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Copiale Cipher Decoded

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the impossible-things-before-breakfast dept.

AI 94

eldavojohn writes "The 18th century Copiale Cipher has finally been decoded after a few minor breakthroughs were made by linguists versed in machine translation analyzing the document. From the article, 'Kevin Knight, a computer scientist at the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, collaborated with Beata Megyesi and Christiane Schaefer of Uppsala University in Sweden to decipher the first 16 pages. They turn out to be a detailed description of a ritual from a secret society that apparently had a fascination with eye surgery and ophthalmology.' The Roman characters and abstract symbols turned out to be a sort of encryption of the German language. The important clues they discovered were that the Roman characters were nulls (misleading junk) and the bogus looking symbols the actual text. Lastly, a colon would mean a duplication of the last consonant. A cipher falls to word-frequency analysis. Perhaps the researchers could start another 'weekend project' and tackle The Voynich Manuscript for us?" Update: 10/25 15:25 GMT by T : eldavojohn adds also a link to the final translation.

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Project Page and English Translation (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831620)

This link to the New York Times might work better [nytimes.com] for the article and since submitting it I have stumbled on the research page [lingfil.uu.se] and its English translation [lingfil.uu.se] .

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831914)

I was under the impression that Slashdot had cut back on the number of NYT links that it posts per month due to the NYT's limit of 20 articles per free user per month. Even one a day would run up into the paywall.

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832176)

I was under the impression that Slashdot had cut back on the number of NYT links that it posts per month due to the NYT's limit of 20 articles per free user per month. Even one a day would run up into the paywall.

There are enough ways around the paywall that anyone in the /. crowd ought to easily get around it with just minor amount of hassle. Especially if one doesn't limit themselves (it's on a referrer basis - other blogs linking to the same article don't count. And if push comes to shove, really, you can't take the headline and Google it? Google News does count as an alternate source).

It isn't a hard paywall - the NYT did it smartly to ensure casual users can view content, and hard core viewers have to pay for it. Of course, good on you if you can read the NYT completely for free using the various (supported) ways around it.

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37834182)

Personally I don't want to go around the paywall. If I see a paywall, I don't want to visit the site. If they want me to go somewhere elso for my news then I'll go somewhere else for my news. I'm certainly not going to give them money when their site is already filled with ads.

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37839910)

I honestly don't remember if it was nytimes or not (I *think* it was), but for at least one of the big sites, googling the headline seems to have stopped working for me.. I still get a truncated article.

(Funny thing was, I saw the "google the headline" workaround mentioned on a local TV show -- "Press Here" -- that I think is syndicated to other stations. I already knew about the workaround, but it was funny that a major media station -- they're NBC owned -- would mention it. The show is basically "Meet the Press" for technical topics.)

Re:Project Page and English Translation (0)

Zeio (325157) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832422)

In other news today, cancers, diseases and viruses remain uncured.

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832484)

damn straight. lets put those linguists onto biological research where they should be

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832556)

So why are you wasting YOUR time posting on /. rather than performing the useful research that you imply everyone must be capable of?

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832606)

For all we know, these secret manuscripts might contain said cure.

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37834460)

Probably within those "bogus" roman characters.

Seriously though. They could indicate reverse/ignore rules like "This phrase is a catch, do not follow its instructions". Or "The following only applies under full moons".

Re:Project Page and English Translation (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833570)

Let me guess...

"Poke several holes in the wrapper. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes, rotate by 1/4 turn, microwave for another 2-3 minutes. Careful, package will be hot. Then, peel away the wrapper, and enjoy the succulent goodness"

Why is automated translation so bad? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37834770)

If there are systems which can help to analyze and decode a text or an ancient language, why are online translation services so horrible at their job?

Misguided people think good voice recognition is an AI, but a real AI would be able to do full semantic analysis, and turn your words into conceptual models. Translation systems would then output those conceptual models using the grammar templates for the target language.

Instead, current translation technology seems to be heavily based on word translation, not concept translation. They don't even reorganize the phrases to allow for the cadence and grammar rules of the target language.

kevin knight (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831702)

a lone crusader in a cryptic world

Re:kevin knight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831762)

Damn, I was just going to say almost that exactly.

Re:kevin knight (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836734)

One linguist can make a difference.

Voynich Manuscript (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831706)

From TFA: He also hopes to crack the last section of 'Kryptos' - an encrypted message carved into a sculpture at CIA headquarters - and the Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious medieval document.

