Respectful Insolence

I like my Folder of Woo.

Besides providing me endless fodder for this little weekly feature, my Folder of Woo also provides me nearly endless amusement. Sometimes, I’ll just peruse it, looking at woo old and new, woo that’s been featured in this little weekly exercise in diving into the belly of the beast, woo that has yet to be featured, and woo that will probably never be featured. Unless people suddenly discovery rationality and science, my Folder of Woo is likely to continue to exist. I suppose that could happen, but it’s pretty unlikely, which means my Folder of Woo is likely to continue to increase in size, which makes it fortunate that mass storage space is cheap and becoming cheaper by the month. Indeed, the folder has grown to the point where it desperately–and I do mean desperately–needs organization into at least three folders, and I bet you can guess what those folders need to be named.

One of my favorite forms of woo tends to be religious. Nothing can beat a religious justification for pseudoscience. Nothing. Whether it’s the unholy fusion of the Koran and Dr. Emoto’s water quackery, labeling diabetes a “demon squid,” or a Biblical diet that can cure everything, there’s no woo like religious woo.

There is, however, one form of religious woo that I haven’t tackled yet. It encompasses more than just medical quackery. Indeed, such a limitation would be offensive to the Lord, or so it would seem. Indeed, this brand of woo encompasses everything from a cure for autism to other diseases to even predicting future events. I bet you know what I’m talking about. No, it’s not the prophecies of Nostradamus (aconveniently enough, Nostradamus is referred to, though), although it’s almost as good in that it relies on some seriously vague language that could be interpreted as almost anything. Rather, what I’m referring to is something you may have heard of before. What I’m referring to is the Bible Code:

Generally, on this web site astrology, new age methods, numerical analysis, religion, and mythology are combined to explain the world today, and to predict the future.

Well, alright! This sounds promising! But where does autism come in? Patience, and read on, fellow connoisseurs of woo, but be advised: This woo is more than autism, so much more. This brilliantly deranged bit of religious and New Age woo claims to be able to predict the future. Let’s see if it can:

What’s New: I still am predicting that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President, and will be elected President in November 2008.

It is probably an understatement for me to point out that this does not look like a particularly promising portent or sign about the accuracy of the rest of the predictions contained on this website. But, hey, you never know. Hillary might pull it out. And the rotation of the earth might reverse, just like in the Superman movies, and result in the reversal of time, allowing Hillary to have changed plans and not put all her marbles on Super Tuesday, assuming she would win it all then, leaving little for later. Still, no predictive woo is 100%, and it’s probably not a good idea to put one’s most easily falsified prediction in the very first paragraph. Just sayin’, you know.

But let’s get to the autism passage. To find it, one has to find Part 10a, where we can find out some amazing things. The first amazing thing is just how the Bible Code is generated:

The “Bible Code” is a way of looking for hidden prophecies and passages in the Bible, by using a software program to search for messages in the Old Testament Hebrew text. The spaces between words are eliminated, so that the Old Testament is a continuous block of Hebrew letters. Then, by skipping letters at a programmed interval, the program searches for words. There appear to be patterns to the passages where the words are found, and what words are clustered together. The theory is that these words and phrases in the Bible Code can reveal the future.

Or it can be a way of accelerating the process of the proverbial millions of monkeys typing and producing the works of Shakespeare–except that the Code never produces much of anything that makes any sense. Also, in this case, the King James Bible is used instead of any old Hebrew text. Isn’t that cheating? I mean, what’s the Hebrew word for “autism”? It’s a safe bet that there was no word in ancient Hebrew for this condition, but there probably is one in modern Hebrew. I tried this English to Hebrew translator, and entering the word “autism” caused “Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a01a8′.”

