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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This detailed, fairly clear exposition by experts still left me unconvinced., 23 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Mundane Astrology: Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups (Astrology Handbooks) (Paperback)
Having found natal astrology to be very useful in understanding individual human differences, I was interested to see if "mundane astrology" could be equally useful for understanding the history of whole societies. These three authors are respected experts in their field, and write well, but their book has failed to convince me that mundane astrology, in its presently accepted form, has any validity at all.

My main problem is that the authors seem to lack any idea of scientific method, i.e. forming a hypothesis, testing it against the evidence, and abandoning or at least modifying it if the evidence does not support it. Instead the authors make predictions, then seize on any evidence of their fulfilment, while ignoring obvious instances of non-fulfilment. History is so complex that some evidence can be found for almost any prediction having been fulfilled.

Almost unconsciously, they undermine their own thesis on many occasions. They admit that mundane astrologers' most egregious failure was their non-prediction of the Second World War. Yet they point to all sorts of trivial successes in prediction that could be accounted for by mere chance. What I found interesting was that millions of non-astrologers did predict the Second World War. Wishful thinking presumably was a big factor in mundane astrologers' self delusion.

Although they go into great detail, the authors often "cannot see the wood for the trees". They fail to examine the fundamental premise of mundane astrology, namely that sovereign states function like an organism with a personality, are "born" at a specific moment in time, and have qualities determined by the planetary positions at that moment.

In uncritically accepting the notion of "national character" they show their lack of penetrative thinking. For example, they claim that the British "national character" is fundamentally conservative, due to the prominence of Capricorn in all three national charts. Now British people might believe this themselves, but it's actually nonsense. People think we're conservative because we still have a hereditary monarch- but this unchanging feature of our national life could be seen as a necessary "anchor" to compensate for constant radical change. Consider the Peasants' Revolt, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Civil War and subsequent execution of the King and establishment of a republic, the Levellers and other radicals of that period, the abolition of slavery, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the Enlightenment, the Chartists, the Trades Union Movement, and the recent transition to a multiracial and (to some extent) multicultural society. Britain led the way in many of these developments. We are very far from being intrinsically "conservative".

AS regards mundane charts, the authors simply assume that a state has a time and place of birth just like a person. But a state is not a person- it is an idea, formulated eventually into a set of laws that other states may eventually accept. The founding "moments" of many states were doubtless unknown to the vast majority of their citizens. And many states have several possible charts due to uncertainty of when the declaration of independence was signed, the flag raised, the leader stepped off the plane, or whatever. With enough charts to choose from one can prove anything.

Finally, the authors use so many different charts and methods of interpretation that some relevant transit or progression could be found to "predict" any event at any randomly chosen date. They don't seem to realise that this huge excess of data makes specific predictions meaningless. Anything can be predicted in hindsight, but useful foresight is almost wholly lacking.

I do actually believe that cosmic forces influence collective behaviour as well as individual lives. But the rusting edifice of mundane astrology, encrusted with superstition and unnecessary complication, needs consigning to the scrap heap before real progress can be made in this direction.
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