Thursday, September 13, 2012

Skeptics ignore the results of their own research when it conflicts with their beliefs.

I've updated my web page on Skeptical Misdirection to include the following:

Skeptical Investigations explains how the skeptical organization CSICOP while trying to debunk astrology, actually found evidence supporting astrology and "In order to get the result they wanted, ... had to commit a total of six statistical blunders...".

The statistician and psychologist Michael Gauquelin had done a statistical analysis providing evidence that astrology might have some basis in fact. His analysis showed a correlation between the position of Mars in the sky at the time of birth and the odds of a person becoming a sports champion...

In 1976, in an attempt to make this embarrassment go away once and for all, Harvard professor of biostatistics and CSICOP fellow Marvin Zelen proposed a simplified version of the original Gauquelin study which he subsequently performed with the assistance of CSICOP chairman and professor of philosophy Paul Kurtz and George Abell, a UCLA astronomer. In order to get the result they wanted, the trio had to commit a total of six statistical blunders, which are discussed in detail in the article The True Disbelievers: Mars Effect Drives Skeptics to Irrationality by former CSICOP fellow Richard Kammann. Proper analysis showed that the new study actually supported the Gauquelin effect.

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