AstroAriana AstroAriana
Association for Research and Information
in Natural Astrology

Carlson’s “experiment”: an example of anti-astrologist quackery
by Richard Pellard
English translation by Julien Rouger

One of “experiments” favorite (and according to them decisive) that scientistic anti-astrologers like to cite is that carried out with the help of statisticians and astrologers in the early 1980s by Shawn Carlson, physicist at the University of Berkeley in California, USA.

Carlson’s experiment

Work hypothesis

Astrology is incapable of analyzing the human personality and its personality traits character. It is a question of demonstrating the validity of this hypothesis by a “science experiment” decisive.

Method and conditions of the experiment

Carlson decides to form a work team consisting of three groups:
▶ statisticians using psychological tests;
▶ consenting astrologers;
▶ “guinea pigs” agree to participate in this experiment.

These groups were recruited as follows:
▶ the statisticians were chosen by Carlson;
▶ 2 astrologers spontaneously asked to participate in this experiment, and 26 others received the approval of the NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research), one of the main American astrological associations;

▶ the “guinea pigs”, mostly students, were recruited through classified ads.

The experiment was based on the technique of experimentation in “double blind”, commonly used in pharmacology. This technique is as follows:
▶ two groups of sick people are administered either the drug to be tested, or a placebo, by personnel unaware of the product they are giving to each of the two groups.
▶ so that total anonymity is respected, the products administered and the sick people receive a code number that only those who organize but do not participate in the experiment know. Only this code number will be taken into account during the statistical analysis which will determine whether the drug can be effective or not recognized as effective by official medicine.

Simplified presentation of the experiment

1) A physicist brings together astrologers, statisticians and a population of “guinea pigs”.

2) The “guinea pigs” are asked to take a standard personality test. They are kept in the dark about the results.

3) Each “guinea pig” must choose the interpretation of his natal chart among three interpretations of charts which are proposed to him, his own and two others randomly drawn in the group, and assign a note of satisfaction from 1 to 10 to the three interpretations.

4) Astrologers are entrusted with the chart of a “guinea pig” and three psychological tests. They are asked to recognize the test that corresponds to the chart and to rate the three tests from 1 to 10 according to the estimated degree of correspondence.

5) If astrology is a reality, the “guinea pigs” and astrologers must do the “Good choice” in a greater proportion than “one in three” (law of chance).

First part of the experiment

The volunteer astrologers having been recruited, it is necessary to select among the population of “guinea pig candidates” those who, from the point of view of the “scientists” who organize this “experiment”, cannot be likely to alter the results.

Remember (this is important) that the majority of these candidates are students. It is decided to eliminate:

▶ those under 17 (the reasons for choosing this age – why not 16 or 18? – have not been specified);

▶ the “extremist skeptics” with regard to astrology (their respective degrees of skepticism and extremism have nowhere been quantified or specified in the report of this “experiment” which nevertheless aims to be quantitative);

▶ those who already had “had their horoscope made, because their future answers might be influenced by the memory of what they had been told”. Nowhere in the report of the experiment is it specified the percentage of liars, jokers, manipulators and tricksters among this population;

▶ finally, those who, between the start of recruitment and that of the experiment, “changed their minds about astrology” or “ceased to be interested” in the operation were also ruthlessly eliminated. Recruiters “scientists” thus managed to select a group “homogeneous” of individuals who would not be “neither for nor against astrology”, who do not change their minds and therefore persist in their desire to participate in this “experiment”. In the report of this one, there is no mention of the objective and rigorous statistical measures having made it possible to evaluate “scientifically” and rationally the fact of having a perfectly equanimous opinion on something of which one is supposed to know nothing in a population mainly composed of students from the Southwest of the USA.

Nor can we find, in the report, an additional experimental protocol aimed at scientifically validating or refuting the proverb “Only fools don’t change their minds” (Which ones have changed their minds? In what sense? For what reasons or unreason? What is their “profile” group psychology if they have one and if they don’t have one, why?), no more than psycho-statistical research with key percentages on the motivations of those who have “ceased to be interested” to this experiment, all things nevertheless eminently interesting for who prides himself on experimental psychology…

In short, following this very vigilant but hardly rational application of the “precautionary principle”, there remained only 177 candidates out of the 256 initially selected, the 79 eliminated being definitively “dead for science” for reasons or unreasons that we will unfortunately and probably never know.

These 177 candidates were divided into two groups of 83 and 94 subjects, respectively 46.89% and 53.11%. Since 177/2 = 88.50, it would have been more “scientist” to make a group of 88 and another of 89, but hey, that’s how it went, and so much the better for the unfortunate candidate who was not cut in half on the altar of Science because of a selector who did not think of constituting an even number of “guinea pigs”.

In addition, we witnessed the withdrawal of “some” astrologers between the start of recruitment and the start of the experiment, but “little enough” so that it can continue. The percentages of “little enough” do not appear in the report of “experiment”, no more than the reasons for these withdrawals.

Finally, there is no mention of withdrawals within the team of experimental scientists, which does not mean that there were none, but that such peccadilloes cannot be of interest to the layman. The Scientific Experimenter has Measurements and Accounts to render only to himself.

The characters of this comedy, sorry, of this “science experiment” are now all gathered behind the scenes: an indeterminate number of anti-astrologer scientists convinced that it is useless as they know the results in advance, between 25 and 28 astrologers (say) representing the mainstream of made astrology in USA (like everywhere else, magico-symbolist astrology), and 177 “guinea pigs” having, according to the criteria of scientists, no definite opinion on astrology. The curtain can rise on the first act of the performance — sorry, from “science experiment”.

First act

1) The 177 “guinea pigs” provide their dates (“about 15 minutes”, is it specified in the experiment report!), times and places of birth.

