Skeptic » eSkeptic » June 29, 2011

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

SKEPTICALITY: Interview with Matthew Chapman

For over 30 years Matthew Chapman (the great, great grandson of Charles Darwin) has written and directed major motion pictures, as well as authored notable books of his own on the topic of evolution, namely: Trials of the Monkey—An Accidental Memoir, and 40 Days and 40 Nights—Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania.

This week on Skepticality, Derek talks with Matthew Chapman about his independent film The Ledge (starring Liv Tyler and Terrence Howard), in which a battle of philosophies between a fundamentalist Christian and an atheist escalates into a lethal battle of wills.

About this week’s feature article

In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer recounts his experience of a recent interview-turned-ambush by a film crew who claimed to be making a documentary about the arguments for and against the existence of God. The interview provides an excellent background for a lesson in what Shermer calls patternicity: our tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). His latest book is The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Then as Truths.

SUBSCRIBE to Skeptic magazine for more great articles like this one.

Share this eSkeptic with friends online.
Click the + for more sharing options.

The Number 19
An attempted ambush interview turns into
a lesson in patternicity and numerology

by Michael Shermer

On Friday, June 17, a film crew came by the Skeptics Society office to interview me for a documentary that I was told was on arguments for and against God. The producer of the film, Alan Shaikhin, sent me the following email, which I reprint here in its entirety so that readers can see that there is not a hint of what was to come in what turned out to be an attempted ambush interview with me about Islam, the Quran, and the number 19:

Dear Michael!

I am the director of a film crew hired by a non-profit organization, Izgi Amal, from Kazakhstan, which has no connection with the American brat, Borat. We have been working on a documentary film on modern philosophical and scientific arguments for and against God for almost a year. We have been taking shots and interviewed theologians, philosophers and scientists in England, Netherlands, USA, Turkey, and Egypt.

We are planning to finish the film by the end of this year and participate in major film festivals, including Cannes. We will allocate some of the funds to distribute thousands of copies of the film for free, especially to libraries and colleges.

Our crew will once again visit the United States and will spend the rest of June interviewing various people, from layman to artists, from academicians to activists.

Though we are far out there, we know your work and we think that it contributes greatly to the quality of this perpetual philosophical debate. We would like to include perspective and voice in this discussion. We would appreciate if you let us know what days in JUNE would be the best dates to meet you and interview you for this engaging and fascinating documentary film.

Since we are planning to interview about 10 scholars and experts of diverse positions such as atheism, agnosticism, deism, monotheism, and polytheism, it is important to learn all available days in this month of June.

Please feel free to contact us via email or our cell phone numbers, below. If you respond via email and please let us know the best phone number and times to reach you.

Alan Shaikhi

In hindsight perhaps I should have picked up on his admission that “we are far out there,” which in fact they turned out to be. Present were Mr. Shaikhin, another gentleman named Edip Yuksel, a couple of film crew hands, and a woman videographer who was setting up all the lighting and equipment. Before we began Shaikhin explained that they were actually filming two projects, and that his colleague (Mr. Yuksel) would be interviewing me after he, Shaikhin, was finished. Yuksel, in fact, was very fidgety and throughout the interview with Shaikhin I could see him out of the corner of my eye feverishly taking notes and fiddling around with books whose titles I could not see.

Shaikhin’s interview, in fact, included mostly standard faire questions for such documentaries: Do I think there’s a conflict between science and religion?, What do I think about this and that argument for God’s existence?, Why do I think people believe in God?, etc. He was unfailingly polite and professional. Toward the end he did make some vague reference to Islam and our cover story of Skeptic on myths about the Islamic religion (the myth of the Middle East Madman, the myth of the 72 virgins, etc.), but I begged off answering anything about Islam because I haven’t studied it much nor have I read the Quran.

My first clue that the interview was about to take a sharp right turn came when Shaikhin acted shocked that I would edit an issue of Skeptic on Islam without myself having read the Quran. I explained that I write very few articles in Skeptic and that my job as editor is to find writers who are experts on a subject, which was, in fact, the case with this issue when our Senior Editor Frank Miele interviewed the University of California at Santa Barbara Islamic scholar R. Stephen Humphreys. Nonetheless, Shaikhin continued to act surprised, repeating “you mean to tell me that you edited a special issue of Skeptic on Islam and haven’t read the Quran?” I again explained that editors of magazines are not always (or ever) the world’s leading expert on the topics they publish, which is the very reason for contracting with experts to write the articles for magazines.

With this first part of the interview completed, Edip Yuksel leaped up out of his chair like a WWF wrestler charging into the ring for his big match. He grabbed a chair and pulled it over next to mine, asked for a bottle of water for the match, and instructed the videographer to widen the shot to include him in the interview. Only it wasn’t an interview. It was a monologue, with Yuksel launching into a mini-history of how he wrote Carl Sagan back in 1992 about the number 19 (he didn’t say if Sagan ever wrote back), how Carl had written about the deep significance of the number π (pi) in his science fiction novel Contact, how he is a philosopher and a college professor who teaches his students how to think critically, and that he is a great admirer of my work. However (you knew this was coming, right?), there is one thing we should not be skeptical about, and that is the remarkable properties of the number 19 and the Quran.

At this point I had a vague flashback memory of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. and Louis Farrakhan’s musings about the magical properties of the number 19. The transcript from that speech confirmed my memory. Here are a few of the numerological observations by Farrakhan that day in October, 1995:

There, in the middle of this mall is the Washington Monument, 555 feet high. But if we put a one in front of that 555 feet, we get 1555, the year that our first fathers landed on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia as slaves.

In the background is the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial, each one of these monuments is 19 feet high.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and 16 and three make 19 again. What is so deep about this number 19? Why are we standing on the Capitol steps today? That number 19—when you have a nine you have a womb that is pregnant. And when you have a one standing by the nine, it means that there’s something secret that has to be unfolded.

I want to take one last look at the word atonement.

The first four letters of the word form the foundation; “a-t-o-n” … “a-ton”, “a-ton”. Since this obelisk in front of us is representative of Egypt. In the 18th dynasty, a Pharaoh named Akhenaton, was the first man of this history period to destroy the pantheon of many gods and bring the people to the worship of one god. And that one god was symboled by a sun disk with 19 rays coming out of that sun with hands holding the Egyptian Ankh – the cross of life. A-ton. The name for the one god in ancient Egypt. A-ton, the one god. 19 rays.

This is a splendid example of what I call patternicity: the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise. And Edip Yuksel launched into a nonstop example of patternicity when he pulled out his book entitled Nineteen: God’s Signature in Nature and Scripture (2011, Brainbow Press; see also and began to quote from it. To wit…

  • The number of Arabic letters in the opening statement of the Quran, BiSMi ALLaĤi AL-RaĤMaNi AL-RaĤYM (1:1) 19
  • Every word in Bismillah… is found in the Quran in multiples of 19
  • The frequency of the first word, Name (Ism) 19
  • The frequency of the second word, God (Allah) 19 x 142
  • The frequency of the third word, Gracious (Raĥman) 19 x 3
  • The fourth word, Compassionate (Raĥym) 19 x 6
  • Out of more than hundred attributes of God, only four has numerical values of multiple of 19
  • The number of chapters in the Quran 19 x 6
  • Despite its conspicuous absence from Chapter 9, Bismillah occurs twice in Chapter 27, making its frequency in the Quran 19 x 6
  • Number of chapters from the missing Ch. 9 to the extra in Ch. 27. 19 x 1
  • The total number of all verses in the Quran, including the 112 unnumbered Bismillah 19 x 334
  • Frequency of the letter Q in two chapters it initializes 19 x 6
  • The number of all different numbers mentioned in the Quran 19 x 2
  • The number of all numbers repeated in the Quran 19 x 16
  • The sum of all whole numbers mentioned in the Quran 19 x 8534

This goes on and on for 620 pages which, when divided by the number of chapters in the book (31) equals 20, which is one more than 19; since 1 is the cosmic number for unity, the first nonzero natural number, and according to the rock group Three Dog Night the loneliest number, we subtract 1 from 20 to once again see the power of 19. In fact, 19 is a prime number, it is the atomic number for potassium (flip that “p” to the left and you get a 9), in the Baha’i faith there were 19 disciples of Baha’u’llah and their calendar year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days), and it’s the last year you can be a teenager and the last hole in golf that is actually the clubhouse bar. In point of fact we can find meaningful patterns with almost any number:

