09-27-2008, 12:26 AM

September 26, 2008

I believe that Dave Bauscher???s Bible Code studies and ???devine contact???claims are meaningless. They are based Dave???s misunderstandings of statistics and probability science. I have spent hours analyzing his so-called 95 divine name data and I have found that they are not remarkable and they fit a predicable natural pattern. I have sent Dave these data and information, but he is unwilling to acknowledge the mistakes in his "divine contact" interpretations. I am a scientist with training and extensive experience in statistics.

Pastor Dave Bauscher has been doing excellent translation work on the Western Pershitto text, but I believe that he is hung up on Bible Codes. Dave is convinced that he has been chosen by God for a "divine contact" given by "Bible Codes" that he has uncovered in the Western Peshitto text that he happened to receive along with his purchase of the Codefinder computer program.

Let me reiterate from the beginning that I think that Dave's Aramaic translation work is of the highest quality. But after careful analysis of his data, I determined that his Bible code claims are without merit.

Here is a simple explanation of the misunderstanding associated with Dave Bauscher's Bible Code "divine names" study.

Dave is using a computer program called CodeFinder to sort letters of the Peshitto text by skipping one or more alphabetical letters between letter selection. This is called equal letter spacing (ELS). This program can skip from one to many hundreds of letters in making each letter selection, and can go around through the text in both directions until all possible unique combinations have been made for the desired ELS's. This creates a very, very, very long string if letters. The program then searches for every occurrence of a desired short string of letters chosen by the user. For a short string of letters like a short word it will typically locate about a MILLIONS copies. Wow! This would not be possible without a modern high-speed computer.

So, if you choose to "search" this very, very long string of letters obtained from the text of the Peshitto New Testament for the Aramaic word Yeshua (four Aramaic letters) you might get a million copies "found". Dave ran this word and CodeFinder found 944,519 copies of Yeshua!!!

How would you decide whether this is a "significant" find?

This is not an easy question to answer, because that many might be expected to be "found" by pure chance considering it was nothing more than a massive shuffling and dealing of 22 Aramaic alphabetical letters.

One way of evaluating this find would be to ASSUME that all of the letters in the text are perfectly randomly distributed. Then you can ASSUME that the actual word that was chosen for the search does not affect the probability of finding a the chosen combination of letters, the word for which you are searching. The CodeFinder program will tell you how many copies of each letter are found in the whole text and it can use simple probability mathematics to estimate the chance of finding each letter in the word and then estimate the ideal number of copies of the whole word that would be expected for the whole search by pure chance.

Thus, assuming the normal approximation of the Poisson distribution, CodeFinder can estimate the "expected" total number of "finds" that you should get and "standard deviation" of the expected variability. CodeFinder estimated that "theoretically" it should have found 942,600 copies of "Yeshua". Therefore, it "found" 1,919 "extra" copies in the 944,519 that it found. Dave focuses on this number and neglects to mention that this is only a mere and meaningless 0.2% of the total. But a simple textbook statistical test would tell you that the probability of observing this number of extra copies by pure chance is only about 2% assuming the letters are randomly distributed in the text. Some other examples provide even very much lower probabilities by this simple calculation! Dave concluded that this "extra" 0.2% among the 944,519 copies of "Yeshua" was statistically ???significant???. Dave made up 95 words he called ???divine names??? and about half were found in greater number than predicted and about half were found in lesser number than predicted. Some of these ???excesses??? and some of these ???shortages??? had very tiny calculated probabilities, so he concluded that these results were a Godly miracle.

Both truth and common sense suggest that there is something wrong with this logic. Dave highlights this small numerical difference by failing to report the large number of finds and emphasizing the theoretical difference between the observed number and the ideal expected number.

The logical error is in the ASSUMPTION part of the process. To believe these results you have to ASSUME that all of the letters in the text are "perfectly randomly" distributed. They are not! They are, in fact, organized in a very systematic fashion in the form of meaningful words, phrases, and sentences, a virtual mosaic rather than a random mess. If they were randomly distributed the text would be pure jibberish. This is a common mistake in the logical process involved in looking for "Bible Codes". Dave created a "control" text by randomly shuffling the letters in the Peshitto using a randomization routine, and the results of searching the actual Peshitto is quite different from the control text because the Peshitto letters are not randomly distributed. No book with real words, phases, and sentences in a real language has letters that are randomly distributed. This is not a miracle. In statistical terms the actual variance for the distribution of observed letters is larger than the ideal theoretical variance.

In addition there is a second erroneous assumption. You cannot ASSUME that the actual word that was chosen for the search does not affect the probability of finding the chosen combination of letters. The actual word chosen may have letters that tend to have a commonly recurrent paired relationship in the Aramaic language. Such a paired relationship can affect the result in a complex way for which the simple probability calculation does not account. For example, in English the letter "t" and "h" are often adjacent. If you are searching for the word "hit", every "h" that is found that is adjacent to a "t" removes a "t" as well as an "h" from the calculated total of available letters since adjacent letters are not allowed in the equal letter spacing (ELS) process. This suggests that extra shortages and extra excesses of chosen words at the tails of the distribution are to be expected. This also causes the actual variance for the distribution of observed letters to be larger than the ideal theoretical variance and different among different chosen search words.