2) Commercial astrological software calculates the natal chart of each of the “guinea pigs” and carries out its interpretation; the identity of “guinea pigs” is reduced to a code number and the texts contain no mention of sex or Signs.

3) The experimenters then give each of the “guinea pigs” supposed to be able to “know something about himself” Three of these interpretations, still anonymous: the one that concerns him, plus two others that were drawn at random from among those of the others “guinea pigs”. He is asked to classify them in order: first choose the one that seems to him “to stick on” the best at his personality, then award the other two second and third place. In addition, he is asked to give a mark from 1 to 10 to each of the interpretations with a view to more sophisticated statistical processing.

4) Finally, the “guinea pigs” are divided into two groups: in the first, they are subjected to the experiment under the conditions described above; in the second, the “guinea pigs” only receive interpretations that do not concern them. Ultimate refinement, “to give more chances to volunteer astrologers”, “the members of the two groups belonging to the same astrological ‘Sign’ received, without obviously knowing it, the same set of interpretations”.

In these conditions “rigorous” and in the spirit of these “scientific experimenters”, if astrology is real knowledge, the percentage of “good” responses in the first group should be significantly higher than that of the second. According to the official laws of probability indeed, the “guinea pigs” of the first group should choose the astro-psychological profile that corresponds to them at least more than one time out of three (“cautious” US astrologers tested predicted only 50% of “good” answers), while the “guinea pigs” of the second group should make choices consistent with “laws of chance”.

Results for 1st group

▶ Choice No. 1: 33.7%
▶ Choice No. 2: 39.8%
▶ Choice No. 3: 26.5%

1) the result of choice No. 1, the one that is supposed to be “correct” (the “guinea pig” has in this case selected the chart interpretation that would best suit it) is very close to “one in three” dictated by chance. It is therefore not significant of a “astrological effect”.

2) the result of choice No. 2, the one that is supposed to be “moderately correct” (the “guinea pig” has in this case selected the chart interpretation which would correspond less well to it) is significantly superior to “one in three” dictated by chance. But since it is not No. 1, it cannot be significant for “scientific experimenters”.

3) the result of choice No. 3, the one that is supposed to be “incorrect” (the “guinea pig” has in this case selected the interpretation of chart which would not correspond to it) is significantly lower than “one in three” dictated by chance. Statistically highly significant, the “guinea pigs” therefore clearly ranked last the interpretation in which they recognized themselves the least.


The analysis of “scientific experimenters” is pithy: since only about a little more than one “guinea pig” out of three (proportion conforming to the laws of chance) was able to identify the interpretation that corresponds to it, the claim of the astrologers to make realistic psychological profiles would be invalidated by this implacable verdict of the statistics concerning the choice No. 1 of the first group.

Curiously (but is it really curious?), the “scientific experimenters” did not push their investigations further on the side of the choices No. 2 and 3, as if the No. 1 decided everything. Before we do a ruthless critique of this phony experiment any further, let’s have some fun with the stats they cherish, but unlike them, by dealing with the set of choices in group No. 1.

To do this, all you have to do is make two little facetious calculations:

▶ (33.7% + 39.8%) /2 = 36.75%
▶ (39.8% + 26.5%) /2 = 33.15%

Result: the average of the totals of the choices “correct” and “medians” is higher (and statistically significant!) than that of the totals of the choices “medians” and “incorrect” (which conforms to the laws of chance). In percentages, 52.58% would rather recognize themselves in interpretations “more or less correct”, against 47.42% who would rather not recognize themselves in interpretations “more or less incorrect”. Statistically significant figures, and rather pleading in favor of astrology… but which did not seem to interest our “scientific experimenters”.

More interesting: in a statistically significant way, the “guinea pigs” have markedly “set aside” (i.e. ranked No. 3), the interpretation they felt was the least relevant to them. The “scientific experimenters” didn’t seem interested in these “non-choice” yet very clean by their own standards…

Don’t worry, I’m not drawing any conclusions. It’s just a math game. This is all the more so since the results obtained by the 2nd group of “guinea pigs” are much more amazing.

Results for 2nd group

▶ Choice No. 1: 44.7%
▶ Choice No. 2: 36.2%
▶ Choice No. 3: 19.1%


The results are clear: almost half of “guinea pigs” of this group recognized themselves in a portrait that could in no way correspond to them, given that none of the interpretations from which they had to choose was that of their chart. Apparently ruthless result for astrology…

However, one can still object with reason that it is difficult to “know yourself” with enough objectivity not to be mistaken about the description of his own personality, especially when one is a young student like the vast majority of these “guinea pigs”. It is therefore very probable, even inevitable, that the “guinea pigs” are led to choose an erroneous portrait of themselves. From this point of view, the anti-astrological tragedy of the first act would have no meaning, except that it is easier to recognize oneself in any randomly selected portrait than in a range of portraits among which one of between them is supposed to match you. It would therefore not be astrology that would be in question, but the lack of objectivity of “guinea pigs”.

The “scientific experimenters” have of course thought about this problem. Conscious of this objection, they imagined a second experimental phase, in order to try to eliminate this subjective factor: for the 2nd act, the “guinea pigs” were asked to leave the scene, leaving it only to astrologers and statisticians. The second act can begin…

Second act

Each of the astrologers receives a number of envelopes each containing:

▶ the interpretation of the Chart of a subject drawn at random;

▶ a psychological profile established according to the CPI (California Personality Inventory), “reputed to be reliable, in common use among American psychologists since 1958…”; this profile is that of the subject whose Chart has been interpreted by the software;

▶ two other psychological profiles of the same type, drawn at random from those of the student-guinea pigs.