I wonder if that’s the Hebrew word for “autism.” Probably not. Oh, well, I never let a little thing like that stop me; so let’s see what the Bible Code says about autism:

i-f1b7e1321f43b7ded65027ae0eb9b4fb-autism15.jpg

And this is what the interpretation is of this “matrix”

The first matrix is in the New Testament, at Luke 13:24 – Acts 28:4, and it includes these search words:
— AUTISM (ELS skip = -32560)
— BRAIN
— CHILDREN
— DISEASE
And also in this matrix, these phrases of interest:
— OINTMENT OF SPIKENARD (Spikenard is an ancient herbal remedy that is still used today. Interesting that it is mentioned in this matrix.)
— MIRACLE OF HEALING
— MIGHT BE SAVED
— GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST

Wow! Amazing! Is the Bible saying that the Ointment of Spikenard is the cure for autism? It certainly seems so. Unfortunately, that source of all knowledge, Google, failed to find me much in the way of information of this oil and autism, other than someone selling drums, although it does seem to be some sort of perfume of the ancient Egyptians. Apparently it was the type of oil that was used to anoint Jesus, so it must be good, right? Let’s see what else we can find, though:

The next matrix is at Mark 10:2 – Acts 21:32, and it includes:
— DIOXIN (ELS = -29925) (Dioxin may be one of the poisons in the Environment that could (among others) be a possible cause of Autism)
— AUTISM
And also in this matrix:
— GAS (Dioxin can come from air pollution from trash incinerators)

Well, maybe David Kirby is on to something here. He just got it wrong when he blamed autism on mercury from crematoria in California. It was really the dioxin! Or maybe not:

Next, a New Testament matrix at Phillipians 3:17 – Revelation 8:12, that is interesting because it forms a cross shape:
— AUTISM (ELS=26791)
— POISON (indicating environmental poisons cause autism; POISON is in “full of deadly poison”)

And:

The next New Testament matrix is at Acts 7:37 – 24:22, and it contains:
— AUTISM (ELS = -2296)
— METALS (indicating metal pollution, such as Mercury, Lead, etc.)
— BRAIN
— CHILDREN

Aw, hell! I might as well give up! The Almighty God Himself has just told everyone that heavy metals cause autism, and who am I to argue with Him? I guess it’s time to start chelating every child with autism! After all, God says so! What more evidence do you need? What, you still want scientific evidence? You dare question the Almighty? You’ll regret it!

Now that that’s settled, let’s take a look at some other interesting tidbits. Let’s see what the Bible says about the disease that I’ve devoted my life to eradicating, cancer:

Breast Cancer

The first matrix on Breast Cancer resulted from a -100,000 to 100,000 Old Testament search, with Row Splitting disabled (one of the options with Codefinder software), and is at Jeremiah 16:18 – 36:15. This matrix includes:
— CANCER (ELS Skip = 5976)
— BREAST
— INCREASE
— CAUSE
Also, it is very interesting that this matrix includes the word POLLUTED, and it begins at Jeremiah 16:18 which includes “they have defiled my land”. This indicates a connection between pollution and increased breast cancer in women.

The next matrix resulted from a -100,000 to 100,000 Old Testament search, Row Splitting on Auto, and is at Micah 4:9 – Habakkuk 1:7. It contains:
— DIOXIN (ELS = -1843)
— CANCER
— WOMAN
And about the pain of cancer: BE IN PAIN
So this matrix is about cancer in women, including Breast cancer. It has been alleged that Dioxin may contribute to causing some cancers, Dioxin being a very poisonous chemical found in low levels in air pollution and some foods.

Hmmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Apparently God tells us that every condition and disease known to humankind is apparently due to dioxin. But wait, there’s plenty of autism and cancer in the U.S., but exposure to dioxins is probably lower than it’s ever been, given that they are recognized as environmental toxins. Still, this is the Almighty we’re talking about. Perhaps we should take a look at other statements from the Bible as a form of validation of these previous statements, if you will. Apparently the Bible has something to say about lung cancer:

Lung Cancer

The next Old Testament matrix is on Lung Cancer. It was a -100,000 to 100,000 Old Testament search, with Row Splitting disabled, with search words CANCER, LUNG, SMOKING. It is at Isaiah 35:7 – 61:7. It contains:
— CANCER (ELS = 4489)
— LUNG
— SMOKING

