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in Natural Astrology

The Petiot affair and the “Barnum effect” or the anti-astrologer circus
by Richard Pellard
English translation by Julien Rouger

Phileas Taylor Barnum was born on 05/07/1810 at an unknown time in Bethel, Connecticut, USA. This impresario and wealthy entertainment entrepreneur has gone down in history for having created in 1871 a large traveling circus which bore his name and offered attractions based on sensationalism and window dressing which made his fortune. This juggler was also a fine and cynical connoisseur of the human soul who explained the success of his businesses by explaining that “every minute a sucker is born” whose credulity it was enough for him to shamelessly exploit, without forgetting however that to be popular, “everyone has to have a little something” which flatters his feeling of being someone unique and interesting. Barnum also said “We have something for everyone”. What is the relationship with anti-astrologism, apart from the pitiful circus acts indulged in by scientistic anti-astrologers?

The subjective validation effect

Read the following text carefully:

You need to be loved and admired, yet you are critical of yourself. You certainly have weak points in your personality, but you generally know how to compensate for them. You have considerable potential that you have not turned to your advantage. On the outside you are disciplined and in control, but on the inside you tend to be preoccupied and unsure of yourself. Sometimes you seriously wonder if you made the right decision or did the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety, and become dissatisfied if you are surrounded by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself on being an independent mind; and you accept the opinion of others only duly demonstrated. Establishing your sexuality has been a problem for you. But you found it awkward to reveal yourself too easily to others. At times you are very outgoing, talkative, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, circumspect, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be quite unrealistic.

If you feel like this description matches your personality pretty well, you have just fallen victim to a major perceptual illusion that psychologist Forer called “subjective validation effect” and another, Meeh, “Barnum effect”, given that you behaved like a “galore” who believes himself to be the only person concerned by this vague and imprecise text which evokes one thing and its opposite.

Anti-astrologers are die-hard fans of “the Barnum effect” which would explain why those who believe in astrology agree to recognize themselves in portraits of themselves as vague and imprecise as the one you have just read. As we have just seen with “Carlson’s experiment”, this does not prevent the same anti-astrologers from falling into the trap of the same “Barnum effect”, which is ultimately a delightful paradox.

Here is the uplifting story of “the Barnum effect”: In 1948, psychology professor Forer gave his students a personality test, disregarded their answers, and then distributed the above text to each of them presenting it as the personalized result of their test answers. Then he asked them to note this “personalized interpretation” between 0 (very bad) and 5, (excellent). The class achieved an average of 4.26, which means that an overwhelming majority of students had strongly “recognized” in this text… which was in fact a “astrological study” that Forer had found in a magazine.

The French test

Since then, according to an anti-astrologer who seems delighted, “the test has been repeated hundreds of times with psychology students and the average is always around 4.2 […] The Forer effect seems to explain, at least in part, why so many people believe in pseudoscience.” Another, more cautious, is however saddened by the fact that “Unfortunately, most studies on the Forer effect have only been done on undergraduate students”.

One of these tests was carried out in 1991 by the psychologist French and his collaborators. Unlike Forer, who was not openly and a priori anti-astrologer but had used an astropsychological portrait to try to demonstrate that anyone could identify with any description of their personality, French’s starting hypothesis is clearly anti-astrologer: for him, from the outset “there is no empirical support for the traditional astrological theory”, and he intends to prove it by a decisive experiment.

French’s experience, however, is not much different from Forer’s in terms of recruiting its “guinea pigs”: he was content to bring together a group of 52 people aged 16 to 35, whose average age was 18: in other words, they were overwhelmingly teenagers again… as usual. Its originality is that it wanted to demonstrate that there was a clear difference between the “deep believers” in astrology, which according to him should less easily accept the text used by Forer than the “moderate believers”. For what? For the good “raison” (according to French) that the former should in principle have a deeper knowledge of astrology than the latter, and therefore be less sensitive to “the Barnum effect”, and therefore be less likely to recognize themselves in an astro-portrait that is not theirs. In other words, those who know the rules of the game are a priori more capable of detecting loaded dice than those who do not know them.