Re:Voynich Manuscript (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37835778)

The Voynich Manuscript is almost certainly random nonsense:

http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6085/has-it-been-mathematicaly-determined-that-the-voynich-manuscript-is-not-gibberis [stackexchange.com]

The History Channel also had a feature on it, which raised the interesting point that mysterious books of nonsense were a hot item around the date of printing.

At last! (5, Funny)

vlpronj (1345627) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831712)

Upon reading the translation, we've found the source of the kinghts who say *nee*!

Re:At last! (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831888)

IT provides no such thing!

Re:At last! (4, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832194)

Good gosh. Even back then they had Non Disclosure Agreements with severe penalties. The part about 'pluck out your eyeballs and feed them to the dogs' reads exactly like the last Microsoft NDA I signed, too.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832526)

Well, you signed it anyway.
There's your whole reason they (still) exist in the first place: Spineless cattle who sell their soul for a dime.

Re:At last! (2)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832586)

Wait. You mean I could have got a dime instead of a nickel? Keep the soul, but give me my code BACK, Ballmer!!

Re:At last! (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833552)

And here I assumed the first rule of NDA was that you do not talk about NDA.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832302)

Seems a bit too late as they're no longer the knights who say "nee".

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849300)

Upon reading the translation, we've found the source of the kinghts who say *nee*!

It a bunch of BS...the translation doesn't make sense...a bunch of gibberish...secret society...my a**...

Scoff at computational linguists at your own peril (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831744)

We'll break your cyphers as a weekend project, then get back to the real work. ;)

Re:Scoff at computational linguists at your own pe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832610)

then get back to the real work. ;)

I hear that! Oh, and 10 gallons unleaded, please.

Ophthalmology Secret Society? (2)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831868)

Going by the translated text describing the apparently-ceremonial activity at the end of the summary's linked pdf, and given this is 1800's Germany, it seems much more likely it was produced by a rather more... well-known secret society [freemasonry.bcy.ca] of the timeframe than a mysterious band of rogue ophthalmologists...

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (2)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831962)

To clarify my post's link, I mean these guys [newadvent.org] , who generally used their "eye" references somewhat more symbolically and less literally--consistent with the translated text.

Hmm... have I just been trolled?

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (2)

herring0 (1286926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833974)

From the parts of the document I read I assumed it was about the Free Masons and only after reading some of the other pages did I see the assertions about ophthalmology.

I didn't continue reading to see if they had eliminated the Masons as the responsible party, but if they did there are quite a lot of similarities to the Masons (even loosely to the symbols used) and maybe the people involved with this society were also associated with the Masons as well.

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37835868)

The word mason appears at least 15 times along with a reference to the Catechism of Masonry aka Trinity College... yup, freemasons.

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (1)

clintp (5169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37835972)

Of course, by oath, a Freemason wouldn't be able to confirm or deny if this document contains a description of a Masonic ritual.

*ahem*

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (1)

herring0 (1286926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837960)

Then it's a good thing I'm not a Mason, though from what I've seen they seem to be a good group of people. I found most of my father's family was involved and I enjoyed reading about and meeting a number of Masons locally.

In any event, reading about the decryption process was really interesting.

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37838252)

Bah. No "modes of recognition" in it of any consequence. But 15 separate mentions of "mason". Yep, this is a masonic offshoot. Of course sounds like they didn't like the English excluding women (page 21) and created an irregular clandestine lodge.

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37838590)

Yes the 'also nothing except the casket, skull, bush" seems to be interesting.
Much of the long term German system made its way to the US where it still thrives in your elite Universities and touches many young people of power.
Its always fun to see the same leaders tell the press just how strong their Christian faith in Jesus is - but seem to have missed the clear teachings on idolatry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skull_and_Bones [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Skull_and_Bones_members [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37839374)

I'm a Freemason (Blue Lodge, York Rite, Shriners) and none of my oaths prohibit me from saying, in fact, that this is not a Masonic ritual. The text makes some references to "the Thieves" and the "broken down Freemason." I'm assuming this was some sort of rival society, or one of the numerous forgotten rites that sprung up as appendant bodies to Masonry (ie: The Rites of Mephis and Miszraim, the Rectified Scottish Rite, the Swedish Rite, and of course things like the original Mormon ritual). The 18th and 19th centuries saw a lot of "wannabe" rival groups to Masonry springing up.

Please note that I'm not posting anon for any reason to do with this, but just because I always post AC.

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37846432)

As a Mason I could deny it if I felt so inclined. We have our own cipher though, so why would we need this one?

