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Books 335 almost each of Birren's books he has made some contribution worthy of readers' attention. It is my opinion, however, that time spent reading this book could be much better spent in other ways. Dreams and Illusions of Astrology. Michel Gauquelin. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 1979. 158 pp. $14.95. Reviewed by Lawrence E. Jerome' The author of this book is well known to regular readers of Leonardo. The debate over the validity of his statistical evidence for 'cosmic influences' began in Leonardo, then moved to The Humanist and continues in The Sceptical Inquirer, the new journal of the U.S.A. Committee for the ScientificInvestigation of Claims of the Paranormal. This book first appeared 10 years ago under the French title, Songes et mensonges d'astrologie. Prometheus Books (publishers of my book, Astrology Disproved, which was reviewed in Leonardo 13, 163 (1980)) translated Gauquelin's book and presents it in their brochure as a 'scientific critique of astrology' . Certainly, Gauquelin has an insider's understanding of astrology that can only come from years of study, pursuit and involvement. Following in the footsteps of Paul Choisnard, Karl Ernst Krafft and Leon Lasson, he has spent a lifetime statistically testing astrologers' claims and aphorisms. Significantly , he has found that astrological 'influences' are statistically valid at no more than expected chance level. The Foreword to his book was written by the astronomer, George O. Abell. Leonardo's readers should note that scientists generally now recognize astrology's magical bases that I outlined in my article Astrology and Modern Science: A Critical Analysis [Leonardo 6, 121 (1973)]. Abell says: 'It (astrology) is, in short, a belief in a magical correspondence between the gods of the pantheistic religion of antiquity and the planets that are named for those gods.' Unfortunately, the text of Gauguelin's book does not carry through Abell's comments on the magic in astrology. The closest Gauquelin comes to outlining astrology's magic is in his discussions of the signs of the zodiac: mythical animals whose characteristics are assigned to those born under their sway. This is not to say that this book is without value for critical students of astrology. In his first chapter, Astrologers and Their Clientele, Gauquelin gives a delightful and telling picture of how astrologers lure clients and beguile their senses with vague and often contradictory horoscope readings. Novice astrologers could do worse than follow his humorous instructions on how to start an astrological counseling service. His second chapter gives an accurate and readable account of astrology's role in history, from its origins in Babylonia to its turn-of-the-century upsurge in Britain and France. His third chapter, The Anatomy of the Horoscope, is bound to confuse readers who are expecting a 'scientific critique'. It reads as if written by an ardent astrologer setting forth a standard astrological treatise. His section on Interpretation makes no mention of magic or the 'principle of correspondences '. Fortunately, the next two chapters do raise standard objections to astrology: the question of free will versus determinism and the paradox presented by twins and 'astrotwins'. Gauquelin also outlines early statistical studies of astrology and attempts to explain where they went wrong. It is in Chapter 6, The Sign of the Computer, that he makes his most significant contribution to the astrological debate. In cooperation with the French journal, Scienceet vie, Gauquelin conducted a 'blind' experiment to test the efficicacy of computerized horoscopes. He submitted the birth dates of 10 notorious criminals to a digital computer in France provided with a horoscopic program, paying 120 francs (about $30) for each reading. The results of the program were a miserable failure; not once did the output forecast that any of these 10 individuals was capable of harboring so much as an evil thought! '10295 Menhart Lane, Cupertino, CA 95014, U.S.A. More importantly, he then submitted to unsuspecting clients the computer's horoscope reading for the most infamous of the 10 criminals, Marcel Petiot, satanic murderer of at least 27 hapless refugees in France. Of Gauquelin's clients, 90% felt they 'saw' themselves in the murderer's computer horoscope! Clearly, it matters not what birth date the clients...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 335
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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