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Professor H.J.Eysenck
In Memoriam 1916-1997

Geoffrey Dean and David Nias

From Correlation 16(1), 48-54, 1997 with an added section on Eysenck's birth chart.

Abstract -- Professor Hans Eysenck (1916-1997) was arguably the most influential psychologist of his time. This lengthy obituary (4400 words) traces his upbringing, his career (he took up psychology by accident), his writings (he wrote over 1000 articles and nearly 80 books), his interest in graphology, astrology and parapsychology (which led to about 5, 19 and 12 publications respectively), and his work with Jeff Mayo (zodiac zig-zag) and Michel Gauquelin (planetary effects). Eysenck was famous for his stupendous clarity and unrelenting rationalism. All statements had to be based on sound experiment and measurement. "If it cannot be measured then it does not exist", he said. Those who argued the opposite by citing, say, love or artistic taste were quickly confronted by inventories that measured exactly that, and a vast erudition seemingly always at his fingertips. Debating Eysenck was a sobering experience. His book Astrology Science or Superstition?, written with David Nias in 1982, is now dated but is perhaps still the most readable scientific account of astrology ever written. His interest in astrology helped to launch London Research Conferences and three overseas Eysenck Research Seminars. The first seminar led to the formation of the Committee for Objective Research in Astrology, with Eysenck as Chairman, to counter the generally poor quality of astrological research by providing free guidance and advice. It still exists even though few enquiries have been received, most of which did not proceed further. Eysenck was quiet and soft-spoken with just a trace of accent, always helpful and approachable, remembered by his students and colleagues as loyal even when their views differed from his own. He set an example of open-mindedness and good science that everyone can aim for but few will achieve. The response by astrologers has been generally to praise his favourable comments and to condemn him otherwise. No doubt Eysenck saw this as an example of the phrase he had framed many years earlier to characterise irrational thinkers, namely "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts." Eysenck's birth chart reveals little about astrology other than its ability to describe almost anything in retrospect. 15 references.

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