Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

New “Knowing” Film Based on Numerology and Bible Code Pseudoscience

Posted in Center for inquiry by Skepdude on March 19, 2009

In the new film “Knowing,” Nicolas Cage plays a professor who is given a piece of paper containing a mysterious number code taken from a time capsule at his son’s school. He decodes the message and realizes that the numbers accurately predicted past disasters—as well as an imminent apocalypse. That last bit, of course, makes it into an interesting movie. If he’d stopped at “discovering” the hidden code, the movie would end with him writing a best-selling New Age self-help book.

Though the plot is fictional, this scenario has occurred many times in the real world. In 1997 Michael Drosnin published a best-selling book titled “The Bible Code,” in which he claimed that the Bible contained a code (hidden in numbers and letters) accurately predicting past world events. Drosnin’s work was later refuted, with critics (including CSI Fellow David E. Thomas) demonstrating that the “meanings” he found were simply the result of selectively choosing data sets from a vast sea of random letters.

In psychology, the tendency for the human mind to find coincidences, patterns, and connections in random data is called apophenia. It is related to paredolia, the mind’s ability to find faces and images in ambiguous stimuli such as clouds, tortillas, food stains, and so on. In statistics, there is even a name for this type of thinking mistake: a Type I error. A common example of a Type I error is a false positive result on a medical test, for instance detecting a disease.


10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ute Medley said, on March 19, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    I can imagine that a movie will be done about my life because I discovered a pattern that is neither based on randomness nor on insignificant correlations. The discovery of patterns in a meaningful way always points to something important. Just think of the development of the chemical elements and the periodic table.
    Jung as other forward-thinkers and inventors believed that the spheres of matter and psyche (mind) have a tangible connection through numbers. The Universe is ordered in a systematic fashion based on numbers with their inherent metaphysical attributes, chemical elements, and patterns.
    For a demonstration of a numerological pattern in number Pi, clusters of numbers, especially number 7, up-to-date explanation of the metaphysical attributes of numbers in context with current scientific facts, and the demonstration of living successful authentic lives like Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela see my book “Invisible Cloak – Know Thyself” (

    • Skepdude said, on March 20, 2009 at 8:59 AM

      Sounds like a load of nonsense to me. Sorry but I must call bullshit!

      • SkepSci said, on April 9, 2009 at 7:56 AM

        The ultimate principle of a Skeptical person is to doubt of everything, even of what you already know. All science start from this point. Based on this, you must find your own way to find truthfulness. Never call other’s way to find their belief, bullshit. That means that you must be respectful for what you believe on today… you may eat it tomorrow. ;->

        • Skepdude said, on April 9, 2009 at 9:25 AM

          No it isn’t, if you really believe this you don’t know skepticism and you don’t know science.

          The principle of skepticism, if it can be even said to have one, is not to doubt everything, it is to require strict evidence before deciding where one stands on any given claim. How this can be twisted to be interpreted as doubting everything, even what you already know, beats me!

          And science does not start from doubting everything. Science starts with a desire to figure out how things work, from there on it is a method of finding the best explanation of how things work, doubt has nothing to do with it. That’s a very basic and crude explanation, but it is effective, I think.

  2. Todd Laurence said, on March 25, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    Copy of email to Cage

    The Stargate Project was the umbrella code name of one of several
    sub-projects established by the U.S. Federal Government to investigate
    the reality, and potential military and domestic applications, of
    psychic phenomena.

    The following represents the only scientific verification of “psychic
    relativity.” (quantum theory)….

    In 1993., senior researchers at Princeton University, reviewed and
    emphatically verified material forwarded that finally proves that an
    aspect of “mind” does transcend space and time, i.e., precognition.

    In addition to the religious symbolism, the material also conforms to
    what we presently understand of quantum physics, analytical
    psychology, etc.

    The main conclusion, (verified) is that the star Kochab, an orange
    giant in Ursa Minor, (little dipper) exploded in the past, (supernova) –
    and that the light-energy will soon reach earth.

    Kochab is long known in mythology, with references dating to
    2467b.c.e. There are two meanings for the term Kochab.
    1. The Star
    2. Waiting Him that Cometh

    It, and a companion star are known as the Guardians of the Pole.

    Ref: Dr. Robert G. Jahn, former Dean, School of
    Applied Science, Princeton University.

    Professor W. Pauli, Nobel laureate-physics: “on the
    nature of acausal connections in the space-time
    continuum, (transcendence).”

    Maj.Gen Albert N. Stubblebine, Army Intelligence
    Command, StarGate Project. (INSCOM)

    Kochab, 1080
    New York

    • Skepdude said, on March 25, 2009 at 8:24 PM

      Is this supposed to impress me? What is your point anyway?

  3. yasmin said, on April 21, 2009 at 12:22 AM

    Knowing was a thought provoking look at a people in their random behaviour. Their willingness to refute facts and deny evidence because of being change averse.
    It’s an interesting observation that only the minority listen and act appropriately, while others don’t, despite their intelligence.

  4. Wouter said, on September 30, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    I just saw this movie (spoiler alert) and I have to say it is a piece of crap. Basically it is a bible story disguised as a science fiction movie. The main character is a scientist who has broken all bonds with his father the preacher. His son then gets hold of a list which accurately predicts disasters and the numbers of people killed in those disasters, meaning that everything is already determined, there is such a thing as prophecy and nothing is left up to chance. The last entry on the list is of course, the end of the world.

    Only those who ‘hear the calling’ are saved by an alien race (who look a lot like angels) and are taken (rapture reference) up to a new planet. His son is among the lucky ones. Of course, after all this mister sceptical scientist has been converted into a believer and is reunited with his father in the very end.

    The last shot of this movie shows the son and a girl on their new planet in a paradise like setting running towards a big tree. I couldn’t see if there were actually apples hanging from this tree, but following the trend of this movie I suspect this indeed to be the case.

    • Emma said, on October 11, 2009 at 5:59 AM

      I agree completely with you! The whole way through I found the movie interesting, and mildly believable. Then come along the SPACE SHIPS!!! That ruined the story for me. Completely. Then, when I thought that the movie couldn’t get anymore shit, the two kiddlywinks end up on a new pretty planet, dressed in Jesus clothes running toward a tree! The story ends with me standing up, yelling “THE F**K WAS THAT ABOUT!” and then twittering how crap it was!

      I think religion is slipping so they made that movie to plant seeds of Adam and Eve-ness in today’s youth’s minds! Was a CRAP MOVIE!

      • Wouter said, on November 6, 2009 at 7:32 PM

        Thank you. In the last month there were quite a lot of people recommending this movie to me. It’s good to know there are still people who can pierce trough the special FX and see the bullshit behind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: