Tucker and Talbert and the Voynich Manuscript

By Gordon Rugg

There’s a new paper about the Voynich Manuscript. It’s  been published in HerbalGram, The Journal of the American Herbal Council, by Tucker & Talbert, and it’s been featured in New Scientist. It will probably also be featured by all the usual suspects.

Rather than go through it in detail, I’ll put up this resource, which readers might find useful. It can be easily adapted for other purposes. You get a point for every “no” that goes into a box on the right. I’ve tested it on the Tucker & Talbert paper, which contains some fascinating speculations about extinct Mexican languages that might feature in the Voynich Manuscript.

I hope you’ll find this useful.

voynich bingo3

The Tucker & Talbert paper is available online here:


There’s more about my work on the Voynich Manuscript on the Hyde & Rugg website:



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When small words mean a lot: Transcripts, black boxes and evaluation

By Gordon Rugg

You can get a fair amount of information out of what people tell you in interviews and questionnaires and focus groups. However, you can’t get at all the information in a person’s head using those methods. The result is that you often have to use different methods, and/or that you have to glean more information out of what you got with the interviews or questionnaires or focus groups.

One very rich source of information is small, apparently insignificant words that people use; words that often get left out of transcripts because they’re not “real words” or because they’re swearwords or whatever.

This article is about how you can use these words to get an extra dimension of information about real-world problems.

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Gordon’s Art Exhibition: Visualisations, women and epics

By Gordon Rugg

I have an art exhibition opening next week in Keele University, which will feature some of the topics that we’ve blogged on here.

The official opening is on the evening of Wednesday 9th October, starting at 6.00, with a talk about the exhibition starting around 6.30. Refreshments will be provided. The exhibition will run from Monday 9th October to Friday 25 October.

Entry is free.

art advert2

There’s more information about the event here:


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General update

By Gordon Rugg

If you’re interested in my Voynich Manuscript work, I’ve published a series of new articles about it on the Hyde & Rugg blog site, going into the detail of how I think that the manuscript could have been hoaxed.


I’ll be blogging again soon about Search Visualizer, with an article about whether visual structures in SV images might correspond to the subjective quality of a text.


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The Montemurro and Zanette Voynich paper: summary and update

By Gordon Rugg

Researchers in various relevant disciplines have started writing about the M&Z paper. The responses I’ve seen so far vary from sceptical to scathing, as described below.

I’m planning to hand over to the specialists from other fields, since I’ve already covered my concerns about this study in previous blog posts, and to return to the usual subjects of this blog.

There’s a scathing review of the Montemurro and Zanette paper here:


Some key quotes from that review:

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Blog updates about the Voynich Manuscript

By Gordon Rugg

I’ve posted a couple of new articles about the Voynich Manuscript on the Hyde and Rugg blog site.

One is a detailed discussion of mistakes and misunderstandings in the Montemurro and Zanette article about the Voynich Manuscript:


The other is about how complex results can come from very simple processes, and may occur accidentally, with particular reference to the Voynich Manuscript:


I’ll add another article at some point about other statistical issues relating to the Voynich Manuscript and the hoax hypothesis.

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The Montemurro and Zanette paper on the Voynich Manuscript

By Gordon Rugg

There’s a new article about the Voynich Manuscript, by Marcelo A. Montemurro & Damián H. Zanette, on PloS One:

Keywords and co-occurrence patterns in the Voynich manuscript: an information-theoretic analysis.

The article has some serious flaws. This is a brief description of those flaws.

The authors’ finding that the Voynich Manuscript’s text is non-random is already well known. In addition to the Landini paper which they cite, there is also work by Stolfi, Perakh and others reporting similar findings.

Its claim that this finding is inconsistent with the hoax hypothesis, because hoaxes would produce random text, is based on a serious misunderstanding. The whole point of the hoaxing mechanism that I described in 2004 is that it produces non-random text. This is the starting point of Schinner’s 2007 article in Cryptologia, which is about using the appropriate form of statistics to deal with the type of non-random text that I described. I also described the non-random features of this text in my paper at the 2012 Voynich centenary event in Italy, in a blog article this year on the Search Visualizer blog site (link below) and in my book “Blind Spot” which came out a couple of months ago.

Montemurro and Zanette conclude that they’ve found evidence for “genuine linguistic structure” but they do not mention the very substantial and well documented arguments against the Voynich Manuscript’s text being in an unidentified real language. Neither do they mention the constraints that such “linguistic structure” would place on possible cipher cystems – again, a significant and well-documented problem, and one of the main arguments against a code hypothesis.

In summary, this paper reports a finding that’s consistent with a lot of well-accepted previous work, but not radically new; they make a seriously incorrect assertion about the implications for the hoax hypothesis; and they do not mention the substantial well-accepted set of arguments that pose problems for their conclusion.

I’ll post a more detailed discussion soon.


Blind Spot is available here; it contains the backround story of my Voynich work, and much more:


My Scientific American article, describing the table and grille method, is here:


There’s an excellent recent overview of Voynich Manuscript research here:


A comprehensive overview of Voynich Manuscript research is René Zandbergen’s site:


Rich SantaColoma’s site contains some extremely interesting material and insights:


There’s a summary of the broader body of my work here:


My article about textual structures in the Voynich Manuscript, with regard to the table and grille hoax hypothesis, is here:


Some real codes…

If you want to try your luck on a couple of real codes that haven’t been cracked yet, you’re welcome to try these.





They’re codes that I’ve created, both of which deliberately break conventional assumptions of most modern codes. Neither of them is a super-code, but they should provide some entertainment. One of them, the Ricardus Manuscript, is deliberately modeled on the Voynich manuscript.

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