In Dave's divine names study he used CodeFinder to separately search for 95 words or short phrases in Aramaic or Hebrew which he viewed as being of spiritual significance. There actually were no remarkable trends with about half of the observed number of "divine names" being slightly more than the calculated expected number and about half being slightly fewer. Here is a summary of the results:

(1) the distribution formed a typically Gaussian (or normal distribution) bell-shaped curve demonstrating a correction factor of about 2 for the calculated ideal standard deviations;

(2) 47 "divine names" had fewer than the calculated "expected" number (the ideal number is half or 47.5);

(3) 48 "divine names" had more than the calculated "expected" number (the ideal number is half or 47.5);

(4) within one standard deviation of the mean there were 38 that were fewer than the mean and there were 36 that were more (the ideal number for each is 32.4);

(5) within two standard deviations of the mean there were 43 that were fewer than the mean and there were 44 that were more (the ideal number for each is 45.3);

(6) beyond two standard deviations of the mean there were 4 that were fewer than the mean and 4 that were more than the mean (the ideal number for each is 2.2).

These results are rather ordinary and certainly not a miraculous finding. However, these are the data that Dave uses to proclaim a "divine contact".

In addition, Dave used the Codefinder long string of letters to search for so-called "long codes", a series of letters that created a phrase. Using a seed word or phrase, such as Jesus Messiah, he searched the long string of letters generated by the Codefinder for a phrase that made sense. This is simply look-and-see process to look for a unique pattern but not one that is expected in advance of the search. He found some combimcation that seemed to provide a sentence of phrase. Again, it is important to note that this was a fishing expedition where the results was not anticipated in advance! Since he did not search for or expect these particular "long codes", finding a readable series of letters among the millions of letters dealt by the Codefinder has no statistical significance at all. It is like seeing the perfect image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich. It's a interesting finding, but not statistically unlikely since that is what was found by chance. Finding something you are not expecting has a probability of 100%!

The whole Bible code process is really somewhat silly. Any objective statistician or actuary will recognize its flaws. Unfortunately, the Bible Code claims can be a serious distraction that interferes with logical and scholarly consideration of the wonderful Peshitta text.

Sincerely,

Otto

I believe that Dave Bauscher???s Bible Code studies and ???devine contact???claims are meaningless. They are based Dave???s misunderstandings of statistics and probability science. I have spent hours analyzing his so-called 95 divine name data and I have found that they are not remarkable and they fit a predicable natural pattern. I have sent Dave these data and information, but he is unwilling to acknowledge the mistakes in his "divine contact" interpretations. I am a scientist with training and extensive experience in statistics.

Pastor Dave Bauscher has been doing excellent translation work on the Western Pershitto text, but I believe that he is hung up on Bible Codes. Dave is convinced that he has been chosen by God for a "divine contact" given by "Bible Codes" that he has uncovered in the Western Peshitto text that he happened to receive along with his purchase of the Codefinder computer program.

Let me reiterate from the beginning that I think that Dave's Aramaic translation work is of the highest quality. But after careful analysis of his data, I determined that his Bible code claims are without merit.

Here is a simple explanation of the misunderstanding associated with Dave Bauscher's Bible Code "divine names" study.

Dave is using a computer program called CodeFinder to sort letters of the Peshitto text by skipping one or more alphabetical letters between letter selection. This is called equal letter spacing (ELS). This program can skip from one to many hundreds of letters in making each letter selection, and can go around through the text in both directions until all possible unique combinations have been made for the desired ELS's. This creates a very, very, very long string if letters. The program then searches for every occurrence of a desired short string of letters chosen by the user. For a short string of letters like a short word it will typically locate about a MILLIONS copies. Wow! This would not be possible without a modern high-speed computer.

So, if you choose to "search" this very, very long string of letters obtained from the text of the Peshitto New Testament for the Aramaic word Yeshua (four Aramaic letters) you might get a million copies "found". Dave ran this word and CodeFinder found 944,519 copies of Yeshua!!!

How would you decide whether this is a "significant" find?

This is not an easy question to answer, because that many might be expected to be "found" by pure chance considering it was nothing more than a massive shuffling and dealing of 22 Aramaic alphabetical letters.

One way of evaluating this find would be to ASSUME that all of the letters in the text are perfectly randomly distributed. Then you can ASSUME that the actual word that was chosen for the search does not affect the probability of finding a the chosen combination of letters, the word for which you are searching. The CodeFinder program will tell you how many copies of each letter are found in the whole text and it can use simple probability mathematics to estimate the chance of finding each letter in the word and then estimate the ideal number of copies of the whole word that would be expected for the whole search by pure chance.

