Jai Maharaj (pundit) wrote,
Jai Maharaj

Where Carl Sagan failed to be a scientist

Where Carl Sagan failed to be a scientist

By Jai Maharaj

The late Carl Sagan was seen as one of the world's most eloquent voices for science and reason, and deservedly so. I will always be his fan, thanks to his books and television series. Many of his theories, observations and conclusions in cosmology are consistent with those of our ancient Vedic sage-scientists.

Dr. Sagan wrote, "As far as I know, India is the only ancient religious tradition on the Earth which talks about the right time scale. In the West, people have the sense that what is natural is for the universe to be a few thousand years old, and that it is billions of years is mind-reeling, and no one can understand it. The Hindu concept is very clear. Here is a great world culture which has always talked about billions of years."

Sagan set a basic example for his audience of millions by doing what a scientist is supposed to do: reach a conclusion about a topic after studying it thoroughly. But there is at least one exception where he published conclusions without studying a science. The science of astrology attracted his attention enough for him to criticize it based on preconceived notions, but he never seems to have found the motivation to study it. The following excerpt is from "The Demon-Haunted World" with my comments:

"Many valid criticism of astrology can be formulated in a few sentences: for example its acceptance of precession of the equinoxes in announcing an 'Age of Aquarius' and its rejection of precession of equinoxes in casting horoscopes [1]; its neglect of atmospheric refraction [2]; its list of supposedly significant celestial objects that is mainly limited to naked eye objects known to Ptolemy in the second century, and that ignores an enormous variety of new astronomical objects discovered since (where is the astrology of near-Earth asteroids?) [3]; inconsistent requirements for detailed information on the time as compared to the latitude and longitude of birth [4]; the failure of astrology to pass the identical-twin test [5]; the major differences in horoscopes cast from the same birth information by different astrologers [6]; and the absence of demonstrated correlation between horoscopes and such psychological tests as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory." [7] ("The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," Carl Sagan, page 303.)

My comments:

[1] Jyotish, Vedic, or Hindu astrology does take the precession of the equinoxes into account -- it always has. We are not in the "Age of Aquarius" by Jyotish principles.

[2] Refraction is accounted for in Vedic astrology calculations.

[3] Positions of both seen and not-seen, or subtle, bodies in the sky are calculated and examined in Vedic astrology. Asteroids are also taken into account.

[4] The requirements for the birth data of a person, other entity or event for the time and geographical coordinates are consistent in Vedic astrology.

[5] Even apparently-identical twins can be conceived at different moments; Vedic astrology yields unique charts offering significantly varying interpretation for the smallest time differences.

[6] The interpretation of the same charts by different astrologers is a function of their education, skill and experience as in almost any science. How many scientists are divided just on the topic of global warming?

[7] Did Sagan himself not say that the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"? So the absence of a "demonstrated correlation" is not proof of its absence. Has any scientist, including Dr. Sagan, attempted to correlate Vedic astrology interpretation and MMPI tests?

Perhaps Carl Sagan had planned to study scientific astrology at some point and doubted his own criticism of it, for in 1975 he did refuse to sign an "Objections to Astrology" statement authored by Harvard astronomer Bart Bok and science writer Lawrence Jerome, and endorsed by nearly 200 scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, U.S., including 19 Nobel Prize winners.

Jai Maharaj
Jyotishi, Vedic Astrologer
Om Shanti

"A king, though endowed with little prowess, starting on an expedition at the proper time, in view of the good positions of the planets, achieves greatness that is eulogized in the scriptures." - Brhat Samhita, 104.60.
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