French (another American, despite his last name) therefore decided on the following experimental protocol:

— the 52 “guinea pigs” are informed that they have been selected to test three computerized astrological interpretation programs;

— they are asked to communicate what are their degrees of belief and knowledge in astrology. Result: 7 are declared “deep believers”, 31 “moderate believers”, and 14 “non believers”;

— following which they are offered three texts supposed to describe their personality: the text “Barnum effect” by Forer (except for one sentence… which is not without importance, we will see), the interpretation of their own chart carried out by software, and an interpretation chosen at random from among those of the others “guinea pigs”. As in Forer’s experiment, they are asked to classify the texts and give them a score, this time from 1 to 5.

The criticisms that can be leveled at French’s experiment are the same as for Carlson’s and Forer’s experiment: an insignificant number of “guinea pigs” according to statistical science itself, non-rigorous evaluation of “knowledge” or “beliefs” astrological of these, confusion between the “deep belief” about astrology and having good information about it, no description of software programming basics, etc.: even before “experience” does not begin, we are already swimming in full scientific charlatanism. Let’s charitably pass over the fact that the protocol speaks of the influence of “stars” on the personality (which demonstrates the crass ignorance of “experimenters” about the astrological fact), note that the French team refrained from communicating the texts of the astrological interpretations used in this “experience” (which was nevertheless fundamental information), but that she gave Verbatim the text “Barnum effect” by Forer (read it again) amputated with a single and significant sentence: “Establishing your sexuality has been a problem for you.” “Obviously”, scrupulous, rigorous and objective “scientific experimenters” Couldn’t bring that sentence back to the students of 1991 as Forer had done to those of 1948, before sexual liberation…

Result: the text “Barnum effect” (corrected) of Forer stands out as the most representative of their personality for the majority of “guinea pigs”, which would demonstrate that astrology is only a vast “Barnum effect”.

Ultimate problem “honestly” (if one can say so) raised by the team of broken arms of French: they agree to recognize that an astrological interpretation would perhaps not be reduced to that of the natal Sun sign. Which means that the “portraits” distributed to “guinea pigs” were reduced to the sole description of Sun Signs. We understand better…

A mirror of teenage and student larks…

The Barnum effect” is commonly invoked by anti-astrologers who claim to be “scientists”. If it is undeniable that this effect of “subjective validation” exists, it is just as proven that the tests “at the Forer” does not give it any universal value, since it is based only on the reactions of a population whose average age is around 18, an age when the personality is still in the process of formation. It is therefore a total lack of rigor and scientific objectivity to claim that “the Barnum effect” disqualifies astrology.

Then, it is amusing and instructive to note that since 1948, generations of psychology students have regularly fallen for the Foster test. Only three rational and rigorous conclusions can be drawn from this:

1) Information circulates very badly between the generations of students: otherwise, all those after 1948 should know this “school case” and no longer rush headlong into this trap;

2) Students between the ages of about 17 and 25 have very poor skills in assessing their own personality characteristics. So this population should be excluded from psychological testing;

3) Teachers in psychology who continue to pass the Forer test to their students take them for naïve and/or imbeciles and may not be completely wrong…

Anyway, astrology has absolutely nothing to do with it. Forer might as well have borrowed his “text-Barnum” in a popular psychological journal, he would probably have obtained identical results. Some anti-astrologers honestly admit it: “we have seen that these processes have been observed from astrological data and from the results of false personality tests, but it is also permissible to suppose that even in the face of the most serious descriptions, that is to say made at From the most scientific psychological approaches, the Barnum effect will operate automatically, a bit like the placebo effect, even when it comes to proven drugs. Hence the absurdity of asking the persons concerned to decide on the accuracy of the assessment of their personality, even when it is drawn up by the most eminent specialist — this could explain the results of experiments which show that when the same subjects are analyzed by astrologers, from birth data, and by psychologists, from various tests, the latter are not considered to have provided more valid personological descriptions than those of the astrologers. However, we tend to interpret these results by considering that astrology, or the intuition of astrologers, is as accurate and valid as psychology…

