News & Updates

Underdown Update:

TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                           October 20, 2020

       Executive Director of Investigations

       The Center for Inquiry



As you well know, being skeptical of a claim is not the same as debunking a claim. Debunking, or falsifying a claim that isn’t true, can’t happen until after the evidence for the claim has been investigated and tested and the results fail to corroborate the assertion.

My extraordinary claim is that I discovered an alien Bible code, and, early in 2018, I submitted my evidence to the Center for Inquiry for investigation. As Direct of Investigations, you graciously accepted my application and proceeded to investigate.

At the completion of CFI Invest 1.0, the CFI acknowledged that my claimed discovery of an alien Bible code is true, and that the code, now called the Sagan Signal, is non-predictive and non-algorithmic.

Then, for some reason, you decided to challenge the findings of your own investigation! You told skeptic leader David Gluck that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic, and that you could prove it by writing an algorithm, apply it to a large body of text, and produce a “code” comparable to the Sagan Signal.

I challenged you to do what you said you could do, and, as CFI Invest 2.0, gave you ten months to produce your “Underdown Code.” We have just completed month 8, and you have still not delivered on your promise.

But you still have two months, so perhaps for dramatic effect you are waiting until the last minute. On the other hand, if you’re struggling and need more time, let me know and I would be happy to extend the deadline.

If, on Dec. 20th, the 24th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death, you have failed to prove that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic, and you don’t ask for an extension, I, and the world, will conclude that your claim that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic is untrue, and allow the original findings of CFI Invest 1.0 to stand.

Should that happen, I will have the weight of an official CFI investigation, one that you authorized, on my side. Going forward, I will use both CFI investigations as a referral to solicit and procure further research.

James, I want to thank you for keeping the Sagan Signal in the public spotlight, making it the number one issue facing the global skeptic community. It will likely take more years and more corroborating investigations before science and academia accept the Sagan Signal as objective reality, but you and the CFI have opened the door, and for that I am grateful.

All the best,


TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                              September 20, 2020

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



In February of this year, you told skeptic leader David Gluck that “anyone” could write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, would result in a body of symmetry comparable to the Sagan Signal. Assuming that “anyone” included yourself, I challenged you to write such an algorithm, apply it to whatever large body of text you desired, and prove your claim.

It’s now seven months into CFI Invest 2.0, and you still haven’t produced your “Underdown Code.” Is there a problem? Is it possible that you can’t do what you boldly insisted was an easy thing to do?

That appears to be the case. Think about this – your statement has motivated skeptics around the world to check out your algorithm strategy. After all, if anyone manages to accomplish what you say anyone can do, they win my $5000 Challenge to Skeptics, and the fame that comes with that achievement.

This may come as a shock to you, but over the past seven months I have not received a single response to my Challenge from any skeptic. Whatever else may come of CFI Invest 2.0, one thing is clear: what you say “anyone” can do is simply not true. In fact, it appears to be impossible.

There is now less than 100 days before your experiment ends. If, on December 20, 2020, there is no Underdown Code, I will conclude that you agree with your fellow investigators at the Center for Inquiry, and with skeptics around the world, that the Sagan Signal is a non-predictive, non-algorithmic code of non-human origin, and that it is worthy of further critical analysis by the scientists at the SETI Institute.

James, on a related note, I want to thank you and the Center for Inquiry for helping put to rest a debunking strategy that was aggressively promoted in the early years of SETI – that ET’s, if they exist, are too far away to physically come to Earth. No one today believes that, which is why, over the past fifteen years that I have been vetting the Sagan Signal, not a single skeptic has used the distance argument as a falsification mechanism.

On top of that, thanks largely to you and the Center for Inquiry, a long list of other debunking strategies have been tried and abandoned, until now, with under 100 days to go, all that’s left is you and your highly dubious algorithm scheme.

The final countdown is on. Good luck!

All the best,






TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                   August 20, 2020

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



As you are well aware, Carl Sagan was one of the founders of modern skepticism. For the investigation of extraordinary claims based on empirical evidence, Carl proposed that supporting data be independently tested by competent experts within a controlled environment.

