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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Pythagoras (circa 580-500 B.C.) A prominent Greek philosopher/mathematician who developed intricate mystical theories involving the basic qualities of numbers. He taught that “number is all.”
      Pythagoras contributed greatly to an understanding of musical harmonies and their mathematical sources, and this gave rise to his ideas of corresponding cosmic harmonies. “Harmony of the Spheres” is the term used to designate that notion. Those views, though they were expressed mystically by the philosopher, are basically sound. Unfortunately but understandably, the valuable elementary truths were smothered in abstract attributions such as good and evil, male and female, positive and negative.
      The school he left behind him continued to generate ideas and formulations that have often been attributed directly to him. The famous Pythagorean theorem——that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal in area to the sum of the squares on the other two sides——is probably a discovery made well after his death, but using the methods he had advocated.



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