The "47" Society

Updated on December 2, 2017
Luke Holm profile image

Luke works as a middle school English, ELD, social justice, and mindfulness teacher in the sanctuary city, San Jose, CA.

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Favorite Number: 47

My favorite number is 47. It has been ever since I was a little boy. While all the other kids were herding around 7, 13, 21, etc; I knew mine was 47.

My favorite times are 3:47 and 7:47. I see 47 on digital clocks an overwhelming majority of the time I look. It goes beyond conditioning. I wake up in the middle of the night to find it’s some hour and forty-seven minutes.

My area code was 847. My first car license plate randomly had a 47 right in the middle. I count birds on a telephone wire to find there are 47. Exit 47 is right down the road. I have 47 unopened emails.

They made a movie called 47 Ronan. It has one of my favorite actors in it, Keanu Reeves, with many of my favorite themes: discipline, wisdom, Japanese culture, ninjas, samurais, etc.

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When I climbed the ancient Incan ruins of the Sun Temple in Peru, I found that the temple was built as a central location between two others throughout the mountains. The Sun Temple was perfectly placed to see the Winter Solstice as it hit the first temple at 47 degrees and the Summer Solstice where it hit the third temple at 47 degrees.

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The list goes on. 47 has become such a significant number in my life that it’s difficult to go a day without seeing some obvious representation of it staring me in the face. Eventually, I wondered why this number seems to be so reoccurring. What I found was a bit surprising.

The "47" Society

The 47 Society believes that 47 is the quintessential random number. That the majority of the time, if someone were to somehow pick a number at random, they would choose 47. The society is dedicated to discussing the appearance of 47 throughout daily routine. History behind the 47 phenomenon reveals that this infectious recurrence of 4 and 7 has been experienced by others as well.

47 and Pomona College

In 1964, 47 swelled in the minds of students at Pomona College, CA. Mathematics professor Donald Bentley offered a hypothetical "joke proof" to his students, claiming that all numbers are equal to forty-seven. Although his use of 47 was only a demonstration, students accepted it as fact and took the concept a bit too far.

One student created a project around the number and misleading proof. The project created a lore around the number and the people of Pomona have been looking for clear examples ever since. Some people even began documenting the recurrence of 74 as well.

Pomona celebrates the 47 phenomenon every April 7th. Several examples excite and spur-on their celebration:

  • Pomona College is located at Exit 47 of the San Bernardino Freeway.
  • There are 47 pipes in the top row of the Lyman Hall organ.
  • At the time of Pomona’s first graduating class in 1894, there were 47 students enrolled.

47s in Hollywood

The hype is bizarre, but intriguing. Even Hollywood caught 47 fever. Numerous examples go beyond Lost having 47 original survivors, Steve Carell having 47 G.I. Joes in 40-Year-Old Virgin, and the scare factory from Monsters Inc. going “47 Accident Free Days.”

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47 in Star Trek

One of 47’s biggest proponents was Star Trek script writer, Joe Menosky, who graduated from Pomona College. Star Trek fans take great care in finding and documenting the often occurrence of 47 somewhere in almost every Star Trek episode. Keep an eye on the monitors to spot the majority.

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47 and Pro Era

Brooklyn-based hip hop collective Pro Era underwent hostile allegations when their co-founder, Jamal Dewer, came out with the album AmerKKKan Korruption in association with a red flag resembling a swastika. Jamal, better known as Capital STEEZ, and his crew played with the mysterious number more than once in their lyrics. They felt that 47 created balance in the world. It represented the tension between the heart and the brain, the 4th and 7th chakras. They also justified the symbol as a perfect harmony between Eastern and Western culture; the swastika originally being a symbol for peace in the East and later a symbol of hate in the West.

Further Examples of 47

  • The Bible credits Jesus with 47 miracles.
  • The Declaration of Independence has 47 sentences.
  • There are 47 strings on a concert harp.
  • The tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are located 47 degrees apart.

47 Heaven

Rather than an obsession, finding 47 is more like a leisurely hobby. It’s kind of like not being an ornithologist, but still enjoying watching birds on occasion. Spotting the number is kind of like finding Waldo. He’s always on the page. You just need to pay attention.

Is 47 a powerful influence in my life? Yes. Do I play 4 and 7 on the Roulette table? Of course. Am I looking forward to my 47th birthday? I can’t wait. Will I name my first child 47? Probably not, but we never really know until it happens.

What's Your Favorite Number?

Have you noticed an unusual amount of 47s in your life? Now that you’ve read this hub, I wonder if you’ll begin seeing 47 more often. Do you have a favorite number? Tell us what it is and why in the comment section below. This paragraph has 47 words in total.

What's your favorite number?

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Pomona Student Handbook

“To the uninitiated, 47 is a mystery. To knowledgeable Pomona Sagehens, 47 is dogma. To sociologists, 47 is a prime example of a minor piece of whimsy that somehow developed into a legend of mythical proportions…”

—Pomona Student Handbook, 1985-86

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    • Luke Holm profile image
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      Luke Holm 13 days ago

      My 47 brother! Thanks for checking out the article! I too remember the first time I Googled the 47 phenomenon and was somewhat relieved to find I wasn't alone in my madness. I agree that sharing this with other 47ers is just shy of the meaning of life. I can't tell you how many times I see this number throughout my daily routine and on television. It's a hidden symbol in subconscious and I aim to reveal its true nature! Ha, thanks for the comment. I hope you have an awesome day!

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      47 ally 2 weeks ago

      Hey man, randomly stumbled here - well, not so randomly if I think about it - anyway, while spotting the number itself is fun I feel like the most satisfying aspect of this hobby (?) is finding others who have discovered this number independently - I remember when I first googled "47" at a whim and found out there was a yahoo group devoted to it - I felt genuine joy - partially because it made me feel a tiny bit less insane but mostly because I felt that it was a sign that no matter how distantly removed I felt from most people (was an awkward teen and while I was never bullied or anything I was alone for a large part of time), maybe there were genuine passions, obsessions and thoughts of the world that I shared with at least some of them.

      Well, I wouldn't have been able to put it to words back then but I know that's how I felt because I felt it again reading this page now.

      I don't really have some overarching point, I guess I'll end this with just thanking you for being one of the people who take this world lightheartedly enough to be able recreationally emulate obsession and allow me to feel genuine empathy.

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