Mathematicians' Statement on the Bible Codes

We are making this statement concerning what have been called "Bible codes" or "Torah codes". We recognize that many sincere people take this phenomenon seriously, which compels us to speak out on the basis of what our mathematical training tells us about the evidence claimed for this alleged phenomenon.

There is a common belief in the general community to the effect that many mathematicians, statisticians, and other scientists consider the claims to be credible. This belief is incorrect. On the contrary, the almost unanimous opinion of those in the scientific world who have studied the question is that the theory is without foundation. The signatories to this letter have themselves examined the evidence and found it entirely unconvincing.

We refer in particular to the paper Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis, published in Statistical Science in 1994. This experiment suffers from major problems concerning both its execution and the interpretation of its conclusions. Even without these concerns, we would not take such extraordinary claims seriously without a vastly more systematic and thorough investigation. No such investigation has been carried out, nor has the work so far established a prima facie case. In addition, word clusters such as mentioned in Witztum's and Drosnin's books and the so called messianic codes are an uncontrolled phenomenon and similar clusters will be found in any text of similar length. All claims of incredible probabilities for such clusters are bogus, since they are computed contrary to standard rules of probability and statistics.

Among the signatories below are some who believe that the Torah was divinely written. We see no conflict between that belief and the opinion we have expressed above.

