Special Cracking of the Voynich Manuscript

The Story

“For only the second time so far this year, the Voynich manuscript has been decoded.”  – Dr. Eve Siebert

The Voynich manuscript is “an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system,” carbon dated to the 15th century CE. Another set of researchers are claiming to have decrypted it, as Siebert describes on Virtual Skeptics:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdRme2oDGbE&start=1316s&end=2450s]

Why this Pleading is Special

Multiple exceptions are being proposed by this pair of researchers.

  • The researchers begin by claiming to have “positively identified” illustrations of plants, whose identities have not been established (in part due to some illustrations exhibiting characteristics of multiple or mutually exclusive species of plants).
  • The new date proposed by the linguistic researchers, 1521 – 1576 CE, disagrees with the carbon dating of the manuscript.
  • If a problem emerges with the expected translation, as with “hellebore”, a modifier from another language is assumed, and once that exception (the special pleading) is applied, the predictive model works perfectly again (circular reasoning is a logical feature outside the scope of this journal).

The special pleadings are also compounded by begging the question (or circular reasoning), an entirely different logical feature outside the scope of this journal, whereby each “translation” is used to confirm the next.

In the paper, one plant’s identification, “Hellebore,” was sourced to a blog article. This isn’t a special pleading, but if we were editing Wikipedia, it would raise some WP:RS flags.


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