The 23 Enigma refers to the belief that most incidents and events are directly connected to the number 23, some modification of the number 23, or a number related to the number 23.
The Principia Discordia states that "All things happen in fives, or are divisible by or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly appropriate to 5" - this is referred to as the Law of Fives. The 23 Enigma is regarded as a corollary of this law.
It can be seen in Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's The Illuminatus! Trilogy (therein called the "23/17 phenomenon"), Wilson's Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati (therein called "The Law of fives" and "The 23 Enigma"), Arthur Koestler's Challenge of Chance, as well as the Principia Discordia. In these works, 23 is considered lucky, unlucky, sinister, strange, or sacred to the goddess Eris or to the unholy gods of the Cthulhu Mythos.
In the Illuminatus! Trilogy, he expresses the same view: that one can find a numerological significance to anything, provided "sufficient cleverness."
As with most numerological claims, the enigma can be viewed as an example of apophenia, selection bias, and confirmation bias.
In interviews, Wilson acknowledged the self-fulfilling nature of the enigma, implying that the real value of the Laws of Fives and Twenty-threes lies in their demonstration of the mind's power to perceive "truth" in nearly anything. When you start looking for something you tend to find it. This wouldn't be like Simon Newcomb, the great astronomer, who wrote a mathematical proof that heavier than air flight was impossible and published it a day before the Wright brothers took off. I'm talking about people who found a pattern in nature and wrote several scientific articles and got it accepted by a large part of the scientific community before it was generally agreed that there was no such pattern, it was all just selective perception.
Possible Origin of The 23 Enigma: Robert Anton Wilson cites William S. Burroughs as being the first person to believe in the 23 enigma. Wilson, in an article in Fortean Times, related the following story: I first heard of the 23 enigma from William S Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, Nova Express, etc. According to Burroughs, he had known a certain Captain Clark, around 1960 in Tangier, who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. That very day, ClarkÕs ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. Furthermore, while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening, a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida, USA. The pilot was another captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23.
Numbers can be fun and frivolous depending on how your brain processes them. Some people hate math, while others view reality through their spectrum. It's all in the way we are programmed. Me ... I have always loved math and numbers - fibonacci numbers being my favorite - as they are creation. Recently, after hearing the expression "The 23 Enigma", I set out on an adventure to see if I connected.
23 is an interesting number in a reality created by sacred geometric design. Working with Numerology, I am conditioned to add double digits and reduce them to a single digit, therefore 23 = number 5 representing change. According to some traditions of Maya mythology, we are now living in the Fifth World. According to ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, the universe is made up of five classical elements: water, earth, air, fire, and ether. This concept was later adopted by Medieval alchemists and more recently by practitioners of Neo-Pagan religions such as Wicca (pentagram).
23 is also a fascinating number. If you ask someone to think of a prime number, 23 is the most common answer. 23 is the ninth prime number, the smallest odd prime which is not a twin prime. It is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1.
Biology: Normal human sex cells have 23 chromosomes. Other human cells have 46 chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs.
Religion: Psalm 23, also known as the Shepherd Psalm, is possibly the most quoted and best known Psalm. Psalms is also the 23rd book in the Douay-Rheims Bible.
Film: There have been dozens of movies featuring the number 23 in their titles, for instance, a Jim Carrey flick The Number 23. IMDB cites almost 100 (many of the titles use the 23rd of the month while others are more focused on the number itself). John Forbes Nash, the subject of the Ron Howard movie A Beautiful Mind was apparently obsessed with the number 23.
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