Monday, March 10, 2008

astrology in the modern world

Below is my comment left on a Slashdot article regarding astrology. I was replying another poster who wrote something along the lines of "astrology is 100% wrong."
I think you meant to say astrology is 50% wrong, because if it were 100% wrong, it would have perfect anti-correlation (akin to scoring a perfect zero on a T/F test, and is just as difficult as scoring a perfect 100). If astrology is 50% wrong, it therefore is 50% right, and depending on the brain chemistry of the person, happy memories may get weighted more than unhappy memories, and therefore the weighted average of astrology working can be significantly higher than 50% - assuming a person who adheres to astrology derives happiness from when it is correct. In fact, for such a person whose happy memories are weighted more than unhappy memories, any catalyst for increased variance will lead to a happier life, including a coin-toss on whether to drive or walk to work. If astrology is a method to higher variance in the day to day experiences of its adherents, then so be it, it results in a happier life among those humans who benefit from high variance. Conversely, for those whose brain chemistry weights unhappy memories more than happy memories, lowered variance in day to day experience is the best method for maximizing happiness. The world needs both people, those who enjoy variance and are willing to eat a mysterious berry, be it a sweet, tasty berry or a bitter, sour berry, and those who hate variance and will only eat the safe, known berry. The risk-takers help society learn about new, tasty berries, and the risk-averse help society continue the species in case the berries were poisonous after all. Astrology is merely a shrub blooming random berries, half of which are sweet (+1 correlation), half of which are bitter (-1 correlation).

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