From: Iain Strachan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat May 03 2003 - 14:56:45 EDT
Debbie asked (off list) about the original "bible codes" experiment
concerning the list of famous rabbis and their dates. This was published in
a peer reviewed secular statistics journal, and spawned the entire bible
codes phenomenon, the Drosnin books and so forth.
Debbie said it was OK to post some of the response to the list, so here it
is in (slightly snipped and edited form):
> From: "Debbie Mann" <deborahjmann@InsightBB.com>
> To: "Iain Strachan" <email@example.com>
> Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2003 12:49 AM
> Subject: RE: The Nature of Atheist - Christian dialogue
> > What about the list of rabbis? Names and dates of a number of rabbis
> > appeared in order. Has that been discounted as well?
> I found the name of the Israeli Mathematician who worked also with an
> Australian Mathematician Brendan McKay. It was Dror Bar-Natan.
[I had previously sent a reply referring to this but couldn't initially
remember the names]
> Their joint paper is at:
> I haven't read it in detail, but it would appear to be a pretty
> comprehensive rebuttal; they noticed that the choice of "appelations" for
> each of the rabbis was not consistent with any standard database search,
> that a small change to the appelations made "War and Peace" produce a
> similarly significant result to the Bible.
> One always has to be careful in trusting the honesty of a skeptic, of
> course, but on the face of it, this paper totally destroys the Rips et al
> claims, because it looks as if they manipulated the appelations to get a
> significant result (i.e. they cooked the books).
> Incidentally, Vernon Jenkins wrote to Brendan McKay concerning his own
> but McKay never replied or attempted a rebuttal.
> Hope this helps
Since posting this, I read the Bar-Natan and McKay paper in more detail and
can add the following.
Rips et al followed a supposedly strict rule for getting the names of the
Rabbis, which were supplied by an independent source. In the referreeing of
the paper, they were requested to do it on a different list; so they
obtained one from the same source and applied the same strict rules.
However, this still left a considerable choice for the "appelation" of each
Rabbi. Bar-Natan and McKay then produced their own list, choosing different
appelations from the available choices, still, they assert, following the
strict guidelines adhered to by Rips et al. The new list produced a more
significant result on the Hebrew version of "War and Peace" than the
original Rips et. al list produced on Genesis. The Bar-Natan and McKay list
didn't produce a significant result on Genesis.
If this is all correct and honestly performed, then as far as I can see it
is pretty devastating for the whole Bible Codes phenomenon, as this was the
Vernon's work, I should point out, has nothing whatever to do with these
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