The Voynich Manuscript: How Scientists Make Sensations Out of Nothing

The Voynich Manuscript: How Scientists Make Sensations Out of Nothing
The Voynich Manuscript: How Scientists Make Sensations Out of Nothing

The news of the "decryption" of the Voynich manuscript made a lot of noise. It's time to figure out exactly what this new study was about.

Voynich manuscript

Almost everyone who is interested in history has heard about an unusual artifact, which, according to expert estimates, could have appeared in the 15th century. The document got its name in honor of the Polish antiquarian Wilfred Voynich, who acquired it in 1912 from the male spiritual order of the Roman Catholic Church of the Order of St. Ignatius.

In short, this is an illustrated code written by an unknown author in an unknown language using an unknown alphabet. Like everything mysterious and enigmatic, the Voynich manuscript invariably attracts attention, which, of course, gives a huge room for maneuver to various crooks and adventurers. And also, of course, scientists who just want to declare themselves.

It seems to be one of them that the linguist Gerard Cheshire of the British University of Bristol, who recently stirred up the entire scientific world with the news of the "decryption" of the manuscript, belongs to them. In his opinion, the manuscript was made by Dominican nuns as a source of background information for Mary of Castile (Queen of Aragon) and other women of the court. The document, according to Cheshire, was written in the pro-Romance language, which can be considered the predecessor of languages ​​such as Portuguese, French or Spanish.

Allegedly, the text is devoted to women's health, herbal medicines, therapeutic bathing, observations of space objects and other extremely important at that time (and even today) issues.

Gerard Cheshire himself tried to call the results obtained as a kind of "insight", albeit supported by scientific evidence. This is not enough for a real discovery.

Almost immediately, the work was criticized. So, Yuri Orlov, head of the department of the Institute of Applied Mathematics named after Keldysh of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who was actively studying the Voynich manuscript, said that the conclusions obtained by Cheshire have an overly arbitrary interpretation, and the document itself may never be deciphered at all. “At this stage, it - the message, and not the work in question itself - is one of many messages of the same kind, which claimed that the manuscript was deciphered. In fact, there is no question of semantic decoding of speech yet, the author outlined a hypothesis about the language of individual fragments of the text, "Orlov told RIA Novosti.

In general, scientists believe that Gerard Cheshire draws his conclusions without relying on a specific (albeit forgotten) language, just artificially finds similar short words through different Romance languages, without providing any evidence.

Of course, this could not but have consequences for Cheshire itself. The University of Bristol later removed the announcement of the Voynich transcript from its website. “The study was a personal work of the author, not affiliated with the University of Bristol,” the agency said in a statement. This is probably the end of the story. However, it is not at all the end of attempts to decipher the famous manuscript. Who knows, maybe even dubious new information will help scientists of the future in their difficult work.

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