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Thread: Help, arguing with woo woo [bio dynamics/Moon]

  1. #1
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    Help, arguing with woo woo [bio dynamics/Moon]

    Hi all, I'm having an argument with a bio dynamics practitioner. They make all wacko claims about the moons influence on plants.

    My question is, if the moon was directly overhead and my weight was 100.0000kg what would my weight be when the moon was directly under my feet?

    In other words, what is the absolute maximum change in g at sea level caused by the location of the moon?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    wiggy,
    You are falling into their trap, of trying to contradict their theory by producing evidence against it.
    You can't win that way, as they have no theory that can be tested by evidence.
    For instnace, if you could proe toeven to thier satisfaction that it's not the Moons gravity that causes the effcts they claim, then they will "realise" that it must be moonbeams!

    Instead, demand that they show you their evidence.
    Insist on studies that use proper scientific processes, blinding, control groups, statistical tetsing of probabality etc. to test their theory.
    THEN you can reply!

    But they won't, because they can't. There are no scientific studies.
    So ignore them!

    Look for Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" website (NO! he didn't nick the name from heere!) and his books, for master classes how to read a scientific paper, and for woowoo management and snakeoil antidotes! http://badscience.net/forum/

    John

  3. #3
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    If the moon had an effect it would be more subtle than the weight shift so it is not a good argument. The moon causes tides and does influence weather, winds and rain. Molluscs that rely on tides stay synchronised with the moon even when out of water. So be careful which element of the claims you are skeptical about. I guess this is about planting in time with the phase of the moon?

  4. #4
    There is an Australian astrologer who publishes a moon planting calendar. The hypothesis behind the calendar includes the idea that plants grow better when planted when the moon is in favourable signs, defined as water and earth signs.

    I find this sort of thing fun, and would be interested to test it with large scale statistical methods. I do not rule out a priori that the position of the moon could influence plant fertility.

    Be that as it may, what I find amusing about the moon planting guide is that systematically through the calendar, which has been published each year for probably thirty years, the author makes a simple mistake, suggesting that Libra rather than Virgo is a favourable sign, although Libra is an air sign while Virgo is the earth sign.

    The astonishing thing here is that this is a very basic error, which you would think that anyone using this guide would have noticed and corrected when it first appeared. The guide does not match the theory, which is even explained at the bottom. Rather like a tide chart with wrong data, this basic error should be subject of immediate complaints by users.

    The persistence of the error suggests to me that the calendar is just used as a sort of magical dream, with absolutely no one actually believing that it works, or obtaining results with well grown veges where moon effect can be distinguished from mundane factors such as soil, fertilizer, water and weeding. If they really believed it, let alone if it actually worked, the author of this calendar would have noticed and fixed the mistake.

  5. #5
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    When the Moon is directly overhead, it reduces your effective gravitational weight by about one part in 10 million, according to my rough calculations. It does likewise when directly below (counterintuitive for many, but true). When at the horizon it increases your effective weight by the same order of magnitude, by forcing a slight convergence of you and the Earth.

    We can not assume a priori that such a slight variation would not affect plants, but I would be skeptical about the possibility of any effect. There are so many other variables that have large effects. I would want to see rigorously controlled statistical studies over a very long period.

  6. #6
    Earth tides are of the order of half a metre. At a real stretch one might imagine any resultant deformation altering the capillary properties of the soil in a way either beneficial, or harmful to plants/seeds.

    But it would be quite a stretch.

  7. #7
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    All the moon planting advice I saw was about the phase of the moon not the astrological sign and that (phase) would make more sense since rain patterns can change in phase with the moon but unfortunately for the theory, not in the same way at all places, so it could only be a specific localised effect and thus hard to test.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    All the moon planting advice I saw was about the phase of the moon not the astrological sign and that (phase) would make more sense since rain patterns can change in phase with the moon but unfortunately for the theory, not in the same way at all places, so it could only be a specific localised effect and thus hard to test.
    The link I mentioned earlier also used moon phases, with the first quarter recommended for leafy growth, second quarter for flowers and fruit, third quarter for roots, and fourth quarter for pruning.

    This hypothesis of monthly cycles of plant growth could readily be tested in the same way as the Mauna Loa testing of global CO2 level, which shows pronounced annual variance due to the dominance of northern hemisphere deciduous cycles in plant growth. If leaves grow more in the first week of the lunar month, there would be a detectable regular fall in atmospheric CO2 at this time due to plant uptake. This is a statistical question that could readily be proven one way or another from the Mauna Loa data.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
    Be that as it may, what I find amusing about the moon planting guide is that systematically through the calendar, which has been published each year for probably thirty years, the author makes a simple mistake, suggesting that Libra rather than Virgo is a favourable sign, although Libra is an air sign while Virgo is the earth sign.
    I don't see how you can call that an "error." The constellations do not by nature have an element associated with them, so I would assume we are free to call them what we want. OK, Virgo is a hydrogen sign, whereas Virgo is a zinc sign. There's nothing more wrong with that than saying they are "earth" or "air" or "water" signs or whatever. Maybe you mean "non-traditional"?
    As above, so below

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I don't see how you can call that an "error." The constellations do not by nature have an element associated with them, so I would assume we are free to call them what we want. OK, Virgo is a hydrogen sign, whereas Virgo is a zinc sign. There's nothing more wrong with that than saying they are "earth" or "air" or "water" signs or whatever. Maybe you mean "non-traditional"?
    If you buy the chart as linked, you will find that it states that favourable times for planting are when the moon is waxing and in an earth or water sign. These 'signs' are defined as the arcs of the ecliptic that are from 30-60, 90-120 and 150-180 degrees east of the equinoctial points. Conventionally, astrology says the odd numbered signs after each equinox have positive polarity (termed fire and air) while the even numbered signs have negative polarity (termed earth and water). The issue here is not whether this has any dynamic effect, but the observation that the author is inconsistent between definition and use.

    In applying his own proposed method based on these astrological conventions, the calendar producer includes a systemic error, suggesting users of the chart should plant when the moon is in the 'air' sign Libra, not the 'earth' sign Virgo. He has done it for years and no one has apparently noticed or cared.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
    Conventionally, astrology says the odd numbered signs after each equinox have positive polarity (termed fire and air) while the even numbered signs have negative polarity (termed earth and water).
    I understand what you're saying, but what I mean to say is that "conventionally," but he doesn't have to follow the convention. He might argue that the odd numbered signs after each equinox have negative polarity, and nobody can dispute that because in reality, they have no polarity at all. So I don't see why he has to follow that convention.
    As above, so below

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
    The link I mentioned earlier also used moon phases, with the first quarter recommended for leafy growth, second quarter for flowers and fruit, third quarter for roots, and fourth quarter for pruning.

    This hypothesis of monthly cycles of plant growth could readily be tested in the same way as the Mauna Loa testing of global CO2 level, which shows pronounced annual variance due to the dominance of northern hemisphere deciduous cycles in plant growth. If leaves grow more in the first week of the lunar month, there would be a detectable regular fall in atmospheric CO2 at this time due to plant uptake. This is a statistical question that could readily be proven one way or another from the Mauna Loa data.
    That is an interesting experiment but surely the growth rate of small leaves of a new plant do not necessarily take more CO2 than the lerger leaves of larger plants so what are you testing? overall growth rates? it would not test the basic idea of favourable planting phases of the moon, but that would be easy to test even in a small plot with systematic planting and measurement.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I understand what you're saying, but what I mean to say is that "conventionally," but he doesn't have to follow the convention. He might argue that the odd numbered signs after each equinox have negative polarity, and nobody can dispute that because in reality, they have no polarity at all. So I don't see why he has to follow that convention.
    Jens, you may have missed my point. He says in the explanatory text that moon in signs 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 should be best planting days. But then in the calendar itself, he says moon in signs 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12 are best planting days. It is a clanger. Whether or not there is 'no polarity', the polarity is either so weak or non-existent, such that no users of this calendar have complained about his use of sign 7 instead of the sign 6 required by the theory.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    That is an interesting experiment but surely the growth rate of small leaves of a new plant do not necessarily take more CO2 than the lerger leaves of larger plants so what are you testing? overall growth rates? it would not test the basic idea of favourable planting phases of the moon, but that would be easy to test even in a small plot with systematic planting and measurement.
    If planting during the waxing moon promotes growth of leafy plants, you would expect on average more plant growth during the waxing moon, so slightly below trend atmospheric CO2 for those two weeks, and slightly above trend CO2 during the waning moon, perhaps with a lag. That is very easy to measure using weekly CO2 data since 1985 from http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/data/alt.html

    The weekly CO2 data file from Alert, NWT Canada is http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/data/flas.../fldav_alt.csv (For some reason it is titled daily, although the data is weekly)

    Moon phase dates are readily available from USNO, taking the start point of Jan 21, 1985 and adding 29.53 days for all new moons and 14.765 for full moons

    This spreadsheet data analysis is worth doing before going the whole Mendelian hog. A null result would suggest field tests would also probably yield insignificant results.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
    Jens, you may have missed my point. He says in the explanatory text that moon in signs 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 should be best planting days. But then in the calendar itself, he says moon in signs 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12 are best planting days. It is a clanger. Whether or not there is 'no polarity', the polarity is either so weak or non-existent, such that no users of this calendar have complained about his use of sign 7 instead of the sign 6 required by the theory.
    I understand now what you're saying; that he makes an error in the consistency of his own argument. Thanks for the clarification.
    As above, so below

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    While clambering about the countryside of NZ for the 'dept' of lands and survey with trig station mapping and plotting

    I came across some interesting tree cuttings.. Slices of chainsaw cut tree. Showing in detail the ring structures..