Re:Ophthalmology Secret Society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847110)

If you're talking about the Royal Arch cipher taught in the York Rite (and probably the Scottish Rite-- haven't done it), it's a monoalphabetic substitution cipher and a third grader could crack it if you took five minutes to explain frequency analysis to them. This is a much more advanced monoalphabetic substitution cipher that actually takes some pains to defeat frequency analysis, but clearly not enough. The Royal Arch cipher is useless.

OK, who's messing with wikipedia (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831968)

I see that the page for this cipher was just created today. I also see that credit for cracking it goes to a retired soccer player...

Re:OK, who's messing with wikipedia (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37838686)

It could be a fear that this text is a missing link between much older groups based in the EU and newer groups in the USA.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_C._Sutton [wikipedia.org] wrote on Skull and Bones using public-domain information - until he got the complete listings of the members.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Thomson_Iserbyt [wikipedia.org] .

Wild speculation as to its origin (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831984)

They turn out to be a detailed description of a ritual from a secret society that apparently had a fascination with eye surgery and ophthalmology.

Secret societies like this were relatively common in the late 1700's and most of the 1800's. But it's Freemason-like style, it's focus on sight, the timing, and the choice of German as the language suggests that it could be connected with the original Bavarian Illuminati.

Or not. That's the hard part about figuring out the history of this kind of thing - they're all secret.

Re:Wild speculation as to its origin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832534)

Not just style - direct references to other branches of Masonry - the "maitre eccossois" (hmm, there's some French in there too, transliterated). Looks like an early glimpse into the Scottish Rite.

Back in the day, if you wanted something kept a secret, you didn't write it down, even if your crypto would hold up for 250 years. Well done, author of page 95.

Re:Wild speculation as to its origin (0)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#37839946)

But it's Freemason-like style, it's focus on sight

it's == it is. I think you meant its.

Any chance of breaking the Indus valley script? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832008)

Any chance of breaking the Indus valley [wikipedia.org] script? It is probably 3000 years old. Or the word frequency analysis works only for familiar variants of European languages?

Re:Any chance of breaking the Indus valley script? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832150)

Word frequency works for any language *if* you have a corpus of text that spans common usage big enough to use as a reference.
-nB

Re:Any chance of breaking the Indus valley script? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832238)

Even a short glance at the article shows frequency analysis isn't going to work well. Most letters had more than one symbol that could map to them - common letters like vowels had numerous variations, "E" had 7 symbols that mapped to it. So even a short word could be written several different ways. A long word could easily be unique in a passage of this size even if it occurred statistically frequently. That's a really good idea when you think about it, and is probably the reason why this has gone undecoded for so long.

Also the roman characters weren't "junk", they were word separations. (instead of using spaces) Word separation certainly isn't junk in a cipher.

Re:Any chance of breaking the Indus valley script? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836702)

Any chance of breaking the Indus valley script? It is probably 3000 years old. Or the word frequency analysis works only for familiar variants of European languages?

Not a chance. The total known corpus is only about 20,000 symbols, and it's likely that many of the known inscriptions are names rather than meaningful texts.

This seems familiar. (2)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832104)

...led in and to the table of the chief [Stargate Earth symbol], who asks him:

First, if he desires to become [mouth symbol].

Secondly, if he submits to the rules of the [dotted circle] and without rebelliousness suffer through the time of apprenticeship.

Thirdly, be silent about the [pentagram] of the [dotted circle] and furthermore be willing to offer himself to volunteer in the most committed way.

The candidate answers yes.

The chief [Stargate Earth symbol] then shall lead the candidate and the assembled [mouth symbol]s through a series of ordeals, then proclaim the candidate a fellow [mouth symbol]. He shall then remind the new [mouth symbol] of the ancient and secret traditions of the order, then urge the [mouth symbol]s to celebrate the new [mouth symbol]'s initiation with [beer stein symbol] and [ping-pong paddle symbol].

Voynich Manuscript (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832162)

Come on, really? With so many old school gamers on Slashdot, you can't figure out the Voynich Manuscript?

Pages and pages in what could be a constructed language containing drawings of plants that don't exist, maps of stars and constellations that have no analog to our own Earthly observations, bullet point lists, recipes that reference the drawings in other sections of the book, and copious drawings of naked women...

Yeah, it's a source book, or perhaps a player's guide to some Medieval role playing game.

Obligatory (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832366)

Re:Obligatory (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836822)

Ahh, that figures. XKCD is ALWAYS doing it before everyone else.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37838200)

What is glossolatia?

Re:Voynich Manuscript (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37835382)

That doesn't really matter till we know what the system is like so we can bitch about the rules and write up our own Medieval RPG heart-breakers.

