I’ve been reading the late Mark Perakh‘s book Unintelligent Design on the train into work the last few days. His first chapter lands a long series of hard punches on William Dembski’s neo-creationist glass jaw: it’s a good read, even though pitting a properly sharp physicist against someone who merely mimes mathematics and logic does make for a fairly one-sided bout.

(Oh, and if you don’t know about Dembski, Behe, Johnson et al, they are “Intelligent Design” Christians aiming to ‘prove’ that DNA cannot have been formed by pure chance; that the biochemistry of life cannot have incrementally evolved into its current state; that Darwin and neo-Darwinians was/are all Just Plain Wrong; etc etc.)

In his books, Dembski uses a broad set of structural and logical arguments to try to categorise the kind of thing DNA is, in terms of probability and complexity.

Fairly unsurprisingly, Perakh rips these artificial categorization schemata apart, by demonstrating with numerous examples (particularly the Voynich Manuscript, nicely enough) how real life things fail to fit Dembski’s neatly-made (but false) pigeonholes, as well as how Dembski’s conceptions of probability and complexity simply don’t work the way he seems to think they do.

But for all Dembski’s (numerous) flaws, he does employ one particular analogy which amused the heck out of me, and yet also challenged me to properly think its implications through. (Though not about his hopeful brand of Intelligent Design, I hasten to add.)

Dembski’s Archer

One of Dembski’s tricksy categorization hacks involves trying to differentiate between genuine patterns (which he says are the result of what he calls “specification“) and fake patterns (which he says are the result of “fabrication“). His much-quoted example colourfully compares a true archer who causes his arrow to hit a genuinely pre-drawn target (specification) with a fake archer who shoots his arrow anywhere he pleases into a wide wall and then proceeds to paint a target around the landed arrow to retrospectively ‘prove’ his initial skilfulness (fabrication).

I like Dembski’s fabricating archer as an antipattern – a recurring pattern of wrong-headed and/or self-defeating behaviour that, once named, becomes painfully obvious all around you. I mean, haven’t we all met plenty of fabricating archers in our lives? By which I mean people who try to add imaginative ‘fabric’ to their otherwise substance-less and evidence-free arguments.

Perakh also uses the better-known phrase “just so stories” in his Chapter Two, but that’s actually a phrase for ad hoc narratives purporting to explain something that manifestly is the case, such as “how the elephant got his trunk”, or perhaps “how the wooden politician got his long nose”. What I’m talking about here is something slightly more virtual: plausible-sounding narratives concocted to try to justify improbable (or indeed impossible) claims.

Voynich Fabricators

The messily rubbish world of Voynich Manuscript theories has long had a glut of these fabricating archers, constructing their post hoc secondary narratives to support a badly chosen and/or emotionally-invested initial position. However you try to pass off this process (‘lateral thinking’, ‘abductive reasoning’, “Ockham’s Razor” or whatever), it really all boils down to nothing more than painting your made-up target on the wall after you’ve shot your little bolt.

Look, (they say), this constellation of secondary stories I made up clearly demonstrates how close I was to the mark in the first place. Oh, and don’t listen to all those other fabricating archers, their post hoc stories don’t have even half the explanatory power of my post hoc stories.

And how many overdressed little bolts masquerading as supposed big shots do you think I’ve seen, hmmm? Perhaps a more difficult challenge would be to list how many Voynich theories you can name that don’t fit this dismal pathology?

Of the recent wonky crop, Tucker and Talbert’s article certainly follows it, as does Stephen Bax’s theory (he seems eager to get into a rebuttal posting war, but what was that American phrase about not getting into a pissing contest with a fire-hose? Spare me from Voynichological fire-hoses, O Lord!) and indeed pretty much all of the others.

However, the disappointing truth is that for all these Voynich theorists’ wobbliness, excessive hopefulness and sparseness of evidence, they still remain rank outsiders in the fabrication department. They’ve been beaten by what can only be described as a class act…

The #1 Voynich Fabricator

Cipher Mysteries regulars will probably have already worked out which particular Colossus stands atop the list of Voynichological fabricating archers (and by a mile): Professor Gordon Rugg. Despite authoring a 2013 book about blind spots in reasoning and research, he manifestly leaped wholeheartedly (and unashamedly) into this foolish epistemological trap back in 2004 or so, and has resolutely stayed there ever since.