    This subject might be relative, as the seasons of summer winter are clear..and a lot of other little lines..

    could they be lunar cycles or weather related events..

    The more thought I give this..The greater my conclusion becomes. Yes.

    That a passing asteroid or comet have such a negligible affect as to be.. NONE...

    We know of tidal motion and why.. Over three metres of action daily..near here.

    Do I, or can I measure the gravity difference from full overhead or from rise times.. Yes we can and do..

    and to this end MANY have tried to correlate a relationship to and from Earthquakes and lunar distances..

    and the answer is still NO. Mythical planting and gardening by the amount of moon lit... does not have any weight.

    As does the zodiacal sign the moon is passing through.. and ya just knew I would want to use the word RUBBISH..

    So I can argue the case that you already know.. but can you hope to persuade those with already strong conviction

    to look at and understand how little effect any comet or asteroid has.. to be as real as un measurable..

    Unless it comes hurtling into and collides with Terra Fermi.. Earth. " BANG !" what was that ?

  17. #17
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    Those whom already hold with any idea that Astrology and or the magnetic and electromagnetic force might effect the

    plant propagation and or fishing success.. Do I weigh more when the moon as at right angles to my position..?

    The short answer must be just a ever so slightly, Yes..

    As for your issue of how do you tell others of the hair brained idea they are clinging to is utter nonsense..

    You cant.. or if you do they will not be convinced.. for the fact that they have already decided

    and the fact that you and a bunch of nerdy scientists are just mad. You can't win..

    but you and many of the folk that come by here would never be happy with that..

    My conclusion is just to persist. Pour cold water on their thinking or lac there of.. drown them with information.

    Belief and faith based science is not science.. Scientific and tested theroum, is the only answer.. carry on.

  18. #18
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    Astromark I think your conlusions are wrong. You should not mix up the possible effects of the moon with all of astrology because the moon does exert cyclic forces on the Earth. I do not know if germination of plants is affected or not but it could be (locally) and it is easily tested. If it turned out to be so it would not validate astrology. But if you call the possibility nonsense because you reject astrology you are letting your prejudices over-ride scientific enquiry.

  19. #19
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    Oh 'profloater' thats easy fixed.. Show me the science.

    As I have witnessed planting by the moon phase, fishing, hunting and know doubt mood swings.. ask a policeman.

    No and I will not be drawn into a discussion of that.. Looking back at the OP.. a question about plants and moon phasing..

    and what small deviations in gravity force does the moon have.. on us.. All perfectly reasonable questions..

    I could argue the mood swings a policeman might notice has as much to do about light levels than the actual moon..

    The same argument could supply answers to hunting and fishing..

    and that I form MY opinions on science based facts not some sort of airy ferry unfounded myth.. but, but, but...

    Show me some science, I will read it.

    P.S. I return and add ; That many culture's of farming and crop planting were based on the observed seasons..

    That the new moon of mid winter was a turning point and thus a good time for the planting of root crops..

    The tribal elders were all wise and knowing.. It is a small leap of ignorance to put the moon as the fulcrum of change..
    Last edited by astromark; 2012-Mar-30 at 09:12 AM. Reason: added sentence at end..

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
    Hi all, I'm having an argument with a bio dynamics practitioner. They make all wacko claims about the moons influence on plants.

    My question is, if the moon was directly overhead and my weight was 100.0000kg what would my weight be when the moon was directly under my feet?

    In other words, what is the absolute maximum change in g at sea level caused by the location of the moon?

    Thanks in advance.
    G'day Wiggy

    Of course their arguments are silly, But may I suggest, as others have, that you don't take their arguments head on? Instead, I'd suggest you nod in fascination and say, "Wow, that's amazing. I'd love to see the evidence for those claims." They may notice the sarcasm, but regardless it saves you from beating your head in an unwinnable argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    ...rain patterns can change in phase with the moon but unfortunately for the theory, not in the same way at all places, so it could only be a specific localised effect and thus hard to test.
    Quoting myself: "Wow, that's amazing. I'd love to see the evidence for those claims."

    Seriously, there's evidence for these claims?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    ...rain patterns can change in phase with the moon but unfortunately for the theory, not in the same way at all places, so it could only be a specific localised effect and thus hard to test.
    Quoting myself: "Wow, that's amazing. I'd love to see the evidence for those claims."

    Seriously, there's evidence for these claims?

