02 August 2012

The Bible Code - McKay Strikes Back

Remember the documentary where Brendan McKay claims to have discovered the assassinations of famous people in Moby-Dick? An analysis from a Bible code website breaks down in detail why McKay's stunt is not a refutation of the existence of the Bible code, and does not answer Michael Drosnin's challenge, which was: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby-Dick I'll believe them."

The unnamed author of the piece points out that all correct codes found in the Torah must meet at least three criteria:
1. they must use a priori key words that are logically and historically related to the event being searched, meaning the key words must be chosen before the search is conducted in order for a code to be valid;
2. the a priori key words must have a relatively compact arrangement of ELS (equidistant letter skips) within the code cylinder;
3. one or more of the a priori key words must have a low rank skip ELS.

Every one of McKay's codes do not meet one or more of the criteria for the Bible code, meaning McKay did not find similar code in Moby-Dick and he did not refute the existence of the Bible code.

The first example given is of India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated 31 October 1984. The following is an example of the code table, or matrix, McKay found regarding the assassination (there are many such tables in the piece, this one is used here as a reference):


What McKay did, according to the article, was search for every instance of "IGANDHI" in the text of Moby-Dick and searched all of them for words related to killing. The one example he did find was "THEBLOODYDEED". This does not meet the first criteria for a valid code. The article goes on to say: "The second problem is that the ELS for bloody deed is not a low rank skip ELS. Its rank is about 200, meaning there are about 200 ELSs of I. Ghandi in Moby Dick having smaller absolute skip than the one shown in the McKay table. Low rank skip for a primary key word generally means a rank smaller than about 30."

A similar method is used for the deaths of other prominent people. Lebanese President Rene Moawad crosses the entire phrase "ANEXPLODINGBOMB", a rather complex phrase that one would not use as an a priori key word (just as you wouldn't search for the entire phrase "SHOTINTHEHEAD" when looking for the Kennedy assassination, you would use words like "SHOT" and "DALLAS"). Leon Trotsky is found with the word "EXECUTED", when he was murdered by a criminal while exiled in Mexico, not killed in an official execution. The other codes found by McKay either display odd complete phrases, indicating cheating, or are not statistically significant (McKay's code for JFK has a probability of 34.5 in 100, whereas the probability of the results of the original rabbi's experiment he said was fake had a probability of 1 in 10 million).

The conclusion is clear: Brendan McKay did not perform an experiment. He used no experimental protocal, certainly not the rigorous one used in the original experiment he was criticising. McKay performed a debunking exercise where he cheated at every chance he could, searching the text for anything he thought would look good, and put on a show to purpousfully deceive the uneducated reader. His whole purpose was to discredit genuine code researchers because he has an a priori metaphysical objection to the existence of codes, not a real scientific objection.