What did Huxley mean?

I just noticed that apparently somebody came across this site by searching for: the great tragedy of science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact what did he mean

To avoid leaving the pour soul in the dark, the way I understood this quote is that in the course of scientific research, many a “beautiful” (elegant, simple, powerful) hypothesis is developed when one digs into a topic. Unfortunately, it happens quite so often that later experimental findings “rear their ugly head” by giving proof that the beautiful theory is beautiful, but false. And since we are not in the art department, truthfulness takes precedence over beauty.

In the case of the VM (admittedly not exactly a “science”), beautiful theories about its encryption get constantly slayed by statistical or systematic evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for people to twist the facts (or outrightly ignore them), rather than giving up the perceived beauty of their approach.


2 thoughts on “What did Huxley mean?

  1. That’s one of Huxley’s great quotes, and you’ve made a great point with it.
    I found this website after a long trail of data… I found out about the Voynich Manuscript from a cartoon, and this piqued my interest, leading me to wikipedia, then several online libraries, which took me to santa-coloma.net and that brought me here! I was fairly surprised to see a recent post (May 4, 2010) here, and a bit relieved to know it wasn’t just me digging through jumbles of pages over the internet.

  2. Hi Timothy,

    Thanks for the comment, and welcome aboard; make yourself at home!

    Actually, there is a fairly active community doing research on the Voynich (ranging from the crackpot to the seriously smart). Be sure to check out Julian’s and Nick’s sites by all means was well (as found in my link list).

    If you feel like it, you can also subscribe to the VM mailing list; on the average it carries two or three messages a day (with flurries of activity every now and then), and it gives you a good overview of what is “state of the art” regarding the VM.



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