Mark Urban-Lurain | Astrology: Science, Pseudoscience, or Anomaly?

Thirty-seven percent of Americans think that astrology is scientific. The National Science Foundation uses belief in astrology as an example pseudoscience. In a recent survey, SSE members ranked their acceptance of astrology last among 10 anomalous phenomena. Throughout recorded history, attitudes towards astrology have ebbed and flowed. From widespread acceptance and providing the foundations of modern science – Newton and Kepler practiced astrology – to condemnation as heresy by Popes and pseudoscience by modern day skeptics, astrology has often been at the center of cultural and intellectual clashes over prevailing worldviews. Is there scientific evidence for astrology?

Astrology is the prototypical anomaly: outside of the scope of current scientific theories, persistently accepted by a significant number of people, methodologically challenging to study, with some enticing and elusive results. I will briefly review the history of astrology, provide an introduction

to horoscopic representations and interpretations, and outline the methodological and statistical challenges that must be addressed to conduct research on astrology. We will examine some examples of research that confounds both astrologers and skeptics and discuss the lessons for research across a range of anomalistic phenomena.

Bio: Dr. Urban-Lurain is an Associate Professor and Associate Director for Engineering Education Research in the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University. He conducts research on undergraduate learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and faculty professional development to improve STEM education. He has been an SSE member since 1998, served on the SSE Council from 2004 – 2008 and has been the SSE Secretary since 2008.

Recorded at the Society for Scientific Exploration Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada 2018.

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Published on December 20, 2020