  • 99: names of Allah; atomic number for Einsteinium; Agent 99 on TV series Get Smart
  • 40: 40 days and 40 nights of rain; Hebrews lived 40 years in the desert, Muhammad’s age when he received the first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel and the number of days he spent in the desert and days he spent fasting in a cave
  • 23: The 23 enigma: the belief that most incidents and events are directly connected to the number 23
  • 11: sunspot cycle in years, the number of Jesus’s disciples after Judas defected
  • 7: 7 deadly sins and 7 heavenly virtues; Shakespeare’s 7 ages of man, Harry Potter’s most magical number
  • 3: number of dimensions; number of sides of a triangle, the 3 of clubs—the forced pick in one of Penn & Teller’s favorite card tricks
  • 1: unity; the first non-zero natural number, it’s own factorial and it’s own square; the atomic number of hydrogen; the most abundant element in the universe; Three Dog Night’s song about the loneliest number
  • π (pi): a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, or 3.14159…. Make of this what you will, but Carl Sagan did elevate π to significance at the end of Contact:

The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle—another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point. In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature. Standing over humans, gods, and demons, subsuming Caretakers and Tunnel builders, there is an intelligence that antedates the universe.

At this point in the filming process I interrupted Yuksel and told Shaikhin that the interview was over, that he could use the footage from the first part of the interview but not this monologue mini-lecture that was an undisguised attempt to convince me of the miraculous properties of the number 19. I didn’t sign any waiver or permission to use any of the footage shot that day, but just in case I was relieved when the videographer came to me in private to apologize and explain that she had nothing to do with the rest of the crew, that she was just hired to do the filming, and that after I had put an end to the interview she stopped filming.

At some point I asked Edip why he felt so compelled to convince me of the meaningfulness of the number 19 in the Quran, when I told him that I haven’t read the Quran and hold that all such numerological searches are nothing more than patternicity. The impression I got was that if he could convince a professional skeptic then there must be something to the claim. I asked him what other Islamic scholars who have read the Quran think of his claims for the number 19, and he told me that they consider him a heretic. He said it as a point of pride, as if to say “the fact that the experts denounce me means that I must be on to something.”

P.S. Edip Yuksel did strike me as a likable enough fellow who seemed genuinely passionate about his beliefs, but there was something a bit off about him that I couldn’t quite place until I was escorting him out of the office and he said, “I see you are a very athletic fellow. Can I show you something that I learned in a Turkish prison?” With scenes from Midnight Express flashing through my mind, I muttered “Uhhhhhh… No.”

Patternicity Challenge to Readers

As a test—of sorts—I would like to hereby issue a challenge to all readers to employ their own patternicity skills at finding meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise with such numbers and numerical relationships, both serious and lighthearted, related to the number 19 or any other number that strikes your fancy. Post them in the comments section of this eSkeptic and we shall publish them in a later feature-length article I shall write on this topic.END

—Michael Shermer, Editor, Skeptic

Skeptical perspectives on baloney detection and the fallibility…
cover Baloney Detection Kit
by Michael Shermer and Pat Linse

This 16-page booklet is designed to hone your critical thinking skills by exploring the top 25 fallacies of thinking. It includes suggestions on what questions to ask, what traps to avoid, specific examples of how the scientific method is used to test pseudoscience and paranormal claims, and a how-to guide for developing a class in critical thinking.
READ more and order the booklet.

cover How We Know What Isn’t So:
The Fallibility of Human Reasoning in Everyday Life

by Thomas Gilovich

Why do these beliefs persist even though they can repeatedly be shown to be false? Thomas Gilovich explains the inherent biases and critical thinking mistakes on which we base our beliefs, and explains how we can overcome these natural biases. The book includes: seeing patterns in randomness, confirmation bias (i.e the tendency to look for evidence that confirms our beliefs, even when we have no special attachment to those beliefs), reinterpreting evidence to match preexisting beliefs, cherry picking, useful biases that can develop a dangerous inertia, and more… READ more and order the book.

The Amaz!ng Meeting 9
July 14–17, 2011, Las Vegas

The Amaz!ng Meeting 9: July 14-17, Las Vegas, Southpoint Hotel and Casino

The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is an annual celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking, where skeptical thinkers from around the world gather to share ideas and learn from a host of distinguished guest speakers and panelists.

“People come to TAM to learn, to be entertained, and to enjoy the warmth and community of hundreds of like-minded skeptical people,” JREF President D.J. Grothe said. “At the center of all of that is the TAM program. We’re proud to say that we think this is one of the best programs we’ve ever had.”

With an incredible lineup of speakers, hands-on workshops, optional events, this is sure to be an Amaz!ng Meeting you won’t want to miss!




  1. Dr. Strangelove says:

    I have the book Contact. What Carl Sagan was referring to was a hypothetical circular pattern of 1’s and 0’s found in the digits of pi. This is fiction as the book was science fiction and Sagan never claimed it to be fact. To date nobody has ever found such a pattern in pi.

    Sagan was suggesting that if indeed an intelligent being created the universe, the creator could put a hidden message inside pi. Once we find it, we would know for sure of the creator’s existence because the probability of finding such a pattern purely by chance is virtually zero.

    The difference between Sagan’s approach and meaningless patternicity is the correct method of calculating the probabilities. With proper statistical analyses, it turns out that most patterns are not really improbable.

    • David Harris says:

      The “Signature of the Artist” in Contact always knocked me out. I’ve never been much for poetry, but Sagan’s poetic fantasy – finding god in pi – struck me hard between my atheist ears. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if only . . .”

      But alas, just a nice fantasy which later got blown apart. While re-reading Contact some years later, it occurred to me that with or without a creator’s intent, it’s possible (likely to the point of certainty?) that a rasterized image of a circle would show up in the digits of pi, and it must also be possible that further down to the right of the decimal point, you’re just as likely to find another image (maybe even in 1080×1900 hi definition) of James Randi & Uri Geller in a wrestling match at Madison Sq. Garden (Refereed by Michael Shermer & Louis Farrakhan)!

      There’s a lot of room to the right of that decimal on your way to infinity. Eventually you’ll find what you want in pi – even the number “19” !

      • Bad Boy Scientist says:

        This reminds me of an amusing anecdote which took place at a national lab.

        A secretary was auditing the copier access codes – which surprisingly were not unique – and noted that one four-digit number was much more common than any other: 3141. A colleague pointed out that those were the first four digits in Pi – which were easy for geeks to remember. She asked about the other numbers and he said, with a smile, “Well, those are four digit sequences you find later in Pi.”

        She refused to believe that every four digit sequence (c’mon there are only 10,000 of ’em) could be found in an infinite, non-repeating sequence of numbers, like Pi

      • Dr. Strangelove says:

        Yes, since pi is random and infinite, you can find any numerical pattern you like. When dealing with infinity, anything possible will eventually happen. The big question is, and this was the basis Sagan’s god hypothesis, how long do you have to wait to find that pattern purely by chance? This introduces the element of probability. If probability says you will find it in a trillion years, but you actually found it in one day, the probability of that event happening by chance is near zero.

        For example, you can compute pi in base 26 so each unique number corresponds to the 26 letters of the English alphabet. You can find the entire Bible or Koran in pi with exactly the same sequence of words, letter by letter. How long will it take to find it? With the fastest imaginable computer, as big as the entire universe, computing at the speed of light, it will take much longer than 14 billion yrs (the age of the universe). So if anybody found the Bible in pi using his PC, for sure it’s not by chance.

  2. mike ellis says:

    19 – the number of times I banged my head against the wall..

  3. Dr. Sidethink says:

    23 is the theme of Illuminatus! and associated ilk.

    interesting that 23 +19 = 42


  4. Mary Ebert-Robb says:

    I was born on 11-19! Wow, I’ve always been told I’m the coolest person around! Now I know why! LOL

  5. Albert Natian says:

    You should never take number nineteen lightly! We know it is the last teen. Not only that, it is the last prime before all the following numbers are nonteen!

