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  #51  
Old 09-13-2019, 07:41 AM
KidCharlemagne is online now
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Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Thanks! Preparatory to walking that back a bit, I still maintain that there is no historically plausible way to get from specific seasonal birth predictions in some hypothesized prehistoric folklore to any specific astrological nativity system. Astrology proper had already become much more astronomically complex than mere seasonal cycles (focusing instead on planetary position relationships in zodiacal signs and "houses", for instance) long before the concept of individual birth horoscopes was developed. The idea that such hypothetical prehistoric folklore could provide anything like a "scientific basis" for any known genethlialogical system is indeed complete bullshit.

However, you're not wrong that the birth omen part of such genethlialogical predictions---i.e., the part where some kind of birth circumstance is associated with some specific predicted characteristic on the part of the native, such as having small eyes or liking to gamble or whatever---had to come from somewhere. It seems most likely to me that first-millennium-BCE Babylonian scribes made most of those omens up themselves, but it is also reasonable to speculate that some of them could have been part of traditional folklore that was passed down even from as far back as prehistory.

So, for example, if a Babylonian or Hellenistic horoscope says something like "Birth in the second watch of the night with Jupiter near the end of Taurus and in opposition to the moon: the child will grow small and fretful", that is certainly not based in any "scientific" way on any prehistoric folk observations along the lines of "children born in midwinter tend to grow small and fretful". The disconnect between the basic astronomical cycles understood by prehistoric people and the complicated artificial system of ancient mathematical astrology is simply too great to allow for any meaningful alignment between their models of predicting the future.

Nonetheless, it is quite plausible that the identification of the basic predicted characteristic or apodosis "will grow small and fretful" was originally made far back in the human past. Out of the infinite number of characteristics that a native could be identified as having in a birth prediction, there is a certain subset that's found in nativity horoscopes, and at least part of that subset could well have become "traditional" a very long time ago.
You and other people in this thread have made unwarranted assumptions about the OP's theory and have jumped down his throat for no good reason. He simply made the case that perhaps different personality characteristics resulting from different seasons of birth (something that appears to be valid) might have sparked an interest in determining how the time of year affected someone's "destiny." Naturally, folk scientists might have made the perfectly reasonable assumption that the seasonally repeating patterns in the sky were predictive. Just because astrology morphed into something hideously unscientific doesn't mean it wasn't born from a reasonably scientific hypothesis. The person who made the leap from personality to season to stars was probably the prehistoric equivalent of an Archimedean Erickson (the sciences were integrated then ) and was likely every bit as rational and intelligent as modern scientists.

Instead of of having read the OP, you seem to have blindly and reflexively reacted to the word "astrology" with an impressive but largely irrelevant post-historic argument about the origins of astrology. Frankly, I think you and others owe the OP an apology.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
You and other people in this thread have made unwarranted assumptions about the OP's theory and have jumped down his throat for no good reason. He simply made the case that perhaps different personality characteristics resulting from different seasons of birth (something that appears to be valid) might have sparked an interest in determining how the time of year affected someone's "destiny." Naturally, folk scientists might have made the perfectly reasonable assumption that the seasonally repeating patterns in the sky were predictive. Just because astrology morphed into something hideously unscientific doesn't mean it wasn't born from a reasonably scientific hypothesis. The person who made the leap from personality to season to stars was probably the prehistoric equivalent of an Archimedean Erickson (the sciences were integrated then ) and was likely every bit as rational and intelligent as modern scientists.
Oh gee, here we go again. From the beginning:

A) I've already apologized for my snappish tone aka "jumping down the OP's throat" in critiquing his hypothesis, so I'll cop to that.

B) The OP described his speculation as a possible "scientific basis for astrology". As he clarified in post #49, that was rather misleading if he wasn't in fact claiming that his hypothesized prehistoric interest in seasonal differences in birth characteristics is what the ancient practice of nativity horoscopes was ultimately based on. Which it wasn't. Because, as already explained, nativity horoscopes were an offshoot of a different form of astrological prediction not concerned with individual characteristics.

C) You are engaging in the same sort of vague and misleading halfassery as the OP when you speak of ancient astrology "morph[ing] into something hideously unscientific" even though it might have been "born from a reasonably scientific hypothesis" ultimately because of some "person who made the leap from personality to season to stars".

What is it exactly that you're trying to suggest happened in this supposed "morphing" process? Because you seem to be implying, like the OP, that the hypothesized prehistoric "season -> personal characteristics" cause-and-effect model ultimately gave rise, via somebody's "leap" from "season to stars", to the ancient nativity-horoscope "astronomical configuration -> personal characteristics" cause-and-effect model.

But it didn't. Here's the sequence of events as supported by historical data:

1) [Hypothesized prehistoric system of empirical inferences about causal connections between birth season and personal characteristics, for which there is zero actual evidence but it's still a reasonable speculation.]

[... Passage of massive amounts of time ...]

2) Early-mid 2nd millennium BCE: Cuneiform records of Old-Babylonian divinatory "protasis-and-apodosis" omen collections, inferring causal connections between all sorts of earthly events (especially the appearance of the livers of sacrificed animals) and all sorts of predicted consequences. There is AFAIK no trace of any coherent divinatory system of predicting native characteristics from birth season.

3) In the same period or a little later: Appearance of fragmentary records of celestial omens inferring causal connections between astronomical phenomena and major earthly events affecting entire regions and states. These events are considered to be divine messages from the gods associated with the astronomical bodies involved. They are Big News and not interpreted as applicable to the individual fate of just any old Joe Beles-sunu.

