Although this question is somewhat subjective, I hope it qualifies as a good subjective question according to the faq guidelines. It is based on a question that Olle Häggström asked me a year ago and although I have some thoughts about it I do not have a definite answer and I would appreciate some help from others.
A paper entitled "Equidistant letter sequences in the book of Genesis," by D. Witztum, E. Rips and Y. Rosenberg made the extraordinary claim that the Hebrew text of the Book of Genesis encodes events which did not occur until millennia after the text was written. The paper was published by "Statistical Science" in 1994 (Vol. 9 429-438), and was offered as a "challenging puzzle" whose solution may contribute to the field of statistics.
In reply, another paper entitled "Solving the Bible code puzzle" by B. McKay, D. Bar-Natan, M. Bar-Hillel and G. Kalai appeared in Statistical science in 1999 (Vol. 14 (1999) 150-173). The new paper argues that Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg's case is fatally defective, indeed that their result merely reflects on the choices made in designing their experiment and collecting the data for it. The paper presents extensive evidence in support of that conclusion.
(My own interests which are summarized in Section 8 of our paper are detailed in another technical report with Bar Hillel and Mckay entitled "The two famous rabbis experiments: how similar is too similar?" See also this site.)
Olle Häggström's specific question was:
"I once suggested that your paper might be useful in a statistics course on advanced undergraduate level, for the purpose of illustrating the pitfalls of data mining and related techniques. Would you agree?"
In addition to Olle's question let me ask a more general question.
Is there something related to statistics that we have learned, (including perhaps some interesting questions to ask) from the Bible Code episode.
Just to make it clear, my question is restricted to insights related to statistics and not to any other aspect of this episode.