FAQ

Source Material for FAQs Includes Cycles: Selected Writings by Edward R. Dewey

  1. WHAT ARE CYCLES?

    Cycles

    A cycle is a series of events that is regularly repeated in the same order. The longer and more regular the series is repeated, the more predictable it becomes, until it cannot reasonably be considered a coincidence.

    For example, suppose you look out the window and notice a bus pass by at 10:00 a.m. Half an hour later, another bus passes at 10:30. Then another at 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, etc. "Ah ha!" you say. "Buses run every thirty minutes." You have discovered a cycle.
  2. WHY ARE CYCLES IMPORTANT?

    Cycles

    Whether seasons or bus schedules, we have been using cycles to make plans for centuries. Cycles give us a basis for predicting the probabilities of future events.

    Let’s use the example of the bus passing every half hour on the hour and half hour. If you need to catch the bus and see the time is 1:05, you will know that you probably missed the 1:00 pm bus, and that, if the cycle is continuing, your next bus will pass in 25 minutes. You make a plan to finish some tasks before walking out the door at 1:25 to catch the 1:30 bus.

    Of course the schedule may have changed, or the bus may be delayed by an accident. There is no guarantee the bus will arrive at 1:30 pm. The more you study the bus schedule, the better you will be able to predict its arrival times as well as the forces that may impact its arrival time. For example, after a year of taking the bus every day, you have enough data to know that when it rains, the bus almost always runs a little late. So, on a rainy day, you will catch an earlier bus to ensure you get to your destination on time.

  3. HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY A CYCLE?

    Cycles

    Where you have regularity you have predictability. Following is a very basic example that illustrates the process of identifying a cycle and determining its cause.

    Suppose your window looks out on a street near the center of a small town. You have noticed that approximately every 10 minutes a group of 10 to 15 people passes by. If you observe that the time intervals have been regular enough and that they have repeated enough times so that the behavior cannot reasonably be the result of chance, you can start to guess why this event is happening.

    Your guess is that there is a bus station around the corner and that every ten minutes a bus comes in and a group of passengers gets off the bus. If you find a bus schedule that confirms there is a bus station nearby and that a bus does come in every ten minutes, your guess is bolstered. It is bolstered still more if you find that the buses arrive just about the time your bunches of people walk by.

  4. HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THAT AN EVENT IS PART OF A CYCLE?

    Cycles

    The short answer is that you have to study it for as long as possible, because there are all sorts of things that might obscure the regularity.

    Let’s use the example of the group of people passing by your window at 10-minute intervals. As you gathered data that confirmed the regularity of the groups of people passing by your window, you were able to make the guess that there is a bus stop nearby, and it lets people off every 10 minutes. But there is a movie theatre down the street and you are not aware of when the movies let out. You notice that, on occasion, larger groups of people wander by at totally unpredictable times, seemingly upending your regular 10-minute cycle of 10-15 people walking by and perhaps calling into question your bus theory.

    Even though your data is solid and you can accurately predict the 10-minute cycle, your predictions are only partial. Partial predictions only allow for partial probability. For example, say you chart your heart beat and find that it beats once for each second – 30 beats in 30 seconds. If you forecast another beat at 31 seconds and another at 32, you will very likely be correct. But if you predict 480 beats in the next 480 seconds you will likely get it wrong, because anything can happen to speed up or decrease your heart rate over the next 8 hours.

    Going back to the first example, with months of solid data to show people walking by every 10 minutes, you can reasonably assume when the next group of people will walk by. However, if you tried to predict the foot traffic for the entire day, you have a much greater chance of predicting wrong.

  5. WHY HAVEN'T I NOTICED CYCLES?

    Cycles

    The recognition of cycles in all things would be second nature to everyone if it weren’t for two things:

    • Accidental or random fluctuations hiding the regularities so that at first glance you cannot see the cycle
    • Things act as if they were influenced simultaneously by several different forces, the composite effect of which is the absence of regularity
    Take the example of the foot traffic in front of your house, which includes groups of 10-15 people every 10 minutes (from the bus) and larger groups randomly throughout the day (from the movie theater). You didn’t notice the 10-minute cycle because the foot traffic from the movie theatre obscured it and made it seem as though people passed by your house at random times throughout the day. Once you do see the 10-minute cycle it seems impossible that you missed it.
  6. HOW DO YOU SEPARATE CYCLES?