4) Around the end of the second millennium: First surviving complete celestial omen connections, containing entire systems of such predictions for states and regions from celestial events. This is a massive state-sponsored enterprise(s), and includes increasingly sophisticated mathematical models of astronomical phenomena and their cycles.

5) About the middle of the first millennium BCE: Increasingly accurate mathematical astronomy models integrating the cyclical motions of all the known heavenly bodies, still accompanied by detailed ominous interpretation of their phenomena. (It may seem paradoxical to us that even as Babylonian scientists of the period determined ever more mathematically predictable and non-random models for celestial motions, they continued to interpret them as omens, i.e., deliberate messages from the gods about specific state circumstances. But in practice, that just made their presumed future-predicting capabilities more impressive and influential.)

6) Mid-first millennium BCE: Achaemenid Empire conquers Babylonia and turns it into imperial satrapy. State interest in (and financial support for) interpreting "celestial messages" from Babylonian deities sharply decreases.

7) Mid- to late first millennium BCE up to first century CE: Continuing mathematical refinement of astronomical systems by temple scientists. Emergence of the practice of casting individual birth horoscopes, using many of the same astronomical models, "protasis" phenomena, and computational techniques employed for the previous state-based ominous interpretations of predicted and/or observed celestial events.


That sequence does not describe a process of causal models of individual characteristics based on time of birth "morphing" from a "reasonably scientific hypothesis" into "something hideously unscientific".

The direct line of descent you and the OP seem to be trying to draw, from hypothesized prehistoric reasonable "seasonal" causal inferences about individual characteristics to attested Late-Babylonian "astrological" causal inferences about individual characteristics, does not exist.
  #53  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:10 AM
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That's a phenomenon know as "confirmation bias."
Then how did people guess my sign from my photo? 1 out of 12 chances? How do I guess others by looking at them?
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  #54  
Old 09-13-2019, 10:14 AM
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But if prehistoric peoples observed that there was an actual, real correlation between personality types and seasons, why would Mesopotamian astrology develop in such a way to ignore such correlations?


There is a tendency people have to take an idea (whether rooted in fact or not) and run with it. I have no cite for this, but this happens all the time. It’s almost as if we believe that the elaborations help justify the basic concept.

I’m only slightly familiar with traditional Chinese medicine, but I feel some of that is going on there. Western medicine gets it too. The low-fat nutrition craze comes out of that.
  #55  
Old 09-13-2019, 11:27 AM
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A child born in the late fall or early winter would be bundled in clothing and held closely for the first few months of his or her life to keep it warm. I child born in the late spring or early summer might be given little or no clothing and allowed to crawl about freely. Wouldn’t these different conditions in the first months of life have an impact on personality and abilities of the child as he or she grows older?
Children don't "crawl about freely" in their first few months, because they don't crawl at all.

Primitive societies all came up with similar ways to keep their babies handy. Cradle boards (often called papooses) in the Northern Hemisphere, and slings/pouches in other areas were the most common. Generally, you can expect at least two changes of season (i.e., spring to fall, winter to summer, etc.) before starts crawling.
  #56  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:06 PM
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Then how did people guess my sign from my photo? 1 out of 12 chances? How do I guess others by looking at them?
So, you are proposing that the 27 million other people in the US who share your birth sign look sufficiently similar that it can be determined from nothing more than a photo? And that goes for each of the other 11 signs? If not, what percentage of people born under the same sun sign have such characteristics? What would be the mechanism by which people born all over the US under the same sun sign come to resemble one another? The idea is absurd on the face of it, and doesn't withstand a moment's consideration.

"Confirmation bias" means that your remember the occasions when people correctly guessed your sign, or you guessed theirs. Conversely, you forget when the guesses are wrong. You're going to have to provide some actual evidence rather than anecdotes before anyone could consider this seriously.
  #57  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:47 PM
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If that is your assertion, it is your job to prove it, not ours to disprove it.
That was what we call around here in General Questions- a "Question".
  #58  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:56 PM
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Following on the above, are "Cancers" different from "Leos"? If so, why?
Well, for one, Leos are obviously less talented in scientific matters, unlike those born under the the academically propitious sign of Gemini.

From here
  #59  
Old 09-13-2019, 12:57 PM
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Sometimes Dopers are a bit too knee-jerk on the skepticism. Just because the word "astrology" gets mentioned doesn't mean the OP doesn't have a good point. There are a number of studies linking temperament to birth season. It's a pretty fricking far leap from the results of the studies to astrology though.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11408788

https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...1205202510.htm

https://www.ecnp.eu/~/media/Files/co...INAL.pdf?la=en
I predict, from looking at the "stars" in this thread that this evidence will be roundly ignored by the super-skeptics who go apeshit hogwild at even the mention of the word 'astrology".


Yes, the reach from seasonal births differences to astrology is pretty damn far.

But I see by those links that the basic idea of the OP- that what season you are born in could make a discernable difference.

So, the Ops hypothesis, while likely wrong, is interesting, and perhaps worthy of further study.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
You and other people in this thread have made unwarranted assumptions about the OP's theory and have jumped down his throat for no good reason.

....

Instead of of having read the OP, you seem to have blindly and reflexively reacted to the word "astrology" with an impressive but largely irrelevant post-historic argument about the origins of astrology. Frankly, I think you and others owe the OP an apology.
What an absurd post. It seems like it was made by a newbie, rather than someone who is familiar how this board words and the standards of GQ.

If the OP didn't mean to propose a "scientific basis for astrology," then he shouldn't have titled the thread that way. In fact, as he acknowledges, that's the main thing that has sparked the degree of attention it has. And when he introduces it in the OP, and doesn't clarify it for some time later, you can't fault others for discussing that.

