Dror Bar-Natan: "Bible Codes": Posted Sep. 4, 2002
Updated May 14, 2003

The Gans Report*
For the past several years I was a member of a committee at the Hebrew University whose mandate was to re-run, in an as objective manner as possible, an experiment originally claimed by Harold Gans to provide very strong evidence for the existence of "Bible codes". The committee had fair or even better than fair representation for the supporters of "Bible Codes". Indeed, the members of the committee were:

At the moment I don't have the time to write a full documented report. So let me jump straight to the results. The committee designed two experiments to evaluate Gans' claims; the "fresh" experiment and the "replicative" experiment. The fresh experiment is completely fresh - except for the theme, it was designed as a completely new experiment and the design was not influenced by whatever design choices were made by Gans. The replicative experiment followed Gans' footsteps as closely as possible in setting the rules and the procedures, except that the final collection of the data was delegated to human experts rather than to encyclopedias which were not optimally designed to provide the information we were seeking. The data for both experiments (i.e., the lists of place-names associated with some 66 famous rabbis) was produced by external experts selected by Harry Furstenberg, who was deemed "the most objective" committee member by the other members of the committee. The identity of these external experts was not known to the other committee members when the experiments were performed$. To prevent the possibility of bias, the experts were not told how the data they have gathered would be analyzed.

Anyway, here are the results of the analysis#:

The Fresh Experiment The Replicative Experiment
463,406 / 1,000,000 578,075 / 1,000,000

Some of the readers of this page may not be sufficiently immersed in this subject to understand what these numbers mean. Ok, here's the meaning, plain and short:

A Complete Failure of the "Codes"


Further resources:

The Gans Committee
Hillel Furstenberg, Dror Bar-Natan, Yisrael Aumann, Eliyahu Rips and Isaak Lapides, 1998.



*    I am posting this report despite my earlier claims (1, 2) that I've quit the silly subject of "Bible codes". I was a member of the "Gans committee" when I've decided to quit, and I did not want to leave behind an unfinished project. Therefore I remained a member and I remain committed to publishing the results of our work. But I remain uninterested in continued involvement in the subject, and I fully expect this document, when completed, to be the last document I will have published regarding Bible codes.

$    I now know that they were Prof. M. Ben-Sasson, Mr. A. David, Prof. A. Grossman, Dr. M. Rafeld, Dr. R. Reiner and Prof. M. Rosman.

#    The mechanical computation of these "permutation test" scores was carried out by Brendan McKay (a "codes" skeptic) in July 2002 and confirmed to within expected experimental errors by Doron Witztum (a "codes" believer).