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*To*: VOYNICH-L <voynich@xxxxxxxx>*Subject*: The Mathematics of Crankery*From*: Dennis <ixohoxi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>*Date*: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 22:35:21 -0500*Delivered-to*: reeds@research.att.com*Sender*: jim@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Here's something I've long wondered about. We know that if you have a decipherment system with enough knobs to twiddle and/or an unknown text that is short enough, you can read anything into anything. Typically such bogus systems are exposed as bogus by reduction to absurdity. Thus Friedmann used the Shakespearean ciphers to read that he, William Friedmann, had written Shakespeare's plays himself. The detractors of the "Bible Code" used that system to read prophecies of assassinations of world leaders into "Moby Dick". I wonder if there is some rigorous mathematical system to disprove such systems. I think that the statistical concept of "degrees of freedom" is involved, but I'm not a good enough mathematician to carry it further. Some systems are loose enough to read things into a text of any size, no matter how large. Edo Nyland's system may be an example of this. Some systems read isolated snippets of intelligible text in a large text. The Bible Code is an example of this. Other systems only work on short unknown texts. The Phaistos Disk is a very short text; therefore many systems can read intelligible text into it, and many of these systems would fail on a longer sample of Phaistos Disk text. So. Could we find the degrees of freedom in a decipherment scheme, the degrees of freedom in the ciphertext, and prove whether the two taken together constitute a valid or a bogus decipherment system? Dennis

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