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Slanderous Attacks by the Critics

Dr. Simon states that someone who is a “frum mathematician at Harvard and a Rav” wrote an article against Codes. Curiously, Dr. Simon omitted crucial parts of this story. He deliberately chose not to tell the readers that this mathematician wrote an article for the American Mathematical Society (A.M.S.) explicitly accusing Doron Witztum and Dr. Rips of knowingly perpetrating a “hoax” and a fraud. His assault was nothing less than deliberate character assassination, in public, of two frum ehrlicher Jews whose personal and professional integrity are well known. This professor provided no evidence whatsoever for his charges, and then went on to “shame” - his word - the same four world-class mathematicians that Dr. Simon praises so highly in his article, for having dared to go on record as supporting the quality and value of the Codes research. The just-then incoming editor of A.M.S. was so disturbed by this professor’s attack that he sent a personal letter of apology to Dr. Rips prior to its publication (which he was unable to prevent). He stated how this professor’s attack “is an embarrassment to him (the professor) and to the American Mathematical Society.”

Dr. Simon recognized that this professor’s public labeling of Witztum and Rips as hoaxers and frauds was appalling and strongly condemned it himself in a letter he sent to the American Mathematical Society. Furthermore, on September 14, 1997, in a letter widely distributed on the Internet, Dr. Simon described himself as “aghast” at this professor’s personal attack on the researchers.

Why now, in this forum, in an attempt to sway a frum, but mathematically unsophisticated readership, he would cite this same “frum Mathematician and Rav” at all, let alone without providing the above background, is inexcusable. Whatever mathematical credentials possessed by this professor, he has completely discredited himself as a dispassionate critic, so blatant is his personal distaste for the Codes - and for anyone who dares treat the subject with objectivity. In selectively referencing this person in his own attack, Dr. Simon comes close to discrediting himself as well.

False Accusations of Data Manipulation

In his article, Dr. Simon cites the foremost “codes busters”, Drs. Dror Bar-Natan and Brendan Mckay. He chose not to mention their colleague and anti-codes co-author, Dr. Maya Bar-Hillel. It is extremely significant to note the mindset of this “foremost codes critic”. Dr. Bar-Hillel commenced her recent anti-codes presentation to academics and scientists at the Hebrew University with the following remarks: “Regardless of the evidence, the Codes phenomenon obviously cannot be valid because that would mean that G-d wrote the Torah.”

The readers need to recognize that the major codes critics attempt to explain away the successful results of the Codes experiments in the following manner: the data was preselected and deliberately manipulated by the researchers in order to generate the extremely significant results that were obtained. In other words, after years of attempted refutation, the critics’ arguments all boil down to the following scenario: Mr. Witztum, Dr. Rips, Professor Havelin[1] and others, are all frauds and belong to a fantastic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax on the unsuspecting public. This scenario is exactly what the major critics are attempting to demonstrate through their fraudulent War and Peace “codes”.[2]

However, anyone with an adequate understanding of how the Famous Rabbis’ experiment was conducted - aware therefore of the many constraints deliberately placed upon the selection of data - would realize that it was impossible for any data manipulation to have occurred. In his article and at the Torah Codes website, Mr. Witztum has dealt with this false accusation and described several ways to demonstrate the validity and integrity of the data selection.

Another one is as follows: Suppose we took exactly the same list of Rabbis’ appellations (alternative names like “Chafetz Chaim” for R’ Yisroel Meir Kagan) as in our “manipulated” Famous Rabbis’ experiment, and paired them not with dates, but with some entirely different piece of information. For example, what if in place of the Rabbis’ dates of birth and death, we substituted the cities of their birth and death?

If the experiment is repeated using exactly the same mathematical methods as in the original Rabbis’ experiment, there is no reason to expect the new list of cities to now show the same kind of closeness to the Rabbis’ names as did the dates of birth and death since, the critics claim, the list of Rabbis’ names was “manipulated” specifically to work with the dates. This is even more forcefully evident given that the idea of using cities was suggested by Harold Gans, at the time a wholly independent outside researcher (and at first a critic), years after the Great Rabbis’ experiment was completed and the list of appellations was made public. In fact, Mr. Harold Gans has already performed just this experiment using the cities, and has obtained very significant results.[3]

In a conversation Dr. Simon had with Harold Gans on June 24, 1997, Mr. Gans told Dr. Simon that he had successfully completed the experiment described above, and that the results were indeed highly significant. In a written correspondence immediately after their conversation, Mr. Gans reported that Dr. Simon understood the importance of this experiment, and understood that were it indeed found to be without flaw, it would unequivocally confirm that there could not have been any data manipulation in the Famous Rabbis’ experiment.[4]

Dr. Simon’s public attack on this successful Kiruv tool is based precisely on the presumption that data manipulation must have occurred. But in light of his realization that Mr. Gans’ experiment promises to provide confirmation that any type of data manipulation was not possible, Dr. Simon’s attack is premature and deeply troubling, at best.


[1] Professor Shlomo Zalmen Havelin, of the department of bibliography and librarianship at Bar Ilan University, is a widely known and respected Talmid Chochom. He provided the lists of Rabbis’ appellations used in the Famous Rabbis’ experiment. His recently published Sefer was reviewed in the last edition of Jewish Action.

[2] The issue of the so-called War and Peace “codes” is effectively refuted in Mr. Witztum’s accompanying article and at the Torah Codes website.

[3] Another potential confirmation comes from another independent researcher: Dr. Robert Haralick. He repeated the Great Rabbis’ experiment using a totally different methodology. He, too, obtained very significant results. This is clearly something that Witztum and Rips could have no influence over since Dr. Haralick’s technique was yet to be invented when they performed their original experiment. The results of this experiment are currently undergoing a rigorous evaluation.

[4] Because of the extraordinary implications of Mr. Gans> successful cities experiment, Mr. Gans, as well as additional independent experts, are scrutinizing the data and findings rigorously. If the successful results of this experiment survive this rigorous second-level review, then it should silence all claims that the data was fraudulently manipulated or biased to create successful results. The results of that scrutiny will be released shortly.