Well, there you go. The Bible clearly gets it right in saying that smoking causes lung cancer. But wait, I hear skeptics saying that cigarettes didn’t exist at the time the Bible was written. I hear skeptics saying that tobacco was a product of the New World and didn’t make it back to the Old World to become popular until Christopher Columbus was introduced to it by Native Americans during his voyages. Indeed, it didn’t make it into the Ottoman Empire until at least the 16th century and the Middle East until the 17th century. Of course, both of these observations only show the fantastic predictive power of the Bible Code and that God Himself must have been talking here. I even hear skeptics still saying that the guy who did these computer searches was bound to find all sorts of words just by coincidence. Also, he can interpret whatever he “finds” any way he likes, and I still hear them saying that the Bible Code can show anything desired just due to how the parameters are set initially. Godless blasphemers! Clearly, they do not understand the power of the Almighty. Never mind that this Bible Code, at least, appears to be backing Hillary Clinton for president, even though her odds of even gaining the Democratic nomination are slim and rapidly growing slimmer. Maybe the Almighty plans an intervention before June 3.

Regular readers here know that evolution denialists (a.k.a. creationists or “intelligent design” creationists) drive me crazy with their religion-inspired pseudoscience. Given that, I was very eager to learn what the Bible Code said about evolution:

THE PHILISTINE, and DAVID (In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17, David defeated in battle the Philistine giant, the ten foot tall Goliath. The Philistines were the major enemy of ancient Israel. They may here in this matrix represent the strong and stocky cave-man like Neanderthal Man. This matrix may be telling us that Neanderthal Man did battle against Modern Humans in Europe, and was defeated and exterminated by the smarter modern humans with their spears and arrows. Superior technology and brain power won the war.

There you have it! The Bible itself says that evolution happened, which is definitely bad news for young Earth creationists. I haven’t quite decided if the Bible Code supports “intelligent design,” but it certainly appears to support evolution.

But can the Bible code tell me what I really want to know? Can it tell me for sure whether O.J. really killed Nicole Brown Simpson? Alas, no, although I was surprised at just how much the Bible actually says about the case. Maybe the godless heathens who question the Bible Code are right after all.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    May 23, 2008

    As always, you are wrong. I just prayed and Autism no longer exists. God answered my prayers. See, no medicine required.

  2. #2 Sharon
    May 23, 2008

    Rubbish, it’s ketchup that cures autism.

    But really, are there grown-ups who will fall for this stuff? Tell me it’s a hoax, please.

  3. #3 Craig
    May 23, 2008

    Ok, Orac, while I think, for the most part, that you are a total jerk and completely and entirely too full of your own delusional self importance, I have to give you this one. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at one of your articles. Hats off to you, man!

    The part that had me just going, “huh?!” was this one:
    “The “Bible Code” is a way of looking for hidden prophecies and passages in the Bible, by using a software program to search for messages in the Old Testament Hebrew text. The spaces between words are eliminated, so that the Old Testament is a continuous block of Hebrew letters. Then, by skipping letters at a programmed interval, the program searches for words. There appear to be patterns to the passages where the words are found, and what words are clustered together. The theory is that these words and phrases in the Bible Code can reveal the future.”

    Gor F&#@ sake! I can take a dictionary and do the exact same thing! I can go into a bit of C++ code that gives you all of the secrets of the universe by analyzing all of Dr. Seuss’s books using the formula described up there. I used to wonder why you called it “woo,” but now I know. Again, thanks for the laugh, Orac. While I may not agree with you most of the time, I definitely have to agree with you here.

    Peace!

  4. #4 Bryn
    May 23, 2008

    Re. Spikenard: according to my Culpepper’s “Herbal”, spikenard “…helps loathings, swellings or gnawings in the stomach.” Specifically, the oil is good to “warm cold places and to digest crude and raw humours. It works powerfully on old cold griefs of the head and brain [aha! I never heard of autism being described as an “old cold grief” of the brain, but it’s coming from the Bible. It must be!], stomach, liver, spleen, reins [?] and bladder.”

