The Bogus McKay Assassination Tables
In the June 9, 1997 issue of Newsweek, on page 66- 67, there was an article about Michael Drosnin's book The Bible Code. In the article the reporter asks Drosnin,
Might texts other than the Bible in fact contain eerie matches, too, as long as one is flexible about what counts? If so, that would confirm the view that, with enough computer searches on a long enough text, one can find anything.
To this question Drosnin responds:
When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby-Dick I'll believe them.
Brendan McKay, a professor of computer science at Australian National University whose specialized area is in combinatorics, decided to take up Drosnin's challenge. In one area of his website he shows examples of well known assassinations whose key words have ELSs that form small tables from the novel Moby-Dick.
In this article, we look closely at the McKay examples to determine whether or not these examples fit the concept of ELS Torah code as defined on this website. Recall the Torah Code Hypothesis:
- when using the 5 books of the Torah Hebrew text as it exists today
- with probability higher than expected by chance,
- a priori key words which are logically/ historically related
- tend to have their ELSs in a relatively more compact arrangement on a code cylinder
- whose size resonates with a low rank skip ELS of one or more of the primary key words
- and are redundantly encoded
We concentrate on three aspects of the Torah code hypothesis:
- correct a priori key words
- low rank skip ELSs for a primary key word
- relatively more compact arrangement
We will show that each of the assassination tables shown by McKay violates at least one of these three aspects. In other words, the demonstration by Professor McKay does not constitute a proper answer to the challenge posed by Drosnin. For when Drosnin used the word message, he most certainly meant message in the sense of the Torah code hypothesis
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi, the first women Prime Minister of India, was walking to be interviewed by the British actor Peter Ustinov filming a documentary for Irish television. She passed a wicket gate, guarded by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, members of her personal body guard team. They fired at her with their semiautomatic machine pistols, killing her.
The problem with this example is two-fold. First it is clear that the assassination was not described in any newspaper as bloody deed. The key word should have been shot. The key word bloody deed is wrong and not a priori. What professor McKay did was to look through all the ELSs of I. Ghandi in the Moby Dick text. He examined the text around each of them for some key words that might be related to killing. Of course words that relate to killing are not hard to find in the Moby Dick since the novel is about the killing of whales.
The second problem is that the ELS for bloody deed is not a low rank skip ELS. Its rank is about 200, meaning there are about 200 ELSs of I. Ghandi in Moby Dick having smaller absolute skip than the one shown in the McKay table. Low rank skip for a primary key word generally means a rank smaller than about 30.
President Rene Moawad
As President Rene Moawad was returning from Lebanon's Independence Day celebrations on November 22, 1989, a 250-kg car bomb was detonated next to his motorcade in West Beirut. The bomb killed him and 23 others.
The problem with this table is two-fold. The first is the same as with the Gandhi assassination. Exploding bomb is not a reasonable a priori selected phrase. It was obtained as the bloody deed phrase was obtained, by snooping. A reasonable a priori choice would be bomb. The second problem with this table is that the ELS for Moawad is not a low rank skip ELS. Its skip rank is about 1600.
On August 20, 1940, residing in Mexicao, Trotsky was attacked in his home by a Stalinist agent, Ramón Mercader, who drove the pick of an ice axe into Trotsky's skull. He died the next day.
The use word executed usually means executed in a lawful way. But in this case, Trotsky was in exile in Mexico. The execution was certainly not lawful in Mexico and indeed the assassin, Mercader was put on trial. So here again we have a wrong word that was obtained by snooping.
Martin Luther King
On April 3, in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King and addressed a rally, delivering his "I've been to the Mountaintop" address. He was assassinated by a shot in the throat at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 7:05 p.m.
The Martin Luther King table has the same problem as the previous tables: the key word phrase to be killed by them was snooped. Futhermore, the ELS MLKing has a skip rank of 39, too high to be considered a low skip rank ELS for a primary key word.
Engelbert Dolfuss was Chancellor of Austria. On July 5, 1934, he was assassinated by eight Austrian Nazis who entered the Chancellery building and shot him in an attempted coup d'état.
