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Not surprisingly, many people become convinced that these coincidences have irrational explanations. Kennedy, taken from a far more extensive list in Martin Gardner’s One explanation for coincidences of this kind is selective reporting.What, for example, should be made of the following similarities (not all of them numerological) between U. Anything that fits is kept; anything that does not is discarded.Bones dating from perhaps 30,000 years ago show scratch marks that possibly represent the phases of the Moon.

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Since 130 = 10 × 13, both the unlucky 13 and the perfect 10 are of importance; between themselves they explain just about anything, just like the superstition that seeing a praying mantis brings either good luck or bad luck—depending on what happens.

The best-known instance of numerology is the “number of the beast,” Martin Luther.

More recently, cranks have sought the secrets of the universe in the dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza, an aberration so common that it even has a name—pyramidology.

Millions of otherwise rational people are terrified of the number 13, to the extent that hotels omit it from their floors, airplanes do not have a row 13, and the numbers for Formula 1 racing cars skip from 12 to 14 so that, for example, 22 cars would be numbered from 1 to 23.

All even numbers were female, all odd numbers male. The most perfect number was 10, because 10 = 1 2 3 4.

This number symbolized unity arising from multiplicity. A single point corresponds to 1, a line to 2 (because a line has two extremities), a triangle to 3, and space to 4. The Pythagoreans recognized the existence of nine heavenly bodies: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the so-called Central Fire. The square numbers (1, 4, 9, 16,…) were arranged in squares, and the triangular numbers (1, 3, 6, 10,…) were arranged in triangles ().

Thus, the coincidence of day of the week for the assassinations is emphasized; the differences in month and number of day in the month are ignored.

(Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, Kennedy on November 22.) More subtly, only one choice is made from many possibilities, the one that maintains the numerological pattern. Many of the coincidences listed here are exaggerations, lies, elaborations chosen from an infinite range of potential targets, or the result of a hidden selective process.

Numerology sheds light on the innermost workings of the human mind but very little on the rest of the universe.

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