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Re: VMs: NSU review of Rugg (2003)...

Dear Nick,

We may be at cross-purposes here. I think that the tables (if this method was used)
can probably be reconstructed; however, I think that the appropriate method for
this is not use of statistics and probability theory (which is what I understood
you to be advocating). I'm hoping that some of the crypto people can tackle this -
as I've said, it's not my field.

As for the deliberate use of more than one table, there are several reasons for
suspecting this. One is Philip Neal's observation that some pages look as if
they've been filled in as alternate lines for some reason. Another is the pattern
of syllables if you set out VMS pages as a spreadsheet, removing dains and first
lines - the impression that came through when I tried this was that there were two
different tables involved, with noticeably different syllable distributions (though
you could get the same thing from a single table with "bands" of different
syllables running through it - for instance, a few rows with lots of "qo" prefixes,
then a row or two with "o" or "dy" prefixes). A third is that if you just use a
grille left-to-right, top-to-bottom on a table, and then use a different grille on
the same table, then you end up with predictable sequences of individual syllables
(even though the permutations of syllables are different in the resulting words).
Either Jim Reeds or Jim Gillogly spotted this immediately with some of my earlier

In terms of testable hypotheses, I'm putting forward the hypothesis that something
with the features and complexity of Voynichese can be produced using tables and
grilles. It had previously been claimed that the VMS was too complex to have been
hoaxed, and I believe that this claim has now been disproved.
I'll also be testing the hypothesis that the LSC and entropy values of Voynichese
can be produced using tables and grilles, and will publish the results once we have

As for whether the VMS itself was actually produced in this way, that's another
question. Analysis of the text should be able to show whether tables actually were
used, but that would require careful analysis because some of the obvious starting
assumptions would be questionable (e.g. that both sides of a bifolio would probably
be produced using the same table).

In terms of why a hypothetical hoaxer would go to this trouble, my guess is that,
if the hoaxer was Kelly working without Dee's involvement, then he'd know that Dee
would almost certainly be asked to examine the manuscript. Kelly had already seen
Dee's cryptographic skills in action, from their first encounter, and my guess is
that he would err on the side of caution. From a practical point of view, I don't
think it would involve much extra time or effort. You can generate unique labels
for all the plants, etc, in a matter of an hour or two (I'll post a copy of my
low-tech label generator if you like), and using two tables on the same page isn't
much more hassle than using one table, if you have already prepared both tables
(preparing a table takes about two or three hours, depending on table size and your
handwriting speed).

Best wishes,


> If the number of tables is large enough (yet the output statistical
> properties remain constant), the black art of table construction becomes
> indistinguishable from cryptography anyway. But if the tables are (as you
> assert) probably few in number, then the re-use of fragments should be
> statistically detectable, surely?
> Really, we're all bright enough here to devise scientific-sounding theories
> that are untestable - but what kind of scientist would assert that such a
> claim helps moves us toward a solution?
> As for "deliberate filling-in of pages using more than one table" - this
> sounds an awful lot like a cop-out on your part. Why would a hoaxer bother,
> if it looked good enough without going to that much trouble?
> Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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