For me, Rugg’s hoax argument is nearly the ultimate example of fabricating archery, in that his entire Voynich ‘research programme’ isn’t even remotely about any critique (or indeed meta-critique) of internal or external evidence. Rather, it is about post hoc fabricating a conceptual Cardan grille-style mechanism whereby an existing hoax hypothesis (for, of course, Voynich hoax hypotheses long preceded his entry to the arena) can be ‘proved’ to have been more possible.

The first problem is that you can’t prove something is ‘more possible’. Broadly speaking, an hypothesis is either possible or impossible (issues of constructability aside), and as far as I know nobody ever claimed that an ultra-sophisticated Voynich hoax wasn’t possible. So if Rugg is talking about ‘possibility’, he’s just been kicking at an open door for the last decade. (So let’s assume that he’s better than that.)

The second problem is that Rugg also isn’t talking about probability, because his focus is purely on whether it would have been ‘practically possible’ for a 16th century hoaxer to have produced a simulacrum of a book with the same properties as the Voynich Manuscript’s text – and this focus consciously excludes consideration of all the (fairly obviously, I think) 15th century evidence (e.g. the radiocarbon dating, the art history, the palaeography, etc). Hoax theories are more like meta-theories, in that they try to ‘win’ by sidestepping all the awkward issues of historical probability: any pesky conflicting evidence gets filed away into the ever-fattening “must have been fabricated somehow” folder.

(Yet when Rugg’s computer-fabricated ‘Voynich-cheese’ was passed through Mark Perakh’s Letter Serial Correlation (LSC) tests, it yielded the same type of result that gibberish texts did. The Voynich Manuscript’s LSC test results resembled those of real languages, so even the statistics are against him.)

Possible is not plausible is not probable

But surely, Rugg claims, the existence of his fabricated narratives wrapped around the core claim of a hoax serve to make the whole idea of a hoax more plausible?

Here at last is what Rugg is actually talking about: plausibility. Now, if you have read Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahnemann’s exemplary (2012) Thinking Fast And Slow (which I highly recommend), you’ll know that many otherwise clever people confuse ‘probable’ with ‘plausible’. But they are far from the same thing.

Specifically, plausibility is a story-telling quality, not an evidential quality. A story can be highly plausible but still impossible when tested: a story can be highly plausible but still extremely improbable when tested. Really, you don’t have to read many court transcripts to see that plausibility is no guarantee of either possibility or probability. In fact, if I had tuppence for every plausible-sounding Voynich-related claim I’ve read or heard, I’d surely be able to give every Cipher Mysteries subscriber a 14″ pizza, and still have enough left to buy a helicopter. And a yacht.

For clarity, I’ll repeat that every single notion within Rugg’s palette of historical assertions is fashioned from the same fabricating clay, the same post hoc painted rings around his hoax arrow. Take away this fabric, his set of imaginative reconstructions and post hoc narratives, and there is nothing left: not a page, not a paragraph, not a line, not even a word. His plausible-sounding narrative about an historical fabricator is itself nothing more than a sustained present-day fabrication, with absolutely nothing to back it up beyond his desire for the fantasy to be true, perhaps for the sake of meta-theoretical neatness. Whatever this makes it, what he has done is not history and it is not science.

Hence all I can conclude is that what Rugg has done with the Voynich Manuscript has literally been a waste of a decade, both his own and that of many others.

The Man Maketh The Word, or The Word Maketh The Man?

In closing, I’ve long struggled to find a word or phrase that sums up the pointless anti-historicism (and indeed unhelpfulness) of Rugg’s work: and so I find myself curiously grateful to William Dembski for his fabricating archer antipattern – this has given me the tool I needed to scratch this particular itch.

