[Cryptography] Paper Link:

Mark Steward marksteward at gmail.com
Fri May 3 12:51:29 EDT 2019

On Thu, 2 May 2019, 22:18 Jon Callas, <jon at callas.org> wrote:
> > On May 1, 2019, at 3:08 PM, Mark Steward <marksteward at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > 1. Not related to cryptography.
> I disagree, and even with my moderator's hat on. The Voynich manuscript is a document that people have puzzled over, debated if it's a real language or not, and many of the past analyses have used cryptanalytic methods, as well as the sort of information theory and reasoning that is common to discussions of cryptography. There are those who think that it is ciphertext. The question, "Is <bitstring> ciphertext, plaintext in an encoding we don't know (and if so, what's the encoding), or just gibberish?" is a fine cryptographic question.

Sure, some off-topic things are of general interest to the
cryptography community. However, my objection is that Cheshire's
article doesn't touch on topics a cryptographer might have experience
of, such as statistical analysis, but does make false claims about
areas they're unlikely to, including comparative linguistics, medical
history and medieval languages. His approach has been politely
rubbished by people who've become aware of it[1][2], and spamming this
list with a link to a paid-for journal is the behaviour of a crank at

Assuming it's the paper he's shared previously, he makes the nonsense
claim that a late dialect of Latin arose out of geographically
disparate substrate languages (this is the opposite to how languages
develop). To prove this, he makes a series of phonologically
impossible connections, and overfits his chosen solution about
homeopathy to it. It's is as much cryptography as Flat Earth theory is
geology, or Pizzagate is journalism.

I know it's not reasonable for moderators to make a judgement on this
sort of thing from a link to a paywall, but the VM has a long history
of attracting dabblers and charlatans who have convinced themselves of
their unique solution, and a constant stream of media attention
contributes to this. The cryptographic world won't miss out by being
in the second wave of hearing about the decipherment of the VM, once
it's been reviewed by experts in the field.


[1] https://www.voynich.ninja/thread-2175.html
[2] https://ciphermysteries.com/2017/11/10/gerard-cheshire-vulgar-latin-siren-call-polyglot

More information about the cryptography mailing list