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The Gauquelin work 3
Response to Ertel et al

Geoffrey Dean

The uncensored version of my letter in Correlation 23(2), 53-57, 2006.

Abstract -- Article consists of Geoffrey Dean's January 2006 letter to Correlation replying to articles by Ertel, Kollerstom, Douglas and others on Gauquelin matters in 23(1). It restores the 60% (including crucial paragraphs) censored by the Correlation editor in 23(2) and displays them in a different colour. It describes how a Dutch publisher started a definitive Eretel-Dean exchange free of avoidable mistakes, and how Ertel's withdrawal in favour of Correlation led to precisely the disregard for readers that the Dutch publisher had wished to avoid. It surveys the issues Ertel raises in his total of 80+ Correlation pages. Most of the issues have been raised and answered before, so it contains little (other than issues of defamation, censorship, and malice) not already on this website. In a reply to Dean's letter, Ertel ignores crucial results such as Dean's heredity findings (half his total findings!), his cluster analyses, and the astonishingly close match to every one of the many Gauquelin puzzles.

Planetary effects and related matters in Correlation 23(1)
Letter to the editor of Correlation from Geoffrey Dean

The parts censored by Correlation (60% of the word count) are shown in blue.

Suitbert Ertel's article "Gauquelin planetary effects - brought down to earth? On Geoffrey Dean's dealing with stubborn facts" in Correlation 23(1) has a revealing history. In 2003 Wout Heukelom, the Dutch publisher since 1986 of Astrology under Scrutiny (AuS), the journal that originally published my Gauquelin findings, was keen to have an exchange on my findings between Ertel and myself that was free of avoidable mistakes such as misunderstandings and missed references, and which would update the Ertel-Dean exchange in Skeptical Inquirer January/February 2003. He was also keen that issues raised by one side should not be evaded by the other side. His aim was a single definitive exchange that was to the point, free of mistakes, and free of evasion. The interests of his readers would come first.

So Heukelom asked Ertel and I to present our arguments and responses side-by-side in two columns, Ertel's on the left and mine on the right, for subsequent publication in AuS. Now according to Ertel's article in Correlation 23(1), Ertel would not be allowed to respond to my remarks and was even required to "renounce commenting on [Dean's] remarks in a last word". In fact Heukelom required us to recycle the exchange, changing whatever was required in response to the other, until it was as considered and as final as possible. Contrary to not being allowed to respond, Ertel was required to respond, and to keep responding, until the exchange stabilised, thus eliminating any need for last words. As Heukelom explained, "In this way a never-ending series of articles and counter-articles would be avoided. A welcome result for both publisher and readers!" I accepted immediately, Ertel less immediately, and a start was made about two years ago.

Concern for the reader
Unfortunately Ertel decided that responding to my comments was intolerable (no matter that responding to each other's recycled comments was the whole idea), and insisted that the format should be his article, then my response, then his last word. This of course would allow the very things (avoidable mistakes, evasion, endless counter-articles) that Heukelom wished to avoid. So Heukelom said no, the interests of his readers came first. Ertel's response to that decision was a series of emails claiming there was a conspiracy against him and that it was his right to have the last word. No matter that the format was equally fair to both sides, and that it was the publisher's right to specify the format for his own publications. The following excerpts from Heukelom's emails to Ertel illustrate what Heukelom was up against:

26 October 2004: "Your e-mails of 14 October 2004 and subsequent days give me a feeling of deep dismay. ... At first it was yes [to the two-column format with recycling] in the first months of 2004 ... then no, next an almost-yes, and after that again a no. ... Your changing points of view and your e-mails written to third parties indicate that I can hardly trust your statements". 3 December: "In fact, now you are not agreeing at all, notwithstanding your repeated statements that you have agreed already. ... it is your response that is preventing the start of a new project". 4 December: "You are discussing my conditions instead of meeting them. Without meeting my conditions there will be no new project. Your discussion does not succeed in changing my conditions". 6 December: "It was you who rejected my offer. ... it appears that you are only able to meet your own conditions, despite the fact that you have repeatedly stated that you had agreed with my conditions". 7 December: "It is you who is making serious problems, for the second time, now. ... my conclusion has to be that you do not like a result of a discussion with Geoffrey at all".

Readers can see for themselves how entirely fair the two-column format is, and how it puts their interests first, by emailing [Wout Heukelom via this website] and asking for a pdf file of the completed part of the exchange (three A4 pages with Ertel's recycled text on the left and my recycled response on the right).