Yet I can’t help but feel that perhaps Dembski himself is an even bigger fabricating archer than Rugg: the neo-creationist arrow Dembski lodged in the wall is transparent and visible for all to see; while Perakh was clearly in no doubt that all the maths-styled and logic-styled presentation of Dembski’s books was no more than a decoration or distraction to conceal the conceptual vacuum at the heart of his argumentation.

So we end up with a curious pair of ironies: not only of Gordon Rugg writing books about logical fallacies and yet trapped for a decade in Dembski’s fabricating archer antipattern, but also of William Dembski employing an analogy to make plain to the world the same core fallacy that he himself is stuck in.

For ’tis the sport to have the engineer. Hoist with his own petard.

36 thoughts on “Dembski’s Archer and the Voynich Manuscript…

  1. U got me wondering what is the current scholarly literature on glossolalia and mystical angelic type communication – the voynich wiki mentions hildegaard of bruden and her angelic language and Edward kelly and enochian.

    I wonder if Voynich is some form of mystical channeling shaman like speaking in tongues, oracle at delphi.

    how does voynich compare to known examples of mystical altered states of consciousness communications.

  2. Ironically, Perakh’s research also exhibits a bit of the same antipattern, in the sense that machine randomized texts are used.

    It draws a circle of evidence around the theory that the VMs has meaningful content, by comparing its properties with those of a meaningless text that could not have been produced by 15th century authors – much like Rugg’s Cardan Grille.

    In order to settle the matter of whether the VMs contains readable content, a study of the properties of meaningless text, as fabricated manually by humans, is necessary – perhaps it already exists.

    I wouldn’t even exclude the possibility that human gibberish follows a Zipfian distribution with high probability – arguably, it is at least an implicit function of the author’s own natural language.

    I’m more inclined to believe that the VMs actually contains nulls, and is thus partially meaningless – if you’d like to look at it that way.

    Why does Rugg get so much attention? Is it the most plausible hoax theory? I would describe it as curve-fitting a single data point.

  3. SirHubert on March 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm said:

    Nick: with respect, Occam’s Razor is not “constructing…post hoc secondary narratives to support a badly chosen and/or emotionally-invested initial position.”

    Occam’s Razor itself is a perfectly respectable principle: where several competing hypotheses exist, the simplest is to be preferred. But I don’t dispute that it may not always be used correctly or applied appropriately, including by some people whom one might expect to know better.

    I’m not going to go into bat for abductive reasoning or lateral thinking, though.

  4. SirHubert: I’m not saying that’s what Occam’s Razor is, I’m saying (as you immediately go on to point out) that fabricating archers often support their simplistic core theory by telling a story about how its supposed logicality and claimed neatness are signs (qua Occam’s Razor) of its correctness. But this kind of story is not a proof, a lemma, a claim, or even an observation: it’s just a bit of ring-painting tall-tale telling to fill out the general shape of an argument in the absence of any actual evidence to use. *sigh*

  5. Job: what Perakh found was that LSC test produced results for Rugg’s grille-texts that were very much akin to those produced for machine randomized texts, while Voynichese text yielded results very much like those of real languages. So the like-for-like comparisons were between Voynichese and actual languages, and between Rugg’s grille-ese and Perakh’s machine-generated text, which isn’t quite what you point out. But as Perakh himself (I believe) said, further (and better) tests are still required to settle this definitively.

    Rugg gets attention because he has gone out of his way to court it in the media over the last ten years. The Voynich has been good to him, but I just wish the reverse had been true as well.

  6. SirHubert on March 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm said:

    Stephen Bax: dare I suggest you actually read Nick’s book rather than a summary on Wikipedia? After all, you yourself have criticised a number of people for commenting on your own article without apparently having read it properly.

    I don’t necessarily think Averlino wrote the Voynich Manuscript but there is rather more meat to Nick’s book than your summary implies, especially for the codicology. And while I don’t encourage students to use Wikipedia, let alone cite it, it does have an entry for Filarete if you really haven’t heard of him.