Psychologists who have studied the various “Forer testing” thus found that a posteriori “subjects can usually distinguish between estimates that are precise (but which would be true for most people) and those that are discriminant (accurate for the subject, but not applicable to most people)”, but that a priori (when they pass the test) they still confuse them… The problem therefore remains, whether it is astrology or psychology.

Funnier, the same psychologists found that “there is also evidence that character traits such as neurosis, need for approval, authoritarian tendency are positively correlated with the tendency to believe in Forer-type profiles”… which would mean, according to them, that 94% of “guinea pigs” psychology students would be authoritarian neurotics in search of approval, which does not bode well for the mental balance of the psychologists they will become!

To make Foster’s test an anti-astrological argument is therefore an intellectual scam pure and simple.

Child’s play: “The Petiot Affair

Twenty years later, in 1968, the psychologist, statistician and anti-astrologer Michel Gauquelin carries out a replication of the Foster test. He advertises in the specialized press (in Paris here, popular daily newspaper with a very low intellectual and cultural level), the following announcement:

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 sends the same Chart study taken from the computer program Ordinastral, whose texts were written by André Barbault.

94% of people recognized themselves in this portrait and 80% of their relatives confirmed this judgment favorable to astrology. Gauquelin, who did not mention in his investigation report the intellectual and socio-cultural level of the individuals who participated in this experiment, concluded:

1) that people recognize themselves in any psychological portrait (banal confirmation of “the Barnum effect”);

2) that astrology had been faulted.

The only interest vaguely “scientist” of this experience is that for once, the “guinea pigs” were not perennial young students of psychology, but a different type of population. Given the kind of magazines where Gauquelin placed his classifieds, it is not difficult to make a composite portrait of them: most likely they are mostly women aged between 20 and 60, at the socio-cultural level in general quite low, having little education and believing in all kinds of paranormal or irrational phenomena, which shows that the “housewives under 50” dear to television ratings and post-adolescent psychology students have at least one thing in common: their sensitivity to “the Barnum effect”.

The Chart sent to “guinea pigs” by Gauquelin is that of Doctor Petiot (born 17/01/1897 at 02:51 UT in Auxerre), famous serial killer who had murdered around fifty people during World War II. If we do not look too closely, we will conclude that 94% of “housewives under 50” recognized themselves in the astrological portrait of a serial killer

Thème de naissance pour Marcel Petiot — Thème écliptique — AstroAriana
Thème écliptique
Thème de naissance pour Marcel Petiot — Thème de domitude — AstroAriana
Thème de domitude
Thème de naissance pour Marcel Petiot — Hiérarchie des Planètes — AstroAriana
Hiérarchie des Planètes
Marcel Petiot
17/01/1897 à 03 h 00 TL (17/01/1897 à 02 h 46 TU)
Auxerre (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France)
Latitude +47° 48’ ; Longitude +3° 34’

But things are much less simple than it seems. The texts of the interpretations of Ordinastral written by André Barbault concerned only the positions of the fast planets in Signs and the Ascendant. The elements of the Chart were not hierarchical and the Aspects were not taken into account. The so-called astrological study therefore consisted of a series of six texts describing schematically, in an astro-symbolist register, AS Scorpio, the Sun in Capricorn, the Moon in Cancer, Mercury in Aquarius, Venus in Pisces and Mars in Gemini.

