What is Numerology?
Numerology is the study of the symbolic meaning of numbers and their supposed influence on human life. Numerologists believe that numbers like your date of birth or names can reveal insights about your personality, relationships, and destiny.
Numerology has a long history, dating back to ancient cultures like Pythagoras in Greece, Hindu and Chinese traditions, and Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah. Modern numerology as we know it today has roots in the early 20th century from teachers like Cheiro and Dr. Juno Jordan.
Here are some of the core principles of numerology:
- Numbers have vibrational energies and symbolic meanings
- Your “life path number” from your birth date reveals your inner nature
- Adding up the numeric value of the letters in your name gives your “destiny number”
- Numbers are linked to colors, elements, astrological signs, musical notes, and more
- Analyzing numerological charts can uncover life cycles and opportunities
Numerologists use numerous systems and formulas to interpret numbers related to a person and make predictions. But does this make numerology a real science?
Why Numerology is Pseudoscience, Not Science
While numerology has a complex system with spiritual significance for many, it lacks key components that would classify it as an actual science. Here are some reasons why numerology falls into the realm of pseudoscience:
A core criterion of the scientific method is falsifiability – the ability for a claim or theory to be proven wrong based on observed evidence. Numerologists make unfalsifiable claims that cannot be reliably tested or disproven. For example, saying someone’s personality aligns with their “life path number” is so vague and generalized it can’t be falsified through rigorous testing.
No Mechanistic Explanations
Science aims to understand the physical mechanisms behind phenomena through models, laws, and experimental testing. But numerology fails to provide any mechanistic explanations for how or why numbers would have innate energies affecting people and events. Saying that the number 7 represents contemplation, for instance, is not an objective mechanistic property.
Lack of Predictive Power
While numerologists make many predictions about outcomes in people’s lives, these predictions often remain vague and unspecific. And numerology has not demonstrated reliable predictive power about people’s futures that can be validated through statistics and probability. For something to be considered scientifically predictive, it needs to perform better than chance under controlled conditions.
Subject to Cognitive and Motivational Biases
Cognitive biases and subjective validation are rampant in numerology. Numerologists often exhibit confirmation bias by remembering “hits” and forgetting “misses” that don’t match the client. Clients also engage in motivated reasoning, linking random events to numerological significance due to an emotional desire for meaning. This introduces significant bias.
No System of Revision and Improvement
Unlike legitimate sciences, numerology has not progressed over time towards greater accuracy. Modern numerology uses much of the same unproven techniques developed centuries ago. And there are no mechanisms for revision and improvement of theories and practices based on advances in knowledge, unlike say, evidence-based medicine.
Lack of Peer-Reviewed Research
There have been few high quality peer-reviewed studies testing the validity of numerological claims appearing in mainstream scientific journals. Most research has failed to find any statistically significant results confirming unique properties of numbers that can predict life outcomes and behavior. More rigorous research would be needed to validate numerology’s claims.
So in summary, while numerology uses some mathematical formulas and terminology, it lacks the methodological rigor, mechanisms, predictive power, falsifiability, and empirical research required to be considered a legitimate scientific field. It is considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community.
Numerology’s Place as an Ancient System of Meaning
Despite lack of scientific evidence, numerology has endured as an influential philosophical system for thousands of years. Here are some reasons why numerology persists despite its unscientific nature:
- Provides a sense of comfort and meaning – Numerology gives people a framework for making sense of life events. This can provide reassurance.
- Ancient mystical traditions – Numerology is intertwined with ancient beliefs like Kabbalah, astrology, Chinese I Ching, and esoteric philosophies.
- Draws on innate human pattern-seeking – Humans instinctively seek patterns and meaning in the world around them. Numerology taps into this tendency.
- Subjective validation feels personal – When numbers seem to “match” life events, it can feel powerfully emotive and meaningful on an individual level.
- Difficult to empirically disprove something so vague – The vagueness and malleability of numerological claims makes them hard to scientifically debunk to an extent that sways believers.
- Attracts “experience junkies” – The mysticism and esoteric nature of numerology intrigues spiritual seekers and those drawn to mystical experiences.
So in essence, numerology persists by providing a layer of magical meaning, a connection to ancient traditions, and a framework to subjectively make sense of patterns in individual lives. But from an objective, scientific standpoint, numerology’s practitioners have not done enough to empirically demonstrate its predictive powers and mechanism of action.
Conclusion: Take Numerology with a Grain of Salt
In summary, while numerology has origins dating back millennia and provides a sense of deeper meaning to many, it clearly lacks the rigor and empirical evidence to be considered a true science by modern scientific standards. The ambiguous nature of numerological predictions and lack of falsifiability means its claims should be taken lightly from a rational perspective.
However, for those who find spiritual meaning or reassuring life guidance in numerology’s symbolic interpretations, it may continue providing comfort and resonance on a personal level, even if not supported by scientific mechanisms. So an open but critical perspective allows room to appreciate numerology’s place in philosophical traditions, while also realizing its limitations in making factual claims about the empirical world. Just take its prescriptions with a grain of salt.
Carroll, Robert Todd. “The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Numerology.” Skepdic.com. https://skepdic.com/numology.html
Janik, Dr. Barton. “Is Numerology Real Science? The Truth About Numerology.” Everyday Health. March 2, 2021. https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/is-numerology-real-science-the-truth-about-numerology/
Lyons, Lindsay. “Why Numerology Isn’t Real Science.” Lifehacker. September 20, 2022. https://lifehacker.com/why-numerology-isnt-real-science-1849387763
Hi there, I’m Mallory Miller, a proud Florida woman living and loving life in the Sunshine State with my husband of 50 years, Mike. I spent my career in journalism and public relations, uncovering stories and promoting causes close to my heart. Now, I’ve redirected my energy towards our joint venture: a website where we share our candid experiences and insights on the triumphs and challenges of senior living.
I believe in authenticity and strive to bring this to our audience through our site. The golden years should be just that – golden, and I’m committed to shedding light on the reality of it all: the beautiful, the difficult, and everything in between. From Jacksonville, where I was born and raised, to Sarasota, where we now reside, I aim to bring a slice of Florida and its vibrant senior life to our readers across the globe.