    Cycles
    If you have enough data over a long period of time it is a lot easier to separate regular cycles from each other and from random events. For months you thought the foot traffic pattern in front of your house was random. But with enough time you start to notice that people walk by when you are making coffee every day at the same time. And the same thing happens when you eat lunch at the usual time. This sparks your interest and you start paying attention. After a few days the 10-minute cycle is obvious.
  7. HOW DOES KNOWING A CYCLE HELP?

    Cycles
    In the study of cycles, once you have enough information you can project each regular cycle into the future and find the combined future effect of all the various cycles. With this information you can predict what is going to happen if:
    • The cycles continue
    • The cycles are upset or distorted by a random fluctuation

    With several months data you can predict that every 10 minutes a group of people will walk by your house. If it is raining you can predict that the 10-minute cycle may be off from its usual schedule and that 10 minutes may be more like 12 or 15 minutes, depending on how hard it is raining.

    Expanding this example out, the better you understand cycles, the higher the probability is that you can predict what is going to happen with your business or the stock market, for example.
  8. WHY WOULDN'T A CYCLE CONTINUE?

    Cycles
    It is possible that a cycle you detected is a coincidence. The ups and downs you have noticed, which come at more or less regular time intervals, may be happening by chance. There is a cycle, but it has no significance. If we look hard enough we can find regularity in almost anything, including random numbers, where we know that the regularity has no significance and cannot be counted on to continue.
  9. WHEN DOES REPETITION BECOME A CYCLE?

    Cycles

    So how do we know whether the regularity we see is the result of a real, underlying cyclic force that will continue to fluctuate regularly in the future? Repetition. If the cycle has repeated enough times, with enough regularity, and with enough dominance, the chances are that it is the result of real cyclic forces.

    Let’s say you pick up a pack of playing cards and start to deal. The first card is red, the second is black, the third is red, the fourth is black. Two waves of a regular cycle: red, black, red, black. This sequence could easily be a coincidence. So you continue: red, black, red, black. This pattern has now repeated four times in a row. Probably still chance, but it is not something that happens often. Continuing, the pattern gets up to seven times. While it could still be chance, the probability of something like this happening is getting more and more unlikely. It begins to look as if somebody had stacked the cards. This pattern continues to the end of the deck – twenty-six times! The likelihood of something like this happening is so minuscule you feel comfortable declaring that someone has stacked the deck.

    Exactly the same sort of reasoning applies when examining the ups and downs of the stock market, the sales of your own company, the weather, or anything else that interests you. The more the cycle has dominated, the more regular it is, and the more times it has repeated, the more likely it is the result of a real cyclic force and the more likely it is that it will continue. If it is not dominant enough or has not been regular enough, you will need more repetitions to be confident that it is not chance.
  10. HOW CAN I FIND AND USE CYCLES?

    Cycles

    By using simple arithmetic you can find cycles. By seeing how many times each cycle has repeated in the past you will have a pretty good idea of whether or not it will continue. And by projecting significant cycles into the future, you can get a good idea of what will happen in the future.

    Let’s say the weather forecast is 30% chance of snow. At only 30%, you won’t rush out to put chains on your tires, because there is a 70% chance it won’t snow. But you do bring your chains with you so you are prepared if it does snow.

    You can use the same concept in using cycles in your business or the stock market. You will use the data to determine probabilities, not exact answers. The more you study particular cycles, the more information you will have, and the higher your probability of being accurate.
  11. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO STUDY RHYTHMIC VARIATIONS?

    Cycles

    Let’s take the example of foot traffic in front of your house again. You have gathered enough data to established that groups of people pass by every 10 minutes. Using this data, you have made a reasonable assumption that the reason this cycle is happening is because there is a bus stop down the street and that every 10 minutes a bus stops and lets people off.

