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I believe both these extreme viewpoints are wrong and we can never resolve this debate in this manner. I should now clarify why the 2nd and 3rd definitions of astrology as a natural physical science, are not valid. For this, we must understand the methodology of physical science.

Scientific Method:

A method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data is gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data and the hypothesis is empirically tested.

As an astrologer myself, I believe that astrology has never strictly followed the stages of scientific methodology, namely data gathering, hypothesis formulation and empirical testing.

Apart from sporadic attempts at individual levels, astrology has always been cloaked in secrecy and restricted to select groups. Even today, astrologers are very secretive about their knowledge and methodology. Astrological principles, in both ancient and modern astrological texts, irrespective of belonging to Vedic or Western astrology, are full of 'hypothesis'. No serious attempts have been made to collect data or to conduct empirical tests.

Data collection and empirical testing cannot be conducted by individuals alone. It has to be a project which involves sharing of data and large scale coordinated testing to establish a hypothesis as 'truth' or 'fact', as required by the first definition of `science'.

The spirit of sharing knowledge is also an essential ingredient of scientific methodology. Physical science has progressed because after the renaissance, scientists started exchanging knowledge amongst them. Even during the height of the cold war, ideas were freely exchanged, between scientists of the USA and USSR, though not in matters related to defense and war.

However, even if we start exchanging data and start examining the validity of astrological hypothesis, astrology will still not qualify to be a mathematical or natural science.

But this would not reduce astrology to a less respected science. Astrology can be more aptly defined as a 'behavioral science', like economics, but science none the less as per definition 1 of `science', provided we are willing to adopt the scientific methodology in all its three phases. It is essential to understand the difference between the scientific methodology adopted in the case of behavioral sciences and physical sciences.

In a physical science, we deal with causes and their effects. Physical scientists then formulate a hypothesis as a law or equation which explains in terms of existing state of knowledge or truth why such causes create the effects as stipulated in the hypothesis. This can then be tested through physical experiments and data collection.

In a behavioral science like economics or astrology (the position that I intend to defend), we are also dealing with causes and effects and we are making hypothesis to state what causes can produce what effects.

The theory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen, which connects literacy with economic growth, is now very popular in India and other developing countries. But it is not possible for Dr. Sen to state in precise terms how much economic growth is achieved by literacy. This is because he is dealing with a very large population - the entire population of a country. Also, the existing state of knowledge in physical sciences cannot identify or isolate the forces in nature that connect literacy with economic growth.