Even to contemplate these methods and subjects seriously is to risk being labelled 'unscientific', 'pseudo-scientific', or even 'antiscientific'. There are few more serious modern condemnations to be thrown at those who consider themselves in the business of advancing knowledge. In fact a little net-search reveals that this condemnation is accompanied with words like ‘retard' and 'gullible moron’, and that’s before we get to the religious sites! Hey ho! So be it. Academic suicide and the flames of Hell, here we come.
To undertake work in an ideal scientific mode, we should have the following in place:-
- A clearly stated expression of what knowledge is and how our work stands in relation to that foundation
- The question we wish to address
- A clear statement of our hypothesis relative to that question
- A clear statement of any assumptions which underlay our work
- A literature search so we can glean what others have investigated and concluded in relation to our hypothesis
- We should test our hypothesis in an iterative process of experimentation, analysis and contemplation of the emerging results, and adjusted experimentation.
- We should see if our hypothesis can be given an answer and to what degree of certainty.
- We must make sure that the experiment and conclusion have indeed been in conformity with our understanding of what knowledge is.
- We can then go on to see if there are any consequences of our findings,
So what does Considera consider is its relation is to these questions?
- A clearly stated expression of what knowledge is and how our work stands in relation to that foundation. The theory of knowledge (paradigm, or epistemology) which informs the work is that clearly elucidated by Dr Rudolf Steiner in his books 'Truth and Science', 'A Philosophy Of Freedom', and 'A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World View'. (These publications are available via bookstores or as html documents at the Rudolf Steiner Archive.) It is at home in the school of 'objective idealism'. Interested people are particularly pointed to the chapters on inorganic and organic Nature in 'A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World View' in which the nature of proof and belief are examined. This examination of what methods and capacities are relevant to the different aspects of the world is at least as relevant now as it was in 1886.
- The question we wish to address. Does the variation manifest in the organic world (plants animals and humans) show any correlation with the celestial arrangement at crucial moments of change?
- A clear statement of our hypothesis relative to that question. We have adopted the hypothesis that a crucial point in a plant's 'biography' is the time it is put into its final growing place and medium. This is when the seed is sown and, if it needs transplanting, also when the seedling is planted out. As a null hypothesis - Ho; the planting time has no correlation with the plants' characteristics.
- A clear statement of any assumptions which underlay
- We assume that there are rhythms manifest in plant life, synchronised with or in the same periodicity as the rhythms of the movement and positions of the planets and stars.
- We assume that there are overlapping influential cosmic rhythms that can be differentiated.
- We assume that we can gather enough results for these patterns to be extracted in their various influences from observation of plant life, and we hope to deomonstrate statistical significance.
- We assume that the plants can be regarded as bio-assays that give us an indication of the activity of these influences at the time of planting.
- A literature search so we can glean what others have investigated and concluded in relation to our hypothesis. See the research section and the original literature.
- We should test our hypothesis in an iterative process of experimentation, analysis and contemplation of the emerging results, and adjusted experimentation. Well, this is where you guys come in. We all do the experiments and send them in. If any change in the experimental procedure or if new experiments are required we will try to agree them on the forum and publish the new procedures on this site.
- We should see if our hypothesis can be given an answer and to what degree of certainty. This is a function of the accuracy of our software and the appropriateness of the questions we ask it to perform.
- We must make sure that the experiment and conclusion have indeed been in conformity with our understanding of what knowledge is. The experiment is, I believe, in conformity with the epistemology. Forging any conclusions in the same spirit will have to wait for the patterns to emerge.
- We can then go on to see if there are any consequences of our findings . We will indeed consider any consequences of the results and conclusion. Indeed we will do this, in a very unscientific rush of enthusiasm, before the results are in...
My own attitude, derived from some exposure to natal chart readings for humans, was a long standing assumption that astrology is ... let us be polite ... fundamentally flawed. 'It just can't be true. It has enough variables to 'prove' whatever astrologers wish!' Or the Barnum Principle - saying things so vague and general that could apply to everyone. And maybe that is right - but it's not a scientific attitude; it's no good 'disproving' mystical conjecture (or 'proving' scientific principles) unscientifically!
My new-found caution comes from several sides; one is contemplating the persistence and thorough pervasion of astrology through history and across many diverse cultures. Another is from reading Rudolf Steiner's work and particularly his Agricultural course in which he postulates the closer correspondence of plant life and the heavens. Finally I have come across astrological gardeners who seem not only sane, but ahead of the game. When ones skepticism (I thought it was certainty) is eroded by such effective thinkers as Jung, Steiner, Whitmont, et al then an opportunity to test it needs to be grasped.
