The Voynich Manuscript appears to be a fairly routine anthology of ancient women's health advice


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/09/fizzle.html


#2

Reading through the comments you find that ‘latin abbreviations’ has been tried, and so far no one has ever made a compelling translation - in this case without any proof that stands up to someone who knows latin.

He does have a book coming out though… :slight_smile:


#3

Brian Dunnning of Skeptoid has a well reasoned rebuttal of the claims. Well worth the read.


#4

Considering that his attitude is that the MS is deliberate nonsense, I would take his assertions with a large grain of salt. Medieval MS production was far too expensive an undertaking for someone to spend the equivalent of the price of a large house on a hoax.

We know what the MS is - the mix of botanical/astrological/chemical illustrations pretty clearly puts it in the realm of a medical handbook. We just can’t read it.

And despite all the obsession put into “decoding” the text, the most likely explanation is that it was written in a now-extinct language of which it is the only surviving example (again, because of the cost involved in creating a lavishly illustrated MS). Languages have been becoming lost and forgotten ever since there were languages, and medieval Europe was no exception.

eta: I’m not defending the claims of Gibbs, which seemed rather lacking even to a nonexpert like me, just saying that Skeptoid’s take seems pretty fishy to me as well.


#5

The other experts are skeptical about these claims, especially since the publication doesn’t contain any details about the actual decryption. http://scienceblogs.de/klausis-krypto-kolumne/2017/09/08/the-voynich-manuscript-is-solved-or-is-it/


#6

Knowledge which man was not meant to know?


#7

An early example of conspiracy theory literature. They don´t want you to know the truth.


#8

Thanks for the quick rebuttal.

Anyone who has read a bit about the history of trying to decipher the Voynich will be familiar with a new theory that claims to have solved it because they have managed to match a couple of words or found a vague resemblance between one of the surreal images of plants and a real plant.

I suspect this theory will vanish quickly - but not until after the book has been relentlessly promoted by the papers.


#9

The problem with the Voynich being a lost language is that when you study the entropy of the text it has no resemblance to any other language on the planet, let alone anything from medieval Europe. The closest is Polynesian which shares something of the Voynich’s monotonous repetition of characters - but it isn’t Polynesian either.

There are also many other issues such as the star maps don’t resemble any real constellations and that the herbery in the Voynich contains no recognisable plants.

The theory that it was a bright shiny document containing ‘secret knowledge’ to attract lucrative clients to alchemists does have some appeal because that would justify the high cost of making such an object. And Gordon Rugg’s theory that it was produced by a Cardan Grille does go some way to explaining the nonsensical text.


#10

How interesting would it be if that were true, and the Voynich MS was actually written by women?


#11

That list is a bit… iffy. I mean, yes, Europe lost a few languages, but the list lists Latin and Old Church Slavonic and I happen to have a grammar of both within arm’s reach.

Also, while it is not unheard of to find a language attested as only one real sample—the Phaistos Disc inscription is a fine example—finding a language that went extinct at some point after the 15th century and which has hitherto left no other trace is… well it strains credibility.

People back in the day were as fascinated by mysterious books of possibly occult knowledge as we are today. A hoax might be quite profitable. And it’s not like the Voynich MS is one of a kind. There’s stuff like the Rohonc Codex that are roughly the same sort of thing.


#12

“The Voynich Manuscript appears to be a fairly routine anthology of ancient women’s health advice”

I wonder if there was any type of health advice contained therein regarding avoidance of certain types of men.


#13

It’s a very interesting hypothesis, and it appears to be plausible, but there’s a major problem with his argument as it’s written. He doesn’t actually translate anything. He claims that the manuscript is abbreviated Latin, which seems like something that wouldn’t have been overlooked for years, but stranger things have happened. The most obvious test would be to translate a page or two, but he notably does not do that.

Color me unconvinced.


#14

@Glaurung

More over the velum it’s drawn on has been dated to the 15th century, examination of the pigments have backed that up. So it can’t be medieval. Early renaissance at the earliest. And the earliest confirmed record we have of its existence dates to the end of the 16th and begining of the 17th.

That stretch of time is rife with bullshit documents, artifacts, relics, And forged books of exactly this sort. The costs and time to create it would be high yes. But items like this had big cash values. And there was (and is) a thriving trade in creating them.

Shit even in the middle ages there was money and bragging rights to be made providing something rare, and potentially impossible. Check out all those clearly fake reliquaries that were worth so much.


#15

Meh… Randal Munroe figured this out years ago…


#16

Considering the amount of illuminated medieval person-hours went into scribing bibles…I’m not so sure this theory holds :wink:


#17

Rudolf II was probably the most gullible collector, but he was not unique.

My Kunstkammer is crazier than yours!


#18

To be perfectly honest. If I was the sort of moneyed that allowed me to collect expensive things.

I’d probably be collecting the fakes and the hoaxes.
My kunstkammer would be insane:

“here we have a collection of messianic fore skins, The oldest dates to the 4th century”


#19

the Voynich Manuscript is a cobbled together compendium of largely plagiarized women’s medical advice

This is why we need DRM!

WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!


#20

That was before the blackclad Vatican ninja teams tracked down and stole all the divine prepuces, which now all reside in the Vatican’s underground DNA-reconstruction / cloning laboratory.