Avoidable mistakes
The end result of Ertel withdrawing from the exchange has been the publication in Correlation 23(1) of more or less the same article that was previously on Ertel's website and which in turn was a revision of an earlier article (with the slightly different sub-title of "On Geoffrey Dean's outmanoevering stubborn facts") that was the starting point for our exchange in early 2003. This repeat in Correlation 23(1) fills twenty-seven pages despite Ertel having already filled fifty-five Correlation pages on the same topic, and despite the editor saying in 21(2) that "As space is restricted in the journal, this debate will be extended to the Correlation pages of the Astrological Association website when necessary". The latest article perpetuates a multitude of avoidable errors that were being corrected in the exchange. It also misrepresents my position, ignores crucial findings, and fails to address the whole picture just as a sun sign reading fails to address the whole chart. Ironically almost all the issues it does raise have been raised (and answered) before, so it contains little that is new. In other words the result is precisely the disregard for readers that Heukelom wished to avoid.

Figure 1. How Rob Pudim, cartoonist
for the Skeptical Inquirer, saw the
exchange between Ertel and myself
in the January-February 2003 issue
pages 57-59 and 65. The cartoon is
on page 57. The ball is labelled GN
for Gauquelin. Player no 1 is Ertel,
02 is Dean, 55 (after 1955, date of
Gauquelin's first book) is Tampering.

Early in 2005, when the exchange was still taking place, albeit slowly due to Ertel's resistance to Heukelom's conditions, Ertel's website announced that his article would be submitted to Correlation. So Heukelom emailed Nick Campion, intellectual head of the AA, asking "whether there is some kind of misunderstanding in by-passing Astrology under Scrutiny in this way". He pointed to potential problems for Correlation, such as the article's avoidable mistakes and evasions: "from what I have seen so far of Geoffrey's responses, Suitbert's arguments against Geoffrey's findings (for example that there is no evidence for Gauquelin-like beliefs) can highly be questioned. ... more worrisome, Suitbert's article contains many ad hominems against Geoffrey, as the sub-title, now slightly changed to 'On Geoffrey Dean's dealing with stubborn facts', shows immediately. I think the outcome for Suitbert (and for Correlation if it reprints his article, and no doubt also for Astrology under Scrutiny) could be embarrassing. I suspect Geoffrey ... might even sue the Astrological Association for defamation, it being presumably easier for him to sue a British publisher than a German website. ... I would like to solve this problem as soon as possible. One way out might be for Correlation to join Astrology under Scrutiny in jointly publishing the Suitbert-Geoffrey exchange". On Campion's advice, Heukelom passed his concerns to the Correlation editor, where they evidently fell on deaf ears.

I appreciate that readers might be thoroughly confused, if not thoroughly bored, by what is now a total of more than eighty Correlation pages (almost two whole issues!) devoted to avoidable mistakes about my findings, given that I reported my findings not in Correlation but in journals unlikely to be read by the ordinary Correlation reader. My problem here is that Ertel's article is flawed well beyond sorting it out in a letter for readers unfamiliar first-hand with my findings. The best I can do is identify some of the flaws and then refer interested readers to a website where they can find the information and freedom from distortion so conspicuously missing from Ertel's article.


In his preface Ertel says "In AD 2000, the AuS editor sent me a formatted hardcopy, 72 pages, ready to go to print, and granted me the opportunity, within a fixed 10 days' deadline, to submit critical comments on Dean's work". Now, before the AuS article appeared, Ertel had always been among the first to receive drafts of my work, the major ones being in April 1991 and July 1995. He received the AuS draft on 12 July 1999, and emailed that it had "arrived today. I browsed and read parts of your interesting paper and was amazed by seeing so many new results". This was fifteen months before it went to press in late October 2000.

Previously Ertel had always commented on my drafts, which resulted in many improvements, and had also provided data, reference material, and untiring help with data cleaning. But this time he declined to comment, preferring "to postpone discussion of more profound matters until your [article] is published" (email of 25 July 1999), explaining to the editor Rudolf Smit "I would like to write a critical article on Geoffrey's [article] which should be published in the same issue" (email of 19 January 2000). Later, in response to my request for his usual valuable comments, he again declined: "I have not gained the impression that I can make convincing suggestions for improvement" (email of 18 April 2000). This was six months before the AuS deadline in October 2000. All the important arguments, figures and tables were in the draft of July 1999. The implication that everything was suddenly sprung upon Ertel with a straightjacket of 10 days is not correct. Indeed, readers may be surprised to know that Ertel's claim of 10 days' notice had been repeatedly challenged during the exchange, and Ertel's own emails (such as those cited above) had been repeatedly cited to show his claim was incorrect. But despite the evidence of his own emails, his Correlation article still perpetuates the untruth.

