Vedic astrologer vs. a skeptic

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by lightgigantic, Oct 30, 2008.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Its kind of weird how you think you can distinguish (to the tune of an extra 40-50% more accurately) psycho-physical characteristics and chronological issues between a person born in Chicago and another in Dallas.

    I don't know what you would call this ability you profess- maybe SDAS (Spontaneous Demographic Analysis Syndrome) .... but accomplishing what takes Market Research teams years and tons of bucks to come up with simply by making a few probable guesses seems -well - very non-empirical of you

    anyone who has a sibling can vouch for the characteristic distinctions they display
    and what makes you think that they didn't?
    because its only a documentary excerpt - I guess the function of these programs is to foster some further investigation by interested persons.

    But I respect skepticism as the beginning of intelligent thought in any subject. To start out looking in reality rather than belief"

    If a person simply believes that astrology has no merit, what can be done?
    thats your SDAS at work

    I thought it was obvious
    The basis for doing an astrology reading is determining the positions of the planets according to geographical location
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  3. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    I'm merely demonstrating a point that I feel is fairly self-explanatory. Even a small amount of personal information about a subject can reveal quite a lot and many of the predictions given by the astrologer seem to fall within this scope.

    The question comes to mind that if astrology is a science why should there be any significant discrepancies? Even if we take the presentation at face value, a 20% - 40% margin of error is hardly inspiring. My contention is that the meager success we see is primarily if not entirely attributable to the information provided and the scope of the predictions.

    Taking into account the studies that have been done on astrology and their consistent failures I hardly find this meager demonstration to be convincing or even noteworthy.

    Agreed, they also share some very strong similarities. If these distinctions are determined by astrological factors rather than genetics and environment one should find some very strong correlations in such an examination. I'm merely posing it as a test.

    I don't. I'm wondering what the results would be if they did. If you wish to demonstrate the veracity of astrology these are the types of tests that would most convince me. Change up the variables and let's see if astrology can achieve positive results when the subject is not easily defined by the information given.

    It viewed more like a propaganda piece than a documentary to me but I'll leave it be.

    I'll believe it has merit when it can be shown to have some. I'm not prone to just believing in things without some measure of evidence. The burden lies on the claimant, not the skeptic.

    I don't find it so but I'll accept the reason.

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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    If you are trying to drive home that time and place of birth are sufficient pieces of information to facilitate such "guesswork" I think you are grasping at straws.

    If you disagree, perhaps you can make yourself a mint in the demographics industry.
    One group of readings that comes in at about 30% and another that comes in at about 70% are certainly notable.
    If your doctor gave you an option for one operation with a success rate of 30% and another at 70%, you wouldn't be greatly inspired either way?

    Or even better, if there was some issue of environment or genetics that suggested a 70% probability of something, it's not science since its short of 29.99999 %?
    Once again, if you think you can get an accuracy level of about 70% from a persons date and location of birth, the demographics industry is for you.
    Yet you had to ask what is the exact relevance of a persons date and time of birth for a reading .....
    Its not clear how finding something that relates to issues of genetics or environment clearly contradicts anything that is accepted within astrology ... particularly when it comes to the tune of 70%
    What is it about taking birth in Dallas that clearly distinguishes one from a person taking birth in Chicago (to the tune of 70%)?
    Do you think an issue that brings to bear something like 70% in the field of genetics/environment has merit (like say a cause of cancer, HIV infection, blindness, infertility)?
    If yes, why?
    Well, that is precisely what a person is reading when they are making a chart ... contrary to your claims that a person is simply practicing psychology (as the ex-astrologer skeptic on the excerpt explained), they can actually justify what they are saying in terms of the movements of planets in relations to how they existed in relation to their time ans place of birth.
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  7. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    I do indeed disagree. I can make quite a few likely guesses about a person based simply on their age. For example metabolism generally slows as we age. Therefore a guess that a person in their 40s is having issues with weight is likely to be accurate, particularly when asking a woman for confirmation (who due to sociological factors is likely to be sensitive to the issue). Toss in a plethora of modifiers "more toward the slender side" "tend to put on a little bit more weight" and your chances of getting a hit are really quite good. Taking a look at the woman in question she certainly has been successful in dealing with her weight issues, as she looks quite slender to me.

    Since the study was not double-blind, simple cold reading techniques start coming into play. For example, listing off positive personality traits is very likely to get an affirmative response. (Yes, of course I'm attractive, charismatic, and funny.) Broad guesses are also likely to be accurate. Who, for instance, has not had some sort of car problem? (And why can't the stars tell us the difference between a 10 car pileup and a flat tire?) Any adult over 30 probably has a child so that's not a surprising hit. Unless you've been cloistered in a monastery your entire life you've probably "Been a lot of places and done a lot of things." And in 41 years I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't like to dance, of course he threw in martial arts and we got a nice example of a successful hit using a shotgun technique.

    This last one is particularly telling. You'll notice that no one there seemed to recall that the actual prediction was that there was a "likely hood that this person was a dancer or a martial artist". The woman was actually neither, though she stated that she "did study taekwondo" and "I do love to dance". I studied martial arts for 3 years and I also love dancing but I would consider myself neither a dancer nor a martial artist. This was counted as a hit by the woman even though at best it was only half right (assuming she studied taekwondo long enough that she should be considered a martial artist). Nice broad guesses tend to be counted as hits by people as they personalize information that is actually questionable. This is why cold reading works.

    If astrology is scientific and so precise then why the tremendous misses? A father and daughter who are close and not separated as the astrologer predicted? The man who was shy and not at all the class clown the astrologer said he was? He missed so badly on these yet he can correctly determine the length of my eyebrow hair? Astrology is a curious kind of science...