Following his advice, you have backed up your charge that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic with an experiment that you think will prove your allegation and falsify my claim. Your strategy is to write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, will generate the same or a similar level of symmetry as that found in the Sagan Signal.

Numerous other skeptics have tried this approach, and none, not even your own investigative team, has succeeded. However, if you do what you say you can do, I would agree that my claim will have been debunked.

It is therefore somewhat bizarre that, after six months, the “Underdown Code” still hasn’t materialized. You have four months to finish your experiment, so there is time, but as you and I both know, there are skeptics and skeptic organizations around the world who are getting a little antsy that you may not be able to deliver on your promise.

Should you succeed, you will have exposed my claim as a hoax. However, should you fail, you will have added significant confirmatory testimony to that which already exists that the Sagan Signal is real.

Either way, I applaud you for your determination and give you credit for sensing the gravity of the situation more clearly than most. An alien Bible code? Sounds like something someone scraped off the cutting room floor of a grade B sci-fi movie. But after fifteen years of high level vetting that culminated in a formal investigation by the Center for Inquiry, serious people are slowly coming to the realization that this could be the real deal, and they are beginning to take notice.

James, what you are attempting to do is extremely important. Should you succeed, the matter will be ended and you will have accomplished what no other skeptic has been able to do. Any praise and recognition that comes your way will be well-deserved.

However, should you fail, I think that you’d agree that my claim, the evidence, and all available research, including your own, should be passed on to the SETI Institute for an even more exhaustive investigation.

To review the vetting history of the Sagan Signal:

Phase 1 vetting was that which I did on my own – 20 years.

Phase 2 vetting was carried out by highly qualified skeptics – 15 years.

Phase 3 vetting will be conducted by the SETI Institute and by independent researchers funded by research grants.

The Sagan Signal is based on NASA funded research conducted by Carl at Stanford University under the oversight of Nobel Prize winning geneticist and SETI enthusiast, Joshua Lederberg. CFI’s recent investigation resulted in high level verification of Carl’s stunning hypothesis.

Carl Sagan, NASA, a Nobel Prize winner, a world class research university, a peer reviewed and published paper, the world’s largest and most influential skeptic organization - it doesn’t get any better. The harmonic convergence of all these blue-blood facts point to a single conclusion, that the Sagan Signal is real.

My question to you is: Is your falsification strategy based on science, logic, and common sense, or did you pull it out of thin air?

“Unless one has either a theory to back up one’s hypothesizing, or some empirical evidence to show that one’s probabilities have some possibility of being reasonable, any supposed probabilities that one pulls out of thin air are no more than that.” Michael Ruse

All the best,


TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                                     July 20, 2020


        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



Over the past decade, the Newton Bible Code has met every skeptic challenge and passed every skeptic filter in its path – except one. While every other skeptic on the planet who has attempted to falsify my claim concedes that the Code is real, you have the distinction of being the only holdout. You say that you can debunk my claim by demonstrating that the Code is the result of an artificially imposed algorithmic process.

You are now five months into your debunking effort and, quite predictably, the “Underdown Code” you say you can produce is still a no-show. If, by December 20th of this year, you fail to do what you say you can do, I will add your name to a long list of skeptics who, by their failure to debunk, concede that the Newton Bible Code is what I claim – an alien encrypted cipher. Not to be cynical, but I suspect that the real reason behind Invest 2.0 is to buy time for CFI’s global network of skeptics to find a way to falsify my claim. All I can say is “Good luck.”

The significance of CFI’s failure to falsify my claim cannot be overstated. As you are well aware, never in the illustrious history of the CFI has an extraordinary claim ever been accepted for investigation that it has not been able to debunk. I am thrilled and honored to think that mine will be the first.

