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Re: VMs: new here
At 13:51 16/07/2004 +0100, Laura Aylward wrote:
My name is Laura Aylward, I have recently carried out research on the
manuscript with Gordon Rugg. Whilst doing the work I have been silently
watching the list and thought it was about time I introduced myself. I will
also take it upon myself, and hope Gordon won't mind me doing so, to point
some results of our work at..
One persistent criticism of Gordon's work is that it is based on an
idealised conception of Voynichese, which fails to correspond with what we
For example, you have probably read (during your recent lurking) that the
VMs only matches Currier's A & B dialects (or languages) somewhat
imperfectly - that there is a spectrum between the two, ie it's not a
binary choice. Yet again, the VMs manages to make monkeys of our attempts
to pigeonhole its properties neatly - some pages are indisputably A or B,
while others are a kind of mixture. IIRC, GC claims that paragraphs are
normally A or B (but that some pages do contain both), while others assert
that intermediate languages/dialects are present. So, I would say that any
attempt to reconcile Gordon's grille/table analysis with the VMs would also
need to evaluate the degree to which these theories are supported by the
I therefore find all the assertions made by Gordon about the compatibility
of the grille/table hypothesis with Currier language/dialect evidence
somewhat wishful thinking at best, and even disingenuous at worst. For
example (page 10):-
As expected, different tables produced different outputs.
different "dialects" were produced by tables with different
amounts of structure, even
when the tables used the same syllables in the same proportions.
For instance, in one
batch of outputs, the word 'qoky' appeared in text generated from
the low structure
table, yet in no other text using the same syllables in the same
proportions, but using
different degrees of structure.
This has clear similarities with the "dialects" of Voynichese.
No, this doesn't. AIUI, Currier's observations of languages were based more
on the apparent structure of words and specific letter patterns than on
occurrence/non-occurrence of single words. The behaviour of Currier's
languages forms the single most testing element of the VMs' stats AFA the
grille/table hypothesis goes - really, you would need a very much more
detailed understanding and exposition of that in your work in order for the
claim of compatibility to be supported. Bear in mind that this is the one
thing which might obviously falsify this work... worth examining carefully.
My own criticism of Gordon's work is simply that, by requiring that grilles
are moved in a random way (what does the paper mean by "semi-random",
anyway? Pseudo-random?), he is trying to perform sleight-of-hand with the
information - to move it out of the text and into the random-number
generator. But surely the whole point about grilles in the first place was
to explain how randomness could be reconciled with the kind of highly
structured letter arrangements we see in the VMs?
BTW, given Gordon's interest in information theory, an interesting exercise
for you might be to calculate how much "choice" (and hence negentropy) is
being exercised in the "semi-random" grille moving stage - and hence how
much information is being introduced there. That would give you a specific
figure to compare with the various calculated entropy values - if there is
a significant mismatch between the two (as I suspect), then you would have
been a good scientist (in the best Popperian sense) and perhaps falsified
your theory. :-)
Things to think about, at any rate. :-o
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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