  6. Kimpatsu says:

    “1: unity; the first non-zero natural number, it’s own factorial and it’s own square…”
    But not, evidently, the correct use of the apostrophe, Michael…
    What does “It is own factorial and it is own square” mean, exactly…

  7. The Marsh Woman says:

    Nineteen is a highly over-rated number. The number I see as having the greatest significance in the universe is the number three! Please note:

    – The Trinity (three gods for the price of one)
    – Three Stooges
    – Three primary colours
    – Three Pep Boys
    – Three Virtues (faith, hope, charity)
    – Three Little Pigs
    – Three states of matter (liquid, solid, gas)
    – Three witches in MacBeth (double, double, toil and trouble!)
    – Three gifts of the Magi
    – Three sides of a triangle
    – Three roots of Yggdrasil
    – Three crosses at Calvary
    – Three wheels on the Hindu Moon Chariot
    – Three Blind Mice
    – Three is the number of pi (plus .1415926535897932…)
    – Three Musketeers
    – Three main types of radioactive decay (alpha, beta, gamma)
    – Three men in a tub
    – Three types of antigen presenting cells (macrophages, dendritic cells, B cells)
    – Three Rs- reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic
    – Three branches of the US government
    – Three little kittens lost their mittens
    – Three muscle types (smooth, cardiac, skeletal)
    – Three pillars of Zen
    – Three Laws of Motion

    I could go on all day, but you probably don’t want me to.

    • mentel says:

      three laws of robotics! (never mind that pesky zeroth law, that’s for heretics)

      • James Carlson says:

        I think it’s more likely the number we’re looking for is “one”. After all, there’s apparently:

        only one God, one Son of God, and one Holy Ghost

        one Triune God at the head of one immortal host

        there’s only one hydrogen atom in a molecule of water

        poor old Agamemnon sacrificed only one daughter

        most nations throughout history have only one ruler or king

        every bumblebee has only one sting

        there’s only one yellow brick road, one road to Damascus, and one way home

        only one Jerusalem, one direction to Mecca, and one true Rome

        and while one and one makes two, it’s also true

        that one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

        there’s only one path, one body, one view, one heart

        one soul, one mind, one ending and one start

        it only takes one straw to break a camel’s back

        and only one apple makes the apple cart crack

        only one way to go when your feelin’ so low

        and one way to know where the wild winds blow

        there’s only one way home, one direction to spin,

        and only one way outta the mess that we’re in

        you can use as many rungs on a ladder as you need

        but there’s only direction to the top of the tree

        you can only have one kicker on the field at a time

        one batter at the plate, one bowler at the line

        one pitcher on the mound, one ball on a tee

        one man with the ball, one heart on a sleeve

        you can lose your virginity only once, and a mountain only has one peak

        every door only needs one hinge, they say, and you know that it works when it squeaks

        a hand grenade explodes just once and only one event can fill one space in time

        there’s only one Abe Vigoda, and one John Lennon, but God save us all, there are thousands of mimes

        only one Big Bird on Sesame Street

        only one Will Eisner, and one golden fleece

        there are thousands of Henrys but one Henry the Third

        and only one Louis the Fourteenth I’ve heard

        and although roller skates and handcuffs only need one key

        thousands are dreamed up to set one person free ….

        But if we’re purposely filling our head with speculations on patternicity, it’s probably likely that we can do this for any number imagineable, as long as it’s small enough to count to and figure with.

        Odds are, however, that we’ll only do it ONCE before boredom sets in …

        • Dave Spinner says:

          Only ONE chance to make a First Impression. Unless somebody already said that, then I’m sorry for repeating.

        • Jim Dixon says:

          There are TWO hydrogen atoms in a molecule of water.

  8. Brian Magee says:

    I don’t remember the details because I was a kid at the time, but when my family was a member of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, he also used the number 19 as the basis for many of his pronouncements, including his many failed predictions of the Second Coming.

    • Jason says:

      That’s so weird to see somebody post this. I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God too (and yes, an atheist now and for many years) and remember members telling me about the number 19 and was just thinking this when I was reading the article. The significance also had something to do with how the Holy Days were calculated in the Jewish faith (or so I was told, I never confirmed this), that it took 19 years for them to reset back to the same dates. I thought it odd that God didn’t seem to like the Metric system :D

  9. mark says:

    Don’t forget the “magical” 47 -plastered all over several Star Trek Series; heck they even have a 47 Society. Clearly this must be the most important number! There is no 19 Society that I know of…..

  10. Jon88 says:

    Clearly, the Kellogg’s company is trying to influence us with its generically named “Product 19.”

  11. John Madric says:

    I came across this in a posting on a facebook blog on Atheism (The Daily Matt), and which was authored by a James Courtney.

    1. Jesus Christ – James Courtney – Both J.C.
    2. J+E+S+U+S+C+H+R+I+S+T = 151 – J+A+M+E+S+C+O+U+R+T+N+E+Y = 168
    3. 168-151=17 — I was 17 in 1995
    4. 1995-17 = 1978 — 19+78 = 97 the year I graduated High School!
    5. H+I+G+H+S+C+H+O+O+L = 104 — 104+151+168= 423
    6. Navy has 4 letters and I was 23 when I joined the Navy (4-23!)
    7. U+S+S+C+A+R+R= 99 — 99 was the year I went to Florida State!
    8. F+L+O+R+I+D+A+S+T+A+T+E = 130 — 130+423 = 553
    9. 55 is 3 more than 52 which was the hull number of USS CARR (FFG-52) , 55-3!!
    10. 5×2 = 10 and 5+5=10! 10 and 10. This is the 10th line… 10, 10 and 10. Three 10’s!
    11. I have 3 names James Alexander Courtney
    12. All three names added together are 252! I did 2 deployments on USS CARR (FFG 52!) 2-52
    13. 2×52= 104 just like high school!
    14. 2 instances of 104. 104 x 2 = 208. 1978-208=1770, the year of the Boston Massacre!
    15. The only time I was in Boston was November 6, 7, 8 of 2006! I was 28 at the time and I stayed on the 7th floor of the Embassy suites! 11+6+7+8+28+7=67!
    16. 67+84 (the number of my middle name) = 151! The SAME number of JESUS CHRIST!
    17. This is the 17th line! Add 17 to 151 and you get 168! The SAME NUMBER as my name!!!

  12. mentel says:

    the 19th day of the month occurs 12 times a year, but there are 7 days in a week so 12+7=19

    in Hebrew the word Chai (‘life’) = 18, but Islam is better than Judaism so add 1, 18+1=19

    My tube of face lotion has 2.5 oz, which is 75 ml, 2+5+7+5=19

    There are 19 letters in the word ‘antiparliamentarian,’ which is why there are so many monarchies/theocracies/juntas throughout Muslim-majority countries

    42 is the meaning of life, 4+2=6, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide is a triology, so 6×3=18, but then there are two additional books, and since 2/2=1 we can add that 1 to the original 18, for a total of 19

    Number of digits on Gwenyth Paltrow’s character in ‘The Royal Tenebaums’ – 19

  13. dhbutts says:

    Being a scientifically educated atheist/skeptic, I enjoy preaching to friends about our tendency to find patterns in random events. Then I began experiencing a recurring pattern myself. I began to notice that quite frequently when glancing at a digital clock, the time would be 11:11 or 1:11. That seemed to be happening more often than would seem random. A superstitious mind might begin to worry about the coming November 11. 2011 at 11:11. (Although of course those numbers were NOT on the clock much more often than they were!)

  14. Dan says:

    I was happy to hear about the videographer girl. Were you able to tell if she was also a Muslim?

  15. Roo.Bookaroo says:

    What about the intriguing 72 number?
    72 names of God in the Hebrew Bible,
    and 72 virgins in heaven for the devout Muslim.
    Any special meaning to 72 in the ancient Middle East?
    If you look up 72 in Wikipedia, the article lists dozens and dozens of special associations for 72.
    Without forgetting 72d street, Manhattan, and everything associated with it.

  16. Joe Rudy says:

    On the lighter side….A classic example for “9/11” from those clever guys at South Park. You really have to watch the clip to appreciate it. Oh!…and I love how you pulled in Three Dog Night, Michael.

    Cartman: Remember that there are, in fact, 2 towers. Two minus one is one. One, one…eleven. Two minus one is one. One…one. And there are 9 members on Silverstein’s board of directors. That’s 9-1-1….9/11. And take two minus one plus 9/11 and you get twelve…which leads us all the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks….Kyle.

