My position on the manuscript is that…

We should be seeking less to ‘break’ the text, or ‘solve’ the manuscript than to understand it. The manuscript isn’t the problem; the problem is that some basic flaws in the manuscript’s past study leave us still – after more than a century – unable to rightly interpret the evidence embodied in the manuscript’s form, materials, script and content. I’d suggest a prospective revisionist always keep two questions to the fore when reading what has been, or is being said of the manuscript’s content: ‘Where’s the evidence for that idea?’ and ‘Is that inference valid?’.

The aim of this blog is to inspect the premises, assumptions and evidence (if any) which led to the formation of ideas now repeated everywhere.

Links to the posts, with their initial readings for each topic are in the ‘Cumulative Bibliography’ page in the top bar.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Ms. O’Donovan, my name is Dave Ladley, and I’m a small town family physician from the northeastern US and longtime lurker of all things Voynich. I recently started posting at Voynich.ninja under the username RenegadeHealer. I wanted to introduce myself to you over at the Ninja after reading a lot of your posts, and thinking that you add a valuable perspective to the discussion. But it soon became clear to me that you are no longer active in that community. I just wanted to say that I respect the way you remind all of us of the importance of adhering to the scientific and historical methods. Ditto to your courage to call out breaches of intellectual ethics and unkindness in scholarly debate. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem: which came first, the flaky reputation of the field of study, or the attraction of flakes to it?

    I’ve spent a good bit of my life on the margins and the fringes, and in my experience they have two kinds of local inhabitants: 1) Harmless weirdos, and 2) Toxic people whose weirdness includes a lack of empathy. Teddy Roosevelt’s advice about “walk softly and carry a big stick” applies here: Be openminded and accepting of others’ weirdness, but don’t leave yourself open to exploitation, and draw a firm line at any unkind behavior. I first picked up on this theme reading the Chinese classic “Outlaws of the Marsh” and seeing strong thematic parallels to American movies set in the Old West, as well as my own experiences with scenes far removed from mainstream society.

    I find the expertise of many of the quality contributors to Voynich scholarship awe-inspiring and humbling. I’m a very verbal thinker and a lifelong language and linguistics buff, so the text of the VMS is my main area of interest, in addition to the overall mystery. I realized the other day that if I found the solution to the VMS’s text, and had my name attached to this accomplishment, most of my soundbytes to the media would just be thanking the many past and contemporary researchers whose shoulders I stood on to reach that prize. Because to me, it’s not about the glory of solving it. It’s about bonding with other people, across the world, over a true treasure hunt which is in many ways a microcosm of the Human Condition.


    1. David, Thanks for the comment and encouraging words. I hope you will enjoy taking part in Voynich discussions online.
      PS – if you must use a title, ‘Dr’ is the one, but as a Quaker I prefer not to use titles unless it’s quite unavoidable – so just ‘Diane’.


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