This space is dedicated to the monitoring and reporting of any progress made by
James Underdown and the Center for Inquiry in demonstrating that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic. This is the second investigation of the data by the
Center for Inquiry, the first being conducted in 2018.

What is an algorithm?

An algorithm is a digital instrument applied to a particular data set designed to
generate predicted results. Algorithms, written in computer code, are as common
as houseflies. Every modern electronic device has them.

With regard to a written text like a book, an algorithm is fundamentally invasive.
Depending on how it is written, an algorithm can add, delete, or rearrange letters
and words in ways that create sequences that some might deem too improbable
to be random, leaving the gullible to conclude that it must be a secret code
encrypted into the text by another human, or, in the case of the bible, by a higher

Numerous Bible codes have been advanced over the years by religious mystics
claiming to have discovered divine prophecies of apocalyptic events. The standard
strategy skeptics have used to debunk these claims has been to identify and
replicate the algorithm that produced the “miracle code” and then apply it to a
large book other than the bible, an experiment that in every instance generated
the same or nearly the same “miraculous” results.

The classic example of this strategy is Australian skeptic and mathematician Dr.
Brendan McKay’s debunking of the infamous Torah Codes in the late 1990’s. After
identifying and replicating the algorithm used in the Torah Codes, Dr. McKay
applied the program to the novel, Moby Dick, and came up with a list of fulfilled
“prophecies” that compared favorably to the prophecies of the Torah Codes.
Other skeptics applied Dr. McKay’s algorithm to other large blocks of text, even
big city phone directories, and came away with similar results. The debunking was
complete and overwhelming.

The Center for Inquiry insists that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic, and its’
Executive Director of Investigations, James Underdown, has promised to prove it
is algorithmic by doing to it what Dr. McKay did to the Torah Codes, write a

program that, when applied a large body of text, produces the same or similar
kinds of word sequences as those that comprise the Sagan Signal.

He can’t, and neither can Dr. McKay or any other skeptic, for one simple reason:
the 46 triadic word sequences that make up the Sagan Signal are exactly as
they appear in the bible. No invasive tactics of any kind, including computer
algorithms, were employed.

For the record, I have emailed Dr. McKay several times, challenging him to try to
debunk my claim. He has not responded.

Proving that the Sagan Signal is non-algorithmic is ridiculously easy. Just
take my list of the sequences, which I identify on Sagan Signal tab, by book, chapter,
and verse, and look each one up in any reliable version of the bible, and there it
is! End of story.

Over the past decade, hundreds of Jewish and Christian bible scholars have done
exactly this, and not one of them has come away thinking that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic.

Equally amazing is that in the Center for Inquiry’s first investigation of the
sequences, lasting for ten months, not a single member of its own research team
concluded that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic. If CFI Invest 1.0 failed, what
are the odds that CFI Invest 2.0 will succeed? Zero.

This begs the question: Why are James Underdown and the Center for Inquiry
even trying? What could possibly be the source of their desperation? After all, I
am not saying that the Sagan Signal proves the existence of God. I am an
atheist. My claim is that as a non-predictive and non-algorithmic encryption, the
Sagan Signal is direct and testable smoking gun evidence that scientifically
confirms the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life, something that the vast
majority of atheists believe in.

The Underdown Countdown will last until the 24th anniversary of the death of Carl
Sagan, December 20, 2020.


TO: James Underdown                                                                                         August 20, 2020

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



As you are well aware, Carl Sagan was one of the founders of modern skepticism. For the investigation of extraordinary claims based on empirical evidence, Carl proposed that supporting data be independently tested by competent experts within a controlled environment.

Following his advice, you have backed up your charge that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic with an experiment that you think will prove your allegation and falsify my claim. Your strategy is to write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, will generate the same or a similar level of symmetry as that found in the Sagan Signal.

Numerous other skeptics have tried this approach, and none, not even your own investigative team, has succeeded. However, if you do what you say you can do, I would agree that my claim will have been debunked.

It is therefore somewhat bizarre that, after six months, the “Underdown Code” still hasn’t materialized. You have four months to finish your experiment, so there is time, but as you and I both know, there are skeptics and skeptic organizations around the world who are getting a little antsy that you may not be able to deliver on your promise.

Should you succeed, you will have exposed my claim as a hoax. However, should you fail, you will have added significant confirmatory testimony to that which already exists that the Sagan Signal is real.

Either way, I applaud you for your determination and give you credit for sensing the gravity of the situation more clearly than most. An alien Bible code? Sounds like something someone scraped off the cutting room floor of a grade B sci-fi movie. But after fifteen years of high level vetting that culminated in a formal investigation by the Center for Inquiry, serious people are slowly coming to the realization that this could be the real deal, and they are beginning to take notice.