    Kyle: Me?!?

    Cartman: Twelve contains the numbers one and two, just like the toilet yesterday where someone went number two instead of number one. Add one and two with 911 and you get 914. Drop the 4 and it’s 91…exactly the score got on his spelling test TWELVE days after 9/11!

    Full clip here:

    • Justin C says:

      Not that it’s entirely relevant here, but I’d like to point out that at least one of those two “clever guys at South Park” is a self-admitted agnostic, and not an atheist.

      “Basically … out of all the ridiculous religion stories which are greatly, wonderfully ridiculous — the silliest one I’ve ever heard is, ‘Yeah … there’s this big giant universe and it’s expanding, it’s all gonna collapse on itself and we’re all just here just ’cause … just ’cause’. That, to me, is the most ridiculous explanation ever.” – Trey Parker

  17. jd says:

    Well, 1+9=10, and the symbol for zero is a circle; additionally, 1+0=1, and the first five letters of the word ‘atonement’ spell out ‘at ONE’! Five is another mysterious number: most of us have five digits on each of two hands and feet; 4×5=20 and 2+0=2! Two hands, two feet, one person. Wow, that equals five too. Coincidence? I think not. Or rather… I never have to think again! All the answers are right there .

  18. Nyx says:

    I’m fond of prime numbers–some might say _inordinately_ fond of prime numbers. I set the TV volume to 11, 17 or 19. I set my car cruise control to 73 on the highway. Why would I do stuff like that unless I were “hard wired,” as it were, to seek out primes?

    I think any creator would be too vast to be limited to any single numbers. Enter my favorite series: the primes. Behold my proof:
    – Number of letters in my surname: 9
    – Number of letters in my spouse’s surname: 9
    – Number of letters in my children’s and spouse’s first names: 5, 7, 7
    – Number of letters in the surnames of the last 4 presidents I’ve liked (mostly): 5, 7
    – Number of letters in the surnames of the last 4 presidents I haven’t liked (much): 4
    – My cell phone number itself isn’t prime, but it’s divisible by a prime number (13) and the individual digits sum to 37.
    – My house address is similarly only divisible by a prime (5) and sums to 17.

    I could go on and on… number of dogs: 3; number of cats: 3 (long story there on both counts); my birth month and date: both prime; year of birth only divisible by a prime… I just have to believe that the existence of this sort of pervasive pattern in my own life is proof of a pattern creator, at least in my corner of the multi-verse.

    Sadly, proof of a pattern creator (c’est moi) isn’t proof of the divine. Though, 19, being prime, I’m rooting for it.

  19. John says:

    That most cosmic of numbers, the Answer to Life, the Universe and, well, Everything: 42. Did you know, for example, that 42 occurs EXACTLY 42 times in the first 4230 digits of PI? Coincidence? I think not!

    • Dr. Sidethink says:

      nice problem for Stat 101.
      it’s like getting exactly 50 heads in 100 coin tosses

      Rare, but the most probable outcome, and certainly not a surprising outcome .


      • John says:

        right on – it’s not really a coincidence at all, simply a result of statistical reality.

  20. John says:

    … and then we have 153. Jesus’ disciples pulled 153 fish from the water. 153 is the 17th triangular number (sum of 1+2+3…+17). It is 1! + 3! + 5!. It is also 1^3 + 3^3 + 5^3.

    All of these fact taken together can only mean . . .

    Absolutely nothing.

  21. John says:

    As if further evidence of the supremacy of 42 were needed, consider the fact that 42 also occurs EXACTLY 42 times in the first 4758 digits of the constant e. Then consider that the sum of 4, 7, 5 and 8 is 24, the MIRROR IMAGE of 42. Surely this could only be the work of a vastly intelligent mind.


  22. Charlotte says:

    My son’s due date was 10-10-10, which, in binary, is 42, the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. He was born on 10-02-10, but he still means everything to me!
    This has been a fun discussion!

  23. Keven Kanten says:

    Patternicity. Working at a journalistic publisher, you are exposed to a ton of data. Conspiracy theorists from what I can see, at almost every level cling to the evidence they find that supports their own perspective and views. My own marriage seems explicitly a re-occurring of the patterns on numbers, specifically the number 13. I’ve assumed that we notice the number often because we are watching for it and its occurring seems miraculous. So I started watching other numbers. Though the number 13 does occur with uncanny frequency to the point of being silly compared to other numbers, I have a hard time believing it has any meaning other than random chance. A friend of mine claims to be plagued by the number 23.

    What I do know and have experienced is the more data you have access to, the more patterns you will find in exclusion of other data. Our imagination allows us to sort and categorize this data and create a lot of statements. I find in evaluating any data, its the data you don’t include that paints the picture of reality. Not the exclusive data that is what it is. Facts. What it paints is open to perspective. Like the colors a painter is choosing for his pallet, in exclusion of certain colors.

    And without that creative perspective and interpretation of data in creative thinking, we’d probably have no conspiracy theories of New World Order/Big Brother, Alien Shape Changing Lizard Illuminati, or movies like Da Vinci Code or National Treasure.

    And in true skeptic fashion, we mocked superstition and got married on a Friday the 13th, with 13 people involved including a Justice of the Peace who lived on 113street and 113 Avenue. So far, nothing untoward has happened to indicate 13 is bad luck number after over 22 years.

  24. James says:

    My partner was born on 11/11, so this year his birthday is 11/11/11. If you add that up, it equals 6, the smallest perfect number, the atomic number of carbon, the number of legs on an insect, the number of points on the Star of David. Must be a holy day.

  25. John Alspaugh says:

    Being a writer and being interested in certain synchronistic phenomena, e.g. THE I CHING, I find most numerical patternicity to be bogus. However, as I am no expert on synchronicity, I would refer anyone and everyone to Marie Von Franz’s book, NUMBER & TIME. She was a ‘disciple’ of Carl Jung. Her work is a bit erudite but a new angle on what is being discussed here.

    • Dr. Sidethink says:

      The works of Terence McKenna are the definitive work
      on the predictive power of the I Ching.

      Perhaps his claim that his discovery of patternicity in the numbers of the Kin Wen Sequence reflect the state of changes in the universe needs examination under s skeptical eye.

      McKenna was a personal friend of mine, and his ravings add needed humor to a generally accepted atmosphere of bogus mantic powers among the “New AGE” community.

      His theory was based on the idea that syncronicity is clarified by rhe resonance bonds of psylocybin. which IMHO is about as good as the ravings of neo ( 1970’s) Jungians and their ilk.
      Personally I think it’s caused by Para-TriBarmumite
      drunk in minute quantities in the fluid of Magic Homeopathic flapdoodle stuff.

      Bob Pease

  26. Mike Carpenter says:

    The number 9 is the secret of the universe. If you take any number and multiply it by 9 and then add the digits in the result, you always get 9. There are 9 planets in the solar system
    9 players on a baseball team
    cats have 9 lives
    cat o 9 tails
    9 month gestation period for human life
    the Beatles knew, just listen to Revolution 9
    Ha Ha

  27. ww says:

    “Edip Yuksel leaped up out of his chair like a WWF wrestler charging into the ring for his big match”. WWF wrestler = World Wildlife Fund wrestler. Indeed, the WWF does wrestle formidable opponents, but not in a ring. Methinks you meant a WWE wrestler (WWE was forced to change from WWF by the WWF). What does this all have to do with 19? Maybe this: WWE, WWF, and 19 are all prime in their fields.

  28. Ron Strong says:

    I can “prove” that 8 is a number of great evil. If we assign each letter of the alphabet a number based on its position (A=1, B=2, etc all the way to Z=26) and add together the values of the names, the results are most “enlightening” when we look at the names of great evils of literature.

    Cthulhu adds up 89. 8+9=17. 1+7=8
    Sauron adds up to 88. two 8s.
    The Joker adds up to 92. 9*2=18. 1*8=8
    Voldemort adds up to 124. 1*2*4=8.
    If we take the name “Lecter” from Hannibal Lecter, it adds up to 63. 6*3=18. 1*8=8.
    Darth Vader adds up to 101. 1+0+1=2. Two is the Cube Root of 8.

    Obviously, they number 8 is corrosive to sanity and must be purged from our culture immediately.

