Should “Biorhythms” Regulate Your Life?
A NOTED female tennis star suffered a “stunning defeat” on June 29, 1977. Some are of the opinion that she was a sure loser on that particular day. The reason, they say, was that two of her “biorhythm” cycles were low at the time of her defeat.
Possibly you have heard the term “biorhythms.” What are they? Can knowledge of biorhythms help you to regulate your life more successfully?
In this article we are not discussing what scientists call “biological rhythms,” that is, fluctuations in areas such as heartbeat, hormone production, intellectual abilities and moods. All humans experience periodic variations in these and many other bodily functions. As a result, everyone has an ‘off day’ from time to time, when a person is clumsy, irritable, inefficient and dull.
The biorhythm theory, however, goes to the point of claiming that all humans undergo three cycles of fixed duration that are the same for all people. Supposedly, there is a physical cycle of 23 days (involving both well-being and fatigue), a 28-day emotional cycle that ranges from elated cheerfulness to depression and an intellectual or mental cycle of 33 days that varies from periods of high creativity to times when one can hardly think straight. All three of these cycles are said to begin at the moment of birth and to continue uninterrupted throughout a person’s life.
A system has been devised for putting the three biorhythms on a chart, which includes a horizontal line that extends from left to right at the middle. The point farthest to the left on the chart is one’s date of birth. The three cycles are represented as beginning on the horizontal line at that date and thereafter rising above and dipping below the line. When a cycle is above the line, the faculty it represents is supposed to be functioning well. When below the line, it is believed to function poorly.
“Critical days” are said to occur when a cycle intersects the line (the point where it changes from plus to minus or minus to plus). If two or three cycles hit the line at the same time, that day is viewed as a potential disaster. Advocates of the biorhythm theory believe that by figuring out the three cycles mathematically, people can predict favorable or unfavorable days for doing things.
A Theory That Lacks Foundation
Some, however, raise serious objections to this belief. “There is no scientific basis for the assumption that our biological time clocks are triggered at birth,” declares a biomedical technician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Rather, it has been found that some of the cycles affecting pregnant women are definitely in synchrony with those of the fetus.” The technician also points out that all information about biological cycles has been collected from adults. “But many cycles measurable in children, such as the cardiac and metabolic, exhibit increased frequencies compared with those of adults. Given that a child’s ‘day’ is only a matter of minutes at birth and reaches a maturity of 24 hours over several years, it is reasonable to believe that a child’s entire biorhythm is faster.”
Publicity has been given to certain accidents (such as automobile or air crashes) that happened during “lows” or “critical days” in the biorhythm cycles of persons involved. However, accidents often have multiple causes. Seldom can they be attributed only to the individuals whose biorhythms were calculated as being low. Too, when favorable things happen to a person whose biorhythms are at a high level, often other persons are really responsible for the favorable circumstances. For instance, if an athlete gives an outstanding performance, the reason may be exceptional supportive play by teammates.
An Unconvincing Record
Do facts really support the belief that good things occur when a person’s biorhythms are at high levels and that disasters take place when those levels are low? Interesting in this respect are results of research by a group from the Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. The researchers examined 400 mining accidents. On the results of this investigation, Newsday of September 25, 1978, reported: “Writing in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, the investigators contend that the data ‘do not support any of the basic biorhythm predictions . . . Mining accidents (both surface and underground) were not more likely to occur on critical days, around critical days or during the down portion of the various cycles.’”
An article in Psychology Today (April 1978) published the results of an experiment on baseball pitchers (who obviously must be in good physical and mental condition to pitch well). The writer explains:
“I looked at exactly 100 no-hit games pitched in the major leagues from 1934 through 1975. They included all the no-hitters pitched during the period by lone individuals . . . I wanted to determine whether the 100 pitchers, taken as a group, had unusually favorable biorhythm readings. Was there an abnormally large number of ‘positive’ readings in their physical cycles?—or in their emotional and intellectual cycles, for that matter? The answer, straight down the line, was no. From their biorhythm profiles, you would never guess that these men were giving the greatest performances of their careers. It could just as easily have been a sample of 100 individuals selected at random.”
