SEE A CYCLE?: 'If It Moves, We Study It.'
SEE A CYCLE?: 'If It Moves, We Study It.'
DINAH WISENBERG BRIN
Feb. 20, 1995
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The political upheaval of 1994? They saw it coming two years ahead of time. The devastating Japanese earthquake? They'd been expecting it, albeit a year earlier.
Analysts at the nonprofit Foundation for the Study of Cycles predict the future by studying the past, and the world's rhythmic patterns.
Foundation researchers have identified almost 5,000 cycles, reflecting patterns in fish egg cycles, religious fervor, imports, earnings, geysers, volcanoes, thickness of tree rings, warfare, marriages, nectar production and the electrical conductivity of sap.
Analyzing interest rates dating to 3000 B.C., for instance, they identified 100 cycles recurring anytime from a few days to 1,000 years.
``Our goal is not simply to forecast, but our real mission is to understand what cycles are, and, ultimately, we would like to utilize them for the benefit of mankind,'' said Richard Mogey, executive director.
``If it moves,'' he said, ``we study it.''
The foundation counts university libraries, professors, money managers, real estate developers and an oil company among its paying members and clients. To identify cycles, the foundation's 10-person staff and guest contributors cull data from across the millennia.
A recent article in the foundation's Cycles magazine said Iowa tree rings portend poor growing conditions in coming years. Another warned of a major drought in the grain belt. And a piece by Mogey predicted no recession before late this year.
``The cycles tend to be right about 80 percent to 85 percent of the time,'' Mogey said. Random behavior accounts for the rest.
The foundation had its roots in one of the most radical turns in the history of the century _ the Great Depression.
President Hoover assigned economist E.R. Dewey to determine the cause of the downturn, and Dewey discovered a regular cycle of similar depressions. He contacted biological cycles expert Copley Amory and a foundation was born in 1940.
It spent 35 years in Pittsburgh, moved to Irvine, Calif., in 1987, then relocated to suburban Philadelphia in 1993.
While the foundation has no political allegiances, Hoover might be pleased with board chairman Martin Armstrong's prediction of the extinction of the Democratic Party after 2020.
In late 1992, Armstrong accurately predicted either ``a sweeping Republican victory on Capitol Hill'' or a victory for an independent party in 1994.
Specialists in other fields give mixed reviews to cyclic forecasts.
``The problem with cycle (research) in and of itself for politics or elections (is) the cycle itself isn't a determinant. It's only an observation,'' said Charles D. Jones, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
``The much more interesting question is, `Why?''' said Jones.
Allan Lindh, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist in Menlo Park, Calif., expressed skepticism about earthquake predictions. Mogey had said the recent quake in Japan corresponded with a 65-year cycle.
``There's absolutely no scientific evidence that anything like that works,'' Lindh said.
Mogey himself said the foundation doesn't focus strongly on earthquakes and politics because it can't explain the patterns, making forecasts tenuous.
``You have to also interpret as well as simply project,'' Mogey said.
It did, however, expect a tremor in Japan last year, based on statistics dating to 400 A.D., Mogey said.
The foundation does best with understandable forces: climate, solar physics, circadian rhythms and cycles for commodity prices and interest rates, Mogey said. ``We feel very confident that we can relate those cycles.''
Michael Mhoon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., agreed that cycles play a role in weather.
``Sometimes they go within a year and sometimes over years, depends on what you're looking at,'' he said. ``Weather's based on long-term waves of upper air jet streams.''
As for the stock market and grasshoppers, Mhoon said, ``Both of those are related to weather.''
Mogey, who has a classics background and training in statistics, computers and the histories of economies, is not surprised by skeptics.
``People don't like the idea of external forces in any event controlling them,'' he said. ``Clearly we are controlled by external things.''