The RGCSA is an independent research body, which has been set up to monitor standards of research in astrology and promote the use of sound scientific methods in empirical studies. They aim to stimulate and facilitate the critical study of astrology as judged by the disciplines of social statistics, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies, and to provide the basis for inter-university and international collaboration on research into astrology.
Originally funded by the Sophia Trust, it is now supported by private donations. Its' Convenor is Dr. Pat. Harris, editor of the research journal in astrology Correlation.
Astrology is an ancient discipline, one that still has a considerable role in many eastern countries, such as India. In western thought, astrology occupied an important role in theology, science and philosophy until the mid-seventeenth century. Today the critical study of astrology in the west has importance in relation to popular culture and is of considerable interest for historians, sociologists, social scientists, anthropologists and archaeologists.
The RGCSA holds a neutral position with regard to astrology’s claims. We argue that the traditional claims of astrology are open to rigorous investigation using a variety of methodologies. We are aware of the existence of studies which challenge astrology’s claims (as summarised in Culver and Ianna 1988) but also consider the work of modern scholars which has not found alternative explanations (e.g. Ertel & Irving, 1996, Eysenck, 1983; Gauquelin et al., 1979; Mayo et al., 1978; Roberts, 2001/2002, Smithers & Cooper, 1977; Silver et al., 1974; Tyson, 1984) to be of considerable interest. Recent theories of the influence of planetary systems and conjunctions on the developing foetus or new-born child (e.g. McGillian, 2003, Seymour, 1992), are also noted with considerable interest. The RGCSA is also interested both in sceptical criticisms of the assumptions of astrology in the field of personality (e.g., Kelly, 1997) and of critiques of the use of scientific method in relation to astrology (e.g., Cornelius 1994, see also Elwell 1999).
First of all, the systematic study of astrology will be of interest for historians and historians of science, given the central part that astrology has historically played in culture and scientific thought (Tester 1987)
Secondly, this research group will be of interest to archaeologists who seek an understanding of planetary and star systems in relation to the construction and maintenance of artefacts relating to religious ritual and symbolism (Heath 1995, Ruggles 1999). Such examples in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are numerous.
Thirdly, the research group seeks to engage the interest of anthropologists who are concerned with the role of astrological beliefs within modern cultural and social systems (Baity 1973). The example of modern India comes immediately to mind
Fourthly, the research group will be of interest to scholars in the fields of sociology, culture and communications. A crucial research question has yet to be satisfactorily answered is: why, in the modern age, do such large numbers of people attend to their “horoscopes” (as evidenced by the large number of sun sign guides carried in most newspapers and many popular magazines)? And what credence do those who consult these horoscopes give to the advice they contain? (Tyson 1982).
Fifthly, the research group is interested in sponsoring further research in the field of psychology (ably begun by the late Professor Hans Eysenck) on the links, if any, between personality and more complex planetary indicators. The methodology of such research needs to be carefully considered and reviewed, since some critics in this area have used naïve models for evaluating what they suppose to be planetary or sun sign influences. Research exists on links between astrological influences and health psychology (Hughes, 1990; Philipps et al., 1993) and the relevance of astrology in this field (Harris, 2003,) and further work here would be appropriate.
Sixthly, research needs to be undertaken within the astrological community itself. In every country in Europe and Asia there exist communities of astrological scholars, working largely independently of the mainstream scholarly community. This separation is not entirely self-imposed. The skills involved in a serious education in astrology involve disciplinary training in geometry, mathematics and inductive logic, which (for the scholar not versed in these methods) seems extremely rigorous. Many astrologers have degrees and diplomas in more conventional academic subjects. This community needs to be described sociologically, and its continued existence in a world of alternative scientific models explained.
Finally the methodologies used for research into astrology require close scrutiny. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of investigation may be appropriate for astrological research, provided that the methodology is scientifically sound and rigorous. The RGCSA is currently conducting a critical review of published research, including studies that support astrology’s claims and those that challenge those claims. The RGCSA also has a role in helping researchers to design studies that will contribute towards the development of a reliable bank of research papers in the field of astrology’s applications in the humanities and social sciences.
Baity, Elizabeth Chesley Baity (1973), 'Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far', Current Anthropology, Vol. 14 no 4 Oct 1973, 389-449.
Cornelius, Geoffrey, The Moment of Astrology: Origins in Divination,
London: Penguin 1994.
Culver, Roger B., and Ianna, Philip A. (1988), Astrology: True or False? A Scientific Evaluation, revised edition, Buffalo, New York, Prometheus Books.
Elwell, Dennis (1999) Cosmic Loom: the new science of astrology, revised and enlarged edition, The Urania Trust, London, UK
Ertel, Suitbert and Irving, Kenneth (1996), The Tenacious Mars Effect, The Urania Trust, London, UK
Eysenck, H. (1983), 'Methodological errors by critics of astrological claims'. Astro-Psychological Problems, 6, 14-17.
