back to article Indian courts 'rule astrology is a science'

Oh those crazy Indians! A high court judge in the subcontinent has apparently ruled that astrology is a pukka science like physics or chemistry. Or maybe not. The Telegraph reports that the Bombay High Court (it is officially still called that, before everyone gets on our case about "Mumbai") has decided that proper scientists …


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  1. Cameron Colley

    Were lucky here in the UK, things are more sensible.

    We'd never let charlatans such as, I don't know, homoeopaths for example, be described as "scientists"...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Not that there is anything wrong with it.

      After all homeopathy, outsourcing and astrology produce similar results regarding deliverables. That is not surprising - same people involved.

      In all cases the results delivered can be described as value for the money solely on the basis of "belief" not "reality" and the only person with money in the pocket is guess who...

      Me coat...

    2. Luther Blissett

      I don't know about that

      What about all those practising climate science religion? And has no-one ever encountered 'Christian Science'?

      Of course, the whole story is a bad pun (which is why the Author hides behind Team Register). There are (at least) two different meanings of 'science' involved.

      // Dunces caps all round.

  2. Tron

    Be fair...

    Britain also has a goodly number of fuckwitted government officials who have trouble with arse/elbow conundrums.

    Incidentally, if being around a long time counts for so much and astrology is '4000 years old',* that makes it twice as old as Christianity and eight times as old as the CofE. As none of these have any scientific nor rational basis, simply being made-up, perhaps the British government ought to start sanctioning schools run by astrologers.

    Wasn't there a law passed to say that astrology bollocks had to appear with a note saying it was for entertainment only? Do all the papers include that when they print horoscopes? Just examined our local paper and their astrology column didn't. Must be one of those optional laws.

    Here in the Midlands, the local rag always has an advert for some con artist running clairvoyance sessions or similar 'psychic' crap. Presumably a profitable scam if you can keep a straight face and have no conscience.

    *Wikipedia says that the first evidence dates from the third millennium BC.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Laws and such

      The question of laws requiring a label placed on published horoscopes is best answered by reference to the actual history:

      1735 brought in the Witchcraft Act of 1735, banning all claims to be able to summon spirits, tell fortunes, etc. It is widely thought to in fact only apply to *false* claims (i.e. fraud) - thus allowing for the existence of true claims - it is based on a contemporary belief that all such claims are false, as the claimed abilities are impossible.

      In 1951 this was repealed by the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, and this law, containing an escape clause for the "medium", is in essence the origin of the "for entertainment" wording.

      In 2008, this act, too, was repealed and replaced by a batch of new Consumer Protection Regulations, and this is probably the reason for the wording disappearing (that and a certain amount of apathy/unawareness on the part of the public and of plod).

      1. Anton Ivanov

        Witchcraft Act of 1735 AFAIK is repealed

        The witchcraft act had a minor problem

        It banned all claims to be able to summon spirits, tell fortunes _AND_ PREDICT THE WEATHER.

        I definitely recall someone remembering that one after the Met Office hurricane incident in 1987 and filing a lawsuit. Not sure if the act got nuked in court or there was a parliamentary intervention. In any case, I remember my mom (who is a career met elsewhere in EU) and her colleagues giggling about that one for may years after that.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I wanted to go to a Psychic Fayre recently

      but it was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The problem is not about calling folk names because you don't believe what they do, the problem is a lack of understanding as to what constitutes a scientist. Do these folk follow scientific method ?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Tim Minchin

      "And if anyone can show me one example in the history of the world of a single

      Astrologer who has been able to prove under reasonable experimental conditions that they can predict events by interpreting celestial signs... I'll give you my piano, one of my legs, and my wife"


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, they do...

      ...but only when Mercury is rising. :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward

      the problem is a lack of understanding as to what constitutes a scientist

      Exactly People don't ubnderstand Science so call everything they don't understand science.

      Its a real shame as it only devalues real science. lets bring back the correct term 'Magic'....

  4. Velv

    The blurred line

    Of course astrology is a science. The mathematical movement of the stars is well understood, so it's easy to predict where they are going to be for the rest of the month.

    And if you think that is hocum, try asking a physicist about imaginary numbers.


    I tell you, someone's been smoking too much wackie backie

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      "...mathematical movement of the stars..."

      No, see that is where you are getting confused with astroNOMY (and cosmology).

      AstroLOGY says that the bright lights in the sky that move faster (planets) than the others are gods, and depending on where they were standing when you were born, and where they are standing now tells you exactly what will happen to you now.

      As an aside, since there are now even brighter lights in the sky, moving even faster than the planets, should we be predicting based on them instead? Could plane-spotters predict the future?

      1. Cameron Colley


        I used to be able to do that. When looking out of the window, if I saw a light in the sky moving towards my position it meant the imminent arrival of a bunch of scrotes in a nicked car followed, a few hours later, by a van full of plod.

        In April last year the lack of the faster-moving lights in the sky meant was an omen of great trouble and confusion.