The problem with this table is that Dolfuss was the one who was assassinated. He was not the assassin. Clearly, Dolfuss is simply associated with the wrong word.
On June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles, shortly after Robert Kennedy finished addressing supporters in the Ambassador Hotel's main ballroom, Sirhan Sirhan shot a .22 caliber Iver Johnson revolver eight times into the crowd surrounding Kennedy. At least three of the bullets hit Kennedy killing him.
Professor McKay shows four different tables of Sirhan with a common key word shot, meaning that Sirhan Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy. Those tables are not the smallest area tables. The table we show is the smallest area table and with expected number of ELSs set to 50, the probability that a table as small or smaller would arise in the random ELS placement text population is around 38/100 indicating that this table is not statistically signiicant. By implication, if our smaller area table is not statistically significant, McKay's larger area table must necessarily not be statistically signficant.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas at 12:30 p.m. CST on November 22, 1963, while on a political trip through Texas. He was shot by at least two bullets.
We use for our key words: Kennedy and shot. This means that we do not distinguish between the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy.
The table shown for Kennedy here is a smallest area table and therefore better than any of the tables shown by Professor McKay. The probability that a text in the ELS random placement text population would have as small or smaller table than the one shown here is about 71.5/100 with the expected number of skips set to 50. The table is not statistically significant.
Another table that Professor McKay shows is one pairing Kennedy with the key word killed. The table shown below is a smallest area table and therefore better than any of the the tables shown by Professor McKay. The probability that a text in the ELS random placement text population would have as small or smaller table than the one shown here is about 34.5/100 with the expected number of ELSs set to 50. The table is not statistically significant.
On April 15, 1865, President Lincoln was attending the play Our American Cousins at Ford's theater when he was assassinated by a single-shot, fired at point-blank range. The bullet entered behind Lincoln's left ear and lodged behind his right eyeball killing him. Professor McKay pairs the key word Lincoln with the key word killed.
Here, the ELS Lincoln has a skip rank of 3 and is indeed a low skip rank primary ELS. However, with expected number of ELSs set to 50, the probability that a text in the ELS random placement text population would have as small or smaller table than the one shown here is about 19.5/100. The table is not statistically significant.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
On the evening of November 4, 1995, at 9:50PM, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin was shot at a peace rally at Kirkar Malchei Israel, Tel Aviv. He was pronounced dead at 11:15PM.
Professor McKay uses Rabin and shot as the key words. The tables he shows are not minimal area tables for these two key words. The table shown below is a minimal area table and involves the minimal skip ELS for Rabin as well. With expected number of ELSs set to 50, the probability that a text in the ELS random placement text population would have as small or smaller table than the one shown here is about 41.5/100.
The McKay assassination tables in fact did not follow any experimental protocol by which a proper probability can be determined. The McKay assassination tables used wrong key words, or used primary key words associated with high skip rank ELSs instead of low skip rank ELSs. Or they were tables which are in fact not relatively compact.
Professor McKay is absolutely correct when he says that it is possible to
Find things like this [his tables] anywhere. The reason it looks amazing is that the number of possible things to look for, and the number of places to look, is much greater than you imagine.
It is apparent from these examples that one cannot look at a table and determine from the table itself whether or not it is significant. Looking at the table itself does not tell us whether it has a primary key word ELS with low skip rank or whether it is relatively more compact than expected by chance. In order to know whether the table is statistically interesting, we must know the protocol by which the table was produced and the p-value of the resulting experiment. By not having a set protocol Professor McKay deceives the public.
The correct interpretation of Professor McKay's demonstration is that he thinks Torah codes are all produced by snooping, using wrong words, and finding ELSs that are not low skip rank ELSs, the same way he produced his tables. If a table is produced by snooping, proper probability that the table as compact could be produced from a text in the monkey text population cannot be given.
We conclude that the McKay assassination tables are not examples showing that the same effect that is hypothesized to occur in the Torah text also occurs in Moby Dick. The Torah experiments discussed on this website, all have proper experiment protocols and therefore do not fall under the broad sweep criticism that Professor McKay levels at Michael Drosnin.