Oct

5

M o NA popular bureaucrat some odd weeks ago passed away at the age of 77. That reminded me of an observation I once read about long ago and never forgot. People tend to pass away from this earth on or near multiples of seven years. True statistic or not, I always compute "the seven" when I hear about someone's death age. It's a habit of mine.

So it goes that if one can make it past 49/50, you then have a strong chance of making it to the age of 56, and so forth. I pulled The Mystery of Numbers by Annemarie Schimmel from my bookshelf.

It's an interesting book that gives a comprehensive view of how numbers and number systems developed over the course of world history. It shows how religion (Jewish, Christian and Moslem) and culture contributed to similar understandings concerning numbers. It relates how luck (good and bad) can be cast upon certain numbers based on religious practices. The book brings together diverse historical references to each important number in a most readable way. It also integrates biology, nature and other systems to illustrate why certain numbers have meaning and significance. It's a nice enjoyable read, providing an eclectic mix of scholarship.

For example, regarding the number eleven, I paraphrase and summarize:

Number 11 is the Mute Number. Standing between 10 and 12, both round numbers that have significance, 11 was always interpreted in medieval exegesis ad malam partem, in a purely negative sense. 11 had no good part to it. The 16th century numerologist Petrus Bungus claimed "11 has no connection with divine things". The Muslim Brethren of Purity consider 11 as the first "mute" prime number beyond 10. 11 is found in Babylonian myth and in Greek mythology in similar negative fashion. Soccer has eleven players and the Germans call the penalty kick, Elfmeter (11 meters?). Psychologist Friedjung sees the 11 players in soccer and other games as an allusion to human imperfection. But, 11 could also mean bounty-even more that 10. And the German Rhineland carnival season begins on 11, 11 at precisely 11:11 am-to amuse our minds.

The number Seven is a large chapter in the book. One part relates to changes in a person every 7 years. "The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria points out at seven years you get teeth. The next 7 puberty, at 21 youth sprouts a beard, the fourth heptad is the high point, the fifth is time for marriage. The sixth heptad is intellectual maturity, the seventh is for the soul to mature, the eighth perfects reason and intelligence, and at ninth passions are tamed." Backed by Psalm 90, Philo asserts that age 70 is best for death-as 3 score and ten is said to be man's lifespan.

MayanWhile the Mayan culture was quite advanced in counting, astronomy and date forecasting, some cultures did not develop significant counting systems. The un-advanced culture counter becomes confused after 9 or 10 items-not having words denoting 14 or 15, but this same person could look at a large herd and know precisely how many there are or if any were missing. How does this occur? Can I see large systems and remember their traits with a glance? I glance at my quote screen and quickly can tell if something is amiss.

Tom DeMark
's counting work influenced me early on. I made trades based on extended counts of stocks that were close to exhaustion trend count limits, as defined by Tom. Today with supra-hedge fund leverage, market moves are much faster, the counts seem compressed.

When is termination of trend? Stocks seem to have life force. Stocks seem to have a birth, youth, maturation, old age and death phases. Stocks have counts, like heartbeats or steps along a path. Base 10, base 6, base 3-I like to count things as they appear to me as rhythms.

But for now as we wait, and in terms of breathing here on earth, lets all keep pushing to and through our next "7". Push on and through to a new count and into a new heptad of perfecting oneself.

Laurence Glazier extends:

In the days of Gottlob Frege some of the vitality of mathematics was removed by the use of equivalence classes of convergent sequences of "random" numbers to define quantities which still have poetic names, like "transcendental", yet a flaw in that old argument, is that "random", by definition, can never be defined, and if one discounts those old constructions and uses instead a form of computability, then it is possible to create ever newer numbers. (There is obviously a political and ideological aspect to the notion that numbers — as with people — might be random.)

If we are talking of sevens, this is a number important to any musician, and it can go beyond music. George Gurdjieff's cosmology was based partly around this number, and as one who uses harmony to affect emotions, I take it seriously. It is a difficult cosmology as it is not Copernican, a paradigm virtually without possible dissent except among creationist communes.

In music, the fourth level has a natural tendency to fall back to the third, if there is insufficient energy to take it further in the octave. At eight it starts again. In chess a pawn is often stalled at the same point in its progress to a new life at the eighth rank, though of course it cannot fall back. And I was amused to notice recently, that were a space voyager intrepid enough to go beyond the fourth, red, planet of our System, the barrier of asteroids before the fifth, giant orb, might incline a retreat to Earth, the Third.

If trading, along with the natural psychological lessons which accompany it, were to imbue a more sensitive appreciation of numbers, that would more than suffice for me.

Phil McDonnell reminisces:

Tom DeMark’s counting work influenced me early on. I made trades based on extended counts of stocks that were close to exhaustion trend count limits, as defined by Tom. Today with supra-hedge fund leverage, market moves are much faster, the counts seem compressed.

DailySpec contributor Larry Williams collaborated with Tom DeMark on the early work on sequential counts. My sense of such things is that to the extent they work they have more to do with human psychology and less to do with any intrinsic mystical properties of numbers.

Dr. McDonnell is the author of Optimal Portfolio Modeling, Wiley, 2008


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7 Comments so far

  1. Pythagoras on October 6, 2009 5:38 am

    study me

  2. david higgs on October 6, 2009 3:07 pm

    lots of thanks, I"ll be 57 this December, now I've got 55 days to count…

  3. John Sudsfi on October 6, 2009 5:48 pm

    Dude, you're 56 - you entered another 7 year period last December - enjoy.

  4. Russell Pierce on October 7, 2009 10:50 am

    Back in the 1970’s I was president of a company in Canada and was faced with a strike by our workers. They were demanding higher wages double in percentage terms what the Canadian government would allow under wage and price controls in place at the time. The strike was settled (at the lower prescribed wage control rate) after seven weeks, as predicted by a local police official who had monitored many strikes in his industrial community. I have never forgotten the official’s “Rule of Seven” regarding strikes, and have noticed that often once a strike gets to the seven-week mark, it will continue for another seven weeks. It would be interesting to hear from other sources whether the seven-week phenomenon has ever been quantified for labor strikes.

  5. Anton Johnson on October 7, 2009 11:06 am

    Benford’s Law shows that in lists of numbers from most real-life data sets, number series beginning with the digit 1 occur ~30% of the time. This is an essential mathematical tool used in detecting accounting and tax fraud, and data manipulation.

  6. Laslo Minks on October 10, 2009 1:31 pm

    I thought this site was about ballyhoo deflation! What is going on here?

  7. vic niederhoffer on October 10, 2009 9:41 pm

    Mr. Drees has a permanent exemption from ballyhoo as his mind is always creative and exuberant. vic

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