In 2018, the Center for Inquiry conducted a ten month long investigation of the Sagan Signal. Certified in writing by CFI Challenge Coordinator, Dr. Lou Hillman, and CFI West Executive Director, James Underdown, it was, by far, the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the data yet conducted. The result is scientific corroboration of a non-predictive, non-algorithmic code in the Old Testament of uncertain origin and content.
When I submitted my claim to the CFI, I gave them a list of 46 triadic sequences that are scattered throughout the Old Testament. The CFI investigators had all of them in their hands, chapter and verse. They saw with their own eyes a deep and complex symmetry. It was direct evidence that demanded an explanation.
By accepting me as an official applicant in its $100,000 Independent Investigations Group Challenge, CFI officials were acknowledging that the Sagan Signal is an extraordinary product that is subject to independent testing. Out of a total of 54 instances in the Old Testament where grain, wine, and oil related words are in close proximity, in 46 of these sequences, the grain word appears first, the wine word second, and the oil word third, an 86% symmetry rating. How can that possibly be?
The goal of CFI investigators was to find the truth, and, ten months later, they conceded, in writing, that my Bible code claim is true - a concession that didn’t come until after every imaginable falsification strategy had been exhausted.
Following are the debunking tactics employed by CFI researchers over the course of their investigation:
CFI’s first order of business was to run a frequency analysis to determine the odds of 46 out of 54 triadic sequences being a random coincidence. I had previously contracted this statistical probability problem out to a local mathematician, Sean Rule, who came up with the astounding number of 10 to the 21st power, or one in ten billion trillion! Not surprisingly, CFI investigators never proposed random coincidence as a solution.
2. CFI then considered the possibility that the sequences might be an example of literary convention. In an email it stated: “. . . any sufficiently large collection of text can reveal many words, and those can be interpreted as the reader wishes.”
The CFI is right. Within any large volume of text, one can expect to find repeated sequences generated by historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious influences, often without the respective author or authors even being aware of it.
Pursuing this strategy, CFI explored period literature, hoping to find at least one other example of identical or similar repeated sequences, and they came up empty. Previous skeptics, notably, Jason Colavito, have tried and failed to find such sequences. Until proven otherwise, my claim that the Sagan Signal is unique in human literature is sustained. The CFI team abandoned this strategy and moved on.
3. The CFI investigators then asked me, point blank, if I artificially generated the symmetry:
“. . . can we assume that you are finding words or phrases by entering in a specific algorithm to the text of the Bible?”
In a return email, I responded:
“Unlike other Bible codes you may have come across, what I call the Sagan Signal is unique in that it does not require an intermediate process for extraction. The code is embedded in the surface text.”
In a follow-up email, a CFI researcher stated:
“I understand now that your code is different . . .”
The next two debunking strategies explored the possibility of the code being a hoax.
Email from a CFI cryptographer:
4. “I have no idea from a cryptographer’s point of view if what you are showing is indeed a ‘code,’ or a ‘substitution cipher. . ."
In this exchange, CFI was hinting that I perhaps took non-symmetrical words out of the biblical text and replaced them with words that created the symmetry.
This is a perfectly reasonable inquiry. Over the years that CFI has investigated sensational claims, many turned out to be hoaxes. In this case, CFI checked the most reliable versions of the Bible and discovered that the 46 word sequences that comprise the code appear in all of them.
CFI next advanced a similar charge.
In the same email:
5. “I have no idea from a cryptographer’s point of view if what you are showing is indeed a ‘code,’ or a ‘transposition cipher!"
This is also a reasonable inquiry. CFI suspected that I may have rearranged certain words in the Bible to create a symmetry that doesn’t appear in the original text. Here again, it was easy for CFI to eliminate this explanation. They simply went to the best and most reliable versions of the Bible and saw no repositioning of words.
Note that in both inquiries CFI cryptographers concede, in writing, that the 46 triadic sequences that comprise the Sagan Signal exhibit the necessary metrics and attributes to qualify as a code. In what had to come as something of a shock, CFI code experts came to the realization that the Sagan Signal is what I claim, a real code.
As the investigation continued, and CFI growing ever more desperate, it advanced another theory.
The next email I received stated:
6. “Does your code work in the original Hebrew or Aramaic?”
Once again, this is a fair question, and one easy to answer. CFI checked to see if the sequences appear in the original languages, and they do. Another debunking strategy proposed, another debunking strategy eliminated.
The next inquiry:
7. “Was this code written by a clever man that was writing the Bible?"
After admitting that the Sagan Signal is an ingeniously designed product, CFI investigators answered their own question by acknowledging the Bible’s multiple authorship:
“We know the Bible was written by men, right? Some estimate as many as 200 different authors . . .”
8. This was followed by the suggestion that the code might have been encrypted into the Bible by a secret Jewish cabal, what CFI called a “clever construct of man.”
In pursuing this line of inquiry, CFI found no evidence to support it.
To summarize, in strategies 3-8, CFI cryptographers concede that, diagnostically and forensically, the sequences are, without any doubt, a code.
The sum of the falsification strategies pursued by the CFI over the course of its ten month investigation led it to conclude that the 46 grain, wine, and oil sequences are a code.
[NOTE: Though my code claim was confirmed by the CFI, I was not awarded the prize money on grounds that the Sagan Signal failed to demonstrate paranormal or supernatural abilities on my part – attributes I never claimed, either in my original application or in my body of evidence.]