  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    if you are arguing that all the points he was successful on can be determined by age, I think you are not seriously investigating the nature of all his claims (eg - social history, character/disposition, etc)

    you seem to forget that when they switched readings (unbeknown to either the astrologer or the person on whom the reading was made) the accuracy slumped to something like 30%

    so you are arguing that about 70% of people identify themselves as a martial artist/dancer?

    I certanly don't see that idea present in any broad scale advertising campaigns ....

    there are so many factors ... much like there are so many factors that can determine why a child doesn't develop cancer when (given their environmental/genetic background) there is a 70% chance they will
  9. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    No, I'm not saying all his hits were determined by age, I've covered a number of factors. But there is an average of 15 predictions per person, so even 3 correct age-based predictions per person would raise the probability by 20%.

    Not at all. Certainly he seemed to hit on some fairly strong points. But again, there's not enough information in the video to know exactly what the hits and misses were. If the predictions were largely based upon the given information this is not at all surprising. Using the 20% figure from above, given an age difference and 3 such guesses we can expect the switch to change the accuracy by 40%.

    Where do you get that idea from? My point is that the generalization and the approach used raises the probability of a hit as people tend to personalize the information given. His specific prediction was that the person would be either a martial artist or a dancer. This phrasing suggests identity, such that if you asked the person they would respond "I was a martial artist" or "I was a dancer". This doesn't seem to be the case. The woman responds that she "did study taekwondo". So whether or not this should be a hit is debatable. How accurate does the prediction have to be before a broadening interpretation significantly affects the probability? Is it the same hit if the woman studied taekwondo for 6 months or 6 years? Would it be a hit if the woman had a daughter in ballet? Or what if she just really liked kung-fu movies? This type of generalization is something that "psychics" use all the time, any vague agreement is taken as a hit.

    But there's another point here as well. The astrologer combines two predictions into one, "there is a likelihood that this person was a dancer or a martial artist". Here you see that agreement with either prediction was counted as a single hit. Where, in actuality, this is two guesses. Even if we take martial arts as a hit, he misses on the prediction that she was a dancer. Two predictions bundled together like that unfairly increase his odds of a hit.

    You must be joking. It's ubiquitous. Almost all advertising attempts to get you to make a personal identification with the product.

    No one can make such a prediction for an individual. Those statistics are only relevant for populations. It is meaningless to translate them to an individual and say, "you have a 70% chance of getting cancer". All you can say is that an individual's profile fits in a population with a 70% cancer rate and therefore it would be a good idea to get screened more often.

    Mere percentages of hits vs misses don't really provide a very good analysis in this scenario in any case because it really depends on what is being predicted. For example (grabbing a quick statistic), in America 80% of women from the ages of 40 to 44 have children. Therefore the baseline for this guess being a hit for a woman in this age bracket is 80%, making that which seems like a very accurate result due purely to chance.

    Since you seem to enjoy referring to demographics and marketing we can find some quick baselines from that industry. "When researchers asked students to rate their ability to get along with others, 60 percent rated themselves in the top 10 percent. Ninety-four percent of university professors say they are doing a better job than their average colleague. Most men think they are good-looking."

    Looking to the weight prediction, according to the CDC 66% of adult Americans are overweight and the percentages rise to around 70% with age. Add to that, for instance, that almost 50% of women who are not overweight think they are and you get a baseline for a positive response regarding a prediction that a woman is overweight of 83%.

    You can begin to see then how such "predictions" have a chance base line far above 50%, which makes his 77% accuracy, even taken at face value, far less significant. IMO, this is merely a demonstration of cold-reading. His accuracy is entirely explainable within the scope of the data available to him and not the least bit surprising.

  10. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Maybe you could give a few more examples of issues that you can garner from age alone with a 70% accuracy rate
    Take a person who is 65 (my father) and a person who is 37 (my sister).
    Tell me about them.

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    so you are arguing that 70% of women have either studied martial arts or dancing?

    no more than it would be a hit if it was suggested that they were obese when then child was obese ...

    no more than if a person liked an obese movie character
    Don't forget that the people involved were skeptics of astrology
    So if you understood a person to have a knack for co-ordinated physical expression in their extra-curricular activities, categorizing them as a martial artist/dancer seems unfair?
    Yet somehow you don't see large scale advertising campaigns that target the world's (apparent) predisposition to dancing and martial arts
    yet that is what you are arguing ... that a 70% accuracy based on populations (based on only their age and place of birth, of all things ....) is nothing remarkable.
    so IOW a 70% rate of success is remarkable
    an 80% likelihood of something clearly involves issues other chance ... much like a 70% one ... btw did you notice how the astrologer picked up on who had a child and who didn't (when they switched the readings)
    there are good reasons why occupation is the standard tool of demographics ... not time and location of birth

    given that weight and being female is easy going, what about the other claims made.

    aside from weight and womanhood, draw up something similar based on merely age and location of birth based on 15 points

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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  11. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    Well I'm hardly a practiced cold reader but sure, on two conditions. One, I'll need their time and place of birth. And two, they need to read my predictions themselves and you can let me know their replies. Cold reading techniques don't work 2nd hand.

    As to the rest of your post, I'd just pretty much be repeating myself so I'll forgo a reply for now.

  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    father - born mid january 1944 in Aberdeen, Scotland
    sister - born mid July 1972 in Wellington, New Zealand

    Tell me something about their character disposition, occupation, life choices etc.

    We'll see what they say.

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  13. theobserver is a simple guy... Registered Senior Member


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    You sound more like a religious person. Religiously inclined towards your existing set of information and firmly believing that its all true and that all to it. Being wrong is not a bad thing. May be you should someday realize that being wrong is the only way to learn.

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