An answer to the Astrology enemies
by Ciro Discepolo
On the first days of the year (1996) another querelle about astrology broke out, launched once again from the CICAP (Committee Research About the Paranormal Sentencies) and Piero Angela (journalist and one of the most aggresive adversaries of astrology) and good extended from La Repubblica (one of the most important italian daily papers). In it they speak about Bufale d'oro (Golden Blunders) given to the astrologers for their sensational defeats in the forecasts of the previous year. In this logic I have been called too, but about this I'll talk later on. Well, the substance is: beware you from astrologers, because they make mistakes. As to say: warning off the cold and the warm, because they can hurt. The head of the crusade against astrology, at least on the facade, is Angela's favourite squire, the wizard and the conjurer Massimo Polidoro. I sent to him the following letter which, useless to say, had no answer: "Dear Mr. Polidoro, I read in La Repubblica your interview about astrologers' "Bufale" (blunders), in which you cited me too. I'd like to say a lot of things, but a correspondence only between us is useless. As you say to be very expert about this subject and to be able to disown the tricks of the idiots who belong to my category, I'd like to propose you to confront with me, in favour of the public, who finally could understand the latitude of delirium of us "wizards". That could happen in neutral territory, but rigorously in direct, by radio or TV, or in Internet. I am sure you will not have anything to be afraid of and you will not deprive yourself of the pleasure to make mincemeat of one of the numerous charlatans who are delirious from morning to evening. From my part, I hope you will accept this challenge or you want to be the spokeman of your prophet (Piero Angela), so that he can accept it in your place. Awaiting your kind reply, I will send you wishes of trines and sextiles..."
As I said, after about forty days from the mailing, no answer. The same thing happened to the fax I sent to the daily paper which assembled the polemic. On the contrarry, IL MATTINO, the daily paper I work for, divulged this my short statement: "We are tired of the wiseagres, who don't make a distinction between prognostics and forecasts. It is too easy for Piero Angela to bring in TV the housewife who tells someone's fortune. They must have the courage to confront themselves with more skilled people.Why don't they accept a face to face in TV or in Internet or a Forum in real time? If we must check astrologers, let's we verify the exactness of the weather forecasts and the medical diagnosis. The percentage of mistakes is more or less the same". And in regard to the father of Quark (a telecast of Piero Angela), I want to tell you an interesting story. About fifteen years ago (more or less) during a telecast he declared he has made a statistical research on the validity of astrology and he said he obtained only negative results for our subject. I wrote to him and I congratulated him because he stopped speaking badly of astrology without making a direct research. I asked him, as it is usually in a scientific field, (he loves introducing himself as a science man) to give me direct admission to the researching material, i.e. to allow me to examine the work papers: how the sample was selected, which had been the test on the same sample, what kind of thecniques had been used, etc. Of course in the same letter I offered to pay for all the charges of photocopies, video, personal staff used in the work, messenger, etc.. I had a punctual answer from Piero Angela: "Dear Sir, I'm sorry I can't please you at the moment, because I am very busy, but I promise you that as soon as possible I will send you all the material you asked me". Today after many years I am still waiting, but the contacts haven't been interrupted. During these fifteen years, every time I had produced a new statistical research in astrology, I have sent a copy of it to the famous journalist with the same note: "Dear Sir Angela, I send you my last statistical astrology research, in which I explain the procedure I used to reach the results you are reading now and I take the opportunity to remind you I am still waiting to read your research, to which you gave publicity on TV..."
Well, going back to my "wrong" forecast, since La Repubblica has not talked about my answer, I will take the advantage of this little privilege to have a space on these pages to remember that:
1) My forecasts go from birthday to birthday, as who follows me knows, so they can't say that the one about Di Pietro (a very famous italian political man) is wrong until October 1996.
2) I have never written: "Di Pietro will get out of the polemics by which he has been overwhelmed". The subscribers to this review can read in the editorial of the number 23 (July 1995): "From October on Antonio Di Pietro will have a great public escalation and almost certainly he will accept an assignment of great responsibility".
3) Di Pietro is certainly in the middle of pernicious polemics, but every surveys put him up at the top of the italian preferences.
4) I think that all reasonable people are persuaded that, if Di Pietro decided to enter the field, he would rout his enemies. In another interview published last summer from Corriere della Sera (a well-known italian daily paper) I said that, if Di Pietro had spent his birthday in Aosta, he would have had the presidency of Palazzo Chigi. But did he spend his birthday in Aosta?
5) Besides: Let's say that I was wrong because he didn't want to be elected in spite of his great popularity, and in this case? Do you want to crucify me for that? They assert that astrology is nonsense , then they want absolute infallibility from astrology. Is this a reasonable way to proceed? Do we want to count how many times experts of other branches make mistakes, from meteorology to medicine? After the terrible earthquake in 1980, which destroyed a part of Campania, an engineer came and estimated the stability of the "Albergo dei poveri" (a building for the homeless) in Naples. He declared the building to be safe, but only after a few days the same building collapsed and buried nine poor old men. And still this man was an engineer with sophisticated technical and mathematical instruments: in his case the error was 100%.
6) And why didn't these diligent censors care about the forecasts I perfectly compiled as the one of Massimo D'Alema's legal problems (the leader of PDS) and the terrible year for Berlusconi (the leader of Forza Italia)? Maybe because they considered them obvious, and he knew that these things would have certainly happened? And when they compare successes and failures, they consider the whole topic or only a single item, that they choose purposely?
Well, I'd like to conclude by asking you to read a letter really illuminated by prof. Giuseppe Andreoli (Prof. Anatomy and pathological Histology, who wrote about the telecast "QUARK" and Piero Angela. He says that even if he appreciated Piero Angela and his telecast a lot, he will make reservations about the method used to declare the failures of astrology) and smile, if you can, of this short antology of "bufale" (blunders) said by some of the greatest scientists in the world and taken from the book La parola agli esperti (Christopher Cerf-Victor Navasky, Frassinelli ed.) dedicated by the authors to: "Joseph W. Aidlin, who buys when experts sell".
- Ciro Discepolo Complete bibliography