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Thanks Helen, for mentioning the daily sunsigns in newspapers, I always forget about them, because they are not astrology to me.

And maybe another aspect that is sometimes ignored. I think most people will agree that the moon affects the oceans, creating ebb and tides - why shouldn't it affect human beings - now with the other planets it might be a little more subtle. I don't know what is true, but just because it can not yet be measured I am not willing to dimiss it - nor am I willing to take it as a full truth. However, I think it is important to stay open, there are still many things we do not know how they work, but they work. And I find that exciting.

by Fran on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why would it affect people? And how?

It's certainly not gravity. The weight difference caused by the moon passing overhead - which it doesn't, usually - is a gram or two.

It's not light, because otherwise cloudy nights would be the same as new moon nights.

So saying 'But it must!' doesn't really say anything useful about what might be going on.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 02:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But how does the Moon affect the oceans? And consider that the human body is almost 80% water.
by Fran on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mass. Puddles don't change, fishtanks don't change, even lakes don't change. There has to be mass.

However water goes down the Antipodean plughole in the opposite direction to here in Europe. That is caused by the Earth's rotation - just as cyclones and anticyclones rotate in opposite directions. In this case the macro matches the micro - but not with the gravitational pull of the moon.

If you really wanted to look for a potential factor it would be cosmic particles. They are passing right through us all day and all night, passing through the latticework of atoms like tennis balls thrown through scaffolding. They do, very occasionally, hit the structure.

We know roughly how often they hit Earth (and thus us), but we don't know exactly where they come from. There are lots of sources. All active stellar bodies emit them. But trackng any particular cosmic particle back to its source is impossible AFAIK.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you really wanted to look for a potential factor it would be cosmic particles. They are passing right through us all day and all night, passing through the latticework of atoms like tennis balls thrown through scaffolding. They do, very occasionally, hit the structure.

The trouble with linking cosmic particles to astrology is the fact that we are indeed bombarded with them at all times, and that makes a nonsense of the importance attached by astrology to the exact time and place of birth.

It was obvious for some weeks before he was born that my son was a considerably more laid-back baby than his older sister. That there is some sort of cosmic significance to the moment of birth-by that point in development not much more than a (traumatic) change in environment-doesn't make logical sense. How could cosmic particles or forces acting across vast distances be stopped dead by a few centimetres of flesh and amniotic fluid?

Birth time isn't calculably related to the moment of conception with any great accuracy-there's sufficient variation in gestation period that only about 5% of babies are born on their due date.  On a cosmic scale, even within the scale of an individual life, there's a four-week period within which the moment of birth is as near arbitrary as makes no difference.

Unless we postulate that the time of birth is influenced by the guiding stars.  But my own birth was induced early when my mother developed pre-eclampsia.  It altered my star sign, but a generation or so earlier we would probably both have died.  For cosmic forces to account for relatively new medical technology implies a level of predestination rather incompatible with any notion of free will.

by Sassafras on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an interesting example of why narrative logic and scientific logic are so very different.

Tides -> oceans -> gravity-> people's moods seems to be based on Argument by Similarity - the idea that just because two things look similar, they must be connected in some deep way.  

But how does being made of water change anything? The tides go up and down. They don't have moods or personalities. They're completely predictable and mechanical.

So where do changes in mood and behaviour come from?

The only connection is a poetic one - moods ebb and flow, the sea ebbs and flows (even though tides are mechanical), so therefore, an obvious link.

But isn't this just taking a metaphor literally?

Being made of water doesn't really make anyone moody, surely?

Do unemotional people have less water in their bodies than moody people?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:45:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Well done for bringing a touch of astringent rationality to the discussion TBG :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do unemotional people have less water in their bodies than moody people?

great question!

here's an 'indirect' answer:

people with a lot of water in their charts are definitely moodier/more emotionally governed, in my and many others' experience.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Argument by Analogy is always suspect and tends to become an Informal Logical fallacy when it is the only Argument in the ... uh ... argument.  

As a heuristic tool to start an investigation it can be quite fruitful.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_As a heuristic tool to start an investigation it can be quite fruitful.  
_

brilliant and much better way of saying what i meant about objective reality's being a conversation point.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 04:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe women are more attuned to the moon cycles. Before the pill, a \"normal\" menstruation cycle used to be 28 days, and the amazing thing was that many women used to menstruate during the full moon period. Native American women had their moon lodge were they used to go during that time. Same stories can be read about women from other native people in other countries. Now with the pill, it seems women are not as synchronised with the moon anymore.