  7. bdid1dr on March 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm said:

    Nick (and Stephen): I’m ready to put my money ‘where my mouth is”, so to speak. Nick already knows this — and I hope he is considering/validating some of my comments. I hope he will be publishing a sequel soon (or in my limited lifetime, at least). I’m 70 y.o., 3/4ths deaf, and half blind……..but laughing all the way. Please hurry!
    beady-eyed wonder (who can read with only one eye)

  8. bdid1dr on March 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm said:

    Just so y’all know, Edith may have gone astray with her Vms studies, but she was right on track as far as its possible origins: I got a very good look at Piri Reis’ elegant map, with its of a tribal chief of the bronze workers in Benin. His ‘next door’ (NW)neighbors were the Ashante gold-smiths. The Ashante’s NW boundary/border was with the “Elephant tusk Ivory Coast inhabitants. I’m still trying to locate “El Mina” fortress (holding station for enslaved inhabitants. If you get a good look at Commander Piri’s (Piri Reis) gorgeous map, you will find validation of some of my comments/observations/references. You will find artifacts of West Coast African craftsmanship in various museums in Europe and United States/Canada. While you’re looking, count the number of fortresses on just that segment of the half-map. Then count the number of sailing vessels, and their designs, up and down the East coasts of North and South America.
    Nick has heard my refrain (probably ‘ad nauseum) and may even be able to ‘carry the tune’!
    bdid1dr

  9. bdid1dr on March 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm said:

    Please forgive my ‘crazy’ punctuation. I really need to proofread more carefully (even at the risk of migraine)!

  10. xplor on March 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm said:

    The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is the same.
    Are there any cribs for the Voynich?

  11. xplor: good catch, well done! I’d heard of it many years ago but didn’t know it had come into more general use. So yes, it’s pretty much the same thing: all Dembski seems to have done from this mildly satirical clay is created his own dourly humourless version. 😐

  12. Stephen: for me, the possible Averlino identification was (and indeed still is) no more than a fairly small (and late-arriving) cherry that sits atop a very large historical cake.

    So while I would agree that we do not know for sure who wrote the Voynich Manuscript (or indeed why they wrote it), I think it is very important to stress that the many primary historical evidences we have built up do tell us a great deal about the where and the when.

    At the same time, only (say) one Voynich theory in twenty is consonant with this broad set of evidence, which I think says far more about Voynich theorists than about the Voynich Manuscript itself.

    Hence I would say that the biggest problem we face isn’t how (supposedly) little we know about the Voynich Manuscript, but how little regard people show for the very many things that we now do know about it.

    I suspect one of the big reasons for this is the Wikipedia Voynich Manuscript page, which is both an embarrassment and a liability. Trailing the edge of genuine Voynich research by a decade or more, this useless piece of let’s-all-be-nice-to-each-other-by-committee froth encourages people to think that they can put forward whatever pitiful, speculative evidence-free theories they like at no risk of being held to account. And so when they (inevitably) do just that, all we can really say is that we’ve done it to ourselves.

    On recent form, it would also seem to encourage people to put forward snidey dismissals of other peoples’ theories based on its 200-word summary of a 200+ page book. Great job, team.

  13. Stephen: even though what went into “The Curse” was largely about Averlino, that was actually no more than 5% of my overall Voynich research. Because that’s exactly how good historical research is done – combining a vastly wider historical panorama with fine-grained close reading of individual primary documents.

    Hence, as an historian, what I (as you put it) “attack others” for is when people put their efforts only into that tiny 5% sliver, and bracket out all the rest as not worthy of their sainted time. Yet history is a tough discipline to do properly, and one that makes fools of those who presume that their talents and gifted insights gives them a ‘royal road’ to the end line.

    The real “inconvenient truth” here is that just about everybody else’s Voynich theories fall into this latter camp: people who shoot blindly at the historical truth, and then scrabble to paint around their jutting-out little arrow, wedged randomly in the wall of history, as though that will be enough to make up for not having put the 95% of the work in in the first place. Unfortunately, it is that other 95% that gives context and meaning to the 5%: and without that, historical research is no more than pareidolia, a futile, random grasping at shadows.

    So, the key difference I would point you to (because you seem unaware of it) is that I put a very substantial amount of work in first (and in many different historical disciplines, and with many historical methodologies) before doing any hypothesizing.

