Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Things only An Astrologist Could Believe

There’s a really funny post on a blog titled “Affordable Indian Astrology & Vedic Horoscope Provider:”

Such a choice of excellent Muhurta with Chrome release time may be coincidental, but it makes us strongly believe that Google may not have hesitated to utilize the valuable knowledge available in Vedic Astrology in decision making.

This is a beautiful example of confirmation bias at work. Confirmation bias is when you believe something (say, Vedic astrology) and go looking for confirmation. This doesn’t advance your knowledge in any way. You need to look for contradictory evidence. For example, if you think Google is using Vedic astrology, they have a decade of product launches with some obvious successes. Test the idea. I strongly believe that you haven’t.

9 comments on "Things only An Astrologist Could Believe"

  • Vedic says:

    The blog at is not really confirmation bias. The post tries to analyze the planetary positions based on principles of Vedic astrology.
    Google may have done product launches in the past successfully but that doesn’t guarantee future. There are many incidents of product failure coming from successful companies, not to name anyone in particular.
    By your definition, all of observational science is confirmation bias and doesn’t advance knowledge.

  • What our Vedic friend is actually telling us is that Google “may not have hesitated” in its use of Vedic astrology.
    To be honest, I also find it hard to believe that Google executives sat around dithering about whether to use Vedic astrology or not.
    In another post, our Vedic friend analyzes the botched Microsoft-Yahoo deal. Now why do I find it easier to imagine Yahoo executives dithering? Is that an example of confirmation bias? Have I been reading too much Fake-Steve diaries?

  • Richard says:

    Observational science uses the scientific method, which requires the prediction of future results. So.
    Hypothesis: The sun comes up every 24 hrs.
    Method: I will time when the sun crosses the horizon.
    Results: I succesfully predicted 50 sunrises with a 100% degree of accuracy. This is further evidence that my hypothesis is correct.
    (Although, I note that since 24 hrs is the period between sunrises by definition of a day, this is circular.)
    In the example above:
    Hypothesis: Google determines product releases using vedic astrology.
    Method: I predict the next five product releases will corresponf with “excellent Muhurta.”
    Results: 17 of 20 releases correspond with “exellent Muhurta.” Which is statitically significant and supports my hypothesis.

  • Mango says:

    Hypothesis: Computers function by making use of a magic smoke that is trapped within its smallest components.
    Method: Use a large power spike to release the magic smoke.
    Result: Magic smoke is seen escaping, computer no longer works.

  • Occam says:

    Mango may want to read on Occam’s razor principle.

  • Occam says:

    Mango may want to read on Occam’s razor principle.

  • In case anyone is wondering, I didn’t write the third comment (Posted by: Richard | September 5, 2008 3:46 PM). From the reference to “my hypothesis” makes it looks as if it were another comment from our Vedic friend.
    Actually, the statement that the sun rises exactly in 24 hour intervals is only true if you know nothing about astronomy and/or you adopt a solar method for measuring the length of an hour.
    I don’t want to turn this discussion into a tutorial on scientific method (defined by Wikipedia as “the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses”).
    What confuses me about the hypothesis posed by our Vedic friend is whether he is trying to predict the decision-making behaviour of Google executives or the successful outcome of their decisions. Even if Google executives are making auspicious decisions, this could be explained either by the fact that they are employing the services of an astrologer, or by the fact that Google happens to have good (= astrologically blessed) executives. Or something.

  • Chris says:

    Astrology isn’t science.
    Anybody who believes it is is either ignorant, a liar, or is using a sufficiently idiosyncratic definition of “science” that they cannot expect to engage in fruitful discussion with the rest of us.

  • bob says:

    astrology is the root of all science and goes back to the beginning of time, all science stems from astrology… check it

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