Signatures

  1. Robert E. L. Aldred
    Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    University of Otago
    New Zealand.
    PhD. Melbourne University, 1987
    raldred@maths.otago.ac.nz
  2. Dror Bar-Natan
    Senior Lecturer in Mathematics
    The Hebrew University
    Jerusalem, Israel.
    PhD, Princeton 1991
    drorbn@math.huji.ac.il
    http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/~drorbn
  3. Jay H. Beder
    Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Milwaukee, WI, USA.
    PhD, The George Washington University 1981
    beder@uwm.edu
    http://www.uwm.edu/~beder/
  4. Valentina M. Borok
    Emeritus Professor of Mathematics
    Kharkov State University
    Kharkov, Ukraine.
    PhD, Moscow State University 1957
    yazhit@techunix.technion.ac.il
  5. Robert Brooks
    Professor of Mathematics
    Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
    Haifa, Israel.
    PhD, Harvard University 1977
    rbrooks@tx.technion.ac.il
  6. Mark Burgin
    Visiting Scholar in Mathematics
    UCLA
    Los Angeles, CA, USA.
    PhD, Moscow State University 1971
    wingfox@ucla.edu
  7. George M. Butler
    Professor of Mathematics
    Louisiana Tech University
    Ruston, LA, USA.
    PhD, Oklahoma State University, 1968
    butler@coes.latech.edu
    http://www.math.latech.edu
  8. Gary A. Chase
    Senior Research Biostatistician
    Henry Ford Health System
    Detroit, MI, USA.
    Adjunct Professor of Biomathematics and Biostatistics
    Georgetown University
    PhD, Johns Hopkins 1970
    gchase1@hfhs.org
  9. E. B. Davies
    Professor of Mathematics
    King's College, University of London
    London, England.
    Fellow of the Royal Society
    D. Phil., University of Oxford 1968
    E.Brian.Davies@kcl.ac.uk
  10. Percy Deift
    Professor of Mathematics
    The Courant Institute, NYU
    New York, NY, USA.
    PhD, Princeton 1976
    deift@cims.nyu.edu
  11. Persi Diaconis
    David Duncan Professor of Physical Sciences
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY, USA.
    Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences
    PhD, Harvard 1974
  12. Laurence S. Freedman
    Professor of Statistics
    Bar Ilan University
    Ramat Gan, Israel.
    freedml@macs.biu.ac.il
  13. Fritz Gesztesy
    L. M. DeFoe Professor of Mathematics
    University of Missouri
    Columbia, MO, USA.
    PhD, University of Graz 1976
    fritz@math.missouri.edu
    http://www.math.missouri.edu/people/faculty/fgesztesypt.html
  14. Sheldon Goldstein
    Professor of Mathematics
    Rutgers University
    New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
    PhD, Yeshiva University 1974
    oldstein@math.rutgers.edu
  15. Lawrence F. Gray
    Professor of Mathematics
    University of Minnesota
    Minneapolis, MN, USA.
    PhD, Cornell University 1977
    gray@math.umn.edu
  16. Rami Grossberg
    Associate Professor of Mathematics
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
    PhD, Hebrew University 1986
    rami@cmu.edu
  17. Lee O. Hagglund
    Professor of Mathematics
    Wofford College
    Spartanburg, S.C. USA
    Ph.D., Duke 1972
    hagglundlo@wofford.edu
  18. A. Michael Hasofer
    Emeritus Professor of Statistics
    University of New South Wales
    Sydney, NSW, Australia.
    PhD, University of Tasmania 1964
    renmich@ajm.net.au
  19. Tim Hesterberg
    Research Scientist
    MathSoft/Statistical Sciences
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    PhD, Stanford, 1988
    timh@statsci.com
  20. Peter Hines
    Programmer
    University of Wales
    Bangor, Wales.
    PhD, University of Wales, 1997
  21. Svetlana Jitomirskaya
    Associate Professor of Mathematics
    University of California Irvine
    Irvine, CA, USA.
    PhD, Moscow State University 1991
    szhitomi@math.uci.edu
  22. Gil Kalai
    Professor of Mathematics
    The Hebrew University
    Jerusalem, Israel.
    PhD, Hebrew University 1983
    kalai@math.huji.ac.il
  23. Fima Klebaner
    Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
    University of Melbourne
    Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    PhD, Melbourne University 1983
  24. David Klein
    Professor of Mathematics
    California State University
    Northridge, CA, USA.
    PhD, Cornell 1981
  25. Richard N. Lane
    President
    Lane, Westly Inc.
    Ph.D., Caltech, 1968
    richlane@ieee.org
    http://frontpage.home.net/richlanephd/
  26. Joel Lebowitz
    George William Hill Professor of Mathematics and Physics
    Rutgers University
    New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
    Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences
    PhD, Syracuse University 1956
    lebowitz@math.rutgers.edu
  27. Nati Linial
    Professor of Computer Science,
    The Hebrew University
    Jerusalem, Israel.
    PhD, Hebrew University 1978
  28. Gary Lorden
    Professor of Mathematics
    California Institute of Technology
    Pasadena, CA, USA.
    PhD, Cornell 1966
  29. Brendan McKay
    Professor of Computer Science
    Australian National University
    Canberra, ACT, Australia.
    Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
    PhD, Melbourne University 1980
    bdm@cs.anu.edu.au
    http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/
  30. Tom Metzger
