Posted on February 9, 2011
I read an article in the NYT yesterday which piqued my interest because it reminded me ever so much of the field of astrology. The article was called Social Scientist Sees Bias Within and it discussed the incredibly high and statistically impossible percentage of psychologists who claim, at least in public, to be politically liberal. “Social psychologists are a ‘tribal-moral community’ united by ‘sacred values’ that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals,” says University of Virginia professor Jonathan Haidt. Although I’m not quite sure what a “tribal-moral community” is, I am very sure that this statement applies equally well to astrologers as a group.
Maybe it’s because I live in the liberal bubble called San Francisco, but I can’t think of one local astrologer who is politically conservative, and most of us, me included, are so progressive we are practically falling off the left side of the continuum. Which, of course, leads to the other side of it – but that’s another story! Even at astrology conferences, however, I’ve observed that the vast majority of astrologers are left-leaning. This must be incredibly uncomfortable for conservative astrologers. Haidt noted that politically conservative psychology students stated that they “hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.” I cannot help but wonder how many of my conservative colleagues also hide their true sentiments in the face of similar assumptions when astrologers gather.
Haidt notes that the social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology) tend to attract liberals to begin with, but that the problem became more entrenched after the 1960s. This created a blind spot within the community, resulting in the near-systematic suppression of any idea that challenged these assumptions. He notes “If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community,” he said. “They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.” Now, I’m not someone who thinks that astrology can or should be “proven” by science, a field which is its own tribal-moral community. However, I recognize in myself the fear, quickly masked by anger, when yet another scientific study “disproves” astrology, and the thrill I catch when some new scientific thesis seems to support it. So I’m participating in this tribal-moral dynamic without being aware of it, at least until now.
Prayer for the day: May my blind spots be revealed to me.
I’m very interested in hearing others’ ideas and experiences on this subject. Shine a light for us!