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Claim Astr - Astrology Stat'ly Significant

Category: Misc:Religion, New Age, etc JUDGED at 100
Judge:97, Loophole
due date:2010/03/15

The Claim

An exhaustive, repeatable, scientific study will conclude that astrology is a statistically significant predictive method to describe an individual's personality traits. More specifically, the claim will be valid if the following conditions are met:

  1. The astrological method employs any subset of the following astronomical, spatial, and/or temporal data as the input variables from which the prediction is made.
    • Date of birth, date of conception: the precision is limited to one hour.
    • Place of birth, place of conception: the precision is limited to a radius of 100 kilometers.
    • The location of astronomical objects, temporally and spatially relative to date and place of birth: "astronomical object" is limited to the sun, the moon, the planets and their moons, the asteroids, comets, and the constellations as defined by the standard astrology of western civilization; "planets" refers to the planets of the solar system, namely, Mercury, Venus, (the Earth), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
  2. A statistically significant correlation is found between a astronomical method conforming to the restrictions in (1) and a statistically reliable personality measure. "Statistically significant correlation" is determined by stochastic measures that are widely accepted by the mathematical and statistical academic community. "Statistically reliable personality measure" is defined as the data contained in and/or the results provided by the Minnesota Multi Personality Inventory, or equivalent, as accepted by the psychological academic community.
  3. The results of a study conforming with the guidelines of (1) and (2) is published by a refereed academic journal, which has broad acceptance by the scientific community. Further, the study satisfies the usual requirements of exhaustiveness, repeatability, and scientific rigor.

Judge's Statement

I will judge based on the wording of the claim unless it is found to be ambiguous. Such ambiguities will be resolved based on my perception of the author's intent.

The claim is due March 15 2010. I plan to wait a week or two after that date to judge the claim.

As usual, if you are an investor in this claim or plan to invest in this claim, you should have read the text of the claim. Just reading the claim title would be misleading. Most notably, the text of the claim contains a definition of what it means by "Astrological method". As such, a scientific study that satisfies the claim would probably not use the words "astrology" or "astrological", or see itself as confirming parapsychological or paranormal phenomena.

If the publication of a study satisfying the conditions of the claim is brought to my attention, or I find such a publication, I will judge the claim YES. If I am unable to find such a publication, I will judge it NO.

About the sentence "Further, the study satisfies the usual requirements of exhaustiveness, repeatability, and scientific rigor." A study over which there remains a significant controversy, or whose data is contradicted or called into question by other well accepted studies might not satisfy the claim. A qualifying study should be solidly statistically significant, apply to a general population (except as restricted by the allowed criteria), and consistent with other studies of the same topic. The results should have been replicated in multiple studies. A small study of hundreds of people would probably be too small to qualify. A meta-study correlating the statistically significant results of multiple studies and comprising tens of thousands of people would be large enough to qualify.

The study "Birth month and suicidal and depressive symptoms in Australians born in the Southern vs. the Northern hemisphere" http://www.psy-journal.com/article/S0165-1781%2802%2900183-X/abstract does not satisfy the claim because it does not use any widely accepted *personality* assessment method. For the same reason, the "World Value Survey" http://prod.library.utoronto.ca:8090/datalib/codebooks/icpsr/2790/cb2790.pdf doesn't satisfy the claim. Widely used personality measures that would be allowed in a satisfying study are discussed in http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

The study "Personality of law enforcement officials: a comparison of law enforcement officials' personality profiles based on size of community" http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/160713345.html is OK using the "Inwald Personality Inventory" instead of the MMPI, but it does not satisfy the claim because (among other reasons) the study was restricted to police officers rather than the general population, was published in a trade journal rather than a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and was too small. While it may have found statistically significant results, those results were not confirmed by studies performed after the correlation was noted, calling into question their predictive value.

A study restricted by gender would not satisfy the claim. Restricting a study by age would be allowed since date of birth is a criterion specifically allowed in the claim description.

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