Apophenia is a term used in cognitive science, philosophy, and psychology which describes the human tendency in cognition to perceive patterns or connections in random or meaningless information. Two closely related terms are: “patternicity”, defined as the tendency to ascribe meaningful patterns to meaningless noise; and “agenticity”, the tendency to imbue these patterns with meaning, intention, and agency. Many philosophers and cognitive scientists believe that through natural selection and evolution, models of cognition both developed from, and remained constrained by these strategies that the brain adapted to assimilate and classify the natural world. Successful identification of meaningful patterns led to absolute advantages for the observer, through more successful competition for food, shelter, mating opportunity or defense. Humans who could do it, tended to live longer, have more children, and establish larger and more efficient social organizations capable of producing excess resources. This in turn allowed growth, and informed humanity’s ongoing scientific program of using available information to make predictions about an uncertain future based on formula, rule and pattern. Bottom line, we’re programmed to see shapes in clouds.
So why do I think Kryptos might have something to do with Nathan Hale? It’s all about location. First we discovered a context: that K2 might represent a calendar. Next, informed by Sanborn himself that it wasn’t so much what his misspellings were, but rather where, I noticed that K2’s only misspelling fell on Sep 22 according to our tentative calendar hypothesis. The significance of this was undetermined, but probing themes from the artwork and the Langley Campus itself led to possible solutions. The first that came to mind is that Sep 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox in a leap year. The equinoxes in simple terms, are the days in which day and night are equal, and there are two per year, once in the Spring, and again in the Fall. The actual day of “equal-night” (which is the literal translation from Latin of “equi-nox”) varies by how far you are from the equator at sea level on our beloved bumpy blue buckyball. What is definitively true, anywhere on Earth, is that on these special days, the sun rises exactly 90 degrees East, and sets exactly 270 West, guaranteed. Magnetic variation is irrelevant, and so is the observer’s latitude. It’s an absolute reference during which we can synchronize our two main systems of interpreting patterns in the world: space and time. 363 days of the year, the shadow’s angle at dawn and dusk (i.e.: between subtle shading and the absence of light) is something requiring interpretation and analysis, but on these two days, it is a universally observable fact, and worthy of carving into stone, or erecting a sculpture.
The binary code of the Morse; the alternative Compass interpretation as “six o-clock” (the theoretical time of dusk and dawn at the equinox); the thematic relationship with palindromes as being in the center of two equal segments; and the direct reference of K1’s deciphered text all seem to reinforce the calendar hypothesis via thematic confirmation. The simple observation of day and night, their lengths, and the cyclical behavior of celestial events, informed humanity’s first scientists, and ultimately gave rise to what we now call the scientific method. The creation of a civil calendar, with the predictability and utility it conferred, was the enlightenment that underpinned the great transition to agriculture and animal domestication. Modes of social organization and religious worship emerged around the calendar, and the transitional points marked periods of special significance. As I discussed in a prior piece, knowledge of the calendar and the measurement of time within it are universally understood symbolic systems regardless of the language, because they have to reconcile dates with observable celestial events. Within this “time map”, major events in human history serve the same purpose, as markers in time, like July 4th, 1776.
So what about Hale? it was the day he gave his life for the cause of American Democracy in 1776. He is, after all, the very first star on the CIA’s monument to the ultimate sacrifice and it shouldn’t be surprising to see his name pop up in relation to a possible Kryptos solution. 1776 was also a leap year, meaning the equinox fell on the 22nd, the very day of his execution. Hmm. Finally, the photography that I used to accompany my previous piece was ripped from the CIA’s own Flickr account: the statue I depicted is on the grounds at CIA and the pictures I posted were actually taken by CIA personnel. The sculpture is within a couple hundred feet of Kryptos. Hmm. Where is this sculpture? Supposedly it is between The Bubble and OHB, near the Memorial Garden. Interesting pattern right? The Morse seems self-referential to the Compass Strata. K1 refers to the A-12. K2 refers to Hale. We seem to be going clockwise around the grounds’ sculptures.