    You want to bolster your theory so you dig deeper. You find a city bus schedule, and sure enough, there is a bus stop near your house, it does stop there every 10 minutes, and it is on a time schedule that matches your data. Now your bus stop theory is starting to get stronger and you can be more confident in predicting when the next group of people will walk by.

    Then one day, the timing of people walking by is completely off. The next day everything is back on track again. Everything is going fine until, again, there is a day that is completely off. After this happens a few times you realize that every time the schedule is off, it is raining. Further observation confirms this, making the unpredictable more predictable. You know that it is very likely that the bus schedule will be off when it is raining. You know to plan for the schedule to be off when there is a chance of rain. You know that the schedule will be off with more regularity in the spring when you have observed that it rains more.

    This example demonstrates that whenever you have rhythmic variation you probably have a cause. If you scatter iron filings on a desk you would expect them to be distributed at random. If you find them arranging themselves into a pattern, you can assume that some unknown force is present – perhaps a powerful magnet in the top drawer.

    Similarly, if you find a pattern in the alternate thickness and thinness of tree rings or rock strata, or in the abundance of insects, or in the prices of common stocks, you can assume that there is a cause for such behavior. If you don’t know the cause, you don’t fully understand the behavior. But if you do know the cause, like with the rain and the bus schedule, you can better predict the rhythmic variations.
  12. ARE CYCLES CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER?

    Cycles

    Where the rhythms in two seemingly different phenomena have the same average time span, you are justified in suspecting a possible interrelationship between the phenomena. The most obvious example is tides and phases of the moon.

    For years changing tides baffled scientists and seafarers. Solving of the mystery started with the recognition that the cycle of high and low tides matched the cycle of the moon. Then came the theory that perhaps these two things were being influenced by the same underlying force. Long story short, Isaac Newton proved that gravity was the underlying force that connected the moon and the changing tides.

    Similarly, when studying cycles of two seemingly unrelated events, if you notice that the timing of the two cycles are practically identical, it is reasonable to begin looking for a possible direct or indirect interrelationship between the two events, or a single underlying force.

  13. WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE STUDY CYCLES?

    Cycles
    The study of cycles reveals to us our ignorance and can be disturbing if you have already made up your mind. "If there are regularly recurring ups and downs in business or in prices, all I have ever learned is wrong" an eminent economist once said to FSC Founder Edward Dewey about cycles. "I simply cannot afford to accept such an idea. All my life's work would be ruined." Many doctors in the days of Pasteur must have felt much the same way about germs.
  14. ARE SCIENTISTS STUDYING CYCLES?

    Cycles
    Thousands of scientists the world over have studied cycles and have written papers about their observations. There are three main reasons for this:
    • It is the business of science to predict.
    • It is the business of science to solve mysteries and to learn how things work.
    • Scientist are interested in any tool that hints at possible cause and effect relationships.

    However, many scientists have very specific areas of study. The mammalogist is interested in the cycles of animal abundance, the geologist is focused on geological cycles, and the astronomer only studies astronomical cycles.

    The study of cycles is best understood by studying cycles in all sorts of phenomena, finding which phenomena have cycles of identical average time span, and determining the cause and effect of relationships.

  15. HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER?

    Membership
    It’s easy! We have a sign-up page on the website. Click here to sign up.
  16. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BECOME A MEMBER?

    Membership
    Membership dues are $99 a year.
  17. WHAT DO I GET WITH MEMBERSHIP?