James, what you are attempting to do is extremely important. Should you succeed, the matter will be ended and you will have accomplished what no other skeptic has been able to do. Any praise and recognition that comes your way will be well-deserved.

However, should you fail, I think that you’d agree that my claim, the evidence, and all available research, including your own, should be passed on to the SETI Institute for an even more exhaustive investigation.

To review the vetting history of the Sagan Signal:

Phase 1 vetting was that which I did on my own – 20 years.

Phase 2 vetting was carried out by highly qualified skeptics – 15 years.

Phase 3 vetting will be conducted by the SETI Institute and by independent researchers funded by research grants.

The Sagan Signal is based on NASA funded research conducted by Carl at Stanford University under the oversight of Nobel Prize winning geneticist and SETI enthusiast, Joshua Lederberg. CFI’s recent investigation resulted in high level verification of Carl’s stunning hypothesis.

Carl Sagan, NASA, a Nobel Prize winner, a world class research university, a peer reviewed and published paper, the world’s largest and most influential skeptic organization - it doesn’t get any better. The harmonic convergence of all these blue-blood facts point to a single conclusion, that the Sagan Signal is real.

My question to you is: Is your falsification strategy based on science, logic, and common sense, or did you pull it out of thin air?

“Unless one has either a theory to back up one’s hypothesizing, or some empirical evidence to show that one’s probabilities have some possibility of being reasonable, any supposed probabilities that one pulls out of thin air are no more than that.” Michael Ruse

All the best,



TO: James Underdown                                                                                                 July 20, 2020


        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



Over the past decade, the  Sagan Signal has met every skeptic challenge and passed every skeptic filter in its path – except one. While every other skeptic on the planet who has attempted to falsify my claim concedes that the Code is real, you have the distinction of being the only holdout. You say that you can debunk my claim by demonstrating that the Code is the result of an artificially imposed algorithmic process.

You are now five months into your debunking effort and, quite predictably, the “Underdown Code” you say you can produce is still a no-show. If, by December 20th of this year, you fail to do what you say you can do, I will add your name to a long list of skeptics who, by their failure to debunk, concede that the Sagan Signal is what I claim – an alien encrypted cipher. Not to be cynical, but I suspect that the real reason behind Invest 2.0 is to buy time for CFI’s global network of skeptics to find a way to falsify my claim. All I can say is “Good luck.”

The significance of CFI’s failure to falsify my claim cannot be overstated. As you are well aware, never in the illustrious history of the CFI has an extraordinary claim ever been accepted for investigation that it has not been able to debunk. I am thrilled and honored to think that mine will be the first.

Of greater significance, the Center for Inquiry investigation validates an evidence-based model of ancient alienism crafted by Carl Sagan between 1960 and 1966.  In honor of Carl, I am renaming the Newton Bible Code “The Sagan Signal,” and, after you’re finished with your effort, I plan to forward the Sagan Signal and all related research in my possession to the SETI Institute for further investigation.

The Sagan Signal’s deep roots in the Sagan Model of ancient alienism, plus CFI’s inability to debunk it, imbues it with “high plausibility,” a coveted quality that in the eyes of SETI scientists will almost certainly elevate it to the upper tier on the Rio Scale, the system that SETI uses to rate the strength of ET signal candidates.

James, when I contact SETI, I will cite your failure to debunk the Sagan Signal as my ultimate referral, and for that I am extremely grateful to you and the Center for Inquiry. Should SETI request a copy of research records from you or other CFI executives, I would naturally, in the interest of science, expect full compliance.

All the best,

Don Zygutis


TO: James Underdown                                                                          June 20, 2020

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



On your Independent Investigations Group website, you state the following:

“IIG investigates fringe science, paranormal, and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific viewpoint and disseminates factual information about such investigations to the public.”

I’m sure you would agree that the two key words in your mission statement are “investigate,” and “disseminate.”

To investigate and then disseminate is like holding up a sign with bold letters, saying: “We seek the truth, we are not afraid of the truth, and we have nothing to hide.”

But to investigate and not disseminate, as you have done with your CFI Invest 1.0 of the Sagan Signal, is like holding up a big sign, saying: “We investigated the claim, didn’t like the results, and so we arbitrarily decided to keep factual information about the investigation away from the public.”

Censorship and suppression? Is that the message that you and the Center for Inquiry want to put out? In the illustrious history of the CFI, nothing like this has ever happened. James, please tell me: what in the hell is going on? I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine Carl Sagan putting his stamp of approval on your actions as they relate to the CFI investigation of the Newton Sagan Signal.

In 2007, theologians at a fundamentalist Christian seminary in Portland, Oregon investigated the Newton Sagan Signal for ten months. After telling me to my face that it is a code, they refused to disseminate the research. Why?  Because they fear the truth.