    As far as Wikipedia goes: yes, I did briefly engage with (and contribute to) it, but gave up the ghost when it became abundantly clear to me that its shared socio-cognitive model when applied to historical mysteries such as the Voynich Manuscript is nothing short of an epic fail.

  14. Stephen: that’s enough. Completely, thoroughly, exactly enough. I’ve had my fill of hosting your self-important, rude, snidey little ad hominems.

    I’m an extremely tolerant guy, but you are now the first commenter in seven years of this blog to be barred.

    In fact, I’m so cross that I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: retrospectively purge my blog of all your comments.

    Good luck with your nine little words. Right now I can only think of two.

  15. bdid1dr on March 9, 2014 at 1:13 am said:

    Nick, I’m praying that you are not viewing my contributions to your various discussions as being overbearing or objectionable. Please, I really want to see a sequel to “Curse”, but only if I can purchase both issues directly from “Compelling Press” (your private press?) and I’ll top your price by $10 if you autograph both books!
    BTW, would you be interested in a couple of books from my private library? Time-Life Books: The Pacific Navigators
    Second book: The Wild Shores: America’s Beginnings, T. Loftin Snell, National Geographic Society.
    Both books were donated items to our newly built Senior Center’s free-book shelf. Both books accompany the various discussions with reproductions of antique maps and documents.
    Earlier on one of your other recent posts I mention Saffron-Walden and a book: “Henry Winstanley and the Eddystone Lighthouse” by Adam Hart-Davis & Emily Troscianko. I mention this last book because I can just ‘see’ your next “Pirate” get-together being held at the “Cock-Pit” in Saffron-Walden…….Maybe y’all may lift a tankard in recognition of my ‘verbosity”, if nuthin else? Sir Hubert; are you ‘lurking’ near-abouts?
    😉

  16. bdid1dr on March 9, 2014 at 1:54 am said:

    Nick, my husband (earlier today) was reviewing my comment in re hopes of seeing your sequel in print. A little while ago, he handed me his version/paraphrasing of my plaintive cry for your second book:

    “Shall I seek well the sequel”? Awful pun; but I hope it will cheer you up a little! 🙂

  17. bdid1dr on March 10, 2014 at 1:51 am said:

    xplor & Nick: A recent reference to “Texas sharpshooter” caught my eye. Was/is that related to JFK’s assassination and subsequent events at the Texas School Book Repository (Lee Harvey Oswald) & Jack Ruby’s killing Oswald)?
    What a mess! Like many Americans, I can vividly recall just where I stopped in my tracks when my co-workers (who were listening to radio) told me Kennedy had been shot just moments before. I only bring up this moment in history because even then I relied on newspapers for my daily news. I had no TV or radio, because unless I could read lips/facial features and body language, I would remain ‘clueless’ — regardless of my ability to read printed material at 850 words a minute with 98 % recall.

  18. bdid1dr on March 10, 2014 at 2:00 am said:

    See, Nick, I still get goofy with my one-side-only parentheses/sometime overly parentheticalized (is that a word?) sentences — not mention uneven quote notations (one only) — and, to top it all off, over-use of !! marks……and a dot or dash here and there………
    You have got to be one of the most patient web-hosts on web!
    Kudos!

  19. i have a ? – if this manuscript is the result of channeling from say a higher power like god or angels – should it still be classified as a “cipher”?

  20. Ralph on March 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm said:

    voy: If the manuscript is written by invisible time-traveling aliens who decided we needed to see it but didn’t realize we couldn’t understand it, does it count as a cipher?

  21. xplor on March 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm said:

    BD1dr:The Archer or Texas sharpshooter fallacy is when folks have solutions and then look for information that supports their ideas , they ignore all information that does not fit. As we have seen with the latest linguist he ignores the work of Jim Child and does not give us the language family. Is the Voynich Proto-Indo-European ?