Thanks for the links to studies on personality differences in people born at different times of the year. That's kind of interesting, but not exactly Earth-shattering. What might make it of more general interest is if there were some link to astrology, and you're several large steps away from that. Without that link, the information becomes "so what"?


Quote:
He simply made the case that perhaps different personality characteristics resulting from different seasons of birth (something that appears to be valid) might have sparked an interest in determining how the time of year affected someone's "destiny." Naturally, folk scientists might have made the perfectly reasonable assumption that the seasonally repeating patterns in the sky were predictive. Just because astrology morphed into something hideously unscientific doesn't mean it wasn't born from a reasonably scientific hypothesis. The person who made the leap from personality to season to stars was probably the prehistoric equivalent of an Archimedean Erickson (the sciences were integrated then ) and was likely every bit as rational and intelligent as modern scientists.
Again, you're indulging in the same kind of speculation in the absence of evidence as the OP. "But it could happen!" or "It might be so!" is not scientific argumentation but bullshitting.
  #61  
Old 09-13-2019, 02:12 PM
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Has anyone mentioned the obvious problem that horoscopes have to be reversed in the southern hemisphere? If so, I'd to re-emphasize that. I'd like to propose that an alternate cause might be what stage of pregnancy the birth mother was when she got legless on New Year's Eve, but seeing as there is no evidence that horoscopes correlate to personality in any way, forget it.
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Oh gee, here we go again. From the beginning:

A) I've already apologized for my snappish tone aka "jumping down the OP's throat" in critiquing his hypothesis, so I'll cop to that.
You're right, I read that post but missed the closing apology. I was blinded by the insults in the paragraph that proceeded it. So I apologise for missing your apology.

Quote:
B) The OP described his speculation as a possible "scientific basis for astrology". As he clarified in post #49, that was rather misleading if he wasn't in fact claiming that his hypothesized prehistoric interest in seasonal differences in birth characteristics is what the ancient practice of nativity horoscopes was ultimately based on. Which it wasn't. Because, as already explained, nativity horoscopes were an offshoot of a different form of astrological prediction not concerned with individual characteristics.
He never mentions horoscopes. The second sentence of the OP reads "It does involve stars and constellations, but their only function is that of a calendar."

Quote:

C) You are engaging in the same sort of vague and misleading halfassery as the OP when you speak of ancient astrology "morph[ing] into something hideously unscientific" even though it might have been "born from a reasonably scientific hypothesis" ultimately because of some "person who made the leap from personality to season to stars".

What is it exactly that you're trying to suggest happened in this supposed "morphing" process? Because you seem to be implying, like the OP, that the hypothesized prehistoric "season -> personal characteristics" cause-and-effect model ultimately gave rise, via somebody's "leap" from "season to stars", to the ancient nativity-horoscope "astronomical configuration -> personal characteristics" cause-and-effect model.

But it didn't. Here's the sequence of events as supported by historical data:

1) [Hypothesized prehistoric system of empirical inferences about causal connections between birth season and personal characteristics, for which there is zero actual evidence but it's still a reasonable speculation.]

[... Passage of massive amounts of time ...]

2) Early-mid 2nd millennium BCE: Cuneiform records of Old-Babylonian divinatory "protasis-and-apodosis" omen collections, inferring causal connections between all sorts of earthly events (especially the appearance of the livers of sacrificed animals) and all sorts of predicted consequences. There is AFAIK no trace of any coherent divinatory system of predicting native characteristics from birth season.

3) In the same period or a little later: Appearance of fragmentary records of celestial omens inferring causal connections between astronomical phenomena and major earthly events affecting entire regions and states. These events are considered to be divine messages from the gods associated with the astronomical bodies involved. They are Big News and not interpreted as applicable to the individual fate of just any old Joe Beles-sunu.

4) Around the end of the second millennium: First surviving complete celestial omen connections, containing entire systems of such predictions for states and regions from celestial events. This is a massive state-sponsored enterprise(s), and includes increasingly sophisticated mathematical models of astronomical phenomena and their cycles.

5) About the middle of the first millennium BCE: Increasingly accurate mathematical astronomy models integrating the cyclical motions of all the known heavenly bodies, still accompanied by detailed ominous interpretation of their phenomena. (It may seem paradoxical to us that even as Babylonian scientists of the period determined ever more mathematically predictable and non-random models for celestial motions, they continued to interpret them as omens, i.e., deliberate messages from the gods about specific state circumstances. But in practice, that just made their presumed future-predicting capabilities more impressive and influential.)

6) Mid-first millennium BCE: Achaemenid Empire conquers Babylonia and turns it into imperial satrapy. State interest in (and financial support for) interpreting "celestial messages" from Babylonian deities sharply decreases.

7) Mid- to late first millennium BCE up to first century CE: Continuing mathematical refinement of astronomical systems by temple scientists. Emergence of the practice of casting individual birth horoscopes, using many of the same astronomical models, "protasis" phenomena, and computational techniques employed for the previous state-based ominous interpretations of predicted and/or observed celestial events.


That sequence does not describe a process of causal models of individual characteristics based on time of birth "morphing" from a "reasonably scientific hypothesis" into "something hideously unscientific".

The direct line of descent you and the OP seem to be trying to draw, from hypothesized prehistoric reasonable "seasonal" causal inferences about individual characteristics to attested Late-Babylonian "astrological" causal inferences about individual characteristics, does not exist.
You can't use post-historic data regarding the use of astrology for a state-based agricultural civilization to draw conclusions about prehistoric hunter-gatherers. I think the OP's theory is likely wrong. What I object to is your surety that it is obviously, provably wrong. We don't have the data and I'm pretty sure scientists aren't supposed to be sure of things they can't prove.
  #63  
Old 09-13-2019, 02:32 PM
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I would like to conduct a quick poll among the followers of this thread. What does the word “astrology” mean?