Of greater significance, the Center for Inquiry investigation validates an evidence-based model of ancient alienism crafted by Carl Sagan between 1960 and 1966.  In honor of Carl, I am renaming the Newton Bible Code “The Sagan Signal,” and, after you’re finished with your effort, I plan to forward the Sagan Signal and all related research in my possession to the SETI Institute for further investigation.

The Sagan Signal’s deep roots in the Sagan Model of ancient alienism, plus CFI’s inability to debunk it, imbues it with “high plausibility,” a coveted quality that in the eyes of SETI scientists will almost certainly elevate it to the upper tier on the Rio Scale, the system that SETI uses to rate the strength of ET signal candidates.

James, when I contact SETI, I will cite your failure to debunk the Sagan Signal as my ultimate referral, and for that I am extremely grateful to you and the Center for Inquiry. Should SETI request a copy of research records from you or other CFI executives, I would naturally, in the interest of science, expect full compliance.

All the best,

Don Zygutis

TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                          June 20, 2020

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



On your Independent Investigations Group website, you state the following:

“IIG investigates fringe science, paranormal, and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific viewpoint and disseminates factual information about such investigations to the public.”

I’m sure you would agree that the two key words in your mission statement are “investigate,” and “disseminate.”

To investigate and then disseminate is like holding up a sign with bold letters, saying: “We seek the truth, we are not afraid of the truth, and we have nothing to hide.”

But to investigate and not disseminate, as you have done with your CFI Invest 1.0 of the Newton Bible Code, is like holding up a big sign, saying: “We investigated the claim, didn’t like the results, and so we arbitrarily decided to keep factual information about the investigation away from the public.”

Censorship and suppression? Is that the message that you and the Center for Inquiry want to put out? In the illustrious history of the CFI, nothing like this has ever happened. James, please tell me: what in the hell is going on? I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine Carl Sagan putting his stamp of approval on your actions as they relate to the CFI investigation of the Newton Bible Code.

In 2007, theologians at a fundamentalist Christian seminary in Portland, Oregon investigated the Newton Bible Code for ten months. After telling me to my face that it is a code, they refused to disseminate the research. Why?  Because they fear the truth.

As the Executive Director of Investigations for the Center for Inquiry, do you condone or condemn theologians for not publicly disseminating the results of a formal investigation? And, if you condemn them, why are you doing the same thing?

I submit that to so brazenly violate your own mission statement places you in the same camp as Christian fundamentalists, and can only mean one thing: that the first CFI investigation confirms a claim that you wish not to be true.

Is this why you created CFI Invest 2.0? Do you hope, somehow, to explain away the data by proving the Code is algorithmic, even though CFI Invest 1.0 concluded that it is not algorithmic?

I’ll accept CFI Invest 2.0 as a legitimate reason not to disseminate, with one provision – that on December 20, 2020, if you have failed to demonstrate that the Newton Bible Code is algorithmic, you release and disseminate all IIG and CFI research related to both phases of what will be, by then, a three year long investigation.

James, can you give me and the world your personal assurance that you will do this, and, if not, why not? As I have told you before, I am not afraid of being proven wrong. The looming question now is: Are you afraid of proving that I and your investigative staff are right, that the Newton Bible Code is not algorithmic?

All the best,

Don Zygutis


Underdown Update:                                                                                                                                                   May 20, 2020



TO: James Underdown                                                                       

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



It’s now been three months since you wrote fellow skeptic David Gluck, accusing me of artificially creating the Newton Bible Code by using a computer generated algorithm. To put it bluntly, you were telling the world that you think I’m a liar and a cheat.

On top of that, you bragged to David that you could write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, would result in an “Underdown Code” that would be comparable to the Newton Bible Code.

Based on your letter to David, I had no choice but to defend my honor and reputation by calling you out and publicly challenging you to do what you say you can do. You’re now the claimant and I’m the skeptic.

So, how does it feel to be on the other side?

