelihood of disturbances" for the hypothetical
configuration described above. We cannot help but say "lots of air" for someone with Libra rising, and
Sun, Mercury and Venus in Aquarius, and Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in Gemini, and to have certain
personality traits in mind when we say this. Extreme cases such as these do occur and we do refer to
measurable behaviors when we describe these astrological configurations, even if we are
psychological or metaphysical astrologers. There are many possible outcomes but they are definable.
The Mars-Uranus aspects can incline towards violence or accidents, but they would not manifest as a
relaxing, uneventful, and unexciting day at the beach. To believe that the scientific method is irrrelevant
to astrology because of many possible expressions of the energy is to deny the fact that there are in
many cases only certain clear kinds of behaviors and manifestations of the astrological influences that
are possible. Consequently astrologers are faced with a "quantitative dilemma": we astrologers are
inclined to sometimes use quantitative language even if we believe that astrology is not capable of
producing quantitative results that can be verified scientifically. There are several solutions to this
dilemma, and the one that I endorse is a belief that astrology is capable of producing valid and useful
quantitative information.
To see any use of statistics or other quantitative measures as some great evil that strangles the life
out of astrology is overly simplistic. In all likelihood, qualitative research will gain greater and greater
attention in the coming years and will contribute valuable insights. In the early stages of understanding
a subject, qualitative research is recommended. Qualitative research is also more widely used in social
sciences than physical sciences. In our enthusiasm for qualitative research, however, we need not look
down our noses at those who pursue quantitative research as materialistics who are stuck in an
anachronistic linear, materialistic model of how astrology operates. As Professor Trochim points out,
controversies of qualitative research versus quantitative research more often are much ado about
nothing. Both are valuable and important resources for astrology.
To rely only on qualitative research would avoid facing squarely the quantitative dilemma of
astrologers: we do make quantitative statements. We can remove quantitative research if we are
willing to remove quantitative statements. When analyzing the extremely strong Mars-Uranus influenes
in Bill's chart, avoid references to accident-prone or violence or other measurable behaviors and then
astrology clearly stands outside the scope of quantitative analysis. If we are unwilling to do this, our
statements are testable by quantitative methods.

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