Over the past three decades, French psychologist Gauquelin (The Scientific Basis of Astrology, Cosmic Influences on Human...


BIRTHTIMES: A Scientific Investigation of the Secrets of Astrology

Over the past three decades, French psychologist Gauquelin (The Scientific Basis of Astrology, Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior) has endeavored to show at least some astral influences on human life--while not swallowing the whole of horoscopy. His focus has been on the exact hour of birth plotted against the course of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, or the moon. (Other bodies don't correlate or aren't considered.) Recently, Gauquelin and his collaborator-wife teamed up with Hans and Sybil Eysenck to look at personality traits, rather than success in specific careers, as indicative of astral influences. Using the Eysenck personality dimensions (introvert-extrovert; stability-instability, etc.), they have published preliminary data suggesting that extroverts come into the world when Jupiter or Mars is in a key sector, while introverts shows a similar association with Saturn. Skeptics, clearly, will have none of this. They point to data-collection problems and uncertainty in ascertaining birthtimes (also, whether birth was natural or aided); they raise statistical/demographic arguments, and question veracity. In the second half of the volume, Gauquelin responds to these criticisms. The picture that emerges is surprisingly benign, or non-malign--but that does not establish the legitimacy of the Gauquelins' claims. The whole notion of relying on birth registers to accurately document hour of birth, of using biographical materials to determine personality traits, or of relying on particular definitions of character or success: all this raises questions of inherent bias. What happens to the data in the Southern Hemisphere? Suppose birth is premature? One can only applaud Gauquelin's concluding remarks: ""I am still tormented by two demons. The first is the fear of having been mistaken in asserting that astral influence is real; the second is the agonizing thought of all I have been unable to discover or explain."" Except for the star-struck, questionable.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

Close Quickview