The Voynich Ninja
[Other] Old news, still unresolved - Printable Version

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RE: Old news, still unresolved - RenegadeHealer - 27-02-2021

A mystery within a mystery; this Voynich stuff really is turtles all the way down.

VViews, this thread, particularly your posts, give me the feeling of having stepped into a surrealist novel by Jorge L. Borges, Italo Calvino, or Murakami Haruki. The line between consensus reality and artifice only gets blurrier as the story goes on, but in a way that's oddly more intriguing than frustrating.

I copied the Greek transliteration of "Ethan Ashmole Jones" (You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login to view.) found on GoodReads.com, and searched for it with quotes around it in Google. This led me to the Greek Wikipedia discussion page for the Voynich Manuscript, which included the following comment, translated from the Greek by Google Translate:

Quote:Who is Ethan Asmol Jones anyway?

First of all congratulations on the article, very good work. I have known for a few years the existence of this manuscript, about which I have read various things, mainly on the web. My first "contact" with the manuscript was a book in Greek that was given to me entitled "The most enigmatic manuscript in the world", author Ethan Asmol Jones, trans. Ioanna Anagnostou, Grammata publications, no year of publication. When I read the book, the manuscript intrigued me, but I wondered if Asmol Jones's book was the same prank. In the book he wrote that the title of the original is "The Voynich Manuscript: who is who of a riddle". Although I googled Voynich manuscript I found a very large number of websites, nevertheless I have searched a lot on the web and I have not yet been able to locate Asmol Jones' book in English, nor its author. Looking for the phrase "who is who of a riddle" (the sub-title of the original, according to the Greek version) brings me only one website, in which a non-Greek speaker states that he hears for the first time about the manuscript from a Greek friend who has read that book. Lord, have mercy. I do not know what to assume.Anyone who knows something let me be enlightened. - You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login to view. 11:26, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

I find it striking the lengths someone has gone to, to dissociate a real name and a real person from a VMs theory. Not only did he talk to Nick Pelling on the condition of anonymity, but cites a source who appears to be fictitious. This is a marked deviation from the typical VMs enthusiast, who is usually eager to associate their real name with their ideas in writing as early and consistently as possible.* Whether this is more about the ethics of scholarship, or the future ease of claiming credit, is beside the point. The point is that presenting an idea for others' assessment, while explicitly refusing to own it, is weird. It smack of trollish behavior to me, of saying things that one would not be proud to have associated with their name and real world identity.

I think there's a good possibility we're getting punked here, by someone playing a very long con. I have to wonder if somebody (Nick Pelling, maybe?) planted this fake book and its fake author in various places around the Internet and the real world in 2009, made reference to it on what was then one of the largest gathering places of VMs enthusiasts, and then waited to see how long it took for people to figure out it was a false lead. I could see someone doing this to make a point about the provenance of ideas and fallibility of scholarship in the digital age. Specifically, the huckster (or prankster or culture jammer, depending on your perspective) could be trying to make the point that very few people dig as deeply as they should into the sources of ideas they entertain and parrot. Keep in mind the Sokal Affair and SciGen were scholarly scandals that were fresh in people's minds at that time. If falsifying one tertiary source of information on the VMs was more effort than most people cared to devote, such that it took more than a decade, what hope have we for solving the VMs itself??

* P.S. I may sound like a hypocrite saying this, because I don't use my real name on this forum. But I've got nothing to hide; if anyone is curious, PM me and I'll gladly tell you my real name and even give you a link to my professional webpage. The only reason I don't use my real name here, is because I like to keep my professional life separate from my personal life, more for search engine optimization purposes than privacy, and only use my real name online when I'm doing something work-related. I don't see any potential for my work on the VMs to earn me any professional accolades, and I don't want people who Google my name looking to hire me, to get distracted by my Voynich-related drivel.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - Koen G - 27-02-2021

On anonymity, there are a few good reasons why a person may write Voynich theories under a different name. For example, if you are foreseeing changing jobs in the future, you know that your future employer may google you. Maybe you don't want the results to include you theorizing about a bunch of naked medieval ladies. This should not matter, but you never know if it does. Additionally, someone with a current or future occupation in academics, using their real name in Voynich research (and inevitably launching a flawed theory) may fear damaging their professional reputation.