I have not found the exact texts that Barbault wrote for Ordinastral. But since he had published his Traité pratique d’astrologie (ed. Seuil) in 1961 and that he wrote the interpretations for the software in 1966–1967, it is likely that the texts of his Treaty are very close to those of the software. For your information, here are those concerning the Chart of Petiot:

— Scorpio Ascendant: “This nature with a bilious temperament is worked by an inner fire, animated at the level of the entrails by the exasperation of violent impulses. This ‘devil in the body’ expresses an anguish of more-being rather than well-being, which seeks its affinities in the storms and convulsions of life. Two great instincts clash in an intensifying ambivalence: aggressiveness and eroticism; wild dance of the sublime and the abject, of heaven and hell, of brutal realism and mystical idealism, of attachment and detachment, of love and death […].

— Sun in Capricorn: “This type is cold, his personality building in a movement of withdrawal and concentration which excludes any externalization. This ‘coldness’ is both introversion and inemotivity, real or apparent (the ‘cold passion’), which ensures him an empire over himself. He is also slow: patience, perseverance, stability, moderation, meditation, pessimism, loneliness or melancholy… cold, robustness, discipline, stubbornness, density, fixity […].

— Moon in Cancer: “All maternal and feminine values, plastic and sensitive, converge in this encounter. Imagination, memory, fertility, dream, sensitivity, lyricism, poetry. The vegetative side can prevail; the soul can remain attached to the past, to childhood or lead a nomadic, incoherent, wandering destiny.

— Mercury in Aquarius: “Promethean, inventive, progressive, reformist, revolutionary or utopian intelligence, won over to avant-garde ideas, on the lookout for anything that can emancipate man, free him from his shackles and open him up to new horizons; if not open to wisdom.

— Venus in Pisces: “Invasive sensitivity, with uncertain forms, indefinite contours, strange or mysterious in its expressions, and in its romantic or mystical manifestations. We must fear, in the dissonance, the incredible adventures, the cloudy attachments, the insane hopes. But it is the triumph of saving and redemptive love, of oblative passion: the most generous gift of self or masochistic sacrifice.

— Mars in Gemini: “Aggressiveness, often stemming from fraternal disagreements, tends to turn into mental sadism, with a frequent disposition to chicanery, teasing, discussion, criticism, irony or polemic.

That’s it, that’s all: the portrait of a “me” reduced to six heterogeneous and contradictory facets among which one can peck in all subjectivity. Passed by the wayside, the conjunction Saturn-Uranus opposed to Mars on the horizon line, the opposition Jupiter-Venus angular and all other configurations (in short, the chart in its organized and hierarchical globality…) in which it is likely that people “normal” knowing roughly how they work would have (perhaps) had a little more trouble “recognize” so massively and so easily.

However, the major dissonances in Petiot’s chart cannot be blamed for his criminal behavior. Many people were born with the same Chart as Petiot, and it is obvious that almost all of them did not become serial killer. It is also obvious that these interpretations (whether they are very bad is another matter) were written for the benefit of a majority of people “normal” or “means” and not of a minority of pathological cases.

In this, Gauquelin not only fell into the trap of the absolute horoscope, but he also committed a serious ethical fault, probably out of a taste for sensationalism, by addressing the interpretation of the Chart of a psychopath to “housewives under 50” fascinated by the paranormal. Such an approach is strictly unscientific.

Can we avoid the “Barnum effect”?

The Barnum effect” is based on the one hand, on the vague and catch-all character of imprecise psychological or astropsychological descriptions, on the other hand, on the incapacity that most individuals would have to objectively evaluate their own personality and that of others.

Once this fact has been established, the question then arises as to whether it is possible to design personality tests to avoid “the Barnum effect”. The answer is by no means simple. Indeed, the text proposed by Foster to his students is indeed vague and imprecise and therefore can be applied to a very large number of people. But it is nevertheless likely that he also describes quite accurately the uncertain, contradictory and undulating functioning of some of them, which would thus have good reason to recognize themselves in this portrait.

