Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Science Testing Faith

The Discovery Channel recently reported a study that will appear in the
Personality and Individual Differences
journal entitled "The relationship between date of birth and individual differences in personality and general intelligence: A large-scale study." This article by Peter Hartmann investigates the link (or lack there of) between personalities and astrological signs. Two large samples (4000+ in one group and 11,000+ in the other) were investigated. The abstract of the article provides a succinct statement of their results:
"In no cases did date of birth relate to individual differences in personality or general intelligence."
Hartmann provided the Discovery Channel with some qualifications to his conclusions:
"This does not necessarily mean that all astrology is without truth, but only that the independent effect of sun signs is most likely to be irrelevant. As for the weekly horoscope based on mere sun signs, then according to the current scientific standing, there is probably more truth in the comic strips."
A few weeks ago CNN reported that Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School reported that prayer offered no advantage to patients undergoing heart bypass surgery. These conclusions were reached after following 1,800 patients at six hospitals for 30 days after surgery. Funded by the Templeton Agency, this research was published in the American Heart Journal.

Both of these studies were a serious waste of time and money. Science cannot study or evaluate faith by definition. Reports like these, in addition to being practically inane, only deepen the divide between science and religion. In a world where we, as scientists, have to work to convince the general population to continue teaching evolution in schools and accept the fact that global warming is a reality, such publications border on professional negligence.

For an astrologers prospective on the study by Hartmann, see Astrodynamics.

2 Comments:

Blogger ElwoodCity said...

Science cannot study the effects of faith by definition. Thank you for that point. Not appearing significant in a quantitative study, or appearing as a readout on an instrument does not necessarity invalidate something's existance. The major difference between science and religion, in my view, is the type of data that is considered (internal spiritual manifestations in religion, external visible tactile manifestations in science) and the repeatability of experiments (religion is personal, science is supposed to be applicable to everyone). Let's all keep to the questions that each discipline can answer, OK?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo! ;)
heh... what unbalanced newz!
what do you suppose about it?

4:40 PM  

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