During the late 1970’s, having become a student of astrology in ‘74, I began to pursue the goal of becoming a research astrologer, which struck me as very promising. This was one of my motivations for earning a graduate degree in biostatistics, which I completed in 1980. This was also, I believe, the year of the first ACT conference, at the AFA convention in New Orleans, where I first met Michael Erlewine and other remarkable people. After a couple of years as a statistician I left the public health field to join Matrix Software in ’82, where I found a strong connection that continues to this day.
My original intention in studying research methods was to demonstrate the statistical significance of astrological findings, which was clearly a worthy goal. But the scientific method requires the researcher to stand at a great mental distance from his or her familiar astrological mindset. Making the transition from one mindset to the other, one could hardly help but feel that “everything you know is wrong.” I guess it’s not surprising that few astrologers get interested enough in research to pursue the fearsome study of statistics.
For years my own research interests were confined to a few obscure issues that I felt must be better understood before much sense could be made of anything. These are philosophical questions about the nature of astrological knowledge – questions that begin with the hunch that things are not what they appear to be. We have to deal with this kind of problem somehow, but as the late British astrologer Roy Alexander once wrote: “The first thing that we need to confront squarely is that astrology is profoundly non-rational… it only looks as though it could be dealt with rationally and scientifically.” Despite this sense of being engaged in a surreal pursuit, it is possible to explore some real problems in a straightforward way, up to a point.
In recent years, I’ve taken a more practice-oriented view of research methods that I will be presenting here in some example case studies. These studies are meant to show how one can evaluate and compare charting methods from the views of both practitioner and researcher.
More to come shortly…