This is just a sample of the prophecies found encoded in the Book of Genesis and written about in The Bible Code, a book that recently made the New York Times Bestseller List.
How do we make sense of all of this? How do we know what to believe and what to dismiss? If a person doesn't know how to filter information, they only have two options:
If the person wanted to err on the side of caution, he or she might choose option A. While this person will definitely be prepared for the next disaster (whether natural or man-made), he or she will also have to take to heart every billboard sign, every comment from strangers on the street, and even every headline on the front of the National Enquirer. Most likely, this person will go insane.
What about the other option? What if the person decided to not believe anything? Well, they probably would not have very many friends. College would be out of the question (why would you want to learn things if you didn't believe any of it?), and it might even be difficult to find (or keep) a job with such an extreme distrust of other people and the information they provide. This person would most likely be better off dropping out of society, and letting cultural evolution pass them by.
Neither of these options makes for a very good life. So what can we do? Well, of course, most people are equipped with pretty good intuition, which is a very good place to start. But what about when that isn't enough? What if someone is trying to sell you something, and they talk about all kinds of polls and clinical studies that tell you why you should buy it?
In many of these situations we can borrow a few tools from statistics and logical reasoning to help us make an informed decision. Instead of simply identifying the tools you might need, however, we're going to walk through an example that demonstrates how the tools can be used, and the "guinea pig" on which we will use the tools will be the aforementioned "Bible Code" phenomenon.
And so, before we go any further, let's take a closer look at what the Bible Code is and where it came from.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0546622. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.