    You’ll be happy to hear that, according the Culpepper, spikenard isn’t ruled by any particular sign of the zodiac, so that makes it even more sciency and stuff, right?

  5. #5 Tincture
    May 23, 2008

    Don’t discard The Bible Code(tm) too quickly. The Bible Code(tm) is so powerful that you don’t even need to use the bible!

    Using a special somewhat scientific sounding process, it has been revealed that Vanilla Ice predicted 9/11!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4mG7MdAzOw

  6. #6 The Christian Cynic
    May 23, 2008

    Ha, the Bible Code. What’s funny is that this is recognized (at least in more academic circles) as a total farce by many Christians. When I attended a conservative Christian college for a semester a few years back (and by conservative, I mean that they [unofficially] frowned on people who didn’t vote Bush and invited Alan Keyes to speak), one of the texts on exegesis even pointed out that the premise of the Bible Code has been duplicated with other uninspired texts (I think Moby-Dick was the one mentioned explicitly). When I talk to Christians who are credulous about this, I usually point out that fact to them.

    This, however, takes things to a whole different level. Absolutely incredible. (Although spikenard might possibly be less dangerous than chelation, if not any more effective.)

  7. #7 SpotWeld
    May 23, 2008

    I wonder if someone could run that Bible Code software on the last 5 yrs of WND output and find the specific phrases “Vote for Obama” and “Darwin was Right”.

  8. #8 tom sheepandgoats
    May 23, 2008

    It’s got my vote.

  9. #9 wackyvorlon
    May 23, 2008

    @Sharon: Oh, people take it seriously.

    There are even books:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bible+code&x=0&y=0

  10. #10 tom sheepandgoats
    May 23, 2008

    Sorry, I voted twice. Didn’t mean to. Once is more than enough.

  11. #11 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 23, 2008

    Ok, Orac, while I think, for the most part, that you are a total jerk and completely and entirely too full of your own delusional self importance, I have to give you this one.

    I’m sure he’s thrilled.

  12. #12 Craig
    May 23, 2008

    “I’m sure he’s thrilled.”

    Considering the enormity of his ego, I figured that one of his supposed “enemies” giving him a complement about his literature would thrill him. I found his article very funny and entertaining, and I wanted to express my thoughts on it as well as my gratitude for the laugh.

    The problem with that is?

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 23, 2008

    I figured that one of his supposed “enemies” giving him a complement about his literature would thrill him

    Who is the one with the big ego again?

  14. #14 Orac
    May 23, 2008

    Considering the enormity of his ego, I figured that one of his supposed “enemies” giving him a complement about his literature would thrill him.

    Actually, it is my very humility that leads me to take praise from wherever I can get it.;-)

  15. #15 Craig
    May 23, 2008

    “Actually, it is my very humility that leads me to take praise from wherever I can get it.;-)”

    Touche!

  16. #16 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 23, 2008

    I stand corrected!

  17. #17 DLC
    May 23, 2008

    Hm.. some damn strong woo there.
    I wonder if they have tried substituting ancient Sanskrit texts instead ?
    Probably not, but think of the fun you could have!

  18. #18 DonZilla
    May 23, 2008

    I have a question.

    How come everyone with a website on the internet, claiming to be in touch with The Divine, can’t manage much beyond the basics of website design? Isn’t HTML part of The Bible Code ™?

    Please God, give your believers some website design skills.

  19. #19 blf
    May 23, 2008

    I wonder if someone could run that Bible Code software on the last 5 yrs of WND output and find the specific phrases “Vote for Obama” and “Darwin was Right”.

    Undoubtly. Just decide what it is you want to find and then tweak the variables, add and remove steps, and invent whatever corrections you need until you find it. The wackier the step–distance in millimetres to the second A on the first page with a coffee stain multiplied by the square root of the of a cat’s yowl gives you the age of the forthcoming previous alternative crystal-powered supernova, and so we decode “send me 1M USD”–the more likely people are to believe it. Or so it seems.