Furthermore, the personalities monofunctional, all in one block, are rather rare. The hyper-simple is the exception. Most personalities are built on the peaceful and/or conflicting coexistence of different functional tendencies. Complexity is the rule. Both psychologists and serious astrologers are confronted with it and must integrate it, far from the Barnum circus where non-serious anti-astrologers perform their illusionist acts to impress the scientist gallery.

How to avoid “the Barnum effect”? Astrologers, not psychologists, probably have the answer. And I specify: not the magicosymbolist astrologers, incapable of performing a realistic synthesis of the various elements that make up a Natal chart, but the conditionalist astrologers who, themselves, know how to do it very well. It suffices for this:

1) To select a population of intelligent, educated people, not suffering from major psychological pathologies and aged over thirty;

2) To select among the relatives of these people those who have the same characteristics;

3) To make the Charts of the people of the first group and to select among them those which bring out very clearly one or two clearly dominant tendencies. From a point of view conditionalist, this means Charts which present one or two R.E.T. families clearly and fully enhanced, as well as a clear zodiacal dominance S+ or S− ;

4) To offer the people in the first group a set of three portraits, their own and two others completely unrelated to it, and to ask them to classify them according to the degree of relevance they attribute to them;

5) To ask people in the second group to make the same assessment and ranking about the person in the first group that they are supposed to “to know well”;

6) To ask each person in the first group to compare their ranking with that of their relatives in the second group. If the answers to the portrait classified No. 1 by the first and the second differ, they must negotiate together a new classification in the presence of impartial observers who will record this negotiation and take note of its result;

7) If at the end of this process, the members of the first group are in majority agreement with those of the second, “the Barnum effect” will have been eliminated and the ability of astrology to offer relevant psychological profiles will have been validated.

To carry out such an experiment, all the difficulty lies in the selection of “guinea pigs” and in that of the charts presenting clear planetary dominants. Indeed, it is necessary to select a very large number of people, then to make their Charts, then to select among these only those which present the clear dominance (sharp angularities) of one or two R.E.T. and one or two Signs; moreover, it would be better for these families to be consonant with each other, given that in the event of dissonance, there can be repression, in the experience of the Subject, of one of them.

Examples of texts

Interpretation texts should not be vague. It is imperative that the “psychological profiles” describe specific, easily observable and identifiable behaviors. The following texts, which describe the dominant Aspects in Petiot’s Chart, are taken from my Manuel d’astrologie universelle. Without making them models of descriptive rigor (they are the result of a compromise on the number of pages with the publisher, which forced me to write much shorter texts, therefore much more simplifying than I would have liked), these interpretations are all the same much more precise than those of Barbault. Here they are:

Aspect No. 1: dissonant Saturn-Uranus conjunction

If or when the saturnian function dominates: you are so absorbed by the many questions that you ask yourself about your life or your experiences that you are unable to find firm and convincing answers to them. You rationalize ad infinitum, constantly complicate your reasoning in an obstinate refusal to put a brilliant and effective end to your adventurous questions. Your skepticism, your doubts, your caution and your excess of foresight prohibit you from any daring initiative, any decision taken on the blow of a dazzling intuition. You fear the sudden and unexpected irruptions of the unknown in a universe whose enigmas you laboriously try to decipher to protect yourself from chance. Refractory loner, forever dissatisfied researcher, philosopher of failure or unrepentant romantic, you cannot or do not want to impose your ideas.

If or when the uranian function dominates: you affirm with aplomb, authority and intransigence your intuitively revealed and rigorously architected certainties in defiance of any in-depth experimental research, of any serious investigation into the complex universe of beings, things and situations. Your despotic will to power persists in repressing in you and around you all that could resemble a doubt, an interrogation, a questioning, or quite simply a relevant reflection based on a scrupulous analysis of the facts. You decide with audacity where it would be necessary to think long and hard before committing yourself, cut to the heart of subjects that would require prudence and circumspection. Above all, you fear that your reasoning and certainties, built on presuppositions that could not be more uncertain, will be undermined and sabotaged.