Ertel's article perpetuates other untruths that have been repeatedly brought to his attention. For example, right at the start of section 2.0 where it introduces my ideas, it says "Dean maintains that G-effects are due to three modes of human manipulation". But I maintain no such thing. What I actually maintain is quite different, namely:

"I claim only that social effects [ie artifacts] exist in the Gauquelin data which need to be controlled before we can proceed further" (Skeptical Inquirer Jan/Feb 2003:59). The point being that, unless controlled tests indicate otherwise, "the existence of social effects [artifacts] does not deny the existence ... of genuine planetary effects" (Skeptical Inquirer May/June 2002:37).

The same applies of course to any artifact. Thus we can claim (correctly as it happens) that astronomical and demographic artifacts exist in the Gauquelin data, and that personal bias has affected Gauquelin's manual calculations, but we cannot claim they explain planetary effects unless the effects disappear when such artifacts are controlled. Early critics made this mistake and were proved wrong - the effects did not disappear when such artifacts were controlled, even though they may have seemed like a plausible explanation at the time. I am not about to make the same mistake.

Non-existent hypothesis
The untruth about my claiming to explain planetary effects is reinforced by repeatedly referring to a supposed "parental tampering hypothesis" of mine, i.e. to a hypothesis whereby planetary effects are supposedly explained. But I have no such hypothesis to explain planetary effects. It does not exist (which of course is inconvenient for Ertel's claim that I fail to meet the onus of proving it). Readers may be astonished to learn that I have been complaining to Ertel about this untruth since 1995,

but to no avail. Equally to no avail was my pointing out the same untruth in a one-page letter eventually published two issues late in Correlation 21(1), despite which the editor Pat Harris continued to repeat in 21(2) that I am trying "to explain all positive [Gauquelin] results". By contrast

the editor of Skeptical Inquirer (SI) had no trouble noting how Dean "is careful not to claim he has explained the Mars Effect; he claims only that the Mars effect involves social effects [artifacts] that need to be controlled before we can proceed further" (SI May/June 2002:1).

We might presume that SI has every interest in explaining away the Mars effect, yet its editor had no trouble getting it right.

Why then cannot others get it right? Instead of addressing claims that I actually make, for example by having a title such as "No, there are no social artifacts in the Gauquelin data", Ertel's article changes what is essentially an exploration into a series of nonexistent claims and hypotheses, which ironically are then presented in the context of "stubborn facts".

Similarly it is not true that self-attribution "implies lifelong belief in neo-astrology, above all by eminent professionals", that "Dean did not provide direct evidence [of parental tampering]", that "Dean preferred to interpret midnight avoidance as due to fear of spooky effects", and that "Dean does not provide any document as proof that such [neo-astrology] belief existed".

Not only are these statements untrue, the correct state of affairs is clearly indicated in my cited articles. For at least two years it has been there in black and white.

Nor is it true that I could "definitely ... find out" how much self-attribution existed among long-dead Gauquelin professionals (at least not until there is a hot line to the departed), and that evidence for self-attribution is totally lacking, given that Goethe for example had an astrological description of his delayed birth and felt that it may have contributed to his success. As for parents not shouting "Wow, Gauquelin has found us out! " - apart from the supposed secret being public for several centuries, why should they shout anything?

Sun sign columns have long been discredited but to my knowledge none of the Jonathan Cainers, Russell Grants, and Shelley von Strunckels of this world have shouted "Wow, we have been found out! "

Misleading statements
Ertel complains I did not reply to his queries about how many eminent professionals believed in neo-astrology. But my 2001 AuS update and 2002 SI article had explained how they did not need to believe, so the queries are meaningless, like asking how many angels are needed to make an apple fall. For the same reason the arguments about "profession-specific" channels for the transfer of neo-astrology beliefs, and the conclusions from Ertel's Table 2, are also meaningless. Ertel complains that Dean declined "to rank the empirical tests of his claim", where the supposed claim was the same non-existent hypothesis as above.

When someone declines to listen to what you are saying there is clearly little incentive to participate (which of course is just one more of the situations that Heukelom's approach was designed to avoid).

