But, as someone linked to on Areivim, someone did some research and discovered that the average amount of seeds in a pomegranate is indeed 613.
The belief seems to stem from the connection that our zechuyot should be as many as a rimon. And since zechuyot come from doing mitzvot, and the mitzvot according to sources in Chazal number 613, it would indeed be appropriate. And indeed, who is going to take the trouble to check? It is an inspiring statement, and your average non-skeptic back then is not going to painstakingly count the seeds in a rimon just to prove this wrong. And the skeptics probably had bigger fish to fry.
To quote Bertrand Russel:
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.This is the result of coming to conclusions on the basis of logic, rather than looking for empirical evidence which proves or disproves.
This fellow looked at pomegranates from several different countries, and came to the conclusion that the average number of seeds in a pomegranate overall is 613.
|Table 1.1: Pomegranate Statistics (download the data file for a complete listing of each pomegranate)|
Of course, I don't buy this. (Assuming he actually did count all these pomegranate seeds.) This seems like the problem that may or may not exist by the Torah codes. Statistical conclusions are perhaps valid in Torah codes where you made the prediction first, and it came out like that. But if you are not working on an a priori basis, but first searching for all matches and then circling the ones that happen to come out, that is a different story.
In this case, did he choose the specific number of pomegranates from each country in the beginning, or as the experiment went on? Did he know beforehand, based on earlier inspection, roughly how many seeds there were in pomegranates from each country?
As it stands, U.S. pomegranates are overwhelmingly represented, with a sample size of 150. Add another 200 pomegranates, the average would not be 613, but a larger number.
Similarly, why 2 from Spain and Singapore but 3 from Brazil. If someone wanted to come up with the number 613, once he had a rough estimate of the min and max in pomegranates from each country, all he needed to do was -- if the average so far is below 613, add a pomegranate from a country which would take you higher. If above 613, add a pomegranate from a lower country. Keep doing this until you converge to 613.
I don't know if this was a joke, or intended seriously, in which case he has a load of time on his hands. But I do not think that this proves an average of 613.
Update: See here for an Google Spreadsheet that shows that the number indeed is 613.
Update Oct 24, 2007: Malbim is a source for the 613 seed claim.