The Number 23

I’m getting sick of hearing about Jim Carrey’s new movie, The Number 23. Not coincidentally, it opens this Friday, the 23rd. It’s about how Carrey’s character gets obsessed with the number 23 and starts seeing it everywhere he goes.

Of course, this is all a coincidence. If I asked you to look specifically for the number 55, you’d start seeing it everywhere you went. In fact, pick a random number. Look for it. Count how many times you see it. Don’t be surprised when the count gets high.

I remember right after 9/11, people started seeing those numbers everywhere. They resorted to drastic lengths to find them.

This is the same problem we have with people who claim psychic powers or believe their horoscopes. They count the hits but ignore the misses. When you look at it that way, of course, it seems like something supernatural is afoot.

What is bugging me more than the movie itself is how Carrey claims to actually see the number 23 during interviews.

It’s definitely an easy way to get publicity for the movie, but in the process, people who don’t know any better might start to think there is truth in this form of Numerology.

Moral of the story: If someone tells you this week that they’re “seeing the number 23 everywhere,” slap them. They deserve it.

(I’m wondering… what is the biggest stretch anyone has to go to “see” the number 23? You can tweak just about anything to get there… be creative!)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Jim Carrey, The Number 23, confirmation bias, 9/11, psychic, horoscope, supernatural, Numerology[/tags]

  • null

    I too am sick of seeing the trailer for this film. One of the biggest bugbears I have is the clip where one character, not Carrey’s, says something along the lines of “two dividied by three, six-six-six, the number of the devil/beast” (I don’t recall exactly).

    2/3 is not 666, or even 0.666, it’s 0.6 recurring. Rounding to any number of significant figures (in this case three) yields 0.667.

    This is just shoddy writing, and doesn’t lend itself to me wanting to see this pile of mush.

    Now, I need to go and get a number 49 bus to work. 4*9 = 36. 36 = 6*6. 6=2*3. Spooky!

  • KK_Ultra

    Ooh, spooky, your comment had 21 lines plus two lines for the Technorati tags, grand total 23!!

    Is that desperate enough?


  • eli sarver

    I was hoping it would an epic Discordian adventure. Fnord.

  • Susan

    Hmmm…there’s a kind of butterfly that has a very distinct number 88 on each wing. I wonder what would happen if one with some very tattered wings flew by.

  • Angela

    I snuck a peak at my dental chart and saw this written:

    “Right front tooth, re: root canal”

    Do you see it? Two-three right there, in my mouth!!

  • Karen

    Argh – I heard that trailer yesterday on the radio and had the same thought!

    Wouldn’t it be great to see a popular movie in which someone becomes obsessed with numbers, and coincidences and magical thinking – and then the story builds up to look like there’s really something supernatural going on – but it all artfully and cleverly gets debunked in an exciting, twisty ending? The audience, at least for a minute, would get a notion that maybe there is a different way – a rational way – of looking at the world..

    What we need is a fun, detective-type book or movie series featuring a James Randi-style skeptic who goes around exposing frauds and con artists disabusing people who believe in them. I guess the closest thing we’ve got these days is Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit!”

  • Krystalline Apostate

    I’ve had Pi on my mind today – & yet I haven’t seen it anywhere.
    Reminds me of that 6/06/06 nonsense – the world hasn’t descended into chaos yet.

  • Josh

    Funny, after I read this I saw a Dr. Pepper commercial. You know, the “23 flavors” one?

    The movie trailer reminds me of the South Park episode where Cartman makes his 9/11 conspiracy presentation. Classic!

  • Susan

    Hey, I had three meals today, and sat with four friends at each meal. But three times four is 12, and three to the third power is 27. And what’s 27 written in base 12? 23!

  • FriendlyAtheist

    Susan– I would just like to say that I’m worried about you. A lot. :)

    But I am impressed…

  • Susan

    Heh, heh, heh. I do try.

  • Brendan

    I have to say I was also dissapointed at the premise. It could have been a Discoridan epic, but the dumb character fell one step short. Everyone knows that 2+3 = 5.
    In other news, I’m reading this at 16:13, which is 4:13 in 12-hour. 16+4 is 20 , and when we add one (1) 3, we get 23. Coincidence?
    As further proof : 4+1+3=8, which is 8, which is twice four, and half 16, meaning two is important to this particular finding, which is true, as it’s the half that needs to be found. Also, the explanation requires that we look at the time from two perspectives.

    Susan, that is awesome. I stand in awe of your powers, truly I do.

    As Lord Omar reminds us, “I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”

  • critical mass

    no offense, but i get tired of everyone getting tired of the number 23 stuff. it’s a cool concept to consider. and one “man’s” (no offense susan) 23 could very well be another’s 13. but i’ve done the “focus on another number and you’ll see it” bit and it doesn’t work. or at least not for me. though neither did searching for 23. but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to it, nor does it debunk astrology or any other concepts are “science” deems ridiculous. remember, through time, as we learn more and more, much of our science is proven to be wrong, or simple-minded. there are laws and happenings in the universe we aren’t even close to understanding – and maybe 23 is one of them. or is it just safer to cling to our safety raft and call everthing that doesn’t fit our current knowledge base ludicrous and wrong?

  • MTran

    Anyone who wants to watch a movie for number lovers (is “numerophile” a word?) might be better served by the quirky, dark sci-fi thriller by Darren Aronofsky, Pi. It’s a black & white, artsy, low budget film from 1998. You can get it cheap at used video stores or Amazon.

    i’ve done the “focus on another number and you’ll see it” bit and it doesn’t work. or at least not for me. though neither did searching for 23.

    You aren’t trying hard enough!

    is it just safer to cling to our safety raft and call everthing that doesn’t fit our current knowledge base ludicrous and wrong?

    What does criticizing a goofy fiction movie have to do with “clinging” to a safety raft? Nothing. Are people here calling “everything” ludicrous? No. (Although the premise of this movie qualifies for that designation.)

    I sincerely hope you are trying to be ironic or are even some sort of troll rather than a person as ready to give credence to stuff-made-up-for-the-movies as your post might indicate.

    But hey, if you simply enjoy the movie, have fun with it. I like plenty of dopey movies. And I make fun of them all the time.

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