Astrologers must tell which of the three psychological profiles determined by the CPI best matches the unique interpretation of Chart. As in the first phase, they must classify the three psychological profiles according to their greater or lesser correspondence with the astrological interpretation, noting them from 1 to 10.

As in the first phase of the experiment, if astrology is valid, astrologers should go beyond the “one in three” pure chance in their choice No. 1. Note that the CPI not intervening in the first phase, there is no question for astrologers of arguing that they are unreliable, all the more so since they have accepted them from the outset. Therefore, in the idea of the designers of this experiment, the second phase eliminates the objections that the first could raise and vice versa.


▶ 34% for profiles ranked 1st rank;
▶ 40% for those of 2nd rank;
▶ 25% for those of 3rd rank.


Failure is again obvious for astrologers: they do no better than chance.

Cherry on the cake:

It was asked to “guinea pigs” to recognize their own psychological profile among three profiles from the CPI test, their own and two others drawn at random. Again, these are the “laws of chance” who played: they did not do better than the astrologers…

In summary

▶ 177 “guinea pigs” The majority of students are statistically unable to recognize themselves in their astro-psychological portrait drawn up by astrology software;

▶ 25 or 28 “astrologers” are statistically unable to make a connection between the interpretation of an individual’s chart and his psychological profile established by a test;

▶ 177 “guinea pigs” are statistically unable to recognize their psychological profile established by a test recognized as effective by official science.

Before moving on to the substantive criticisms against this pseudo-experiment, I give you the conclusions of Shawn Carlson’s report: “An experiment using double-blind methods has shown that astrologers’ predictions are wrong. The predicted correlation between the position of the planets and other astronomical objects at the time of birth, and the personality of the subject, does not exist. The experiment clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis.

This is perfectly false, and it will be demonstrated.

Critique of the pseudo-experiment

1) “Hard” science and “soft” science

▶ Observation:

It is, to say the least, curious and paradoxical that a physicist, representing “hard sciences” or “accurate”, appeal to statisticians and a psychological test, representatives of the sciences “soft” or “human”, in an attempt to experimentally demonstrate the fallacy of astrology.

▶ Question:

Would Carlson doubt the experimental capacity of physics to demonstrate the fallacy of astrology?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to this question. If Carlson argues his status as a physicist to make anti-astrologism, let him expose physicist arguments to refute astrology. If he is sure that they are valid, he does not need to ask statisticians and a psychological test to confirm his certainty about the impossibility of physical existence of the astrological fact. Indeed, from the point of view of official science, only what is considered real is what obeys the currently known laws of physics. Which means that statistical or psychological realities must obey the laws of physics or not be. On the part of a physicist, the use of statistics and psychology to demonstrate the falsity of the astrological fact is therefore a useless step.

What is his motivation? According to his statements draped in noble “scientific objectivity”, Carlson would have painfully observed that scientists disputed the empirical results that astrologers claimed to obtain and that astrologers denied any validity to anti-astrological arguments and tests. “Both criticisms can be valid”, he pretends to admit, and he continues: “My intention has been to avoid these criticisms by organizing an experiment that could meet the specifications of both the scientific and astrological communities.” A noble and objective intention? No, obviously. Its purpose is to invalidate astrology definitively by means of a “experiment” which he would like to be decisive (see his declarations in 1988 below).

Since a venerable physicist from the University of Berkeley cannot be suspected of irrationalism (that is not done), we are forced to seek out what other obscure and hypothetical “reasons” less avowed may have taken him to such extremes. Would he have realized and made known with great fanfare this “experiment” to cheaply get a little personal publicity on the back of astrology? Not impossible: in this hypothesis, skillfully staged sensationalist statistico-psychologist percentages pass better with the media than austere physicist equations, and it must be recognized that he has acquired great celebrity thanks to his initiative. Or would he cultivate a terrible, unconscious and unavowable doubt about his anti-astrological physicist a priori, and would he have sought to ward them off through the use of the human sciences (“we never know…”)? The sequel will show that this is unlikely.

2) The choice of the 177 “guinea pigs”

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “we” to “verified before that they were neither for nor against astrology and that they did not know much about themselves except their Sign”.

▶ Questions:

a) How and by whom were selected these 177 “guinea pigs”?

b) Who is this mysterious “we” able to know infallibly that they “were neither for nor against astrology”?

c) What rigorous and objective scientific experimentation enabled the candidates to be eliminated-“guinea pigs” who had a a priori favorable or unfavorable with regard to astrology? According to what criteria?

d) What rigorous and objective scientific method made it possible to determine that the “guinea pigs” retained “were neither for nor against astrology”? According to what criteria?

e) What rigorous and objective scientific method made it possible to assess that the “guinea pigs” selected did not know “not much about themselves”?

f) What rigorous and objective scientific method made it possible to discriminate among the candidates-“guinea pigs” those who “didn’t know much about themselves” compared to those who would know “more”?

g) What does “not much”? How do we rigorously and scientifically evaluate this fuzzy quantity? That means a priori that we can also know “a little”, “medium”, “a lot” on “oneself”; how do we rigorously and scientifically evaluate these fuzzy quantities and this non-obvious concept?

h) What does “to know (or not to know) something about oneself”? What are the rigorous and scientific criteria for evaluating such knowledge, if at all possible?

i) What does “know your sign”? What are the rigorous and scientific criteria for evaluating such knowledge and its degree of depth? The fact of “know something about yourself” Does it have a rigorously and scientifically demonstrated relationship with the fact of “know your sign”?

j) Was the fact of not “knowing one’s Sign” being a positive or negative selection criterion for candidate “guinea pigs”?

k) Why did you retain only the criterion of “awareness” of his Sun Sign for each candidate-“guinea pig” or “guinea pig” selected? Is this a scientific criterion? If the answer is “Yes”, which one is it?

l) What is the socio-cultural and intellectual level of each and all of the candidates-“guinea pigs” or “guinea pigs”?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. There is no scientific rigor in the process and criteria for selecting guinea pigs. We swim in the arbitrary, the approximate, the DIY.

