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What if things such as Astrology, Taroc, and Dowsing could be proved to work? If not, why do they seem to? Many people use them every year for everything from deciding what show to watch to what company to invest in. If they don't work, it is proven wrong. However, if they work, then what? Is this merely some coincidence or a case of super potent auto-suggestion?

Thoughts?

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Many of the wells in the midwestern U.S. were found by dowsing. I am asking if this is skill, coincidence, or something else. The fact stands that they found water.

Astrology in its everyday sense is stupid and inaccurate, but in its proper usage, it requires an accurate birth place, date, and even time. With all of the information found by using all of this information, a person's entire outlook on life can be found.

Taroc is often used on TV and call-in shows, but I have learned through some curiosity-fueled research that a proper reading requires the person who is asking a question to shuffle the deck. This rules out all of the "evidence" of the Taroc's falseness found on TV.

My point is this: Many of the everyday, easily available incarnations which these things are found in are incorrectly done, and therefore do not count as viable evidence against their true forms.

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If you think these things work, why did you ask in your first post that we consider the possibility that they could be proven to work (which assumes that they have not been so proven)?

How about your thoughts? It's rather silly to post something you know, or should know, is not going to be well received, without anything to back it, and then ask us to disprove it. Perhaps you would be interested in disproving that a gmnhet is not inversely proportional to a blaheysn? Not without knowing what they were, right? So, lay out your theory. If it is contrary to Objectivism, then place it in the debate forum in accordance with the forum rules.

Finally, I am curious, what is your purpose for this exercise? Why is this question important to you? Are there other questions you have of greater importance? Why not answer those first?

Finally (really this time, I promise :P ), welcome to the forum.

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Many of the wells in the midwestern U.S. were found by dowsing. I am asking if this is skill, coincidence, or something else. The fact stands that they found water.
Let's just limit it to this one claim. It's not true: no well was found by dowsing. Not even "many" or "some" -- none. Why would you make such a claim?
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First off, thank you for the welcome, groovenstein.

My purpose for this "exercise" is to try to find other objectivists' view on this to attempt to form my own. I am having some trouble because I am trying to supress my subjective views, which tell me to believe these things. However, my more rational side knows that they should not and cannot be proved to work. I am somewhat superstitious as well.

Also, I simply wanted dissenting views, as something to mull over when I see these things "work."

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A good way to start is to tell us, in as much detail as you can, what things you have observed and what conclusions you have drawn from those observations. This is a better explanation for what I meant when I said "lay out your theory." This is important because you said:

" My point is this: Many of the everyday, easily available incarnations which these things are found in are incorrectly done, and therefore do not count as viable evidence against their true forms."

If you would like people's thoughts on this, then it would help tremendously to tell them what you think these "true forms" are. If this suggestion makes sense to you, I hope you will follow it so the discussion can progress. If it does not make sense to you, I invite you to ask for clarification.

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I know that professional dowsers were hired by more than a few ranchers in the midwest, and that the aforementioned ranchers had wells dug according to the dowser's direction. These wells gave water.
Do you seriously think that this is evidence that "dowsing works"? If you dig a million holes at random and declare "A dowser told me to dig there", odds are that you will hit water some of the time. That is exactly what is going on with dowsers (I'm leaving aside the deliberately fraudulent ones who actually know in advance where the water is).

But to make this interesting, can you prove that there were as many as three dowsers who said "dig here" and water was found there? I want to see how your critical faculties are tuned -- for example, can you distinguish credible and non-credible sources of evidence; can you evaluate the evidence and see whether it really does support the claim?

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I know that professional dowsers were hired by more than a few ranchers in the midwest, and that the aforementioned ranchers had wells dug according to the dowser's direction. These wells gave water.

I highly recommend getting a copy of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age It will give you a better handle on how all of that nonsense actually "works". Also Check out the James Randi Educational Foundation.

"For more than 25 years, Mr. Randi's prize of $10,000 for “the performance of any paranormal, occult or supernatural event, under proper observing conditions” went unclaimed. A 8 syndicated television special for Lexington Broadcasting titled, “Exploring Psychic Powers – Live,” was broadcast June 7, 1989, and seen all over the USA, in Italy (with simultaneous translation) and in Australia. The $10,000 prize was temporarily increased to $100,000 for this occasion. The two-hour program was also seen later in Scandinavia, Japan, France, England and Germany. Currently, the prize amounts to $1,000,000 – thanks to a donation from a patron. There are still no takers. The prize is now administered and guaranteed by the James Randi Educational Foundation, and held in the form of negotiable bonds in a special account."