My dates for witches' sabbats are said to be contradicted by the nine Bachtold-Staubli volumes, which are wrongly claimed to be my "main source". Bachtold-Staubli is an exhaustive compilation of folklore from every region of Germany whereas we are more interested in beliefs across Western Europe. Very often beliefs can vary with region and can sometimes conflict, for example midday was held to be a desirable birth time in Quercy but undesirable in Alsace. Also, some authors tend to confuse X Eve with the Evening of X, which is a day later. So my dates were those confirmed by authoritative witchcraft texts. For example in his The History of Witchcraft and Demonology, Montague Summers devotes a whole chapter to the witches' sabbat, the chief of which "throughout the greater part of Western Europe ... was the Eve of May Day, 30 April; in German famous as Die Walpurgisnacht ... The time at which these Sabbats began was generally upon the stroke of midnight" (which marked the beginning of each day) and generally "lasted till cock-crow" (which heralded the dawn). So it is incorrect to say I should have used 1 May instead of 30 April. Similarly for the other dates. Thus it is said I should have used 23 April instead of 22 April, but Summers says "In many parts of Europe where the Feast of St George is solemnized with high honour and holiday the vigil (22 April) is the Great Sabbat of the year".

Ertel's article quotes a medical informant, a professor of gynecology, as dismissing my idea of perinatal control, without obstetric drugs, as "laughable". But who said drugs and other interventions were unavailable? In his scholarly and erudite History of Childbirth, the French medical historian Jacques Gilis devotes a whole chapter to "hastening the hour of deliverance" by "a rich pharmacopoeia" where the midwife's intervention "tended to become the rule". Midwives tended to favour a hastened delivery, doctors a longer natural one. When labour was slow, the woman might try to hasten it by climbing up and down stairs, or a man might be called in to shake her violently, as if filling a sack with grain.

History of Childbirth Figure 2. In the 16th and 17th centuries the
French word for "to give birth" was s'accoucher,
a reflexive verb indicating that the woman played
an active role. Subsequently the word gradually
became accoucher indicating a loss of initiative
in favour of the obstetrician. For birth was one
of those moments when evil forces could intervene.
A person could cross their arms or legs in a certain
way, handed down from antiquity, and block the
labour. Cover illustration of Jacques Gelis's book is
from Ovid's Metamorphoses Venice 1497. It tells
the story of Alcmena's labour being blocked in this
way by Lucina. When Lucina (far left) is persuaded
to uncross her arms and legs, Alcmena (right)
immediately gives birth to Hercules.

Ertel's article devotes four pages to dismissing witching causes of midnight avoidance only to confirm it in his Figure 1. Maybe "the dashed curve does not show much of a dip", but nevertheless it does show a dip where no dip should exist in the absence of witching causes. My original Gauquelin plot is said to involve kappa (it doesn't) and to have been "picked arbitrarily as support for his hypothesis" (it was picked to show how effects had been visible in the raw data from the start).

Two whole pages are devoted to duplicating abstracts of five Ertel papers previously published in Correlation 3-4 years earlier with scarcely any mention of my published responses that identified fatal flaws in each.

Ertel's five arguments with my response in parentheses are briefly as follows: Dean's requirement that superstitious beliefs be stronger in rural areas is not supported by the results for 7,952 French professionals. (There is no such requirement.) On Christian feast days the excess births for 2,390 priests and monks was not significantly more than for 15,942 professionals. (The excess was 39% and 13%, both in the expected direction.) Superstition declined steadily from 1800 to 1950 but the avoidance of unlucky days etc did not, therefore avoidance is not a valid measure of belief. (So people avoided unlucky days because they were non-believers?) Friday the 13th is not especially avoided. (As pointed out by Edgar Wunder in Correlation 20(1) Friday the 13th was not a European belief until after 1945.) Planetary effects should be weaker on faked days, not stronger. (So the more the faking the less the effect?) Adding other planets should increase the correlation with avoidances due to the extra information but it does not. (Why should adding non-relevant planets provide extra information? Nevertheless, as shown in my original AuS reply to this point, as more and more planets are added to the mix, the correlations do not end up all over the place as implied by Ertel. Some decrease, some increase, but without exception their direction remains the same, which should not be if avoidance was unrelated to planetary effects.) A total of 320,817 hospital births in 1987-1994 showed a strong midnight avoidance, disconfirming any link with witches. (The avoidance was only of the witching minute 0:00, not of 0:01 onwards, despite a tendency to round to the nearest five minutes, so it was only to avoid ambiguity. If anything it supports nineteenth century beliefs about the witching hour 0:00-0:59.)

Ertel's Table 3 (essentially a repeat of a table he had presented in AuS 2000) looks at my observed correlations between (1) day avoidance and (2) midnight avoidance and planetary effect size. It claims that the correlations tend to be in the wrong direction, thus denying a connection with planetary effects. But as I previously pointed out in AuS 2000, the analysis is futile because we have no sure way of predicting how a belief in astrology should vary with a belief in other things. Should lucky days correlate positively with Jupiter but negatively with Saturn? Is a full moon day good because traditionally good or bad because favoured by witches? The best we can do is treat any correlation as suggestive and proceed from there.