(1) It can only be used exclusively to describe the belief system created by the ancient Mesopotamians and later adopted by the ancient Greeks.

or

(2) It can be used to describe any system of predictions about non-astronomical phenomena based on the observation of celestial objects in the night sky including systems independently developed by non-Mesopotamian cultures.

If the answer is (1), then what word should be used for systems described in (2)?
  #64  
Old 09-13-2019, 02:56 PM
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What an absurd post. It seems like it was made by a newbie, rather than someone who is familiar how this board words and the standards of GQ.

If the OP didn't mean to propose a "scientific basis for astrology," then he shouldn't have titled the thread that way. In fact, as he acknowledges, that's the main thing that has sparked the degree of attention it has. And when he introduces it in the OP, and doesn't clarify it for some time later, you can't fault others for discussing that.

Thanks for the links to studies on personality differences in people born at different times of the year. That's kind of interesting, but not exactly Earth-shattering. What might make it of more general interest is if there were some link to astrology, and you're several large steps away from that. Without that link, the information becomes "so what"?




Again, you're indulging in the same kind of speculation in the absence of evidence as the OP. "But it could happen!" or "It might be so!" is not scientific argumentation but bullshitting.
It was pretty clear to me upon reading the thread that he meant a social science explanation for the birth of astrology rather than a natural science hypothesis on it's accuracy. You claimed that his hypothesis failed the most simple analysis by citing that you knew of no studies (which are easily found) and a bit about post-historic astrology. None of that amounts to a failure of his hypothesis. I'm not claiming his hypothesis is sound. I'm claiming your reasons for dismissing it aren't. Of course his hypothesis is going to lack evidence - that's what a hypothesis is. He came here asking if there was any evidence. I'm not wildly speculating that his hypothesis is true - you and others are wildly speculating that it isn't. Appeals to Ignorance are just as fallacious as those of personal validation a la the Barnum effect. I'm upholding standards of GQ, not violating them.

Last edited by KidCharlemagne; 09-13-2019 at 03:01 PM.
  #65  
Old 09-13-2019, 03:29 PM
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I'm claiming your reasons for dismissing it aren't. Of course his hypothesis is going to lack evidence - that's what a hypothesis is.
If that's your understanding of what a hypothesis is, your understanding of science isn't very good. A hypothesis is based on preliminary evidence that has been observe, and is the basis for developing an explanation for this evidence. The extent of actual evidence presented in the OP is "astrology exists," which is not a real basis for a hypothesis. Everything is speculation.

Quote:
He came here asking if there was any evidence. I'm not wildly speculating that his hypothesis is true - you and others are wildly speculating that it isn't. Appeals to Ignorance are just as fallacious as those of personal validation a la the Barnum effect. I'm upholding standards of GQ, not violating them.
Again, you don't seem to understand science. it's up to him to support his hypothesis, not up to us to refute it. And pointing out that the hypothesis lacks supporting evidence is not an "appeal to ignorance," it's basic science.
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:42 PM
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(1) It can only be used exclusively to describe the belief system created by the ancient Mesopotamians and later adopted by the ancient Greeks.
That is the system that is most commonly referred to when people talk about "astrology."

Quote:
(2) It can be used to describe any system of predictions about non-astronomical phenomena based on the observation of celestial objects in the night sky including systems independently developed by non-Mesopotamian cultures.
It can be used to describe other systems such as Mayan, Chinese, etc. However, as has been pointed out, these generally involve predictions of political or economic events, good or bad fortune, etc. They do not involve the identification of the personality and abilities of individuals based on their birth dates. This is primarily a feature of Western astrology, which is descended from Mesopotamian astrology. You are seeking to explain a feature of Western/Mesopotamian astrology, so these other systems are largely irrelevant.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-13-2019 at 03:51 PM.
  #67  
Old 09-13-2019, 03:52 PM
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That is the system that is most commonly referred to when people talk about "astrology."



It can be used to describe other systems such as Mayan, Chinese, etc. However, as has been pointed out, these generally involve predictions of political or economic events, good or bad fortune, etc. They do not involve the identification of the personality and abilities of individuals based on their birth dates. This is primarily a feature of Western astrology, which is descended from Mesopotamian astrology. You are seeking to explain a feature of Western/Mesopotamian astrology, so these other systems are largely irrelevant.
When did I ever say that I was trying to explain a feature of Western/Mesopotamian astrology?
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:58 PM
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Why can't I "[pull] speculations about prehistory out of [my] ass"? Has anyone ever heard of a Gedankenexperiment? A Gedankenexperiment does not prove anything but it might give useful insight as to which direction to proceed in an investigation.
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:25 PM
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When did I ever say that I was trying to explain a feature of Western/Mesopotamian astrology?
From the OP:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ynnad
A child born in the late fall or early winter would be bundled in clothing and held closely for the first few months of his or her life to keep it warm. I child born in the late spring or early summer might be given little or no clothing and allowed to crawl about freely. Wouldn’t these different conditions in the first months of life have an impact on personality and abilities of the child as he or she grows older?
Bolding mine.