  22. bdid1dr on March 13, 2014 at 9:17 pm said:

    Xplor: Proto-Indo-European? I don’t have an answer to that Q. I’m really focused on translating the script in B-408. So far, my ‘sketchy’ translations are proven by first recognizing the Benedictine/Gothic miniscule ‘latin’ alphabet and phrases. I don’t rely solely on the botanical folios. I also compare the latin phrases with any accompanying objects being displayed: castles/towns on hilltops overlooking water features (lakes, ponds, sacred groves, temples: Alban Lakes for example. Words like oe-ll-tl-e: Velletrae

  23. bdid1dr on March 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm said:

    Note the ‘tapped’ or ‘trilled’ r written in the “Vms character which looks like a Tl (two uprights/legs, with a loop on the right-most leg, and compare with very similar character which has a loop on each leg (L, or el, ). In the past I have given examples for each and all of the “Voynich manuscript’s unique ‘al-pha-bet’.
    I don’t use the EVA. I don’t refer to dates. I don’t ignore other persons donations to the various discussions, either. I try not to contradict anyone; only to present my ideas to “open minds”. I’ll admit I do have favorites amongst y’all. Heh!
    🙂

  24. bdid1dr on March 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm said:

    Several days/weeks ago a small item caught my eye: Current day archaeological sites in Mexico/Yucatan include a “Monte Alban”. I alerted Nick, immediately (same day, anyway). I hope he finds it interesting.
    beady-eyed wonder winking 😉

  25. Ralph – the specific details of channeling differ – god angels christ buddha ufo time travelers ghosts demons devils oracle at delphi – but my question is whether VM shows what we would expect from literature we know where the authors claim some higher power.

  26. SirHubert on March 14, 2014 at 9:08 pm said:

    Xplor: it is exceedingly unlikely to be Proto-Indo-European, which is the postulated ‘ancestor’ from which all current Indo-European languages ultimately derived. Proto-Indo-European, if it was ever spoken at all, has not been spoken for at least five thousand years.

    As to the wider question of which language group(s) the plaintext(s) of the VMs belongs to, that’s a good question. Nouns, and especially proper nouns, can easily be borrowed between different language families. Greek is an Indo-European language, but “Athens” isn’t originally a Greek name and probably isn’t even Indo-European in origin. Another example which has been mentioned recently is ‘coriander’, which is found in Mycenaean Greek but is also quite possibly a non-Indo-European word.

  27. xplor on March 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm said:

    Sir Hubert thank you, I should have said extinct and not first Indo-European language. To an English speaker it looks like something that could be understood. This leads to the question who could afford a perfet copy on high quality hides. This has me checking the Bruges to Florence trade.Even the Medici, had representatives stationed there. Could the Voynich be in a Hanseatic language?

  28. bdid1dr on March 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:

    Xplor, good question! I shall now do a little digging, er, reading up, on your reference to the Hanseatic League/languages. Several months ago, I was researching Sabir. I came across an illustration of a beautiful bird which apparently was being discussed in “Codex Cumanicus”. From that columnar discussion, I was able to identify the breed of parrot and its unique coloration (rose-ring neck green parrot). You might enjoy translating the column of script. I won’t attempt a link, here (on Nick’s blog) but here is how I came across that manuscript page:
    Codex Cumanicus 58 note the use of the character which looks like an ampersand or figure 8.
    I’m still translating B-408’s contents via a three-step process.
    In the meantime, you might like to look at folio 86r, which I call the ‘mushroom’ folio because of the coprinicae mushrooms which appear in each corner of that folio. The discussion, which can be translated into Latin, is about the hallucinations and death which will occur if one drinks alcoholic beverages within three or four days of consuming the mushroom. Reference is also made to Alcyone and Ceyx. The name Alcyone is supposedly the ‘root’ of the word hallucin.

  29. SirHubert on March 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm said:

    BD: apologies for repeating myself, but Alcyone is not the root of ‘hallucin’. ‘Alcyone’ comes from the Greek ‘Alkuon’, and ‘hallucin’ comes ultimately from the Greek ‘Aluein’.

    They look similar in their modern English forms but there is no connection between the two.

