The fallacy of the "Bible Code"

Famous skeptic Michael Shermer does a good job poking holes in Michael Drosnin's Bible Code II bestseller in Shermer's 12 May 2003 column in Scientific American. The column applies to these types of "codes" in general.

I liked this part in particular:

… in 1997 Drosnin proposed this test of his thesis [about bible codes]: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them."

Australian mathematician Brendan McKay did just that, locating no fewer than nine political assassinations secreted in the great novel, along with additional discoveries in War and Peace and other tomes (see American physicist David E. Thomas predicted the Chicago Bulls's NBA championship in 1998 from his code search of Leo Tolstoy's novel. He also recently unearthed "the Bible code is a silly, dumb, fake, false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax" from Bible Code II (see

In addition to his Moby Dick and War and Peace analysis, Brendan McKay has a nice collection of links about these type of codes.

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