Nobody knows what the Voynich Manuscript says or why it was written in the first place. It includes various illustrations of plants, animals, other symbols, and an as of yet unknown writing system. Many people tried to crack the code but none have been successful. So why are people so obsessed with saying they've solved it?
While it is the mystery of the Voynich that appeals, that grabs and holds the attention of a curious public, undercooked solutions presented without context lead readers down a rabbit hole of misinformation, conspiracy theories and the thoroughly unproductive fetishization of a fictional medieval past, turning an authentic and fascinating medieval manuscript into a caricature of itself.
Basically, we want to recreate the medieval world through our imagination and embed such meanings and connections onto the text where there is none. We want to try and convince ourselves that our ideas about the Voynich are what it is invariably trying to say because we want that fantasy to be true.
When we approach an ancient object such as the Voynich Manuscript, we tend to bring our preconceptions with us to the table. The more we burden the manuscript with what we want it to be, the more buried the truth becomes.
>The missteps of historical preconception are particularly problematic when dealing with the Middle Ages. We watch “Game of Thrones,” we read “Lord of the Rings,” we play medieval-themed video games, and therefore we think we know something about the Middle Ages.
But as it stands, nobody has solved the Voynich Manuscript. And we might not be able to do so if we continue to concoct theories that aren't based on solid evidence.
(Image credit: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Wikimedia Commons)