Oh, and just pay attention to traffic on a full moon day! :-) you know all those lunatics loose in cars.

by Fran on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 12:19:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lunar month is 29.5 days.

And only around 30% of women have a cycle within two days of the 28 day (not 29.5 day) average.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:23:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And who knows what even that cycle is a holdover from. Some ancient ocean-dwelling ancestor to whom the tides mattered?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no don't say we're straying into Chris knight teritory and his theories of women being amphibious.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:46:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking rather further back than that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, having read some of his work it sounds like outright lunacy to me. One friend of mine was a student of his, and did a lot of work on the role of the menstrual cycle in childrens fairy tales.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is purely coincidental. The lunar cycle is slowing down. A billion year ago, it was much shorter, may be just 16-20 days, I can't dig a link right now. The Earth-Moon system is gradually transforming its angular momentum from close&fast to far&slow (it's a tide effect, and at the same time, tides and other planets dissipate some of this momentum, but there is also a transfer from the rotation of the earth).

And the Earth days themselves are slowing down, they had fewer hours a billion year ago.

The Moon is already tide-locked with one side watching the Earth. Eventually if the system could go on long enough (it won't, the sun will blast it all earlier), the Earth would also become tide-locked with the moon, with a day that last weeks and the Moon further from the Earth than it is now.

And anyway, it's only western women who have a 28 days cycle, found this looking for a ref. on wikipedia:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1340049&dopt=A bstractPlus

Pierre

by Pierre on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It needn't be coincidental (although it may be). Nor does it need to be about tides.

City life and brick and mortar dwellings have made us unaware of a very basic aspect of the moon cycle : a full moon means lights. Which may have had very practical effects in the way of life of your basic hunter-gatherer tribesman, especially pre-fire.

The fact that women's cycles are very variable means the adaptation could have been a weak one ; and that synchronisation within the tribe may have helped to adjust the cycles to the moon's cycles. And maybe the synchronicity happened only because once a yearly cycle was too long for reproductive success, another rythm was needed - and the one given by the moon was fairly convenient for biological purposes.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought groups of women living in close proximity tended to synchronise - probably through pheromones?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They do, but I'm not sure who or what they synchronise to, or what the clock rate depends on.

(Aren't metaphors fun?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's self-organizing, of course ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 11:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like a treefull of fireflies blinking in unison in the Indonesian jungle.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 06:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine used to be a nurse at the violent offenders assessment centre at one of the major UK secure mental hospitals. (He was the only nurse I know with full police riot training)

He used to take his anual holiday two days at a time over the full moons to avoid the worst excesses, he reckoned that if he worked then, one of these months he'd end up on the other side of the bars because the inmates were just to difficult to deal with during that time.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I need to write a diary about the tides.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 05:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is a gram or two.

that can be a huge dose of some of the chemicals we produce and carry around in our systems..

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gravity is not a drug.

Not in that sense, anyway.

(I'm not sure levity is either, but the jury is still out on that one.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 09:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know you can get a real hit out of it ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the "how" actually matter ? Something does not become real because we can explain it, explanation follows establishment of the real. For decades the western medical profession has dismissed acupuncture as voodoo hedge-witch nonsense on the basis that they don't know how it works. Unfortunately the repeatable & measurable nature of the effects has kinda confounded western notions of the superiority of our understanding of the body. It is only recently that improved and more subtle research has begun to unravel how acupuncture might be understood.

Equally, the fact that there is, as yet, no western scientific theory that might encompass astrology doesn't undermine that, to those who have studied it, the ability to discern useful understanding of individual's personalities is real and discernable. I don't see fit to dismiss something simply because I don't understand how it can work (transistors must be a bugger for people of that persuasion) or because of the lack of credibility of its major proponents.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The how matters because if you have a handle on the how you're not blundering around in the dark bumping into the things and thinking that waving a dead chicken around is what matters - when it could be something else that you haven't been paying attention to. (E.g. my experience of alternative things is that the efficacy is in the practitioner, not the technique.)

With all of these things you have to be sure there's a What before you start asking about the How. Acupuncture built up a fairly solid body of evidence for itself over a long time, and eventually the medical profession grudgingly started to take it seriously.

With something like moon lore, there are two problems. The first is that if you look at crime records, hospital admission records and other hard data there doesn't seem to be any real effect. This could be because studies have asked the wrong questions, but the current state of what's known isn't encouraging.