The idea that the time of year that a person is born determines their personality and abilities is largely specific to Western/Mesopotamian astrology. (Chinese astrology, in contrast, attributes these to the year of birth, not the season.) The origin of the belief seems to be what you are trying to explain. If not, where did you get this idea?
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:42 PM
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Why can't I "[pull] speculations about prehistory out of [my] ass"?
Of course you can! But then people will tell you you are talking out of your ass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ynnad
Has anyone ever heard of a Gedankenexperiment? A Gedankenexperiment does not prove anything but it might give useful insight as to which direction to proceed in an investigation.
You're misusing Gedankenexperiment. A proper Gedankenexperiment is based on known information, phenomena, or relationships, and is intended to prove (or refute) an idea. It doesn't mean "talking out of your ass" (which Einstein referred to as Arschsprechen.)

Also from the OP:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ynnad
Does anyone want to argue against this proposition? A would like to hear your arguments.
Hey, you invited us specifically to "argue against this proposition," but you don't seem too happy with the arguments.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-13-2019 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:35 PM
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... Hey, you invited us specifically to "argue against this proposition," but you don't seem too happy with the arguments.
I concede that I invited everyone to "argue against this proposition." But what did I ever say that makes you think that I am unhappy?
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:48 PM
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I concede that I invited everyone to "argue against this proposition." But what did I ever say that makes you think that I am unhappy?
Are you pleased with the responses?
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:57 PM
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Are you pleased with the responses?
At least we're having a discussion about the proposition. The thread could have just died.

I still haven't made up my mind about the validity of the proposition.

Last edited by Ynnad; 09-13-2019 at 05:59 PM.
  #74  
Old 09-13-2019, 06:16 PM
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I still haven't made up my mind about the validity of the proposition.
Would you care to re-state your proposition based on the input so far?
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Kent Clark View Post
Children don't "crawl about freely" in their first few months, because they don't crawl at all.

Primitive societies all came up with similar ways to keep their babies handy. Cradle boards (often called papooses) in the Northern Hemisphere, and slings/pouches in other areas were the most common. Generally, you can expect at least two changes of season (i.e., spring to fall, winter to summer, etc.) before starts crawling.
You got me on that one. "[C]rawl around freely" was a poor choice of words. But still, a summer baby might get more sunshine, move their arms and legs a bit more, and get to flop around in the dirt more than a baby that is bundled up and held tightly so that it doesn't freeze to death.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:51 PM
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Would you care to re-state your proposition based on the input so far?
I have been thinking about a scientific basis for the prehistoric origins of astrology. It does involve stars and constellations, but their only function is that of a calendar. Consider a primitive society living where there is a sharp contrast between summer and winter weather and/or a sharp contrast between the amount and intensity of sunshine and between winter and summer. There may also be seasonal variations in rainfall and available nutrition. Also, this primitive society does not have modern housing or utilities so the effects of the seasons are very noticeable even when indoors. A child born in the late fall or early winter would be bundled in clothing and held closely for the first few months of his or her life to keep him or her warm. A child born in the late spring or early summer might be given little or no clothing and allowed to get more sunshine, move their arms and legs a bit more, and flop around in the dirt and mud more. Wouldn’t these different conditions during gestation and in the first months of life have had an impact, which was greater than the impact that has been observed and studied in modern children, on the personality and abilities of the child as he or she grew older? Of course, these effects would be much less pronounced in a temperate climate or when climate-controlled housing is available.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:02 PM
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You've still got a lot there! How about picking ONE of the following

rainfall
nutrition
more/less clothing
bundling
sunshine
arm/leg movement
dirt/mud flopping

and making a proposition based on that?
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:25 PM
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You've still got a lot there! How about picking ONE of the following

rainfall
nutrition
more/less clothing
bundling
sunshine
arm/leg movement
dirt/mud flopping

and making a proposition based on that?
Why? Its probably (if there is any effect at all) the cumulative effect of all these factors and hundreds more that we haven't thought of. Inevitably, Mother Nature always turns out to be much more complicated than our human-derived models.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:29 PM
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If Ynnad's hypothesis is that children's personalities are impacted and partially formed by ongoing environmental factors, sure, I buy that. It just isn't astrology. In astrology, the only relevant factor is, which star sign was this child born under? The same traits for a Sagittarius apply whether he was born in the arctic under great privation, or in affluence in the southern hemisphere. There's no discernible connection between the two belief systems.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:38 PM
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Why?...Mother Nature always turns out to be much more complicated than our human-derived models.
Of course! That's why science (yes, a "human-derived model" - also what I thought you were asking about) necessarily has to simplify things, looking at one variable at a time, if it's to get anywhere...

Do you have any single proposition that "A baby born under condition X has trait Y, thereby leading to (some "astrological" belief)?"

If your answer is "No, it's more complicated than that" - well, yes, we knew that already.

Last edited by zombywoof; 09-13-2019 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
Of course! That's why science (yes, a "human-derived model" - also what I thought you were asking about) necessarily has to simplify things, looking at one variable at a time, if it's to get anywhere...

Do you have any single proposition that "A baby born under condition X has trait Y, thereby leading to (some "astrological" belief)?"

If your answer is "No, it's more complicated than that" - well, yes, we knew that already.
Yes, observing one variable at a time is an excellent idea and we could do that if we were studying children in real time or studying children in the recent past for which we have lots of information. But at the moment we are just speculating about the folklore of prehistoric societies for which we have very little factual information. Our first step must be to find a way to gather additional factual information. This may be quite difficult. Once we have enough facts, then we could start looking at variables one at a time.

