Talk:Voynich manuscript

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Former featured article Voynich manuscript is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on June 20, 2004.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
March 25, 2004 Featured article candidate Promoted
March 28, 2008 Featured article review Demoted
Current status: Former featured article
High traffic

Voynich manuscript has been linked from multiple high-traffic websites.

5 June 2009 xkcd Link See visitor traffic
2 December 2009 Slashdot Link See visitor traffic

"unwritten before the manuscript was created"[edit]

"Protein testing in 2014 revealed that the parchment was made from calf skin, and multispectral analysis showed that it was unwritten before the manuscript was created." This seems to mean that multispectral analysis showed that the text didn't exist before it was written on the parchment. Does it mean to say that the first use of the parchment was for this manuscript? i.e. that "unwritten" means "unused"? --Richardson mcphillips (talk) 02:07, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Yes it does, the ref says "Multispectral images taken in 2014 equally did not show any signs of earlier writing, so it is certain that the parchment was not previously written upon". I added the word "on" after "unwritten" to clarify this. Herostratus (talk) 04:46, 3 April 2017 (UTC)
thanks!--Richardson mcphillips (talk) 18:38, 7 April 2017 (UTC)

Didn't need to be cracked by Russian Applied Math Institute, since book is not ciphered, just lacks vowels.[edit]

Article: russian scholars unlock the secret of mysterious Voynich manuscript. Not encrypted, but plain text, allegedly containing 60% English or German and 40% Romance languages, written down after removing all vowels and spaces from the text (similar to hebrew sacred-script style). (talk) 14:21, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Seemingly yet another "deciphering" that doesn't produce a readable text; just a claim the Russian experts are smarter than CIA and NSA (which they may very well be).-- (talk) 14:33, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Yet again, Researchers from the Hard Sciences try their hand at a field they aren't part of and immediately believe they've made a great discovery that actual experts in that field have missed for generations.
That's practically become a cliche. What is it about Math and Physics experts that makes them think they're supremely qualified in all fields?
Suffice it to say that skipping the vowels in a document is common enough in ancient manuscripts that I'm sure people have checked for it. Languages where vowels are correctly not included are called Abjad scripts (As opposed to alphabetic), and when it's an informal usage, it's usually considered a type of shorthand. (Nowadays shorthands are used to save time, but back in the day they were sometimes used to save parchment, which was much more expensive than paper.)
I doubt we'll hear any more about this work. It will fade into obscurity with all the other pop-science articles about people who have "cracked the code" without actually coming up with a translation. Unless it gets a lot more coverage I don't think it's notable enough for inclusion in the article. ApLundell (talk) 15:28, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
As I have said before - whoever wrote the text wrote it smoothly rather than 'encrypting letter or word by letter or word' (and if they were, there would be more rough drafts floating around, as people have been trying to research/understand the manuscript.

Occam's Razor applies to the VM as anywhere else. Jackiespeel (talk) 18:43, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Occam's razor suggests avoiding solutions with unevidenced entities. (Such as hitherto unknown languages.)
A no-vowel shorthand is a well documented existing entity. So Occam's razor actually tells in favor of the Russian Mathematician's solution. (It also fits your belief that it was written fluently all at once, since writing fluently is often a characteristic of shorthand.)
However, it seems completely absurd that the mystery could have survived so long with such a childishly simple solution. Especially as it's one of the first things an expert in ancient documents would look for.
ApLundell (talk) 19:17, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
I was arguing against switching between several languages and/or multiple encryptions. Even if the VM was a deliberate one off - why haven't drafts and/or the missing pages turned up? Jackiespeel (talk) 21:53, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Solid evidence of forgery by Voynich himself[edit]

There is a very thoroughly researched piece that casts very serious doubts on the perception that the manuscript dates from the middle ages. I will post a link to it here: The author debunks basically all the myths used to support a medieval origin, including numerous pictures that bear a striking resemblance to post-colonial era inventions such as the telescope, microscopic images from the early 20th century and so on. The Marci letter (supposedly dated to 1665) also is very likely a forgery by Voynich himself. The very fact that he allegedly purchased the manuscript in 1912 and only showed it to the public 3 year later in 1915 is quite telling. Why would he do that if he was in possession of such a mysterious book? Fairly obvious at this point that he took these couple of years to actually manufacture the manuscript basing it on the authentic Barsch letter (which mentions unknown script to the author and star signs, HOWEVER it omits the naked women, baths, etc). Voynich was a dealer in old manuscrips and had access to old calfskin, old paints, dyes and could have fabricated such a book if he wished to.