Thus, assuming the normal approximation of the Poisson distribution, CodeFinder can estimate the "expected" total number of "finds" that you should get and "standard deviation" of the expected variability. CodeFinder estimated that "theoretically" it should have found 942,600 copies of "Yeshua". Therefore, it "found" 1,919 "extra" copies in the 944,519 that it found. Dave focuses on this number and neglects to mention that this is only a mere and meaningless 0.2% of the total. But a simple textbook statistical test would tell you that the probability of observing this number of extra copies by pure chance is only about 2% assuming the letters are randomly distributed in the text. Some other examples provide even very much lower probabilities by this simple calculation! Dave concluded that this "extra" 0.2% among the 944,519 copies of "Yeshua" was statistically ???significant???. Dave made up 95 words he called ???divine names??? and about half were found in greater number than predicted and about half were found in lesser number than predicted. Some of these ???excesses??? and some of these ???shortages??? had very tiny calculated probabilities, so he concluded that these results were a Godly miracle.

Both truth and common sense suggest that there is something wrong with this logic. Dave highlights this small numerical difference by failing to report the large number of finds and emphasizing the theoretical difference between the observed number and the ideal expected number.

The logical error is in the ASSUMPTION part of the process. To believe these results you have to ASSUME that all of the letters in the text are "perfectly randomly" distributed. They are not! They are, in fact, organized in a very systematic fashion in the form of meaningful words, phrases, and sentences, a virtual mosaic rather than a random mess. If they were randomly distributed the text would be pure jibberish. This is a common mistake in the logical process involved in looking for "Bible Codes". Dave created a "control" text by randomly shuffling the letters in the Peshitto using a randomization routine, and the results of searching the actual Peshitto is quite different from the control text because the Peshitto letters are not randomly distributed. No book with real words, phases, and sentences in a real language has letters that are randomly distributed. This is not a miracle. In statistical terms the actual variance for the distribution of observed letters is larger than the ideal theoretical variance.

In addition there is a second erroneous assumption. You cannot ASSUME that the actual word that was chosen for the search does not affect the probability of finding the chosen combination of letters. The actual word chosen may have letters that tend to have a commonly recurrent paired relationship in the Aramaic language. Such a paired relationship can affect the result in a complex way for which the simple probability calculation does not account. For example, in English the letter "t" and "h" are often adjacent. If you are searching for the word "hit", every "h" that is found that is adjacent to a "t" removes a "t" as well as an "h" from the calculated total of available letters since adjacent letters are not allowed in the equal letter spacing (ELS) process. This suggests that extra shortages and extra excesses of chosen words at the tails of the distribution are to be expected. This also causes the actual variance for the distribution of observed letters to be larger than the ideal theoretical variance and different among different chosen search words.

In Dave's divine names study he used CodeFinder to separately search for 95 words or short phrases in Aramaic or Hebrew which he viewed as being of spiritual significance. There actually were no remarkable trends with about half of the observed number of "divine names" being slightly more than the calculated expected number and about half being slightly fewer. Here is a summary of the results:

(1) the distribution formed a typically Gaussian (or normal distribution) bell-shaped curve demonstrating a correction factor of about 2 for the calculated ideal standard deviations;

(2) 47 "divine names" had fewer than the calculated "expected" number (the ideal number is half or 47.5);

(3) 48 "divine names" had more than the calculated "expected" number (the ideal number is half or 47.5);

(4) within one standard deviation of the mean there were 38 that were fewer than the mean and there were 36 that were more (the ideal number for each is 32.4);

(5) within two standard deviations of the mean there were 43 that were fewer than the mean and there were 44 that were more (the ideal number for each is 45.3);

(6) beyond two standard deviations of the mean there were 4 that were fewer than the mean and 4 that were more than the mean (the ideal number for each is 2.2).

These results are rather ordinary and certainly not a miraculous finding. However, these are the data that Dave uses to proclaim a "divine contact".

In addition, Dave used the Codefinder long string of letters to search for so-called "long codes", a series of letters that created a phrase. Using a seed word or phrase, such as Jesus Messiah, he searched the long string of letters generated by the Codefinder for a phrase that made sense. This is simply look-and-see process to look for a unique pattern but not one that is expected in advance of the search. He found some combimcation that seemed to provide a sentence of phrase. Again, it is important to note that this was a fishing expedition where the results was not anticipated in advance! Since he did not search for or expect these particular "long codes", finding a readable series of letters among the millions of letters dealt by the Codefinder has no statistical significance at all. It is like seeing the perfect image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich. It's a interesting finding, but not statistically unlikely since that is what was found by chance. Finding something you are not expecting has a probability of 100%!

The whole Bible code process is really somewhat silly. Any objective statistician or actuary will recognize its flaws. Unfortunately, the Bible Code claims can be a serious distraction that interferes with logical and scholarly consideration of the wonderful Peshitta text.

Sincerely,

Otto