3) The CPI

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “They were made (the ‘guinea pigs’) take a classic psychology test in the USA, called CPI

▶ Questions:

a) Why does a physicist, whose function is to measure the quantitative, use a psychological test which can only measure the qualitative?

b) How does a test of “classical psychology in the USA” Does it have an objective and scientific value? What does this test measure?

c) The “classicism” of a psychological test a criterion of rigor and scientific objectivity? If the answer is yes, how can we prove it scientifically?

d) Does the fact that this test is used in the USA have an objective and scientific value? Would other tests used in other countries or cultures have given the same or different results?

e) Why not have tested tests “non-classical” to compare their results with those of the test “classic” Who was selected? What are the objective and scientific criteria that make it possible to distinguish the “classic” of “non-classical”?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. There is no scientific rigor in this process of selecting the test that was passed to “guinea pigs”, test that has not been previously tested and compared to other tests.

There is indeed a huge amount of psychological tests aimed at detecting the multiple functionalities of an individual. Excluding all of those for children under 17, about 50 basic tests are commonly used by Western psychologists. They fall into two major groups:

▶ Personality tests regarding “affective sphere” (they target the behavior of the individual in relation to his various groups to which he belongs);

▶ Personality tests regarding “cognitive sphere” (they target the individual’s IQ and the modalities of his intellectual functioning).

The CPI is only one test among others aimed at assessing the “affective sphere” of an individual. He is recognized as a “good measure” social or antisocial behavior. It is commonly used in recruitment. It aims to assess a certain number of personality traits and/or specific qualities, either in the form of purely psychological tendencies, or in the form of preferences for behavior in professional situations.

It is made up of 400 to 500 questions supposed to measure 20 dimensions of personality, which make it possible to draw up three structural scales called “Vectors”:

▶ Vector 1: internality (introvert/extrovert);

▶ Vector 2: acceptance or not of standards;

▶ Vector 3: evaluation of feelings of self-realization and psychological integration.

The CPI does not therefore aim to identify the psychological functioning of the individual in itself, but fundamentally to test his adaptation or its inadequacy to his social and professional environment as well as his ability to acquire a certain development of his personality. However, if a natal chart can give strong information on Vector 1, it only gives partial information on Vector 2, and cannot give any information on Vector 3. Indeed,

▶ “the acceptance or not of the standards” does not depend exclusively on the sky of birth, but on the way in which the individual negotiates or not the potentialities according to his social environment. Caricatural example: an individual born under a strong consonant jupiterian dominant. He is a priori more apt than others to “accept the standards” of his environment… but everything will depend on this environment. If he is born within a family and a socio-cultural environment “regular”, the probabilities that it is well or very well adapted in general are very high. Conversely, if he is born into a family and a criminogenic socio-cultural environment, like mafiosi, he will have the same strong tendency to “accept the standards”, which will not have the same results in terms of socialization. The CPI does not seem to have integrated this kind of parameter yet essentially conditional.

▶ the “assessment of feelings of self-actualization and psychological integration” are extra-astrological notions and results of multifactorial psychosocial (and probably also spiritual) interactions. With the same natal chart, one can realize oneself or not, achieve psychological integration or never achieve it.

Conclusion: what the CPI and the information that an astrological chart can provide does not have much in common. It is an ethical fault and a scientific error to make their comparison the basis and standard of an experiment.

4) The calculation of charts

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “a computer establishes their birth astral skies (NC)”.

▶ Questions:

a) How were these charts calculated? According to which method of domification?

b) Was the program based on the projection of the planets on the ecliptic plane or did it take into account the declinations, that is to say the real positions of the planets? Did the program propose a house chart to evaluate these positions?

c) What celestial factors were retained? The fictitious points (Black Moon, etc.) were they taken into account or not?

d) Which Aspects were retained? According to which orbs?

e) Who wrote the interpretation program? By what method?

f) Why did you choose only this software? Why were other software with other interpretation protocols not used in this “science experiment”?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. There is no rigorous and scientific description of the astronomical and astrological parameters which are the basis of this calculation and interpretation program.

At the time when this “experimentation” (1984–1985), the number of astrological interpretation software was still relatively limited. But there were still enough of them for Carlson’s team to research and compare between them. If they had taken the trouble, they would have realized that most of these software — and especially in the USA — are content to debit listings “analytical” interpreting the planets in Signs, the planets in Houses and more rarely the Aspects, all without any attempt to organize and prioritize the elements present. This absence of method results in a succession of mini-portraits of contradictory tendencies, without any global perspective, in which the individual can peck subjectively, recognize himself or not recognize himself according to his desires, etc.

To this objection the “experimenters” Carlson might have objected that it was the NSCG astrologers themselves who chose this software. Null and void objection: the fine Carlsonian team was supposed to test astrology, not a group of astrologers who had chosen a software. They should therefore have, in all scientific rigor, tested different software.

In France, the equivalent of this kind of computerized astrological interpretation is the portrait “adult” provided by Astroflash and written by André Barbault. It existed at the time of the Carlson experiment. If his team had not confined itself to the selection of a single American software (after all, science has no borders, right?), if it had had the curiosity to test the programs Astroflash, she would have noticed that Astroflash also offered an interpretation option “child” written, she, by Jean-Pierre Nicola. An interpretation this time much more synthetic and hierarchical, and based primarily on the evaluation of the first four planetary dominants. Admittedly, the method for determining the latter was far from perfect, and even highly questionable. Nevertheless, it gave much more global and precise portraits than the other interpretation systems. It is very likely that if this program had been tested by the Carlson team with another protocol eliminating the use of CPI, the results of this “experiment” would have been very different.

