From Zipporah Pottenger Dobyns, Ph.D., Psychologist, Ordained Minister, and Astrologer. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Welcome to the ranks of your illustrious predecessors who denounced mesmerism (hypnotism) as the work of charlatans, and who said that anyone claiming to see stones falling from the sky (meteorites) was either deluded or lying because stones are heavier than air and could not get up into the sky.
What happens when theories conflict with experience? In Galilei’s time it was church fathers who refused to look through a telescope to see the moons of Jupiter. Their theory said that seven was the number of completion and there could not be more than seven primary heavenly bodies (Sun, moon, and the five known planets). Now it is “scientists” who cling to an outmoded theory (materialism) and cannot look at the evidence for astrology because astrology cannot be explained by known physical forces. Astronomer Bok makes the flat assertion that their is no validity to astrology and follows this with the statement that he would not waste his time testing the field until he could be shown physical forces to account for it.
A similar attitude is expressed by Edward Dewey in his recently revised book on cycles.
He writes: “The idea that planets could have any effect upon the events of individual lives, according to their time of birth is, so fantastic that science has rejected it out of hand without even bothering to investigate it. The mere suggestion that it be investigated would damn any scientist, and if his findings were favourable, I am sure no scientific journal would publish his work.”
If these men represent science, it is obvious that scientific objectivity is the myth, not astrology.
Since most humans are pragmatists, they go on working with whatever is useful, even when science cannot explain how or why it works. A large number of humans take aspirin even though science still does not understand its mechanism. The individuals who have experienced genuine astrology and found it helpful are unlikely to trust the pronouncements of
people who have never worked with the field. In fact, rather than reducing popular interest in astrology there is more danger that the scientist’s attack will alienate a large number of individuals, especially young people, from science and scientific method. That would be a tragedy for both science and astrology. We need to apply scientific method to astrology in order to validate what is dependable in the accumulated traditions and theories from its 5,000 year history, and to discard the ineffective or erroneous ideas and techniques. Also, science needs the support of society. If it is true, as the Gallup Poll reports, that 20% of Americans believe in astrology, classifying this large a segment of society as liars or fools is hardly likely to encourage respect for the self appointed judges.
It seems especially strange that the attack should come now when there is expanding research in and evidence for astrology. There is no space here to cite the studies, but a short list of references is included with a few relevant books or articles.
The scientists seem totally ignorant of Nelson’s 85-95% accuracy in forecasting ionospheric disturbances using only angles between the planets. Jerome, in the Humanist article, demonstrates ignorance of basic statistical principles in his attempt to discredit Gauquelin’s correlation of planets and professions, a correlation which reached odds up to a million to one against chance and which has been replicated twice and supported by other related studies. Recent years have seen a massive increase in research on biological rhythms as reported by Luce and HEW among others. The summary in the HEW publication describes time as a basic part of our structure and states:
“If a person were to see a calendar of his life he would be startled to see that many recurrences of his moods and his periods of illness or strength were predictable.” p. 146
Just one more step is needed to recognize that the heavens have always offered humans a clock and calendar, a map and compass, for orientation in time and space.
The blind prejudice against astrology demonstrated by many scientists actually stems from two sources, both involving ignorance. A sizable number of critics have never seen genuine astrology and they are judging the field purely from newspaper and magazine columns. Such action is equivalent to passing judgement on the validity of psychology on the basis of newspaper columns offering advice to the lovelorn. Genuine astrology is so complex that the whole pattern can never repeat. Only two people born on the same date in the same place, and at the exact same minute can have the same horoscope, and this is a rare occurrence. Even twins are born a minute or two apart, and a minute makes a difference! Where exact recorded birth times are available, multiple births are valuable for research, providing an opportunity to test the fine points of astrology.
If lack of contact with genuine astrology were the only problem, it would be easily solved. But the more serious block which prevents many scientists from looking objectively at astrology involves a philosophical issue. Both Bok and Jerome in their articles in the Humanist demonstrated the same unquestioning belief in the philosophical premises
of materialism. Neither writer specified his premises but we can deduce their materialistic assumptions from Bok’s insistence on the need for physical forces before he would test astrology, and from Jerome’s attack on astrology as a form of magic because astrology is based on correspondences. Both men can apparently only conceive of a world of blind, purposeless, meaningless physical forces which cause equally blind, meaningless physical results. This philosophy of materialism is based on the metaphysical beliefs that matter-energy is the ultimate reality and power; that chance (probability theory) is God; that consciousness is an illusion created by the physical brain which dies when the brain dies. These materialistic premises which underlie modern science are so pervasive and so seldom questioned or even stated explicitly that many otherwise highly educated individuals are not even aware that the premises are unproven articles of faith — unproven and well on the way to being disproved!
