Suitbert Ertel (born 2nd March 1932 at 8.30am, Radevormwald, Germany) died at home in Göttingen, Germany on the eve of a solar eclipse on 25th of February. He was an eminent psychologist and retired in 1997 to become Professor Emeritus of Georg-August-University of Göttingen.
Research into Gauquelin & the Mars Effect
Ertel came across the work of the Gauquelins when he bought one of their books. He thought it would help his study into the linguistic characteristics of works written by people promoting “fringe” theories. Ertel soon realised that Gauquelin’s work was quite different from that of his other subjects and began to take a serious look at it. As time went on he became involved in the Gauquelins’ struggle with sceptical groups over the “Mars effect” for sports champions. This culminated in an article that lifted the debate to a more scientific level: “Raising the Hurdle of the Mars Effect” (1988) in The Journal of Scientific Exploration. The Tenacious Mars Effect (Ertel and Irving 1996) gives an account of the sceptic controversy and a detailed scientific defence of the Mars effect.
Reappraisal of the Carlson Test
Ertel always made it clear that he held no brief for astrology as such, yet he felt that any idea worth investigating deserved fair and even-handed treatment. In 2009, Ertel's reappraisal of the famous Carlson Double Blind Test (1985) was published. This experiment was widely touted by critics of astrology to be the definitive proof that “natal astrology as practised by reputable astrologers” was no better than chance. Ertel combined criticism earlier voiced by psychologists such as H. J. Eysenck with a thorough look at Carlson’s protocol and procedures. In doing so, he demonstrated that the astrologers had been able to successfully match charts in a 3-way blind test. In one test the astrologers ranked their matches to a marginally significant level and in another, rated their matches out of 10 points to a significant level.
Critic of Dean's Parental Tampering Conjecture
Ertel was a notable critic of Geoffrey Dean's conjecture that Gauquelins’ observed planetary correlations were the result of parental tampering. With no evidence to support the claim and the impossibility of refutation, the debate continued over many years in many publications.
Ertel helped many astrological researchers with their papers. He was, in my view the model of how a psychology professor should approach astrology - with healthy scepticism but with the capacity to accept results whatever the implications. Our loss at the eclipse marks the end of an era for astrological research. Ertel’s courage and tenacity in rescuing persuasive evidence from moribund studies marks him down as a great inspiration in the current renaissance in empirical astrology.
Robert Currey, published in the AA Journal 2016