The history behind my interest is a logical starting point since it reveals the attitudes that spurred my work.
In 1970 after having read Erika Cheetham's book "The Prophecies of Nostradamus" I made a choice that went against all that I had previously done. The choice was to investigate the unlikely case that Nostradamus could actually see into the future. There has been no other person with claims to be a prophet that has ever aroused my interest.
I am not given to belief in the supernatural whether it be religion, science or secular based. However, in 1970, faced with his actual writings I felt there was a case to answer since it seemed that on too many occasions his words were uncannily close to real events. At that time I could easily retain my cynicism for I was looking for the means to explain how these writings could seem to be true.
Over the years that followed I noted that, despite the claims of other cynics, various events came about very much as anticipated from interpreters of Nostradamus' work, one of the most spectacular of which was the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1989, a year before it happened I remember observing that this looked like a spectacular failure for there was nothing in the press of the day that foresaw the ending of the Soviet system before the year 2000.
My reason for making the foregoing comment was that there were strong claims by interpreters of Nostradamus' work that showed he foresaw the rise of Communist Russia and its fall before the end of the last century. It hadn't happened and with eleven years to go no one anywhere in the world was seriously predicting its fall. But even when this event took place I remained a skeptic because so many analysts used techniques that did their cause little justice.
In 1992 I was given a present by a well-meaning relative. It was not a good read for me since it was full of almost laughable techniques, many of them based on very loose reworking of Nostradamus' words through the use of anagrams and the undisciplined interchange of lettering. Its techniques were not unlike that used in "The Bible Code" (which I was also given and which I found equally as flawed). If anything the predictions that they made reveal how hard it is to actually gain credibility as a prophet by using vague and loose wording. There is nothing memorable that came out of my reading of their predictions and reading their works only emphasized to me how remarkably successful Nostradamus' works had been.
However, I don't dismiss things lightly so I worked on the problem of what was wrong with these approaches. In particular I asked myself what evidence of code would I look for and where would an encoder put it. The conclusion I reached was that Nostradamus would have put key words such as his name and references to his work and code in cornerstone verses. These were likely to be verse 1 in the first of his chapters (Centuries), other early verses, verse 100 at the end of the sixth chapter and those verses which were dismissed as most obscure. I expected to find there was nothing in those verses. I was wrong.
This was an over-excited time because, having found these critical words and having seen some of the import of others, I thought I had found the key to his code and it would be days before Nostradamus message would be unveiled. I was certain it would turn out not to be prophetic but a historical record of his efforts. At that time I was employing French anagrams and soon the trail disappeared. It was evident to me that I had not cracked his code.
Nostradamus' methods and defenses were far greater than a simple two days effort could break. However, I now believed that Nostradamus' text didn't merely contain an occasional anagram, it was anagrammatic throughout, and there was a massive cryptic puzzle to be solved. I loved that idea.
There was, however, one major surprise in these discoveries for I found that I had gained a clearer result when I looked for English anagrams (See Chapter on Anagrams). This seemed ridiculous until I worked through the logic of testing a claim that anyone could be prophetic. If Nostradamus could see the future then he was not only capable of encoding it in a modern language but must do so. You can't, as a 16th century person, properly talk about our modern world without a new language covering technological breakthrough and scientific discovery.
I didn't believe Nostradamus had seen the future in this way but I realized it was bad science to analyze Nostradamus' work with a premise that he couldn't see the future when that was the proposition being questioned. Rather I had to assume he could prophesy and then design tests based on the full gamut of possibilities that had the potential to disprove them one by one. In so doing it should have been very easy to disprove that he used English as his basis for code. It would be disproved if his hidden messages made greatest sense in his native tongue or there was no distinction between languages.
In order to find the hidden code I applied a single method for finding anagrams and then converted it into a series of computer programs to enable extensive investigation and testing throughout Nostradamus' text. Through my anagram research I identified a strong possibility that there are English anagrams in the French text and my research into the Prophecies has not yet shown it to be false.
There are however difficulties in working with an ancient publication that every interpreter of 16th century papers encounters. Published works of that era are very different from the original manuscripts. However my computer analyses can helfind the strong theme in a text even when it is distorted from the original (Just as astronomers' programs can detect weak stars despite noise from the galaxy).
In my research I constantly set out to find the weaknesses in my findings. Usually it is easy to realize how overconfident one has become through mistakenly viewing only a small set of events. It's only when you try to find further evidence that reality strikes and the trail goes cold. It's this method that is the strength of science. When faith is put in an outcome based on the past and it doesn't happen you can suspect your premise may be false. Science accepts this and it is what distinguishes it from religious faith. Such a critical failure hasn't happened in the twenty years of my investigations of English anagrams in Nostradamus' Prophecies.
I am lucky to have the ability to program computers and so over the years I have built increasingly stronger tests and constraints into my investigations in order to prove that this English anagram pattern is an illusion. Again my efforts at disproof have failed and all of my earlier observations have remained firm (see Chapter on Anagrams).
What time has done for my research is to constantly make me confine my procedures so that spurious results are precluded. This has resulted in a small set of rules that define the method of decoding the Prophecies. These rules are set out in the chapter called Webber's rules.
1. In order to use a code that would be able to be broken five hundred years into the future but not before Nostradamus would have needed to use a system that would be robust and an integral part of his text- Anagrams provides such a mechanism.
2. Nostradamus could enhance the security of his anagrammatic-code by using anagrams from another language as his basis. Such a choice reduces the accidental-creation-rate of complex words.
3. During the 1530's while in Agen, Southern France, Nostradamus was exposed to many languages and one of these was English. Many scholars with whom he and Jules Scaliger communicated had either spent time in English institutions and courts or had lived there prior to moving into prominent positions in the academic community. Also within a half day's walking distance from Agen was the Nerac Court of Margaret d'Angouleme which had strong English connections.
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