Why the Voynich manuscript is not a hoax (part 1)

Some people consider that the Vm is a hoax, created perhaps by a sort of grille. I think I’ve answered that comprehensively in my paper, by showing that it can’t possibly be a hoax, as it contains real semantic content.  But in any case, why on earth would anyone waste their time on creating a  hoax of this kind? It’s just not credible, is it?

Yesterday I found this nice account from David Kahn’s book “The Codebreakers”. Although it was written before the hoax mania set in, I still think it is eminently sensible – I can’t argue with any of it. The highlighting is mine:

“Is it [the Voynich manuscript], then, just a gigantic hoax, like the Cardiff giant or the Piltdown man or the fossils of Professor Beringer? Nobody involved with it seems to think so—and this includes those who have been rebuffed by it. The work is too well organized, too extensive, too homogeneous. Nothing repeats larger than a group of five words, whereas in actual hoaxes, such as the fake hieroglyphic papyri sometimes sold to tourists in Egypt, much longer phrases are repeated. Moreover, the words in the text recur, but in different combinations, just as in ordinary writing. Even if it were a hoax, there seems to be no point to having made it so long. Most critically, the medieval quasi-science that was seeking the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life while the manuscript was being written was too credulous to entertain the concept of a hoax.

David Kahn (The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet) 1996 p871.

Surely Kahn is right? In summary:

1. the VM is ‘too extensive and homogenous’ to be a hoax. Why would anyone add pages and pages of extra text at the end, completely unnecessarily, to create a hoax?

2. There is repetition, but not as much as a typical hoaxer would use.

3. The text shows other patterns which closely resemble real writing.

4. Again, why make a hoax so long?

5. No-one at the time would have believed it, so why bother to do it?

By the way, I’m ignorant of any 15th century manuscript hoaxes of any kind……. does anyone know of any?

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Kent

    I think it’s a hoax Steve. An extended royal hoax. Someone asked for a royal funding to explore the ** new world **. It goes with the discovery era. The funding granted but The Man didn’t really go any where near any new world. He then hired some local scribe to create a hoax manuscript of royal quality to convince the royal court that indeed a new world existed, with different lingo and of course a totally different “new world”. He could probably asked for more funds after sending in that ‘proof’.

    The entire scenario of the Manuscript is about giving an impression of the existence of “a new world”.

  2. BERNARD MCKERNAN

    I assume the Wycliffe library of linguistics in Waxhau NC has been utilized for content.It contains all of the known written languages….

  3. Why are people fixated on the idea of the Vonynich Manuscript as a hoax? Why couldn’t it just be a crank like Nostradamus? Perhaps the author is writing of magical properties of plants and other items. The writer uses a code so he can’t be accused of practicing magic and then being burned at the stake until dead, or at least golden-brown and properly repentant.

  4. Mark Stevens

    I would love to contribute to its decipherment but don’t know what I could do.
    I downloaded a copy last year .

    Thanks
    Mark Stevens

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks Mark – that depends on which area interests you – plants? Stars? Language? Lots of areas are open for study! The best thing to do is see what others have done – maybe at voynich.nu?

      Good luck with it.

  5. Mark Stevens

    I don’t remember where I read it ,ether Paul Solomon or Edgar Casey , that in the Hall of records there are seeds of plants that are no longer growing on the planet.
    Is it possible that the text is from a previous ancient culture as well as the plants????
    I know it sounds wild or improbable but could it be ….. An Atlantis remnant.

    • Stephen Bax

      I think that an Atlantis theory has been proposed! Maybe an internet search might reveal all?!

  6. daniel aronstein

    it’s a fraud.

    proof: the “names” of two adjacent “signs” on a “zodiac” image are MIRROR-IMAGES of each other.

    http://www.matrixseite.de/gfx/Voynich-ZodiacB-800×600.jpg

    the “word” under the gemini is the mirror image of the “word” under the ram to gemini’s left.

    end of story.

    no real alphabet could do that and no made-up cryptographic one that can be translated, either.

    imho.

    sorry

    • Stephen Bax

      I’m confused – where did you get this picture from? It is not from the Voynich manuscript at all. I think you have been looking at the wrong manuscript!

      • daniel aronstein

        i hope so for you sake! i’ll double check.

        but then you agree: the image i found is NOT a language?

        • Stephen Bax

          That image looks like a composite which someone has invented, using fake Voynich words! Sorry about that.

    • Stuart

      Gemini (the twins)…
      The words that look like
      “oFFcosax” and “oFFgxax”???
      Not quite the same to me…

  7. cf

    “…why on earth would anyone waste their time on creating a hoax of this kind?”

    My thought has always been that I see clearly why Rugg invented his system, because the hoax theory needs a method to explain why modern analysis indicates that it does contain information, in a form consistent with either a natural language or a cipher. So Rugg invents a way to randomly generate something similar.

    But why does a 16th century con artist invent this system, to thwart investigation techniques that won’t be discovered for another four centuries? This was at a time when the Porta table was strong crypto, and to be an expert you only had to be able to solve homophonic ciphers. There wasn’t a person alive at the time who could have determined that one text was an actual cipher or language, and another was just random letters, through analysis alone. The best they could hope for would be strong evidence of a fake after solving the first and eventually giving up on the second after decades of effort.

    Modern day con artists don’t try to thwart future detection techniques, they produce something good enough to get the victim to part with their money, and then they run like hell. In my opinion, Rugg has made an error in logic as serious as putting your cart in front of your horse.

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks for this – you are way ahead of me in knowledge of such matters! But I do feel that the hoax theory is unlikely, for reasons I mention in my article.

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