Bible Code Digest—
September 2004

In This Month's Issue:

    Briefing Short news items of interest to Bible code followers.

    Correspondence Feedback from our readers.

    The Risks of Having a BUM Experience BUM stands for Believing an Unintended Message. We put no stock in simple matrices made up of single word ELSs. Such matrices are presented in most pro-code web sites and books.

    What Is a Code? Using a Mel Gibson code as an example, code researcher Moshe Aharon Shak discusses a minimum standard to apply to terms before one can begin to assume that they form a Divine code.

    Do Longer Codes Express Viewpoints? Part 2 Our picks of the most intriguing codes from three more points of view—Terrorist, American, and Catholic.

    Photo by Ian Britton


On August 14, 2004, the History Channel reran both of its Bible Code programs. Activity at shot up to 1.7 million hits during the month of August—the second highest month this year. During the summer, activity on the site is usually low, so this is a remarkable number of hits. April 2004, when the second program first aired, saw 2.2 million hits to the site. The average visitor hits about 25 different pages before leaving the BCD site, a surprisingly high number.


I am fairly new to Bible Codes. I have read that there is a Bible Code that suggests Earth may be destroyed in 2012 by a comet. I also found another code on the Internet that suggests the comet will hit Mars (The "Mars Code") and [that] part of Mars will hit Earth.

I found this interesting since the Mayan calendar pronounces the end of time as December 21, 2012. Have you found this date near the comet code at all? The Mayans were very good at astronomy, so if Mars were to be destroyed, then it would make sense for their calendar to end, since they based their calendar on the solar system.

Thank you,
Dave from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, US

The answer to the validity of small single word clusters is addressed in the following article The Risks of Having a BUM Experience.

The Risks of Having a BUM Experience
by Ed Sherman

BUM stands for Believing an Unintended Message. Visitors to many pro-code web sites, and readers of a number of pro-code books, face a very high risk of having a BUM experience. Why? Because the matrices presented are so sketchy you could come up with the same thing from the Jerusalem phone book.

The recipe is always the same. We don’t have to name names. A code researcher looks for and finds a handful of short single Hebrew words as ELSs in a matrix, and touts it as proof that God encoded these “related” words. The biggest problem is that any code dabbler can look for and find short Hebrew words as ELSs in any scrambled pile of Hebrew letters. So all that is happening is that someone has found what they looked for because they can find virtually anything they look for. SKETCHY MATRICES ARE MEANINGLESS AND WORTHLESS. This is not to say that some or all of these words could have been encoded. It is just that we have no basis for knowing that such is the case, versus the possibility that they are just chance findings.

A Sketchy Matrix

Several years ago CalTech Professor Barry Simon posted an example sketchy matrix of “codes” about Hanukah. His example was as impressive looking as most in published pro-code books and web sites. The problem was that he came up with it by looking in a Hebrew translation of Tolstoy’s novel, War & Peace. In other words, his matrix consisted entirely of ELSs that were not encoded. Here is what this matrix looks like:

[The actual matrix shown in Dr. Simon’s posting looks more impressive than this because he also included eight literal words from the surface text of War & Peace. He denotes these added words by underlining them. We don’t consider literal words to be codes so we removed them to get the above figure.]

A Wake-Up Call

This should have been a wake-up call to code researchers that they at least needed to come up with more extensive examples than the Hanukah matrix. Unfortunately, it hasn’t seemed to humble many of them or to cause them to question the reality of their findings. We at BCD have decided to take a more active role in trying to open people’s eyes to the foolishness of attaching any significance to sketchy matrices.

To reduce the risks of having a BUM experience with ELS matrices, it is vitally important that the matrix include ELSs that are highly improbable. To get that, one needs to find lengthy ELSs in decent Hebrew. If some of these are close to one another, that helps all the more. Just finding a few words on a topic as ELSs is only the embryonic beginning of the search for a potentially substantive matrix. The string of letters before and after each initial ELS needs to be examined to see if a cogent phrase or sentence or even sentences surrounds the initial ELS. Without such unusual findings, all one is doing is fooling oneself, and perhaps others.

In this issue, veteran code researcher Moshe Shak presents a discussion of the criteria he uses to separate out intended from unintended ELSs. His criteria are tightly focused around matrices. In the past, BCD has tended to specialize in clusters rather than matrices. While matrices must fit within a visible, two-dimensional array, clusters can be multi-dimensional. The key characteristic of the clusters we have presented is that all ELSs must touch down within a fairly short section of literal text, and most of them must be fairly lengthy.

One of our goals at BCD is to try to present clusters or matrices that are so extensive that code skeptics such as Simon or McKay would have to sweat blood for months or years, or even a few lifetimes, to come up with a comparable example from a non-encoded text. When we started this search a number of years ago, we did not believe we would succeed, thus further showing that Bible codes are bunk. We’ve been turned on our heads by some of the highly complex and very extensive clusters we have found after doing comparatively little work, as well as some sprawling matrices such as Mr. Shak has discovered. So we have had to admit that something about this phenomenon is real. Since some ELSs are real, we are left wondering what this might mean, and that is one of the things we want to explore in upcoming issues.

The Fickle-Finger Method

The story has been told about someone who sought wisdom and direction from the Bible by the fickle-finger method. They flipped through the pages, closed their eyes, pointed at a verse, and read it. It said, “Then Judas went away and hanged himself.” (Matt. 27:5) Then he flipped through some more pages and blindly pointed at yet another verse. This one read, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37) Sadly, this method of searching for truth is actually much more objective than pulling together a sketchy matrix. At least the person using the flippant finger method has no real control over the message he will receive. Sketchy matrix lovers, however, have the deceptive reward of hearing what they want to hear awaiting them. So the odds are that sketchy matrix lovers are far more likely to be fooling themselves than the followers of the flippant finger method!

Assess the Risk

How can the intelligent reviewer quickly assess what the risk is of having a BUM experience? We presented that some time ago in another posting. First, you throw out any ELS that is six or fewer letters long. Then for each remaining code, you count up how many letters each ELS has in excess of six. If your total score is less than 50, the risk is very high. And the lower the score, the greater the risk. This is the case with the most extensive examples in Drosnin’s first book. Each of these only score 11 or 12 points. His second book is worse. His best examples only score four or five or seven, as is shown in a chart within the cited posting.

In that posting, six BCD clusters each scored more than 200 points. The Ezekiel 37 cluster scores 1,044 points. The odds that such clusters are coincidental are virtually nil. Take the 146-letter-long Mel Gibson ELS discovered by Mr. Shak. Within that ELS, Shak also discovered a 109-letter-long code running the opposite direction, as well as a 44-letter-long code with double the skip of the longest ELS, as well as another 44-letter-long code, and a 27-letter-long code, both with triple the skip of the longest ELS. This matrix scores 340 points (=140+103+38+38+21), and it all appears within a single column of one matrix!

There is another type of risk of having a BUM experience. Suppose you find a Kerry ELS and a President ELS close to one another within a matrix. If you don’t check the letters before and after each ELS to see if there is a longer message, you might miss the real point. What if the words, “Not a” appear right before “President”? Trying to extract new information from codes is a very hazardous undertaking indeed.



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