From: Jan Willem Nienhuys
Subject: Re: sTARBABY
>One fine test would be to have an astrologer interview twelve
>individuals, each with a different "sun sign," without knowing
>before hand what their "sun sign" is. That is, give the
>astrologer 12 natal charts, and then let her or him talk to
>the people that the charts are said to represent. Each person
>would have to be, or at least appear, the same age, and come
>from the same ethnic stock, and the same geographic area. Then
>have the astrologer attempt to match the people with the natal
>charts. I do not remember the odds; it is HIGHLY unlikely for
>more than two matches. For an astrologer to match many charts
>CONSISTANTLY, with proper controls in place, would give me cause
>to consider astrology valid.
Such an experiment WAS done in Indiana. Six astrologers, reputably
very able, were given
(a) natal charts
(b) extensive files of the corresponding people, including results
of personality tests, profession, CV (minus the birthdate),
hobbies, photographs, recents traumatic events in personal life
and so on.
The number of natal charts was quite large and comprised a very diverse
group of people. The only restriction was that they were about the
same age (to make guessing from the photograph or CV difficult).
The astrologers were to match them. Oral interview was not allowed.
(self attribution of sun-sign properties is common, so any technique
that would provoke such self-attribution is out. The subjects were not
told that their form was going to be interpreted by an astrologer.
The expected number of hits (matches is as follows).
A chance of 1/e (37.8%) of scoring 0 hits.
A chance of 1/e of scoring 1 hit
A chance of 1/2e of scoring 2 hits
A chance of 1/6e of scoring 3 hits
A chance of 1/24e of scoring 4 hits
And so on (above numbers apply to a sufficiently large sample,
but from a sample of 8 on they are already good approximations.
The average number of hits over many tries would be 1.
The results: the six astrologers scored between 0 and 3 hits.
The interpretations of the astrologers did not even correlate
among themselves. The 15 ways of comparing one astrologer with
the other yielded 21 hits.
At the meeting of the Indiana astrologers where the results were
made known, the members present were challenged to do better, but
again they failed.
What was the reaction of the astrologers (mind you, after extensively
cooperating with the researchers, and indicating everything they might
need to know about their `clients' and approving of the whole set-up):
"Well it figures, this is the lost generation due to [unfavorable
Pluto-Neptune conjunction or something like that]."
In their report they managed to render the name of one of the reseachers