Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought ( Spectrum Series)

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Brand new. We distribute directly for the publisher. Number mystics, Dudley explains, originated with Pythagoras 2500 years ago and continue to this day. Numerology is applied ... number mysticism and is a more recent invention. You will find a history of number mysticism and numerology in the book, with a wealth of examples from the past as well as the present. Meet the Elliott Wave Theorists who explain the movement of the stock market with Fibonacci numbers; the Bible-numberists, who find 7s, 11s, 13s or perfect squares in the Bible; the researcher who finds 57s throughout the American Revolution; they pyramidologists who see all of human history in numbers derived from measurements of the great pyramids of Egypt, and much more. Read more Show Less

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Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book!

Numerology is about numerology, which is the delusion that numbers have power over events. Numerology is a descendent of number mysticism, which is the belief that the contemplation of numbers can give mystical and non-rational insights into their nature and the nature of the universe. Number mysticism (e.g., 2 is wet, and cold) originated with Pythagoras 2500 years ago, and has continued to this day. Numerology is applied number mysticism (e.g., if your number is 2, you tend to be wet, and cold), and is a recent invention.

   Numerology gives an outline of the history of number mysticism and numerology and gives many examples, past and present. It includes the Elliott Wave theorists, who explain the movements of the stock market with Fibonacci numbers, the biorthyhmists, who explain our good and bad days using properties of 23, 28, and 33, the bible-numberists, who find 7s, 11s, 13s, or perfect squares in the Bible, the Pyramidologists, who see all of human history in numbers derived from measurements of the great pyramid of Egypt, the number-of-beasters, who view with alarm those who bear the number 666, the eminent scholar who asserts that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets keeping triangular numbers in mind, the researchers who finds 57s throughout the American Revolution, the entrepreneurs who would sell you your personalized numerological profile and others.

   The message of the book is that numbers indeed have power, but the power is not over events, it is over human minds. It is intended for anyone interested in human folly and requires no mathematical knowledge beyond arithmetic to understand.
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Editorial Reviews

David Brooks
"Underwood Dudley has done it again with a witty, fascinating book about number mystics. If you enjoyed his Mathematical Cranks, you must buy this book. It's a delight to read Dudley who writes very well, as he vacillates between exasperation at cranks' errors and sympathy with their goals.... A spin through the human condition nobody else can provide."
The Telegraph
The Mathematics Teacher
"I anticipated that Numerology would be a well-written, user-friendly book. I am pleased to announce that Dudley's latest book exceeded my expectations in every respect. It is especially noteworthy that the author's practice of summarizing the history of each topic that he discusses is carried over to this book. In conclusion, the book is a delight-one that you will be glad to have read, but sorry to have finished."
Anyone interested in the unfounded ways in which numbers influence the human mind will relish this exposition by Dudley DePauw U. on number mysticism and its applied twin, numerology. Perpetuated by none other than Pythagoras, generally regarded as the first true mathematician, the author presents such fascinating variants on this ancient theme as: the biblical numberists, the beasters who dread the number "666", the Pyramidologists who view human history in terms of pyramid measurements, and the contemporary cults of biorhythms, and Elliott Wave theorists, who explain stock market movements with Fibonacci numbers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780883855249
  • Publisher: Mathematical Association of America
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Series: Spectrum Series
  • Pages: 329
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Read an Excerpt

This book is about numbers. Not about numbers in their workaday role as counters (send $3.50 plus $4.95 for postage and handling, a total of $8.\45), or as mathematical objects (845 is a sum of two squares in three different ways: 29[squared]+2[squared], 26[squared]+13[squared], and 22[squared] + 19[squared]), but as things about which can be said, No, I wouldn't go so far as some of my fellow calculators and indiscriminately welcome all numbers with open arms: not the heavy-handed rough-and-tough bully 8 or the sinister 64 or the arrogant, smug self-satisfied 36. But I do admit to a very personal affection for the ingenious, adventurous 26, the magic, versatile 7, the helpful 37, the fatherly, reliable (if somewhat stodgy) 76...

