In some ways, it’s an epic win for historical codebreaking: that the Beale Papers phenomenon has become such a cornerstone of American armchair treasure hunting that an entire Beale Decoder app (including several challenge ciphers) can be devoted to it is surely a sign of how mainstream unbroken ciphers now undoubtedly are. As far as I can tell, it’s a bit like David Oranchak’s Zodiac Killer Cipher webtoy but for the Beale Ciphers and running under iOS etc.

And yet, to my eyes it’s also such an obvious epic fail for historical common sense. The Gillogly in B1 strings go so far beyond statistical, errrrm, anomalousness that it surely makes no sense whatsoever to bring people an app that allows them to put in long-out-of-copyright texts in the one-in-a-trillion hope that one might possibly have that right coincidence of letters that will spit out the directions to the Beale treasure on a tiny white card, like some “I Speak Your (Soon-To-Be-Immense) Fortune” machine from the carnival.

Though I’ve said it several times before, I’ll say it one more time: once you really get what’s going on in B1 (and it’s not a hoax, sorry), the big sequential Gillogly string can be one thing and one thing only – an accidental repetition of a badly chosen key phrase used in the enciphering system. Moreover, I’m also sure that the Gillogly strings provide proof beyond all reasonable statistical doubt that we don’t need to look for another text, because the same Declaration of Independence is – though with a quite different set of copying and/or numbering errors arising from the different cipher system in use – the key text used in B1, and very probably B3 as well, why not?

In fact, I’d go so far as to that I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all three ciphers’ keys were created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable statistical properties. And really, who’s going to argue with something as well written as that, eh? 😉

12 thoughts on “Beale Ciphers? Apparently there’s an app for that…

  1. SirHubert on November 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm said:

    There are about 1,320 words in the DoE. Paper 1, as you surely know, includes numbers far higher than this.

    Do you really think that an encipherer in the early 1820s would bother to mark up two or three copies of the DoE, each with slightly different slips in counting, one for each document? They might have, yes, if one supposes that the three papers were written in different places, but seriously?

    That said, your suggestion that the Gillogly strings might somehow be a property of superencryption is much more interesting than anything else I’ve come across recently, although I can’t immediately see how enciphering the keystring would give you an alphabetical sequence. If you could demonstrate that, then you really might be on to something.

  2. SirHubert: I’m not hugely interested in what might or might not have been the encipherer’s rationale or practice – rather, I’m completely focused on reconstructing what actually happened, using the statistical properties of B1 as evidence. And this tells a story of a superencipherment via a keyphrase that (largely) recurs inside the text itself, nothing more and nothing less.

  3. bdid1dr on November 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm said:

    inalienably independent?

  4. SirHubert on November 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm said:

    Of course – stupid of me. If the keyphrase in a monoalphabetic substitution cipher is THOMASJBEAL (T=A, H=B) etc then enciphering THOMAS J BEALE will give ABCDEFGHIJI. Which is a Gillogly string, or thereabouts. 😉

  5. SirHubert on November 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm said:

    I remember reading a suggestion that whoever compiled B2 might not have worked directly from a numbered copy of the DoE. Instead, they could have made a list of some 10-20 different alternatives for each letter of the alphabet, and enciphered the text from that. My apologies to whomever suggested it for not giving them appropriate credit, but if this process were done afresh for each of the three papers then this might account for slightly different counting errors in each?

    Of course, the other possibility the author mentioned was that if B1 and B3 were meant to be random numbers, whoever enciphered the text might have given up plucking them from the air and just used some of the pre-prepared numbers on the list. Which would also give you a Gillogly string of course, with no underlying message required.

    It is extremely difficult for a human being to produce long sequences of entirely random numbers.

  6. bdid1dr on November 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm said:

    Am I totally ‘clueless’ ? What is the DoE? I thought you were talking about the Declaration of Independence (which is a favorite of decoders/decipherers)?
    We also have the Pledge of Allegiance. Or maybe the Preamble to the Constitution?
    Ennyway, I leave the decoding to you. I’m bowing out now!
    bdid1dr with a wink 😉

  7. SirHubert on November 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm said:

    DoE is a typo/spellcheck error for DoI (Declaration of Independence). You can tell I didn’t spend my childhood memorizing state capitals!

  8. You seem very sure of what the Gillogly strings are. Is it not possible that they were put there to mislead and that the DoI, therefore, is not necessarily the key text?

  9. TomA: it is entirely possible.. but it’s a pretty subtle misdirection feature for someone to add in and be noticed a century later. 🙂 Moreover, B1 doesn’t just contain one single alphabetically-sequential string, it contains several of them… which means that B1 contains several independent stretches where the DoI just happens to reduce the semantic content of the message to a sequential series of letters. Very curious indeed!

    PS: I’ve got more to post on this in a few days’ time…

  10. bdid1dr on November 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm said:

    And then there is the Gettysburg Address, which not too long afterward resulted in our President Abraham Lincoln being assassinated — and the conspiracy theories which proliferated thereafter.

  11. Kenneth Bauman on November 25, 2013 at 3:54 am said:

    What would or could be determined if the longest Gillogly string had been enciphered backwards…would this be significant and, if so, why?

    Where’re you at Paul Stewart…I’m very close!!

  12. I think the repetition of letters and the inclusion of the alphabet only lend credence that the Gillogly string was the enciphered text — no more, no less. The hoax wasn’t creating an “uncrackable” cipher or a meaningless ciphertext, but a meaningless plaintext.

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