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Re: VMs: Testing Dr. Rugg's hoax theory

Hello Elmar, Jacques,

> [EV:] For further reference: I define "hoax" (in
> the VM context) as a document 
> which bears the appearance of containing a
> meaningful substance, but doesn't.

I can live with that. It has the advantage that
we don't need to distinguish between meaningless
and hoax in this particular context.

> >  ...What is relevant is:
> > 
> > Method X generates text similar to Text Z.
> > Therefore Text Z is a hoax.
> > 
> Hm. If a forged dollar bill looks like a real bill,
> this certainly doesn't 
> mean that _all_ bills are fake. 

Just how similar is Gordon Rugg's grilled text to the 
VMs, really? 

Really, I don't think that this line of reasoning will
help. _If_ the VMs text was created using some
trick, then demonstrating how it could have been
done (with a very good match!) would be a very
convincing argument.
Just about the only way to demonstrate a hoax,
in my opinion. 
Rugg just falls very far short of showing that
the grille technique does it. He is not showing us
the fake dollar bill so that we can compare it with
the real thing. He just says that he has a
hypothetical way of making fake dollar bills.
(He has admitted that setting up the grilles that
would have been used to generate real VMs text
is probably an impossible task).

> I'm not quite sure why you attack the formalities of
> my arguments and fail 
> to proceed with precise statements yourself.

But there have been many. Not only in Jacques' 

> > > So, _if_ the VM is meaningless, the best anyone
> > > can do is to _show_ (ie demonstrate with a 
> > > reasonable degree of match) the method.

> > Irrelevant. See above.
> I insist it is very relevant.

I would agree that this is the only way, but the 
match should be better than ' reasonable' .
Saying that Francis Bacon could have written
Shakespeare's works is not sufficient to make
it the truth, since there is a perfectly reasonable
alternative solution. For the Voynich MS we do
not have a perfectly reasonable solution yet.

> > > Even if Rugg is right

> > He is wrong. 

> I'm stunned by the quality of your argument.

But he is right :-)

> Are you aware of the fact that it boils down to
> "He's wrong, because he's  wrong"?

Not at all!!
There are so many arguments against Rugg's
solution that it is almost a joke. His own
publication is a serious candidate to be destroyed
by his own verifier approach. 

It was OK as long as he stuck to terminology 
such as 'similar'  and 'could have'.

Even taking into account the sensationalism
from the later publications, which he did not
write personally, we should not be misled:
requesting a grant for further research is not
based on words like: it might be right but I 
would not go so far as to state that it is.
> You could turn the argument around: What proof
> do we have that the VM is 
> _not_ a hoax? A priori, both hypotheses ("hoax" vs.
> "for real") are reasonable.
> Fourty years of intense research have failed to make
> any significant 
> progress in finding meaning in the VM. Which some
> might consider empirical 
> support for the theory that there is no meaning.

All this is true (depending on what one calls
'significant' progress)  but this is not the question.
The question is about the Cardan grille method. 
It just does not explain a number of properties of
the Voynich MS text. G.Rugg has been told this
several times by several people.
Either he did not grasp the comments or he ignored
them. Or he fooled himself into believing that it
could be fixed by tuning the tables. 

> Now I actually think the idea to devise a plausible
> algorithm for producing 
> seemingly meaningful text, and gradually refining it
> to include more and 
> more features of the VM, is not such a bad one.
> Actually, I think it's the 
> only way one could substantiate the hoax hypothesis.

It could be... but that depends.

However, Rugg stopped at the point where he should
be 'gradually refining' , and just went for the PR.
We have:
- no sample text produced by him of sufficient length
  to allow a check of the level of similarity
- no analysis by him of the number of table elements
  needed, or of the percentage of words in the MS
  that could be matched
- no acceptable response to any of the objections
  raised by list members, based on their own 
  experience with the VMs text (as far as I know!)

> (That Rugg might  shamelessly exploit the PR
> created in this manner doesn't necessarily 
> devalidate his findings.)

It does not, indeed, but it partly explains the
vibes that you have seen in the list.
As to his findings, all I have seen are Jorge Stolfi's
findings. Rugg has a hypothesis. He claims it
is correct without providing evidence.

Best wishes to all,

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