Ertel's article says that my claiming 1038 French Academicians showed fewer births on the 13th (N=32) than expected (N=38) "is not true". OK if you believe that 32 is greater than 38.

Proportion of professionals born at midnight Figure 3. Inspection of the Gauquelins' Profession-Heredity.
Results of Series A & B
(Paris 1972) reveals something they
never noticed -- strange irregularities in the number of pros
born at midnight. At first sight there seems no reason to
suppose that this has anything to do with planetary effects,
so when the proportion of pros born at midnight (0h/N) is
plotted against the maximum planetary effect in key sectors,
calculated as |Observed frequency - Expected|/Expected,
we expect to see nothing in particular. In fact we get the
astonishing result shown at left (correlation between 0h/N
and planetary effect is -0.80, p=0.005). Planetary effects
increase as the proportion of midnight births gets less and
less, and it prompted my search for social artifacts in the
Gauquelin data. This graph was among several graphs on
Gauquelin-related work presented by me and Arthur Mather
at the AA's Kepler Day in London in November 2004.

Ad hominems
The article's subtitle refers to "Dean's dealing with stubborn facts", so the target is me rather than my findings, which means the approach is necessarily ad hominem. The same is evident in the title "On Wunder's supporting Dean's cause" in 20(1). Although these "stubborn facts" are nowhere defined, the text refers to Dean "continuing to spread his blunder", generating "an unbounded outflow of quixotic speculations", only sometimes observing "a genuine act of precaution", backsliding to "uncorrected Gauquelin data", even "data arbitrarily predated". An entire section has a series of ad hominems on how "Dean maintains claims despite contradictions".

If I was as dishonest, incompetent, and deaf to criticism as the article claims, readers might wonder why so many reputable people were willing to provide help and comments - a total of eighteen, most of them leading players in the field, are acknowledged in my AuS and SI papers. If nothing else the ad hominems insult these people by implying that they too are self-deceived and proceeding improperly.

As it happens, my AuS draft of July 1999 was sent to numerous colleagues including Ertel. Their comments were always acted upon, as the editor Rudolf Smit will verify. However, I could not act on Ertel's comments because he declined to respond. Ertel also declined to correct errors in his AuS response when I pointed them out (Dean 2000:86). The situation is described by Smit in his letter to Ertel of January 2001: "rather than act on [Geoffrey's comments], in the sense that you would indeed rectify your mistakes, you did nothing important ... not even after our asking again. You said (email of 14 October 2000): 'No, I did not make changes. Of course not. I do not approve of making changes to one's advantage (except correcting simple errors)'." Smit saw this as meaning "changes to Geoffrey's advantage". Smit adds: "What I also am very unhappy about is the way you wrote your critique. I got you so far that you were willing to replace 'abortive attempt' by 'erroneous attempt', but that did not take away the fact that there were still quite a few sneering remarks in Geoffrey's direction ... whereas Geoffrey in his rebuttal remained courteous and complimentary".

Overall picture
As if avoidable mistakes were not enough, Ertel's article becomes even more reader-unfriendly when it fails to describe the tests it dismisses, and when it ignores crucial results such as my heredity findings (half my total findings!), my cluster analyses, and the astonishingly close match to every one of the many Gauquelin puzzles. All of the above flaws -- avoidable mistakes, misrepresentation, wrong statements, obscurity, and crucial omissions -- would have been glaringly apparent to anyone familiar with my articles. That the editor and referees allowed these flaws to escape into print is curious.

At this point I could cite many more escaped flaws but enough is enough. Suffice to say that, had Heukelom's recycled two-column format been followed, this space-wasting time-wasting lunge and riposte -- all accurately predicted by Heukelom -- could have been avoided. That it was not followed suggests that the editor and publisher of Correlation do not share Heukelom's concern for the reader.

Let us accept that planetary effect sizes are tiny. Even Gauquelin's sample sizes, huge by normal standards, are barely enough to detect them without swamping by noise. So if we are to proceed at all, we need to look less at isolated instances of significance (the approach favoured in Ertel's article) and more at the overall picture. As the psychologist Jacob Cohen (American Psychologist 1994, 49, 97-103) puts it, "The ritual dichotomous reject-accept decision, however objective and administratively convenient, is not the way any science is done", by which he means that science aims to increase understanding, not to make precipitous yes/no decisions.