and 9 is a wonderful being of whom I felt almost afraid, 8 I took for his wife, and there used always to seem a fitness in 9X9 being so much more than 8X8. 7 again is masculine; 6, of no particular sex but gentle and straightforward; 3 a feeble edition of 9, and generally mean; 2 young and sprightly; 1 a common-place drudge. [2,p.253]
For some people, numbers do much more than merely count and measure. For some people, numbers have meanings, they have inwardnesses, they can be magic and versatile, or young and sprightly. I am not one of those people since I think that numbers have quite enough to do as it is, but for the crowd of number mystics, numerologists, pyramidologists, number-of-the-beasters, and others whose ideas and work will be described in the following chapters, numbers have powers far out of the ordinary. Number mysticism got its start in ancient Greece, with Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans in the sixth century B.C. Before that, numbers ere just numbers, things to count with. The Pythagoreans made some discoveries about numbers-for instance, that the sum of odd numbers starting at 1 is always a square. 1+3=2[squared], 1+3+5=3[squared], 1+3+5+7=4[squared]....
which so impressed them that they reportedly came to the mystical conclusion that "all is number," If all is number, then numbers are worth investigating, and that is what the Pythagoreans did to the limit of their abilities, both mathematically and mystically. Both mathematics and number mysticism have been marching along ever since, though no longer together-they parted company forever within one hundred years of the death of Pythagoras.   Mysticism is a nonrational method of getting at truth. Ours is a rational era (even if it seems to become less so every year), and we can lose sight of the existence of truths that are not arrived at by reason: emotional truths, spiritual truths, even physical truths. Some truths cannot be described in words, nor arrived at by reason. Love provides one example. For another, can you describe a sneeze in words? Or what it feels like? If you can, you are a better wordsmith than I. Some truths must be felt.    Number mystics, by feeling properties of numbers, gain mystical insights into the nature of the universe. Not being a number mystic myself. I cannot describe them, but I could not describe them no matter how gifted a mystic I was since, by definition, mystical experiences are ineffable. Those who have them are fortunate. There is nothing wrong with mysticism.   On the other hand, everything is wrong with numerology. Numerologists purport to apply number mysticism. That is, they take mystical properties of numers-2 is cold, say, and wet- and attach them to things and people. If your number is 2 (numbers can easily be assigned to people, in many different ways), then you are cold and wet, whether you know it or not.   This is standing mysticism on its head. For a number mystic, numbers are tools, means of gaining understanding. For a numerologist, numbers are the masters, dictating the nature of the world. Numerologists assert that numbers tell you where it would be best to live, who you should marry, even at what time you should arrive for an appointment. Numbers do not do this. It is not their job. Numbers have power, but not that kind of power.    This is a thread that runs through numerology, pyramidology, and the many other misuses of numbers that are described in this book. What they have in common is the belief that things happen because numbers make them happen. The pyramidologist measures his pyramid and says that the world will end on August 20, 1953 because of his measurements (chapter 25). A neo-Pythaagorean says that Greeks carved the Eastern Island statues because his numbers tell him so (chapter 4). A distinguished Oxford University scholar asserts that one of Shakespeare's sonnets is irregular because 28 is a triangular number (chapter 17). The stock market behaves as it does because Fibonacci numbers make it go up and down (chapter 33).   Another thread is the numerologists' refusal to believe that patterns can occur by accident. Human beings are very good at seeing patterns, and sometimes they see patterns that no one made but exist only by chance. The Bible is full of 7s, one author tells us, while another finds 13s. Yet another finds squares and a fourth finds triangular numbers. Each of the four says that the numbers are there because God put them there. It is possible that God takes delight in confounding poor, limited humans with obscure puzzles, and it is possible that the Bible is full of 17s or 23s that were put there on purpose and that no one has noticed yet, but I doubt it. The 7s, 13s, squares, and triangular numbers are all there by chance. Like numbers, chance has power.    Others find that people they dislike bear the number of the beast, 666. They are thus bad, because of the number. Or, they think that they find 666 in the bar code that is on almost everything that we buy and because of the number, deduce the existence of a vast conspiracy. Biorhtythmists say that we all oscillating in cycles of lengths 23, 28, and 33 days and act as we do because of the numbers. There is something about numbers that can turn the head.    What follows in this book is a description of these and other manifestations of number mysticism and numerology. The lessons to be learned are that
    numbers have power
    numbers do not control events
    coincidences happen

  These facts are so obvious that they hardly need stating; so the question is, why read any further? The answer is that by so doing you can learn about something that you may not be aware of, the world of number mysticism and those infected by it: the pyramid-measures, bible-numberists, Elliott Wavers, and so on. It is, I think, a colorful and interesting world, and worth knowing a little about.    There is, by the way, no other book devoted to this subject. Numerology by E.T. Bell [1] contains nothing on modern numerology, and other books with that word in their titles tend to be written by numerologists. Since this book covers more than numerology, a more descriptive title for it would be its subtitle, What Pythagoras Wrought, but that would be less informative. Also, it is my hope that copies of it will turn up on the New Age shelves of used book stores, where they may fall into the hands of those expecting something different. The shock may do them good.    I wish to thank those who provided me with material or other help, in particular Arthur Benjamin, James Bidwell, I;.J. Good, Richard Guy, Michael Keith, David Singmaster, Diane Spitler, Ian Stewart, Michael Stueben, and especially Martin Gardner, who allowed me to inspect his wonderful files. I am also indebted to the Fisher Fund of DePauw University, which provided me a semester free of teaching duties. References
1. Bell, E.T., Numerology, Century, New York, 1933, reprinted by Hyperion Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1979
2. Galton, Francis, Visualised numerals, Nature 21 (1879*1880), 252-256
3. Smith, Stephen B., The Great Mental Calculators, Columbia University Press, New York, 1983.
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Table of Contents

1.  Introduction
2.  Pythagoras
3.  Neopythagoreanism
4.  The Pythagoreans Abroad
5.  Alphabets for Gematria
6.  The Beast
7.  Beastly Curiosities
8.  The Beast is Coming!
9.  The Law of Small Numbers
10.  Comes the Revolution
11.  The Law of Round Numbers
12.  Biblical Sevens
13.  Thirteens and Squares
14.  The Triangles of Genesis 1:1
15.  Paragrams
16.  Shakespear's Numbers
17.  Rithmomachy
18.  Number Forms
19.  Mrs.  L.  Dow Balliett
20.  Numerology Books
21.  What Numerologists Sell
22.  Listen for Your Number
23.  The Power of the Pyramid
24.  Inside the Pyramid
25.  The Pyramid, Stonehenge, the Malaysian Lottery, and the Washington Monument
26.  Pyramidiocy
27.  Are You Gridding?
28.  Enneagrams
29.  All the Glistens
30.  Numbers, Numbers Everywhere
31.  Biorhythms
32.  Riding the Wave
33.  Conclusion
34.  Index
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