Today (in 2004), it is enough to consult a few astrology sites on the Internet to realize that things have not changed much in 20 years among the astrosymbolists. Most of the interpretive programs that come out of this school continue to crank out the same listings “analytical” in spare parts. On the other hand, conditionalist interpretation programs are becoming more and more comprehensive, efficient and realistic. A Carlson of today who would use them with another protocol would have big surprises…

5) The choice of astrologers

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “25 astrologers agreed to work […] For 4 people in the test group, they were given the real CPI and the real NC, plus two randomly drawn NCs. Astrologers therefore had to find which NC best corresponded to the CPI of each one. They also had to assign a certainty mark (0 to 10) to each of the CAs: the highest mark being naturally granted to their first choice, and no tie being possible.

▶ Questions:

a) These “astrologers” are they representative of the scholarly astrology?

b) Is the National Council for Geocosmic Research representative of scholarly astrology or is it just a union of professional astrology where you can find the worst and the best, popular astrology and scholarly astrology?

c) Reading the voluminous production of anti-astrological texts from scientists shows that the least uninformed among them know that alongside popular astrology there is learned astrology. If the experimenters were aware of the distinction between popular astrology and scholarly astrology, why did they not state this distinction and why did they not rigorously and scientifically divide the astrologers participating in this test into at least two representative groups of these two currents in order to be able to control the differences of interpretation between these groups?

d) If the experimenters were aware of the existence of scholarly astrology, were they also aware of the existence of different theories and practices within it? If the answer is positive, why did they not test them with their guinea pigs to control and evaluate the resulting differences in interpretation?

e) Even more treacherous question: why did the experimenters not make a thorough search among the schools of astrology throughout the world? If they had done so, they would not have failed to discover conditionalist astrology and its rigorous methods of interpretation. Why didn’t they have this curiosity?

f) For what rigorous, objective and scientific reasons did the experimenters choose to consider the information given by the CA as absolute?

g) Were the experimenters aware of one of the major characteristics of astrology generally practiced in the USA: the imprecision of the hours of birth due to a lack of rigorous Civil Registry, which is a huge handicap for American astrologers? If they were aware of this fact, why didn’t they do an additional test with French astrologers who have a very good Civil Registry, for example?

h) Have birth times been rigorously verified? What were the respective percentages of hours delivered by the Civil Registry, hospitals, parishes or other services, without forgetting personal information?

i) If the experimenters were unaware of the distinction between popular astrology and scholarly astrology, how can they justify this fundamental ignorance about their object of experimentation which could only fundamentally bias the results of this test?

j) Why only “4 people from the test group”? Why 4? Is it a magic number? Why not all? Why didn’t you discriminate between the people in the test group who recognized themselves in their astrological profile and the others?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. Since it is unlikely that the experimenters took into account the distinction between popular astrology and scholarly astrology as well as the diversity of “schools” astrological, it is certain that the “astrologers” participating in the experiment were magicosymbolists practicing a “mancie” without rigorously and collectively defined rules or methods. In front of the same natal chart, these “astrologers” can give very different, even contradictory interpretations, since everyone has their own rules of the game. Finally, the “scientists” and the “astrologers” have fallen into the same trap: that of the fatalism of the absolute horoscope. We cannot compare a natal chart which indicates tendencies, virtualities, a proposal of functioning to be negotiated with other extra-astrological parameters (heredity, sex, education, socio-culture, level of education, experiences lived, skills acquired) that a computerized interpretation program is incapable of restoring, with a psychological test which (at best) can only indicate how the “guinea pigs” answered honestly and subjectively questions about their functioning in society at a given time in their lives. This is especially true for “guinea pigs” adolescents and post-adolescents, whose personality is still in formation.

This reservation being made, it is very probable that if the 25 astrologers had all been conditionalists and if the calculation program of the NC had been based on the real positions of the planets in the local and celestial sphere, and the interpretation based on conditionalist methods, that would have completely changed the rules of the game and the results of the test, all the more so since these conditionalists would have immediately denounced the absolute horoscope and questioned the criteria of the CPI…

6) The test and the chart

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “At the same time, the ‘guinea pigs’ also had to act: those in the test group received the astrological interpretation of their case, plus two others drawn at random: they had to recognize their own profile. Each ‘control’ was associated with a person from the ‘test’ group: he received the same charts as these, so none corresponded to him in principle”.

▶ Questions:

a) Same questions as in (3) and (4).

b) Assuming that the interpretations were relatively relevant (which is unlikely), why think a priori that “guinea pigs” were able to “recognize their own profile”? Is this a rigorous, objective and scientific attitude on the part of experimenters?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. If the experimenters “scientists” had been rigorous, they should have selected a much larger population of astrologers and divided it into two test groups, for example that of the conditionalists and the magicosymbolists, and then compared the relevance of the results obtained by the two groups.

Moreover, they seem to have had a naive belief in the ability of “guinea pigs” to recognize their astro-psychological profile. Any competent and experienced psychologist or astrologer knows that most people have a biased, idealized, or even mistaken view of their own functioning. They generally and at best perceive only a part of it, the one that suits them or the one that best corresponds to the idea they have of themselves or to the image of themselves that they want to give to others. Put in front of a “profile” psychological which does not correspond to them, they can identify with it not because that is how they function but because that is what they would like to be, etc. (see the chapter dedicated to “the Barnum effect”). It is also very easy for an informed and cunning mind to cheat a psychological test. Considering the results of the CPI as a priori “true” and indisputable is therefore a major ethical fault that ruins the validity of the experiment.

