Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sun sign results.

I must stress that this does not constitute a scientific investigation. One sample is of no consequence, other than to provide an indication of whether the subject is worth pursuing.

The questions were to be answered yes or no, but some did not lend themselves to an easy yes/no decision. If there were three options, I’d have ticked ‘undecided’ in several places. For the purpose of this test I settled on one or the other but that variability must be considered while examining the results.

Flippancy aside, when I work out the straightforward yes/no answers on those tests, the results look like this:

Aries 1

Taurus 6

Gemini 7

Cancer 5

Leo 7

Virgo 8

Libra 7

Scorpio 8

Sagittarius 6

Capricorn 5

Aquarius 3

Pisces 8

Some tests score one point for each ‘yes’, some score one point for each ‘no’. The lower the score, the nearer you are to the ‘typical’ personality of that sign.

I had a fair match with Aquarius, but by far the best match was with Aries, my own sign. All the rest scored 5 or above: no better than half-me. So for me, the tests worked out.

Now, this is a sample set of one (me) and I knew which test related to which sign when I took it. So I can make no scientific claims at all based on this one result. The ideal would be to jumble up the questions on one big sheet, attach them to ‘yes/no/don’t know’ tick boxes, and get a range of people to take the test. Once you’ve worked out the results, you then ask those people their sign, and see whether it matches with the one your test results say they should be. Since many of the questions are repeated, the sheet wouldn’t need 120 questions but it’s still likely to have around 100, so it has to be tick-box or nobody will do it. Those vague questions have to go, along with those that assume a characteristic then ask if you like having it.

I’d envisage a questionnaire which people could fill in in a few minutes. Their sign should not appear on the sheet, but should be recorded separately. Whoever’s recording the signs and which set of answers each relates to should take no part in the analysis.

Another member of the team then works out which sign is the closest match for each questionnaire, and once that’s done the real signs are revealed. A result better than whatever could be obtained by randomly ticking boxes would indicate that the sun-sign influence is real.

However, as Southern Writer pointed out at the start of all this, sun sign is only a small part of the astrology whole. There are many other factors that could influence the results, so this questionnaire idea might not give a particularly accurate picture. Although it would, if properly constructed, provide an interesting study. What this needs someone who really knows how to put together a long questionnaire without it getting too boring to fill in.

I’d be very interested to hear from anyone else who’s tried something like this.


Southern Writer said...

I saw something like that on TV, I don't know, ten years or so ago. It was a "Battle of the Psychics" or some such thing. Astrologers, psychics, Tarot readers, etc. were tested to see which of them were more accurate. The astrologers' test was to guess a bunch of people's "horoscope signs" by asking them simple questions and deducing the sign from their answers. They failed miserably. Why? One possible reason is that they were guessing the people's rising sign (a/k/a ascendant) because that's the part of us that we present to the world first. Another reason is that while someone may have the sun in say, Aries, he may have also have five planets in Pisces. Which leads me to a question about your deductions based on the score above. You reason that you're more of an Aries / Aquarius type, but you only have 1 point in Aries, and 3 in Aquarius, whereas, you have 8 points each for the signs of Virgo, Scorpio, and Pisces. How are you figuring this? Don't say too much because I don't want you to think I'll be influenced later by your answers. Just talk about the math, okay?

Romulus Crowe said...

Ah, the scoring system is in reverse. If you score high marks, you're not (apparently) very like that sign. The blurb at the end of the tests looks roughly like this..

Score 0-3: You're a typical example of the sign.

Score 4-6: You have a strong (sign) streak tempered by other signs. Look up (specific signs) to see if they fit.

Score 7-10: You have few of this sign's general characteristics. Look up (specific signs) and see if they fit.

It's all based on one single aspect of astrology, so to decry astrology on this one aspect would be a bit like taking one example of currently uncertain science, say, cold fusion, and saying all science must be hokum because this one part makes no sense.

Yet scientists do this all the time. Homeopathy, an ancient and trusted system, was denounced as rubbish by science for centuries. It's coming out of the closet, but science calls it 'hormesis' because to admit to working on homeopathy would end a career in seconds.

I once tried to explain four-dimensional space to a rock-solid professor who would have none of it. It's theory, he said, it can't be true. Where is this fourth dimension? How can anything possibly exist in four dimensions? I referred him to the book 'Flatland' where the two-dimensional creatures ask the same question about the mythical third dimension.

I don't think he read it. It's probably on the Scientific Inquisition's list of heretical books.

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