    • ww says:

      And if we assign each letter . . . a number based on its position *in reverse* (A=26, B=25, etc all the way to Z=1) and multiply . . . What then? Will 8 be a number of great good or great “live” (evil reversed)? What about longer and shorter alphabets? Oh, you’ve already answered the latter question with the “our culture” in your last sentence.

      • Ron Strong says:

        Well OBVIOUSLY it does. If we go with the reverse idea and take Dooright (Well known all around nice guy) and add it up He comes up to 120. That’s 15*8. And of course 15 is 5*3 which also equals 8. Superman, well known square chinned guardian of goodness, adds up to 109. -1 + 0 + 9 = 8. Iconic children’s character Buzz Lightyear comes out to 171. (1*7) + 1 = 8. PLUS his catchphrase is “To Infinity and Beyond” and, as we all know, an infinity symbol is just a sideways 8.

        So we can not only prove 8 is an evil number, but that in the mirror image universe, where the numbers are reversed and everyone has a goatee, that it’s an equally good number.

  29. J.Ward says:

    BEWARE OF 33

    33 is a number cryptically inscribed on all Rolling Rock beer labels.
    Jesus Christ, Chris Farley and John Belushi, 3 comic geniuses, were all 33 when they died. Their names each contain 11 letters for a combined total of 33.
    Jesus Christ performed 33 miracles.
    Pope John Paul I was pope for 33 days.
    The only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol is a private club called “Club 33”.
    33 is the highest degree achieved in Freemasonry.
    K is the 11th letter of the alphabet. 3 times 11 would equal KKK, aka the secret organization The Ku Klux Klan.

  30. David M. says:

    Paul Hardcastle wrote the song ’19’ which informs us that the average age of an American soilder during the Vietnam war was 19. The Vietnam was was fought in the 19 hundreds. Begining in the 1950’s and ending in the 1970’s, it lasted 19 years. The total of all casualties of the war was 19 hundred thousand. Vietnam lies on the 19th latitude. The ’19’ was the first car produced by French car manufacturer Renault. The French colonized Vietnam in the 19th century. Paul Hardcastle wrote the song ’19’ in 1984. 1984 is the title of George Orwells’ masterpiece on the totalitarian state. In the year 1984, I was 7. 19 years later I read 1984.
    This is all true according to Wikipedia.

  31. John M. Długosz says:

    Mathmaticians are pretty sure that the digits of pi, in any base, will have a specific formally-defined type of random distribution. If that is indeed true, then ANY pattern of finite length that you care to name will indeed be present, including a DRM-protected PDF containing the Qran. A raster scan of a circle is no big deal.

    Furthermore, the properties of pi are mathematical in nature, and a “designer” could not change that! The best to hope for is to make sure that pi is useful to us in modeling the laws of physics.

  32. B. Essman says:

    Just a little side note; one of my dictionary programs (kinda embarrassing to admit I have more than one) has a “word of the day” feature. A couple of months ago, the word was Pareidolia- perception of a pattern in events when none exists. A useful word; wish I knew its origin.

  33. spAc3dd says:

    How about this:

    No matter how many times one adds 9 to 9 or multiplies 9 to 9, if one adds the numbers in the result together, one ends up with the number 9.

    Example: 9+9=18 >> 1+8=9
    9+9+9+9=36 >> 3+6=9

    9×9=81 >> 8+1=9
    9×9×9×9×9=59049 >> 5+9+4+9=27 >> 2+7=9

    Nine is the only number that has this interesting property.

    Thought you guys might enjoy that one…

  34. seriously,19? says:

    tTe 19th letter of the alphabet is s, which is the first letter of the last name of both Shermer, his interviewer, Shaikhin, and the Physicist to which they reference, Sagan. It’s also the first letter of Dr. Shermer’s magazine, Skeptic… and for that matter it’s the first letter of the topic in question, science!

  35. aqk says:

    OMG! It’s true!
    After reading the above article, I quickly rad to my fridge (I had a sneaking suspicion) and sure enough!
    Right next the the dozen eggs were seven SEVEN beer! 19!
    Now I’m afraid to drink a beer or even crack an egg for breakfast.
    What to do…what to do?
    Perhaps some Imam correspondent here may have an answer? No, he’d probably just advise to never drink any of the beer.

    • SkepticMike says:

      Forget the 19. What’s most amazing about this is that you have 7 beers. Beer usually comes in a six-pack. The extra beer must have appeared by magic. You have magic beer!

  36. Ala'a says:

    Carl Sagan died in 1996, 114 years after the death of Charles Darwin (1882). 114 is the number of chapters in the Quran = 19*6. WoW!

    But wait: the difference between the deaths of the two men (Dec. *20*, 1996 – Apr. *19*, 1882) = 41883 days. That amount divides on 19 with a remainder = 7!! And did you notice that the birth of Sagan followed Darwin by 20-19 = 1!!! How magical ;-)

    Want more? Sagan was born Nov. 9, 1934, thats 19,196 days after Darwin!!! How impressive: the number (19) appears twice in that difference!!!! 19196 divides on 19 with a remainder = 6, which when eliminated from the number yields 19 squared!!! Going further: if we represent that number as 19x19x6 = 2166 = (3^7)-(3×7)!!!! Amazing!!!!

  37. Lola says:

    I was born on the 3rd of Novermber, 3rd child of the family(Jewish family), my mom was 33,, my weight was 3300 g, I was born on Shabbat. I was called Jesus and Antichrist by a few people in my past. Oh, yes, and another coincidence – my favourite number is 3. It’s magic. Oh, no, wait, I don’t believe in any of this.

  38. Ben Hurt says:

    I am amazed that no one has pointed out that 19 was my age in the the year before I lost my viriginity, and therefore it was the year of anticipation and preparation for that adventure. Pretty damned significant, I would say. Ah, memories.

  39. Shocked says:

    Oh my God … I was 19 once! This proves it must all be true!!! :)

  40. Mark Bellis says:

    It’s much easier to find patterns in data that the subject seems to have invented for themselves. Jamestown founded in 1555?? The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials certainly aren’t 19 feet high, although the statues of the Presidents in them are. And google images shows that the number of stylized sun rays in depictions of Akhenaten vary – 19 is just the count in the best known one.

    • Dr. Sidethink says:

      it’s always annoying when measurements in particular units are supposed to have numerological meaning too!!!

      If some length numerology doesn’t work in Feet, then try meters barleycorns stadia rods ploxlotls etc etc.
      or better yet make up a unit called the vigntsansue
      which is defined the same way as the Famous Finigle Fudge Factor.
      one FFFF = your answer /correct answer
      My age is 19 snerdyears
      My height is 19 spookometers
      my weight is 19 Melbournestones


      • James M. Skipper says:

        My dear grandfather was convinced that he could “witch” for water and many of his neighbors asked for his help before drilling wells. He used a forked peach tree limb and it dipped as he passed over the location of underground veins of water.

        He also would stand over the location and allow the limb to dip like a metronome and counted the dips to tell how many feet down to dig for the water. I asked him how he knew that one dip meant a foot and not a yard or cubit or meter. He didn’t have an answer, but it also didn’t cause him to doubt his ability.

        I don’t think he took pay for his help, but he probably received token gifts.

  41. Les Benson says:

    There is a litany of “42” aphorisms from the meaning of life and everything to how many steps is it to the top of the coliseum. Check out the alleged reasoning provided when Douglas Adams used in his book without saying why. (Later he stated it would be a nice non sequitor.)

  42. Dr. Strangelove says:

    I’m fascinated with the Fibonacci numbers because of their wide application in biology, astronomy, genetics, architecture, aesthetics, anatomy, even the stock market (Elliot wave). Just coincidence?

    Also, the proposed theory of everything: supersymmetry, string theory, M-theory postulate that the universe must have 10 dimensions. Humans have 10 fingers that’s why we use the base 10 number system. Coincidence too?

  43. Michael Harvey says:

    seven, EIGHT…lay “them” straight.
    * is infinity on end.
    8 chosen as the sound of hunger satisfied,
    8 = ate.
    19? 9-1=8.
    Beatles: 8 days a week
    workday 8 hours
    Hanukkah = 8 days, 8 nights.
    8 notes in an octave.
    8, oxygen…kind of important…
    Circumcision, 8th day.
    Snow White & seven dwarfs = 8
    8 reales=pieces of eight.
    8-track tapes
    8-ball in pool
    v8 engine
    V8 juice
    and, of course the years 888 BC, and 888 AD, the Years of Complete Death.
    Every person born in those years died.