If any of it could hold up under the scrutiny of a trained magician/researcher in a double blind experiment it would probably have been clained byu now.

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Well, (for instance) out of curiosity, I attended a free astrology seminar at one of the conventions I visited once. It was more out of a free hour which I didn't want to waste and a lack of understanding in regards to astrological mechanics than a genuine want of knowledge about astrology. In it, the man leading it presented me with some very interesting facts. For example, to prepare a proper astrological horoscope (if there is such a thing) you must have the applicants exact birth location, and birth date down to the second. This is used to compile a natal chart which shows the person's personality. This is made up of the position of the "planets" (sun and moon included) in "houses," as well as the relative positions of the planets, and the "sign" that the planet is in. There is probably a wikipedia article for anyone who wants to know more, but that is the extent of my knowledge. I figured, with all of this complexity which does seem to lead to a person's personality, it had to be more than simple con work. I may be wrong, though.

As for taroc cards, I am willing to dismiss them and concentrate on the one for now.

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I admit that for these things, there is often little or no testable evidence, and that this fact means that we simply have to rule out the possibility of any of these. This is another reason that prompted me to discuss it here. Not to prove or disprove, merely discuss.

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From what I heard, Astrology uses a geocentric model of the solar system/universe, which means that even if there were a relationship between the alignment of the stars in the sky and your personality (which is totally ridiculous anyway for many reasons-- including VOLITION!) the way astrology is currently figured out would make it wrong because it has a false view of the makeup of the universe. But that really is not the important thing, the important thing is that there is NO RELATION WHATSOEVER between the circumstances of the stars at the time of your birth and your personality. Personality is not a mystic endowment dependant on the sky, it is a result of an individual's chosen set of values. I am not a rationally minded person because I am a virgo, I am because I CHOOSE to be.

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I admit that for these things, there is often little or no testable evidence, and that this fact means that we simply have to rule out the possibility of any of these.
This is crucial: you can make up any number of unsupported claims. The notion of the "possible" refers to an idea which has some (credible) evidence, even if it isn't compelling evidence. If some idea has no support, why would you spend any time considering it?
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I brought it up because, for some inexplicable reason, the idea that they might work is now lodged in my head, in spite of the rational side of my being.

One thing I find helpful about discussion is that it sometimes results in discovering an issue more fundamental than the one confronted. You might have done so here, and if so, that is fantastic. This statement of yours suggests that your emotions might not match up with your rational conclusions. Other statements of yours suggest you might have issues with arbitrary assertions and with the means of acquiring knowledge. I think it could help you to put aside the issue of astrology and consider whether you have issues with any of these things I have suggested. If so, then you should consider resolving those more fundamental issues before resolving the astrology issue. There are other threads on this forum discussing these more fundamental issues. I suggest you read them and participate in them if you have questions. And, of course, if you have questions about something specific to Objectivism, the best source is Ayn Rand's own writings.

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I brought it up because, for some inexplicable reason, the idea that they might work is now lodged in my head, in spite of the rational side of my being.

As far as I see it, your problem is that you usually act and think rationally, but you just don't find a way to dismiss these claims of the supernatural. You don't know how to just outrule them and say: this is just nonsense. There's still that doubt that it could somehow still work.

Is that a correct characterization?

If so, I think I can help. Just want to be sure I diagnose before I offer a cure. :thumbsup:

Welcome to the forum.

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I brought it up because, for some inexplicable reason, the idea that they might work is now lodged in my head, in spite of the rational side of my being.
This is a common problem, and I actually don't know of a simple way to resolve it. I think it comes down to whatever it is that makes people think "I can't be wrong". If you can rationally say "I had this idea once, but now I understand that it is wrong", then you're probably 75% of the way there. But it is very hard to admit to being wrong. I'm very fortunate that I've never been in that position :thumbsup:
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Felix, I think you may be right in that diagnoses.

Okay. Then you should start with one fundamental idea: Both doubt and belief have to happen for a reason. A feeling of doubt without a reason is not an argument. And the belief in the truth of a sentence itself is not an argument either. You may feel doubt, but you will have to find out where that doubt comes from and if it has a reasonable basis. If it doesn't, you can't really keep it up.

Doubt and belief are just two ways to look at the same thing. If you doubt that modern medicine works, you must believe that it doesn't work and the other way around. This fact by itself is not a reason, though. Unless you can't back your hunches up with something, why do you trust them?

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