My whole purpose in starting this thread was to see if any posters had any factual information or had some brilliant ideas on how to obtain some factual information about prehistoric oral folklore. We have learned a lot about historical ancient Mesopotamian astrology but that has shed very little light on the possibility (or non-existence) of much earlier prehistoric oral folklore that might also be considered "astrology."
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:09 PM
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I think that once the op typed the word "astrology" it ensured that a lot of people would think "woo". I'm not a believer in celestial bodies light years away determining anything on the orb we call home. But I don't rule out the time of year a person is born having some effect. Yes, it would be the opposite in the Southern hemisphere. No, it would not apply to everyone. Obtaining factual info on prehistoric oral folklore? Good luck. Unless it was written down at some point, or at least painted on the wall of a cave somewhere, you're probably out of luck. My answer to your query? Not terribly likely, but I really dunno. That's often a hard answer for both believers and nonbelievers to give. I tend toward agnosticism in a lot of things.
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:11 PM
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Also, I don't think including the word "scientific" was the best idea.
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Old 09-14-2019, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by P-man View Post
I think that once the op typed the word "astrology" it ensured that a lot of people would think "woo". I'm not a believer in celestial bodies light years away determining anything on the orb we call home. But I don't rule out the time of year a person is born having some effect. Yes, it would be the opposite in the Southern hemisphere. No, it would not apply to everyone. Obtaining factual info on prehistoric oral folklore? Good luck. Unless it was written down at some point, or at least painted on the wall of a cave somewhere, you're probably out of luck. My answer to your query? Not terribly likely, but I really dunno. That's often a hard answer for both believers and nonbelievers to give. I tend toward agnosticism in a lot of things.
If this were easy and noncontroversial, there would be no point of posting it on the SDMB would there?
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:33 PM
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That's not really what I was looking for, but I'll comment on it anyway.

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Originally Posted by Ynnad View Post
I have been thinking about a scientific basis for the prehistoric origins of astrology. It does involve stars and constellations, but their only function is that of a calendar.
I should have made this distinction before, but if you are using stars and constellations "only as a calendar" you are talking about astronomy, not astrology. It becomes astrology when you are using the stars to predict divine favor, good luck, or the outcome of a battle. If you are using the stars to predict what month the game will return or the right time to plant to avoid a frost, that's astronomy. If you are using the stars to predict the success of the hunt or the size of the harvest, that's astrology. If primitive people observed that individuals born at different times of year had different personalities, that would be based on astronomy, not astrology.


Quote:
Consider a primitive society living where there is a sharp contrast between summer and winter weather and/or a sharp contrast between the amount and intensity of sunshine and between winter and summer. There may also be seasonal variations in rainfall and available nutrition. Also, this primitive society does not have modern housing or utilities so the effects of the seasons are very noticeable even when indoors. A child born in the late fall or early winter would be bundled in clothing and held closely for the first few months of his or her life to keep him or her warm. A child born in the late spring or early summer might be given little or no clothing and allowed to get more sunshine, move their arms and legs a bit more, and flop around in the dirt and mud more. Wouldn’t these different conditions during gestation and in the first months of life have had an impact, which was greater than the impact that has been observed and studied in modern children, on the personality and abilities of the child as he or she grew older? Of course, these effects would be much less pronounced in a temperate climate or when climate-controlled housing is available.
Ok, suppose we grant all of this as being possible or even plausible (despite the lack of specific evidence). As I said before, "So what?" This phenomenon only becomes of more than passing interest if it is linked to modern astrology. If it's simply an observation specific to prehistoric hunter-gatherers it's not particularly relevant.

Although you have tried to distance your proposal from modern astrology, it's the fact that Western astrology links personality traits of the individual to the month of birth (although not the season) that is the entire basis for your speculation. And finding a plausible link between a phenomenon putatively observed by prehistoric hunter gatherers in high latitudes to the a system of divination developed by agriculturalists at lower latitudes is the biggest stumbling block to your idea. These cultures are distant in space and time, and the historical development of Mesopotamian/Western astrology does not suggest such a link.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-14-2019 at 12:35 PM.
  #86  
Old 09-14-2019, 01:25 PM
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Colibri this is is going to be my last post because I can see this is probably going to devolve into a parsing of words into oblivion. Normally, I'm a friendly non-confrontational doper, but in this case i simply can't avoid addressing your hypocrisy and inaccuracies, particularly in light of the smug way in which they've been delivered. Let me preface this by repeating that I think the OP's theory is likely wrong and that it'd be pretty hard to find someone any more skeptical of astrology than I. Let's start with your first post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
A few points.
-I am unaware of any scientific studies linking personality traits to birth during particular seasons of the year.

-I am unaware of any scientific studies linking personality traits to particular astrological signs.
Usually when one prefaces statements with "I am unaware of any studies" as part of an argument there is an implication that they are generally familiar with the subject but want to be rightfully careful. Otherwise, the proper phrasing would be " I've never looked into this subject, have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'll speculate based on my preconceived notions none the less." That's neither scientific nor up to the standards of GQ (which you accused me of violating). I'm guessing you aren't very familiar with the subject because the most cursory of Google searches reveals myriad peer-reviewed studies published in reputable scientific journals correlating personality with birth season and some correlating personality to astrological signs.

- Given your ultimate assessment of his hypothesis as having failed (as opposed to being unsupported), citing a lack of evidence as a reason is an Appeal to Ignorance. That's not very scientific.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
-Insofar as astrology links particular personality characteristics to particular groups of signs, these occur at different times of the year. For example people born under the fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are supposed to share the characteristics of being passionate, impulsive, and spontaneous. However Aries occurs in the spring (March-April), Leo in the summer (July-August), and Sagittarius in the fall (November-December). Similarly the Earth, Air, and Water signs are supposed to share personality traits but are scattered through the year. According to astrology itself, people with similar personality traits are born under vastly different environmental conditions.
Any astrological system that developed during or after the birth of complex, state-based agrarian civilization can't be used to draw conclusions about the potential genesis of astrology by pre-historic hunter-gatherers. They had vastly different concerns and beliefs. Any "conclusion" drawn would be speculative and assumptive and would be just as useless in disproving a hypothesis as it would be in creating one.