The fact of having chosen the interpretation “dissonant” may seem arbitrary, the conjunction being an ambivalent Aspect, both consonant and dissonant. A more nuanced interpretation, taking note of this ambivalence, would nevertheless have described a personality rather “cerebral”, able to weave very long-term plans in secret, leaving little or no room for feelings and moods.

This interpretation very “Sense of Opposites” (on one side Saturn, on the other Uranus) alone shows the difficulty that an individual can have to “recognize” in such a portrait which puts in parallel and in frontal opposition two different and contradictory tendencies of one of the dominant characteristics of his psychological functioning. How can he assess which of these tendencies supersedes the other? When and how? And besides, it is very possible that he lives this conjunction Saturn-Uranus on a mode “Sense of Syntheses” very ambivalent and discordant, in short that he perceives himself just as much “saturnian” that “uranian”. We are very far from the “Barnum effect”…

Aspect No. 2: Saturn-Pluto opposition

If or when the saturnian function dominates: you seek to ward off the absurdity or the nothingness of all reason or all knowledge by developing a cold rationalism anchored in experimental realism. You pathetically try to find, in your cold, deep and methodical investigations into matter and lived experience, the why and the how of immaterial mysteries, metaphysical or otherwise, without being able to resolve yourself to the certainty that there are questions which have and never will have an answer. The complete unknown fascinates you and worries you at the same time, and with the same intensity. By your abstract reason or your painful and desperate romanticism, you try in vain to rebel against an obscure and implacable fatality, against the forces of chaos, disorder and nothingness. Solitary, melancholic, skeptical and misunderstood, you fear that your situation will get even worse…


Still just as arbitrarily, I chose the interpretation favoring Saturn at the AS over Pluto at the DS (in dominance, Pluto is lower than it looks in ecliptic projection, and Mars higher). We nevertheless remain in the register of the disembodied coldness that characterized Petiot, very gifted in dematerializing his victims and making them disappear in plutonian transcendence. In a more moderate and nuanced interpretation, we will emphasize the power of the dissonant “small t”, its aptitude for dissimulation, for clandestine activities, on the fringes of conventions and official norms.

Aspect No. 3: Uranus-Pluto opposition

If or when the uranian function dominates: you want to convince yourself at all costs, and sometimes succeed, that it is possible to enclose the unfathomable mystery of beings, things and situations in an intuitively conceived totalitarian theory. You are affected by a reductionist paranoia which encourages you to cut arbitrarily and abruptly in the thicket of complexities and in the labyrinth of enigmas of the universe to extract clear, clean and flawless conceptions. Anguished by the idea of a total annihilation of your brilliant and proud individuality, you engage in a frantic and desperate race for absolute power. Confusing subtle and hidden order with disorder and chaos, you intransigently impose your vision of a coercive order, the sworn enemy of all anarchy. Unable to bear the thought of being mortal, you seek to ward it off by performing feats that you hope will make you immortal.


Once again very arbitrarily, I have chosen here the interpretation favoring Uranus over Pluto. If we adapt it to the particular case of Petiot (which is obviously prohibited in an astrological validation test in “blind”), we can say that the “good doctor” (that was his nickname before the extent of his crimes became known) surpassed himself in the accomplishment of feats that made him immortal in the memoirs of criminology… but which earned him when even to be guillotined. Let’s note in passing that if he ended up being arrested, it was because like a good paranoid psychopath he couldn’t stand not being recognized for his (false) resistance feats, and he sent a letter to advice from the Resistance to emerge from plutonian anonymity… There, Jupiter and the “small r” pole are not far away. Exactly, we are getting there.