A Form of Divination
How should the biorhythm theory be viewed by persons who wish to please God? The Bible contains no specific mention of biorhythms. But the Word of God does relate the efforts of one individual to determine in advance the correct day for performing a certain action. It says:
“Haman was furious when he realized that Mordecai was not going to kneel and bow to him, and when he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to do more than punish Mordecai alone. He made plans to kill every Jew in the whole Persian Empire. In the twelfth year of King Xerxes’ rule, in the first month, the month of Nisan, Haman ordered the lots to be cast (‘Purim,’ they were called) to find out the right day and month to carry out his plot. The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, was decided on.”—Esther 3:5-7, Today’s English Version.
Casting lots in this way was a form of divination. According to the Bible, all efforts to discern the future through divination are forbidden to persons who wish to please God. We read: “There should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah, and on account of these detestable things Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you. You should prove yourself faultless with Jehovah your God.”—Deut. 18:10-13.
Of course, the biorhythm theory does not involve casting lots. But it does involve efforts to discern the future through divination by a method of numerology. An article that appeared in Time magazine made the following comments:
“The biorhythm craze grew from the mystic speculations of Wilhelm Fliess, a colorful Berlin doctor who was Sigmund Freud’s closest friend for more than a decade. . . . Fliess published books and essays of impenetrable mathematics, all revolving around his mystic numbers, 23 (representing the masculine or physical principle) and 28 (representing the feminine, emotional principle and presumably based on the 28-day menstrual cycle). For a time, Freud was so impressed that he was sure he would die at the age of 51, the sum of the two numbers. A young patient of Freud’s, Hermann Swoboda, developed the first biorhythm calculator, based on Fliess’s belief in 23- and 28-day cycles. Later Fliessians added a 33-day cycle representing human mental life.”
“Time and Unforeseen Occurrence”
Interest in biorhythms stems from a desire on the part of many people to make their lives predictable. However, the Scriptures (especially in the book of Ecclesiastes) make it plain that human life cannot be mapped out in advance like that. We read: “I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.”—Eccl. 9:11.
Many events come up unexpectedly. Such chance happenings defy efforts to predict favorable or unfavorable times to do things. Interesting in this regard is the further counsel from Ecclesiastes: “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what calamity will occur on the earth.”—Eccl. 11:1, 2.
With few exceptions ‘calamities’ that befall people are something that they “do not know,” indeed cannot know, in advance. Fortunate circumstances, too, often arise suddenly, unexpectedly. Hence, the wisest way to use one’s time is to be a generous giver to a wide variety of people, ‘giving a portion to seven, or even to eight,’ so to speak. Whenever an unexpected calamity strikes, the generous giver finds that people reciprocate helpfully in ample measure.—Luke 6:38.
Formulas based on “mystic numbers,” such as those employed in calculating biorhythms, are devoid of scientific basis and fare badly when compared with known facts. More importantly, as a form of divination such calculations run counter to Biblical teaching. In view of what is set out above, biorhythms could never be a beneficial means of regulating your life.
She Knew What to Do
JUST how valuable is the material published in Awake!? A letter from one reader says, in part: “I wanted to write and express my thanks for the many articles in both the Awake! and The Watchtower. In December 1977, I had reason to be especially thankful. Both my legs were scalded badly in a home accident. Instantly remembering the information given about treating burns with cold water, I jumped into the bathtub and ran cold water over my legs. Later, at the hospital, the doctor told me that that action saved me from skin grafts. Sections of the burn were still either deep second-degree or shallow third-degree burns.
“Due to the information given in the Awake! [July 22, 1966, pages 12-16], a potentially very serious accident was minimized. Many persons remarked they would not have thought of using that treatment or they had never heard of doing it before.”