In one of the Dirk Gently books, Douglas Adams' hero finds that his journalist 'friend' always gives him a gloomy horoscope, thereby dropping the paper’s circulation by about 8%. Dirk is justifiably scathing of the opinion that rocks hurtling around the sun should know more about his day than he does. But to equate Astrology with popular newspaper horoscopes is on a level with considering a shovel the peak of Scientific achievement. The astrology we are using here is clearly set on a foundation of basic astronomy and research. However, there is no getting away from it - some of the concepts are more at home in astrology (the elemental ascriptions of the constellations for example), but even these have been 'discovered' on the basis of experimental biology.
Granted, it is not going to happen, to take a simple example, that one twelfth of the world's population are going to meet tall dark strangers at the same time. For a start it wouldn't be fair on tall dark strangers. However, to make a database of when people have met tall dark strangers and to look for correspondences with other events - well that is at least a statistical science. If one finds that there is a significant correspondence one can then use this new insight for prediction and suggest that of all the meetings with talk dark strangers, and assuming one can extrapolate from past trends, a certain fraction will happen under certain pre-stated conditions. (Perhaps, hanging around in an unfamiliar place where the locals are tall and dark and then introducing oneself?!).
With luck one will find that the research leads one to a necessary and sufficient set of variables for meeting tall dark strangers and one then has a scientific hypothesis of causality. If one can then elucidate the mechanism by which the corresponding variables are linked you have earned your 'I am a Scientist' badge and no one can take it from you.
As above, some are obvious and trivial 'discoveries'. Others are less trivial, perhaps even useful, and it is a greater challenge to abstract the signal from the noise.
Growing plants is one of these pursuits where the challenge is greater. Many of the necessary elements for growing healthy plants are fairly well established: without a mother crop we are not going to get a daughter crop, the seed or cutting must be in reasonable condition and must to be given a hospitable environment normally including a reasonable soil, air, moisture and a suitable temperature range.
It is sensible to look to some defect in the above parameters when the results of planting are not as expected, but if answers are not forthcoming or unsatisfactory, one might experiment and research to try and identify new or clearer principles. Which gardener has not had the experience of preparing a seed bed to perfection and getting an awful crop out? Who has not been pleasantly surprised when the opposite also occurs.
It is in this spirit that Considera is working. We won't and can’t teach growers how to grow their plants, but we can collect results from sufficient plantings undertaken with a minimum of variation so that any influence from outside the obvious mundane parameters can emerge. It is ‘given’ that the established, indispensable conditions must be available to the plant, We hope that statistically significant differences can then emerge corresponding to the other variables.
The use of statistics is as close as one can get to being philosophically neutral. It is simply pattern recognition, the search for statistically significant correspondences between events whose relation is not yet fully elucidated.
All one can say after successfully identifying a pattern is - ‘Based upon past information and assuming the conditions do not change, if A happens, then the likelihood of B happening is X ’. Considera's stated aim in relation to chrono-biology ends there, in that neutral phase of pattern recognition. It is just an elaborate form of 'doing the numbers'.
Even if one were to debate points 1, 4 and 8 above, the activity of Considera is encompassed in points 6 and 7, and is at home in most scientific paradigms including the one which is currently dominant. For this reason I feel quite confident in refuting the rhetorical accusation which heads this page; it is not a pseudo-science. To some it may seem ill advised and doomed to failure but it is scientifically legitimate.
However, unless the correspondence is particularly new and surprising, it isn’t that satisfying a discovery. For instance, were we to discover that 'when lightening strikes, we hear thunder soon after in 95% of the instances', it tells us nothing of electricity, or of the speeds of sound and light, or of the missing 5%, the patterns of the weather, or the cultural implications of the phenonomena across the world and throughout history. We are left with description without implication or meaning. But it’s a start; we have turned data into information ("Data is not yet information, which is not yet knowledge, which is not yet realisation, which is not yet wisdom.") It is only after this start that the other points, especially 1, 4, and 9 as numbered above, become relevant in the debate.
A target that Considera has not set is that of finding a mechanism by which the stars and plants correspond. Perhaps it is cause and effect, but that is not clear. If anyone finds the 'smoking gun' then please do get in touch. We're looking for it!