Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #26

From: "Francis G. Kostella"
Subject: Castle Besiegement

Exegesis Digest Tue, 06 Apr 1999

Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 23:57:11 -0500
From: "Francis G. Kostella"
To: exegesis
Subject: Castle Besiegement

In V4I24 William D. Tallman wrote:

 > >
 > >The Stanley Cup and the world chess
 > >championship are other examples of
 > >besiegement contests. Any others?
 > >

I'd considered the first and missed the second. The Americas Cup might fit the bill, but the details of how that contest works is not clear to me and I don't know enough to claim it fits one way or another. Here's the text from the article (http://www.astrologer.com/aanet/ashes.html) which covers the requirements:

 > >
 > >| Castle besiegement may be suspected
 > >| for any sport where one team holds
 > >| a trophy or a title and must be beaten
 > >| in order to lose that title, and where
 > >| a draw means the title or trophy stays
 > >| with the holder. When besiegement
 > >| applies, the holder has an intrinsic
 > >| advantage over the challenger. The
 > >| challenger must clearly defeat the
 > >| holder in order to win the title. The
 > >| winner is then the champion and holds
 > >| that title until retirement or loss to
 > >| a new challenger.
 > >

I wonder if the use of the word "team" rules out chess (or boxing).

I would be interesting to see what Bonatti actually wrote concerning how one would determine if the technique should be applied. Does anyone reading here have a translation?

 > >
 > >Nevertheless, I want to caution everyone
 > >that an intent to use this as a
 > >demonstration of the validity of
 > >astrology is inappropriate; such activity
 > >is almost certain to become a bootless
 > >exercise. This will not take the
 > >place of the search for the astrological
 > >mechanism.
 > >

Exactly. My interest in the topic was to examine the idea of developing methods for astrologers to evaluate techniques and possibly compare "competing" techniques. Until I read this paper I was of the opinion that all astrologers could only evaluate techniques subjectively (if they bother to do any evaluation at all). From that perspective we want to give astrologers lots of examples and context when looking at a new technique. But now I am starting to consider the possibility that the utility of some techniques CAN be tested, some MIGHT be testable, and some CANNOT be tested. If that is the case then the first thing I want to know about a new technique is if it can be tested or demonstrated in a simple manner and yield consistent results. If not, then I'd like all of that background and context.

I, for one, have clearly stated an number of times that I think that seeking "validity" is a big mistake, and that astrology does not have what it takes to be a science (in the current sense of the word). However, that doesn't mean that we cannot turn a critical eye on the field nor that we are barred from reasoning about the field.

I think that your original question about the assumed validity of prediction is the focus we should keep in mind (aside from your other concerns) and my reason for pointing at the besiegement article is that the besiegement technique is for prediction and is claimed to be testable. Is prediction possible? This article suggests that it is. Can we verify or reproduce the results?

We have other possibilities. There are many recurring events in the mundane world for which definite outcomes are visible. Of these, there is a class of events that we cannot greatly influence, but which are mostly visible to us. For instance, legislation is presented to parliamentary bodies and decided upon and many instances of this process reach a definite outcome (yea or nay) and occur in a definite place and time. Given that we have the makings of mundane or horary test. I can imagine testing the known horary yes-no techniques to see which can be stated in an algorithmic fashion and testing those on large pubic events.

In V4I25 Andre D wrote:

 > >< big snip >
 > >
 > >Future samples will constitute just
 > >such a cross-validating sample - so
 > >long as it is kept separate and not
 > >combined with the existing "population"
 > >- but we are in for a considerable
 > >wait, in terms of the Ashes anyway!
 > >

I think that if one could find different besiegement contests with larger "populations", or perhaps some TYPE of besiegement contest which is played in many different arenas between different teams, one might have enough data for someone with your degree of skill to delve much deeper into the statistical issues. I'm not sure what contests that might be, though.

 > >
 > >Also, having pointed to p < .05 as a
 > >possible significance level, they did
 > >not directly discuss those (several)
 > >results that failed to meet the level.
 > >

Well, yes and no. I believe your above characterization of the analysis is as incomplete as is the analysis in the paper. They didn't make (what I consider) strong claims for the data nor did they hide the "failures" in the data. They said they wanted more samples and that they believed the "medieval model" would hold up over time. I read this as an explicit invitation for other to examine their work and work with the model.

The "p < .05" remark was in this context:

 > >
 > >| These distributions for The Ashes
 > >| data are impressive, (any results
 > >| of p < 0.05 could be considered
 > >| significant ).
 > >

which was the first line after the data tables. While I was reading the tables (and my statistics skills are not sophisticated) I noted the number of entries with p < 0.01 and thought that their occurrence could bear scrutiny. I took it as no more than that. However, I do believe that they should be faulted for writing such a sentence without elaborating on what "significant" meant in this context. In fact the whole analysis section is on the thin side, but they've made their data and concepts available and we can examine them ourselves. If there is a problem in their statistics, then it needs to be made clear. Is there a problem?



End of Exegesis Digest Volume 4 Issue 26

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