  20. #20 The Christian Cynic
    May 23, 2008

    Please God, give your believers some website design skills.

    Actually, these poor design skills are just God’s way of averting the eye away from the ridiculous sites. I think God knows a little more about aesthetics than you give Him credit for. :P

  21. #21 The Integral
    May 23, 2008

    omg…..Orac……wow..

    I didn’t read the entire thing, I just couldn’t do it. You must have a mind of steel…..to be able to actually read this malarkey, never mind write about it.

    I didn’t realise there was so much autism related woo out there…have you gotten thoroughly sick of writing about it yet?

    As an autistic person, I am very very glad that you DO take the time to write about it and attempt to debunk it and explain its fallacies.

    Thanks.

    The Integral

  22. #22 Interrobang
    May 23, 2008

    I hate to bring up the blatantly obvious, but did anybody else actually notice that they start out talking about the Hebrew text and then run their entire schtick in English?! (“That word. You keep using it. I do not think it means what you think it means.”) Even assuming the deal about the numerological values of the letters and stuff, there’s no way it could work because the Hebrew alefbet has 24 letters, some of which have no direct analogues in English.

    Also, in the original Hebrew texts, you don’t have to take out the spaces between the words because there aren’t any. *headdesk*

  23. #23 cathyf
    May 23, 2008

    Bible Code: mental masturbation for OCD sufferers.

  24. #24 North of 49
    May 24, 2008

    This is extremely exciting news. I do wonder, though, why they insist on going to all the trouble of buying a Bible, a computer and that Codefinder software, when all they need to find hidden messages is a set of Scrabble tiles. God can work through any medium, right?

    Here’s how. Lay all your Scrabble tiles face down and mix them around until they’re well randomized. Add more randomizing by sliding randomly-selected groups of seven or so tiles (still face down, mind) out of the mass and lining them up edge to edge, in rows, until they’re all packed into a rectangular grid. If there are two or three people performing this part of the operation it goes faster and, of course, adds more randomness.

    Turn them over one by one, in place. Some will end up “upside down” to the orientation of the majority; invert them so they’re oriented to the rest.

    When they’re all face up, look for patterns. “Boggle” rules apply: strings can be composed of any number of adjacent tiles read in any direction, including diagonal. A tile can belong to more than one string.

    Last time we tried this (well, the only time) we got a definite Al Quaeda, Iraq, Husn (Hussein, clearly), NY (New York), Tour (French for “tower”) and a bunch of other scary stuff. One thing we never thought of was looking along arbitrarily-drawn lines at arbitrary intervals until something shows up, like Codefinder does. I’m sure that would have been fantastically revealing.

  25. #25 Warren
    May 27, 2008

    I tried this English to Hebrew translator, and entering the word “autism” caused “Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a01a8′.”

    For some reason, I find that entirely appropriate.

  26. #26 Mac
    May 31, 2008

    Some friends and I used to try this with the letters left over from word-searches we were given in class. It worked beter, of course, if it wasn’t one that already had a message in the leftover letters.

    It worked best with ones made by other students for foreign language classes. We used to freak some of the more gullible students out.

    Truth be told, my mom grew up in a multi-enthic neighborhood and learned some Hebrew, and my father speaks some Arabic and Greek, as well as a scattering of other languages. It’s fun composing messages with words that don’t/can’t exist in another language. For instance, the Arabic language doesn’t have a sound for “P” and it’s incredibly hard for many Arabic speakers to reproduce that sound. (Most often it’s changed to a “B,” resulting in transliterations like “Bebsi,” a popular soft drink).

    This all, of course, leaves out the fact that the King James version was a politically motivated collection and translation. But if your woo-ites believe in the Literal Word of God (TM), I don’t guess that really matters, though changing versions could make an interesting experiment.

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