Read Dietrick Thomsen’s articles in Science News, April 19, 1975 and July 12, 1975 to see how physics itself is now challenging the old assumptions about determinism, objectivity and causality. Physicists are talking of “spacelike” communication involving occurrences like instantaneous translations in space, motions that take up no time, transfer of information without energy transfer.” (p . 29 , Thomsen, July 12,1975). As Thomsen points out in the same article, physics is now asking what metaphysics had postulated for years: “Does the individual’s consciousness determine the reality of what exists for him?” (p.29)
A branch of psychology sometimes called phenomenology (Hadley Cantril and many others) is asking the same question, and offering evidence that the answer is “yes”. Still more evidence is available from the area usually called extra-sensory perception. Even if the personal psychic experiences reported from all cultures throughout recorded history are ignored as unscientific anecdotes, 100 years of parapsychology research should be enough to demonstrate the inadequacy of the premises of materialism. Psychic occurrences (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, etc.) show that mind can transcend time and space and can influence physical matter by unknown means. The acceptance of these human experiences as part of reality supports the hypothesis that some form of mind or consciousness is the primary and ultimate power in the cosmos. There are many varieties of psychic or spiritual philosophies, most postulating continuity of life whether here on Earth (reincarnation) or elsewhere. Scientific methods can be and should be applied to test these theories as Stevenson has done in the area of reincarnation.
Unfortunately many scientists are too naive philosophically to realize that facts can only be defined as such within the context of a theory. The theory defines the nature of ultimate reality and thus determines which human experiences can be accepted as real and meaningful and which must be considered chance, illusion, coincidence or fraud. Our concepts determine what we are able and willing to see. The recent book by John Taylor describes the reactions of one materialistic scientist when his theory about the nature of the world was challenged by experiences with the psychic Uri Geller. Taylor writes:
“One clear observation of Geller in action had an overpowering effect on me. I felt as if the whole framework with which I had viewed the world had suddenly been destroyed. I seemed very naked and vulnerable, surrounded by a hostile, incomprehensible universe. It was many days before I was able to come to terms with this sensation. Some of my colleagues have even declined to face up to the problem by refusing to attend demonstrations of such strange phenomena. That is a perfectly understandable position, but one which does not augur well for the future of science. I myself am still fighting hard to preserve the scientific understanding of life as the legitimate one.” p.49
In another place Taylor comments:
“But I was not able to convince my fellow scientists. One distinguished scientist, a Noble Prize winner, told me that metal bending was clearly done by fraud, and his wife threw in for good measure that no scientist of repute would be caught dead investigating Geller. “p.158
Is this science? Denunciation without the courage to look at the evidence? One can only pity those who cling to an outmoded belief system which is dissolving before their shocked gaze. Materialism is a dying philosophy, but there is a real danger of another swing from one extreme position to its opposite. Taylor equates scientific method and even reason with the materialistic world view and suggests that to give up one is to lose all. It is urgently important that we differentiate the premises of materialism from the use of scientific methods. The former are an encumbrance which blocks any chance of understanding life or the cosmos. The latter are essential and must be applied to psychic experiences, to astrology, to the evidence for life after death, etc.
Astrology was humanity’s first attempt at science, defined as the search for order and meaning in the world. Early humans discovered that the movements of the heavenly bodies were predictable and that they corresponded to events on Earth; e.g. the rising of the Nile, rainfall, wars, plagues, etc. Eventually, it was noticed that the patterns in the sky also corresponded to human psychological urges, and astrology produced the first personality typology. Today, astrology, like psychology, is split between materialists and humanists. To quote from my latest book:
“Materialistic science assumes that destiny (experience) creates character. Materialistic astrology assumes that planets create both character and destiny. Humanistic astrology assumes that our attitudes and actions (including unconscious desires and habit patterns) create our destiny, that we are born when our character-destiny matches the state of the cosmos, the planets offer a useful blueprint of the cosmic order, but do not create it. All approaches agree that internal nature and external circumstances match, so that we can understand one more clearly in the light of the other. They differ in where they place the power; in chance and matter (science), in the planets (materialistic astrology), or in the mind (humanistic astrology).” P.7
Humanistic astrology has moved from the focus of early humans on overt events to the realization that character lies behind the events, that mind is the prime mover, that psychological principles (archetypes if you like) are the source of our actions with a range of possible physical effects stemming from them. For example, with six people who have in common the freedom-closeness dilemma, one may chose to live unencumbered and feel lonely; the second may maintain a deep emotional relationship and feel trapped; the third may alternate in and out of relationships; the fourth may repress either side of the conflicting desires and have characteristic health problems; the fifth may project either side and choose a partner who expresses it to excess (rather like a see-saw with role reversal not uncommon); the sixth may successfully integrate the conflicting desires by
not carrying either to an extreme.
The astrologer or other diagnostician who points out the psychological source of the problem is far more helpful than a successful prediction of exactly which of the possible reactions will be chosen for expression. To be told “what” is going to happen leaves us feeling helpless to change it. To be told “why” in terms of our psychological drives and conflicts facilitates solutions.
To repeat what was said above, the materialist world-view postulates blind, meaningless physical forces producing equally meaningless physical results. The spiritual world-view postulates a cosmos with inherent meaning and purpose; a world in which mind rather than matter is the primary power, so that magic, witchcraft, spiritual healing, etc. are subjects for research rather than for sneers. In the spiritual world, character is destiny, choice is real and makes a difference, and a person is more than the physical body currently inhabited.