Re:Voynich Manuscript (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37835540)

The text of the Voynich Manuscript lacks the statistical entropy to be a real language. Either the whole thing is an elaborate fake, (perhaps likely given the source), or combined with the illustrations it's a quite clever excercise in steganography. I was convinced of the steganography at one point, confusing the purported author Roger Bacon with Francis Bacon, who was clever with that (including steganography using drawings of plants, IIRC) - oops. But I don't think anyone belives it was actually a "lost Roger Bacon text" any more - that part at least was a scam.

Re:Voynich Manuscript (1)

Dabido (802599) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842604)

Nothing to translate for those of us who can read original Klingon.

Re:Voynich Manuscript (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37842902)

Yeah, it's a source book, or perhaps a player's guide to some Medieval role playing game.

You explained it so well, but you draw the false conclusion. It's obviously an old-style DRM ... Please enter the 22 word in paragraph 4 on page 215 to continue

Ummmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832190)

Me thinks that /. has been punked.

actual translation (3, Funny)

danlip (737336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832202)

"Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

Re:actual translation (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832240)

Son of a bitch.

Re:actual translation (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832496)

"Never going to give you up, Never going to break you down..."

Re:actual translation (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832786)

And here I was thinking it was "We apologize for the inconvenience"

Foucault's Lingam (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832214)

Who controls the British Crown? Who keeps the metric system down?
We do. We do.

Who keeps Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
We do. We do.

Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
We do. We do.

Who robs cave fish of their sight?
Who rigs every Oscar night?
We do. We do.

Wikileaks (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832298)

So when are we going to see this up on wikileaks? I'm pretty sure that this is something that was supposed to remain hidden!

Can't believe nobody has said this yet, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832340)

Should have gone to specsavers.

Found the source of Apple ToS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832418)

The translation seems very much like what Apple asks from it's users.

*ducks*

So who knows about website design? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832502)

What can be done to improve this one?

http://www.allvinyl.info
http://www.allvinyl.info/roofs

rongorongo (2)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832516)

Not actually a ciphered text , but.

Any chance to use these techniques to finally be able to read the only written language of the Polynesia? (rongorongo from Rapa Nui)

The ability to read these "tables that speak" was lost due to the slavery of the Wise Elder that had the knowledge.

Re:rongorongo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832638)

The problem with rongorongo is that we don't have enough of a corpus of other text to go on. If we can find the language it was based on, or derivative languages, then we might have a shot. Otherwise, it's just squiggles forever.

Re:rongorongo (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832676)

The language is still spoken by the Rapa Nui Inhabitants.
(or a derivative taking in consideration a couple hundreds of years since the tables were written)

Re:rongorongo (1)

Fnordulicious (85996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37840422)

Every Polynesianist that I've talked to has said that Rongorongo is interesting but probably most likely to be some sort of mnemonic device rather than actual written language. And I've talked to quite a few Polynesianists for the average linguist, since I did my master's degree at the University of Hawai'i. It's unlikely that the Rongorongo carvings will ever be deciphered. I think Polynesianists are more concerned with documenting and conserving the Rapa Nui language itself, which is rapidly dying due to shift to Spanish.

Re:rongorongo (1)

Fnordulicious (85996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37840442)

So I guess what I'm getting at is that cryptographers and other code-breaking enthusiasts can have fun with Rongorongo because linguists aren't terribly concerned with it.

Re:rongorongo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37842976)

Surely you mean their enslavenemt?

The content is, well, sad (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832592)

The content of the 105 pages is, well, sad. It is by all means like something out of Daniel Brown's or Umberto Eco's books

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Da_Vinci_Code [wikipedia.org] or the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prague_Cemetery [wikipedia.org]

Yet it contains no higher truths really, really interesting or useful for mankind. A secret society for divine powers? Hmm. How non-erudite isn't that?

Still, brilliant decipher work!

Re:The content is, well, sad (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833068)

Hey, I didn't know about Prague Cemetery. I really liked Name of the Rose, and liked (but didn't love) Foucault's Pendulum. His other novels I could take or leave, mostly leave. How's the new one?

Re:The content is, well, sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37834242)

A madman's wet diary

So when you need a cypher... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832684)

Encode your payload with Roman characters. Make up a ritual from a secret society, and interleave it using bogus looking symbols. Researchers will stop searching when they find the ritual, and your payload is safe.

My educated guess ;-) (1)

appmudpie (2479336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832698)

I do believe is sounds like a masonic ritual or an appendant body thereto where a new candidate is entered and or raised to a degree. But only a traveling man would know. So mote it be.

