Exegesis Volume 4 Issue #28

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #27

Exegesis Digest Wed, 14 Apr 1999

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:46:07 -0700
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V4 #27

Andre said:

 > It may be that (2) and (3) do not overlap after all. If that is found to be the case, it would
 > not mean that astrology is "invalid", merely that is is not "a science". This would certainly be
 > in line with Roger's thesis. And it would still leave (3) intact: in much the same way as the
 > Arts have their methods of analysis.

There remains one thing that must be explained if astrology becomes considered simply an art: what is the roll of the celestial system? It is the fundamental reality upon which astrology rests, and it is well within the realm of science. Without the stars, it isn't astrology. With the stars, there is science to be satisfied. This is why I remain focussed on the basic question: what is the astrological mechanism, by which we are somehow connected to the celestial system?

 > This is probably a good point to mention Science's emphasis on theory-building. One reason why
 > this is important is that it accellerates the development of the field, compared to just testing
 > every notion that arises or has ever arisen in astrologers' minds. Once one particular theory -
 > that makes non-overlapping claims compared to other theories - has been disproved, then an entire
 > class of hypotheses or expectations deductively associated with that theory can also be discarded
 > and need not be tested (unless some radical new thesis or paradigm shift occurs).

A decently understandable explanation, Andre. Good on'ya!

It's probably appropriate to look at what constitutes falsification of a theory. In general is it the successful demonstration of another theory that shows what is true that falsifies the first theory. You cannot demonstrate a negative, which Andre also addresses.

 > It almost certainly cannot be claimed that astrology is, or has, a theory or theories. I have
 > seen it described as a belief-system. It is probably fair to describe it then as a set of
 > assumptions, with a large degree of variability or fuzziness - considered historically and even
 > contemporaneously - around the application and in some cases the values (e.g. orb) of those
 > assumptions. I believe however that there is no reason why this cannot be rapidly turned into
 > theory - the difference is partly semantic - by simply starting to perform proper testing.

Exactly. This is an extremely important matter. Science can only test an hypothesis, and so some theoretical work must be done. The good news is that the simplest theories are the best, for they are usually most easily tested. The bad news is that simple theories that are useful tend to have to be elegant, and that's sometimes hard to accomplish. To return to the good news, I think we have the brain power subscribed to this list to do the job. Except they remain silent. Somebody please speak up!?!?

 > Personally, I would prefer that *fundamental* assumptions are tested first, rather than
 > relatively complex algorithms. If the algorithm fails, are *all* it's assumptions invalid, or
 > was it just one link? Or two links? Or have the steps been applied in the wrong order? A
 > 5-step algorithm that failed and that required a simple binary choice at each step would yield
 > 2^5-1 (2x2x2x2x2 -1) possibilities that needed to be checked - in this case 31 tests (one has
 > already been carried out when the alorithm originally failed, hence the '-1' term). If there are
 > three choices at each step, there are 3^5-1 (242) possibilities. If the *order* of the steps is
 > questioned then things get rapidly worse! Moreover, if statistical methods are being used, the
 > more tests that are carried out the greater the possibility of getting a positive result "by
 > chance".

The good Abbots shaving tool: Occam's Razor. It says, literally, that the essence (the theory of a thing) should be no more complex than necessary (Essentia non sunt multiplicans praetor necessitatus... as I recall). Elegance is defined as achieving that standard as close as possible. Andre's exposition makes clear the penalty for not observing Occam's razor: the more work one has to do, the more possibility exists that the results will be fubar (fouled up beyond all recognition). So it really pays to put some serious effort into achieving theoretical elegance.

 > If the algorithm succeeds (and does so repeatably), that is certainly a good thing. It supports
 > the case that *all* it's steps say something valid. But if it fails, it *does not* mean that we
 > can safely assume all the parts are wrong (above); and so move onto other territory.

This is so good to read from an astrologer!! It is exactly this sort of information and understanding that is required. Andre has expanded on my statement about simplicity and elegance. In the last paragraph he made a very important assertion. The failure of a theory is just that, a failure. It demonstrates only that *that* theory is not valid, and says nothing about its component parts, much less anything about the subject the theory concerns.

 > Thus, to build theory (which will help us accellerate development of astrology), it is important
 > that we begin at the most fundamental levels possible.

More about theory: a successful theory must be both necessary and sufficient. Necessity means that it is the only theory that satisfies the data, and sufficiency means that it satisfies *all* the data. Lots of work.

I'm not able at present to do work on the Bonatti algorithms, but hope to in the near future. It occurs to me that it might be worthwhile if the Bonatti texts used were compared to those generated by Project Hindsight. Those guys are really determined to produce the definitive translations, and as I understand it, they are eminently qualified, being scholars, linguists *and* astrologers. Robert Schmidt is doing the work now, as Rob Hand is off in other directions. PH has already issued some Bonatti translations, as I understand it. Anyone out there who has those translations and are willing to compare the text used by Brady et. al.?

Fran suggested that the America Cup races might be a good test. I agree.

One last thing: generating a theoretical base for astrology will not do the whole job. There are a number of cases where solid theory is all that is available (Maxwell's Equations, for instance), but all that allows is successful predictions of process results. For the main, this serves quite well: we have an entire new artificial environment that rests solidly on the work of Maxwell. Without electronic technology, our world could not continue as we know it, for better or worse... yet science still pursues a clear sight of the reality Maxwell described.

What is always sought is positive identification and understanding of the mechanisms involved. We want this because this will make it possible for us to somehow understand *why* successful theory works, and it greatly expands our ability to generate further theory, to understand anomalistic behavior (when things happen that the theory doesn't cover), etc.. Yes, let us actively pursue the generation of useful theory, and let us further try to envision what that mechanism might be as well.



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