The chasm lying between these two world-views is so basic that it almost blocks communication across the gulf. Each side sees the other as ignorant to the point of perversity. The irony of the attack on astrology in the Humanist Journal is that the Humanist Society espouses modern materialism and they turned to materialists to support their position at the same time that they are supposedly defending human dignity. One of their signatories is B.F. Skinner who says that humans have no freedom, no responsibility, and no dignity. Many astrologers would have cheered if the Humanist Journal had limited their attack to materialistic astrology, the cop-out on personal responsibility which credits the planets with final power, or to the simplistic sun-sign columns which can be as destructive as any stereotype that labels people from a single trait. But a blanket denial
of any validity to astrology is patently false and potentially destructive since it may further encourage people who know the value of astrology from their own experience into a rejection of all science and scientific methods.
To reach the Truth, we must work together. We need the help of the scientific community for data and access to computers and knowledge of new techniques of multivariate analysis. The organization I serve, The Community Church of Religious Science,
is committed to the search, for Truth, and is prepared to challenge any belief, whether held by science or by astrology or by religion if the belief cannot be supported by evidence. Three major branches of the church are devoted respectively to the study of psycholinguistics (the degree to which our language and conceptual system determines our life experience), to psychic research and to astrology research. I direct the astrology research, and I hope that some of those who read this message may feel moved to help us. We need data (most urgently for current projects on chronic alcoholics and hemophiliacs) including date, place and minute of birth, sex and problem. When possible a brief statement of severity, time of onset or discovery, treatment, etc. is helpful; no names of subjects of course. We need funds, and they are tax deductible if checks are made out to CCRS. We need cooperation from individuals with advanced training especially in statistics and research design.
We do not need more “true believers,” whether they believe in magic, witchcraft, astral flight, reincarnation, life after death and astrology, or whether they disbelieve in the above and instead believe that all reality can be reduced to mindless charges of energy. We need “true scientists” who realize that basic premises about the world are tentative, to be outgrown and replaced in time. Telescopes and microscopes have enlarged our awareness of the physical world. Astrology and parapsychology are capable of expanding our understanding of consciousness and life. Have you the courage to acknowledge how little we know and to keep the option open? if so, welcome to the ranks of the searchers!
Cantril, Hadley; The Why of Man’s Experience. New York, MacMillan 1950.
Dewey, E. and Mandino, Og; Cycles, The Mysterious Forces That Trigger Events; New York, Manor Books Inc., 1973
Gaugelin, Michael; The Cosmic Clocks; Chicago, IL,Henry Regnery Co., 1967.
Leiber, Arnold, Sherin, Carolyn; “Homicides and the
Lunar Cycle: :toward a theory of lunar influence
on human emotional disturbance, :American Journal of Psychiatry; Vol. 129: 1,(July 1973),pp.101-105
Luce, Gay G.; Body Time; New Yortk., Random House,1971.
Nelson, John; Cosmic Patterns; Washington, D.C.; American Federation of Astrologers, 1974.
Stevenson, Ian; Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation; N.Y., American Society for Psychical Research, 1966.
Taylor, John; Superminds; London, MacMillan, 1975.
Thomsen, Dietrick; “General Relativity’s Catch 22”;
Science News, Vol 107, (April 19,1975),pp.262-263.
T Thomsen, Dietrick; “The Blob That Ate Physics”;
Science News, Vol. 108, (July 12, 1975),pp.28-29.
U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare; “Biological Rhythms in Psychiatry and Medicine; Washington, D.C.
Public. Health Service, 1970 .
West, J. and Toonder, J.; The Case for Astrology; N.Y., Coward-McCann Inc., 1970.
Dobyns, Zipporah; Progressions, Directions,
and Rectification; L.A., TIA
Listed below are other books written by Zipporah Dobyns.
Evolution Through The Zodiac
The Zodiac As A Key To History
Distance Values 1971-1980
The Node Book
The Astrology Annual Reference
The Astrologer’s Casebook
Finding The Person In The Horoscope
Directions, & Rectification
FURTHER REPLY TO 186 SCIENTISTS
Would it be good science for a individual to dismiss psychology or medicine as subjects worthy of investigation because experts in the fields held conflicting opinions?
Would it be good science to take such action because after reading a textbook on the subject of psychology or medicine, the individual was unable to make an accurate diagnosis?
Is it good science to declare that there is “no verified scientific basis” for a subject and to declare in the same article that the writer abandoned any plan to test the field until someone could show him physical foundations to account for the field? Little would be known today if science had taken that attitude toward gravity, electricity, and magnetism, and no one would be using aspirin.
Is it good science to judge and condemn a field on the basis of popular media treatments of it, without any personal study and work with the field?
The undersigned would like to suggest that the statement published in the Humanist in September October 1975 and signed by 186 scientists is open to the above questions. It seems quite possible that much of what is written about astrology is of questionable value, but to dismiss the whole field without any careful investigation seems to be an unscientific action. We hope that scientific method will be used to test the claims of astrology. Science feels superior to the church fathers who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. Let us not be guilty of the same blindness.
The undersigned feel that a stronger statement is justified than the one above. I have had some form of personal experience with astrology and I was sufficiently impressed to strongly recommend research in the field.