Aspect No. 4: Jupiter-Venus opposition

If or when the jupiterian function dominates: obsessed with your desire to be reasonable, to respect the conventions of your social environment, you neglect your emotional relationships. Your desire to succeed at all costs, to have your achievements recognized in the public square, pushes you to neglect your own sensitivity and that of others. To satisfy your material ambitions and your thirst for respectability, you are ready to put aside your likes and dislikes, sympathy and epidermal antipathies, and to seize an interesting opportunity, to evacuate all tenderness and all compassion. Beautiful and loud speaker, gifted for self-promotion and self-satisfaction, you are devoid of any charm, any seduction. You impose yourself with arrogance, you gargle with grandstand effects when you need to touch and move. You are ready without hesitation to build your economic and social success on the ruins of your heart.


Arbitrarily, I chose the interpretation favoring Jupiter at the MC over Venus at the IC. Let’s continue in the forbidden and adapt it a posteriori in the case of Petiot. He was an individual hungry for social recognition, having succeeded in being elected mayor and enthroned in a number of official bodies where he liked to wear good looks and make everyone benefit from his talents as tribunes. Venus was not so “stuck” by Jupiter, since he knew how to be very seductive and play on the sensitive chord of his victims; but it was a Venus totally instrumentalized an opportunistic Jupiter, profiteer and without any morality.

In a more nuanced interpretation intended for possible tests of experimental validation of astrology, one could obviously not describe such a functioning as a boastful and shameless profiteer ignoring all pity. But from a purely technical point of view, it should still be taken into account that Venus, although dominant but also dissonant to the first dominants, is well isolated in a dominant context ‘r’, ‘E’, ‘t’ and ‘T’, all R.E.T. “non-e” and with an ‘R’ pole at the end of the hierarchy. Its place is thus designated to be the “weak pole” of the “strong pole”, with the consequences that necessarily and logically follow in a standardized and computerized interpretation. We are very, very far from the nonsense of Barbault on “the triumph of saving and redemptive love, of oblative passion: the most generous gift of self or masochistic sacrifice”.

Weakest Aspect: Sun-Mercury

From the perspective that interests us here, it is not useful, or even counterproductive, to consider the interpretation of Aspects subdominants. On the other hand, it may be useful to mention the least valued Aspect, in this case the Sun-Mercury conjunction. Logically, by comparing it to the interpretation of Aspect No. 1 (Saturn-Uranus), the subject of such an experiment should be obliged to position himself very clearly and to make an unambiguous choice: either he “recognize” in the portrait of a cold and calculating cerebral with a dry heart (Saturn-Uranus) either he “recognize” in that of a spontaneously sociable being, endowed with strong values and great curiosity (Soleil-Mercure).

Of course, if he does not “knows” not well, if he consciously or unconsciously cheats with himself or wants to consciously or unconsciously mislead others, or if he projects himself blindly into what does not look like him but what he would obscurely like to look like, he can choose the second term of this alternative. In this case, it will be enough to question those who know him well and who have good powers of observation to solve the problem…

The need for synthetic interpretations

Even imperfect, these interpretations by dominant and non-dominant Aspects are infinitely better than the mediocre catalog à la Prévert that Barbault produced for Ordinastral. It is nevertheless obvious that it would be better to proceed with more synthetic interpretations, which integrate at the same time the R.E.T. families, the Aspects interpreted not by juxtaposed duos but with several planets and the zodiac (which is moreover totally absent here). But this is a problem that, to be solved, requires the mastery of artificial intelligence techniques. The absence of researchers and means of research in serious astrology — therefore conditionalist — unfortunately does not allow us to think about it for a long time. Too bad, because all the ideas are there.

A purely conditionalist test-gag

Before we tentatively wrap up, let’s have a little laugh while wetting the sprinkler. Michel Gauquelin was born on 13/11/1928 at 22:15 UT in Paris. His Natal chart is characterized by an opposition Jupiter-Mercury distinctly angular in the meridian plane. There are no other angularities: it is therefore a “school case” unambiguously according to the rules of Gauquelinian astro-statistics… except that Gauquelin’s statistics, if they revealed an influence from Jupiter, did not discover any from Mercury, which is not not serious, since it is a question of making a test-gag conditionalist.