Moreover, they are the same “scientists” anti-astrologers who believe that an individual who has undergone the Carlson experiment is capable of self “recognize in his profile” astro-psychological which refer to the experiment carried out in 1968 by the psychostatistician and anti-astrologer Michel Gauquelin. The latter had made the following announcement in the press: “Totally free! Your ultra-personal horoscope. A document of 10 pages. Benefit from a unique experience. Send name, address, date and place of birth: Astral Electronic.” To each of the first 150 correspondents, he had sent the same Chart study taken from a computerized astrological interpretation program. This Chart was that of Doctor Petiot, a famous serial killer who had murdered around fifty people during World War II. 94% of people (141 out of 150) recognized themselves in this portrait and 80% of their relatives confirmed this judgment favorable to astrology (“the Petiot experiment” by Gauquelin will be discussed in another chapter).

Translation: when Gauquelin demonstrates that 94% of 150 “guinea pigs” recognize themselves in a unique “profile” astro-psychological which is not theirs, it is an argument of choice against astrology for the followers of Carlson, which in no way prevents the same or their similars from carrying in triumph an anti-astrological experiment based on the exact opposite argument, since it makes a priori confidence in the ability of 100% of 177 guinea pigs to recognize their astrological profile among others…

Where did the missing 6% go? To find them, perhaps it would be necessary to do a new experiment “scientist” à la Carlson with the participation of the first 150 correspondents of Gauquelin? By adding these 6% missing at the age of any captain, we might obtain a voodoo figure that would always remain in the same spectrum of total pseudo-scientific absurdity… It’s not just arbitrary anymore, approximations, do-it-yourself: it’s Father Ubu reincarnated as an anti-astrologer scientist.

7) Percentages

▶ Observation:

The report of the experiment indicates that “There, surprise: in the test group, 33.7% ranked first the topic that corresponded to them, but in the control group, 44.7% put the topic of the test person first!!! In both cases, the astrological camp had failed.

▶ Questions:

a) Why did the experimenters not take into account the results of Gauquelin’s experiment about “the Petiot effect”?

b) Why did the experimenters not carry out a new experiment with the 33.7% of the test group who had ranked the chart that corresponded to them first, in order to verify whether this ranking was due to chance or to a better “knowledge of themselves” than the remaining 76.3%?

c) Why did the experimenters not do a new experiment with the 44.7% of the control group who had them “surprised” in order to verify if this percentage was due to chance or something else?

▶ Review:

The protocol and the report of the experiment do not provide any answer to these fundamental questions. There “surprise” they are confronted with does not provoke in them any reflex of curiosity, any investigative approach, any questioning, any formulation of explanatory hypotheses. They are content to display absurd percentages as one brandishes gray-gris to protect oneself from “evil spirits”… astrological? Since we do not know the exact content of the interpretation texts produced by the software, we cannot judge their quality on the spot. Nevertheless, knowing that they are magicosymbolist astrologers, we know that we can expect the worst. But it does not matter on the merits: the pseudo-experimenters have not been to the end and to the bottom of their ubiquitous experimentation. Obtaining two percentages “magical” was enough for them to confirm their a priori initial: “the astrological fact does not exist.” But then, was it really worth doing this mock science experiment? Why this waste of time? To be reassured “rationally” inexpensively?

8) Review

Carlson’s experiment is not a scientific experiment, it’s a fool’s game, a joke, a grotesque masquerade. It shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that primary anti-astrologism is an anti-science or, according to the expression of the scientific rationalists, a “parascience”. Let’s recap:

a) A physicist, representative of “exact Sciences”, feeling perhaps unable to refute astrology with his own knowledge, appeals to a psychological test and statisticians to help him.

b) The latter recruit 25 to 28 “astrologers” who could only be magicosymbolists (i.e. whose interpretations do not obey any common law or method), since there are no conditionalists in the USA. Having such a small number of individuals does not bother these “scientists”, whereas the laws of statistics (which are not sacred, far from it, see the example of polls) prohibit drawing conclusions from such a small sample.

c) Are also selected 177 “guinea pigs”, which is again an extremely small population to be able to draw any statistical conclusions.

d) The “scientists” make no research on the diversity of astrological currents and no distinction between popular astrology and scholarly astrology. For them, astrology is a homogeneous block of which the 25 or 28 magicosymbolist astrologers they test are in their eyes exemplary representatives, which is a totally unrealistic and unfounded hypothesis.

e) The methodology used is anti-scientific: blind belief in the relevance of the CPI, blind belief in the statistics, blind belief in the fatalism of the absolute horoscope, irrational comparison between the CPI and the natal chart, absolute lack of rigor at all levels of experiment.

f) The team did not carry out any replication of this experiment in the USA… which would probably have changed nothing in the results, since statistically they would have come across roughly the same astrosymbolists and the same rate of guinea pigs ready to to recognize oneself or not to recognize oneself in any “profile”, but which nevertheless constitutes a serious ethical fault, from the point of view of science itself.

A bankruptcy of magicosymbolist astrology

The scientists of the Carlson team certainly bear the greatest responsibility for this nonsense, since they are the ones who imagined and provoked it. But astrologers who have actively agreed to participate are their objective accomplices. If they hadn’t been so stupid and naive, never this “experiment” could not have taken place.

Remember that the CPI had been accepted by the association of astrologers NCGR, in particular because it is established according to a list of psychological characteristics which astrologers belonging to this association have admitted to using in their work of interpreting the charts. But we can use the same words to describe very different realities, especially when, as is the case for most astrologers magicosymbolists, we have only vague notions of scientific psychology. They therefore made a gross error of assessment.

More staggering still, not only the NCGR, but especially the “astrologers” who personally participated in this bogus and botched experiment, accepted the results and conclusions without making the slightest criticism, and did nothing to prevent its publication in a prestigious English-language scientific journal, Natural, who herself let this study pass defying all the laws of ethics and rigor that science is supposed to apply to itself.

