[Cryptography] Voynich Solution Claimed

Phillip Hallam-Baker phill at hallambaker.com
Fri May 17 10:07:08 EDT 2019

On Fri, May 17, 2019 at 1:38 AM Ray Dillinger <bear at sonic.net> wrote:

> On Wed, 2019-05-15 at 13:17 -0400, Jim Windle wrote:
> > New claim about the Voynich manuscript.
> >
> >
> https://phys.org/news/2019-05-bristol-academic-voynich-code-century-old.html
> I don't even know, at this point, whether the world is better or worse
> because that manuscript exists.
> On the plus side, I like mystery.  I like the feeling that we don't
> know enough to interpret, or that there may still be things to
> discover, or that this may be an account, or a manual, or something,
> that brings a voice otherwise unheard to light.  I like the way it
> occasionally stirs interest in classical cryptography, in medievalism,
> in linguistics, in the study of orthography and ancient alphabets and
> languages.  I like that there are mysteries people try to solve, and
> worthy bodies of knowledge that are, in part, preserved by those
> efforts.
> On the minus side, I'm pretty much convinced that the markings in the
> Voynich ms. do not correspond to language.  They are not a writing
> system and those are not sentences.  The very premise of this mystery
> is false.  If I had my best guess, I'd say it's about an 80/19/1 split
> favoring 'medieval fraud' over 'asemic writing' and both of those, by a
> wide margin, over 'actual language and writing system.'  If it were a
> specimen of something real, then it would not be the only specimen.  If
> we find something else in the same 'language' we could start to think
> about it, but as long as it's a sample of one, we have to admit
> possibilities like fraud which can plausibly produce a sample of one.
> And given that opinion, I find the world a worse place because it
> raises false hopes and inspires people to waste time.

At the time it was written, alchemy and divination were considered valid
modes of scientific inquiry.

I rather suspect that the work is asemic writing produced by a skryer,
quite probably under the influence of some drug.

There are few examples of that type of work that have survived which is
hardly surprising as possession would be dangerous and could easily end up
with the owner on a bonfire along with the book. We do not at this point
know if John Dee actually owned the Voynich manuscript as Voynich himself
believed but we do know that he owned at least one book of this type and
that he employed a skryer.

The manuscript itself suggests that it was written by someone who had been
trained in or was at least familiar with calligraphy. That is probably why
it survived. Most examples of the form would be produced very quickly in a
trance like state. This one is the opposite. It clearly took considerable
time and investment to create. Parchment was expensive. But some of the
illustrations appear to have been produced by a child and there is evidence
of many hands.

i think the most likely explanation for Vonyich is the same as the unsolved
Beale ciphers: Gibberish produced to make money.

I suspect that the author-group discovered that they could sell works of
divination to some patron and the more complex, the higher the price. So
they started making increasingly elaborate illustrations and decorated them
with fake texts. At some point, the collection grew to the point that it
was compiled into the current folio which has survived because it is pretty.
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