(From NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); used w/o permission.)
(NGC 3324, a nearby star-forming region. It's about 7,200 light-years away, in the constellation Carina.)
You probably know that astronomy isn't astrology. On the other hand, those words sound a lot alike, and for several thousand years astrology actually was a serious field of study.
But I strongly suspect that what the National Science Foundation should study next is what Americans think "scientific" means.
Here's part of that Washington Post piece:
"Did people confuse 'astronomy' with 'astrology' in the NSF study?"That's Jim Lindgren's take on what a psychology professor said. The National Science Foundation/General Social Survey document the Washington Post article links to is Chapter 7. Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding of "Science and Engineering Indicators 2014," by the way.
Jim Lindgren, Washington Post (February 18, 2014)
"At the blog NeoAcademic, Richard Landers, a psychology professor at Old Dominion University, criticizes the National Science Foundation/ General Social Survey study that found large numbers of Americans believing that astrology is at least 'sort of scientific.'
"In an earlier post and in a brief report at SSRN (which I updated on Feb. 18, 2012), I describe some of the results of the NSF study.
"Landers speculates that people confused astrology with astronomy:
" 'Surely,' I said to myself, 'it's not that Americans believe astrology is scientific. Instead, they must be confusing astronomy with astrology, like I did those many years ago.'"He then did a small study of 99 respondents on Amazon's MTurk to explore that possibility, paying each respondent 5 cents...."
I figured it might be useful to show what the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary says "science" means:
- a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.
- systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
- any of the branches of natural or physical science.
- systematized knowledge in general.
- knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
- a particular branch of knowledge.
- any skill or technique that reflects a precise application of facts or principles.
(Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, via The Free Dictionary)
"Systematized" doesn't mean "real," though.
I've played, and enjoyed, role playing games based on volumes of systematized knowledge: most of which is strictly fictional. A significant difference between those games and astrology is that the folks I played them with and I knew that we were dealing with fantasy.
I've run into folks who seriously believe that astrology is based on real cause-effect relationships between stars, planets, and our everyday lives.
February 23, 2014)
Science and technology aren't transgressions, they're tools. We're supposed to use them: wisely. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 339, 2292-2296)
Folks who pursue truth kept studying the universe, and began calling themselves astronomers. Others kept telling fortunes, which isn't a good idea: at all. Astrology, along with any other sort of divination, is against the rules today. (Catechism, 2116)
Then there was alchemy, another formerly-legitimate field of study, and that's another topic.
- "The Alchemist Trap"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (March 14, 2014)
- "Astronomers, X-ray crystallographers, Apothecaries, and Saints "
(March 12, 2014)
- "Science, Faith, and Albertus Magnus"
(February 23, 2014)
- "Planets, Creation's Afterglow, and Double Stars"
(February 7, 2014)
- "Truth, Toothpicks, Beaks, and God"
(December 13, 2013)