Back in 1995, five writers from Israel claimed that by performing statistical analyses of the Bible, they were able to uncover secret prophecies that predicted events in modern times, such as the assasination of Yitzhak Rabin. These writers claimed to use scientific statistical techniques, but all they really did was play the childish game of taking the Bible and taking letters out every so often, seeing what kinds of words might come out of the mix. They claimed that they found their prophecies as a result, and this book was written to explain them.
How well do the claims of this book hold up to scrutiny? Not surprisingly, they're easily shown to be completely false. Don't take my word for it, though. Listen instead to the experts in statistics who exposed the Bible Code hoax. Researchers Dror Bar-Natan, Maya Bar-Hillel, Gil Kalai and Brendan McKay published an article in the journal Statistical Science, edited by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in which they proved the Bible Code to be non-existent.
Their basic points:
- There is no single, agreed-upon original Bible. Even the oldest version of the Bible vary from one another. Therefore, any attempt to pick out, for example, every 5th word would be different for each Bible. Besides, even these versions of the Bible are not the original texts, but highly edited versions of more ancient works.
- The Bible Code cannot be replicated. That is, when the statistical analyses that the Bible Code claims to be based upon were repeated by other researchers the Bible Code was not found. "Despite a considerable amount of effort. We have been unable to detect the codes."
- The procedures followed by the Bible Code team were not in compliance with scientific standards because they were repeatedly changed with the goal of finding a code. Such statistical tuning can eventually find a few apparently meaningful codes in any long book, but for every such coherent fragment there is a huge amount of gibberish. The focus on the tiny bit of apparent coherence to the detriment of the huge amount of nonsense is a biased attempt to interpret white noise into a supposedly divine message. Basically, what the researchers are saying is that if you let a two-year-old bang away on a keyboard for long enough, some words that appear to have meaning will be accidentally typed. That doesn't mean that there is any secret keyboard-banging code that the two-year-old was trying to get out.
- The Bible Code team started out trying to find patterns of certain kinds but not of others. For example, they tried to find the birth and death dates of famous rabbis, but didn't do the same for other figures in popular culture, like the Beatles. By starting out with the goal of forcing these particular names out of the text and not giving up until the goal was achieved, the Bible Code team missed a huge amount of other coincidental wordings that would by far drown out the supposed prophecy. With enough work, a person could find a so-called code to find prophecies about Big Bird and Snuffleupagus in the Bible.
In sum, a huge majority of scientists and mathematicians agree that the Bible Code is nonsense. Why would you go out and buy this book knowing that it doesn't measure up to even the most basic professional standards of reason and logic? Well, it might be because you really want to believe that the Bible has some kind of secret divine message for you. That's telling, because it's exactly the same motivation that led the writers to concoct their ridiculous scheme. This book is an exercise in blind faith in religion. It's not science. If you want to read religion, go look in the religion section, but leave this piece of bunk where it belongs: waiting on the shelf, unread.
Irregular Times require backtalk. So talk back to us!
Give us your Irregular Retorts!
and lend your more extended musings a voice -- SUBMIT an Irregular Essay for publication on Irregular Times.