  23. #23
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    the moon causes tides by the lateral effect as recognised by Laplace and these affect the oceans the atmosphere and ground water. The effects are all strongly modified by geography and vary with the alignment of Moon and Sun because the sun has about half the tidal effect of the moon, causing spring tides and so on. This is standard stuff. I have not studied germination but an effect is plausible, in some places. including the claimed rising of ground water which is some places is like an underground sea. Wind and rainfall are also linked although of course tidal effects are not the only drivers. Sometimes people forget that the atmosphere is fluid and tidal. This is all well covered in references including WP

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    Hi all,
    I am a member of my local skeptics group, I am aware of all arguing with woo tactics. I was after a hard number out of my own curiosity (also to use the instant someone ever mentions the effects of the moon again)

    So is one in 10 million the effect? Really that small? Wow, if I was to take a guess I would have said 100kg would change +- a milligram.

    And increase when at 90 deg? So the moon has more of an effect at the poles than the equator?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
    Hi all,
    I am a member of my local skeptics group, I am aware of all arguing with woo tactics. I was after a hard number out of my own curiosity (also to use the instant someone ever mentions the effects of the moon again)

    So is one in 10 million the effect? Really that small? Wow, if I was to take a guess I would have said 100kg would change +- a milligram.

    And increase when at 90 deg? So the moon has more of an effect at the poles than the equator?
    Not necessarily more, just different.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
    Hi all,
    I am a member of my local skeptics group, I am aware of all arguing with woo tactics. I was after a hard number out of my own curiosity (also to use the instant someone ever mentions the effects of the moon again)

    So is one in 10 million the effect? Really that small? Wow, if I was to take a guess I would have said 100kg would change +- a milligram.

    And increase when at 90 deg? So the moon has more of an effect at the poles than the equator?
    Phil Plait had some blogs a while back about tides.

    He recommends a pdf paper - Myths about Gravity and Tides by Mikolaj Sawicki that states "Earth’s, Sun’s and Moon’s average gravitational pulls on a 80 kg person on the surface of Earth are about 785 N, 0.47 N, and 0.0027 N, respectively."

    0.0027/785 = 0.00034%. By these figures, pull of earth is nearly 300,000 times more than pull of moon.

    For a 100 kg person, I think this means you weigh 688 mg less when moon is at zenith (ie straight overhead in tropics) than when it is at nadir.

    Those more expert than me may wish to read Sawicki's paper and check my calculation.

    =0.0027/785
    =1/A1
    =A1*100
    =A3*1000000
    =A4*2
    Last edited by Robert Tulip; 2012-Apr-01 at 01:02 AM. Reason: four mistakes! :)

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
    Hi all, I'm having an argument with a bio dynamics practitioner.
    What the heck is a "bio dynamics practitioner"? Sounds like a made up profession.

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    Thank you Robert
    Just what I needed, my googlefu was not strong enough to find that.

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    I thought this was a science site.
    Yet apart from Peter and I, everyone else wants to find evidence to counter the woowoo theory.
    THERE IS NO THEORY!

    Science = observation + theory + prediction + test (objective)
    Observation + theory + prediction -test = nonsense. Or at best unsupported conjecture.
    The woowoos observe, theorise, predict but they never test. Or only test subjectively.
    This is not science.
    It is futile to treat it as if it was.

    In this particular case, to tell a woowoo that the gravtitational attraction on their tomato plant is X, and X+Y when the Moon is full (Y being a very, very small number) is not a "counter argument" to their belief. It will merely cause them to 'observe' how miraculous is the tiny effect of gravity in improving the 'vitality' of vegetables.
    Mind you, if it was marigolds, the effect of moonbeams could be remarkable.

    John

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
    I thought this was a science site.
    Yet apart from Peter and I, everyone else wants to find evidence to counter the woowoo theory.
    THERE IS NO THEORY!

    Science = observation + theory + prediction + test (objective)
    Observation + theory + prediction -test = nonsense. Or at best unsupported conjecture.
    The woowoos observe, theorise, predict but they never test. Or only test subjectively.
    This is not science.
    It is futile to treat it as if it was.

    In this particular case, to tell a woowoo that the gravitational attraction on their tomato plant is X, and X+Y when the Moon is full (Y being a very, very small number) is not a "counter argument" to their belief. It will merely cause them to 'observe' how miraculous is the tiny effect of gravity in improving the 'vitality' of vegetables.
    Mind you, if it was marigolds, the effect of moonbeams could be remarkable.

    John
    John, there is actually a scientific hypothesis, that plants grow better during the waxing moon. I tested it by examining global CO2 levels to see if stronger plant growth during the waxing moon produced any regular dip in CO2 level in the atmosphere. Ever the optimist, I would have liked to find a correlation as it would have been an extraordinary scientific finding of real interest. However, as you would expect the data showed that CO2 level (ie plant growth) and phase of the moon are entirely without any correlation, indicating that planting by the moon is no more than a folk myth, with no empirical basis. There is a theory, but it is not true.

    It is possible to test theories put forward in fields such as astrology and homeopathy, and can be useful to do so in order to refute their claims.

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