  5. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Changing with the times

    Once upon a time, you would need to be on drugs to believe that astrology stuff, or to believe that 1/12 of the population would all find their new love on the same day because they are all capricorns.

    Now the shame is that with the state of education, plenty of people believe it without any drugs at all...

  6. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Just occurred to me

    That having endured astrology for 4000 years without knowing whether it works or not, in the next hundred years or so it can be proven absolutely conclusively one way or another as more and more people get snared by social networks...

  7. wayne 8

    More importantly, do they have a consensus

    is it a settled science?

    Most important, can they get grant money from the UN?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    not so crazy

    Vedic astrology is systematic knowledge-base

  9. Richard 120

    After practising it for 4000 years

    You'd think they'd be a bit better at it by now.

    They're not managing to predict the lottery numbers.

    Hell, they weren't even able to predict the sex of my mates baby and that's 50/50.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So you can officially be educated as an astrologist? Too much effort, just become a judge, apparently you don't need to be educated to become one.

  11. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    They're all so vague as to be meaningless so dipsticks like Russell wotnot and Mystic Mags or whatever the hell that dopey moo was called, used to be able to get away with making a mint off gullible planks! £1 a minute phone lines for utter tosh they made up in bath that morning!

    "You will meet someone with a coat on!"

    "You will travel at some point in the next 7 days!"

    "I see food on a table for you in the coming month!"


  12. Mark Jan

    Ah yes, science by concensus

    You're all right. We are correct in being "righteous" about the scientific method, and how it should be rigorously applied to science. That's how good science works.

    We would never for example, withhold empirical data and release "adjusted" figures so that our methodology couldn't be scrutinised.

    We would never then make predictions based on such methodologies no matter how "sophisticated" our computer models were because we know that fudged data in = rubbish out.

    Maybe astrology and some of our "science" has a lot in common after all...or maybe not. Astrologists look to the stars to explain events, our New Age scientists dismiss our closest star!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      title, but only when Veego is in Aquarius (Oh, er)

      The key to science is the peer review - can someone replicate the test and come to the same result?

      When things deviate from current or proposed models, they undergo revisisions and are retested until the hypothesis is capable of explaining the observations. This is when we reach "concensus" and hypothesis transitions into theory. However, even when a concensus is reached it can still be challenged if someone can come up with a better explaination. Thus the beauty of science and why it is the best way of explaining the world around us.

      Tell me, why does every astrologist come up with their own readings if it's a science based on real processes and understanding? Surely they'd all be the same and everyone affected by said reading will all live the same events.

      Have you ever met several, unrelated, people born under an Aries sign and for them all to have had the exact same day?

  13. Barney Carroll

    It's in the statement: "trusted science"

    We're talking about different things. Scientists work on hypothesis and proof. "Trust" doesn't come into it. This bloke is just conflating the subjective want to believe in something with a method for determining objective legitimacy of theories. Like the Indian Fox Mulder, working from the inside.

  14. AlgernonFlowers4

    Where is Lewis when your need him?

    I thought Lewis Page sorted this out last Wednesday!

    The only way of deciding if something is science or not, is to ask the ASA.

    The only way of deciding if something is boffinry or not, is to ask Lewis Page.

    As indian astrology consists of extremely hard sums and difficult calculations, what's Lewis's verdict?

  15. Ant Evans

    That sounds about right since

    Indian justice is largely hypothetical.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Unscrupulous people exploiting stupid people since 2000BC".

    4000 years, that's nothing, I bet it'll still be going strong in 4000 more. After all, if evolution refines physical features over time, it seems to refine stupidity as well.

  17. Michael 77

    Outside the box

    What box?

    Sums up most postings here, sorry to say.

  18. moonface

    Astrology is outdated

    I hate all this Star (Sun) sign Zodiac stuff! Why do women, especially in the dating arena always seem to be obsessed with all this horoscope love compatibility bollocks? Jesus! The whole system is over 2,000 years out of date due to the precession of the Equinox's, anyway!

    Over many years of historical observation, there may have once been a grain of truth in predicting certain characteristics, that could have been imbued, depending upon the time of year that you were born. But modern day diets, central heating and lighting have probably made this far less noticeable.

    Nevertheless, this was quite an interesting article.

    1. Martin
      Thumb Down

      There is hope....

      It's not just women.

      But here's a cartoon to cheer you up - not xkcd for once....

  19. Daggersedge

    The Telegraph and the truth are strangers

    This sort of thing happened when the strikes about retirement age happened in France. According to the Telegraph, all of France was out on the streets screaming 'Anarchy' and all the schools in France had been burnt down.

    I live in France, though, and noticed that these things weren't happening. All of France was not out on the streets; most people went about their business. Most people were against the strikes. And, as far as I know, only one school was set on fire, and that, the police thought, was not by the protestors, but by someone using the protests as a cover. I pointed this out in the comments section of various articles and found others doing the same. It didn't stop the paper from continuing to print that France was in flames, though.