In fact surveys of psychology studies suggest that significance tests have led to a staggering 60% of conclusions being wrong, mostly due to Type II errors, yet we thought that only p=0.05 or 5% could be wrong, the last being Type I errors (JE Hunter, Psychological Science 1997, 8, 3-7). So we could be better off tossing a coin, error rate 50%, than making conclusions based on significance tests, error rate 60%. Or as John Tukey (the pioneer of exploratory data analysis) once said, it is better to be approximately right than exactly wrong.

When we look at the overall picture, the significance of individual components is no longer an issue, because if they are actually nonsense then the overall picture will make no sense. But in this case the overall picture does make sense. Contrary to the assertion in Ertel's article that the overall picture "if defined at all, is complex and diffuse", the overall picture could hardly be simpler and clearer. Indeed, its close match to every baffling puzzle posed by Gauquelin's findings (a point ignored by Ertel's article), plus Gauquelin's failure to find planetary effects in births after 1950 when most social artifacts would no longer apply (ditto), should alone prompt serious attention.

The overall picture complete with a statistical test (p<0.0001) was briefly presented by me and Arthur Mather at the 2004 Kepler Day and can be found in more detail in my article The Gauquelin Work 2. Opinions, Artifacts, Puzzles on [this website] under "Gauquelin". The article includes new results and plenty of easy-to-understand graphs, all in plain English, and covers considerably more than social artifacts. The website (updated in December 2005) also has a concise history of the Gauquelin work illustrated with photographs, plus more than fifty readable articles of interest to the working astrologer.

Kollerstrom's article
Kollerstrom's article "How Ertel rescued the Gauquelin effect" starts by referring to me as "doyen of US sceptics", which might be true of people like Carl Sagan but certainly not of me, and then entirely ignores my Gauquelin articles despite their pointed relevance to his theme. For example my 2002 SI article concludes from new evidence (ironically the same evidence that Ertel's article wishes to dismiss as "untenable") that "the Gauquelins had found a real effect" and that "data selection and fraud can be rejected", which conclusions received none of the usual negative reactions whenever Gauquelin is vindicated, not even from hostile critics such as Dommanget, Kurtz, Nanninga, and Nienhuys, a situation so at odds with previous experience that one wonders why Kollerstom should ignore it.

Similarly my AuS article, for the first time in any publication, lists the effect sizes for all planetary effect replications, which information was also presented as a graph (actually a meta-analysis of 35 studies of planetary effects) by me and Arthur Mather at the 2004 Kepler Day attended by Kollerstrom. We noted that: "Most of the 35 effect sizes lie outside the 80% confidence limits, so we are dealing with an effect genuinely different from zero. The mean absolute effect size is 0.044, which translates to a hit rate of 52.2% (as opposed to a chance hit rate of 50%) for the 0.006% of the population who are eminent. Applied pro rata to the general population, the hit rate is 50.0001%. You might like to wonder why 25% of all Correlation articles since it began in 1981 and 30% of this conference time should be devoted to a hit rate of 50.0001%". Readers might also wonder how a hit rate of 50.0001% justifies Kollerstrom's suggestion that all articles on planetary effects be re-published together, and how it justifies his description of planetary effects as "a scientific demonstration of human destiny". At Kepler Day we also showed how global consideration of Gauquelin puzzles is essential to any understanding of planetary effects, but no hint of this appears in Kollerstom's article.

Meta-analysis of Gauquelin studies Figure 4. The meta
analysis presented at
the 2004 Kepler Day.
Right: 35 studies of
planetary effects as
described in the text.
Left: 62 Gauquelin
studies of signs and
aspects show a
different picture with
no excess of effect
sizes outside the 80%
confidence limits.

Kollerstrom speculates on the reasons for Gauquelin's suicide. Four months before his suicide, Gauquelin, Ertel and I stayed for two days with Rudolf Smit at his house in the Netherlands. Rudolf and I were privy to private and personal Gauquelin matters, and it has long been clear to us that there are more plausible reasons for Gauquelin's suicide than skeptics' accusations of cheating.

Douglas's article
Douglas's article "Replication of a Saturn Effect with firstborns" provides various hurdles for the reader. For example the text description of Figure 1 does not correspond to Figure 1, the key sector totals easily read from Figure 1 do not correspond with the total cited in the text, the reference "Douglas (2004)" refers to a Correlation article that seems not to exist, his sample size of 277 does not have the power to reliably detect effect sizes typical of planetary effects, nor is it large enough to justify the use of approximations for expectancies. Thus when I took the Gauquelin data for 15,942 professionals and subdivided it into samples of N=277, the mean Saturn expectancy by Gauquelin's exact combinatorial method was 60.4 sd 8.1. The approximation gives 58.8, but the killer of course is the high sd.

