The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript

I thought I’d revisit this post I did back in 2011, because the video is hilarious and makes me smile. Little did I know when I wrote it that I’d write a book with Gordon Rugg a few years later, entitled Blind Spot, which touched upon some of the issues inherent in his Voynich work.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

A few years ago, when I was living in Europe, I wrote an article for Wired magazine about a scientist named Gordon Rugg who put forth a novel explanation for what many people call the world’s most mysterious manuscript. The Voynich Manuscript, discovered in Italy in 1912, is a bizarre tome written in an unusual alphabet, language or code that no one — not even the world’s best cryptographers — has been able to decode.

Rugg thinks the book is not written in a code at all, but is instead a colossal hoax. His peer-reviewed journal article described a possible reason and mechanism for this. The Voynich MS was back in the news recently because of some Carbon-14 tests which dated the vellum, or paper, to the early half of the 15th Century (between 1404-1438).

Journalist/iconoclast/Village Voice founder John Wilcock corresponded recently with Rugg to see what he thinks of the new data, since it directly contradicts one of Rugg’s pet theories that the book may be the work of Elizabethan con man Edward Kelley.

Wilcock’s post, which went up a few days ago, hints that hoax theory is not yet dead. Nat Geo ran a video recently about the mysterious book. This clip is from an earlier TV documentary that was delightfully melodramatic.

By the way, there are nearly 200 more Voynich videos on YouTube, more than you’d ever want to watch. I don’t need to learn more, frankly. It’s clear to me that the book is the work of extraterrestrials.

This post first appeared on my old blog on April 8, 2011. I’m moving it here in an effort to rescue my old content.

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