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George Lindsay and the Art of Technical Analysis: The Other History

Ed Carlson discusses George Lindsay's book, The Other History, where Lindsay challenges the accepted views of "cause and effect" in the stock market and replaces them with his own observations of time intervals.
This chapter is from the book
  • "Everything in the universe moves in a rhythm. Nothing happens at random. The underlying factors are, in their turn, subject to the same rhythms as the final product. The whole is not the sum of the parts, but both the whole and parts labor under similar influences."1
  • George Lindsay

It is widely known that Lindsay's greatest passion was the subject matter in his book, The Other History, which he called "technical history." Lindsay coined the term (an allusion to technical analysis) to describe the methods explained in this book.

The Other History was Lindsay's only book. It is not known whether he attempted to go through normal publishing channels, but in the end he self-published the book through Vantage Publishing, a "subsidy" publisher. In other words, he paid to have it published.

For a writer whose subject matter was difficult and writing style dense, Lindsay's book, The Other History, must be, unfortunately, the most impenetrable example of his writing. Jampacked with minute details and obscure references, the book leaves the reader to determine for himself whether Lindsay was grasping at straws to build his case for "technical history" or whether he was actually on to something.

"Herodotus died 2400 years ago, but his influence is still pervasive. Every historical work since his day has, with rare exceptions, adhered to the model he set up. It has been a straight narrative of events in chronological order; to the extent that the author tried to explain them at all, he relied on accepted notions of cause and effect."

Lindsay wrote that only 20 books had been written over the previous century in this genre. He mentions as notable Dupuy's Origine des tous les cultes, Historionomie by Stromer von Reichenbach, and Les rhythmes dans l'historie by Gaston Georgel, adding that his book is in the school of Georgel. He also notes that very little has been written on the subject in English other than The Law of Civilization and Decay by Brooks Adams and The Rule of Phase Applied to History by Henry Adams. It is safe to assume that Lindsay developed these ideas himself as an outgrowth of his market timing techniques.

No number of examples can serve to convince the skeptical mind of Lindsay's ideas. But the mind is much more open to "technical history" after a review of Lindsay's market timing techniques, which also include the concept of time intervals. The skeptical are advised to reread this chapter after finishing the remainder of the book.

Time Intervals

The Other History, like Lindsay's work in the stock market, is concerned with intervals of time. The starting point is always an agitation: "An agitation is a heightened consciousness and increased activity among a large number of people at a specific moment in time. It is normally directed toward a certain end. An agitation may be physical in nature, in which case it usually involves bloodshed; or it may be intellectual or emotional." The important numbers to be acquainted with are 36, 40, and 56. These are intervals of time—36 years, 40 years, and 56 years. Each interval is a point estimate; Lindsay allows for a year on either side of the point estimate, so 36 years is the name of an interval that actually ends anywhere from 35 to 37 years after the starting point, or agitation. The same applies to 40 and 56. A final interval involves the years 64–69. What happens in the interim, between interval dates, is irrelevant and may be ignored.

These intervals mark times of ease or success after the initial difficulties associated with the starting point or time of agitation. "According to the theory, any collective undertaking fails, or succeeds imperfectly, unless there was an agitation directed toward the same end about 36 or 40 years previously, and unless the central idea behind the effort was clearly defined at roughly the same time." The first interval to occur after an agitation varies. It may be 36 years (35–37 years) or 40 years (39–41 years). As a side note, this book was begun in the 41st year after the publication of The Other History.

Often there is a retrograde movement. The retrograde movement is an attempt to turn back the clock which runs counter to the main trend of difficult to easy. "It always appears shortly before the moment of final triumph, and confuses the outlook." The retrograde movement normally appears shortly before the expiration of 40 years. The next interval is that of 56 years (55–57 years) and after that, the final interval of 64–69 years.

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