So that’s why I think calendars and Nathan Hale might have something to do with it. Possible confirmation bias aside, Webster said “a sense of place”, didn’t he? If I came up with calendar, and it turned out the misspelling was the same date as when the Yankees won game three of the ’77 World Series, no big deal. There’s no statue of Reggie at Langley. Our case is different. I came up with September 22 by the location of text on Kryptos, before I knew it was Hale’s last day, or even that there was a bronze statue of him on the grounds nearby. It seems, and perhaps subject to the usual warnings of confirmation bias and lateral thinking, that by linking the location of text with a physical location on CIA grounds, there is an important clue within this relationship. It seems to follow very nicely from WW’s stated commentary, and from clues parsed from Scheidt and Sanborn, that we have found a key element in moving forward that was intended by the creators: that of the relationship between temporal and spatial systems of measurement. It doesn’t necessarily have to be direct information like a keyword, it’s more along the lines of a matrix. Maybe the whole puzzle deals with different forms of coordinate location in both space and time.
It starts with binary like the Morse Code: day and night. K1 tells us subtly of the sundial and equinoxes (it also subtly refers to the A-12 Oxcart in the parking lot, a sundial apparently (see the “cuneal info=nuance of il” preceding misspelled “q”). Then in K2 it apparently evolves into a civil calendar year, with special attention on seasonal transition. In K3, perhaps it then mutates into another way of organizing time, using longer cyclical phenomena: like lunar, planetary, astronomical, and zodiacal divisions. K3 seems to reference longer time frames. Speaking of K3, Carter’s Tut dig at KV62, November 26th, 1922, is another location/date reinforcing this connection we have deduced between “space and time”. Finally, in keeping with the pattern, in the context of the unsolved portion assumed to be K4: through BERLINCLOCK Sanborn offers us another clue involving both time and location, and again he inserts a subtle reference to yet another sculpture on the grounds: the Berlin Wall fragment, which would seem to follow from the clockwise sequencing of misspellings/sculptures. Could it be that each section has its own sculpture? Did I say “clockwise”? Hmm. Skipping ahead, that implies a K4 “sculpture” within the courtyard and antipodal to Kryptos in the Western corner. Extrapolating, the sculpture begins and ends at the entrance of the NHB, in the “Morse” strata.
It makes me want to investigate Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of telegraphy, and, although much less well known, also a talented painter. Even less known, he introduced photography to America. On a visit to France in 1839 to pitch his telegraph to the French Government, he met Louis Daguerre, they became fast friends, and was invited to inspect his studio and given a complete description of the then new Daguerreotype process. When Morse returned, he publicized and popularized the new technology, and was considered the father of American photography. It made a big impression on young George Eastman. Didn’t know that did you? Look it up.
The main thing is that we have a way of looking at the puzzle that is both new, and seems to tie together disparate elements thematically. We have a contextual map, but we still need to start walking. Confirmation Bias is always a threat. The human condition is to find support for existing beliefs everywhere we look when searching for evidence, interpreting it, or recalling it from memory. The issue is especially germane to the CIA. For example, during the Cold War, the fixed belief on the part of J.J. Angleton that CIA had been infiltrated at the highest levels by KGB moles dominated internal security, strategy and plans. The subsequent inability to see any evidence outside of this preconceived notion, confirmed and nurtured by a KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, led to serious mishandling of HUMINT assets and misclassification of information over decades, and the destruction of the careers of many valuable US and double agents globally. Genuine intelligence assets like Yuri Nosenko were not only discredited, but tortured into accepting Angleton’s hypothesis with all the medieval enthusiasm of religious inquisitors. William Colby, the man who would ultimately force Angleton to resign remarked of his legacy:
“I couldn’t find that we ever caught a spy under Jim. That really bothered me. Every time I asked the second floor about this question, I got ‘Well, maybe’ and ‘Perhaps,’ but nothing hard. Now I don’t care what Jim’s political views were as long as he did his job properly, and I’m afraid, in that respect, he was not a good CI chief. As far as I was concerned, the role of the Counterintelligence Staff was basically to secure penetrations into the Russian intelligence services and to debrief defectors. Now I’m not saying that’s easy, but then CI was never easy. As far as this business of finding Soviet penetrations within the CIA, well, we have the whole Office of Security to protect us. That is their job… The isolation of the Counterintelligence Staff from the Soviet Division was a huge problem. Everyone knew it. The CI Staff was so far out on its own, so independent, that it had nothing to do with the rest of the agency, The staff was so secretive and self-contained that its work was not integrated into the rest of the agency’s operations. There was a total lack of cooperation.”
