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Modern Mysteries

Is the Voynich manuscript an elaborate hoax ?

By T.K. Randall
September 25, 2016 · Comment icon 29 comments

Who wrote the Voynich manuscript and does it really mean anything at all ? Image Credit: PD
Cryptographers have been attempting to decipher the text's mysterious symbols and diagrams for decades.
The enigmatic codex, which was first discovered in an Italian monastery by book dealer Wilfrid Voynich back in 1912, contains 240 pages of strange, indecipherable characters and images.

Written on fine calfskin parchment, the book has been dated back to the 15th century however all efforts to derive meaning from its contents have so far resulted in failure and frustration.

A solution to this mystery has remained so elusive in fact that some researchers believe that the manuscript was actually created as a hoax designed to fool 15th century book collectors.

According to Gordon Rugg of Keele University in the UK, the mysterious text written within the book's pages could have easily been produced using simple cryptographic techniques.
In a new paper, Rugg argues that, given how extensively the text has been studied over the years, in order for it to be genuine it would need to be either "anachronistically sophisticated" or "based on some radically different underlying approach from any known code."

By drawing a simple grid and creating a card with holes cut out of it, he was able to demonstrate a very easy way that a 15th century hoaxer could have created the manuscript's strange characters.

"We have known for years that the syllables are not random," he said. "What I'm saying is there are ways of producing gibberish which are not random in a statistical sense."

"It's a bit like rolling loaded dice. If you roll dice that are subtly loaded, they would come up with a six more often than you would expect, but not every time."

Source: New Scientist | Comments (29)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #20 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I don't know. Those translations appear to me to be... extreme stretches in assigning names to the plants, and then letters to characters to try to sift names out of the . All those translations appear to be really if-y to me. The Hellbore for instance looks nothing like hellbore flowers, but looks like some kind of weird open ended poppy to me. Maybe even a thistle. If the assumption is that the plants and are stylized due to some micro cultures different outlook, then really this attempt is still just guessing.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Saitung 8 years ago
  Let's just leave it a as mystery. Leave it to some stumped ersatz scholar to call the whole thing fake. Plus come up with the most complicated way an ancient person could have created it. Oh yeah, that person would have wasted up expensive ink and lamb skin just to fool someone? Right. That's how idiots today think, not an ancient person with better things to do with their literary skill. I'm going out on a limb here, but why cant the thing just be written in a language that is no longer in existence? I mean sheezch, languages and cultures disappear every year on earth. But no, heaven forbi... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by stereologist 8 years ago
So you think that this is the only extant portion of an unknown language? Written languages have properties that can be detected. The evidence is that this is actual language. A lost culture or language? No. A coded document of some sort? Possibly.
Comment icon #23 Posted by unclefred 8 years ago
There are many dicussions of that and other adpects on stephen Bax's website-
Comment icon #24 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
Humm.... an author defending his book. Not unexpected. That doesn't change the fact that several of his "translations" are based off identifications of plants that look only mildly like the plant he says they are. He is trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together and since the pieces aren't doing what he wants, he's shaving them down and rounding them off, so they fit together very, very loosely. Then saying that he's figured out some percentage of the puzzle. But then when you look at it with his percentage, the puzzle still doesn't look like a picture.
Comment icon #25 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I thought the CIA ran the "language" through their decryption programs and it did not detect any language patterns at all. Only by lumping several of the characters into broad categories, can even the beginning of any patterns be found.
Comment icon #26 Posted by stereologist 8 years ago
I was referring to the wikipedia entry which mentioned that it appeared to be somewhat like language. I would not be surprised to learn that further analysis or more detailed analysis showed that it was not language like.
Comment icon #27 Posted by unclefred 8 years ago
  Sorry, I thought you were interested in more information and peer discussion. I didn't realize you were just forum boy trolling. With your obvious academic expertise.
Comment icon #28 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I'm interested. If there is real information that appears logical, and not conclusions drawn from a string of five or ten "maybe"s. I'm not pretending to be an expert, but I do know enough, and have read enough, to know that Mr Stephen Bax is basically just guessing. What actual percentage can he say that each "translation" is correct?  What he's done isn't really any better then what Sitchen did with the Sumerian cruneiform tablets to conclude that civilization started by way of Aliens, called the Anunnaki, who came from a planet in our own solar system called Nibiru. All of which is complet... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by skliss 8 years ago
Ive read a little about this over the years. Wondering.....remember how da Vinci did mirror writing? I'm sure that over the  course of history others have thought of the same thing. Has anyone ever tried reversing the text and THEN trying to decode it? Just a thought....

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