    This isn't the only example, not by far. The fact is that the Telegraph's reporters - so-called reporters - are lazy. They do very little research. They are more interested in pushing their political agenda than actually doing any real reporting. If it falls into their laps, like the expenses scandal info did, then fine, they'll print it, but otherwise... The reports want to think that their readers are too stupid to figure out what's going on, but, reading the comments for the articles, this is not the case.

    The Telegraph reporters and columnists would prefer, it seems, to live in a little bubble where no-one ever questions what they write, and, if they do, the letter to the editor can just be tossed in the bin, as if it is a voice alone in the wilderness. It's for this reason, I think that the Telegraph will be moving to a subscription-only online presence in, I believe it is June.

  20. peter 45

    Just because its been done for a long time.....

    "Astrology is a trusted science and is being practiced for over 4000 years"

    And Prostitution is a respectable trade and has been practiced for well over 4000 years by trustworthy ladies of distinction and impeachable character.

    Or not

  21. NoneSuch Silver badge

    But wait...

    My Astrologist, Phrenologist and Biorythum all conflicted this morning, telling me to do different things...

    I thought I was in real trouble until I remembered my rhapsodomancy and after a rummage in the local library all is well now. Whew.

  22. OhMyGod

    Belief is what matters...

    Who the F**k u calling crazy? Pls just dont boast urself. If u dont believe in something, that doesnt say people who belive are crazy. Will u call someone who believes in god crazy nor believe in aliens crazy?

    UK has more bloody psychos and pedophiles than Asia. So who would u call crazy????

    1. Phil Hare 2

      Beautiful piece of trolling there

      Well done.

      For the record:

      Belief in God = Socially conditioned craziness

      Belief in Astrology = Socially conditioned craziness

      Belief in Aliens = Either craziness or reasonable scientific deduction based on the maths, depending on whether or not you think they've been to visit you.

      It's mostly craziness, then, but it's not really your fault.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Poor attempt at FoTW

      Even the poor English is poor.

  23. Bill Fresher

    Not science?

    Where would the human space program be without Astrology?

    1. Ian Yates

      Not science.

      I can't decide if this was a light-hearted troll or an honest confusion between the highly-regarded science of *astronomy* and astrology, pretending to know what's going to happen based on planets moving through arbitrary boundaries in the sky.

      Unless you know something that we don't, and that Johnson was advised by such a quack during the space race?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Oh those crazy Indians!

    Isn't that just a tad ... racist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
  25. RobS


    Spot on.

    Assume a subsistence diet, seasonally available foods, seasonal environmental conditions and a limited range of niche employment opportunities (and a sky clock/calendar). Under those circumstances, astrological birth sign would probably correlate quite well with personal health/robustness/activity preferences which would correlate quite well with what you did. Month of birth would be a good predictor (forget about the astrological sign precession etc, those are just proxies for "born in June around the time of <nutritious berry harvest>".

    I don't think that astrologers are REALLY using planet positions in star-signs for prediction, those are just the traditional way of figuring out how much food and outdoors activity time you got in your first few months of existence.

    Under those conditions, I would expect that birth sign->prediction would have some merit and the test of hypothesis would be that places with low seasonal variation but strong year on year variation would have "year of birth based astrology" and southern hemisphere astrology would be 6 months out of phase with northern hemisphere astrology.

    None of the assumptions hold for modern Europeans. None of the predictive power of astrology would be any use at all for what to do this week (unless it was harvest/not harvest or possibly hunt/not hunt)

  26. Mark Simon

    Thanks for the Link

    I was looking for a good example of how not to create a web site. The Bombay High Court will do nicely.

  27. John Savard

    Stare Decisis

    Since the justice in this news story was confirming a previous decision of a higher court, he had no choice: the principle of stare decisis, that the decision of a superior court shall stand until it is overruled by a court at an equal or higher level, exists in Indian law just as it does in British or American law.

  28. Neoc

    Is it science?

    It requires two things:

    (1) It must be reproducible by *anyone*. Well, I suppose in this case each flavour of Astrology meets this point. The problem is, there are so many different flavours all saying different things that I don't believe that Astrology *as a whole* fulfils this criteria.

    (2) It must make definite and accurate predictions. Well, I don't care *which* flavour of Astrology you use, *none* of them seem to meet this second point. The predictions are either so vague ("you will meet someone") or so couched in weasel terms ("you may come into money") that none of those can be considered either "definite" or "accurate". And before someone throws Quantum Theory (and Heisenberg) in my face, may I point out that while it *doesn't* offer you "definite" predictions, they are "accurate" and they even tell you the degree by which they may be "indefinite".

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Meanwhile 4000 years ago...

    Just because something is OLD doesn't make it right!

    Shitting behind a log was never 'advanced"

    Modern toilets, germ theory and sanitation is.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    If astrology wants to qualify as a science...

    ...surely it can modify itself when new data comes along.

    So, it's easy to work out what my day will be like when Mars rises in Orion (or whatever) but what's my day going to be like when Haumea is in conjunction with Eris?

    Enquiring minds etc.

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