    Professor of Mathematics
    University of Pittsburgh
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
    PhD, Purdue
  31. Aaron Meyerowitz
    Associate Professor of Mathematics
    Florida Atlantic University
    Boca Raton, FL, USA.
    PhD, Colorado State University 1984
    meyerowi@fau.edu
  32. Stephen D. Miller
    Assistant Professor of Mathematics
    Yale University
    New Haven, CT, USA.
    PhD, Princeton 1997
    steve@math.yale.edu
    http://www.math.yale.edu/users/steve
  33. Paul Nevai
    Professor of Mathematics
    The Ohio State University
    Columbus, Ohio, USA.
    Ph.D. 1973, Academy of Sciences, Budapest
    nevai@math.ohio-state.edu
    http://www.math.ohio-state.edu/~nevai/
  34. Amos Nevo
    Department of Mathematics
    Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
    Haifa, Israel.
    PhD, Hebrew University 1992
  35. Eli Passow
    Professor of Mathematics
    Temple University
    Philadelphia, PA 19122
    Ph.D., Yeshiva University, 1966
    passow@euclid.math.temple.edu
  36. John Allen Paulos
    Professor of Mathematics
    Temple University
    Philadelphia, PA, USA.
    PhD, University of Wisconsin, 1974
    paulos@math.temple.edu
    http://www.math.temple.edu/~paulos
  37. Yehuda Pinchover
    Assoicate Professor Mathematics
    Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
    Haifa, Israel.
    PhD, Hebrew University 1986
    pincho@tx.technion.ac.il
  38. Alexander Pruss
    Department of Philosophy
    University of Pittsburgh
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
    PhD, Univ. British Columbia 1996
    pruss+@pitt.edu
    http://www.pitt.edu/~pruss
  39. Maurice Rojas
    Assistant Professor of Mathematics
    City University of Hong Kong
    Hong Kong, China.
    PhD, Berkeley 1995
  40. Mary Beth Ruskai
    Professor of Mathematics
    University of Massachusetts Lowell
    Lowell, MA, USA.
    PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin 1969
  41. Jeremy Schiff
    Senior Lecturer, Dept of Mathematics and Computer Science
    Bar-Ilan University
    Ramat Gan, Israel.
    PhD, Columbia University NY 1991
    schiff@math.biu.ac.il
  42. Gideon Schwarz
    Professor of Statistics
    The Hebrew University
    Jerusalem, Israel.
    PhD, Columbia University 1961
    mschwart@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il
  43. Senya Shlosman
    Professor of Mathematics
    University of California Irvine
    Irvine, CA, USA.
    PhD, Steklov Institute of Mathematics, Leningrad 1977
    shlosman@math.uci.edu
  44. Barry Simon
    IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Executive Officer for Mathematics
    California Institute of Technology
    Pasadena, CA, USA.
    Member, Austrian Academy of Sciences
    PhD, Princeton 1970
    D. Sc. h. c., Technion, 1999
    bsimon@bigfoot.com
    http://math.caltech.edu/people/simon.html
    http://wopr.com/biblecodes/
  45. Martha Simon
    Lecturer in Mathematics
    California State University
    Northridge, CA, USA.
    PhD, Princeton 1974
  46. J. Laurie Snell
    Professor of Mathematics Emeritus
    Dartmouth College
    Hanover, NH, USA.
    PhD, University of Illinois 1951
    jlsnell@dartmouth.edu
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance
  47. Terry Speed
    Professor of Statistics
    University of California
    Berkeley, CA, USA.
    PhD, Monash University 1969
    terry@stat.berkeley.edu
  48. Terence Tao
    Assistant Professor of Mathematics
    UCLA
    Los Angeles, CA, USA.
    PhD, Princeton 1996
    tao@math.ucla.edu
    http://www.math.ucla.edu/~tao
  49. Ian Wanless
    Research Fellow in Mathematics
    Christ Church, Oxford, United Kingdom.
    PhD, Australian National University 1997
    wanless@maths.ox.ac.uk
  50. Thomas Ward
    School of Mathematics
    University of East Anglia
    Norwich, England.
    t.ward@uea.ac.uk
    http://www.mth.uea.ac.uk/people/tw.html
  51. Herbert S. Wilf
    Thomas A. Scott Professor of Mathematics
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
    PhD, Columbia University 1958
    wilf@math.upenn.edu
    http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~wilf
  52. Henry Wolkowicz
    Professor of Combinatorics and Optimization
    University of Waterloo
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
    PhD, McGill 1979
    henry@orion.math.uwaterloo.ca
    http://orion.math.uwaterloo.ca/~hwolkowi
  53. Abraham Wyner
    Visiting Assistant Professor of Statistics
    University of California Berkeley
    PhD, Stanford 1993
    ajw@stat.berkeley.edu
  54. Doron Zeilberger
    Professor of Mathematics
    Temple University
    Philadelphia, PA, USA.
    PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science 1976
    zeilberg@euclid.math.temple.edu
  55. Yakov I. Zhitomirskii
    Professor of Mathematics
    Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
    Haifa, Israel.
    PhD, Moscow State University 1959
    yazhit@techunix.technion.ac.il

Who can sign?

All the individuals whose names appear above hold PhDs in Mathematics or Statistics or are faculty members in a Department of Mathematics or Statistics at a college or university. Anyone who meets this criterion and wants to add their name to this petition should send email to Barry Simon at bsimon@bigfoot.com.