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However, by the same token, a failure to detect measurable changes might merely mean we were looking in the wrong place, or at the wrong things, or with insufficient magnification.

Testable, perhaps, but still not useful.

As we have seen, there are many speculative explanations of astrology. By contrast, there is only one ordinary explanation. It explains astrology by the failure of astrologers to control non-astrological factors, which are then mistaken for genuine astrological effects.

Non-astrological factors include perceptual and inferential biasses (we draw wrong conclusions from what we see), sampling errors (sampling variance is wrongly interpreted as variance due to astrology), and capitalisation on chance (if the number of possible chart variables exceeds the number of subjects, as it must do for arab dating site 2008 2009 any astrologer who has less than a few million clients, then a perfect match between chart and client is guaranteed even if all data are random numbers). Non-astrological factors have been explored in thousands of studies and dozens of books but they are consistently ignored by astrologers. None of the factors are mysterious and none of them require astrology to be true.

For further discussion see Artifacts in reasoning on this website under Doing Scientific Research.

This ordinary explanation immediately lays to rest many puzzles. It explains why anthony kiedis dating neither astrologers nor clients seem able, under blind conditions, to tell wrong charts from right charts, and why tens of thousands of Western astrologers can disagree with hundreds of thousands of Eastern astrologers over what the same 12 pieces of sky mean.

It also leads immediately to testable predictions such as: There will be mutually incompatible techniques that are nevertheless seen as valid by their users.

Subjects will be generally unable to distinguish authentic readings from controls. Judgements by astrologers using authentic charts will be no better than those using control charts.

The more biasses and artifacts a technique contains the more effective it will seem. No predictive technique including horary will consistently perform better than chance.

In short, such an explanation meets all our requirements.

It explains the observations, improves on existing explanations, suggests new areas for testing, and does not contravene existing knowledge. It has also been put to the test, see next.

Testing this ordinary explanation of astrology was essentially the challenge of the $US5000 superprize competition, which was announced in 1983 with twelve sponsors including the Astrological Association.

"The superprize will be awarded for convincing evidence that the accuracy of chart interpretations cannot be explained by non-astrological factors.

For the present purpose, 'convincing evidence' is that which is convincing to the judges" (Dean & Mather 1983-1987).

To make the situation quite clear: "The non-astrological factors which could apply are surprisingly numerous and in principle are sufficient to explain how astrology seems to work. Examples are universal validity, gullibility, belief, and statistical artifacts. The aim of each entrant will be to demonstrate that non-astrological factors are in fact not sufficient, and that the only genuine explanation of how astrology works is the reality of astrological effects" (1983:209).

Details were published in astrological journals in eight countries and probably reached 250,000 readers in the USA and over 5000 elsewhere. More than 60 intentions to enter were received from a total of 14 countries and were pleasingly diverse: roughly one third involved personality, one third involved events, and one third involved other areas such as discrimination, synastry and horary. Subsequently 34 actual entries from 7 countries were received, of which 16 did not address the required topic and 3 had produced only negative results.

Of the remaining 15 entries only one was successful, but this was a fake entered to test the allegation by Dennis Elwell that the prize was unwinnable because appropriate tests could not be designed and the panel of eight judges was not impartial.

Disconfirmation could of course be achieved by any study in which non-astrological factors are controlled.

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