Dror Bar-Natan:

Bible Codes1, 2

For a bigger picture of the silly subject of Bible codes, take a look at Brendan McKay's Torah Codes page.

Local Material:

 paper's home Equidistant Letter Sequences in Tolstoy's "War and Peace" (joint with Brendan McKay, draft, December 1997; first edition: September 1997). In [WRR1], Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg found a surprising correlation between famous rabbis and their dates of birth and death, as they appear as equidistant letter sequences in the Book of Genesis. We make a smaller or equal number of mistakes, and find the same phenomenon in Tolstoy's eternal creation "War and Peace". paper's home On the Witztum-Rips-Rosenberg Sample of Nations (joint with Brendan McKay and Shlomo Sternberg, draft, April 1998; first edition: March 1998). We study the Witztum-Rips-Rosenberg (WRR) sample of nations and find clear evidence that their results were obtained by selective data manipulation and are therefore invalid. Our tool is the study of variations - we vary the sample of nations in many ways, and find that the variations are almost always "worse" than the original. We argue that the only way this can be possible is if the original was "tuned" in one way or another. Finally, we show that "tuning" is a sufficiently strong process that can by itself produce results similar to WRR's. paper's home StatSci.pdf StatSci.ps Solving the Bible Code Puzzle (joint with Brendan McKay, Gil Kalai and Maya Bar-Hillel; Statistical Science 14-2 (1999) 150-173) A paper of Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg in the journal Statistical Science in 1994 made the extraordinary claim that the Hebrew text of the Book of Genesis encodes events which did not occur until millennia after the text was written. In reply, we argue that Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg's case is fatally defective, indeed that their result merely reflects on the choices made in designing their experiment and collecting the data for it. We present extensive evidence in support of that conclusion. We also report on many new experiments of our own, all of which failed to detect the alleged phenomenon. Chance.pdf The Torah Codes: Puzzle and Solution (joint with Maya Bar-Hillel and Brendan McKay , Chance 11-2 (1998) 13-19) A plain-English account of some of our investigations into "Bible codes". the report The Gans Report (September 2002). A brief report on two (related) "Bible codes" experiments jointly designed by "codes" supporters and skeptics. If you're too lazy to click on the icon, here's the result in one sentence: A Complete Failure of the "Codes"

Outside the Abulafia synagogue (main picture) and its main entrance, about 10 meters away (inset), Tiberias, October 2000.
Notice the four different Hebrew spellings of the name "Abulafia", three of them in one shot!
(Quite nicely, all four spellings disagree with the Witztum-Havlin wisdom)

 "Nothing had fascinated him like the code. Looking at the Hebrew letters and counting intervals between characters was like directing an orchestra, a symphony of shapes. He could sail up, down, sideways, and vertically across the boundless sea of characters. ... Every time a combination made sense and turned into an identifiable word or phrase, the discovery had filled Jimmy with ecstasy." The Secret Code (pp. 162) by Paul Meier and Robert Wise, Thomas Nelson, Nashville 1998.

 "... It was also useful to remember that his fortune, his publishing `empire', was rooted in an energetic exploitation of the weak-headed: hidden numerical codes in the Bible foretold the future, the Incas hailed from outer space, ..." Amsterdam (pp. 52) by Ian McEwan, winner of the Booker Prize.

Picture credits: Unknown source through Raz Kupferman.