    • oneOfOne says:

      The musical scale is deceptive. Strangely, there are 7 notes in an octave, not 8: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The eighth note is the octave (A again). However, some of the intervals in that series are tones and some semi-tones. If you go up in whole tones, there are 6 different tones, and the next is what we might call the “septive” (like octave, but for seven). If we start on D instead of A, it’s the D-septive, just as I said.

  44. Eddie Lew says:

    Wow, I was born in 1944! Now I understand everything about my life! 19 is, well, 19, and 44 are the number of pounds I must lose. I’ll be up all night trying to justify how 1944 adds up to 19 though. Where are Bud Abbott and Mr. Fields when when you need them? Wait, Isn’t 1 the cosmic number? 1+9+4+4=18+1=19! Phew! Good night.

  45. Al says:

    It’s got to be 42, not just because of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide) but because of Lewis Caroll (Rule 42 –“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”, “42 boxes all carefully packed”, and more).

  46. Leapyr68 says:

    My daughter was born on November 29th. 9 months after my 19th Birthday on the February 29th (except there was no leap year that year so she was conceived somewhere late Feb early March but, let’s not get hung up on details!!)

    What it means: I am prepared to answer the difficult question: What’s your favorite number? I go with 9.

  47. z says:

    One major flaw in the “19” Quran code hypothesis is that Surah 9 Verses 128-129 have to be deleted in order to make it work better. As expected, they give many reasons why these 2 verses should be deleted but the fact remains that the Quran this group uses is not accepted by the rest.

  48. Corrado Conti says:

    Here is the magical significance of the number 6 in my life:

    My name is :
    c o r r a d o c o n t i
    The letters in my name add to 12, which divided by 2 (my first and last name) result in the number 6

    I was born in 1959. naturally 1+9+5+9= 24 and 2+4=6 (here it is again)

    My date of birth is 12-24-1959 the sum of these numbers is: 33, 3+3 is 6

    When I was born, the presiding pope’s was John the 23rd or “Giovanni XXIII” in Italian. My paternal grandfather name was “Giovanni” as well.

    After this pope, the next pope’s name was Paul the IV, which in Italian is “Paolo Sesto” (sesto=sixth).
    My maternal grandfather first name was “Sesto”, or “The Sixth child”.

    He was actually the fifth child, but an uncle made a slight counting mistake when he registered him and instead of calling him “Quinto (the Fifth) he called him “Sesto”, the sixth.

    I say it’s magic.

  49. Corrado Conti says:

    Ah, misspelled the roman numeral for VI

  50. Ken Chapman says:

    Pattericity – making sense out of nonsense.
    PI carried out to 1900 digits contains 28 sets of “19” .
    “28” = “19” proof: 2+8 = 1+9.
    A more productive math exercise can be had by borrowing a chapter from Steven J Wilson’s “Integermania”, ( Make as many other exact integers using the digits 1 and 9, exactly once, within a math expression.
    A few examples:
    1 = 1^9
    4= 1+√(9 )
    81 = 9 / .1 (as a repeating fraction which did not translate)
    3,628,800 = (1+9)!
    1 billion = .1^(-9)

  51. Kate Hornbeak says:

    Too bad he didn’t choose the number 1.There are so many examples.

  52. Derek Carmichael says:

    I uncovered the following mysteries of 19…

    The 19th Amendment was submitted to the states for ratification in 1919. The photo of Susan B. Anthony associated with this data was from circa 1900. The 19th state to ratify the 19th amendment was Maine. Massachusetts put to the voters the matter of secession from Maine in 1819. Van Reid wrote The Moosepath League series of books, which are humorous adventures set in 19th century Maine.

  53. Rich Lawson says:

    Apropos your article, I just received this e-mail from my Mom…

    Calendar for July 2011 (United States) 
    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30
    Money bags

This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
 once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, forward this to
your friends and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese
Feng Shui. The one who does not forward…..will be without money.

 Kinda interesting – read on!!! 

This year we’re going to experience four unusual dates.

 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 and that’s not all…

Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born – now add
the age you will be this year, 

The results will be 111 for everyone in whole world. This is the year of
the Money!!! 

This year October will have 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays. 

 This happens every 823 years. These particular years are known as 
”Money Bags”. 

The proverb goes that if you send this to eight good friends money will
appear in next four days as it is explained in Chinese FENGSHUI.

 Those who don’t continue the chain won’t receive…….

Its a mystery, but its worth a try, good luck.

    • oneOfOne says:

      That’s a great tip about the money bags year. Assuming the maths is right concerning the coincidence of the fives in the month, I’m wondering who called it “moneybags”, and using what kind of sample size, given that the previous occasion was in the 12th century and the one before that in the 4th. The idea that not passing it on makes you a loser is based on 2 occasions in that time, but also, what were they passing on, clay tablets?

      OTOH, it is true. I got that email, didn’t pass it on, and didn’t receive any unusual windfall.

  54. Elizabeth says:

    “Hey, Nineteen!” — one of my favorite Steely Dan tunes.

  55. Rob says:

    Make fast money in the sotck market with “19”. You could have seen this rally coming a mile away with “19”. Friday 07+01+11= 19. How sweet!

    American stock markets wrapped up one of their strongest weeks in two years with further gains on Friday 07-01-11, erasing their losses from earlier in June. The Dow industrials closed on Friday at 12,582.77, a gain of 1.36 percent for the day and 5.4 percent for the week, in preliminary figures. The broader S.&P. 500 did even better, gaining 1.44 percent on Friday and 6 percent for the week.

  56. Stephen R Gould says:

    “Can it be a coincidence?” – 19 letters.

    I think not :)

  57. unbound says:


    19 months – exactly 1 month after the all-important 1 1/2 year milestone for children

    19 years – exactly 1 year after the all-important 18 year milestone to being an adult

    19 minutes after the hour – exactly 1 minute after I was done reading this article

    19 days – exactly 1 day longer than “The 18th Day” (album by Estelle)

    19th century – exactly 1 century after the all-important American Revolution

  58. SkepticMike says:

    Take the most common denominations of US currency: $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, and $1. From $100 subtract $50, $20, $10, $5, and $1. You get $14. But, because this was so clever, I believe I deserve a $5 tip for my efforts. So, let’s jsut conveniently remove the $5 from the calculation. That leaves $19. Yeah, this one is just silly, but silliness is encouraged, right?

    This particular article on the number 19 came out in July, the seventh month. Add 7 to 12, the total number of months, and you get 19. I smell conspiracy!

    • Nancy says:

      Yes, silly is encouraged. Because if you are sane, you are dangerous.
      But that is the new law of real. Thanks for the funny money Mike.

  59. vernon jenkins says:

    A program of research carried out over the past 30 years reveals the Bible to be a self-authenticating text – its opening 8 Hebrew words anticipating a symmetrical numero-geometric structure that would appear some millenia later. Here is the abstract to my related webpage entitled “An Encounter with the Bible’s Second Edge” (

    By adding together the numerical worth of each word (as based on the numeric value of each Hebrew letter) in certain unbroken sequences drawn from the first eight words of Genesis (i.e. the Bible’s first verse and following word), one uncovers strong evidence of intelligent design and purpose in the form of a structure of coordinated numerical geometries. Because these words first appeared some millenia before the introduction of alphabetic numeration into Jewish society this structure rests upon a remarkable feat of precognition and mathematical understanding, and is proof that God exists and created the world in the way literally set out here and in subsequent verses.

    • oneOfOne says:

      But you missed off the last sentence of the abstract, which I think is the best bit: “These conclusions are further ratified by the discovery that the same eight numerical values are found echoed in the metric dimensions of an abundant modern artefact – the A4 sheet of cut paper!”

      I haven’t a clue what anything on that page means, but it does look like a very good example of the principle: just as it was proved that Moby Dick, or virtually any text, gave highly significant (looking) “code” similar to that extracted from the Bible if one looked for words. Just more complicated version of all the silly jokes on here…something about taking the numbers and forming an odd kind of triangle figure. Wow, praise be.