Quote:
-Modern astrology is based on traditions that originated in ancient Mesopotamia and which were elaborated in ancient Greece, where there isn't the sharp contrast between seasons that you posit. (There is variation, of course, but it's not that strong.)
This is simply not true. Climate scientists believe avg winter temperatures in Ancient Mesopotamia were 48F (though significantly cooler at night and slightly north - even snow on mountains) while avg temp in summer was likely 110F. That's a net spread of 62 degrees. Avg winter temp in January in NY is around 32.5F while avg July temp is 76.5F for a spread of 44 degrees. That's a significant difference. I don't know about you or where you live but that 44 degree difference feels like a pretty sharp contrast. i'm guessing a 62 degree difference is even sharper. I believe your statement about contrasting temperatures was an uninformed speculation, like those you've claimed have been made by me and the OP.

Now just to respond to your last post:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
If that's your understanding of what a hypothesis is, your understanding of science isn't very good. A hypothesis is based on preliminary evidence that has been observe, and is the basis for developing an explanation for this evidence. The extent of actual evidence presented in the OP is "astrology exists," which is not a real basis for a hypothesis. Everything is speculation.
Yea thanks I know what a hypothesis is. First off, the OP isn't defending a damn Phd Thesis. He came here as a curious guy wanting to hear about what people thought about his idea. Having said that, here are some definitions of hypothesis:

From Merriam Webster
Quote:
Definition of hypothesis:
1: an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument
2:2: a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences
From Wikipedia:

Quote:
A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories. Even though the words "hypothesis" and "theory" are often used synonymously, a scientific hypothesis is not the same as a scientific theory. A working hypothesis is a provisionally accepted hypothesis proposed for further research,[1] in a process beginning with an educated guess or thought.[2]
While a hypothesis can't be a random wild speculation, it can certainly be based on a reasonable observation about how the world works. It doesn't need hard data. Science would never progress if that were the case because you need an idea to even start the pursuit of evidence. Thank god for scientists that decided an intuitive leap was enough to start a preliminary investigation because otherwise we'd still be in the Stone Age creating astrology because Og and Zorga's June-born baby was colicky.

Quote:
Again, you don't seem to understand science. it's up to him to support his hypothesis, not up to us to refute it. And pointing out that the hypothesis lacks supporting evidence is not an "appeal to ignorance," it's basic science.
Zoinks this is a doozy. Where did I say it's up to you to support his hypothesis? You didn't "point out that the hypothesis lacks supporting evidence." - which would have been absolutely correct. You said his "proposed hypothesis FAILED even the simplest analysis." I'm guessing since you so often claim others aren't scientific that you understand that an unsupported hypothesis is not a disproven one. Let alone when it's "disproven" by inaccuracies, irrelevancies, and claims that amount to "I haven't done any research but i doubt you're right."

To make myself clear for the last time: I'm not defending his hypothesis. I'm refuting your "debunking" of it.
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Old 09-14-2019, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne View Post
- Given your ultimate assessment of his hypothesis as having failed (as opposed to being unsupported), citing a lack of evidence as a reason is an Appeal to Ignorance. That's not very scientific.
I should have been more specific. My assessment that his proposal "failed" was not primarily based on the lack of evidence. My assessment was based mainly on my third point, that Mesopotamian astrology's linkage of personality and birth date was quite different than the kind of linkage he proposed, in that it was not a seasonal pattern.


Quote:
Any astrological system that developed during or after the birth of complex, state-based agrarian civilization can't be used to draw conclusions about the potential genesis of astrology by pre-historic hunter-gatherers. They had vastly different concerns and beliefs. Any "conclusion" drawn would be speculative and assumptive and would be just as useless in disproving a hypothesis as it would be in creating one.
The point is that, as I've already said, the proposal in the OP is based on a feature of this belief system, that personality is linked to date of birth. You can't divorce the proposal from this belief system, because that's the "evidence" it's based on. And even if the proposal that prehistoric peoples observed that personality differences were linked to the season of birth, this only becomes interesting if it's the basis for the modern belief.

Quote:
This is simply not true. Climate scientists believe avg winter temperatures in Ancient Mesopotamia were 48F (though significantly cooler at night and slightly north - even snow on mountains) while avg temp in summer was likely 110F. That's a net spread of 62 degrees. Avg winter temp in January in NY is around 32.5F while avg July temp is 76.5F for a spread of 44 degrees. That's a significant difference. I don't know about you or where you live but that 44 degree difference feels like a pretty sharp contrast. i'm guessing a 62 degree difference is even sharper. I believe your statement about contrasting temperatures was an uninformed speculation, like those you've claimed have been made by me and the OP.
The OP appears to be basing his proposal on areas with even more severe contrasts in temperature, but fine.

Quote:
Zoinks this is a doozy. Where did I say it's up to you to support his hypothesis? You didn't "point out that the hypothesis lacks supporting evidence." - which would have been absolutely correct. You said his "proposed hypothesis FAILED even the simplest analysis." I'm guessing since you so often claim others aren't scientific that you understand that an unsupported hypothesis is not a disproven one. Let alone when it's "disproven" by inaccuracies, irrelevancies, and claims that amount to "I haven't done any research but i doubt you're right."
As I said, I didn't just point out that it lacked supporting evidence. My assessment was based on the fact that he was trying to explain a feature specific to Western astrology (which he was). But although under Western astrology there is a relationship between the month of birth and personality, that relationship has nothing to do with the environment since the birth months of people with that personality are scattered through the year. So the model proposed in the OP doesn't explain this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne
To make myself clear for the last time: I'm not defending his hypothesis. I'm refuting your "debunking" of it.
You're also fixating on a couple of statements I made in my first post, while ignoring everything else I and others have posted on it that also debunk it.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-14-2019 at 02:11 PM.
  #88  
Old 09-14-2019, 02:19 PM
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Also, I don't think including the word "scientific" was the best idea.
Maybe I should start another thread that includes the words "sex", "Trump", "bacon", "scientific", "tipping", and "astrology" in the title and see how many hits I can get.

