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Re: VMs: Wired Rugg...

Hi everyone

At 11:12 04/09/2004 -0700, Rene Zandbergen wrote:
--- Nick Pelling <nickpelling@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Text of Gordon Rugg's Wired article (link courtesy
> of GC):-
> http://www.rense.com/general57/theman.htm

Not an easy read :-)

It certainly isn't when you choke with indignation every couple of paragraphs. :-(

I certainly have no problem whatsoever that
Gordon Rugg wants to apply for a sizeable grant
to research the past research of Alzheimer's
disease. However, using the 'successful' solution
of the Voynich MS as a first proof of the methodology
could be a shot in the foot.

Why is it that some academics look at the VMs, ask what it can do for them, project what they want to see onto its blank canvas, and are then tragically surprised when they subsequently find themselves undone by its subtleties? Even now, it's already a hoary old story: perhaps some people aren't that interested in learning from history?

If it weren't for that, some of the text is comically
ironic. It is pointed out that researchers often
fudge or ignore statistics in order to fit the theory
(or something of that nature). I think that this is
happening in Rugg's proposed solution on a rather
large scale.

The central conceit of Information Theory (within which tradition Gordon Rugg works) is that if you can specify the syntax in sufficient detail, then the semantics will surely follow by themselves - errant nonsense IMHO, but (sadly) superficially plausible errant nonsense. :-(

FWIW, Gordon asserts that journalists faithfully report his claim (that he thinks his evidence is consistent with the idea that the VMs *could* be a Renaissance hoax), but that their wicked sub-editors and editors sensationalise and trivialise the story to make it more interesting. Well... if that had happened once or twice, fair enough - but as it would seem to happen *every* time makes me suspect it's likely to be more a matter of presentation (ie, it is a story of his own making).

Without doubt, he does like the attention, and is using it to try to get some funding for Alzheimer's research, though (despite repeated readings on my part) the link between the two continues to evade me. Really, his use of the VMs as a media tool to gain small-scale notoriety for himself to get that funding (spare 600 ducats for a PhD student, guv?) is surely far closer to a hoax than the VMs ever was, or ever will be. :-(

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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