Disproof and Idiocy

Mark Pottenger

I have already reviewed the book Astrology Disproved by Lawrence Jerome for our News & Reviews, but it was so bad I thought I should go into a little more detail about why I recommended that it be avoided. The pre-judgment and bias displayed are incredible. From the first page, the author says astrology needs to be disproved—not examined or tested—disproved. From the second page, the author’s main idea starts being repeated—astrology is magic by definition. This assertion is never proven—it is an a priori conclusion. From it follows the author’s conclusion that astrology is invalid because it is magic. This little circle is repeated and repeated in hopes of making people forget its lack of backing and accept the conclusion.

Claims are made that the book will be accurate and factual, using scientific skepticism. The book is an inaccurate, false to facts attempt to debunk. Even the infamous “Objections to Astrology” added 6 to its number of scientists for its inclusion in this book. The author starts with a “history” of astrology almost unrecognizable to a historian or an astrologer. His speculations and theories are always presented as FACTS. On the basis of no evidence visible to me, he states that magic and astrology were developed as ways of controlling people and keeping them in line (a bit of projection, perhaps?). He shows he doesn’t even understand magic by saying all magic requires specialists.

Throughout the book he fails to distinguish between house and sign, saying this is the original and only proper use of the terminology.

To give an idea of the level of accuracy he makes such claims of, he lists “Descartes’ calculus” among the momentous discoveries of the past few centuries. Evidently no one ever told him calculus was invented by Newton and Leibniz.

To prove the magical nature of astrology he shows how it obeys the “principle of correspondence”. His example: Pisces is a water sign because fish live in water. I would love to hear his explanation of why Scorpio is a water sign.

The author’s idea of how to construct a horoscope is a pitiful travesty. He claims his method simplifies things by eliminating any need to use Greenwich Time and ephemerides. What it does need is a monthly astronomy magazine and a local newspaper. He claims the result is accurate to 1°. His own example isn’t the worst planetary error, being around 6° on Venus—his house cusps are a joke with opposite cusps not even opposite. (Also, he explained his method with reference to drawings not in the book.) He shows why he devised his own system—he is obviously unable to read a table of houses or an ephemeris right. After making an 8° error on the Moon, he says ephemerides are inaccurate. He also can’t read aspects, reading an 8° aspect as 22°.

The author keeps promising to prove assertions later in the book, but proofs never arrive. He also refers to a non-existent table at one point.

His arguments against statistical evidence for astrology are largely non-existent. He says there are (unspecified) doubts or problems and moves on. He practically ignores Gauquelin, an amazing oversight in a supposedly definitive disproof. (Unless the rumor about what he said about Gauquelin having been taken out for fear of being sued for misrepresentation is true.)

His position might be paraphrased as: “If it’s proven it isn’t astrology.” or “If it’s successful it’s coincidence.”

One of the more amusing features of the book is Jerome’s incredible facility in arguing from both sides. After nearly 200 pages of trying to show how there can’t be anything to astrology he starts saying he can explain astrology’s accuracy.

The capper to the book is rightfully labeled Chapter 0. Here, Jerome says astrologers will always be 50 percent accurate because astrology is true-false test character analysis.

That is the latest “final word” on astrology—arrogance, ignorance, prejudgment, error—truly “scientific skepticism” at its best.

Copyright © 1978 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

back to top