Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The power of astrology

In 2000, astrologer Lynne Palmer published her Astrological Almanac for 2001. On page 95, Palmer advised:

"Avoid terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001."

Astounding! Amazing! Incredible! How did she do it?

Fellow astrologer Robert Hand said:

"Only one person predicted the date of the attacks, and that was Lynne Palmer. I don’t know how she did it. Things looked chaotic, but I could not have foreseen September 11. I looked and looked and I don’t know how anyone could have predicted it to the day."

Think about that, and astrology's claim to be a science. One of the most respected professional astrologers says that even in hindsight, nobody can tell how Palmer predicted the September 11 terrorist attacks. That's a science?

But honestly, if Hand can't tell how she did it, he's not very bright.

Palmer lists 160 dates in 2001 to "avoid terrorist attacks". 16 of them were in September. Almost 44% of all days were listed as potential terrorist attack days. Talk about a scattergun approach to prediction: with thousands of astrologers, making dozens or even hundreds of predictions every year, it isn't the least bit surprising that one of them happened to hit the bullseye by accident.

How did she do it? Make enough predictions, and some of them will come true just by luck. That's all it takes -- if you place enough bets, you will win some of them.

(I'm curious what she means by "avoid terrorist attacks". Just how are you supposed to do that? Are there days when it isn't useful to avoid terrorist attacks?)

Read more on Skeptico.

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