How to explain such a lack of reaction? In my opinion, by stupidity, ignorance and naivety. You had to be stupid, ignorant and naive to agree to participate in such a fool’s game. Convinced of the validity of magicosymbolist astrology and of the positive results of the experiment, it was with confidence that they threw themselves headlong into the trap set for them. When Carlson talks about their “caution” When they predicted 50% success, it was actually presumption. When they learned of the results of “experiment”, they must have been stunned as they fell from a height. And since they were unable to properly analyze the manipulation of which they were both victims and accomplices, they took refuge in a pitiful silence. This failure probably taught them nothing, except that it was better not to rub shoulders with anti-astrologer scientists. This demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that magicosymbolist astrologers are not only donkeys, but also masochists and ideal prey for the most stupid and narrow-minded scientism.

Now imagine that a new Carlson offers conditionalist astrologers to participate in such an experiment. Should they take up the challenge? No, because the game is rigged, the dice are loaded. The protocol and the methodology of this subjectivist test are unacceptable for astrologers who refuse the fatalistic principle of the absolute horoscope, not only because this protocol and this methodology lack the most elementary rigor and objectivity, but also because they are inadequate to the study of the astrological fact in all its complexity. Since astrological influence is conditional, experiments must measure this conditionality, and nothing else.

But the scientistic anti-astrologers obviously prefer (probably without knowing it, so ignorant they are, and apparently want to remain so, of what scholarly astrology is) to test astrosymbolists who are supporters of the absolute horoscope: this is so much easier… even if it gives silly results but confirms their preconceptions.

In conclusion…

The experiment clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis”, affirmed peremptorily Carlson in 1985. It is completely false. This botched non-experiment disproves nothing at all. The only objective, rigorous and rational conclusion that can be drawn would rather be: “Carlson’s experiment clearly demonstrates that anti-astrologism is not a science and that scientists who engage in it according to such procedures have such intellectual, ethical and methodological shortcomings that they are disqualified from carrying out this genre. of experimentation.” By being less kind, we can also tax Carlson’s experiment as pure charlatanism.

Some rare and authentic scientists were alarmed to see published in Natural such an anti-scientific experiment, as for example the professor of psychology Eysenck, who distinguished himself for his unorthodox research and who wrote in 1986 that “no conclusion could be drawn” of this work, adding that “testing astrology is a complex and difficult field, as in truth all fields relating to psychological variables”.

Carlson does not seem to have read this call for circumspection and humility, since three years later, in 1988, he wrote in Periodica, another prestigious journal “scientist”, that astrology was for him a “great tottering monument of human credulity” and that she “must be perceived as a threat to public health and as such combated”.

Finally, note that following Carlson, many others “experiments” more or less of the same type have been carried out by other teams, with obviously always more or less the same results. By way of example, let us cite a few:
▶ a study by B. Silvermann (psychologist) on the influence of the astrological sign on the outcome of marriage, with 2978 married couples and 478 divorced: no correlation was obtained with the predictions of astrologers on the (in) compatibility between signs.
▶ a study by J. Mc Gervey (physicist) on the distribution of the Signs of 6,000 politicians and 17,000 scientists: no privileged Sign emerged from this “Gauquelin” type study.

Answer: a study based on the only Sun signs has a good chance of turning out to be insignificant, since humanity is not reduced to 12 psychological types and the Sun sign is only one element, moreover not necessarily dominant, of the globality of a chart. It is therefore not surprising that these “studies” have tested negative for astrology. But paradoxically, Günther Sachs obtained statistically significant results in his investigation of the Sun Signs.

▶ an experiment by G. Dean [1977] involving two groups of a few dozen people, confronted in one with the interpretation of his horoscope, and in the other with the reverse of this interpretation (reversed character traits): the same proportion ( 95%) was recognized in both cases!

Answer: this does not invalidate astrology, but underlines the impotence of most individuals to have a realistic assessment of their personality. The students of “Carlson’s experiment” had been as unable to recognize their personality in the interpretations of charts as in the results of their answers to the psychological test! Moreover, this experiment had already been done by Gauquelin, with the same results…


Proposals read on an anti-astrological site:

One can easily imagine extensions of this test, or experiments aimed at testing other types of astrological predictions:
▶ 1) replacement of each volunteer by psychiatrists and psychologists who know him, in tests (a) and (b) above;
▶ 2) comparison of astrological interpretations of the same horoscope made independently by several astrologers (generally divergent);
▶ 3) prediction of precise facts by astrologers (in general, they refuse!).
▶ 4) One can even ask the question ‘is it possible to deduce a horoscope from its interpretation?’, or expressed otherwise ‘is astrology bijective?’. The qualitative character of the interpretations and predictions suggests a negative answer. No planet has ever been discovered through astrology, for example!”

Response: The dice for this test are loaded. Its extensions would therefore be too. So no way to participate. However, here are some responses to these suggestions:

▶ 1) replacement of each volunteer by psychiatrists and psychologists who know them:

Why not, provided that any reference to the CPI Then, the fact of choosing volunteers followed by psychiatrists and psychologists indicates that the said volunteers would be numerous to be “pathological cases”: so why not also select volunteers who have never had to deal with any shrink and who do not suffer from any psychopathology? Finally, the astrologers participating in this possible experiment should demand to be able to test the psychiatrists and psychologists beforehand to assess their skills and their positive or negative a priori on astrology.

▶ 2) comparison of astrological interpretations of the same horoscope made independently by several astrologers (generally divergent):

Why not, provided you separate the conditionalists from the astrosymbolists…

▶ 3) prediction of precise facts by astrologers (in general, they refuse!):

No. The prediction of “specific facts” is not in the realm of astrology.

