Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weirdnesses of the World

One of the stranger items to cross my desk recently -- way weirder than the article on "teeth critters" -- is a review of Frank McGillion's book BLINDED BY STARLIGHT. McGillion, a medical researcher, makes a case for an actual connection between astrology and medicine. One of his claims is that the amount of sunlight a pregnant woman receives affects fetal development through influencing her production of melatonin, vitamin D, and other bodily products. This, in turn, affects the growing fetus biologically, including brain development, which may affect personality. Since sunlight varies dramatically throughout the year in those countries in which astrology was first created, there may indeed be a factual link between birth date and personality. The original ancient-world "astrologer-physicians," McGillion says, were extremely acute observers of human nature, and the whole system of astrology thus grew from medical observations rooted in reality. "What's your sign?" is thus a meaningful biological question.

Although this seems tenuous to me, it's also fascinating. Research on meditating Buddhist monks has charted shifts in blood flow in their brains which may lead to some of the subjective aspects of the meditative experience. I make heavy use of this, in fact, in a story I recently sold to Jim Baen's Universe, my "China story," now called "First Rites." The connection between biology and belief systems is a fairly new field of research, and I find it endlessly interesting.

Incidentally, my other story for JBU, "Laws of Survival," is now up at JBU. No brain chemistry in this one, but lots of dogs and a few enigmatic robots.

8 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

If there is any validity in astrology due to a relationship between foetal development and variations in sunlight, then presumably that won't hold true in places where the sunlight varies differently. As in most of the rest of the world. Or indeed in the same parts of the world after climate change.

Nancy Kress said...

No, the validity -- if it exists at all -- would hold only for the time and place that the astrological system first became codified.

BuffySquirrel said...

It wouldn't be the first time something had been accurately observed but wrongly attributed. Or the last! Interesting.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

That's fascinating. The late Ivan T. Sanderson, naturalist and Fortean, took a wrecking ball to natal horological astrology. His simple, acute insight: since our little blue world wobbles on its axis, the Sun no longer enters the constellations as it did when the Babylonians invented astrology.

Does a system of thought that's been around for millenia have =some= truth to it? I kinda think so. And so does Kary Mullins, Nobel Prize winner for chemistry.

BuffySquirrel said...

Not to mention that the Babylonians didn't know about Uranus.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Are we sure, buffysquirrel? Uranus =is= visible to the naked eye. It's =very= dim, and moves =very= slowly across the sky, but I wouldn't bet the ancient astronomers didn't know about it.

BuffySquirrel said...

I'm not absolutely sure, but I've never seen any evidence that the ancient astronomers did make note of Uranus.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Buffysquirrel, here's some fun--Sir William Herschell was not only a great man of the sky, he was a composer. His music is =well= worth hearing--think "Mozart Lite" and you're on the track.--Blues