On a more serious note, are there any SDMB people who have studied prehistoric folklore. How does one gather factual information on prehistoric folklore, including folklore not related to the OP? I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a prehistoric folklore scholar.
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Old 09-14-2019, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Ynnad View Post
Maybe I should start another thread that includes the words "sex", "Trump", "bacon", "scientific", "tipping", and "astrology" in the title and see how many hits I can get.
I'll be interested to see how you tie all those together.

Quote:
On a more serious note, are there any SDMB people who have studied prehistoric folklore. How does one gather factual information on prehistoric folklore, including folklore not related to the OP? I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a prehistoric folklore scholar.
Given that by definition it couldn't have been written down that's going to be difficult.

However, some information on the belief systems of pre-literate peoples can be gleaned from their art, such as cave paintings, petroglyphs, ceramics, ornaments, etc. However, interpretations are necessarily speculative.

One could also look at oral traditions, although the degree to which these might represent the beliefs of ancient cultures is controversial to say the least.

You could look at the folklore of traditional cultures as recorded when they were first contacted by outsiders and draw analogies to ancient ones. However, this has the drawback that the information will have been gathered and interpreted by outsiders, perhaps influenced by their own cultural beliefs and biases.

For the record, while I am not an anthropologist/archaeologist I have been involved in archaeological projects, in particular in developing museum exhibits on Panamanian history including the renovation of Panama's archaeological museum. In connection with this, I've read extensively on pre-literate cultures.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:29 PM
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Seems like the study of the causes of specific personality traits in humans (insert your own geography, history, nationality etc.) would need to start with a fairly exhaustive list of personality traits, well enough defined that they could routinely be assigned to people by multiple trained observers in a consistent fashion. Then you would have to have a list of people with their entire personality trait list compared among each other in blind trials and sorted into personality groups. The you would have to sort the base list of personality trait groups by birth date, time, and location. Then a separate list of the same individuals sorted only into groups by birth date, time and location. The degree of similarity of the lists would demonstrate the existence or non existence of the concepts proposed for astrology.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Ynnad View Post
Maybe I should start another thread that includes the words "sex", "Trump", "bacon", "scientific", "tipping", and "astrology" in the title and see how many hits I can get.

On a more serious note, are there any SDMB people who have studied prehistoric folklore. How does one gather factual information on prehistoric folklore, including folklore not related to the OP? I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a prehistoric folklore scholar.
Just so everyone knows, when I said "I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a prehistoric folklore scholar." that that was just wild-ass speculation pulled out of my ass, also known as Arschschprechen. Also, "kittens."
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Old 09-14-2019, 04:03 PM
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Just so everyone knows, when I said "I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a prehistoric folklore scholar." that that was just wild-ass speculation pulled out of my ass, also known as Arschschprechen. Also, "kittens."
Depends on what exactly you mean by "prehistoric folklore," but I personally know and have worked closely with several archaeologists who have written extensively on the symbology and possible beliefs of prehistoric peoples, particularly in Panama. See for example Observations on the religious content of the animal imagery of the 'Gran Coclé' semiotic tradition of pre-Columbian Panama, by Richard Cooke.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-14-2019 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:20 AM
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Talking about Vedic (Indian Hindu) astrology methods here: At its core, it is a form of divination, and therefore not scientific, though Vedic astrology uses an extensive system of knowledge about stars and constellations. Vedic astrology even knows about and uses the "shadow planets" in its predictions (which science knows as the Lagrangian points arising from the Earth-Moon system). There are thousands of variables: yogas, kalas, doshas, muhurtas... the interplay between these factors, their relative "strength" in a person's horoscope determines a person's nature/personality/character. A Vedic astrology horoscope is a computation-intensive task. However extremely advanced adepts can bypass the entire computational aspect of it and rely on pure divination, with or without using a material basis for their intuition.

There are many diverse schools of astrological methods and knowledge in India. One of the more esoteric ones is "Nadi" astrology. You walk in to a Nadi center, give your thumb print, and DOB, and wait. The staff search for parchments that match your print and DOB. Once located, the astrologer calls you in, and reads your life like a story, beginning with the name of your parents, siblings, paternal grand-parents, where you were born, your occupation, your spouse, your kids... everything, until the point in the parchment where it says "Siva says read no further." At which point the reading ends, you pay and exit. It is stunningly accurate, if the parchments are genuine and the astrologer is not a charlatan.

Transmigratory karma is the absolute basis of astrology, with numerous "past life" influences clearly seen in a person's horoscope. Hence it is not "scientific" in the conventional sense, but that does not mean it is not accurate or have its place in the vast body of human knowledge.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by mandala View Post
It is stunningly accurate, if the parchments are genuine and the astrologer is not a charlatan.
I don't think those "ifs" are ever likely to be satisfied.

Quote:
Hence it is not "scientific" in the conventional sense, but that does not mean it is not accurate or have its place in the vast body of human knowledge.
The title of this thread is "Scientific Basis for Astrology." If it doesn't have a scientific basis, then it's not relevant as an answer in this forum.

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Last edited by Colibri; 09-16-2019 at 11:13 AM.
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