▶ 4) We can even ask ourselves the question “is it possible to deduce a horoscope from its interpretation?”, or otherwise expressed “is astrology bijective?” The qualitative character of the interpretations and predictions suggests a negative answer. No planet has ever been discovered thanks to astrology, for example!:

Yes, he is “possible to deduce a horoscope from its interpretation”, yes, “astrology is bijective” (1). But only with competent and experienced astrologers, and preferably conditionalists. Bijectivity is not within the reach of the majority of astrosymbolist astrologers (thus the majority of astrologers), who do not have collective and common rules and methods of interpretation. In the case of conditionalists, it is moreover “relative bijectivity”: it is indeed not possible to deduce exactly a natal chart from its interpretation, but it is possible to deduce the main lines ; moreover, it is also quite possible to deduce the main lines of his natal chart from the analysis of the functioning of an individual. Any competent and experienced conditionalist does this routinely.

▶ 5) “No planet has ever been discovered thanks to astrology, for example!” is a stupid remark. Astrologers are not astrophysicists, and the horoscope is not the telescope. On the other hand, it is quite common to discover the dominant planets of an individual by observing his behavior in various situations.

Conclusion: anti-astrologism is not a science.


▶ (1) Bijective, bijective: mathematical adjective. Bijective mapping: mapping of a set A to a set B such that two distinct elements of A have two distinct images in B (injective mapping) and any element of B has one and only one antecedent in A (surjective mapping). Simplified translation in astrological terms: if from a natal chart we can deduce the functioning of an individual, then from the functioning of an individual we can deduce his chart.

Article published in issue No. 23 of the Fil d’ARIANA (April 2005).

This article was brought to you by Richard Pellard
English translation by Julien Rouger

See also:

▶ The specific issues of astrological statistics
▶ Ike Uncyfar and Astro-statistics on video
▶ Tests et prétextes : comment démonter l’astrologie ?
▶ Astrologie canine, astrologie cynique ? À propos d’une expérience statistique sur des chiens
▶ Carlson’s “experiment”: an example of anti-astrologist quackery
▶ The Petiot affair and the “Barnum effect” or the anti-astrologer circus
▶ Le problème des jumeaux en astrologie
▶ Astrologie et astrologies : écoles, courants et chapelles
▶ Results of conditionalist astrology
▶ Results of traditional astrology
▶ Introduction to the comparative results of astrologies
▶ Qu’est-ce que la science ? Un golem ou un robot ?
▶ Quelques réponses à un astronome anti-astrologue : expérience vécue

Les significations planétaires

par Richard Pellard

620 pages. Illustrations en couleur.

La décision de ne traiter dans ce livre que des significations planétaires ne repose pas sur une sous-estimation du rôle des Signes du zodiaque et des Maisons. Le traditionnel trio Planètes-Zodiaque-Maisons est en effet l’expression d’une structure qui classe ces trois plans selon leur ordre de préséance et dans ce triptyque hiérarchisé, les Planètes occupent le premier rang.

La première partie de ce livre rassemble donc, sous une forme abondamment illustrée de schémas pédagogiques et tableaux explicatifs, une édition originale revue, augmentée et actualisée des textes consacrés aux significations planétaires telles qu’elles ont été définies par l’astrologie conditionaliste et une présentation détaillée des méthodes de hiérarchisation planétaire et d’interprétation accompagnées de nombreux exemples concrets illustrés par des Thèmes de célébrités.

La deuxième partie est consacrée, d’une part à une présentation critique des fondements traditionnels des significations planétaires, d’autre part à une présentation des rapports entre signaux et symboles, astrologie et psychologie. Enfin, la troisième partie présente brièvement les racines astrométriques des significations planétaires… et propose une voie de sortie de l’astrologie pour accéder à une plus vaste dimension noologique et spirituelle qui la prolonge et la contient.

Téléchargez-le dès maintenant dans notre boutique

Pluton planète naine : une erreur géante

par Richard Pellard

117 pages. Illustrations en couleur.

Pluton ne fait plus partie des planètes majeures de notre système solaire : telle est la décision prise par une infime minorité d’astronomes lors de l’Assemblée Générale de l’Union Astronomique Internationale qui s’est tenue à Prague en août 2006. Elle est reléguée au rang de “planète naine”, au même titre que les nombreux astres découverts au-delà de son orbite.

Ce livre récapitule et analyse en détail le pourquoi et le comment de cette incroyable et irrationnelle décision contestée par de très nombreux astronomes de premier plan. Quelles sont les effets de cette “nanification” de Pluton sur son statut astrologique ? Faut-il remettre en question son influence et ses significations astro-psychologiques qui semblaient avérées depuis sa découverte en 1930 ? Les “plutoniens” ont-ils cessé d’exister depuis cette décision charlatanesque ? Ce livre pose également le problème des astres transplutoniens nouvellement découverts. Quel statut astrologique et quelles influences et significations précises leur accorder ?

Enfin, cet ouvrage propose une vision unitaire du système solaire qui démontre, chiffes et arguments rationnels à l’appui, que Pluton en est toujours un élément essentiel, ce qui est loin d’être le cas pour les autres astres au-delà de son orbite. Après avoir lu ce livre, vous saurez quoi répondre à ceux qui pensent avoir trouvé, avec l’exclusion de Pluton du cortège planétaire traditionnel, un nouvel argument contre l’astrologie !

Téléchargez-le dès maintenant dans notre boutique

Follow our astronomical, astrological, educational and funny news on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

You can also support us by making a donation that will allow us to keep this website alive:
Thank you for your contribution.

All rights reserved. © 2003–2024 Richard Pellard. Prohibited reproduction.
Webmaster: Julien Rouger
AstroAriana — Website realized with SPIP