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Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought (Spectrum) Paperback – June 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0883855249 ISBN-10: 0883855240

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Product Details

  • Series: Spectrum
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America (June 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883855240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883855249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


I anticipated that Numerology would be a well-written, user-friendly book. I am pleased to announce that Dudley's latest book exceeded my expectations in every respect. It is especially noteworthy that the author's practice of summarizing the history of each topic that he discusses is carried over to this book. .Some chapters that contain very little mathematics are...fascinating. The chapters on Pythagoreanism and the ones on gematria, that is the art and science of assigning numbers to letters and thus to words, are in this category. The chapters on the history of numerology, the role of sevens in the Bible, books on numerology, and the chapter on round numbers are also nonmathematical, but well worth reading. In conclusion, the book is a delight - one that you will be glad to have read, but sorry to have finished. -- The Mathematics Teacher

Most of us, regardless of mathematical training, firmly believe that numbers have great power and importance. Fewer in number, there are those who believe numbers have the ability to control events and determine our fates. These latter people, numerologists, are the subject of Dudleys most recent examination of the abuses and misuses of numbers...Dudley provides a history of numerology starting with Pythaogras and his number mystic disciples some 2500 years ago, and provides numerous examples, past and present. Featured here are the Bible-numberists, who placed special significance on the numerous sevens and perfect squares found in the Bible; the pyramidologists, who believed that the world would end on August 20, 1953 (oops!); the modern-day Oxford scholar who believes that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets with great dedication to triangular numbers; and many others. A fun read for anybody who enjoys other peoples silliness. Requiring no specific mathematical ! knowledge beyond arithmetic. Numerology is highly recommended. -- CHOICE Magazine

Book Description

Biorhythyms, Bible-numerology pyramidology and a plethora of other number-based delusions are here described. Dudley's message is that numbers do indeed have power, but over minds not events. This is the only book that exposes this particular human folly, and requires no mathematical background beyond knowledge of numbers.

More About the Author

Underwood Dudley was born in New York City quite a number of years ago. He got bachelor's and master's degrees (mathematics) at what was then the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After working for a time for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, he gave up his promising future as an actuary to flee back to academia, attaining the Ph.D. degree (number theory) at the University of Michigan in 1965. After two years at the Ohio State University and thirty-seven at DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) he lay down his chalk and eraser and retired to Tallahassee, Florida, never again to grade a calculus test.

He has done quite a bit of editing in his time--the College Mathematics Journal for five years, the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal for three, the Dolciani Mathematical Expositions book series (six years), and the New Mathematical Library book series (three years). As a result he has a complete grasp of the distinction between "that" and "which" (very rare) and the conviction that no writing, including this, should appear before the public before passing through the hands, eyes, and brain of an editor. Take that, bloggers!

He believes that there is no greater achievement of the human intellect than mathematics, and that the study of mathematics provides great benefits, even to people who think that they hate it.

None of his four children or six grandchildren has entered the family business, but that's the way it goes.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Dudley Underwood's book attempts to debunk both New Age and quasi-Christian use of numerology. He succeeds to an amazing degree.
Particularly good is his treatment of 666 (the mysterious number of the Beast in Rev. 13:18, which in league with most biblical scholars, I believe had meaning for the original readers of 1900 years ago). Professor Underwood shows that 666 is no more of a threat to us than 13, broken mirrors, or black cats.
This book is not for the mathematically uninitiated, however. Underwood writes as if he assumes all his readers know more about math than Isaac Newton and Plato combined. If you can get past the esoterica, you'll enjoy this book. . . and maybe be saved from the crackpot sheisters too.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Contrary to the opinions of many misguided souls, numbers do not have personalities. In yet another of his excellent attempts to overcome silliness in the name of mathematics, Underwood Dudley presents a reasonably strong case against numerology. The problem is that the case is strong only if you are reasonable. I applaud him for pointing out the absurdity of numerology, although few minds will be changed as a consequence of reading this book.
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