  60. Edip Yuksel says:

    My comments and other comments critical of this silly article has been deleted.
    Michael is domonstrating dishonesty and he will be exposed with honesty.

    He cannot mock and distort the facts and get away with it. This silly and reflexive response and his deleting our comments shows that he is in panic mode. Fear will not save him from the reality.

    Wait and see.

    Edip Yuksel

    • Bjørn says:

      Well, this post hasn’t been deleted so far. And re-reading the article, i find that a link to the website is included, a website where you, sir, is listed as sole author and has your own main area. Which is interesting reading.

      In the transcript from the opening pages of your book ( I find the statement: “Code 19 is one the greatest discoveries in human history, since it provides an extraordinary and universal evidence for God’s existence.” A bold statement, and one I understand you believe in.

      However, reading more on your site, I am sorry to say that it seems as you use science to prove, not to test. Remarks about scepticism regarding Jesus, Muhammed and others, are countered by what seems like a conviction that the Quran is special, and that it is your task to prove it.

      The Quran is truly special, in its form, and the stories of how it came to be – not least who actually wrote it – and it is apart from other religious scripture. Believing in the Quran is understandable, and you share this belief with a lot of people. Sad to say, a good portion of them has never read it themselves, or at least do not live by it – rather use perverted interpretations and outright lies to enforce their power over other people. You seem sincere in your quest and your belief, and I commend you on that.

      But is finding numbers in the Quran good science? Sorry to say, I don’t believe so. To begin with, your concept relies solely on God/Allah being the author of the Quran, thus hiding or implementing the number 19 as His signature. Which fits well with Islam belief, but can not in my view be seen as a scientific fact. Add to that the versions of the Quran that has been printed over the years – the original to be written in ancient Arabic, and the majority of reference Qurans now used written in modern Arabic. I wont go to the translations, as many see them not as being Quran.

      I respect your belief, Sir, but so far I have not found anything on your own website that tells me you are not trying to fit facts, “facts”, and phenomenons to your belief.

  61. Terry Hynde says:

    If you ask me , it’s all a bunch of clump .

  62. Cem says:

    Number Nineteen: The Great Prophecy

    74:30 On it is nineteen

    74:31 We have made the guardians of the fire to be angels; and We did not make their number except as a test for those who have rejected, to convince those who were given the book, to strengthen the acknowledgment of those who have acknowledged, so that those who have been given the book and those who acknowledge do not have doubt, and so that those who have a sickness in their hearts and the ingrates would say, “What did God mean by this example?” Thus God misguides whoever/whomever He wishes, and He guides whoever/whomever He wishes. None knows your Lord’s soldiers except Him. It is but a reminder for people.

    74:32 No, by the moon.

    74:33 By the night when it passes.

    74:34 By the morning when it shines.

    74:35 It is one of the great ones.

    74:36 A warning to people.

  63. Tom says:

    I was born March 16 1959.
    5+9=14 WHICH RHYMES WITH 19 !

  64. Tom says:

    I have:

    2 eyes
    2 ears
    2 hands
    2 feet that are size


  65. vernon jenkins says:

    19 is a figurate number – in other words, 19 uniform counters (circular coins of the same denomination, for example) may be arranged on a flat surface in tight formation as a symmetrical numerical hexagon (thus: a row of 3 followed by rows of 4, 5, 4 and 3, respectively. But a more interesting example of numerical figuracy per se is 37 which may be developed from the 19-as-hexagon by adding a further 18 counters – either as a complete outer ring (thus forming 37-as-hexagon having rows of 4, 5, 6, 7, 6, 5 and 4, respectively), or as 6 triangles of 3 centred on its sides. And because 37 may be similarly developed as a truncated square (7×7 counters having triangles of 3 removed from each of its corners) it may be fairly described as ‘trifigurate’. Interestingly, of the infinite set of numbers capable of filling a symmetrical polygonal frame, 37 is thus unique.

    It must therefore be of some consequence that we further observe,
    (1) 37 and 73 are the factors of 2701 – the numerical value of the Bible’s first verse (see #59 above)
    (2) 37 features as factor in many of Genesis 1:1’s word combinations; for example, 913 (word 1) + 86 (word 3) = 999 = 203 (word 2) + 401 (word 4) + 395 (word 5) = 27 x 37; 407 (word 6) = 11 x 37; 296 (word 7) = 8 x 37
    (3) 37 is a factor of the Creator’s Name and Title, thus: ‘Jesus’ = 888 = 24 x 37; ‘Christ’ = 40 x 37
    (4) 37 is a factor of 666 (number of ‘the beast’ of Revelation

    Further details of these coincidences may be found at

  66. Allan says:

    19 was the average age of american combat troops in Vietnam. So the US Marines must be Allahs Army.

  67. Steve says:

    HARRY POTTER = 164. 1+6+4=11
    RONALD WEASLEY= 164! 1+6+4=11
    JK ROWLING= 119!! 9+1+1=11

    Witches and wizards use a WAND=56. 5+6=11 !!
    With which they cast SPELLS = 83. 8+3=11 !!!
    WITCHCRAFT = 111 !!!!!!!

    At the beginning of the first book Harry turns … you guessed it: 11
    Harry’s birthday? July 31st. 7+3+1=11

    I’m sorry folks, but this can mean only one of two things:

    The world will end either on 11/1/11 or 11/11/11

    You choose

    • Syd Foster says:

      Are you talking American numbering of dates or British? Over here, 11/1/11 means “eleventh day of january 2011”, whereas in the states it is a totally illogical “november the first, 2011”. This means of course that 11/11/11 means the same in both systems! PROOF that of the two dates, 11/11/11 is the doomsday. Much more convincing than the “fact” that the eleventh of january has already gone, and we are still here… or are we?!… oops, wrong thread for that thought!… Also consider this: the PROOF that 11/11/11 is the most important date in history {whose history?… } is that it is fun to type this number!

  68. Bjørn says:

    After reading the article, I went outside for a smoke (shame on me). And I saw that my caravan has registration number YF 8342. And it got me musing. Add the numbers and you get 17 (8+3+4+2). Add the numbers of letters (2) and you get 19. Add to that, if you take the letter’s place in the alphabet, substract the last from the first, you get 19 once more (Y=25, F=6). What a coincidence – and nothing more. I can assure you all that there is nothing magical about my caravan, its only special feature being that it has contributed to my family having much fun and adventure over many years.

    So what does this mean? Well, it means my caravan was registered in Bodø, Northern Norway, early 80’s (YF series). Can’t say that makes the x-files theme play in the background.

    Fun thinking while doing something useless though :)

    P.S. My car registration is DN 46520. Again, doing the first numbers tricks, you get 19. Yes, it’s a good car, but again, nothing remarkable. Almost a little disappointing that I can’t get DN to be 19 as well.

  69. Edip Yuksel says:


    I appologize to Michael Shermer afor accusing him for deleting my previous comments. I was led to such an impression because I did not notice that he had posted this very article in another webpage, which is similar to this one:


  70. Kenneth Polit says:

    19 The number of shots of Wild Turkey I would have to drink in order to think there was something to this nonsense.

  71. Anna Bishop says:

    Here’s an excerpt from a term paper I wrote a few years ago in an English class while majoring in religious studies. The book was “Fight Club” which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. But did you know how much numerological patternicity was in it? I’ll bet not! Here’s a taste…

    “Space disallows reference to all of the metaphors and religious references that I saw in this story, not to mention numerology. But to name a few, I noticed the author’s preference for the number 6, the number of man, which he uses 6 times. That he first describes fight club in chapter 6, fight club is replicated in chapter 12, Tyler’s thoughts of God are revealed in chapter 18, and fight club takes on a life of its own in chapter 24, all multiples of 6. Chapter 18 was unique, it talked of God. Number 18 was appropriate in that 1+8 = 9, the number of perfection. I also noticed his discussion of perfection on page 33, the age of Jesus at his crucifixion, and product of 3 x 11, 3 the number of people centered in this story multiplied by 11. The story begins on page 11, the number for revelation, and it is on that first page that the author reveals the premise of the entire story, through the voice of Tyler. ”

    I did this as a gag never thinking I could find such patterns so readily. It is the same technique of exegesis found by those looking for numerology/gematria (the numerical value of letters) in the Bible. In other words, I used a “bible code hunt” on a novel. And it worked! Imagine my shock. As a piece of trivia, the author Chuck Palahniuk, is a self-admitted homosexual, so the fact that the number 6 factors so heavily in his novel is a very interesting, yet “meaningful,” coincidence.

