Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
A journalist conducted an interview with me on numerology. I am posting it here for the benefit of the general public.
Q: You wrote in one of your articles that astrology is pseudo-science.
You gave good evidence to support your argument. I am convinced that astrology is pseudo-science and doesn't work.
But what about numerology? Is it pseudo-science too?
Numerology is the pseudoscientific belief in a supernatural or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It claims that particular numbers, such as a person’s date of birth, can be used to predict their personality and the events of their life but it does not have a reliable predictive ability.
Why do we call this pseudo-science? Because it does not “conform to accepted scientific standards such as peer review, replicability, reliability, validity, and evidential support.
One other reason people fall for these pseudo-things is - predictions might seem accurate because of confirmation bias – “the act of selectively interpreting the results that suit our already-held beliefs or desired traits".
In order to cheat the general public, numerologists project their predictions as accurate means selectively interpreting it after the fact so that it fits in with events that have already taken place. Also these kinds of predictions were presented as more spiritual, meaningful and personal, whereas evidence-based science could often be projected as clinical, spiritless, and impersonal alienating people away from facts and reality.
Q: Do these things cause any harm? What is wrong with having some fun with numerology?
Krishna: When predictions are treated as facts, they have the potential to be both misleading and harmful.
The first harm you can come across is - you have to part with your money to get these useless predictions from numerologists.
Second, I have seen several people refusing good matches because of their irrational beliefs in numerology.
The third thing is treating predictions as facts can persuade individuals to make financial and personal decisions that can prove disastrous.
Fourth , media outlets that cover pseudoscience without context or awareness of where it fits in the scientific world create fertile ground for fake science and misinformation to flourish.
Fifth, some even think their children are incarnations of demons because they were born on certain dates and times. These parents ill-treat these children which is highly deplorable.
Do you still think all this is fun?
Q: Has numerology been scientifically tested?
The linked study was actually performed twice in the UK. Neither study demonstrated evidence supporting numerology or any of its claims. This should come as no surprise given that it seems to be more of a believe system or superstition than a science.
“Two studies have been done investigating numerological claims, both producing negative results, one in the UK in 1993, and one in 2012 in Israel. The experiment in Israel involved a professional numerologist and 200 participants. The experiment was repeated twice and still produced negative results.”
Testing the Claims (1)
A numerologist gave these predictions for these numbers and were tested:
|1||Action, aggression, ambition, leadership, purpose|
|2||Balance, passivity, receptivity|
|3||Brilliance, gaiety, versatility|
|4||Dullness, endurance, steadiness|
|5||Adventure, instability, sexuality|
|6||Dependability, domesticity, harmony|
|7||Knowledge, mystery, solitariness|
|8||Material success, worldly involvement|
|9||Great achievement, inspiration, spirituality|
Does numerology work? A simple test using the following well-known historical figures should be sufficient to reveal the facts: Adolf Hitler (born April 20, 1889), Josef Vissarionovich Stalin (December 21, 1879), Benito Mussolini (July 29, 1883), Pol Pot (May 19, 1928) and Saddam al- Takriti Hussein (officially April 28, 1937).
Table 2 below shows the Destiny Numbers and so on derived from the sums, which should reveal the purpose, goal and direction of the individuals concerned (refer to Table 1 for analysis).
|Josef Vissarionovich Stalin
|Saddam al-Takriti Hussein
Given that these men were all brutal dictators, then number 1 in Table 1 should express their Personality Number (action, aggression, ambition, leadership, purpose). However, when these numbers are examined we see that only in the case of Pol Pot is there a match.
No doubt numerologists will be able to find some kind of common link if they put their minds to it. Humans are very good at finding nonexistent correlations as any good conspiracy theory aptly demonstrates. The question is, however, would a numerologist be able to divine the character of these dictators based on these numbers alone without knowing beforehand who they are?
I think it can be safely said that numerology reveals nothing significant about a person. Studying the individual's actions and gaining insight into their character by interviewing the person, family members, and friends, together with a psychological assessment, are more effective methods of enquiry and analysis.