Friday, September 18, 2009

Horoscopy or the road to moronic marriages and crappy catastrophies part IV

This piece of the discussion is about how people apply astrology
Astrology is applied to a few if not all important decisions in the life of human beings.
Astrology is used to :
A. predict the future ( but we can consider that prediction with astrology has yet to make sense to anyone except astrologers )
See predicting the future is no fun.. because whats the worst that could happen ? you get syphilis.. or your family suffers its own little economic crisis.. or your son is a schizophrenic or you get a psychosomatic disorder or you get castrated by a gang of delinquents ( death is not mentioned here because it is inevitable, you don't astrology to predict it ). All of this does not depend on the stars... it most probably depends on you ( I mean if you really piss off a gang of delinquents in all probability they will castrate you ) (except the schizophrenic son but still that's genetics so it still might be you).
B. Arrange a marriage or Moronic marraiges.. NOW we're talking...
Checking your 'compatibility' with someone.. now that's a real challenge. For example I have known my parents my entire life but cannot predict with 100% accuracy what they would do in any given situation.
Let us see whether a horoscope can do better :
now .. here is how it goes. I am born under a certain 'sign' or 'constellation' ( read 'random connect the dots in the sky') . So I am born under a certain 'sign' and the person I am checking compatibility with is also born under a certain 'sign'.
So now the rule is... each sign is most compatible with some other sign and probably a little less compatible with the ones that are neighbors of that sign ( the zodiac is in the same order AND circular.. so each sign always has 2 neighbors ). Now why is this ? one would ask... why is this sign compatible with only a few signs. or let us ask it the other way around would probably make it easier. why does sign really not like the other signs ?
there is only answer... "Who knows" comes to mind.
There are 'water' signs or 'fire' signs. This is based on who the planet ruling the sign is ( who ever heard of a puny planet owning a group of MASSIVE stars ? you have to be kidding me ...). Well.. just like water signs there are also traffic signs, little electrons jiggling along in wires rule them.. similar scale of magnitude I think but more effective..
In the paper I referred to in the last post, they talk about a person named Carlson. Who did an experiment. He took 2000 couples. 758 divorced and the others not divorced. He had their horscopoes made and asked a bunch of astrologers to find you which ones are the divorced ones and which ones are not. In all practicality the couples that were LEAST compatible should be significantly higher in the divorced group. Exciting premise.. unfortunately it did not happen that way so statistics does not come to the rescue of the astrologer. They still get left out in the cold wasteland of ' not statistically significant'
In the Indian system there is something a little more intruiging. They try and match the 'guna' ( pronounce Goo Naa ) it can translate to prpoerties/characteristcs or points, but I think points is correct here as it is a qunatitaive trait. So they claim that when checking for compatibility they are checking to see how many points between 2 people match. The higher the points the higher the score.. so in essence the higher the compatibility. But there is one major problem... you are calculating a score between two patterns ( albeit it is based on arbitrary symbols and heavenly bodies with no differential effect on me and the other person ).
So What is the null hypothesis ? How should we determine the cutoff ? what score is ok ? the score always goes from 1 to 36. What is the base matrix based on which you decide at least 18 should match ? It is like doing BLAST without the E value !! (If you ever try this with BLAST ..people will probably fling banana peels at you thinking you should be in the zoo.)( for non scientists.. I cannot think of a good parallel right now. sorry guys ). I mean no disrespect but I believe I am entitled to know why all this is the case. I am not satisfied with the answer of " It is so" I mean I can equally well say it is NOT so and no one is the winner. Did the astrologers take random horoscopes and match them and see what score you generally get if ANY two horoscopes are matched ? I think it would follow a normal gaussian distribution since this is random. It has to be... I confess here that I don't have much of a clue as to how these points are calculated but I am sure it is based on when I am born so my 'sign'. There must be a uniform distribution in a tropical country of people being born all around the year. so then the background score would a be gaussian distribution with the mode being the cutoff. If they have not done this.. it just leads to one question.. why the hell not ? did you just accept this at face value ? There are astrology academies in pune... Don't they ever think.. " man this 18.. its not right.. if the cutoff is 15 .. more people will be compatible.. and probably be happier in the belief that " hey.. i am compatible with more people !!"
Now here is the twist... match horoscopes without regard to gender. IF this means anything.. any man's horoscope should match any woman's horoscope better than any other man's horoscope. I mean I am not against anyone being gay but I am sure horoscopes were made for marriages probably mostly for men and women togther.
But I have never come across any person who is even willing to test this theory. Forget an astrologer.. even if is say this to orthodentists they will probably think I am out of my mind..
why is this ? I mean come on.. it is a piece of paper. not self consistent.. highly subject to interpretation by the observer.. why respect it so much ? why fear it so much ? I know someone who actually told me proudly " When my daughter brought the guy she wants to marry home, even though he had not faults I told her... " If your horoscopes are compatible I am in this marriage and otherwise I am not" " come on man !!! who tells their daughter this ? If someone had told me this I would have shown them my middle finger on both hands ( and probably the fingers of both feet too ).
I am convinced now... that there are 3 kinds of marriages. Arranged marriages, love marriages and moronic marriages. The one that does horoscope copmatibility and uses it as the most important criteria is the last kind. My cousin brothers got married on the basis where the first premise was horoscopy. Don't get me wrong, All my sister's in law are wonderful people and all of them are extremely happy, but they would still be wonderful people and be extremely happy even if they had horoscopes predicting that they were gender confused ducks...
There is so much more to write on this but I better stop before I really hurt someone... So part 4 on moronic marriages ends here.
Part 5.. the one I am looking forward to write the most is about catastrophy prediction.. in particular the one in 2012.... Let us see if astrology helps us there...