Thème de naissance pour Michel Gauquelin — Thème écliptique — AstroAriana
Thème écliptique
Thème de naissance pour Michel Gauquelin — Thème de domitude — AstroAriana
Thème de domitude
Thème de naissance pour Michel Gauquelin — Hiérarchie des Planètes — AstroAriana
Hiérarchie des Planètes
Michel Gauquelin
13/11/1928 à 22 h 15 TL (13/11/1928 à 22 h 15 TU)
Paris (Île-de-France, France)
Latitude +48° 51’ ; Longitude +2° 21’

So here are two texts (still taken from my Manuel d’astrologie universelle) describing Gauquelin’s psychological functioning as it can be assessed (without statistics) from his birth sky. Guess which one matches it and you win.

Interpretation No. 1: “You live under the yoke of an eruptive, volcanic, uncontrollable affectivity. Carried away by your imperious desires of the moment, you lose all self-control as soon as your likes and dislikes, likes and antipathies are at stake. When you love, when you become attached, the slightest moderation cannot be expected of you. Your exacerbated feelings impose a capricious and undisciplined dictatorship. You do not support in the chosen ones of your heart the slightest desire for independence. You experience your pleasures and voluptuousness in the greatest disorder, like a permanent challenge launched to any organized brain, to any rigorous life program. You take your claim to enjoy when you want and how you want for a manifestation of full autonomy and sovereign independence, while you are the slave of your senses and your burning desires.

Interpretation No. 2: “Polarized by your ambitions, your quest for tangible power or your overly reasonable view of the world, you cannot or do not want to open your mind to anything else. No question for you of useless encounters, of gratuitous curiosities, of marvelous discoveries: it has to pay off, that you derive concrete benefits or obvious usefulness from it. Wanting to be definitive, your sweeping judgments prevent you from any plurality of hypotheses, any change of point of view. By dint of wanting to have the merits of your acts and productions recognized, you tragically forget not to take yourself seriously. Your desire to be an exemplary representative of your group pushes you to blindly sacrifice your individual freedom, your irreverent fantasy, your spontaneity without blinkers. You pontificate at the expense of all humor.

The interpretation corresponding to Gauquelin’s Natal Chart is of course the second. In all but strictly arbitrary bad faith, I have decided to retain only the text valuing Jupiter to the detriment of Mercury: logical, since Gauquelin does not recognize any influence on this planet. And then, after all, this caricatural text sticks well to his work: after all, didn’t he build his reputation on statistical experiments ordered according to simplistic criteria (the profession) which led him to eliminate all what other avenues of research could he have imagined?

As for interpretation No. 1, it corresponds to a Venus-Uranus dissonance in which Venus dominates. For what? Firstly because in the R.E.T., Venus is the inverse of Jupiter and Uranus the inverse of Mercury: these two planets, moreover, not being valued in Gauquelin’s natal chart, they constitute the opposite of the dominants. Then because he recognized an influence in Venus, and none in Uranus… But if he had been born at 14:15, everything would have been different:

But this is another story…


It is obvious that the “Barnum effect” can very easily be avoided or circumvented if conditionalist methods are used. It has also been proven that Gauquelin’s treatment of the “Petiot affair” is anything but rational and “scientific”. It looks more like a very bad circus clown act… Barnum of course.

So if you come across a annoying ass scientist anti-astrologer who drowns you with this very tendentious pseudo-statistical use of the Chart of “good doctor”, do not hesitate to send it to bray elsewhere.

Anti-astrology is not a science

Article published in issue No. 25 of the Fil d’ARIANA (April 2006).

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

See also:

▶ The specific issues of astrological statistics
▶ Qu’est-ce que la science ? Un golem ou un robot ?
▶ Quelques réponses à un astronome anti-astrologue : expérience vécue
▶ Carlson’s “experiment”: an example of anti-astrologist quackery

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.

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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 !

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