I seems clear to me that we must avoid these pitfalls in our own little model of COINTEL in Kryptos. By using hypotheses such as the calendar, we should construct models for what reality may be, and then take the other side: what evidence is there for the model being provably false? We just don’t know how yet, but the process stimulates new ways of thinking, and until the puzzle is actually solved, that’s the very best we can do. We were warned: previous sections were solved without the benefit of the clues intended to help, and therefore contexts and schema relating to later sections may be flawed or incomplete until these clues are exposed.
For example, on 4/19/2006, our inscrutable artist declared that “he who makes no insignificant mistakes”, made a mistake (by accident this time, honest. He was presumably harried by his laborious 2-year internship at the Puzzle Palace). No really, he goofed “for aesthetic reasons”. Really? Furreal? Bitch please! Haven’t we all learned by now? Using the calendar hypothesis on K2, we can demonstrate an ability to make use of deliberately misleading or false information which had previously undermined our efforts. The first clue should have been when the “incorrect solution” just happened to produce a result that made perfect sense: i.e.: IDBYROWS. It sure sounds like a clue, amirite? Plausible deniability is the sculptor of deception, and Sanborn is a master of both.
So, he tells us that there is a missing character in the CT. There’s already an odd L pasted on to the tableau from day one, and so what should we expect? We’re supposed to believe that this missing character was 8 characters in from the end of K2 (remember the keyword: ABSCISSA is also 8 characters long). The missing character was an “S” and if replaced it should have produced xLAYERTWO as the final two words of K2’s plaintext. That was almost 10 years ago. How much new code text has been deciphered since Sanborn produced the “correct” information? Bupkis!
Let’s examine how the calendar hypothesis can help us untangle this deceptive doublespeak. Earlier, I posted a representation of the K2 Calendar, which contained 12 “months” and 365 letters. I also explained how the misspelling (which is how Sanborn calls attention to meaningful clues, and no, he doesn’t make mistakes), seems to suggest a date relating to Nathan Hale, and calling our attention to the 1776 fall Equinox, which occurred on 9/22 since 1776 was in fact a leap year. For our plaintext “map” of a year, we should have 366 characters, not 365 right? The new character should come after the 28th day of February, and just for giggles, it should be a Thursday, which just so happens to be what the leap day was in 1776. Has anybody tried it?
Here are the last two CT lines, which have 28 and 31 characters respectively according to the changes we made under the calendar hypothesis:
add the 29th day of February to the CT (i.e.: insert a “T” for “Thursday” after the …XVKP sequence on the first CT line above, and rerun the Vigenere with the same ABSCISSA codephrase on the now altered code text? You get this:
Not XLAYERTWO, but PLAYERTWO. Although it may be a small and trivial (perhaps even incorrect) observation, there is a tremendous difference between XLAYERTWO and PLAYERTWO insofar as conveying a coded meaning that may help us solve Kryptos. 10 years of XLAYERTWO has gotten us nowhere. PLAYERTWO suggests that the game is afoot, my dear Watson.
One last thought. Who was with Carter on 11/26/22, when he first discovered the Tomb’s doorway, long before Lord Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, Mace, and Burton arrived for the staged opening of the tomb in February 1923? Whose name “emerged from the missed x”? It was Arthur Callender. Arthur R. “Pecky” Callender was an architect and engineer, and one of Carter’s main collaborators. So with the help of (the) Calendar (Sanborn misspells right?), Carter made the discovery of the 20th century. Interesting. Later Lord C shows up. Did you know what Lord Carnarvon’s real name was? George Herbert. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? What is Sanborn talking about?
(James E) Carter (Jr) and George Herbert (Walker Bush) were both US Presidents that “served in silence” prior to election. It’s probably just a coincidence. Apophenia.