Rishikesh said...

a much better method of finding compatibility between two people imho is the Briggs-Myers personality profiling. (as i am sure, yadu would confirm :) you wont believe but I actually asked quite a few girls to take this at the kanda-pohe stage, (at the cost of making a fool of myself at times), and I can reasonably confidently say that was one of the wisest things i have done so far.

Aneesh said...

good commentary. have had much of the same arguments with myself and decided to not read any of the horoscope pages/websires or whatever. Once in a while i do however read the aries horoscope to see if my day matched up or not... thing is that in this day and age its all about selling your product and with astrology, vague sells so thats what all the horoscopes are.

one lil thing: you assume tht gravity is a tiny force that cannot affect us. i will say here that which a astrologer might say, "how do you know???"
and this, i think, will defeat your whole purpose and the crowds will once again separate to those who agree with you and "those who will never know"

placebo effect perhaps has some role to play. which, i think in that you know (:P hahaha), is a major topic of discussion in the medical field the past coupla days. so if some dude tells you that you will have a bright future whats to stop you from getting one? i for one asked an astrologer (yes i have had the fun experience) (after he told me recite some mantras at particular times of the day)if it was okay that i killed mice with my bare which point he said "it is your right to do so,just like it is okay for the butcher to kill things" at which point i looked deep into the eyes of the girl sitting across from me and smiled (she smiled back, he has predicted i will have an arranged marriage). he has also predicted that i will not leave india in the next 4 years. (:D)

Aneesh said...

@rishikesh: the briggs myers test is also known to be faulty btw... :)

not to mention a*holes like me like to get into the guts of the questions asked and ask, "how will this question reflect on the prediction...." after which i pick the answer which will give me the answer i want. Which is not always me, i can assure you! so how would you test me??

Aneesh said...

@rishi: I'm ENTP btw. but how will anyone ever be sure??

Aneesh said...

IDEA: was reading thru the site and found a few common things between what is said about Arians (my sun sign) and the ENTP (my personality type) people.

how about do a comparison between the personality types and the sun signs? if there is some correlation perhaps something somewhere might concede defeat... assuming of course that the B-M is a fairly accurate test.

Scarecrow said...

The "How do you know argument?" can be used both ways. If someone blindly believes in something, you can't convinve them otherwise, even with proofs. There's considerable evidence as pointed out by these posts that heavenly bodies affecting our lives is mostly not the correct idea (we havent proven it explicitly.hence, as scientists we should be open to speculation). On the other hand, the astrologers don't have an ounce of evidence for or against their "theory". But scores of people still believe them. Thus, there always gonna be those two groups of people u mentioned irrespective of what proof you bring to the table because they believe it blindly. And no astrologer would ever accept the proofs coz its good business in the end, period.

Scarecrow said...

I don't know about compatability and I definitely laugh at future prediction... But, the general things you read about characterstics that people have cause of being born under such n such star sign matches eerily well with real-life, as aneesh pointed out. My general characteristics do match of a person of Pisces. I have of course analysed it scientifically and couldn't neglect the high similarities.

@Aneesh - There are scores of personality tests. which one would you choose and why? thats gonna be the decisive question!

On the other hand, scientifically, we know shit about how personalities develop. it may well be the planets for all we know! Coz we just DON'T know how did we come to be how we are!
I can argue - Its the wiring in my head which was influenced by genes and experience. Then, the question arises were the experiences trully random or ordained in a particular order coz of the heavenly thingies and hence they do affect our personality too through tweaking the wiring based on the experiences they brought about our way ...
Ok I should shut up!

Ashwin Kelkar said...

@ Scarecrow and Aneesh...
really ?? I have never found similarities in my personality and my sign pisces. I am not a an eternal dreamer and invtroverted. When I want to be I can be a regular party animal as many people will testify. The only thing I found remotely common is that I am imaginative and creative.. but these are such good qualities who will say no when it is sanctioned by the heavens that they possess these ? :D
I have done the briggs mayer test and with interesting results.
I was and INTP before but after 2 years i retook the test and now am an INTJ. I just took the test prior to giving this comment and I am again INTP !! :D but as aneesh said it is easy to cheat on this test.. give it a few repeats and you will figure out a pattern.
So once again catch 22 guys.. :D

Ashwin Kelkar said...

and furthermore.. being an INTP is not bad.. Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were intps too.. so there is still hope !! :D

Ashwin Kelkar said...

Part V is up guys.. thanks for the reads

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just your regular guy who dreams too much. i read a lot don't remember it all though.. swim, trek, yoga.. think and read more.. that about sums it up..