Some ways of thinking are good and useful. Other ways of thinking are flawed. One factor in flawed thinking is when it’s based on a false foundational premise.

A premise is an assumption upon which an argument or system of thinking is built. An example is the premise that some types of bacteria can cause disease.

A foundational premise is essential to our way of thinking about something. If the premise that the bacteria causes disease is false, the entire structure around our thinking about infectious diseases would crumble.

Here are a couple of examples False Foundational Premises to further clarify what I’m talking about.


The earth is the center of the universe. The sun, planets and stars go around the earth.

This premise was held by man from ancient times to the middle ages. Calculations could be made of the movement of planets; the sun and moon and these calculations were consistent even though the foundational premise was false. This foundational premise was a part of biblical theology of the Catholic church.

Then along comes the astronomer Copernicus in the early 1500’s, who proved otherwise. The earth and planets revolved around the Sun. Did the Church say thanks and shift their theology? No. In the Bible, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth. Critics claimed “the evidence of the senses, the thousand-year consensus of men of science, and the authority of the Bible” makes it wrong.

In the early 1600’s, Galileo then furthered the work of Copernicus and the Church demanded he

“.. .abandon completely… the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”

They then tried him for heresy and put him in prison.


The movement and position of the planets has an influence on individual lives and human events.

This premise had been around since 2000 BC. Astrology has been part of a scholarly tradition, and in academic and political circles up until the Twentieth Century. However following the wide-scale adoption of the scientific method, astrology has been challenged successfully on both theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. It is a foundational premise that is false.

That being said, surveys show that 25% of Westerners continue to believe that the movement of planets affect their individual lives.

A number of years ago I read Cosmos and Psyche:Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas. Here is my review.

This book is deeply flawed. It foundational premise is utter nonsense. Tarnas has used his vast understanding of the humanities and history and attempted to correlate trends, themes, biographies and events to the movement of planets.

Like all astrologers, he is attempting to merge the scientific and factual using his intuition, seeing correlations and causes and effects when none exist. The intuitive connection between the scientific facts and the “facts” of history simply does not work. The supposed correlations are simply subjective conjecture. And in the final analysis, the overarching question is “so what?”.

I found the book very disappointing in light of his brilliant Passion of the Western Mind.

Now for those who believe in Astrology, the web offers lots of opportunities to get a reading. Try this website. You will get a reading that will tell you a lot of contradictory information about yourself and will be of little value.

So, what is my point? The lesson here is that when you challenge someone’s foundational premise as false, get ready for a fight.  Facts and evidence may not do the trick.

In my next blog I will discuss two more false foundational premises.

Meanwhile, ask yourself. Might I have any false foundational premises in my thinking?

Do you see others basing a whole way of thinking on a false foundational premise?


  1. Could the judgment that we currently have sufficient knowledge and stage of development to fully evaluate astrology, itself, be an example of a false foundational premise?


  2. I wonder if in time your premise of the superiority of the rational mind and evidence based thinking as limited and outdated. I wonder if a less rational, but experiential premise might eventually supersed it.


  3. It does seem as if we are quite limited by what we believe we understand it at A given time. Then 25, 50 or 100 years later we seem to have a very different level of knowledge and way of evaluating reality.

    For example, there seems to be a robust debate today about whether there is such thing as free will . How differently will this debate be perceived in 50 or 100 years ?

    Of course, a more basic point Might be made about our thoughts about human physiology 100 years ago, as well as What might be useful strategies for healing illness.

    It does seem we need to have some humility about what we believe we know.


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