But assuming there's a real effect - my problem with a statement like 'It words on the tides, so of course it works on humans' is that it's a pseudo-how.

It's fine for people who want to believe it, but if you accept it it closes down further curiosity.

Once you believe you know what's happening, you lose interest in anything that might challenge that - and might also deepen your understanding beyond the usual received explanations.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 02:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really Fran, it's not as if astrology has been ignored, there have been major studies of it - guess what, they all come up negative, and people tend to be very credulous:

The scientific community,[11] where it has commented, claims that astrology has repeatedly failed to demonstrate its effectiveness in numerous controlled studies. Effect size studies in astrology conclude that the mean accuracy of astrological predictions is no greater than what is expected by chance, and astrology's perceived performance has disappeared on critical inspection.[48] When tested against personality tests, astrologers have shown a consistent lack of agreement with these tests. One such double-blind study in which astrologers attempted to match birth charts with results of a personality test, which was published in the reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature, concluded that astrologers' could not solve clients' personal problems by reading individuals' natal charts and that astrologers had no special ability to interpret personality from astrological readings.[49] Another study that used a personality test and a questionnaire contended that some astrologers failed to predict objective facts about people or agree with each other's interpretations.[50] When testing for cognitive, behavioral, physical and other variables, one study of astrological "time twins" showed that human characteristics are not molded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of birth.[48][51] Skeptics of astrology also suggest that the perceived accuracy of astrological interpretations and descriptions of one's personality can be accounted for by the fact that people tend to exaggerate positive 'hits' and overlook whatever does not fit, especially when vague language is used.[48] They also argue that statistical research is often wrongly seen as evidence for astrology due to uncontrolled artifacts.[52]

In another control experiment conducted by ABC's 20/20 team and documented by John Stossel in his best-selling book Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity, an astrologer was asked to do a chart on Ed Kemper, a serial killer and necrophile. The astrologer compiled a twenty-five-page report, of which identical copies were made and given to a class of college students. The students were each told that it was their own personal horoscope. "A few were 'amazed' that the astrologer could know so much about them. Some said they had been skeptical of astrology, but [that] detailed horoscope had made them total believers." [53] Needless to say, the students were embarrassed, some angry at the revelation that they've been tricked. [citation needed]

A similar experiment was conducted by professional debunker and scientific skeptic James Randi, in which he gave a class of students identical horoscopes, telling each however that it's their own unique personal one prepared by a professional astrologer based on when and where they were born. He gave the students some time to read their horoscope, then asked them to rank the accuracy of the horoscope; the majority of students ranked it 5/5.[citation needed] . He then asked each student to hand his/her horoscopes to the person behind them. Most students were disappointed to see that they've been had, as they found the horoscopes to be quite telling. They believed the horoscope was true because it contained a plethora of vague and general descriptions that flattered the students, descriptions with many misses but "hits" which impressed the students so much that they overshadowed their doubts with the misses. [54] James Randi describes these kinds of descriptions as cold reading, a technique with which you tell people more things about themselves than they actually do by making countless vague descriptions that could apply to almost anyone. A team of famous clinical psychologists also reached the same conclusion after conducting their own set of experiments on astrology, as well as other well-known pseudosciences [55]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know Ted, astrology probably helps a lot of guys (and gals) get laid. "Oh, you're a Virgo, I'm a Sage, wanna get it on?" "Sure."
I'd say that's pretty effective.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember sitting in my front room several years ago, with about ten people visiting, one of whom had brought a girl down from London, who had a conversation pretty much like the one you mention, and while it carried on gradually the whole of the rest of the room gradually tuned in to this conversation and was watching quite intently. Unfortunately for him, at the end he was blown out, so went off to a caravan at the back of our house in a huff. whereupon we had a hilariouis conversation with all of the women in the room, saying things like "Well he tried Astrology with me" and "Well I had Palmistry".

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the odds against you choosing that combination (male Sadge, female Virgo) are around 120 to one I think (where is Migeru when I need him?).

I'm a Sadge, Solveig's a Virgo, but I don't recall a conversation QUITE like that.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:28:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a Sage too; and my first girlfriend some 40+ years back was a Virgo. So you have to reduce the odds- I can't name all the signs.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
isn't it 144 to 1 (if you specify the sexes) and about half that if you don't?

(I am dredging up some basic statistics from 25 years ago so could be entirely wrong)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru will be back soon. How long can he stay on honeymoon?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 11:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think on Monday or Tuesday we'll get the full cataclysm ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 12:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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