  30. bdid1dr on March 17, 2014 at 4:45 pm said:

    My reference to Alcyone and Ceyx is in reference to their story of separated lovers whose male (Ceyx) is drowned at sea. Eventually Alcyone and Ceyx reunite and are turned into kingfishers.Their story is a mix of Greco-Roman mythology. The other story being told in B-408, f86-r-3, is identifying the ill effects (hallucinations and death) of eating an “Al-co-hol Inky” by mistaking it for the edible coprinicae.
    Sir Hubert, Take a look at the pictorial elements of the story. There you will find people hiding behind mushroom stems and a bird descending a gushing water element. I appreciate your cross-discussion – and it is true that even, today, dictionaries skirt ‘iffy’ definitions.
    However, this is the fourth or fifth time I have presented a TRANSLATION of just one section of folio 86 (pictorial). I am, however, not the first person to read the story:
    A museum in Florence (Museo Degli) has an (ugly) cut crystal dish (commissioned by Francesco de Medici) which recapitulates the story (Alcyone became the goddess of mariners). I’m not sure even the curators of that museum are aware of the story being told.
    Anyway, all of my discussions in re B-408’s contents are TRANSLATIONS of the script, which I also refer to you and any other interested parties. Thank you Nick! Enjoy!
    Happy St. Pat’s Day!

  31. xplor on March 18, 2014 at 4:34 pm said:

    The Cumans raised animals. They may have been the source of the Voynich parchment
    Was the MS-408 a list of cures for the black death?

  32. xplor on March 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm said:

    What Steven Bax missed was the unclassified NSA report by James R. Child that states the Voynich is In an unknown medieval North Germanic dialect.. Most likely Filarete would have known it and may have owned it. He would have dealt with the Hanseatic traders at the time.

  33. SirHubert on March 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm said:

    Yes, but that presupposes that Child’s report was right. A brief read suggests that he thinks it’s a Scandinavian language/dialect written in an unfamiliar script…so another monoalphabetic substitution cipher by any other name. But as far as I can see he’s just come up with a few debatable words without being able to present a clear translation of a sentence, in spite of claiming to have established values for 15 letters (none of which is presented).

    If it were something as straightforward as that, the Friedmans and Tiltman would have cracked it over breakfast before moving on to the serious business of coffee and the crossword.

  34. bdid1dr on March 22, 2014 at 12:52 am said:

    Well, gentlemen, I guess this IS the forum to present really old, round-trip, circular, arguments instead of translations accompanied by provenance and historical records/manuscripts.
    Nick doesn’t refer to “Dembski’s Archer” for nothin — I guess.
    😉

  35. bdid1dr on April 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm said:

    Folks, I recently referred Nick and friends to “Nican Mopohua”. I requested a set of compact discs, which accompany the vocalists’ chanting with a picture of one folio of the antique manuscript and the translation of Nahua into Espanol/Latin.
    So, if you’d like to be able to view some “Nahua” handwritten script which has already been translated, and compare it with B-408’s script, you will be able to ‘sound out’ and identify similarities, as far as the use of Nahuatl ‘tl’ and ‘tz’ for example.
    A wikipedia discussion can be found if you query:
    Huei tlamahuicoltica (the c has a cedilla).

  36. bdid1dr on April 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm said:

    BTW: Cilantro and Coriander are one and the same ‘herb’:

    Cilantro is the ‘parsley-like’ leaves. Coriander is the blossom seeds. So, I hope some-one of you will pick up the refrain which accompanies any B-408 botanical folio.

    To refresh your memory of which folio I am referring, two leafy specimens are displayed on one folio: a large ‘cabbage-leaf’ (which should have been painted red and white) is a ‘radicchio’ leaf. The smaller ‘parsley’ leaf is a cilantro leaf. The cilantro flowers eventually produce the ‘coriander’ seeds which are ‘spicy’.
    The discussion which accompanies each specimen on that folio is somewhat ambiguous. So, I can understand the scribe’s and artist’s confusion in re coloration (paint) to be applied to two drawings. At this moment, I can’t produce the “Vms” folio number until I can find the folder I made for this item.
    I’ll be back! (note the similarity of alphabet characters in my contraction, herein, of ‘I will’ and also the similarity of the exclamation mark to the contraction). I’ll work on it. 🙂

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