Douglas bases his approach on birth-order differences uncovered by Sulloway's heroic Gauquelin-style research reported in his 1996 book Born to Rebel. In a world where siblings compete for attention, siblings quickly learn what to do even when parents try to treat them alike. These learned strategies affect the rest of their lives. Thus laterborns who have learned to question parental authority in order to disadvantage a firstborn tend to end up as adventurous and rebellious adults. Sulloway estimates that typical mean correlations between birth order and the Big Five personality dimensions can reach up to 0.2 (with IQ it is near zero), but only when the effects of social class and sibship size are controlled. If they are not controlled, as in Douglas's study, the correlation disappears. Which may explain why Gauquelin's own (uncontrolled) studies of birth order reported in his 1988 book Planetary Heredity led to his conclusion that "planetary heredity is not affected by birth order".

As an example, when these controls are in place, laterborns tend to be less anxious and less conforming than firstborns. Nevertheless, in one of the largest studies ever made of birth order effects, Eysenck and Cookson found negligible correlations between birth order and EPI scores in 4000 eleven-year-olds, even though they controlled for sibship size but not social class. Their study (not cited by Sulloway) is in British Journal of Educational Psychology 40, 117-131, 1969. They used the EPI rather than the traditional parent or teacher ratings because ratings can give spurious effects due to stereotyping, a point unaccountably not mentioned by Sulloway. To be sure, Sulloway uncovers many areas other than personality where birth order effects can be substantial, even dramatic, albeit with the same proviso about confounds, leading to his generalisation that laterborns are "born to rebel". But caution is still needed. Thus Eysenck himself, whose autobiography is Rebel with a Cause, was not a laterborn. Unless we impose the controls specified by Sulloway, we might do worse than attend to Ernst and Angst's 1983 book Birth Order (a review of more than 1000 birth order studies), which concluded that differences in personality due to birth order are of "little general importance, although birth order still may be an important environmental factor for some individuals".

Wackford's article
Readers should heartily endorse Mike Edwards's "a very large THANK YOU" to Mike Wackford for his scholarly sorting out of what Donald Bradley aptly called the "vexed question" of house division. Nevertheless the traditional interpretation of these now unvexed houses remains at odds with the Gauquelin planetary findings endorsed by Ertel, Kollerstrom, and Douglas. Hopefully we might look forward to further scholarly articles by Wackford that address this further vexed question.

Brady's article
On pages 68-69 there is a letter from me about Brady's article "The Australian parent-child astrological research project" in Correlation 20(2), which research had been stimulated by Gauquelin's heredity work. An accompanying note from the editor says that no response from Brady has so far been received but "may be available for a future issue". The note fails to mention that I sent the letter to Correlation in August 2002, over three years ago, and that various chunks have been censored. The usual reason for deletion is lack of space, but this cannot apply here because the letter is followed by almost a full blank page. There was also censoring of an earlier 1999 critique by me of Bagley's eight-page article in Correlation 18(1) in which I concluded it was uninformed and said nothing that could not be said more clearly in half a page. Although the editor had invited my critique, it was nevertheless censored (Bagley was then her supervisor at Southampton University). Incidentally, when as a referee I had pointed out serious flaws in Bagley's paper, none were corrected, nor did Bagley reply to my emails. As for Brady's article, judge for yourself. Here are the main censored bits, all of which would easily fit within the blank space:

A word on utility. Even though signs are probably the most disconfirmed factor in astrology, and would be immediately dismissed out of hand by whole-chart purists, Brady's eight hypotheses are so restrictive that they could not possibly be useful. Indeed, according to Dr Patrice Guinard's Astrology: The Manifesto, glowingly reviewed in the same issue, they are not even believable. Dr Guinard asserts that astrology arises from the psychic state of the person and is therefore not open to statistical enquiry. So statistical studies (such as Brady's) are "a caricature of any truly respectable psychological research", and their authors are incompetent "know-it-alls in lab coats" who represent "just one more species in the roster of parasites on astrology" (quotes are from his CURA website). Curiously, no hint of these anti-Correlation sentiments appeared in the glowing review. But back to utility. ... Even these best effects [of Brady's] are of no practical use whatever ... which did not stop the front cover claiming they could be "the stuff of which astrologers' dreams are made". ... In passing, readers might note that the statistical errors would have been spotted by any first-year statistics student, which hardly reflects well on the expertise of Correlation's referees, or on the editorial claim that the results are "a potentially important finding for astrology".

