Smoking Gun Challenge
This post marks the final action in a remarkably successful initiative that has ended with confirmation of my claimed discovery of a non-predictive code in the Old Testament. Having survived a gauntlet of critical analysis by some of the most talented skeptics in the world, my claim is now ready for the final challenge: securing academic verification. Towards that end, I’ve created a new platform: www.thesaganproject.org.
Vetting of the Sagan Signal has three phases, with two that have been completed:
Phase 1: Personal vetting (1975-2005)
Phase 2: Vetting by skeptics (2006-2020)
Phase 3: Vetting by academics (2021-?)
With the recent failure of Center for Inquiry Executive Director James Underdown to demonstrate how the Sagan Signal is algorithmic, there is not a single skeptic or skeptic organization in the world actively challenging my claim. The remarkable absence of resistance from the global skeptic community suggests that it’s time to move on to a new arena: academia.
To recap, following is a brief vetting history:
I discovered the Sagan Signal in 1975. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was potentially the most significant development in the long history of biblical scholarship. I made the difficult decision to resign from the ministry and devote my time and energy to learning the truth about what I had found.
Thanks to my mentor, Carl Sagan, I knew that the vetting process had to begin with me. In Phase 1, I proceeded to do everything in my power to explain the extraordinary symmetry of the Sagan Signal short of it being a code. I couldn’t do it, so I took the next step. I sought help from the skeptic community.
Phase 2 was vetting the data in the most rigorous and exhaustive manner possible by the most talented skeptics I could find. It started with celebrity skeptic Michael Shermer’s casual dismissal of the code as a chance event:
“Are you familiar with the book The Bible Code? Biblical numerology is an ancient tradition in which people believe that they have found all sorts of patterns indicating the hand of god or a higher intelligence. Nothing new there. I find yours--a simple pattern of three--to be one of the simplest and easiest to explain by chance.”
Phase 2 ended with the Center for Inquiry conclusion:
“I understand now that your code is different . . .”
What makes the Sagan Signal different from previous Bible code claims is that skeptics weren’t faced with Nostradamus-like prophecies generated by cleverly devised algorithms that were easy to debunk. Instead they were confronted with direct evidence and cold hard numbers that couldn’t easily be explained away. A turning point came with a statistical probability analysis by mathematics professor Sean Rule that set the odds of the Sagan Signal being a chance event at one in ten billion trillion – with no manipulation of the text. At that point, it was effectively game over. The final verdict from the Center for Inquiry is that the Sagan Signal is a non-predictive, non-algorithmic, and scientifically legitimate Bible code.
A Recap of 2020 and a Vision for the Future
Over the past year my goal was to give Center for Inquiry Executive Director of Investigations James Underdown ample time to demonstrate his claim that the Sagan Signal is the product of algorithmic manipulation rather than encrypted into the Old Testament at the time of its original writing. He couldn’t do it.
James’ failure to do what he said he could do is the final nail in the coffin of one of the three falsification strategies favored by skeptics over the past fifteen years:
2. Literary convention.
3. Algorithmic manipulation of the text.
Let’s review each of these in order:
Early on, skeptic Michael Shermer suggested that, in his opinion, the Sagan Signal appeared to be a random coincidence. His unstudied conclusion was effectively destroyed by the Rule Equation, a statistical probability analysis that set the odds of 46 of 54 triadic sequences being a random event at one in ten billion trillion. Since the Rule Equation, no skeptic or skeptic organization in the world, including the Center for Inquiry, has cited random coincidence as a counter explanation.
One explanation eliminated, two to go.
Shortly afterwards, while acknowledging its impressive symmetry, anthropologist and SETI advisor Kathryn Denning stated that the Sagan Signal is very likely an example of literary convention. That debunking strategy was pursued by skeptic Jason Colavito, who, in an extensive review of ancient Middle Eastern literature, found nothing identical or even remotely similar. Since then, no skeptic in the world has argued for literary convention.
Two explanations eliminated, one to go.
Last came James Underdown’s ten month long effort to prove that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic. While freely conceding that the Sagan Signal possesses the necessary attributes of a code, Underdown argued that the symmetry was created by a computer algorithm. He stated that he, or, for that matter, anyone, could write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, would generate a “code” comparable to the Sagan Signal. I challenged him to do what he said he could do, and he failed the test.
James Underdown’s inability to prove his point effectively eliminated the third and final tool in the skeptic toolbox. Of course, things could change, but as of this date, December 20, 2020, there is not a skeptic or skeptic organization in the world actively contesting my claim that the Sagan Signal is a legitimate code.
On this day, as we commemorate the 24th anniversary of the death of Carl Sagan, it’s time, not just to recount the successes of past years, but looking to the future, to come up with new and more rigorous ways to test the data. It’s time to leave the world of professional skepticism and turn the Sagan Signal over to academics who, in processing the data, will delve into the arcane science of paleography, the study of ancient writings.
A Higher Mountain
When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, the next step you take will always be down. The Center for Inquiry sits at the top of the skeptic mountain. Its three year-long investigation, including input from professional cryptologists, resulted in written confirmation of the existence of a non-predictive, non-algorithmic code in the Old Testament.
But confirmation by the Center for Inquiry, as good as it is, isn’t enough. There is a higher mountain to climb. The failure of the CFI and other skeptics to debunk my claim is notable, but the scientific community demands more. To fully secure my claim, academics need to subject the data to rigorous testing and the results need to corroborate the provisional conclusion of the skeptics, which is why I am closing this site and opening a new site directed exclusively to academics.
After engaging scores of skeptics over the years, I’ve come to understand that their mission is to falsify, not confirm. Corroboration of extraordinary claims is not in their job description. It’s not what they do, and I was wrong to expect anything more of them. The most I could have hoped for is what has been accomplished – leaving behind a long trail of deeply frustrated skeptics, who, over the past fifteen years, have tried and failed to debunk my claim.
To all skeptics, known and unknown, who have participated in Phase 2, you have my deepest respect. Purging extraordinary claims by submerging the data in the hot cauldron of skepticism is what you do. You have done your job, and done it well. To expand on the famous Sagan Rule, there’s no shame in not being able to falsify an extraordinary Bible code claim supported by equally extraordinary evidence. In the end, the truth will always prevail.
As a freethinker, I consider the skeptics I’ve interacted with over the years my colleagues. The process worked. In transitioning from Phase 2 to Phase 3, from skeptics to academics, research presented on this site that might be useful to academic inquiries will be moved to my new website: www.thesaganproject.org.
My sincere thanks to the thousands of individuals around the world who have been following this vetting process over the years. I invite you to join me at my new site as Phase 3 gets underway.
Donald L. Zygutis