Games: The effect of sunspot activity on British general election results

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Indy Lifestyle Online
In 1979, the Journal of the British Astronomical Association published a paper entitled "Sunspots and general elections", by Prof Kenneth McKinnon and Dr Sven Wincke of the Astropsychic Research Group at the University of the North-East Atlantic (or Rockall Polytechnic, as it then was). We have tracked down the authors, who have been updating their original material.

As Dr Wincke explained, the results had identified a correlation between the Conservative Party's performance in elections, and sunspot activity. The table in the next column compares the results of the Conservatives with the Wolf's sunspot numbers in the election month.

Effects of sunspots on elections:

Sunspot No Year Tory majority

6.1 1964 -13

17.4 1987 +147

25.3 1966 -110

26.0 1974 (Feb) -4

28.9 1955 +67

42.6 1945 -180

47.1 1974 (Oct) -42

51.6 1951 +26

91.1 1983 +188

94.8 1950 -17

99.8 1992 +65

106.8 1970 +43

111.4 1959 +107

134.4 1979 +70

"By arranging the table in increasing order of sunspot activity," Dr Wincke explained, "the threshold effect is clear." The third column indicates the Tory majority over Labour (negative numbers for Labour victories). "When the sunspot number is below 50, we have had five Labour victories out of seven post-war elections; but when it exceeds 50, we see six Conservative wins out of seven."

He admitted, however, that he and his colleague did not agree on the causality of the observed effect. While Dr Wincke believes that people's intention to vote Conservative causes a perturbation in the sun's magnetic field, Prof McKinnon believes that sunspots release particles called "votons" that alter the behaviour of the electorate.

On one thing, however, they are agreed. "We cannot understand," said Dr Wincke, "why you British are bothering with opinion polls, when science offers a precise alternative." Since he does not yet have the April figures for sunspots, he is unable to make a prediction for next week's election, but points out that the March figure of 8.8 looks grim for the Tories, unless there is a sudden outbreak of solar activity. In 1992, however, this method led to a prediction of a Tory majority of 23 - almost exactly right. As Dr Wincke says: "It was the sun wot won it for them."

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