Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A slice of pi

Sometimes you have to admire the woo-woos' dogged determination to fashion the universe into their own bizarre version of reality.

Most of us, I'd like to think, just see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe, and don't make such a big deal out of it.  If we want to believe in a Higher Power That Guides Everything, we do, and don't spend endless hours crafting abstruse proofs of the conjecture.  We're content to have a beer, watch a hockey game, and let god have some much-needed quiet time.

There are a few people, however, who just aren't content if they're not actively beating the matter into submission.  Such a person is Marty Leeds, Wisconsin-born writer, mystic, philosopher, and the origin of dozens of highly entertaining YouTube videos.

Just yesterday, I was sent a link to one of Leeds' creations, entitled, "The Holy Spirit, Pi, and the English Alphabet."  The link was accompanied by a message stating, and I quote: "Words cannot describe the level of derp in this video."  So of course I had to watch it.  And I wasn't disappointed.

If you're unwilling to sacrifice ten minutes of your precious time, and countless innocent cells in your prefrontal cortex that will die in agony, allow me to present to you the main points of Leeds' argument.

1)  There's this thing called gematria that was made up a while back by some Hebrew mystics who had overactive imaginations and too much free time.  The idea behind gematria is that each letter in the alphabet (whether Hebrew, English, or other) is assigned a number, and when you add up the numbers for a word or name, you get a number that "means something."

2)  You get to decide what the numbers mean.

3)  If two words add up to the same thing, they are mystically linked.  Leeds uses a form of gematria which takes the English alphabet, splits it into two lists of thirteen letters each (A-M, and N-Z), and numbers each list from 1 through 7 and then back down to 1.  So my first name, Gordon, would be 7+2+5+4+2+1 = 21.  "Sharp" is 6+6+1+5+3, which also adds up to 21.  So you can see that thus far, we have a pretty persuasive theory here.

4)  Leeds then does a gematria addition for four words or phrases.  We have "man" = 3, "woman" = 9, "Christian" = 39, and "The Holy Spirit" = 61.  Note that he had to add a "the" to the last one to make it work out the way he wanted.

5)  So, let's look at the first thirteen digits of pi.  He picked thirteen because we had split the alphabet into two groups of thirteen letters each, which seems like impeccable logic to me, given the obvious connection between pi and the English alphabet.  So, we have 3.141592653589.  It starts with 3 and ends with 9 -- giving you "39."  So right away, we can see that there's something wonderfully Christian about pi, not to mention having a man on one end and a woman on the other.  Also, 3+9 = 12, and 3x9 = 27, and 12+27 = 39.  So you get your 3 and 9 back, so "man + woman" + "man x woman" = "Christian."  Or something like that.

6)  Take the middle number in the sequence (2) and the two on either side (9 and 6).  Why?  Because tridents, that's why.  Stop asking questions.

7)  If you multiply 9x2x6, you get 108, which is a very holy and important number.  Myself, I just thought it was the most convenient way of getting from 107 to 109, but what do I know?  But the Hindus liked the number 108, and plus, it's the number of stitches on a baseball, so there you are.

8)  Now, take the remaining digits of pi, and basically draw a menorah under them.  You then put them together in pairs, flip 'em around, and add 'em together.  I really don't want to go into all of how he does that, because my cortical neurons are already whimpering for mercy, so you'll just have to either watch the video or else just accept on faith that somehow all of the numbers and flipped numbers and all add up to 352.  Then, you add that to the 2 and 6 from the trident bit, and you get 360, which is the number of degrees in a circle.  Get it?  Circle?  Pi?  Are you blown away?  (Okay, he left out the 9.  But still.)

9)  If you multiply the first through eighth digits of pi, you get 6,480.  If you multiply the eighth through the thirteenth digits, you get 32,400.  Subtract them, and you get 25,920, which he says is the number of years for the precession of the Earth's axis to complete one rotation.  Except that according to the Cornell University Astronomy Department's webpage on the precession of the Earth's axis, the length of the precession of the Earth is said to be "about 26,000 years" -- the imprecision being because a motion that slow is almost impossible to measure accurately.  But I think we call all agree that since we're using gematria as our jumping-off point, being off by eighty years or so is plenty accurate enough.

10)  Of course, like any good performer, he saves his most amazing bit for the end, wherein we find out that the first thirteen digits of pi add up to 61, which you will recall is the number of "The Holy Spirit."  So pi "encodes" (his word) The Holy Spirit and the precession of the equinoxes.

11)  Therefore god.  Q.E.D.

Well, I  hope you've enjoyed our little ramble through woo-woo arithmetic.  Me, I'm planning on watching some of Leeds' other videos when I have the time (two especially fascinating-sounding ones are "The Isis and Osiris Myth" and "The Holy 108").  However, I think next time I won't launch into this without something to insulate my poor brain against further damage.  I'm thinking that a double scotch might do the trick.


  1. Pardon my internet-speak/french, but...

    Dafuq did I just read?

    Double scotch? Glenlivet or Tullamore Dew please! (the only alcoholic beverage I'll consume, besides the occasional beer)
    ... though I already feel tipsy just trying to wrap my mind around that drivel.

    That's the kind of gobbeldygook that'll strengthen your resolve.

    1. Man after my own heart. Glenlivet is awesome.

      And regarding your reaction: I had the same one. And said, almost precisely, the same thing.