When a scientific journal promotes on its cover an article that, as it stands, is essentially meaningless (and this despite Correlation's editorial in 19(1) announcing that Brady had provided the Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology at Southampton University with copies of her raw data "so that the group could subject it to different tests which would give further insight into the results she had discovered so far"), then I think something is wrong. (The editor was of course also RGCSA's administrative assistant.) I think it is clear that censorship in both cases was not on scientific grounds but on political grounds. That is, while criticisms of articles are said to be encouraged, criticisms of referees, editors, editorial policy, and anything involving vested interests, will be censored.

The issue of the resulting poor intellectual standards was aired in a joint letter submitted to Correlation in late 2000 by myself, Rudolf Smit and Wayne Spencer, all of us professional editors, and published early in 2002 in 20(1). We pointed out that the AA's policy on referee recommendations is that "the author is not bound to follow them" (this was stated in an email to us from the editor in late 2000), which policy would seem to allow the semblance of rigour without the actual rigour, and that "conspicuously lower standards [in Correlation] were now a reality". The editor welcomed the letter, at least in public, and announced changes such as making referees anonymous (which also makes referees publicly unaccountable, hardly a progressive change), and how "factual errors must obviously be corrected". But in the five years since then, no improvement in standards seems to have occurred. If they had then Ertel's article in its present form, and arguably Kollerstrom's and Douglas's articles in their present form, should have been returned for improvement.

Appendix: Dean's reply to Ertel's rejoinder
In Correlation 23(1), 7-33 (2005) Ertel hoped that his paper would be his closing critique of my exploration of social artifacts in the Gauquelin data. It was not to be. In Correlation 23(2), 58-61 (2006), in response to my heavily censored letter, the Correlation editor allowed him to add a rejoinder of four pages (bringing his total to 86 vs my total of barely 6) that focussed on four points:

(1) Dean's letter lacks precision. Since 60% was censored, what does Ertel expect?

(2) Dean's claims about witching days are incorrect because sabbats began at the stroke of midnight, ie at 24h, therefore a sabbat on 30 April actually occurs on 1 May. So all my tests of sabbats are one day out. But midnight was everywhere seen as the start of the day, not its end. (It still is, as when the stroke of midnight announces the new year.) So a sabbat held on 30 April would begin at 0h on 30 April, not 0h on 1 May. Any authoritative treatise on witchcraft will confirm this. For example the recent Cassell's Dictionary of Witchcraft has seven pages on sabbats (2002:406-412). It notes that "by 1500 sabbats had become a central feature of witchlore and the basis of countless prosecutions" (p.408). Sabbats began at midnight and their end was "reputedly signalled by the coming of dawn or by the sound of the first cock crowing" (p.412). It is clear that a sabbat on 30 April is not going to be happening in the hours before dawn on 1 May.

(3) The 13th is more obvious than say Mars rising, so its avoidance should be more pronounced than planetary effects, but it isn't. There are three problems here. (1) Who said the 13th had to be as meaningful as Mars in 18-19th century folklore? (2) Who said the 13th is more obvious? After all, you can see Mars in the sky but not 13ths. (3) Avoidance is not a fair comparison because the expectancy for 13ths is about N/30 whereas the expectancy for planets in plus zones is about N x 8/36 or N/4.5. This means that, even if nobody was born on the 13th, 13ths could not reach an avoidance effect size that is typical of planets.

Ertel adds that there is no noticeable effect for day of week, as in "Sunday's child is full of grace", which he says casts doubt on whether people tamper with birth dates. I dealt with this in detail back in 2000. The problem is simple: the attributes on which the days are based are linked to the planets, so the attributes should be the same everywhere, but in fact there is much variation. As one example among many, Bachtold-Staubli gets Wednesday right but mixes up most of the rest. Even Ertel gets it wrong (it is Tuesday's child that is full of grace). Such mix-ups indicate that the links between days and planets did not persist, even if they were rightly understood, probably because they were not useful. After all, every almanac tradition such as zodiac man involved the Moon or planets in the visible here and now, which made more sense than something invisible.

(4) Ertel still claims that he was set an impossible deadline for responding to my 2000 paper. This was fully addressed in the censored parts of my letter. The Correlation editor would necessarily have known this yet allowed Ertel's comments to stand.

Ertel concludes with yet more defamation, namely that I propagate views "despite a plethora of factual contradictions", ie tell lies. What Ertel does not do is address the absolutely crucial points that I listed in my letter under "Overall picture", but how could he when the Correlation editor deliberately censored them? In legal terms the AA council, its intellectual head Nick Campion and its editor Pat Harris are now liable to charges of not merely Defamation but also Malice.

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