Eysenck, Hans and Nias, David (1982), Astrology: Science or Superstition?, London: Maurice Temple Smith Ltd., London, UK
Gauquelin, M., Gauquelin, F. & Eysenck, S. (1979), 'Personality and position of the planets at birth', British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 18, 71-75.
Harris, Dr. P (2003)
Astrology and individuality in chronic pain management
Correlation, Vol. 22 (1) pp
Heath, R (1995)
A Key to Stonehenge (revised edition)
Bluestone Press, Wales, UK
Hughes, S. (1990), 'Nephrology and astrology – is there a link?' British Journal of Clinical Practice, 44, 279.
Kelly, I. (1997) 'Modern astrology: a critique'. Psychological Reports, 81, pp 1035 - 1066
Mayo, J., White, O. and Eysenck, H. (1978), 'An empirical study of the relation between astrological factors and personality', Journal of Social Psychology, 105, 229-236.
McGillian, F. (2002)
The Pineal Gland and the Ancient Art of Iatromathematica
Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 16 (1), pp 19-41
Phillips, D., Ruth, T., & Wagner, L. (1993). 'Psychology and survival', Lancet, 342, 1142-1145.
Roberts, P. 'The Remarkable Gauquelin Distribution', Correlation, Vol. 20 (1) pp 53 - 57
Ruggles, Clive, Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland, New Haven and London: Yale University Press 1999.
Smithers, A. & Cooper, H. (1977). 'Personality and season of birth'. Journal of Social Psychology, 105, 237-241.
Seymour, P. (1992). The Scientific Basis of Astrology, New York: St. Martin's Press.
Silverman, B. & Whitman, M. (1974), 'Astrological indicators of personality', Journal of Psychology, 87, 89-95.
Tester, Jim (1987), A History of Western Astrology,, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press.
Tyson, G. (1982). 'People who consult astrologers: A profile', Personality and Individual Differences, 3, 119-126.
Tyson, G. (1984), 'An empirical test of the astrological theory of differences', Personality and Individual Differences, 5, 247-250.
Dr. Pat Harris, MSc, DFAstrolS., is the Convenor to the RGCSA. She is the editor of the research journal in astrology Correlation and has a diploma in astrological studies. She is currently researching a doctorate at the University of Southampton in the applications of astrology to health psychology.
Mrs. Susan High, MSc., BSc., is the Deputy Convenor of the RGCSA She was a Principal Experimental Officer in the Social Statistics Division of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton (retired and now available as a Consultant to the University) . Part of her role at the University was to provide statistical advice to colleagues and students in the School of Social Sciences and the School of Health Professions and Rehabilitation Sciences. She can provide advice in this area to students applying to the RGCSA for help and guidance with research proposal development and design.
Dr. Tony Roberts, PhD, MA (RCA), BA is an associate member of the RGCSA. He is a Senior Experimental Officer in the School of Psychology at Southampton University. His area of expertise is Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis (EDSA), and his research interests are primarily grounded in visual perception, in particular, perception of the human face.
Dr. T. C. Skinner is a senior lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Southampton. He is co-director of the MSc Health Psychology course and Stage 2 Health Psychology training. He also provides research supervision of MSc Health Psychology, PsyD Clinical and PhD Psychology students.
Mr John Sommerville, BSc is an associate member of the RGCSA. He is currently a Research Fellow in the Sustainable Energy Research Group within the Civil & Environmental Engineering School at Southampton University. Prior to this, he was an Executive manager leading several Research and Design groups working in consumer video, infra-red detectors and low impact crop spraying for a period of ten years. He is currently undertaking the diploma course at the Centre for Psychological Astrology (London) and is specialising in the study of psychological astrology.
Associates and advisors in other UK universities and academic institutions :
Nicholas Campion, MA, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Astronomy, Bath Spa University College
Dr. Patrick Curry, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrology, Bath Spa University College
Professor Clive Ruggles, Professor of Archaeoastronomy, University of Leicester
Dr. Percy Seymour, Principal Lecturer in Astronomy, University of Plymouth.
Dr. Padam Simkhada, Research Fellow in the Department of Public Health, University of Aberdeen.
Mike Harding, Director of the Foundation Programme, The School of Psychotherapy & Counselling, Regent's College, London
A Associates and advisors in universities and academic institutions overseas:
Professor Suitbert Ertel (Georg-August-Universitat, Georg-Elias-Muller-Institut fur Psychologie, Goettingen)
Mark Urban-Lurain, MSc. (Michigan State University)
The group maintained close connections with the http://oldsite.bathspa.ac.uk/schools/historical-and-cultural-studies/sophia/
Honorary Advisory Consultant Group to the RGCSA:
Dr. Liz Greene
Dr. Frank McGillion
Professor Peter Roberts
Dr. Beverley Steffert
5. Research Grants
The Southampton Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology is in a position to fund small university research projects in the areas outlined above, through some buy-out of teaching duties, and the payment of incidental expenses involved in the research. Funds may also be available to PhD and MSc students in UK Universities whose research contains an astrological component
See the Grants page for more information.
Those interested should contact us.
© 2003 Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology