The Gauquelins published all of their source-data while Professor Suitbert Ertel (1932-2017) did not publish any of his: that is a basic difference between their legacies. One searches in vain for anyone who can corroborate or who saw the data that Ertel worked with.
The Gauquelins published birthdata on 2,088 eminent sports champions in 19701. That was a well-known total, eg:
The basic observation of Gauquelin was that of 2,088 European sports champions, of whom 452 were born when Mars was in Gauquelin's sectors 1 or 4.
That's from J.Good in 19822. But, from the mid-1980s Ertel started publishing articles3 claiming to have more than twice as much birthdata on sports champions, totalling 4,391. Where had these come from?
He developed the concept of eminence grading, which involved his students at Gottingen University Psychology department where he worked from 1972-1997. Using up to fifteen different reference-books on sports champions4, for each line of data they would count how many times the athlete scored in these books. That is a prodigious amount of work for students to do, on thousands of sports champions, and is there no record of this? The higher the eminence-level, Ertel explained, the stronger was the 'Mars effect' in the two Key sectors. His oft-reproduced graph of this effect was5:
The psychology department of Gottingen University has no record of that endeavour. As to where the extra 2,303 lots of birthdata of eminent European sportmen came from, a few hundred presumably came from a Belgian sceptics survey ('Comité Para').
Ertel seems to have visited Michel's laboratoire in Paris in the mid-1980s and been given permission to copy out the data: he there 'discovered' an extra 1503 lots of unpublished sports data and Michel is said to have informed him that they were unpublished because they were 'less eminent.' Upon returning home, to Gottingen, and plotting the data, he found that this non-published group scored negatively. The great Gauquelin edifice, which had looked so impressive through the decade of the 1980s, was severely damaged by this revelation. For the skeptics, it was manna from heaven. Never did the credibility of the Gauquelins recover from this blow.
Had Michel furtively selected out his low-scoring data? If so, that would invalidate most of his published volumes. Here is the shocking graph which Ertel published in 1988, which he called 'Gauquelin bias effect'6:
He wrote under the graph, "Marked negative deviations are apparent in key sector areas for unpublished data." We here read that his graph plots 2,8887 'published Gauquelin athletes'. No, that number was 2,0887 and we begin to be suspicious. He plots 'a subsample of unpublished athletes' as 659, and why is not his alleged total of 1,503 unpublished here plotted? His 'subsample' is much too small to plot over 36 sectors, that would give only 18 per sector. There are clearly 37 points on this graph, 37 different points, whereas there should be 36 sectors. None of this makes much sense. Should the Journal for Scientific Exploration really have published so dubious a graph?
In subsequent articles Ertel would imply that the two Gauquelins had somehow cheated, by inspecting the planetary positions before deciding whether to include them in their data-sets. Thus -
Selection bias is more likely to enter if decisions to discard or not to discard individuals are made by someone who is aware of their Mars sectors at birth8.
That would indeed be fraud! But fortunately he, Ertel, was able to rescue this potentially ruinous situation by means of his eminence-grading procedure. By pooling all of the data together, both published and unpublished, and then grading it by eminence, he claimed to be able to show that the strength of the Mars-effect increased with the degree of eminence.
By this deft manoeuvre he thereby catapulted himself to centre-stage in the whole debate.
Years later, the implication of Ertel's claim was brutally spelt out by US Sceptic Paul Kurtz, founder of the Humanist movement:
Ertel discovered in Gauquelin's archives 1,503 champions whose birth times Gauquelin had requested but whose names and birth data he had not published. The Mars percentage among these was 14.77%, whereas among the total of 2,888 published champions it was 21.75%. The discovery of such a strong bias should have been reason to dismiss all of Gauquelin's data. 9
Science is about public knowledge, i.e. what can be inspected and checked by others. There is no evidence for the existence of this remarkable group of 1,503 unpublished sports champions - nor has any group of sports champions scoring negative for Mars ever been shown.
A year later, Ertel gave a presentation to the Geo-Cosmic Relations conference in Amsterdam in 1989;10 he there turned out to have totals for each of the Gauquelin professional groups, that were generally quite a bit larger than those published by the Gauquelins. We may compare them as follows:
He is claiming to have a lot more of nearly every group than ever did the Gauquelins - without advising us where they came from. Ertel was not generally in the business of collecting data.11 He mysteriously has birthdata for 2440 sports champions, and this does not tally with anything that has gone before.
In the last issue of her journal, Astro-Psychological Problems, three years after her husband ended his life, Françoise expressed her doubts over Michel's friendship with the German psychologist:
I knew how sincerely MG had striven, during all his life, to carry out his research projects with impeccable objectivity. The separation of our personal life and research projects had allowed me also to witness how exaggeratedly sure of himself MG had become.I was quite upset when, after MG's demise, SE started writing articles presenting my ex-husband more and more definitely as an unreliable cheater, and simultaneously me too because I had been his collaborator. I was not sure that MG had been completely objective up to the very end of his collaboration with SE. But I was sure that he had maintained a high standard of scientific honesty during our thirty years of collaboration.12
In the last year of his life, Professor Ertel kindly sent his main data-collection, of the 4,391 sports champions, which is posted up here
After his passing it came to be noted, that this complete data-set contained merely the original total of 2,088 Gauquelin sports-champions and nothing more. The other data is untimed, i.e. worthless. To check this, right-click on the page, 'save as' into a text file, then open that in Excel: sorting by the 'stunde' column i.e. 'hour' will give this total. One sees that a mere half-dozen or so of his names and birthdata are different. Nor is the data-set usable because it lacks longitude/latitude co-ordinates, it only has place-names.13 Enough said.
Summarising, there does not exist any evidence that Michel Gauquelin cheated. Such allegations that were made, cannot be substantiated. Some of his data-collections may have been dubious, especially in later life when he had separated from Françoise, but that is not the same thing. Section five discusses how the German psychology professor Arno Müller checked through two of the Gauquelin data-groups, seeking for evidence of bias, but could not find it.
The Gauquelin-related articles and letters of Suitbert Ertel
From 1986 to 2007
In: Astro-Psychological Problems, Correlation, Journal of Scientific Enquiry, National Council of Geocosmic Research Jnl., Sceptical Inquirer, Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie.
1. 1986, ZP Band 28 (1/2) Wissenschaftliche Qualität und progressive Dynamik im Gauquelin-Paradigma
2. 1986, ZP Band 28 (1/2) Interview mit Hans Jürgen Eysenck über die Grenzgebietsforschung
3. 1987 Corr. 7(1) 4-17, "Further grading of eminence: musicians, painters, writers"
4. 1988 APP May Vol.6 (2), Planetary Relations with Female Notabilities: The First Results cura.free.fr/10astro/1008ertel/1008ertel.html
5. 1988, JSE 2,1 Raising the Hurdle for the Athletes' Mars Effect: Association Co-Varies With Eminence www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-2-number-1-1988
6. 1989 APP March Vol.7 (1), Reversed Eminence Correlations
7. 1989 Corr. 9(1) 5-24, "Purifying Gauquelin's' Grain of Gold" Comments, 29-31.
8. 1989, NCGR Jnl., 27-34, "Reversed eminence correlations. Comments on an article review."
9. 1990 Corr. 10(2) 3-19, "Scrutinizing G's Character Trait Hypothesis Once Again."
10. 1990, NCGR Jnl., Spring 27-34, "Scrutinizing Gauquelin's character trait hypothesis once again."
11. 1991: Gauquelin contentions scrutinized. Geocosmic relations. The earth and its macro-environment. Ed. Tomassen et. al., 255-166.
12. 1991 Corr. 11(1) 12-23, "The Publications of Michel Gauquelin, Complete list, 1955-1991."
13. 1991, ZP, Band 33 (1/2) Nachruf auf Michel Gauquelin (1928-1991)
14. 1992, APP Vol.8 (2): References of Michel Gauquelin's Publications (Complete list)
15. 1992, JSE 6,3 The Gauquelin Effect Explained? Comments on Arno Mueller's Hypothesis of Planetary Correlations www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-6-number-3-1992
16. 1992 Skeptical Enquirer, Winter 16(2) 150-160, 'Update on the Mars-Effect'
17. 1992: Mars effect survives critique of Dutch skeptics. A Rejoinder. 3rd EuroSkeptics Congress, 'Science or Pseudo? The Mars effect and other claims', Amsterdam, Utrecht.
18. 1992 ZP Band 34 (1/2) Ist der Gauquelin-Effekt zu erklären? Eine Stellungnahme zu Arno Müllers Deutung der planetarischen Effekte
19. 1992 ZP Band 34 (3/4) Ist der Mondeffekt bei Gauquelins Schriftstellern zweifelhaft? Notizen zur Wiederholungsstudie Arno Müllers
20. 1993, JSE 7,2 Puzzling Eminence Effects Might Make Good Sense www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-7-number-2-1993
21. 1993 Corr. 12(1) 2-9, "Why the character trait hypothesis still fails."
22. 1993 JSE 7: 283-92, "Comments on Dutch investigations of the Gauquelin Mars effect."
23. 1994 Corr. 13(2) 3-16, "Mars effect uncovered in French sceptics'data."
24. 1995 Corr. 14(1) 8-14, "Gender of notables related to planetary positions."
25. 1995 Corr. 14(1) 30-37, "Birth time precision and the Gauquelin effect."
26. 1995, ZP Band 37 (1/2), 3-27, "Die Stärke des Gauquelin-Planeteneffekts: Arno Müllers Bilanz korrekturbedürftig".
27. 1996 Corr. 15(1): 2-16, "How to suppress the Gauquelin Mars effect"
28. 1997, JSE, 11,1 Biased Data Selection in Mars Effect Research Ertel & Ken Irving www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-11-number-1-1997"
29. 1998 Corr. 17(2): 4-23, "Is there no Mars effect? The CFEPP's verdict scrutinized"
30. 1999 Corr. 18(2) 50-60, "Reply to Nanninga and Nienhuys on "Is there no Mars effect".
31. 1999 Corr. 18(2): 9-41, "Debunking with caution. Cleaning up Mars effect research."
32. 2000, JSE 14,3 The Mars Effect Is Genuine: On Kurtz, Nienhuys, and Sandhu's Missing the Evidence Prof. Ertel & Ken Irving www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-14-number-3-2000
33. 2000, JSE 14,3 Bulky Mars Effect Hard to Hide: Comment on Dommanget's Account of the Belgian Skeptics' Research www.scientificexploration.org/journal/volume-14-number-3-2000
34. 2000 Corr. 19(2): 37-46, "Scrutiny of Geoffrey Dean's parental tampering claim."
35. 2002 Corr. 21(1): 35-39, "Whence midnight avoidance? Scrutinies of Geoffrey Dean's parental tampering claim (4)."
36. 2005 Corr. 23(1): 7-33,"Gauquelin planetary effects brought down to earth? On Geoffrey Dean's dealing with stubborn facts."
37. 2007, ZP, Band 49 (1-4) Die neo-astrologische Entdeckung Gauquelins - Rückblick auf fünf Forschungsjahrzehnte (1955- 2005)
38. 2007, ZP, Band 47-9, "Die neo-astrologische Entdeckung Gauquelins. Rückblick auf fünf Forschungsjahrzehnte, 182-207.