What the author in my view proves is that the whole notion that the book was created sometime in the 15th century is based mainly on wishful thinking and people's tendency to gravitate towards mysteries even when there are none, as in this case. I strongly suggest everyone interested in the Voynich so-called "mystery" to read into the link I have given. Granted, it is long and takes some time to read through, but it sheds light to the subject.

Lastly, what I propose is that the date of creation be changed to early 20th century, or at least that such a date be given as a viable alternative to the shaky at best carbon dated date. The carbon dated calfskin only dates the vellum and as mentioned Voynich had access to plenty of old calfskin, which he could have used. mezil (talk) 15:48, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

Interesting read but unfortunately self-published sources like blogs are not considered reliable unless the author is a noted expert or the blog is cited in reliable sources. Otherwise it's just another crackpot writing about his theories and any of us could do the same. As for the date, please provide a reliable, published source (meeting WP:RS) to support what you've written, otherwise it's original research and not allowed. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 16:08, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
Agree with mezil, apart from researcher Richard SantaColoma, more people have suggested this possibility. It is listed in the article as a possibility and that's what it should be, not a "definitive proof", that is up to the reader to decide. Tisquesusa (talk) 16:13, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

That is what I have included it as. An alternative, and it should be stated as such. mezil (talk) 16:15, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

I have reverted the additions. A wordpress blog is not a valid source. ApLundell (talk) 16:36, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
Correct, there is no debate about this. Blogs violate WP:RS and therefore WP:V which is a policy here. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 16:38, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
The medium is not of relevance. Richard SantaColoma has published a lot more, he is not "some random person writing a blog". What counts are his analysis and arguments. Tisquesusa (talk) 16:39, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
Encyclopedias document current academic consensus, they don't judge new arguments on their merits. The content or quality of his analysis and arguments don't matter to this discussion.
The medium is of relevance. WP Guidelines are clear that blogs are to be mistrusted as third party sources except in exceptional circumstances. ApLundell (talk) 16:50, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
(ec) It absolutely does matter. Self-published sources are not subject to any editorial oversight, fact-checking, peer review, etc. We can't take your word for it that the author is considered an expert in the field. We'd need reliable, published sources (such as academic papers) citing him as authoritative. In which case, you're correct that his blog may be able to be used in a limited fashion (to cite what he states or believes). Please read WP:SPS. --Spike Wilbury (talk) 16:53, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
If that would be the case, about half of all the references in this article could be removed. The website by Zandbergen is also a personal website, the websites by the other researchers too. This is an exceptional case; due to the interest, most of the researchers are amateurs. Tisquesusa (talk) 16:55, 19 May 2017 (UTC)
I would not be opposed to culling self-published sources from the article, even if that makes it shorter. (Except in cases where they're referencing statements specifically about the self-publisher, which I don't think would apply much in this article.)
It would be work, though. And I fear a number of editors would come out of the woodwork to protect their favorite theories, so it might be like pulling teeth. ApLundell (talk) 17:04, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

Some allowance has to be made for WV running a business which included a significant amount of travelling so 'puzzling out some obscure book' might well have been a hobby - and he probably asked all his contacts first before going public.

And, as has been said 'at various points in the past, by various people in a number of places' - what would he get out of forging a peculiar document of that length, that was one of a kind? 'Creating a few pages that are obviously a construct to get an understanding of medieval manuscripts and have a bit of fun' is one thing - but forging the entire VM is something else (and would probably ruin his reputation as a bookseller). Jackiespeel (talk) 21:55, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

We're not here to debate the merits of the idea. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad. It especially doesn't matter if you or I think it's good or bad. ApLundell (talk) 00:55, 20 May 2017 (UTC)
Incidentally, the amateur researcher in question seems to have just personally edited the the article. That makes me even more reluctant to use his blog as a source. ApLundell (talk) 00:57, 20 May 2017 (UTC)

Incidentally, he has been researching for over a decade. His views have evolved. As Tisquesusa said, he is FAR more than just a blogger. He presents tons of circumstancial evidence that the Voynich is a modern hoax. Why not mention it as a viable option. You reverting is a bit of a bitter move to be fair, but you can continue to do so if you feel like it. mezil (talk) 23:14, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

The Voynich Manuscript does fall into the category of 'topics inviting original research, theories that are considered more or less valid by others and discussions on both on this talk page' (and sometimes it is useful to discuss the practical reasons for or against).
Further discussion can be continued on the talk page for [1]. Jackiespeel (talk) 10:05, 20 May 2017 (UTC)

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Its a book on Botany.[edit]

has anyone else noticed that this is a book on botany and not a weird manuscript as it is being presented — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 23 May 2017 (UTC)

"Manuscript" means a document or book that was written by hand.
Since none of the plants can be identified as real plants, I think "weird manuscript" is a good description. ApLundell (talk) 18:57, 23 May 2017 (UTC)