As the Executive Director of Investigations for the Center for Inquiry, do you condone or condemn theologians for not publicly disseminating the results of a formal investigation? And, if you condemn them, why are you doing the same thing?

I submit that to so brazenly violate your own mission statement places you in the same camp as Christian fundamentalists, and can only mean one thing: that the first CFI investigation confirms a claim that you wish not to be true.

Is this why you created CFI Invest 2.0? Do you hope, somehow, to explain away the data by proving the Code is algorithmic, even though CFI Invest 1.0 concluded that it is not algorithmic?

I’ll accept CFI Invest 2.0 as a legitimate reason not to disseminate, with one provision – that on December 20, 2020, if you have failed to demonstrate that the Sagan Signal is algorithmic, you release and disseminate all IIG and CFI research related to both phases of what will be, by then, a three year long investigation.

James, can you give me and the world your personal assurance that you will do this, and, if not, why not? As I have told you before, I am not afraid of being proven wrong. The looming question now is: Are you afraid of proving that I and your investigative staff are right, that the Sagan Signal is not algorithmic?

All the best,

Don Zygutis


Underdown update:                                                                                                                  May 20, 2020

TO: James Underdown                                                                       

        Executive Director of Investigations

        The Center for Inquiry



It’s now been three months since you wrote fellow skeptic David Gluck, accusing me of artificially creating the Sagan Signal by using a computer generated algorithm. To put it bluntly, you were telling the world that you think I’m a liar and a cheat.

On top of that, you bragged to David that you could write an algorithm that, when applied to a large body of text, would result in an “Underdown Code” that would be comparable to the Sagan Signal.

Based on your letter to David, I had no choice but to defend my honor and reputation by calling you out and publicly challenging you to do what you say you can do. You’re now the claimant and I’m the skeptic.

So, how does it feel to be on the other side?

James, in your position as Executive Director of Investigations at the Center for Inquiry, you are recognized as being one of the top skeptics in the world, with almost unlimited financial, intellectual, and technical resources at your disposal. If anyone can falsify the Sagan Signal, it is you. But if you fail, your failure will amount to a public concession that the Sagan Signal is real, not artificial. Your failure would be a significant endorsement from a hostile witness highly motivated to prove me wrong. You don’t want to fail!

With a deadline of Dec. 20, 2020, you have another seven months to produce the Underdown Code, so there’s still plenty of time.

Finally, let me remind you that, should you be the first to do what you say “anyone” can do, you will win my $5,000 Challenge to Skeptics and further establish yourself as one of the world’s leading skeptics.

I wish you well in your continuing efforts to demonstrate how the Sagan Signal is contrived rather than organic. If I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to call on me. Like you, I’m just trying to establish the truth. I’m not afraid of being proven wrong, we all make mistakes. But I assure you, as a disciple of the late Carl Sagan, I am not a liar or a cheat.

All the best,

Don Zygutis





Underdown  Update:                                                                                                             April 20, 2020               


TO: James Underdown                                                                                                                                                                                 

       Executive Director of Investigations

       Center for Inquiry



It’s been two months since you publicly announced that you could debunk the Sagan Signal by proving that it is algorithmic, and two months since I challenged you to do what you say you can do. As of this date, there has been no response. Meanwhile, skeptics around the world are waiting breathlessly to see your research.

Is there a problem?

No one disputes that the code is testable and that your debunking strategy is reasonable. Based on your own words, I have to assume that you are diligently working on your algorithm hypothesis. Can you assure the public that you intend to follow through on your promise?

After numerous investigations that ended up confirming the code, you remain the last best hope among skeptics that my claimed discovery of an alien encryption in the Old Testament can be falsified. If you can’t do it, then wouldn’t you agree that my claim is true? And if you and the Center for Inquiry can’t do it, why not come out now and admit it?


Donald L. Zygutis






Underdown Update:                                                                                                           March 20, 2020


It’s been one month since Center for Inquiry Investigative Director, James Underdown, launched an effort to create an algorithm that, when applied to a large amount of text, generates a body of symmetry equivalent to the Sagan Signal. I haven’t heard from James yet, but it’s still early.

On a related matter, my $5,000 Challenge to Skeptics is entering its fourth month. There are skeptics around the world trying to find a way to debunk the Sagan Signal, and, to date, there have been no submitted challenges.

With all this activity, it is becoming ever more certain that the Sagan Signal, as a non-predictive, non-algorithmic encryption created by visiting extraterrestrials, is real.

I encourage James Underdown and all skeptics to keep up their efforts. I want the vetting of the code to be as exhaustive and universal as possible.

Thank you all,


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