**What is numerology?**

Numerology is basically a belief in the significance of certain numerical patterns. Numerologists believe that by studying numerical coincidences and transforming words into mathematical sums by ascribing numbers to alphabet letters we can understand our environment, circumstances and even the origins of our universe more deeply.

**When did it start?**

Numerology has been popular for thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks, including the mathematician Pythagoras, were interested in numerology, believing it to hold the key to some of the mysteries of the universe. Although it was considered a serious branch of science in those times its importance dwindled with the advent of Christianity. Early official religious councils apparently categorized numerology as ‘unchristian’, along with other traditional forms of ‘magical’ practices. As a result the impact of previously significant numbers began to wane. Some numbers, however, have retained their importance for many people over the centuries – witness the three sixes which represent the devil or Anti-Christ.

**What is it used for?**

Just as the study of chemistry has overtaken that of alchemy so modern mathematics has replaced numerology as one of the keys to understanding our origins. It continues to interest respected modern-day mathematicians engaged in studying the universe: the analysis of some of the extremely large numbers involved can apparently lead to the discovery of some intriguing numerical coincidences. The popular pseudo-science has even been used to analyse and predict recent stock market trends.

Numerologists today also use a process called ‘digit summing’. With this system alphabet letters are each assigned a number. The letters of the relevent word or phrase can then be ‘translated’ into a series of numbers which can then be added up. The total is then separated, digit by digit, and each of these digits is added up until a final, single figure is reached. This number can then be interpreted according to an accepted code. In this way numerology is often used for analysing someone’s personality or character, based on their name and also, possibly, their date of birth.

**Does it work?**

Interpretation of the results of numerological calculations can lead to some discussion and the science remains a ‘pseudo’ one partly because different numbers have different meanings in different parts of the world. In China even numbers are generally considered luckier than odd ones. The number thirteen is considered unlucky in many countries – for example, Britain. In Italy, however, it is seventeen which is considered unlucky. In Japan the number four is traditionally associated with death – a fact which is news to the average European. If the credibility of numerology rests on the validity of the interpretation of certain numbers then perhaps it would be a more believable science if the results it produces were not so open to so many diverse interpretations around the world.

**Quick Quiz:**Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. Numerologists believe that by studying numerical coincidences and transforming words into mathematical sums by ascribing numbers to alphabet letters we can understand our environment, circumstances and __________ the origins of our universe more deeply.

2. __________ official religious councils apparently categorized numerology as ‘unchristian’, along with other traditional forms of ‘magical’ practices.

3. Some numbers, however, have retained their importance for many people over the centuries – witness the three __________ which represent the devil or Anti-Christ.

4. It continues to interest respected modern-day mathematicians __________ in studying the universe.

5. The popular pseudo-science has even been used to analyse and predict recent __________ market trends.

6. Numerologists today also use a process called ‘digit summing’. With this system alphabet letters are __________ assigned a number.

7. Interpretation of the results of numerological calculations can __________ to some discussion and the science remains a ‘pseudo’ one.

8. The __________ thirteen is considered unlucky in many countries – for example, Britain.

9. If the credibility of numerology rests on the __________ of the interpretation of certain numbers then perhaps it would be a more believable science if the results it produces were not so open to so many diverse interpretations around the world.