    Membership
    As a member of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, you will have access to:
    • Cycle Scanner, a tool that can decode cycles and apply cyclic analysis to detect dominant cycles in any dataset. To learn more about Cycle Scanner, click here
    • Regular webinars conducted by members of the cycles community
    • FSC community Member Forums
    • A fellowship of scholars, scientists, and nonprofessional investigators, who are passionate about cycles analysis
    Additionally, the Foundation for the Study of Cycles maintains one of the world’s most extensive selections of statistical data. Many series are exclusive to FSC, which is continually enlarging its database. Membership gives you access to:
    • Classic Cycles Library
    • Cycles Magazine (1950-1997)
    • Dewey Microfilm Library
    • How to Make a Cycles Analysis
    • Journal of Interdisciplinary Cycle Research
    • Miscellaneous Historical Archives
    For a more detailed description of member benefits, click here.
  18. ARE MY DONATIONS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

    Donations
    Yes. The Foundation for the Study of Cycles is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution. Contributions to FSC are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Foundation’s tax identification number is 83-2540831.
  19. HOW CAN I MAKE A DONATION?

    Donations

    Visit our donation page or donate by mail:

    Foundation for the Study of Cycles

    PO Box 177

    Floyd, VA 24091

  20. HOW ARE MY DONATIONS USED?

    Donations
    Your tax-deductible donation is used to support FSC members in their continuing analysis of cycles and how they can be used for the betterment of mankind. Additionally, donations support our efforts to share our work with the public through online channels, publications, conferences, and more.
  21. WHAT IS IN THE LIBRARY?

    Library

    The Edward R. Dewey Memorial Library contains over 100,000 original documents connected to the Foundation for the Study of Cycles. The archives include journals, papers, letters, memos, reports, notes, and other documents created or used in the course of research and publication, with some documents dating back to 1884.

    FSC maintains the world’s most extensive selections of statistical data. Many series are exclusive to the Foundation, which is continually enlarging its database. FSC members have unlimited access to all content.

    For a more detailed inventory of the library, click here.

  22. WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF CYCLES?

    FSC
    The Foundation for the Study of Cycles is a fellowship of scholars, scientists, and nonprofessional investigators, who share a passion for better understanding recurring patterns and how they can be used to make the world a better place. It is an international non-profit that promotes and conducts the research of cycles wherever they are found.
  23. WHAT DOES THE FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF CYCLES DO?

    FSC
    The Foundation for the Study of Cycles is dedicated to the study of recurring patterns in the economy, natural and social sciences, and the arts. FSC curates one of the world’s most extensive collections of research and statistical data, which is accessible to all members in our online library. In addition to being part of a supportive community of like-minded cycles enthusiasts, members have access to the Foundation’s first, cloud-based cycles discovery and prediction service, Cycle Scanner.
  24. HOW LONG HAS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF CYCLES BEEN AROUND?

    FSC
    The Foundation for the Study of Cycles was incorporated on January 10, 1941, by Edward R. Dewey after he discovered coincident cycles in nature and business.
  25. HOW DID THE FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF CYCLES GET STARTED?

    FSC

    Founder of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles (FSC), economist Edward Russel Dewey stumbled upon what would become his passion, the study of cycles, in the early 1930s. He was Chief Economic Analyst for the Department of Commerce carrying out an assignment from President Herbert Hoover to identify the causes of the Great Depression.

    Dewey interviewed the world’s leading economist and found that, when asked what they thought caused the depression, there was no consensus. After being advised to examine how business behavior occurred rather than why, he identified verifiable cycles in many economic variables. More astounding he found that when certain cycles came together at the same time it coincided with significantly large dips in the market.

    Upon learning of a Canadian conference on biological cycles held in 1931, Dewey joined forces with the conference leader, Copley Amory, and the conference’s Permanent Committee to form the Foundation for the Study of Cycles (1941), expanding the conference’s original scope to include the study of cycles in economics, geology, biology, sociology, physical sciences, and other disciplines.
  26. WHO IS EDWARD R. DEWEY?

    FSC
    Edward R. Dewey is the founder of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles. He was a significant contributor to the Foundation’s Cycles Magazine as well as the four-volume collection of reports on cycles. In addition to memos, reports, and papers, which can be found in the online Library, Dewey published Cycles: The Mysterious Forces That Trigger Events with author Og Mandino and Cycles: the Science of Prediction with Edwin F. Dakin. You can read his important paper, The Case for Cycles here.