  72. Eric says:

    In World War II the average age of a soldier was 26. But in Vietnam it was nineteen, na-na-na-na-na-nineteen.

  73. Syd Foster says:

    I was about to read this last night, but the cat finally came back in and I was able to go to bed… imagine my spooky thrill this morning, having read it, when my wife asked me the date, and I realised that today is the day after the 19th! Spooky!

  74. matthatter says:

    I was born on 9-3-1979:
    >9+3+1+9+7+9=38,& 38/2=19;
    >or, 9-3-79 gives you 9+3+7+9=28,& 28/3=9r1 giving you either 9 or 1 as stand-alone #’s of importance or 9 & 1 for 19;
    >9 is divisible by 3, with 3 being the trinity of Christianity and numerous pagan religions;
    >the SECOND 3 being there simply as reinforcement of 3 & nines significance & relationship;
    >1+9+9=19, with the traditionally important 7 of Judeo-Christian beliefs in the middle as a symbol of Gods presence in all of us;
    >on 9-3-1939, the British & French Governments declared war on Germany, with the UK’s declaration coming from Mr Joseph Chamberlain(19 letters long);
    >pres Charles De Gualle(19 letters) was another chief character in the early months of the western theater;
    oh hell, lets just get to make “ACE CARD:”
    >on Dec. 21st 2012 I’ll be 33 years old;
    >21st(2+1=3), 2012(2+0-1+2=3; 20-12=9;201-2=’19’9, w/the 19 prominently displayed, & again the second 9 is simple reinforcement);

    Yeah, it goes ON & ON, all of it being somewhat embarrassing, but hey: some men are born great, while others have it thrust upon them, yes? I’m just lucky enough to fall into both categories, & all of you are lucky enough to have heard the words of the next great champion of humanity BEFORE he became famous! If I could remember the Crispin’s Day Monologue, I’d have ALL OF YOU in tears!

    And you know what’s the CRAZIEST THING ABOUT ALL THIS? I first realized all this in a blinding flash of insight that came to me after I was trying to sleep one off behind a masonic temple, & I was ABDUCTED BY ALIENS! Mason & Shriner ALIENS! I can’t remember exactly all of what happened, but it came to me AFTER the glowing red nasal implant, but BEFORE the ANA…. the PROBE, OK? Just drop it! I’m the Annunaki/Gray/Reptilian interlopers champion, & you’re just jealous!!!

  75. How to count? says:

    Not only the sceptics, but apparently, it was Edip Yuksel also who thinks that the 19 patterns in the Quran is not impressive enough…

    He suggested modifying the Quran slightly so that the patterns look more impressive… So, when you look at the patterns he reported, it is better to be skeptic about the way he is counting (including the intricacies of Arabic language), and also the text which the counts are based on.

  76. Ray says:

    I never really knew (19 letters and spaces) Yikes!

    Using my computer (17 letters and spaces + 2, because this is the second line I typed equals 19) Yikes!

    I found that the 5th row from the bottom actually contained a #1 and a #9, which combined makes 19. Yikes!

    But I’m not finished, because there are 15 keys in the 5th row, and one of the keys is the #5, which when you divide 15 by 5 = 3, or a total of 18. Add the 1 computer I’m using, and the number is 19. Yikes!

    I just never knew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ! (OMG that’s 19 dots)

    PS: The five “Yikes” used in my analysis = 20 letters. Subtracting this one email from your thoughts, and the 20 letters, equals 19. (OMG it happened again) sorry that’s only 18 letters and no spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ! then again, if you add back this 1 email, you get . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ! (OMG will this never end) HEY, that’s 19 letters and no spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  77. aqk says:

    Good god!
    Will you ALL just shut up?
    And listen to NINETEEN FOREVER!

    This pretty well confirms it.

    Been there. Done that.

  78. John Stanton says:

    47 is the random number… No, really ;-)

    Any Pomona (Claremont College) peeps out there? At one time the students at Pomona were evidently obsessed with the number 47.

    I heard about this strange number around 1980, a friend attended a lecture on the subject of 47 being the “perfect” random number. And if you look for it, you will find it.

    So I started looking for the number 47, and of course I saw it all over the place. But I figured that is what I call the “New Car Effect”: buy a new car, and everywhere you look there is the same model. I suspect it is similar to the Cocktail Party Effect. After experimentation I determined that 47 does not come up any more often in nature than it should.

    47 doesn’t come up any more often in nature than it should, but it situations where people (often writers) try to come up with a random “sounding” number, it tends to come up more often than you expect.

    But it does *seem* come up an amazing number of times in science fiction TV shows. Is it an inside joke? Is it just that the number that pops into writers heads when they try to come up with a number that sounds random? Or is the phenomenon only an illusion?

    My question is sincere — have any of you heard of this?


  79. Michael says:

    The only way to make a prime by adding two primes is if one of them is two — which is pretty boring, and it’s pretty obvious why this holds. But what if we try three primes? The smallest such prime is 3 + 5 + 11 = 19.

  80. Dan says:

    The Koran is so long and repetitive that if one wanted to, one could probably find occurrences of words and entire phrases in multiples much higher than 19.

  81. What's in the name says:

    There are no accidents every aspect (moments) of our lives are deliberate one needs to keep record of the events and connect the dots, I think Carl Sagan was right it is PROBABLY the only way to prove that God exists and the patterns are not by accident.

  82. Joel Gold says:

    I guess I’m just talking ones and twos here, or doubling and halving but I am mystified by a numerical aspect of music that relates to perception. The doubling of frequency of a pitch results in a second pitch a musician calls “one octave higher”, and similarly for halving it to produce a pitch “one octave lower”. How is it that we perceive this interval jump intuitively as “the same only higher” or “the same only lower”, as a non-musician would describe it? Why is it that the mathematical doubling of a physical soundwave frequency results in another sound we recognize as unique yet essentially related to the first sound in a way no other interval is, i.e., no other frequency multiple or fraction? Is this sense built in to our physical ear apparatus, or is it in our phenomenal ‘inner ear’? When it struck me to compare this to the color spectrum the mystery deepened because there isn’t an analogous experience in the visual field. Doubling the frequency of any color as far as I can tell doesn’t seem to result in a second color that has any special relation to the first color. Then again I’m not an artist. I also have a 19-type story related to music for next time – just think about dividing the octave into 19 parts instead of 12 as we do.

  83. Joel Gold says:

    I should not have said, “When it struck me to compare this to the color spectrum the mystery deepened…” because if the color spectrum DOES have a similar objectiveperceptual link as the audio spectrum the mystery would truly have deepened.

  84. Andy says:

    Well, Edip Yuksel, the Turkish guy, has published the “19” footage. Completely ignoring the strict prohibition of Michael Shermer, the footage has been used in a longer sequence by Yuksel on YouTube called Running Like Zebras: The Skeptic/Atheist 2/5

    He is running around, boasting how he won the “debate” and how everything is documented in his video. Pathetic.

    People don’t care about intellectual integrity any more.

  85. FerHaus says:

    e is the most common number in english! And lets not forget about the answer to the universe: 42.

  86. Mahmoud says:

    My Birthday is 19.10.1981
    The year is 1+9+8+1=19
    The year 2000-1981=19
    the day is 19
    the number 1+9=10 which is the month october.

  87. tariq says:

    Uhm what mr yuksel tried to convey was, that the book makes a declaration, “over it is 19”, and then expound to show how everything of significance in the book adds up to multiples of 19.

    looking at the types and focus of responses I think this idea got lost or misrepresented, which actually by itself presents quite an intellectual feat, accomplished during the 7th century.

    just saying. skepticism should not be dogma. and it sadly appears so here.

Get eSkeptic

Science in your inbox every Wednesday!

eSkeptic delivers great articles, videos, podcasts, reviews, event announcements, and more to your inbox once a week.

Sign me up!

Donate to Skeptic

Please support the work of the Skeptics Society. Make the world a more rational place and help us defend the role of science in society.

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

Copyright © 1992–2017. All rights reserved. The Skeptics Society | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. Privacy Policy.