“Degrees of Freedom”

One of the most common objections to a proposed translation method is to invoke “degrees of freedom”. This multiplies the letters and gives the total of possible combinations. If anagrams or dropped letters are allowed, this increases the total.

So it’s “Whoops, your method has too many degrees of freedom, so the results can be almost anything.” The ones objecting stop here, aka ‘hit brick wall, end of story’. But that is NOT the end of the story. As raw math, “degrees of freedom” is valid, but it ignores the rules imposed that reduce the number of possible answers.

It’s exactly the same as an argument I’ve seen advanced by Creationists: “There are so many elements that the odds against certain ones combining to make life are astronomical. Therefore a Creator is necessary.” That too is raw math, and ignores the rules of chemistry that make the odds of the right elements combining a near certainty.

As an idealized example I am using the first label I cracked, by the large star in the upper left pie slice of f68r3. It is laid out in what I call a breakdown box. This is NOT the VMs decoding method, but a workaround I use in my label research. These are Set 1 letter values, and the word is complete (on the folio the 2nd A and R were dropped).

There is a length of 9 letters, 6 different, and 5 have alternate values with 2 connected. If I understood correctly, there are 1134 possible strings. If that was all there was to the method, there would indeed be too many possibilities.

However, imposing rules changes that:

1. Discard all nonsense strings.
2. Discard words of other than 9 letters.

The program WordFind has a lexicon of ~150,000 words, and running the values returns 14,  reducing the number of possible strings by 98.7%:


These results are filtered through a third rule: in any Voynich word, a given letter may have only one value. (That is, EVA Ch is either E or S, and any word containing both is invalid.)

That leaves one valid result: Aldebaran.

The lesson here is that one should not be so quick to reject a method based solely on a lowest-level mathematical calculation.