[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: VMs: Viola tricolor

Hi William,

At 23:27 26/05/2004 +0100, William Edmondson wrote:
That indeed is an interesting question. But not actually relevant to the document being a hoax. Despite the difficult of proving the VMS is a hoax one could probably reach a 'balance of probabilities' conclusion on that without knowing for sure who was hoaxed.

IMO, there are two pragmatic ways to "prove" that the VMs is a hoax: (1) unearth provenance information that implicates it directly as part of a hoaxing scheme, and (2) reconstruct the method by which it was generated.

Though some people assert that the suggested connection with a known counterfeiter (Edward Kelley) is sufficient for (1), the actual evidence seems to fall well short. As for (2), some list-members belittle Gordon Rugg's efforts, but AFAIK his work is the first relatively systematic attempt to see if the VMs was hoaxed using a specific method.

In the end, though, I think the idea of VMs-as-hoax sits uncomfortably with the observed multiple levels of structure in the text - letter-adjacency, word-structure, line-structure, paragraph structure, page structure, Neal keys, etc. Unless they are all artefacts of the way by which the document was constructed, why would they be present in a hoax? Randomness is very hard to sustain: unless you can show *how* the VMs was hoaxed (by reproducing the kinds of textual behaviour we observe), the balance of probabilities is that it is indeed structured to contain meaningful information. All credit to Gordon for trying to do exactly this: though I personally suspect he is trying to re-hoax too small a subset of Voynichese. :-(

Just so you don't think I'm kicking hoaxes alone, these same issues cause problems for the idea of VMs-as-language: why would (for example) a natural language contain Neal keys, no obvious numbering system, and have paragraphs (nearly) always starting with gallows characters (never mind split ol pairs, etc)?

By way of contrast, the key problem with the idea of VMs-as-crypto is that, for it to be true, we have to accept that one person 500 years ago was a crypto genius - all the statistical artefacts we observe are consistent with a signal's being hidden inside the text, using tricky ciphering mechanism(s) we're not ~quite~ sneaky enough to break. We can accept a Brunelleschi through his works: so why can we not accept the VMs' cipher designer too?

I take it that no-one knows of a comprehensive mutilingual attempt to examine labels in the context of plausible interpretations of labelled images? It really would seem the best basis for independent stabs at meanings to be attached to labels.

I did once try this, but every plant I looked at had both a large number of translated (language) names, and a huge number of local (dialect/regional/district/town/individual) names. Unless you have a very good idea of both language AND locality in the VMs, collating all this could well be a life-time's work. So: while it's "possible", the practical difficulties involved are surprisingly high. :-(

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

______________________________________________________________________ To unsubscribe, send mail to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx with a body saying: unsubscribe vms-list