James, in your position as Executive Director of Investigations at the Center for Inquiry, you are recognized as being one of the top skeptics in the world, with almost unlimited financial, intellectual, and technical resources at your disposal. If anyone can falsify the Newton Bible Code, it is you. But if you fail, your failure will amount to a public concession that the Newton Bible Code is real, not artificial. Your failure would be a significant endorsement from a hostile witness highly motivated to prove me wrong. You don’t want to fail!

With a deadline of Dec. 20, 2020, you have another seven months to produce the Underdown Code, so there’s still plenty of time.

Finally, let me remind you that, should you be the first to do what you say “anyone” can do, you will win my $5000 Challenge to Skeptics and further establish yourself as one of the world’s leading skeptics.

I wish you well in your continuing efforts to demonstrate how the Newton Bible Code is contrived rather than organic. If I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to call on me. Like you, I’m just trying to establish the truth. I’m not afraid of being proven wrong, we all make mistakes. But I assure you, as a disciple of the late Carl Sagan, I am not a liar or a cheat.

All the best,

Don Zygutis

Underdown  Update:                                                                                                                                                              April 20, 2020               


TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                                                                 

       Executive Director of Investigations

       Center for Inquiry



It’s been two months since you publicly announced that you could debunk the Newton Bible Code by proving that it is algorithmic, and two months since I challenged you to do what you say you can do. As of this date, there has been no response. Meanwhile, skeptics around the world are waiting breathlessly to see your research.

Is there a problem?

No one disputes that the code is testable and that your debunking strategy is reasonable. Based on your own words, I have to assume that you are diligently working on your algorithm hypothesis. Can you assure the public that you intend to follow through on your promise?

After numerous investigations that ended up confirming the code, you remain the last best hope among skeptics that my claimed discovery of an alien encryption in the Old Testament can be falsified. If you can’t do it, then wouldn’t you agree that my claim is true? And if you and the Center for Inquiry can’t do it, why not come out now and admit it?


Donald L. Zygutis






Underdown Update:                                                                                                                                                 March 20, 2020


It’s been one month since Center for Inquiry Investigative Director, James Underdown, launched an effort to create an algorithm that, when applied to a large amount of text, generates a body of symmetry equivalent to the Newton Bible Code. I haven’t heard from James yet, but it’s still early.

On a related matter, my $5,000 Challenge to Skeptics is entering its fourth month. There are skeptics around the world trying to find a way to debunk the Newton Bible Code, and, to date, there have been no submitted challenges.

With all this activity, it is becoming ever more certain that the Newton Bible Code, as a non-predictive, non-algorithmic encryption created by visiting extraterrestrials, is real.

I encourage James Underdown and all skeptics to keep up their efforts. I want the vetting of the code to be as exhaustive and universal as possible.

Thank you all,








                                                                                                                                                            February  23, 2020

Announcement: The Center For  Inquiry and Executive Director of Investigations James Undrdown has launched CFI Invest 2.0. Their goal is to debunk the Newton Bible Code by proving that it is algorithmic. To follow the progress of this investigation click: Underdown Countdown.                                                                                                                                                              





                                                                                                                                                             December 20, 2019

Major Announcement: In 2018, the Center For Inquiry, after a 10 month investigation, concluded, in writing, that the Newton Bible Code is what I claim - an extraterrestrial product! For further information on this historic development go to

                                                                                                                                                                     March 11, 2018

     The Newton Bible Code is currently being tested by a mainstream scientific agency highly respected for its integrity and professionalism. The question being addressed is: Are the 46 grain, wine, and oil sequences a code or not a code? The investigation has now been going on for two months, without a final resolution. If it is determined that the sequences are a code, the next step will be to establish attribution – Who put it there? The final step will be decryption – What does it mean?


     Not wanting to impede the process, I have decided not to reveal the name of the scientific organization doing the testing until a final verdict is rendered. When that happens, the results will be posted on this site.


