Saturday, February 17, 2007

Astrologer Lynn Hayes capitulates

   Brent, a regular reader, and all around good guy, took astrologer Lynn Hayes to task for ignoring and deleting my question to her. To my surprise, she answered him:
Over the past twenty years I have done many readings for people who did not believe in astrology but were willing to have an open mind. These people all left feeling that they came away with something positive. I am not going to alter my claim because of one person who didn't cooperate in the process in the first place, and now wants to make a battle royal over it.

I will, however, cease offering the Skeptics Challenge and I will gladly delete that sentence on my site. I realized through this process that I have never done a reading for someone who is not open at all to the possibility that astrology can work. The skeptics that I have read for have been primarily spouses of clients and they have had a degree of openness because of their association through their spouse.
   She didn't delete the offending statement, but she did change it to read, "rarely have I seen a skeptic who was not convinced..." (bolding applied to highlight the change). As minor and inconsequential a change that is on her site, it is all I was asking for.
   I must say, I was amused by her response. She complains that I "didn't cooperate in the process." Not sure what that means. I asked her to provide a reading for me as per the terms of her own skeptical challenge. She did so. I was unimpressed, and said so. Is she upset that I aired the results in a public forum rather than e-mailing her privately where she could attempt to spin the results, and convince me she was more accurate than she really was? Sorry, Lynn, but I am quite familiar with the cold reading tactics psychics and astrologers use to fish for additional information and then use that information to attempt to turn a miss into a hit in the minds of their subjects.
   Right from the beginning, Lynn started to back pedal. After I first wrote about her reading of me, she claimed that it might not be as accurate as possible because she had only done a "mini reading." Is that my fault? If she could have elaborated, provided more information that might have been more convincing, why didn't she? The only failing here is hers.
   I am now satisfied that we can put this discussion to bed. By the terms of her own challenge, Lynn failed to support her claim - that her reading could convince a skeptic of the validity of astrology. She declined to take me up on my challenge, to see if people could choose their own reading from among three presented to them, which was based upon Lynn's own claim that astrology is "uncannily accurate." She declined to even comment on it, or two other potential tests I outlined in the comments section of her blog.
   There is nowhere else to take this discussion. I am not going to convice her, and she is not going to convince me, and I knew that going in. Why do it, then? Because the goal of skepticism is simply to shine the light of reason into the dark corners in which claims of the paranormal huddle, and let the public see them for what they truly are. If one person reads this, and has a moment of realisation about how astrologers practise their art, it has all been worth it.


iiimagicxx said...

It' s like offering psychotherapy to someone who does not want to receive it, who does not cooperate or try at least. Psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists can NOT do their jobs if the other one is not willing. I tend to agree with her in that "rarely have I seen a skeptic who was not convinced". This makes sense. Skeptics are convinced of what they believe and this is why they call themselves "skeptics" and their attitude is one showing it. They cannot meet the other, they are too convinced by their own thoughts and beliefs whatever their fondations or own validities. From what you write Paul, I am on her side. She fought without fighting, and hold her grounds well. You even managed to make her more popular, bad publicity is in vogue in this time and in fact is good publicity, and she might be even more successful.

frankandmary said...

I think she may view this the way Donald Trump does discussions about his hair-Free Publicity, but I do think I understand why you did it.  
I try to do what I think I should do, regardless of how it will be viewed by others.  ~ Mary

dpoem said...

I've got the matches.  You bring the wood?  


bpslider45 said...

Hi Valerie
I think you are missing the point here.
Lynn was attempting to make a claim, which if true would suggest that astrology was so effective as to be able to convert a "skeptic!"

As I pointed out to her on her blog, Paul may not have been the type she anticipated getting when she posted this challenge but there can be no debate that he is sincerely a skeptic.
It was dishonest to challenge a skeptic and then object to him being too skeptical.

Being a skeptic, Paul asked for Lynn to back up her claim with a reading which would make him change his mind.
She could not.

Not because he chose to ignore facts and information but because she could not give him any of substance.
You may wish to agree with Lynn, but this is based on a belief inspite of facts to back it up.
You would not qualify as a skeptic. You are a member of the converted.