Anyway, about this book, the more I read about it the more confusing it gets. I hope VViews will be able to clarify the matter some day.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - ReneZ - 27-02-2021

For what it is worth: I have no idea who is Ethan As(h)mol(e) Jones and I cannot remember hearing about this book.

On the other hand, I have encountered quite a number of people who preferred to stay anonymous, and have written a lot about a long list of mysteries. Here, the Voynich MS is not alone at all.
It is true that the anonymous people are a minority.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - nickpelling - 27-02-2021

I have honestly no idea what is going on with this whole story. It would be neat if I had seeded copies of a fake Voynich book with snickering booksellers in on the Borgesian joke, but sadly that's not the case.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - Anton - 27-02-2021

As a side note, we respect the privacy of our users, and absolutely don't require to disclose real names.

BTW, it's no joke that an employer may be not enthusiastic about one's preoccupation with the Voynich. Typically they (the employers) are anxious about whether you will be too occupied with anything apart from your job tasks, the performance of which will consequently suffer. I have met with that in my own experience.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - Anton - 27-02-2021

(27-02-2021, 02:39 PM)VViews Wrote: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login to view.Since the first one had cost me nothing, and the book is cheap even with shipping, I made another order for the book there.

VViews, this way you're turning to be a benefactor who buys out the whole press run of an emerging author's book!


RE: Old news, still unresolved - VViews - 27-02-2021

RenegadeHealer,
Thanks for that translation of the intro from Goodreads!

"I think there's a good possibility we're getting punked here, by someone playing a very long con."
Yes. 
I know that is what is going on. 
I had begun researching this story back when the post appeared on ciphermysteries, and went quite far down the rabbit-hole, but eventually stopped because I was doubting my sanity: was I just fooling myself or was this really as big as it seemed to be? I only remembered it recently, and here I go again.
It's more than the book. The con is truly mind-boggling and quite admirable in its complexity. At this point, I have come to see it as a work of art that has been pieced together for over a decade. Like a very intricate piece of crochet work, weaving many threads together.
I have come to a pretty clear idea of the identity of the person behind all of this. It's not Nick. Nor any regular on this forum. I do believe they were on the forum at one time though.
I am not interested in "exposing" this person, but maybe I can understand just how far this goes. Hopefully one day I will have found enough pieces to properly show how the puzzle works without outing it's designer.
By trying to locate the book, I am trying to see just how intricate this person made things: Did they actually write a book that's just very hard to find? Or did they create the illusion that a book existed? 
The person is a prolific writer and it is not unthinkable that they would have written 108 pages on this (hmm, there's that number again, same as the bookshop address).
On the internet, you can create the illusion that things (and even people) exist, corroborated by multiple artificial sources. If you build it patiently and carefully over many years, the illusion can be almost indistinguishable from reality.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - Koen G - 27-02-2021

Again, very intriguing. But what made you suspicious? I personally would have dismissed this as one theorist citing another theorist. And the reason why we cannot find the book maybe because it is something like print on demand, or due to the language barrier. or because it was published in 1990 (?) 
Is it because there was no trace of the book whatsoever? 

This is another alias of the bookshop, right? You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login to view.


RE: Old news, still unresolved - Koen G - 27-02-2021

The books seems physically real:

[Image: c53d9aa5-c412-466f-b453-587b39f485ed.jpg]

[Image: a57f5047-bbcc-476f-8448-a0b7973bbef3.jpg]

There's also images of a few pages online.

[Image: AINIGMATIKO002.jpg]


RE: Old news, still unresolved - VViews - 28-02-2021

Koen,
It was just a hunch at first, the feeling that something was off. The more I started digging the clearer it became that something was not normal. There was no big "aha!" moment. Just an accumulation of little things that individually are plausible, but cumulatively lead to the possibility of a total fabrication.
For example, just sticking to the book here. 
Why would it be published in Greek only, if the author is anglophone, in 2009? Especially for such a tiny publication. Why not put his English text online as an ebook?
Who is the translator, Ioanna Anagnostou? Does she really exist? There are people with that name, but none of them match, really.
And it is a little peculiar that everyone involved in this book has some variation of John: Ioannes/Ioanna/Jones in their name. That's a very common name, again nothing special at first sight.
You know, I hope I am wrong, and there is some explanation that would make it all make perfect, irrefutable sense. 
At this point I would need proof to believe that, like in those reddit AMA's where the person holds up a paper with the date and time in their pic.