Australian Skeptics Guide to Numerology

This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded here:

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People are all different, with different personalities, talents and desires. Numerology probably harks back to pre-Christian Hebrew mystic writing. That’s not surprising, as back then, the first letter of their alphabet also stood for the number one, and so on.

Some people still place great faith in Numerology as a means of revealing each individual’s special talents.

Let’s give you a SPECIAL NUMBER, using a common numerology technique which assigns each letter of the alphabet a digit from 1 to 9 according to this chart.

Pretend for the moment that your name is JOE SMITH. By summing the value of each letter in your name, we get:

Then, to reduce the answer to just one digit

3 + 6 = 9 : JOE SMITH’S special number is 9

Now take the time to work out YOUR special number.

Step 1. Write your name

Step 2. Give each letter its correct digit

Step 3. Add the digits

Step 4. Add again if necessary till you have one digit only remaining. This is your special number.

Step 5. Now look up your special talent in the table below.

So far so good! It would be nice if we could discover a person’s special gifts like this.

At the risk of being spoil-sports, however, we might want to look at this simple example of Numerology with a more sceptical eye.

1. This simple technique only offers each person ONE aspect at which they can excel. You can’t be say, both clever (8) and articulate (1) at the same time. If you take that premise to its logical conclusion, someone named Joe Smith is good at solving problems (9), but is a bad communicator (1) who does not learn from experience (2), is very dull (3), clumsy and inept (4), never wins an argument (5), lacks taste (6), is self-centred (7) and not very bright (8).

2. Presumably, you share your special gift with everyone else on the planet with the same special number as you – that is, about 750 million other people.

“Ones” include: Britney Spears, Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Osama Bin Laden.

“Twos”: Bart Simpson, Joan of Arc, Saddam Hussein and Kylie Minogue.

“Threes”: Santa Claus, Christina Aguilera, George W Bush, Mary McKillop.

“Fours”: Micky Mouse, Buddha, Al Capone,Florence Nightingale.

“Fives”: Jack the Ripper, Batman, Scooby-Do, Francis of Assissi.

“Sixes”: Alexander the Great, Dick Smith, Dracula, Edna Everage.

“Sevens”: Ned Kelly, Buffy the Teenage Vampire Slayer, Elizabeth II.

“Eights”: Russell Crowe, Bugs Bunny, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Noddy

“Nines”: Shane Warne, Gough Whitlam, Albert Einstein, Phar Lap

3. The good news is, if you don’t like your number or the people you share it with, it’s not hard to fiddle the result to come up with a “better” number. For example, our own Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (9) is red-hot on the analysis of problems,  while as The Honourable Kevin Rudd MP (1) he’s articulate. However, Kevin Michael Rudd or even Kevin O Seven (both 6) reveal his aesthetic nature. So you too can alter your name to suit your aspirations. Even better news is that Numerology is supposed to work just as well in the Greek, Hebrew or Russian alphabet. Lots of scope there.

4. If, in using this simple system you STILL fail to come up with a character trait that pleases you, don’t despair! There are LOTS of other different Numerology systems out there. Unfortunately, they rarely agree with each other. Just pick the one that suits you best! It’s bound to be the right one. (isn’t it?)

Numerology can be ignored, viewed as a bit of harmless fun, or taken seriously. There are an enormous number of Numerology sites on the web suggesting that, like Astrology, many people place some credence in it. Skeptics simply say:

“Examine the Evidence!”


One Response to Australian Skeptics Guide to Numerology

  1. Gemma says:

    Nice article. Maybe the people at Science Works should take a look, I was very disappointed when I found books on numerology being sold in their gift shop.

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