You all seem upset with Paul for pointing out that Lynn's claim was not something she could back up. If she was not prepared to be challenged. She should not have made the claim.

Oh and... "Skeptics are convinced of what they believe."
Actually, skeptics are skeptics because they are rarely convinced of anything. They look at cold hard facts and then attempt to explain life's mysteries with them.
Change or refute those cold hard facts and they will then readily adapt and change their beliefs.
This is openess.

Believing in something without facts or inspite of them is not.

That which you claim as moral high ground, is in fact held by your opposition.
You are standing in the swamp.


princesssaurora said...

Well, she is right on one thing... you are close minded.  I think even if she nailed specifics for you, you would find a way to excuse it away, but that is just my opinion, dear Paul.  

However, I do believe she is a fraud, and one of those typically 'vague' shysters with no real gift and I am glad that you forced her to amend her statement, even though it was minor change.

be well,

aleclynch said...

Gotta go with Brent on this one.

I also don't understand why people seem annoyed with Paul.

Is it so bad to only believe in things that make sense, or, to put it more fairly, can provide evidence of being correct?  Basically, it's the difference between not believing something until there's reason to believe vs. automatically believing something until it's proved false (and sometimes even then). If I told Paul I saw a purple unicorn and he didn't believe me, does that make him close-minded? No.  What if I told him "but Paul, I REALLY feel this is true." What if I REALLY REALLY feel it.  

Proposition of astrology: The day you were born and the alignment of the planets determines much of your personality and behaviour.

Doesn't it seem fair to ask--how? why? It's a pretty big claim being made. Does it really seem odd to ask for evidence, beyond feelings, that our actions and personality are determined by the alignment of pluto (if pluto still counts) or venus crossing mars?

It seems unfair, Dawn, to suggest that Paul would refuse to believe no matter what when he's been trying to work out with Lynn what would be a fair test and Lynn refused to comment.  He wasn't even demanding she *do* the test, but just wanted her opinion, as an expert, of what a fair test might be.  I've no doubt that if astrology is legit, there is a way Paul and all skeptics could be convinced. I'm not so sure there's anything that could ever happen to convince believers it doesn't.  Tell me, which is more close-minded?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Paul's ever claimed that he *knew* there was no god, no real psychics, no meaningful astrology, etc...just that he doesn't *believe* in such...unlike the many people, like Lynn, that claim they *know* such things exist.  Again, which position is really more close-minded?


princesssaurora said...


First of all, I stated that my comment was just MY opinion of the situation.  AND, I am NOT one of those people who seem to be annoyed with Paul!  I think Paul rocks!   And, I praised the outcome he got... Sheesh!

be well,

aleclynch said...

Well, presumably all of our comments are just our own opinions. I don't think any of us here are speaking on behalf of a committee! Well, maybe Dan. ;)

Dawn, I do apologize in that I wasn't clear that a large part of my post wasn't directed at you specifically--looking back I can see how it may have appeared so--and the tone wasn't meant to sound angry.  No sheeshing necessary, I promise!  I know we all think of Paul's rocks...I mean, that Paul rocks (see, I'm lighthearted, really!)

I do maintain that I don't think Paul is close-minded.  A skeptic may believe in fewer things than some people, but in a way a true skeptic is more open than most since--in theory at least--they're willing to change their beliefs when logic/evidence prompts it, as opposed to holding onto a belief regardless of such.


princesssaurora said...


Oh okay... I guess I took part of your comment wrong.  Yes, I would agree, a true skeptic  SHOULD be more open than most.

be well,

ravenjuiced said...

Okay, maybe astrology doesn't work, but you know that "star light star bright" magic spell? I have indesputible proof that it works every 1 out of 1000 times. I used it when I was 10 and sure as shit I got the new baseball mitt. Never did end up in the sack with Bath MaCkelhanney though, so make sure you save that one time that it works for the important stuff.


rdautumnsage said...

From someone looking in from the outside of this's amusing as hell. And kudos to you Paul for having fun in the process. Indigo