Layout (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832944)

I have to commend the authors for their deft handling of page layout - inserting those strange squiggly characters inline with the text and integrated into graphs and figures is pretty neat. LateX, do you think?

Beware the New Agers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832958)

Look forward to the influx of crazies who think that this several hundred year old text brings new insight into the world of ophthalmology Too bad they won't be able to figure it all out before their world ends in 2012. .

Masonic Ritual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37833646)

This is clearly an early form of Free Masonry ritual. Many parallels and the same names used in the current (modern) masonic degrees.

Monumental waste of time and energy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37833718)

that's what this is. Who REALLY cares about ancient eye surgery??? In general, history and historical artifacts are complete waste of time. We're bound to repeat it REGARDLESS of what lessons we were supposed to have learned.

Addresses (1)

WDancer (1201777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833952)

I think I saw a a Stargate address in the translated text. I definitely saw the home symbol...

translation (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37835746)

So long and thanks for all the fish

cadavre exquis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837986)

on page 99:

wie erging es dann diesem köstlicheN leichnam

I thought the Surrealists invented the cadavre exquis not earlier than 1918, and the expression was the product of a random word generator? Is there an esoteric backstory to cadavre exquis that I'm not aware of?

would have been much easier if they spoke German (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37838320)

The cipher letter + [dagger] was still unknown,
appearing in partially deciphered words like
+AFLNER, +NUPFTUCHS, and GESELL+AFLT.
We tried substituting each of the letters A-Z for
+, but this did not yield valid German. However,
we found GESELLSCHAFLT in a German
dictionary, so we concluded that + stands for
SCH. This opened the door for other multi-
plaintext-letter substitutions.

Seriously? They could have just shown the three near-complete words to a German speaker. SCHNUPFTUCHS and GESELLSCHAF[F]T are immediately recognizable, no need for a brute-force attack plus the sheer luck of finding a word with a typo in a dictionary.

Esoteric mumbo (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37841332)

Apart from the technical feat of decoding the manuscript, I got the impression that the content had little esotericism and too much ritual - based on 18th century FreeMasonry.
In that way, it is very disappointing. Almost proving that the Masons had very little esoteric knowledge, the ultimate foundation of a hidden society.

Re:Esoteric mumbo (1)

vitriolum (1280610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37845124)

But, the ritual itself is an encoding of esoteric knowledge. Or, at least, that's how all secret society ritual I've studied is. That's the point... the ritual is easy to remember and pass down to future generations. It acts as a mnemonic device for the knowledge itself. It may not be obvious or explicit in the ritual, but in theory one should be able to glean the knowledge solely from study of the ritual and its related symbolism.

The esoteric knowledge would never be committed to writing in explicit form. That is only passed from lip to ear.

Re:Esoteric mumbo (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846928)

Once more to the well...in his father's coat, for sins of the earth do multiply. Make yourself one with the path, and the journey will lead you to eternity. If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, then the meal was cooked a long time ago.

Re:Esoteric mumbo (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850718)

Well yes, it is. Ritual is esoteric, and understanding the symbolism of the ritual helps to understand the esotericism behind it, which would be passed from lip to ear or by example or by analogy - like 'As Above, So Below'.
I was just hoping for more :(

Re:Esoteric mumbo (1)

vitriolum (1280610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850830)

Well, we can keep our fingers crossed for the Voynich manuscript... maybe that one will prove to be juicier. Or, maybe Shakespeare's first folio... I hear there's something funky in the typefaces in that one.

Re:Esoteric mumbo (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850900)

I'm hoping too. I have this suspicion that Western knowledge has effectively died out. Victoria LePage's "Mysteries of the Bridechamber" examines the concept that true dyadism between a 'married' couple wasn't just for making babies, but had a much greater purpose that Jesus taught. This knowledge is now gone. No-one remembers it, even the High Catholic Church has a limited concept of this.
There are other examples of this sort of thing.

Re:Esoteric mumbo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37862046)

The rituals are not to teach, but to test. The Entered / Initiated / Raised Apprentice should already know the answers before being asked the questions.

I can confirm this is a book of rite, though the words used are very old and it doesn't surprise me that the decoders didn't know what those words were. The parts about ophthalmology (I LOL'd at this) are an allegory of the common phrase "Do you see?" and the answer should be "no" as the apprentice is not fully enlightened at this stage.

Can't believe it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37850410)

Most of you need to get a life and stop playing dungeons and dragons...and role playing games...and join reality...secret societies....conspiracies...Illuminati...blah...blah blah...too funny...

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