I'm trying to get back into my routine, after being really devastated by losing my
dog. To people who don't love dogs, it probably seems silly to be so upset over an animal, but
he was really a member of the family, and losing him really knocked me for a loop.
I'm trying to first get caught up on my book schedule, so I haven't had time for any
substantial blog posts. But while I was bumming around, a comment showed up on one of my old
posts. For background, several times in the past, I've written about the Lords Witnesses, a
Jehovah's Witness spinoff group that claims to have discovered a "bible code" by which prophecies
are embedded in the bible. They've been predicting that Manhattan will be hit by an atomic bomb.
They've proposed somewhere around 20 different dates. Their latest prediction was April 4th of
It's an amusing comment. The gist of it is that he has discovered the
one true bible code; that everyone else who's found bible codes is really just being
duped by Satan, and that anyone who doesn't accept the truth of his one true
bible code is an agent of Satan.
The whole bible code phenomenon frankly fascinates me. We human beings - and in my opinion,
any intelligent beings capable of natural thought - are inevitably natural pattern-seekers. It's
just the nature of intelligence: we try to understand the world, and understanding comes from
recognizing patterns, and using those patterns to create models of how things work. The
bible codes are, to me, a really fascinating meta-example of this: people search for all sorts
of bizarre and obscure structures that produce patterns in their holy texts; and then people like
me look at all of the people who do that, and see patterns of similarity in how they
obsessively find patterns.
But anyway, back to the code.
It's not really particularly different from any of the other rubbish out there. But it's very
amusing, both because of the way it makes the same old mistakes, and by the sheer hubris of the
guy behind it.
His code is basically a combination of skip codes and gematria.
For those unfamiliar, skip codes are a method where you select a text, select a starting
point, and then pick every Nth letter. The resulting letters are strung together, and you select
the word boundaries. The "codes" discovered by this are basically words that can be formed from
consecutive letters in a skip sequence.
Gematria is an old Jewish thing, which originally came from the fact that in Hebrew, you use
the same characters for writing letters and numbers - which means that every word can be
interpreted as a number, and many numbers can be interpreted as words. So Jewish mystics,
primarily in Eastern Europe, became fascinated with studying the Torah by looking for ways of finding information based on converting back and forth between letters and numbers.
In more modern times, tons of crackpots have latched on to gematria. Only instead of learning
hebrew, they just create numerical mappings for english letters, and then do it in english. It
doesn't work nearly as well, but given enough input data, almost any process can create some
amount of seemingly interesting output. (Hebrew works better than english for gematria because
vowels aren't written, so you only have consonants; almost all words have three-consonant roots;
most three-consonant combinations are a word-root; and most conjugations are done by either
modifying the (unwritten) vowels, or by adding suffixes to words. So, for example, the word
"boy" in hebrew is YeLeD; the word girl is YaLDa.)
Anyway... Our crackpot friend is using skip-codes plus gematria on the King James translation of the bible. What makes him interesting is that he believe that he is a prophet, and that
there are codes in the bible to verify that fact. In fact, pretty much all of his
supposed bible-code work is really just trying to prove that he is a prophet.
In terms of math, it's really just same-old, same-old. As I said at the beginning, humans
are very good at finding patterns. If we're sufficiently determined to put in the time
and try enough combinations, we can find patterns in anything. Take something
substantial like the complete new testament, and you've got something in the vicinity
of 4 million characters - and that's plenty of room for searching. You can
find pretty much anything you want.
To be a bit more specific about his stuff... He uses a piece of software that allows you to do
searches through the bible with various skip distances - both positive and negative. He then picks
questions, and selects arbitrary words from the questions, and does searches. Then he takes the
number of hits for his selected words, and adds them up - and looks for correspondences with the
numbers corresponding to his particular target words. His targets are, for the most part, pretty
typical: "God", "Jesus", "Messiah". But also "Prophet Sean", "Sean Proudler", "K. Sean
What are some of his results? He wants to search for the answer "What is the mark of christ?".
He pulls out first the word "mark" - that's going to be what he searches for. Then he takes the
word "christ", and uses it to set the skip distances to search, using its numerical
value of 462. But since he needs a range of search distances, he arbitrarily decides to add 1000 to it, and searches for references to "mark", using skip distances ranging from 462 to 1462. Why those numbers? Why 1462 instead of 2462, or
10462? Because 1462 is the one that works. Using that, the number of matches for "mark" is 462.
Another one, he asks "What is the mark of jesus christ, jesus?".
He sets the skip range from -906 (the english gematria for "jesus christ") to +888 (the greek gematria code for "Jesus"), and searches for the word "mark", and comes up with 906 hits.
He plays with all sorts of similarly stupid stuff. Because of the way that he uses both wrapping, and ranges of skip codes, he's gotten even sillier than the usual bible code stuff. If you can pick any range of skip distances, and any search string, you can come up
with pretty much any answer you want.
Where he gets really fun, though, is when he starts trying to prove his own prophet-hood. He
starts off by asserting "Scientists say that jesus was born on June 17th in the year 2BC." I'd never heard that one before. Doing a Google search, one guy claims that studying astronomical records, they've identified the "Christmas star", and it would have been visible around
June 17th, 2BC. Ok, so he didn't totally make this up. But then he decides
that he wants to check if that's true. He searches for "born on" - the phrase;
"six one" - again, the phrase, not the individual words; "seven", and "ii bc". He uses skip distances ranging from 1 to 522 (the gematria of "truth"). The result
is that "born on" occurs 9 times, "six one" occurs once; "seven" occurs 387 times, and "ii bc" occurs 491 times. Those add up to 888 - which is the greek gematria for "jesus". From
this and a similar exercise (using skip ranges from 1 to 1617 - why? because "6/17" is
June 17th, and it just works if you add the one prefix), he concludes that yes indeed,
jesus was born on June 17th.
I'll bet you can't guess our loony friend's birthday, can you? Why it's June 17th!
So he's supposedly born on the same day as Jesus. What more could proof could you possibly ask
for that he's a prophet?
How about this. If you take his first initial, K, in his gematria system, it's got the numeric
value "66". Now, if you do a search of the King James bible, using skip distances from 1 to 66,
and you search for the word "mark", you'll get 156 - the gematria for "god". If you search for
"born", you'll get 906 hits, the gematria for "jesus christ". And if you search for "return",
you'll get 444 hits - the english gematria for jesus.
But that's not all. If you ignore his first name, and use "Sean Proudler", the gematria for
his name in english is the same as the gematria for "jesus" in greek.
Not enough? If you search for "Jesus's", "Sean's", "blood", and "line", using skips from 1 to
522 (the gematria value of "truth", the sum of the number of hits is 8882. And "888" is the
gematria code for both "jesus" (in greek) and "Sean Proudler" (in english), and since there are
two of them, it ends in 2!
Wow! What are the odds?
Roughly 100%. If you can play any numeric games you want, and interpret the results
any way you want, you can get any results you want. If I were willing to actually pay
for a copy of the software he used, I'll guarantee that I could find something to support
the argument that "John Lennon is god".
But I'm probably just saying that because I'm an agent of Satan.