Home»Experiments»Cities » Simon/Mckay Experiment Bookmark and Share

Simon/Mckay Experiment

In May 1998, Professor Simon formulated an experiment to test for correlations between the names of famous Rabbis and the cities in which they lived. As stated in the June 4, 1998 letter from Professor Simon to Mr. Gans, the protocol for the gathering of the city names would involve three Yeshiva students

"who have not previously taken a serious public stance on the codes to draw up the names and spellings of the cities to be used for each of the 66 Rabbis on the two WRR lists. Two of the students would independently go through the Margalioth entry for each Rabbi and determine the names of all the cities in which the Rabbis lived as mentioned in this encyclopedia. Spellings would be as used in the encyclopedia entry in question and the lists would be limited to cities and towns (and not, for example, countries). Only city names that are between 5 and 8 letters would be used. Only the names of cities themselves and NOT with added generic prefixes (like "the community of") will be acceptable. These two students would then give their lists to the third student who would check that they were consistent. In any places where they were inconsistent, the third student would consult the encyclopedia and the two students to determine what was correct."

Mr. Gans replied in the following way.

"Dr. Simon proposes that he and I perform a joint experiment. It would be a variation of my cities experiment in which all information and spelling would be taken from the Margalioth Encyclopedia. No spelling rules would be applied, and no prefixes would be used. The experiment suggested by Dr. Simon, while very simple in detail, is flawed in several ways. First and foremost, Dr. Simon has specified all the protocols of the experiment. Thus, it is not a joint experiment, but rather his own. I doubt very much if Dr. Simon would find this arrangement acceptable if the situation was reversed, and I specified all the details of the experiment.

A second consideration is that experiments of this nature are very sensitive to errors in the data. One must strive to obtain data as accurate as possible. The Inbal protocol used in my experiment addresses this goal, as I have verified with independent consultants. Dr. Simon's protocol strives for simplicity at the expense of accuracy and consistency. In fact, in terms of consistency of transliterating foreign names into Hebrew, the Margalioth Encyclopedia chosen by Dr. Simon is among the worst. This is why it was only used for personality selection in the "Famous Rabbis Experiment", but not for appellations or spellings. Using multiple sources, and having well defined protocols for dealing with conflicts and spelling inconsistencies minimizes errors in the data. In such a situation, simplicity is not an asset - it virtually guarantees failure because the data is bound to be corrupt.

For these reasons, Dr. Simon’s suggestion is unacceptable."

Margolioth Cities Collected For Professor Simon

The collected key word data sets was processed using the WRR methodology by Professor McKay. The results were not statistically significant.

The following table shows a list of the city names associated with each of the rabbis in the Margalioth encyclopedia. For easy reference, the list indicates in which column (the encyclopedia is numbered by columns rather than by pages each city name occurs.

Complete List of Margolioth Cities
The following table shows a list of the city names associated with each of the rabbis in the Margalioth encyclopedia compared to the list of city names used in the Simon/McKay experiment. The number of city names found in the Margolioth encyclopedia is 330. The number of city names used in the Simon/McKay experiment and found in the Margolioth encyclopedia was 197. The number of city names used in the Simon/McKay experiment that were not names where the rabbi lived but names of the city of the publisher of the rabbi's books was 4.

Complete List of Margolioth Cities compared to the Simon/McKay list

One has to wonder why the difference is so great.