     Stay tuned.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jan, 7 2018

Zygutis versus Colavito

     One of the three skeptics I mention on my website that I was hoping to engage about my claim to have found the Smoking Gun is Jason Colavito. I chose Jason for the simple reason that he represents an extreme but sizable wing of the skeptic community that cannot be taken lightly. With few exceptions, these are talented individuals who embrace a scorched earth, no-holds-barred, take no prisoners approach to advocates of sensational claims. In the interactions between Jason and myself, the civil discourse recommended by Professor Ray Hyman in his Skeptics Code of Conduct is thrown out the window and replaced by what appears to be an angry white male who, realizing that his debunking strategy doesn’t work, resorts to mud-slinging, cynicism, and ad hominem attacks that get progressively more toxic.

     The charm in this brutal approach, if you want to call it that, is that it sometimes works. Gorilla skepticism has a high success rate in debunking claims that have no basis in scientific reality, and for that Mr. Colavito and others of his ilk deserve credit. Knowing what I was getting myself into, I made my claim to Jason, referred him to my website:, and waited for him to unload on me, which didn’t take long.

     His first attack on my claim was not a cryptanalysis of the grain, wine, and oil sequences, which is what I was asking for, but a wonderfully researched essay that drew from ethnology, anthropology, linguistics, and other disciplines from the humanities. Posted on his website, it is, by far, the best counter-argument to my claim that I have ever received – but by Colavito’s own admission he wasn’t able to debunk my claim that the 46 grain, wine, and oil sequences in the Old Testament are a code. The bottom line is that Jason and other skeptics know that the only thing that can falsify my theory is a cryptanalysis that scientifically proves that what I call the Newton Bible Code is not a code.

     From that high point, the quality of our interactions took a nose dive. Jason’s acerbic comments were laced with snarky remarks from his adoring fans who, to be honest, often come across as semi-literate. Gorilla skepticism apparently doesn’t appeal to the erudite, but I don’t think Jason cares much about erudition. After each give-and-take I felt like I needed a long hot shower. Still, through it all, there were significant points of agreement:

First, Colavito admits that it is scientifically possible that advanced extraterrestrials could reach Earth.  This is no small concession, since there are many skeptics who, incredibly, still insist that aliens, if they exist, are too far away to ever physically get to our planet.

Second, Colavito states that it would be wise to keep an eye out for direct evidence that would scientifically and incontrovertibly prove that ETI has been to Earth. I completely agree.

Third, Colavito concedes that an independent cryptanalysis of the Newton Bible Code conducted by the SETI Institute or some other reputable scientific agency would most likely result in a firm and reliable conclusion as to whether the grain, wine, and oil sequences are or are not a code.

     Coming from a skeptic who rarely concedes anything, these are significant, and I thank Mr. Colavito for his magnanimity.

     But Jason’s best gift was yet to come. Thanks to his intervention I have established a mutually respectful connection with Dr. Michael Shermer, the world’s best known skeptic, and one of the three men I was hoping to interact with about my claim. At his request, I sent Dr. Shermer a copy of my book, The Sagan Conspiracy, and I’m excited to report that he is thinking about running an article on it in his Skeptic magazine. I promised him my full cooperation, with the expressed hope that it includes my latest research.

     For those not familiar with Michael Shermer, he has written several best-selling books on critical thinking, including his trilogy: Why People Believe Weird Things, The Believing Brain, and How We Believe. These three books should be in everyone’s home library and, in my opinion, be mandatory reading for young people entering the adult world of conflicting, confusing, and sensational claims that are rarely supported by credible evidence that can be replicated and tested.

     Dr. Shermer has been a major influence in my life, and I very much look forward to his newest book, soon to be released, that addresses the explosively controversial subject of immortality.

     To conclude, I got into the muck with Jason Colavito, and, with high confidence in my research, thick skin, and a healthy sense of humor, I managed to survive. If you care to review our colorful exchanges, log on to his website blog, but, please, for their sake, keep the children away!



     Don's first interview about The Smoking Gun will be with Scott Colborn of Exploring Unexplained Phenomenon (EUP), the world's longest running paranormal talk radio program, on Saturday, Dec. 30th, between 10 am and 12 noon, Central Time.

Approximately seven days later, the program will be added to his archives.

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