Opposed to what?

Every now and then I check out the Voynich category at the dmoz open directory site. (For those of you who don’t know it, dmoz tries to be for links what Wikipedia is for information.) I have submitted my little blog to their review process and hope that in due time the Voynichthoughts will show up there as well.

Only today did I notice that there is a subsection “Opposing views” in the Voynich directory, and now I wonder — opposed to what? We all know that there is no universally accepted theory of the VM, and even what is considered “mainstream” in VM research is subject to debate. Methinks everybody with an opinion on the VM will be in opposition, more or less, to their peers.

The mind boggles.


8 thoughts on “Opposed to what?

  1. Hi Elmar,

    I’m (notionally) the editor for the VMs part of the Open Directory: I added your site last month, but another editor objected to my repetition of the phrase “Voynich Manuscript” in the description of your blog, and so bounced it out of the directory.

    I’ve removed the unnecessary repetition and bounced it back in again, hopefully for good this time. As with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just be thankful that the description you ended up with was more useful than “Mostly harmless”. :-)

    And as far as the reason for “Opposing Views” goes: this is a long and forlorn debate which is too dull to really precis in a small margin. But let’s just say that pretty much the only thing that unites Voynich theories is the fact that they oppose each other. :-)

    Cheers, ….Nick Pelling….

  2. After years of contact with the VMs community, I would say it is easy to tell mainstream from opposing views:

    Mainstream: the VMs has meaninful content, what a shame we could not decode it yet!

    Opposing view: the VMs is bogus / hoax / meaningless, there is nothing to be decoded!


    • I have my doubts. Lately, with Rugg, and Schinner, and several others, the idea that the VM is simply a hoax apparently has found more and more champions.

      If you look at mainstream publications, journals or magazines, most of them depict the VM as “solved”, in the sense that it is a hoax. Unfortunately…

  3. The whole VMs-is-a-hoax notion is superficial and naive, like a kind of throw-away look-at-me-aren’t-I-clever remark at a dinner party, desperately trying to impress a table of people with 180 IQs.

    And failing. :-)

    Having said that, I wouldn’t be particularly discouraged by the fact that mainstream media, journals and magazines often pick up on the hoax angle. The standard of fact-checking and level of critical thought present in the mass media have both plummeted over the last twenty years: succumbing to a Voynich hoax theory is perhaps one of the least of their mistakes.

    I’m sure you can think of a few of the larger ones for yourself! :-O

    Cheers, ….Nick Pelling….

  4. The problem I see with the media promoting the image of the VM as a hoax is, that this might deter lots of smart brains from participating in VM research.

    If all they hear about the VM when they come across it for the first time, is “It’s pointless”, they may never pick up enough interest in it to get going and check out what it’s really like.

    Thus, Rugg and Schinner may actually do more harm to VM research than just make us look like clueless folk.

    My take on it. (edited for formatting)

  5. Agreed – but what kind of cryptographic or historical heavyweight could we summon to provide some balance and realism to this debate?

    My guess is that we’d need a well-respected historian to climb the mountain of codicological evidence we’ve amassed since the Beinecke so kindly posted the scans – as I tried to point out in the Curse, everything else is fairly worthless.

  6. I personally have no problem to accept that the
    Voynich MS could be a hoax.
    It would have to be an old hoax though.
    The idea that it was made to fool Rudolf (or even
    later than that) is untenable for me.

    (I don’t know if this counts as an opposing view).

  7. My comment on mainstream X opposing view was related to the VMs mailing list: research supporting hoax theories are usually bashed and dismissed as nonsense. A simple search for “Gordon Rugg” in the archives is enough to show it. The wikipedia article also shows this trend: every paragraph about a hoax theory ends with something like “but of course this can not be sound”.

    The external perception, however, is different. That is because the only research papers that have made it to respected publications in recent past are of the hoax type.

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