The RGCSA is an independent research group led by Mrs. Susan High who is based at the University of Southampton. Its role is to monitor standards of research into astrology and promote the use of sound scientific methods in empirical studies. The group aims to stimulate and facilitate the critical study of astrology as judged by the disciplines of social statistics, sociology, psychology, and cultural studies, and to provide the basis for inter-university and international collaboration on research into astrology. The RGCSA makes no assumptions that astrology is well-grounded and, in fact, this is what the RGCSA was set up to examine.
The RGCSA does not offer teaching in astrology or related topics and is a small scale, externally funded research activity that does not rely on public funds (including general University funds). It is funded with the aid of a grant from the Sophia Trust and by donations from the general public.
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Astrology is an ancient discipline, one that still has a considerable role in many eastern countries, such as India. In western thought, astrology occupied an important role in theology, science and philosophy until the mid-seventeenth century. Today the critical study of astrology in the west has importance in relation to popular culture and is of considerable interest for historians, sociologists, social scientists, anthropologists and archaeologists.
The RGCSA holds a neutral position with regard to astrology’s claims.
We argue that the traditional claims of astrology are open to rigorous investigation
using a variety of methodologies. We are aware of the existence of studies
which challenge astrology’s claims (as summarised in Culver and Ianna
1988) but also consider the work of modern scholars which has not found alternative
explanations (e.g. Ertel & Irving, 1996, Eysenck, 1983; Gauquelin et al.,
1979; Mayo et al., 1978; Roberts, 2001/2002, Smithers & Cooper, 1977;
Silver et al., 1974; Tyson, 1984) to be of considerable interest. In addition,
recent theories of the influence of planetary systems and conjunctions on
the developing foetus or new-born child (e.g. McGillian, 2003, Seymour, 1992),
are noted with considerable interest. The RGCSA is also interested both in
sceptical criticisms of the assumptions of astrology in the field of personality
(e.g., Kelly, 1997) and of critiques of the use of scientific method in relation
to astrology (e.g., Cornelius 1994, see also Elwell 1999).
First of all, the systematic study of astrology will be of interest for historians
and historians of science, given the central part that astrology has historically
played in culture and scientific thought (Tester 1987)
Secondly, this research group will be of interest to archaeologists who seek an understanding of planetary and star systems in relation to the construction and maintenance of artefacts relating to religious ritual and symbolism (Heath 1995, Ruggles 1999). Such examples in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are numerous.
Thirdly, the research group seeks to engage the interest of anthropologists who are concerned w