New book: “Blind Spot”

By Gordon Rugg

My new book comes out on April 30th. Blind Spot is the story of an ambitious idea. I wanted to develop a method to spot where experts go wrong when tackling difficult problems. What happened next includes: A mysterious undeciphered mediaeval manuscript; inventing a radically different way to handle online search; new approaches to forensic statistics; a different way of looking at the search for life on other worlds, and much more. None of that was quite what I’d expected…


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Quote for the day

We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
Petronius Arbiter

It’s a quote widely used by cynical observers of organisations. Petronius Arbiter was a real person, and was cynical enough to come out with such a line, but did he actually say it?

The reality:

Callee says it best, on the Snopes message board:;f=101;t=000380;p=0

Turns out, the sucker is totally fake. Here is a great investigation of it.

The link is to an article by Jim Reeds, who found that the quote didn’t appear anywhere in the works of Petronius Arbiter, and was probably invented by Robert Townsend in Up the Organization (Knopf, New York, 1970).

Townsend also gave the world the following quote in the same book:

“And God created the Organization and gave it dominion over man…

Genesis 1, 30A, Subparagraph VII”

Visualizing textual structures in the Voynich Manuscript

By Gordon Rugg

The Voynich Manuscript has been described as the most mysterious book in the world. It’s a book written in a unique script, illustrated with images which are a mixture of the ordinary and the bizarre. It’s never been deciphered.

vms page

This article describes what happened when I used Search Visualizer to look at the distribution of common syllables in the manuscript.

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